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Course Descriptions:
Foreign Language

Spanish I (10th Grade)                                     
This introductory class is taken by all 10th graders and focuses on the student’s development of basic communicative competence in five areas: speaking, listening, reading, writing and cultural knowledge. Students primarily focus on learning the simple present tense of regular and irregular verbs while building their comprehension of Spanish vocabulary. Such areas of vocabulary include calendar words, numbers, things in the classroom, classes, sports, places around the city, personality and physical description words, food items, and members of the family. In addition, students will be introduced to other minor grammar points throughout the year while also being exposed to various aspects of the Hispanic and Latino cultures and customs.

Spanish II (11th Grade)
This class, which is taken by all 11th graders, will continue to build on the conceptslearned in Spanish I. Students continue to focus on the development of basic communicative competence in five areas: speaking, listening, reading, writing and cultural knowledge. In this
course, students are introduced to one of the two past tenses in Spanish, the preterite, as well as informal commands, the present progressive tense, the future tense and other minor grammar points. In addition, students continue building their comprehension of Spanish vocabulary which includes place settings, rooms in the house, items in the bedroom, chores, clothing, places in a city, and transportation. Students continue to gain an understanding of the customs and cultural nuances associated with the Hispanic and Latino community including holidays, traditional foods, famous people, and significant historical events.

Spanish III (12th Grade)
This class is taken by all 12th graders. While again reviewing concepts learned in Spanish I and II, students continue to focus on mastering the development of more difficult communicative competence in five areas: speaking, listening, reading, writing and cultural knowledge. Students are introduced to the other past tense, the imperfect, as well as formal commands and the conditional tense. In addition, students continue building their comprehension of Spanish vocabulary. Such areas of vocabulary include extracurricular activities, words used to describe getting ready in the morning, shopping words, downtown vocabulary and direction words. Additionally, students will be required to read longer texts, write short papers, and engage in conversations in Spanish.


Earth Sciences (8th Grade)
In this course, students examine and explore the dynamic Earth. The flow of energy, and the constant change of the Earth are reoccurring themes. Students will examine topics of weather and climate, energy, geosphere and lithosphere, and the solar system. Students will also be introduced to scientific inquiry, the process of writing lab reports, and scientific skill development.

Biology & Chemistry Concepts (9th Grade)
This course is designed to be an introductory course for students to explore the basic concepts of biology and chemistry. After this course, students will be able to transition easily to their 10th grade biology and 11th grade chemistry courses. Students will explore the periodic table of elements and atomic structure, chemistry of everyday life, organic molecules, and ecology. Students will complete a research paper, and write formal lab reports. Students will also develop scientific inquiry, science literacy, and laboratory skills.

Biology (10th Grade)
The goal of the course is for students to develop an understanding to the essential question, How can living things accomplish life functions? Student understanding is developed through study of the natural world and inquiry of the world around us focusing on basis of life, cell theory, genetics, life cycles and reproduction, and diversity among living things. Laboratory experiences are focused on methods to develop inquiry skills, problem-solve, develop explanations based on evidence and expand student understanding of the nature of science.

Chemistry (11th Grade)
Chemistry is the study of matter and its changes; this course focuses on recognizing and explaining patterns in the natural world.  In general, the course follows this progression:
Term 1        Elements: Atomic structure and the periodic table
Term 2        Compounds: bonding, naming, and interactions
Term 3        Reactions: types of chemical reactions, balancing, and predicting products
Term 4        Reaction calculations (stoichiometry!) plus junior project work

The chemistry junior project is a design project which requires students to do background research and writing before designing their own ideal soap, creating their soap in the lab, and testing it to see if it meets their goals.  This project is a graduation requirement and will be due in pieces throughout the second semester.

Physics (12th Grade)
Physics is an introductory survey course with a conceptual focus on Newtonian mechanics. The essential concepts are broken down intro three major units: motion, laws of conservation, and interactions. The year ends with a fourth unit which will vary from year to year based on student interest. Possible topics include sound, light, or an introduction to special relativity. The course will operate primarily through cooperative problem solving and inquiry based experiments and scenarios.

