American Literature Main Lesson
This four-week course focuses on the development of American Literature from Puritan times to the end of the Transcendentalist era. Readings might include excerpts from early Puritan writers, Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, and Irving’s Rip Van Winkle. This course has also featured Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, where students explore the intertwined themes of the hero, the hunt, community, and friendship. Ninth graders study the origins and development of the novel as a synthesis of earlier epic, dramatic and lyric genres.
English I: Full Year Class
The 9th grade literature curriculum emphasizes observation and concrete description. Topics in this year-long class include grammar, vocabulary, expository and creative writing, and reading comprehension.
The Atlantic World, Main Lessons I and II
This two-part main lesson introduces the major trends and events that define the modern world, with special emphasis on the geographical area bordered by Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Topics addressed in the first block may include Chinese exploration, Indian Ocean commerce, the age of European exploration, the colonization of the New World, capitalism and slavery, and political revolutions in Europe and the Americas. Topics in the second block may include the industrial revolution, imperialism, socialism, the women’s movement, World War One, the Great Depression, and the rise of fascism. Students are trained in the use of statistical evidence, maps, primary texts, historical images, and reference materials.
World History: Full Year Class
The 9th grade year-long survey of World History places the geography of the modern world within the larger temporal and thematic contexts used by historians. Topics may include the emergence of world religions; interchange between civilizations; the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Middle East; the influence of Chinese civilization; colonization and imperialism; economic modernization and globalization; and challenges to US and European hegemony. Textbook readings, documents, excerpts, and newspaper articles guide students in these investigations. While the ninth grade is engaged in the Atlantic World main lessons, World History is devoted to independent projects that develop skills in research and historical analysis.
Mathematics and Allied Sciences
Combinatorics Main Lesson
The practical aim of this main lesson is to explore the manner of mathematics that arises out of everyday life whenever we make or encounter an ordered arrangement. The theoretical aim is to transform fundamental ideas (basic counting principle, permutation, combination) into deeper structures such as the Catalan numbers. Along the way students encounter some number theory (the φ function), some new notation (n!), and some extensions of ordinary algebra (the Binomial Theorem). They also craft narratives that exemplify combinatorics in ordinary experience, refining these until they are true to life rather than to the artificial world of “word problems.”
Math I, Algebra and Allied Sciences: Full Year Class
The main work of this year-long course is rigorous practice with the techniques of basic algebra—not only to develop a basis for further mathematics but also to inculcate habits of precision and logical reasoning that are foundational for all further work in the sciences. Laboratory instruments or methods are often directly or implicitly incorporated into coursework, and students usually take up technical drawing among other tool-based tasks that emphasize measurement, graphing, and how to best organize data on the page. A further goal of the algebra emphasis is to perfect the arithmetic that makes it possible.
Organic Chemistry Main Lesson
This organic chemistry block focuses on the substances and reaction pathways common to plant and animal life. From photosynthesis and respiration to the eventual production of alcohols and more complex organic compounds, students explore the basic chemistry of their own bodies and the chemical interaction of the body and its environment. The course also explores the production of fossil fuels, the compounds refined from them, and their properties. This course looks primarily at the qualitative aspects of organic chemistry in the traditional sense, which leads to quantitative chemical studies in 10th grade. During the 9th grade science labs, students are introduced to the proper and precise use of lab equipment, safety procedures and basic lab practices. They must master the use of graduates, balances and burners. They bend glass, prepare their own apparatus, ferment sugars and distill the result. They measure temperature during heating, cooling, and change of state, and learn how to represent that information graphically.
Earth Science Main Lesson
This main lesson gives freshmen an opportunity to orient themselves in Manhattan, the east coast, and the world at large. Through the study of topographic maps we learn to “read” the landscape, and we use that skill through the rest of the block. The direction of the course is from the self; from the immediate experience of the student to the greater Earth. In hands-on fashion, students familiarize themselves with common minerals, the rock cycle, and common rocks. With the help of the Museum of Natural History the course surveys the development of the concept of Continental drift and finally plate tectonics.
Physics Main Lesson
Ninth graders are naturally interested in the here and now of the world around them. The ninth grade physics block directs this interest towards the mechanical technology they encounter, with an emphasis on “what is it” and “how does it work?” In particular, we investigate machines such as the internal combustion engine and the refrigerator. Skillful laboratory work is required, including careful measurement and precise observation. Through observation, ninth graders practice exact description and learn to form robust, flexible, and increasingly abstract concepts to better understand their sense perceptions.
