Upper School Curriculum Guide

Upper School Curriculum Guide

(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.

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.


Each student is required to take three years of science at the high school level, although most take four.

Four Year Rotation


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.


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 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.


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 purchases, 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.


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.


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

Analysis and Trigonometry


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 Beginnings to 1865 is offered to eight graders who have a background in social studies. the course is mandatory for all eight grade students at Ann Arbor academy. The classes are offered with an eight to one student to teacher ratio . special emphasis is placed upon multi sensory input with small group projects. Students are expected to complete home work at least three nights per week 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

American History II

US History two covers the years 1865 to 2001.We will be reading, writing, and discussing important social, political and economic events in US history. Special emphasis will be placed upon developing reading writing and organization skills.

American History III

American History Three 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 the21st 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 the social, political, and economic changes in the US and the world and examine his or her role and responsibility as a citizen within the America republic.

World History I

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

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 sources materials artifacts and secondary sources such as text books. The coarse 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. Reading classes select supplementary materials relating to the rotation theme. Students in Language Arts may be in Reading/Decoding, Fluency, and Comprehension; Reading/Visual Supports for Comprehension; Literature; or Advanced Literature. Placement is based on reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, and there is an emphasis on building writing skills at all levels.

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. The textbook is written for students with learning differences and is written at a fourth grade level, although it includes literature excerpts at many different reading levels, for maximum inclusiveness. 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


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