“Boys are you ready?” “Yes!” *boys cross their arms across their chest like Black Panther does then uncross them*
“Girls are you ready?” “Ohhh yeahhh” *girls stand up, put their hands on their hips and move their hips in a circle*
“Give me bullseye! *punch the air* Bullseye!” *punch the air*
UCMAS is a special time in the school day. As soon as the students spot the teacher coming the energy level rises and the kids jump out of their seats with excitement. UCMAS stands for Universal Concepts of Mental Arithmetic Systems and is a style of teaching mental math to children that emphasizes using both sides of the brain in order for stronger engagement, better memory retention, and speed (http://ucmas.us/what.aspx). Teaching UCMAS involves a separate teacher training and is outsourced by the UCMAS company to schools. The feel of this class period is so different from the other subjects because of the structure, speed, energy, laughing, noise, and excitement involved in learning and teaching.
Everything they do in UCMAS is fast, fast, fast. The teacher divides the class into teams, sometimes boys vs girls and sometimes lions vs tigers. Everything the students do (getting answers correct, answering quickly, talking, putting their books away quickly, etc.) either earns or deducts points from their team. The teacher tells stories about Mr. One and Mr. Five to help them remember which direction to push the tiles. The energy is so high and the kids totally buy into this scheme; from my perspective, this was the only time of the school day these kids were allowed to have fun and be positively competitive.
This was one of the only classes I saw in which the teacher didn’t yell at the students to keep quiet and didn’t hit them or threaten to hit them—to me this shows how effective the teacher was at maintaining a level of fun while also having respect and control. Plus, these 6 and 7 year olds mental math abilities are so strong. I believe the UCMAS style of teaching allows him to do this while his colleagues feel more restrained by the strict nature of New Mission.