Upper School

Curriculum

List of 4 items.

  • Class IX

    ENGLISH: Their Eyes Were Watching God; grammar; sonnets; Macbeth; Pride and Prejudice.

    GEOMETRY: an intuitive and analytical approach to the mathematics of shapes and space. The properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons and circles are studied through the use of logic and deductive proofs. Algebraic problem-solving skills are reinforced throughout.

    GEOMETRY WITH EXTENDED EXPLORATIONS: geometric concepts in a more abstract form. The properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons and circles are studied through the use of logic and deductive proofs. Other topics may include locus and transformational geometry. Computer software (Geometer’s Sketchpad) is used to extend and explore concepts.
     
    TWENTIETH-CENTURY WORLD HISTORY: global history from the late nineteenth through the twentieth centuries.

    BIOLOGY: life processes, with emphasis on cell biology, DNA, biotechnology, evolution, plant and animal physiology and an extended laboratory exploration into genetics. The course includes a field trip to investigate the ecology of an intertidal zone.

    FRENCH II COMPREHENSIVE: for students who began in Class VII. The focus is on listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students also read poems and excerpts from literature to consolidate their knowledge of grammar and to begin the development of the skills of literary analysis in another language.

    FRENCH II: conclusion of the integrated French curriculum begun in Class V. Systematic study and practice of advanced grammar and introduction to literature through such texts as Némirovsky’s Le Bal and Maupassant’s La Parure.

    COMPREHENSIVE MANDARIN I: an introductory course with an emphasis on practical communicative skills—listening and speaking—supported by drills. Students learn to write and memorize simplified Chinese characters, study basic grammar and develop phonetic awareness in speaking and listening.

    MANDARIN II: for students who began Mandarin in Class V, a course that focuses on listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing with the emphasis on formal grammatical structures and vocabulary. Students discuss topics in Chinese customs and traditions.

    COMPREHENSIVE SPANISH I: introduction to the basic concepts of Spanish grammar and vocabulary through the four skills of speaking, writing, listening and reading. Cultural topics and customs of Spanish-speaking countries are explored. A wide variety of materials and tools are used to increase proficiency.

    SPANISH II: for students who began Spanish in Class V, a thorough review of grammar and the addition of topics such as the subjunctive and the passive voice; exploration of adapted versions of such master works as Don Quijote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes, as well as selections of short pieces by Latin American and Spanish writers.

    LATIN II: completion of the introduction to basic vocabulary and syntax using the Cambridge Latin program, unit 3, and excerpts adapted from Roman authors.
    DRAMA (half credit; throughout the year): introduction to the art of play-making in all of its aspects, from the actor’s approach to the script to the creation of scenery, props and costumes. Particular attention is paid to helping students with skills that serve them well in other areas, including vocal projection, physical poise and strengthened concentration. All students rehearse and perform a full-length play during the second semester.

    MUSIC (half credit; throughout the year):

    VOCAL TECHNIQUE AND LITERATURE: fundamentals of vocal technique and introduction to the solo song literature, ending with a performance Participation in the Upper School Chorus is required (Open also to X–XII ).

    CHAMBER MUSIC/ORCHESTRA: small groups of instrumentalists of like ability study standard chamber repertoire, ending with a performance Participation in the Upper School Orchestra is required (Open also to X–XII ).

    INSTRUMENTAL TECHNIQUES: exploration of technique in a small group setting of like instruments. This course extends the work accomplished in Middle School instrumental classes and supports the repertoire played in the Upper School Orchestra Each semester ends with a performance. Participation in the Upper School Orchestra is required.

    STUDIO ART (half credit; throughout the year): fundamentals of painting, color and composition. Through direct observation and imaginative invention, students develop still-life drawings and paintings in oils. Participation in conceptual and historically based discussions, group critiques and one museum study assignment is required.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: Upper School students choose from a variety of activities that promote health and fitness such as badminton, fitness, Pilates, Tai Chi, running, gymnastics, team sports, Quidditch, dance and yoga. Students can fulfill this requirement by taking three periods a week of PE or by participating in one of fifteen interscholastic teams. All students fulfill the additional requirement of certification in First Aid/CPR by taking the First Aid course offered by the PE Department.

