Sunday, December 11, 2011

Unique Curriculum

So, every blog post I always say.. up next is how I organize the Unique Curriculum in my classroom.  I think I have now said that at least 4 times.  Well, guess what! It is a Sunday morning and I am working in my classroom... the first thing I did was take video and pictures of how I organize Unique in my Classroom!  Just like anything, you need to do what is the best for you.  Here is just what I do.  Excuse some of the coughing, got to love the crazy weather change here in Texas right now.

As soon as the Unique Curriculum is posted for the month I print it off.  I have some amazing fairies by the names of Lopez and Lucy that cut it, laminate it, and put it together for me :)  I read through the information and pull out the Big Ideas.  This is posted as soon as you walk in my door.  These are just the big ideas we are going to work on throughout the month.  I pair the big Unique Idea with a picture symbols so my students know what we are talking about also.  Under each category is non-bold and bolded list.  The non-bold is for my level 1 learners and the bolded is for my level 2/3 learners.  I have 5 grade levels in my classroom and I want to make sure that I bump up the rigor and instruction as much as I can.  I also love that Unique also offers State Standards, Instructional Targets, and Scope and Sequence.  I also love that lesson 1 is always going to be a book, lesson 2 is going to be comprehension questions to go with lesson 1 and so on.  So, although the theme changes, the state standards for each lesson doesn't.  When planning for 5 grade levels, this is very helpful!  You cover everything... but don't have to reinvent the wheel to figure out what standard it goes with.  Thanks Unique!

Anyway!  So once I have the curriculum printed it off it goes to my lovely fairies and they cut, paste, laminate, and put it all together.  Before any lamination, however, we LABEL everything!  It might just say  U3 L2 (which stands for Unit 3 Lesson 2)

One of my folders with all of the materials laminated and inside (make sure to read to the very bottom to see some of my other tips.  

During the month I store my materials in a hanging folder box.  Each lesson has its own folder that has all of its materials inside.

So, I have it organized.. I have read over all of the information and it sounds great.. but how in the heck do I actually use it?

Having 5 different grade levels has made it a little tough to get as organized as I like to be, but I finally found what is working for me (okay.. okay.. so it took me to December to get that far)  On my lesson plans I have it broken into whole group, Keller small group, Lopez small group, Lucy small group, and science/social studies.

During my group I am always going to work on IEP's, PCI (our reading) and STAAR-alt objectives (our standardized testing)  Lopez is always going to work on language objectives and Lucy is always going to work on math objectives.  When planning for the week I look at what Unique recommends and use that in my plans.  We rotate groups about every 45 minutes.  This works for me this year because of the staffing I have... but as with anything this could change in a minute :)  I love that Unique has it leveled out for the different expectations of what a Level 1 student will do but also what a Level 2 and 3 student will do.  Thanks again Unique for bumping up my instruction!  So, if my lesson says Lesson 26 my staff knows to get the materials from the pink bucket for lesson 26.  If I am not using a Unique lesson during the group that day I still level out  my personal lesson plans.  Every Thursday, for instance, we work on spelling words for my level 3 students, my level 2 students work on putting the alphabet in order and filling in missing letters, and my level 1 students will participate in alphabet naming. 

Confused yet?  Bored out of your mind for reading the LONGEST blog ever?  If you have questions or want copies of my different materials feel free to email me! 

Other Tips:
-Unique uses alot of paper.  But it is SO beneficial!  So, to cut down on paper I print mine on half sheets.  
-I also do the velcro the SAME way on ALL of my materials!  The male side is on the part that leaves and the female side is the part that stays.  This is a great trick I learned during my student teaching :)  those little pieces I can stick on felt, on the carpet, or other areas to play games
-After a month is over I bag them in ziploc bags and store them away
-books that we used during the month go into our book center or independent work area
-some of the games will go into independent work area

Next blog (or 2) my AWESOME Secret Santa ideas at school using Pinterest and how I changed up my News 2 You. 


  1. Andrea, thanks so much for linking up! I LOVE and am so impressed by how you've organized your ULS materials!


  2. Wow! You are way more organized than me when it comes to ULS! Sounds like you've found a system that works for you. After 4 years of using this curriculum, I still haven't figured out the best way to implement it in my classroom. ALL of my students are on level 1 though, so it makes many of the activities alot more challenging to incorporate. I'm interested to know... how long each day do you spend on ULS? Do you have a "Unique" time period set aside or do you just incoporate the activities throughout your day? Thanks for sharing your tips and organizational ideas.

