Should an underclassmen curriculum be about preparing your for what comes next, or about meeting you where you are, asking questions relevant to your life and helping you to understand how you best learn? We believe a little bit of both.
How we build our curriculum
It is our aim to prepare underclassmen for the rigors of the IB curriculum while also remembering that they are not yet in the IB program. To do that we build study skills lessons into each class, work collaboratively (and show you how to do that), and build on current content skills to ready underclassmen for the work they will be asked to complete in the upper grades. We recognize the importance of preparation while presenting relevant and grade-appropriate approaches to learning. One way we accomplish this is by asking ourselves a series of questions to build curriculum in each subject group.
We ask these essential questions:
Trimester 1: Who am I and how do I know that?
Trimester 2: How do I fit into the world around me?
Trimester 3: What is my responsibility to my community? How do we attempt to answer these essential questions?
We don’t just keep students busy with activity-based learning; we ask them to lead the way in their own education and insist upon critical thinking at every step. Projects are overseen by teachers, but often planned by students, and graded by self-assessments and peer review. Some examples:
• carry out mock excavation of artifacts to realize the difference between primary and secondary sources and material footprints • publish an anthology of original poetry
• learn to graph data and multi-variant analysis via a Barbie bungee competition
• apply theoretical geometry by building balsa wood bridges and then competing with others in your class to see whose bridge is strongest
• make ice cream to learn about endothermic reactions
• predict combustion reactions, learn pressure/volume reactions, trajectory measurements and gas ratios by propelling a potato across the soccer field
• perform plays that you’re reading in English class in the school amphitheater
• playing craps to learn probability in math
• dress and speak character during a 1920s salon to learn about celebrated minds of the time and teach your peers about your character