    HEALTH: required of all students in Class IX, this trimester course aims to help them make informed decisions regarding their personal health.
  • Class X

    ENGLISH: American literature, novels, short stories, essays, autobiographies and poems from the Puritans through the moderns. Authors include Wharton, Hawthorne, Twain, Thoreau, Melville, Fitzgerald, Morrison and selected poets.

    ALGEBRA II: study of mathematical relations, functions and transformations; specific topics include polynomial and rational functions, trigonometric functions, exponential and logarithmic functions and the complex number system. The TI-84 graphing calculator is used as a tool for extension, exploration and solution.

    ALGEBRA II WITH EXTENDED EXPLORATIONS: in-depth study of mathematical relations, functions and transformations; specific topics include polynomial and rational functions, trigonometric functions, exponential and logarithmic functions and the complex number system. The TI-84 graphing calculator is used as a tool for extension, exploration and solution.

    PRECALCULUS: extended study of logarithmic and trigonometric functions begun in Algebra II, as well as vectors, conic sections, parametric equations, polar coordinates and graphs, probability and statistics, and sequences and series. Calculus topics include limits, continuity and derivatives. This course prepares students for Advanced Calculus and may be taken with the permission of the Math Department.

    UNITED STATES HISTORY: a chronological survey introducing students to political, economic, social and cultural developments in American history from 1607 to the present. The course incorporates the study of the U S Constitution and federal government, extensive work with primary sources and a focused introduction to historiography. In the spring, students travel to Washington, D C , to meet with people who work in the government.

    CHEMISTRY: an investigation into the nature of matter and chemical change. Specific topics include electron configuration, bonding, gas behavior, the concept of moles, stoichiometry, redox reactions, acid-base and environmental chemistry. The course culminates in a month-long independent research project (Open also to XI and XII).

    FRENCH III COMPREHENSIVE: for students who began in Class VII, this course emphasizes the skills of speaking and writing through study of increasingly advanced vocabulary and grammar, discussion of a broad range of issues in contemporary French society and culture and the reading of short literary and expository texts by authors such as de Maupassant, Camus and Chedid.

    FRENCH III: continued extension and refinement of speaking, writing and reading skills through in-depth analysis and discussions of contemporary topics and works by authors such as Reza and Schmitt.

    COMPREHENSIVE MANDARIN II: continued development of skills in communication, reading and writing; broader and more intensive vocabulary and grammar; work with facility and fluency in tones for individual characters, as well as lexical formations and radicals to aid in memorization of characters.

    MANDARIN III: for students who began in Class V, continued study of grammar and increasingly advanced newspaper vocabulary, leading to discussion of a broader range of issues in Chinese society, history and culture. Students read a selection of short stories and essays from modern authors.

    COMPREHENSIVE SPANISH II: for students who began Spanish in Class IX, an intermediate Spanish course that continues the study of grammar and vocabulary. This course emphasizes oral communication and comprehension. The students read a selection of works from either Latin America or Spain.

    SPANISH III: consolidation of grammar through the study of Latin American and Spanish authors. Students read a full-length novel or play such as El Color de Nuestra Piel, by Gorostiza.

    LATIN III: in the fall, readings in Caesar’s De Bello Gallico or Cicero’s In Catilinam; in the spring, Book IV of Vergil’s Aeneid (the tragic love of Dido and Aeneas).

    DRAMA (half credit; throughout the year): concentration on elements of the actor’s art: motivation, objective, physical realization and script analysis in the first semester. In the second semester, students consider scenic and costume design, stage management, prop building and some stage carpentry as part of the preparation for the performance. Post-production, they explore elements of playwriting and directing. Students develop a sharp critical eye for what makes good theater. The class takes an evening trip to see a professional production.