Science Senior Seminar
Science Senior Seminar focuses on environmental science.  This course will touch on the social issues involved with environmental science (such as understanding how the way we live affects the rest of the world), but its primary focus will be hands-on research.  In preparation for the senior seminar project, science seminar students will spend the year completing a variety of smaller research projects.  Major topics of study include biodegradation, toxicity and pollution, and energy.  Specific topics later in the year vary depending on the interest of the students as they design an experiment, carry it out and produce a research paper accompanied by an oral presentation and defense.


Pre-Algebra (8th Grade)
This one year college preparatory course will help students to view algebra not only as a theoretical tool for analyzing and describing mathematical relationships, but they will also experience the power of algebraic thinking in a context of applications by studying the mathematical modeling of real-world problems. This course is designed to teach students the foundational skills of algebra, geometry, and problem solving that is needed for success in algebra I.

Algebra (9th Grade)
The purpose of the Algebra 1 Curriculum is to increase student awareness of the importance of mathematics in the modern world. The students will become more confident of their ability of work with mathematical concepts and relationships. They will learn how to think systematically and use the precise logic required for mathematical problem solving. This course builds on the student's understanding of basic mathematics in the study of algebraic skills and problem solving. Students will learn to express real-world problems in algebraic sentences in order to find solutions. Successful completion of the course is an indispensable step in preparation for geometry, more advanced algebra, trigonometry, and advanced mathematics.

Geometry (10th Grade)
The purpose of the geometry course is to give students a one year college preparatory course studying geometric concepts from an algebraic perspective. Included in this course is a study of both two and three dimensional shapes, congruence, similarity, transformations and the relationships between geometry shapes.

Algebra II (11th Grade)
Algebra II is the continuation of the study of variables, expressions and functions, as introduced in Algebra I. Major units are organized around families of functions: linear functions, linear systems, quadratic functions, and polynomial functions. The course will also focus on how these types of functions are applicable to real-world situations through hands-on cooperative labs and projects. Furthermore, the use of graphing calculators will be heavily emphasized in order to investigate the properties of the various function families.

Pre-Calculus (12th Grade)
This is a one year college preparatory course that will help students view algebra not only as a
theoretical tool for analyzing and describing mathematical relationships, but they will also experience the power of algebraic thinking in the context of application by studying the mathematical modeling of real world problems. This course content will include function families: polynomial, exponential, logarithmic, rational, and trigonometric.

Mathematics Senior Seminar
Mathematics Senior Seminar is an introduction to the college-level study of mathematics. In
addition students complete a capstone research project, which uses the course material to address an interesting and topical research question or problem. All enrolled students will study Inferential Statistics with a focus on practical applications. Interested students may also pursue other mathematical topics as they relate to their individual final projects. The course itself will focus on reading, analyzing and writing in response to relevant peer-reviewed literature as well as technical texts. The final culminating project will consist of an extensive write-up, presentation to the panel of readers, and an oral examination.
Health and Physical Education

Health, Safety and Physical Education Standard 1 (9th grade) --- Students demonstrate knowledge of physical fitness concepts and the benefits of an active healthy lifestyle.

Health, Safety and Physical Education is based on developing skills in relation to age appropriate health topics. By developing skills related to effectively accessing health resources, communicating, analyzing peer and media influences, goal setting, decision making, and health advocacy, students in The Neighborhood Academy will be able to achieve and maintain optimal wellness. The Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education provide students with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to achieve and maintain a physically active and healthful life.  The attainment of these standards will favorably impact their lives and the lives of those around them.  By becoming and remaining physically, mentally, socially and emotionally healthy, students will increase their chances of achieving their highest academic potential.


Reading and Writing

The tenth grade reading and writing course (RW10) further develops the expository reading and writing skills introduced in RW9. The course requires students to grapple with complex issues and write about them analytically in preparation for their junior research projects. Students will become fluent in the language of academic argument and rhetorical analysis. The class engages in close and critical readings of a diverse set of texts. The year-long course is typically divided into three related thematic units with graduated readings and writing projects. In term I, students complete a 4-6 page single-source analytical essay. In the second term, students examine a more complex issue through a wider set of texts and write a 5-8 page multisource- essay. In the second half of the course students work individually and collectively on an extended interdisciplinary simulation exercise that draws on content knowledge from two or more areas of the tenth grade curriculum. The simulation exercise culminates with a “real-world” public forum debate and with the submission of a 10-12 page “real-world” analytical writing product. Students develop the requisite skills to demonstrate mastery in the major writing projects through weekly deliberate practice in strategic text analysis, logic, the mechanics of writing, vocabulary development, proper source use and documentation, and in effective planning and drafting. Writing conferences, collective issue analysis and informed class participation are critical features of RW10.

