Epic Literature Main Lesson
This main lesson familiarizes students with Homer’s Odyssey and with the mythological stories and characters surrounding it. Robert Fagle’s 1996 verse-translation of The Odyssey is supplemented with excerpts from other renditions that emphasize either prose qualities or the dactylic hexameter of the original work. The main lesson book may contain summaries of the plot, detailed description and illustrated map of Odysseus’s journey, the composition of an original Homeric poem in dactylic hexameter, and an essay on Odysseus’s character.
History Through Poetry Main Lesson
This course introduces students to poetics, and serves as a continuation and forecast of the three forms of poetry: epic, lyric and dramatic. We begin with a presentation on the capacities of the poet – wonder, imagination, inspiration, intuition, and love of language – and students explore these qualities through examples of poetry that are read and discusses in class. We trace the power of the word and of musical sound through history. Students study the mechanics of poetry including tone, color, meter and feet, assonance, consonance, feminine rhyme and internal rhyme. The course ends with exercises in scanning and an overview of the lyric form.
English II: Full Year Class
Topics for this full-year course include those covered in the 9th grade curriculum; skills are further developed and refined. The use of technology is more consciously addressed to further develop research skills. The literature discussed relates to themes of the 10th grade curriculum, and includes the Experience of Analogy (compare, contrast, and synthesize), the Ancient World, the role of the arts in the development of human consciousness, and multicultural studies.
World Civilizations, Main Lessons I and II
The World Civilization main lessons survey a variety of world cultures and engage students in the work of defining and evaluating the concept of “civilization.” The first main lesson traditionally surveys the dawn of history, ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, and Hebrew civilization. The second sophomore main lesson explores the rise of civilization in new areas, such as China, central Asia, the Americas, or Africa. Throughout, students learn to interpret the documentary record of the ancient and classical periods, and to appreciate the difference between archeological and textual evidence.
Social History Elective: Full Year Class
The Social History elective is a discussion based course where students practice sharing ideas, analyzing texts, taking notes, and writing papers. As course reading, students generally work their way through a series of complete social history monographs. Past topics have included the lives of slaves and free blacks; women and public virtue in the antebellum U.S.; the Western frontier; Native Americans; the Great Migration of African Americans to northern cities; and gender in peasant society. Each unit concludes with a major writing assessment that challenges students to synthesize ideas from class and readings.
20th Century History Elective: Full Year Class
The 20th Century elective is a discussion based course, where students practice sharing ideas, analyzing texts, and writing papers. As course reading, students generally work their way through a series of complete monographs in 20th century history. Past topics have included Gandhi and Indian independence; communism in Eastern Europe; post-Mao and contemporary China; the Cuban Revolution; the industrialization of Japan; World War II; and war and peace in the Middle East. Each unit concludes with a major writing assessment that challenges students to synthesize ideas from class and readings.
Mathematics and Sciences
Analytical Geometry Main Lesson
Geometry can develop with or without coordinates, and a central purpose of this main lesson is to explore how coordinate systems allow geometrical structures to be defined and correlated algebraically. The usual subject matter is the conics, minimally defined according to a focus-directrix relation and gradually developed through solutions of quadratic equations. While the pictorial dimension of curvature receives some emphasis in the idea of a cutting plane and in the task of precise graphing, deliberate algebra receives far more time and attention—both for the sake of the day-to-day math and for the sake of “symbolic intuition” anywhere.
Trigonometry Main Lesson
This main lesson intends a complete introduction to basic trigonometry. Beginning from student constructions, the course moves rapidly beyond the rudiments (i.e. 30-60-90 and 45-45-90 triangles) by means of 36-54-90 triangles discovered in the regular pentagon. An analysis of arcs and central angles in circles leads to the Law of Sines, which is then a basis for Ptolemy’s Theorem; this in turn yields angle addition formulas that enable further trigonometry—now without triangles. The course finishes by introducing spreadsheets as a way to use angle addition formulas to develop a reasonably comprehensive trig table from the angle measures listed above.
Math II, Geometry and Allied Sciences: Full Year Class
This year-long course places equal emphasis on figures of geometry and techniques of basic algebra and trigonometry; the latter quantify and formulate the former. Of special importance are circles, parallelepipeds, and regular n-gons, as well as quadratics, systems of equations, and trigonometric ratios. Pure geometry gains prominence as students essay constructions, definitions, or proofs while interest passes to measurement when they study coordinates, volumes, or proportions. Students weigh and measure objects of their own creation, use spreadsheets to extend their knowledge of trigonometry, and build wooden bridges to synthesize geometry and physics by means of a challenge to design and engineer.
Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry Main Lesson
Tenth grade Inorganic Chemistry is the study of metals, nonmetals, acids, bases, and salts. The course begins with the oxidation of metals and non-metals. Students find that non-metals generally produce vapors, which rise into the atmosphere, while metals generally form a solid ash, which settles to the earth. Through the hydration of these oxides, acids and bases are produced. These acids are responsible for the production of acid rain. It is through the neutralization of these acids and bases that salts are produced. Salts react with other salts to produce many of the substances of our world. The quantitative side of inorganic chemistry is studied with respect to atomic mass, oxidation states, stoichiometry, and molar relationships. In the lab, sophomores further develop their skills through a study of oxidation and crystallization by preparing supersaturated solutions for crystal growth. By the end of the block most students have grown beautiful aluminum potassium sulfate crystals.
Ecology Main Lesson
The Ecology main lesson focuses on humans in the context of the earth and the environment. The class examines the ecological role and relationships of different organisms and discusses the effects humans have on the world around us. The block includes preparation for the class trip to the Hawthorne Valley farm where students experience working on a farm and discusses some of the obstacles and problems facing modern agriculture.
Embryology Main Lesson
This Physiology main lesson focuses primarily on human embryology and reproduction. Students examine the events and changes that occur from the release of gametes through birth as well as the reproductive systems of males and females. Significant time is devoted to illustrating diagrams and reading and discussing newspaper articles that address related subjects. There are also five lab periods associated with the block.
Physics Main Lesson
The tenth grade Physics block is a course in mechanics, with consideration given to both kinematics and dynamics; namely, how inanimate matter moves and what causes it to do so. Galileo’s Law of Falling Bodies, Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, and Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation feature strongly. The bodies under investigation could be falling water balloons or orbiting planets, and the course sometimes takes an orientation towards celestial mechanics. Mathematics is a daily tool in this block, both as calculation and as geometry, with considerable attention to increasingly sophisticated work with vectors.
The Biology elective is a year-long course that addresses applied and fundamental concepts of introductory biology. In addition to classic subjects such as cell biology, ecology, photosynthesis, and genetics, the class additionally may cover units on nutrition and epidemiology. The course is intended to help prepare students for further study of biology at the college level.
The Ecology elective is an opportunity for interested 10th and 11th graders to explore ecology on several levels. The course focuses on the ecology of New York City including ecosystems found in Central Park and the Hudson River. As the year progresses other topics explored include global warming, air and water pollution, and human ecology. Lab activities and Central Park are used as often as possible and much attention is given to current events with regard to ecological issues. Students complete independent research projects each term on a topic related to what is being discussed in class. In addition to research projects grades are based on tests, assignments, and class participation.
French Level II
The curriculum of French II includes the study of vocabulary and grammar topics such as passé compose; imparfait; future simple; conditionnel present; pronouns; and reflexive verbs. The course also focuses on the development of writing essays, reading, and conversational skills. Students recite French poems and sing French songs on a regular basis.
French Level III
This course focuses on a thorough review of the grammar from levels I and II and the study of advanced grammar and vocabulary. Reading materials include: Suivez la piste, a detective thriller based on a French language television course produced by BBC; the synopsis of the film, Papa, maman, la bonne et moi; and selected chapters from Le petit prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. These materials develop the students’ vocabulary, conversational and writing skills through numerous class discussions and written assignments. In the second semester, a substantial amount of class time is dedicated to the students’ preparation for the French language SAT II.
German Level II
In German II, students work with Portfolio Deutsch Level 2 by Langenscheidt Publishing (Level A2 within the European Framework of Reference for Languages). This course leads to a broader competency in expressing one’s feelings and opinions, participating in dialogue, exchanging information more fluently and describing images or situations orally as well as in writing. We complete our basic knowledge of grammar, focusing on topics like coordinating and subordinating conjunctions, main clauses and dependent clauses, the four cases, all the tenses and when to use them. The class reads texts by authors for young people and original short stories of German literature. Additionally, we engage in role-plays and watch a German movie.
German Level III
German III focuses on reading original texts by German authors, such as J.W. Goethe, Franz Kafka, Ilse Aichinger and Gabriele Wohmann. The majority of the coursework consists of reading, and developing conversational skills. There is usually an oral presentation of an artist and his work. This class deepens the understanding of grammar by learning advanced topics, such as the passive voice and subjunctive. Students write summaries and submit compositions about themes evolving around the texts that are read. The class also prepares for SAT II tests, depending on student’s needs. This class also watches and discusses a German movie.
Spanish Level II
The class works with the book and workbooks, activities and grammar and vocabulary Expresate! Spanish Level II. This is an intensive course in complex grammar and composition to further develop oral skills. Discussions of literary texts, essays, articles of contemporary Spain and South America are included. Students study all verbs tenses including the subjunctive. Relative pronouns and the passive voice will also be part of the lessons. Students also read short stories. After having read each story the students will be required to write a summary. At least one film will be shown and a play will be seen.
Spanish Level III
The class works with the book and workbooks, activities, grammar and vocabulary, culture and literature in Expresate! Spanish Level III. The goal of this course is to improve technical skills in grammar, thereby increasing fluency in reading, writing, and oral communication. The class reviews grammar covered in Level I and Level II. Systematic acquisition of vocabulary and improvement of listening skills are stressed. Selected cultural and literary texts are examined. Students write summaries and submit their interpretation of certain themes in these stories. Students also work with Spanish idioms and take practice SAT II tests to prepare for the exam. At least one film is shown and one play is seen.