    MUSIC: see Class IX

    STUDIO ART (half credit; throughout the year): drawing from observation, students explore creative expression through the examination of chiaroscuro and charcoal drawing. A study of printmaking completes the year. One museum study assignment is required.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: see Class IX

    CO-CURRICULAR OFFERINGS
    COMMUNITY SERVICE: see General Catalogue: Learning Beyond the Classroom, page 46

    POETRY WORKSHOP: a yearlong course that offers a rigorous apprenticeship to the art of poetry writing. The course is conducted as a workshop, the focus of which is student work. Students learn to write about what they know (e g , family, grief, place) as a metaphor for the broader human experience. Over the course of the year, they develop their skills in using imagery, figurative language, lineation, repetition, meter, rhyme and syntax, among others. In addition to completing writing assignments, students are expected to read modern poetry and other relevant literature to deepen their understanding of their practice. Not for credit.

    SCIENCE RESEARCH SEMINAR: a three-year sequence that includes reading and discussion of peer-reviewed scientific articles with their authors, who visit Brearley from various New York City research institutions; cutting-edge laboratory work on RNA interference, Polymerase Chain Reaction and DNA sequencing; opportunities for research internships and entry in Intel or Siemens competitions. This program accepts 5 new students from Class X each year for a total of 15 enrolled students. Not for credit.
  • Class XI

    ENGLISH: elective in poetic analysis (for example, John Donne and the Metaphysical Poets; Victorian to Modern Poetry; Romantic Poetry; or Bishop, Larkin and Lowell); a required trimester on Greek tragedy and King Lear; and a spring elective on narrative works (The Canterbury Tales; James’s The Portrait of a Lady and other narratives of travel and exile; or Rushdie and Lahiri).

    MATHEMATICS
    PRECALCULUS AND AN INTRODUCTION TO DIFFERENTIAL CALCULUS: extended study of functions and trigonometry begun in Class X. Additional topics may include vectors, conic sections, parametric equations, polar coordinates, probability and statistics, and sequences and series. Calculus topics include limits and derivatives. This course prepares students for the study of AB Calculus.

    PRECALCULUS AND DIFFERENTIAL CALCULUS: extended study of functions and trigonometry begun in Class X, as well as vectors, conic sections, parametric equations, polar coordinates and graphs, probability and statistics, and sequences and series. Calculus topics include limits, derivatives and applications of derivatives. This course prepares students for the study of BC Calculus.

    ADVANCED CALCULUS: differential and integral calculus of functions of one variable with applications; power series. Students wishing to take the College Board AP BC Calculus exam will find that this course provides suitable preparation.

    INTERSCHOOL GAME THEORY (half credit; throughout the year): theoretical analysis of game theory taught through applications in economics, politics, business, evolutionary biology, religion, philosophy, computer science and sports, as well as through games such as poker and chess. Quantitative models are developed for strategic situations, and analysis includes optimization and graphical analysis. This course is offered through the Interschool consortium.

    INTERSCHOOL COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING (half credit; throughout the year): Students work together on one very challenging problem at a time the way mathematicians do - collaboratively and over an extended period of time. 
    Problems discussed in class will be chosen so as to introduce a particular topic. There will be homework consisting of problems taken from the same topic. Students will gradually acquire sophisticated problem solving skills and a knowledge base that allows them to successfully tackle the sorts of problems one sees on the more challenging math contests, such as AIME or the United States Mathematical Olympiad.

    HISTORY
    HISTORY OF CHINA AND JAPAN: an investigation into the history and culture of China and Japan, starting with the momentous twentieth century and then looking back chronologically at developments in both countries. The course culminates in a consideration of disparate responses to European incursions in the modern period, the legacies of World War II and China and Japan in the world today (Open also to XII ).

    MODERN EUROPEAN HISTORY: a survey of political, economic, intellectual and social history from the French Revolution to the present, based on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, with emphasis on controversial topics in historical interpretation (Open also to XII ).

