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Partnership with Stanford University at Columbia Middle School

Stanford University seal

Columbia Middle School staff has developed the University Partnership Program (UPP) with Stanford University. The goal of this program is to create innovative learning communities where students explore, inquire, and investigate with the support of Stanford’s world-renowned Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP). This program fosters 21st century knowledge and skills using research-based strategies focused on social-emotional growth, inquiry-based instruction, and technology integration. CMS teachers collaborate with Stanford researchers, clinical associates, and Stanford teacher candidates to create a classroom community that is rigorous and engaging.

Columbia’s UPP served 60 6th Grade students last year. This year, 120 6th grade students and 60 7th grade students participate in the program. The plan is to expand the program to 8th grade students next year and eventually have every student at CMS in the program. UPP students are taught the same Common Core State Standards and take the same district assessments in Math and English Language Arts as non-UPP students. The difference in UPP classes is in how the students are taught. UPP creates a “lab of innovation” where research-based curriculum are developed with the support and expertise of STEP staff. These UPP classroom “labs” will act as model classrooms and practices in these classrooms will be refined and disseminated throughout CMS classes. UPP students take their core subjects (English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science) with UPP teachers and take Physical Education and elective courses with non-UPP CMS students.

This year, through a Silicon Valley Education Grant, the 60 7th grade UPP students had the opportunity to be on a research vessel, involved in real scientific investigations, such as collecting, examining, and identifying plankton, invertebrates, and fish species such as sharks and rays. This Discovery Voyage activity was offered through the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City, providing students with an invaluable opportunity to apply what they learned in the classroom in a real-life research environment. Working alongside scientists on the research vessel, students got a glimpse of a day in the life of a scientist, helping many students envision a career in science and research for themselves.

Sunnyvale School District will offer Programs of Choice at four of its campuses in fall 2015. Fairwood Explorer School is a well-established parent-participation K-5 program. Vargas Elementary School’s Student Success through Science program is in its second year of full implementation. A new Juntos Spanish-English dual-immersion Program will be launched at San Miguel Elementary School this year. The Stanford University Partnership Program (UPP) is in full swing at Columbia Middle School. Please go to our website for details:


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