Senior Humanities Seminar
“The term humanities includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence(law); philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment …” -National Foundation of the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965 This senior seminar surveys the broad field of humanities with a disciplinary focus on history, literature and religion, with a thematic focus on individual and community transformation and with a methodological focus on problem-solving. The essential question of the seminar is: How do people solve problems to create personal and community transformation? The seminar approaches this question through dual and interconnected programs of collective and individual inquiry. The seminar collectively addresses the essential question by using seminal texts and “cases” in the humanities as lenses for a critical study of the multitude of universal sub-themes and classic humanistic debates imbedded in the question. The study of these themes and debates includes, but are not limited to, the following inquiries: Is it possible to escape one’s past? What are the respective roles of family, community and personal choice in shaping one’s life path? Is there ever a moral imperative to override the law? What starts a revolution? Do “winners” or “losers” write history? Why do we want we want? What makes a young person come to maturity? What varieties of “love” exist in the Bible, literature, social movements and in contemporary life? Collective seminar activities include critical reading and discussion, hypothetical problem-solving, simulation exercises, and argumentative debate. Individually, seminar members engage in a complementary year-long research inquiry that addresses some aspect of the essential question in an original manner, and which culminates in a 20 page analytical research essay. This mentored independent study focuses on mastery of rhetorical skills with a specific emphasis on interpretation, synthesis, and analysis of research texts and on logical argumentation based on evidence. Evaluation will be based on several analytical and interpretive essays, weekly analytical précis (summary) assignments, active and informed participation in seminar discussions, individual oral presentations, quality of contributions to peer-review research and writing workshops, extended 48 and 72 hour exams, originality and sophistication of individual research proposal, and on the level of mastery of the content and skills of the seminar demonstrated in the final 20 page research essay. Regular seminar meetings may be supplemented with guest lectures by scholars and practitioners working in the humanities and in the humanistic social sciences.


Civics (8th Grade)
8th grade civics is designed to equip students with necessary resources and knowledge needed to function as global citizens within their local communities. This course introduces the history of the U.S. government, its foundations, function, and our responsibilities towards it. As well as a basic understanding of civics students are also introduced to important geographic skills.

World History I (9th Grade)
This course explores themes, patterns, and cross curricular comparisons of western and non western civilizations from prehistoric time through 1650. This course will require students to engage with the dynamics of continuity and change across historical periods. Students are taught to analyze the processes and causes involved in these continuities and changes.


Art (8th Grade)
The curriculum is about fundamental skills and vocabulary pertaining to art for this grade level. Gaining confidence and interest, the students will be able to move into higher levels of creative thought process. Perspective, figure studies, ceramic, painting and historical studies of major Artist will be covered in the curriculum. The first unit of study, students will be exposed to group work .We will discuss the elements of art and try to use them in as many ways possible in collaborative mural. The next lesson will be a self-portrait lesson, we will build on the elements of art we have learned and be introspective about ourselves. As the year goes on, the students will study the 3 dimensional world and learn to express it through drawing and clay. All of what humans have created is inspired by the human figure and intellect and how it relates to the natural world. Throughout the course work, the idea of learning how to become observant and to articulate what you see will be the main focus of the curriculum.

Visual Art Studio (9th & 10th Grades)
Moving into the 9th and 10th grade Art Studio course of study will be the next step in developing a deeper understanding of the elements and principles of visual art. In turn these strengthened understandings will be applied to making art projects that will exemplify the creative ideas and expressions of the student artist.  A study of the arts and its role in history and of famous artists that defined the arts of their times will enable students to have a contextual reference about historical periods and the related arts. The 9th grade classes will cover the cave paintings of Lascaux, France, done 35,000 years BCE to the art of the middle ages. Art of Asia and Mesoamerica will be referenced in connections to specific projects in the creation of clay pottery. In the 10th grade students art history studies will reference works of the renaissance to contemporary art.  The cultural context of art will be stressed as students explore analyze and critique the arts,  their methods and techniques used  by various peoples from around the world.