This six week afternoon block in Watercolor Painting involves the interpretation of a masterwork from art history. Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Fauvism are most frequently explored, but works by individual artists from other movements are also used as source material for ambitious studio assignments. Using dry sheets of paper, students learn to build up an image beginning with light coats of color and arriving at a finished picture by applying layers of paint. By the end of the course, students have acquired considerable skill, gaining confidence in their ability to control the demanding watercolor medium.
The focus of perspective drawing is precise attention to distances and angles, where the precision comes through repetitive practice. While the main work of this course seldom changes from year to year, the setting and subject matter change according to the weather. Thus a course in late spring means bridges in Central Park and building facades along Fifth Avenue, while a midwinter time-slot means hallways, desks, and window frames inside the school. Students concentrate on one or more “final” drawings in pencil or pen, tinted with watercolor if time and ability permit.
More advanced than ninth grade clay modeling, this tenth grade afternoon block begins with a required project where students are asked to use a famous sculpture as an inspiration for their work. The course is meant to build upon the knowledge of the ancient world that sophomores acquire in the World Civilizations History Seminar. Students take frequent trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to get a first-hand view of Iranian and Mesopotamian sculptures.
Graphic Design Elective
Interested 10th and 11th grade students have the option of participating in this elective art class. Book jackets, magazine or compact disc design and illustration, monogram and logo design are among the projects assigned in class. Students work in a variety of media including pen and ink, scratchboard, lead and colored pencils, watercolor, collage, and computer graphic techniques. The course emphasizes the development of an “idea” on the part of each student, who is then responsible for executing the project with care and attention to detail. Craftsmanship as well as artistry is stressed.
Digital Photography Elective
This class is an introduction to digital photography. The primary focus is placed on the art of taking good photographs. The class spends time learning how to “see” light, where it is present in relationship to the subject being photographed, how to work with backlight and side light, contrast, where to focus, and how to frame a photo so that the negative space holds interesting composition and the subject stands out. The students learn to identify a goal for each particular subject and the teacher assigns several to photograph for a final portfolio of 12 to 15 pictures. These include a self-portrait, a macro shot, a still life, hands, buildings, portrait of an elderly person, landscape, a city skyline and a reflection. These are then printed out in an 8”x10” size and put into a photo portfolio.
Classical Drama Main Lesson
This course focuses on speech and drama in relation to dialogue. Greek or Roman plays provide the format. Students in this course are expected to participate in a performance as well as a design project, such as mask making.
Eurythmy is a series of expressive movement exercises unique to Waldorf education. In Eurythmy classes, students learn how to bring music and poetry into physical expression, thereby gaining a better understanding of these arts. Eurythmy also teaches dexterity, grace, poise, balance, and concentration.
Participation in Chorus for one and a half periods per week is required. Students sing a wide range of music and experience a variety of genres. Self-expression becomes a window into communal music-making and into other cultures. The process of preparing music is as important as the final result; students are graded on their participation in the Thanksgiving, Holiday and Spring Assemblies, and graduation.
Guitar and Fretted Instruments Elective
The goals of this class include playing in time together, sight reading and playing by ear, building up left- and right-hand technique, and caring for the instrument. An even more important aim is to encourage both a regular habit of practice and a willingness to explore music one might not initially prefer. Though fretted instruments are the focus, other string instruments are welcome in the mix. Although the ensemble is principally instrumental, singing with accompaniment happens nearly every week.
Jazz Band Elective
The Jazz Band plays music from standard jazz charts as well as big band and swing arrangements. Students are taught basic jazz theory and improvisational skills and are encouraged to perform solos at each concert. The Jazz Band is frequently featured at school benefit functions, and also performs at assemblies, the annual Spring Concert, and graduation. The Jazz Band meets weekly.
The orchestra plays music from the standard symphonic repertoire. Works from the Baroque through our own era are featured at school assemblies, concerts and various community functions. Music performed in recent years includes Bizet’s Carmen Suite, excerpts from Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, and Copland’s Hoedown from his ballet Rodeo. The orchestra meets weekly.
West African Drumming Ensemble, Caribbean Drumming, Brazilian Drumming
These ensembles provide students without prior training an entry point for community music-making. Percussion is taught through imitation, similar to the way young people are taught in an indigenous setting. Students are also exposed to the cultural and ethnic context of the music, and learn the reasons for and meaning of the music. Classes meet weekly and ensembles perform at concerts and assemblies.
Recorder Ensemble Elective
This beginning ensemble provides students with little or no musical training an entry point for group music making. Students learn the fundamentals of pitch, rhythm and notation and learn to play in a group. Although students begin on the soprano recorder, they are also encouraged to pick up alto and tenor recorders to learn the various qualities and challenges of each instrument. The advanced ensemble is for students with prior recorder training who wish to advance their skills.