    1. I try to work on Unique throughout the day. I break my students into groups throughout the day. What I find works for me this year is that I work on IEP's and core academics in my small group... and have my amazing paraprofessionals work on Unique during their rotation. Now, this might not work next year.. but it has seemed to be good so far. I also enjoy putting the books on the overhead and reading them that way too! Feel free to check out my youtube page or email me

  3. We are thinking about starting to use Unique next year, however, we are at a High School level. How do you think the themes would match up for that age group? Also I have used News-2-You with my students, however I feel like the students get bored with it week after week (I love the idea, so we use it sparingly) does Unique provide a variety of engaging activities or is just the same activities but a different theme each month?


    1. He Nellie!
      So, I sent you an email. I love Unique and News 2 You, but I use it from an elementary stand point. I contacted my friend who works with middle school.. and here is how she replied :) Please email me at if you have any other questions! Hope to connect more!

      Unique does an amazing job with the themes they pick for each grade band, and with high school you can utilize the transition band (this band deals with more real-life situations than academics per say). The Unique system provides a monthly schedule of how you should use the materials in your classroom, I found this to be very monotonous and the students became disengaged after a couple of weeks, so my advice is you have to make Unique work for you and your students. What I do really like about Unique is the GPS and the variety of assessments they provide to track student progress and areas that need to be addressed, it is very useful for IEPs and presenting good grounded information for parents and at an ARD meeting.

      The neat thing is that each lesson has a life skills application to reinforce the materials learned and how it relates to the students and their lives. Additional supplemental materials are provided as well that cover things from geometry, journal writing, timelines...etc. I really enjoy taking these activities and adding a PowerPoint or making the lesson into a game, do not be afraid to be unique with Unique.

      A suggestion for news-2-you is utilize the PowerPoint supplemental activity that is provide with each newspaper. I like to use it in-between reading the article and answering comprehension questions. It provides pictures, interactive comprehension, and videos that can get the students more engaged and break up the routine of just reading the article, making the recipe,...etc.

      Let me know if you need more information, I can provide materials and pictures of how I have extended Unique to work in my classroom. Also, I will be more than happy to be contacted personally by this person if they want or need more information

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  5. I use Unique in a self-contained K-2 Life skills unit...I am trying hard how to organize the materials but also how to do the lessons with some kind of checklist so that my assistants know what they need to do and so that I have a system for seeing that it was done. Any suggestions/ideas would be appreciated!

    1. Valerie.. so sorry to just now reply! I have been a little behind on some things. Check out my lesson plan blog and then let me know if need anything else. You can also email me at

  6. Awesome Post!!! We just got Unique and I am in LOVE. However, it's a bit overwhelming to organize and get started. This helps me so much.
    I do have one question. Where do you get the content elements you put onto your "Big Themes" poster? Are those listed anywhere in the curriculum or do you go through and pull those out?
    Thanks for putting this post together. So appreciate it!

  7. I have to agree with all other comments here. You have done a fantastic job explaining how you use ULS. I'm new to teaching in a self-contained classroom and ULS has helped me quite a bit. But I have struggled with how much to do in a day, storing everything, etc. Your post has really nailed it! Thanks! I'll be sure to keep coming back for more great ideas!!

  8. I really like the lesson plan format you use. Did you create it yourself?

  9. I am new to the Unique Curriculum. This post is very helpful. I am going to have 3 different levels in my class and am wondering how you make it work. I will also have 1 Paraprofessional working with me. I agree with previous post writers that the system can be overwhelming at first. Can you advise what supplemental information you use in your class and any suggestions on must have manipulatives/activities for the Unique classroom.

  10. Uniqur is new to me and my first time ising it and I am very overhelmed with it. I feel organized somewhat in Math, Science and SS areas but the Reading and ELA parts. I am like overwhelmed so much. I don't know where to begin. Do u do everything they suggest or what?

  11. WOW! Can you say organization? I am impressed. I am in my second year using ULS and have grades 6-12, both middle and high school curriculum, levels 1,2,3 and +3. I must add I have an awesome para pro, but just can't seem to make it work this year. Suggestion needed, please!

  12. Can you share that lesson plan format?

  13. Thank you for sharing! It is so helpful.