Physiology Main Lesson
This main lesson examines several human bodily systems in detail, focusing on the digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems with an emphasis on nutrition. Students draw diagrams to illustrate items discussed in class, and have reading assignments connecting class work with current and world events.
French Level I
French I focuses on the acquisition of basic communication skills in French, both written and spoken, and the study of grammar and vocabulary. Throughout the course, special attention is paid to students’ pronunciation, reading, and spelling. On top of regular homework from the textbook and the workbook, students are assigned chapters from the book La famille Martin which they read and discuss at length in class. At the end of the course, students read the story and watch the film, Le Ballon Rouge.
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.
German Level I
In German I, students receive a solid foundation in the German language. We focus on basic grammar topics such as the present, past, perfect and the future tenses of regular and irregular verbs, on the study of three cases, on modal verbs and on prepositions, among other areas. The students work with the book Portfolio Deutsch I by Langenscheidt Publishing (Level A1 within the European Framework of Reference for Languages). We read short stories and fairytales by Grimm; The class works on comprehension and pronunciation, and writing short essays and personal reports. We regularly practice having short conversations about simple topics and every day life.
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.
Spanish Level I
The class uses the book and workbooks for grammar and vocabulary from Expresate! Spanish I. Students build their vocabulary throughout the year. An oral approach is stressed through the use of dialogues, structural patterns, and conversation. The class learns the four tenses with an emphasis on the irregularities of the present tense. The students also study the definite and indefinite articles of nouns, prepositions, and verbs followed by direct and indirect objects, reflexive verbs, and plural nouns. Students read short stories, and work on comprehension and pronunciation. They also start to write short essays. At least one film is shown and one play is seen during the year.
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 is seen.
History Through Art Main Lesson
This main lesson looks at the architecture, sculpture, and painting of several past civilizations in order to bring to light the attitudes, beliefs, and culture of their people. We begin with the cave paintings of Lascaux and move through ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, and the Italian Renaissance. The course includes presentations and slides, some movement, and artwork. We embark on museum visits, with time spent observing and drawing, as well as afternoon time spent on various artistic endeavors.
In this six week block, course students learn one of the oldest crafts, basketry. Students weave a small standard basket and are given a range of colored reeds and techniques to create additional baskets with various functions.
Black and White Drawing
This six week course in Black and White Drawing emphasizes the study of form through the observation of light and shadow. Subject matter is varied and includes preliminary still-life studies and a longer major project. Students use charcoal and black pastel to create smooth transitions as well as distinct contrasts of planes. They are encouraged to draw with a wide range of tones, from deep blacks and crisp whites to the subtle use of intermediate grays. This happens naturally once students learn to draw in a painterly fashion.
Introduction to Sculpture
In this course on clay modeling, students learn about the nature of the material and how to work with it. They also learn how to handle the clay so that it can be fired and glazed. They experience how convex forms catch the light and how concave forms capture the shadow. The projects they make are often related to subject matter studied in main lesson. The course is designed to help them develop their sense of form and their skills while leaving room for individual expression and interpretation.
Introduction to Woodworking
During this five week AC course, each student designs a box as a decorative container for objects at home. Besides using a wide range of basic hand tools, the students also learn how to use the mitre saw and a doweling technique to reinforce the joints of the box. They are expected to complete this project by the end of the course, and must therefore sand and oil the boxes to reveal the natural beauty of the wood. The hope is that the students enjoy working with wood and the creative challenges provided, and gain confidence in their own abilities.
History Through Drama Main Lesson
This three-week main lesson begins at the birth of drama in Western Civilization progressing from Ancient Greece through the Renaissance and Shakespeare. Subjects covered include Roman Drama, the Dark Ages, Medieval Mystery Plays, the Reformation and Morality Plays, Moral Interludes, and Traveling Troupes and Masques of the Renaissance in Western Europe. The components of this course consist of daily lectures, review discussions, two exams, a creative project, and the organization of notes and drawings into daily homework, which is eventually transformed into a main lesson book. A Drama Workshop may also be taught, which introduces students to basic acting skills, including speech, improvisation, and use of gesture.
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.
Percussion Electives :
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.