Curriculum Guide

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Each class offered by Ann Arbor Academy has the overall purpose of reinforcing existing student skills and introducing new ones, understanding that the ability to acquire and apply core skills is essential to acquisition and application of new knowledge.


Students work through a framework of core skills acquisition in tandem with the information offered within the structure of the classroom setting. Students with learning disabilities can have an exceptionally difficult time with these core skills, and it is essential to their continuing education that they become as proficient as possible in them.


Ann Arbor Academy considers these skills to be at the core of learning:


- organization

- memory retrieval

- logical, sequential writing

- reading comprehension

- time management

- self-advocacy

- critical thinking

- innovative problem solving


These core skills are delineated and tracked using our Core Skills Curriculum (CSC).


Lower School Curriculum (grades 4 – 7)


The lower school follows a standard elementary/early middle school progression through the subjects of social studies, science, reading, writing, and basic math skills. Students who are in pre-algebra or above take math in the Upper School. Emphasis in the lower school is on building mastery in writing and reading comprehension both through explicit teaching of these skills and through the social studies and science components of the program. Students build on success within a small, supportive learning environment, with opportunities to mentor others and to work at an individualized pace. Organizational skills are directly taught and reinforced within the classroom environment.


Upper School Curriculum (grades 8 – 12)


The upper school contains grades eight through twelve, but several of the subjects are on a four year rotation. This means that eighth graders in literature and science will study the same subject in those areas in eighth grade and again in twelfth. However, the depth of knowledge and expectations for a subject learned in eighth grade are very different from that expected in twelfth grade. The eighth graders get an introduction to the topics, but the material is not at a high school level.


Eighth graders who are ready for high school level science or literature work may be placed in a high school class, with the expectation that when the material is encountered again, in twelfth grade, the student may be dual enrolled at a local college in order to gain access to a wide variety of classes in literature and science.


Science


Each student is required to take three years of science at the high school level, although most take four. Eighth graders take the same science course as the high school students, but at a reduced level of depth and expectation of mastery.


Four year rotation


Biology: Biology covers five major areas within a year's time: cell structure and function, kingdoms of life, evolution, genetics, and body systems. For advanced students, additional topics may include cell membrane processes, macromolecules, molecular genetics processes, microbiology, and botany. Emphasis is on learning a framework for comparing organisms on a systems level, in order to better understand vocabulary words and specific concepts.


Physics: The physics curriculum is based on a fundamental understanding of the concepts of physics, and does not rely heavily on math. Advanced students will do some math, including vectors and equations. The course covers gravity, friction, acceleration, the mechanics of collisions, relativity, and a brief introduction to the concepts of quantum mechanics. Emphasis is on problem solving skills and hands on understanding of the principles of Newtonian laws.


Chemistry: Chemistry students will learn about atomic structure, states of matter, chemical bonding, stoichiometry, electron arrangements, the periodic table, and thermodynamics. Advanced students may also cover gas laws, solubility, and oxidation reduction reactions. Emphasis is on understanding why chemical interactions occur as they do, and on basic lab skills such as measuring, combining, and identifying unknown compounds.


Environmental Science: The environmental science curriculum emphasizes the interactions between humans and the environment in land use and pollution control situations, with a central theme of defining and identifying sustainability in human interactions with the environment. Students learn about ecology basics such as ecosystems, nutrient cycles, soil structure, and succession in order to apply them to concepts such as land use, pollution, development, and invasive species management concepts. Advanced students will study principles of environmental law.


Mathematics


Students are required to take four years of math during high school, but they are not required to reach any specific level of math in order to graduate. Students are placed at the math level they are ready for, regardless of grade. While students typically proceed at the rate of one subject per year once they reach Algebra I, if they do not, they can take a second year of the same subject to finish mastering the concepts.


Basic Math


In Consumer Math students learn about using math in the real world, budgeting, making decisions about purchaces, writing checks and how interest affects our finances. Assignments may be individualized, but each student will be expected to work up to his or her potential.


Pre-Algebra


In Pre-Algebra students learn the basics of communicating with math. They are introduced to concepts of number expressions, equations and mathematical properties. Students learn to work with simple functions, variables and graphs. Decimals and fractions are covered along with ratios, proportions and percents. Students will also be introduced to the coordinate plane and basic geometry. They will also learn to apply these skills in the real world. Assignments may be individualized, but each student will be expected to work up to his or her potential.


Algebra I


In Algebra 1 students learn to communicate using math. Students will factor exression, write and solve equations and inequalities, work with variables, functions, graphs and polynomials. Students will also be introduced to radicals and basic geometry. Students will also learn to apply these skills in the real world. Assignments may be individualized, but each student will be expected to work up to his or her potential.


Geometry


In Geometry students learn to communicate using mathematics and its vocabulary. They will deepen their understanding of points, lines, angles, and their measurement. Students will work with triangles, as well as a variety of other polygons and circles applying the skills gained in Algebra to find measures of these shapes. Three dimensional geometry will also be covered where students will learn about surface area and volume. Geometry will also give students a solid base to prepare them for advanced mathematics. Students will learn to apply these skills in the real world. Assignments may be individualized, but each student will be expected to work up to his or her potential.



Algebra II

In Algebra 2 students learn to communicate using math and apply advanced problem solving skills. Students will factor complex expressions, write and solve equations and inequalities, work with variables, functions, graphs and polynomials as learned in Algebra 1 while multiple concepts are compounded within the same exercises . Students will also be introduced to imaginary numbers and learn to solve equations for 3 variables, working in three dimensional space. Students will also learn to apply these skills in the real world. Assignments may be individualized, but each student will be expected to work up to his or her potential.


Pre-calculus


The pre-calculus class is designed to give students a solid foundation in the mathematical concepts that will be required for them to proceed to the calculus class. The emphasis is on analysis of complex problems and effective communication of the process and work needed to solve them. Areas covered include advanced algebra concepts, trigonometry, and analytic geometry. Assignments and expectations may be individualized, but each student will be expected to work up to his or her potential.


Calculus


The purpose of the calculus class is to provide a solid foundation for college calculus and higher math classes. It is not meant to replace college calculus. The emphasis is on effective communication of mathematical concepts and skills and problem solving ability in the areas of linear functions, derivatives, integrals, and differential equations.


Consumer Math


In Consumer Math students learn about using math in the real world, budgeting, making decisions about purchaces, writing checks and how interest affects our finances. Assignments may be individualized, but each student will be expected to work up to his or her potential.


Social Studies


Students are required to take four years of history at the high school level in order to graduate. One half of a credit of government and civics is included within the totality of the history curriculum.


American History I (grade 8)


US History I (beginnings – 1865) is offered for eighth grade students. Special emphasis is placed upon a multi sensory approach with small group projects. Students will complete book reports, a colony building project, and several five paragraph essays as part of the course Each chapter in the text will be used to build study skills and writing skills. There will be a vocabulary quiz once per week and a test at the end of each chapter.


Four year rotation at the high school level:


American History II


US History II covers the years 1865 to 1945. We will be reading, writing, and discussing important social, political and economic events in US history, including Reconstruction, industrialization, and the first two world wars. Special emphasis will be placed upon developing reading, writing, and organization skills through small group work, projects, and tests.


American History III


US History III covers the period from 1945 to the present. The course covers the major social political and economic developments from the beginning of the atomic age through the beginning of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Special emphasis is placed upon the use of primary sources including films, online materials, and oral histories. The course objectives are to help each student understand social, political, and economic changes in the United States and how these have affected the world, and to examine his or her role and responsibilities as a citizen within the American republic.


World History I


World History I covers the period from prehistory through the early modern era.

Students are introduced to world cultures and religions through primary sources, materials, and artifacts, and secondary sources such as text books. The course objective is to help each student analyze and understand significant social, political, and economic events in pre-modern civilizations.


World History II


World History Two covers the period from the early modern era through the present. Students are introduced to world cultures and religions through primary source materials and artifacts, and secondary sources such as text books. The course objective is to help each student analyze and understand significant social, political, and economic events in modern civilizations.


Language Arts

Each student is required to take four years of language arts at the high school level.


Four year rotation:

American Literature

Major American authors and genres are explored in this class, a survey of American literature from the Puritans through the present day. Emphasis is on the diversity of the American experience, from a racial, gender, and immigrant standpoint, as well as the Native American experience. Readings are primarily from a textbook and include poetry, plays, short stories, and novel excerpts. Advanced classes will also read at least one novel and one full length play. Writing includes journal entries, narrative, expository, and persuasive essays of varying lengths, as well as a research paper.

Examples of supplemental materials:

Novels: Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith; Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie; To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee; For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway; The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck; Tracks, Louise Erdrich; The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou; 1984, George Orwell

Plays: The Crucible, Death of A Salesman, Arthur Miller; A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams; Angels in America, Tony Kushner; True West, Sam Shepard


British Literature

Authors from the British Isles and their colonies are represented in this survey course covering medieval literature through modern times. A textbook is the primary material used for this class, with supplemental readings for advanced classes. Emphasis is on the worldview represented by England, particularly with regard to social norms, empire building, and the development of Western ethical philosophy. Writing covers persuasive essays, expository writing, poetry, and playwriting. A research paper is also required.


Examples of supplemental materials:

Novels: Frankenstein, Mary Shelley; Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad; Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen; The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer; The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams; On Liberty, John Stuart Mill; Great Expectations, Charles Dickens; Atonement, Ian McEwan; Brave New World, Aldous Huxley; The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley

Plays: Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, Henry V, William Shakespeare; The Faerie Queen, Edmund Spenser

World Literature

Authors from around the globe are examined in this course, which focuses on the common themes of humanity. Therefore, issues such as raising a family, growing up and finding work, love, and death are emphasized in the literature selections. A textbook is used for all levels, but advanced classes may be supplemented with additional materials. All inhabited continents are represented in the literature selections. Writing focuses on journaling personal experiences, comparison essays, and persuasive writing, as well as expository writing and a research paper.

Examples of supplemental materials:

Novels: Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe; Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton; House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende; One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Stranger, Albert Camus; The Man Who Died Laughing, Tarquin Hall; Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel; War and Peace, Feodor Dostoevski; One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, Aleksander Solzhenitsyn; Night, Elie Weisel; A House for Mr. Biswas, V.S. Naipaul; The Changeling, Kenzaburo Oe; Soul Mountain, Gao Xingjian; The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith, Peter Carey

Plays: The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde; Mother Courage and Her Children, Bertolt Brecht; Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen


Classics

Classical Greek and Roman literature is studied in this course, including mythology. Classical mythology as well as contemporary novels with mythological themes or references are used. A textbook is the basis of the material for the course, but all students will have supplemental material as well. Emphasis is put on the impact that classical literature has had on Western storytelling traditions to this day. Writing includes journaling, playwriting, and persuasive essays, as well as a research paper.

Examples of supplemental materials: Antigone, Oedipus the King, Sophocles; Dialogues, Plato; The Odyssey, Homer; The Aeneid, Virgil; Metamorphoses, Ovid; The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan; The Firebrand, Marion Zimmer Bradley; American Gods, Neil Gaiman

Electives


Fine Art


Courses offered in the fine arts vary from year to year with student interest. Examples of art classes offered include Painting, Drawing, Ceramics, 3-D Art (Sculpture), and Introduction to Art. All art classes focus on understanding of techniques and methods of creating art, and on individual progression. Work is graded on the basis of following instructions and a demonstrated understanding of methodology. Students are encouraged to explore different media and forms of artistic expression in every art class offered.


Digital Art


Artistic expression through the medium of the computer is taught in this course. Students will learn photograph manipulation and illustration techniques using Photoshop and Flash.


Animation


Animation is art in motion. Students in this class learn many different animation techniques, including stop-motion and two-dimensional, computer based methods. Flash, Aftereffects, Monkey Jam, and Pivot are used to give students a rich understanding of the resources available to them when creating an animated work. Students in this class participate in creating the annual video yearbook for the school.


Photography


Photography is offered at basic and advanced levels. It is all done digitally, and the focus is on composition and execution of technique. Students are required to master an understanding of the principles of photography, including how a camera works, and of photo manipulation using Adobe products such as Photoshop. Student work is often entered into shows or used in the school video or yearbook.


Desktop Publishing


Photoshop Publishing Suite offers a lot of options for putting artwork and text together to produce publications such as newspapers, brochures, advertisement copy, and yearbooks. Students in this class learn the basics of how to assemble images and write text for various publications, and are also responsible for producing the school yearbook.


Foreign Language


Foreign Languages are offered using the Rosetta Stone Classroom online program. Students are able to choose from about fifteen different world languages, and learn in an auditory as well as visual way. The fact that the Rosetta Stone approach is not text-based means that it is the best way for most of our students to gain fluency in a foreign language. Foreign language is not currently a graduation requirement, but students who are college bound are encouraged to take at least two years of the same language in high school.


Physical Education


Our physical education program consists of game playing and personal fitness. We utilize the Ann Arbor Y for the majority of the school year, and students are introduced to and regularly use resistance machines and weight training machines to improve fitness. We also play games outside when the weather is nice, and find that the supportive atmosphere of the school enables children to feel comfortable and participate in team sports in a way they may not have been comfortable with in the past.


Drama


The emphasis in drama class is on expression and game playing. Students develop their own skits and can perform them at school Performance Nights. Students learn basic dramatic techniques such as projection, blocking, and improvisation. We typically have a drama production in the spring.


Band


Our music program is a rock and roll band. Students who already play an instrument are invited to take this course. Students who do not play an instrument may be able to sing in the band. The emphasis is on improving skills, playing together as a group, reading music charts, and live performance.


Health


Health class is offered as an independent study during high school. Topics are covered through readings, worksheets, and videos. Topics include first aid, nutrition, body systems, reproduction, contraception, healthy relationships, and sexually transmitted illnesses. Emphasis is on self-knowledge so that students are prepared to make informed choices that are in line with their own personal value system as they grow and mature.

 

 

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