    MODERN LATIN AMERICA: an introduction to issues and themes in the history of Latin America since 1800. Students explore the most important political, economic, social and cultural developments that characterize the region as a whole, while keeping in mind the considerable variation among the countries in the region.

    HISTORY OF WARFARE: a survey of the history of war from prehistory to the present. Students will examine the development of infantry, cavalry, artillery and asymmetrical warfare. New York City as a theater of war is a major focus (Open also to XII ).

    MODERNISM IN ART: a study of significant developments in art beginning with the French Revolution up until the present (Open also to XII ).

    LAW, ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY: an introduction to the history and structures of American civil and criminal law, with a focus on the ways that law and economic thinking structure foreign and domestic policies (Open also to XII ).

    SCIENCE
    ADVANCED BIOLOGY: intensive investigation of selected topics, including biochemistry, energetics, ultrastructure of cells, information transfer (structure and function of the gene; genetics of populations), biotechnology, evolution, the morphology and physiology of plants and animals, ecology and mathematical modeling. Students write grant proposals on topics of their choice Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry (Open also to XII ).

    ADVANCED CHEMISTRY: further exploration of topics introduced in Chemistry, and new topics including molecular architecture, orbital hybridization, thermodynamics and kinetics. Computer-assisted sensors help students gather and analyze data and relate chemical topics to real-world situations Prerequisites: Biology and Chemistry (Open also to XII ).

    CHEMISTRY: see Class X

    PHYSICS: the investigation of the nature of forces and energy and their interactions with matter, using creative problem-solving projects, experimental design and cooperative learning activities. Topics include mechanical, thermal, wave electric/electromagnetic and nuclear energy (Open also to XII ).

    ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY (half credit in either semester; full credit if taken all year): the role of science, economics and government policy in developing an environmentally sustainable world. The course considers such topics as energy production, climate change, freshwater resources, agriculture, fisheries, waste management and biodiversity (Open also to XII ).

    COMPUTER SCIENCE AND PROGRAMMING (half credit in either semester; full credit if taken all year): in the first semester, students investigate topics in computer science including computer hardware, software and programming algorithms; in the second semester, students learn basics of the Java programming language through problem solving, debugging logical and syntax errors and creating original object-oriented programs.

    MODERN LANGUAGES
    FRENCH IV: an examination of French culture through the history, literature and other media of two key periods—the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. Authors include Corneille, Molière, La Fontaine, Camus and Césaire.

    MANDARIN IV: extensive reading of essays, stories and newspaper and magazine articles; discussion of current events; analytical and creative writing; introduction to traditional Chinese characters.

    COMPREHENSIVE SPANISH III: a continuation of the course of study begun in Class IX. Students continue the study of grammatical structures including sequence of tenses, and read short stories, excerpts from novels and level-adapted versions of literary masterpieces.

    SPANISH IV: a continuation of the course of study began in Class V. More extensive and sustained exercises in speaking and writing about Hispanic literature and visual culture reinforces knowledge of grammar and vocabulary.

    CLASSICS
    LATIN IV: selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and from the poems of Catullus.

    GREEK I (half credit; throughout the year): introduction to Attic Greek. Topics include the principles of word formation and syntax, Aesop’s fables and the life of Alexander the Great (Open also to XII ).

    ARTS
    STUDIO ART (half credit; throughout the year): advanced work in the studio with in-depth exploration of various drawing and painting media. One museum study assignment is required.

    DRAWING FALL (half credit; fall semester): comprehensive introduction to advanced drawing techniques, including linear and tonal drawing and mixed media. Students draw from a variety of subjects, including still life, animals, architecture, landscape and interiors. One museum study assignment is required (Open also to XII ).

    DRAWING SPRING (half credit; spring semester): figure drawing; working from models, either animal or human, students complete full figure compositions, head studies, drapery studies and figures in interiors. One museum study assignment is required (Open also to XII ).

    DRAMA
    PLAYWRITING (spring semester): introduction to the art of playwriting. By mid-semester students write and edit their own ten-minute plays; by the end of the semester they write a one-act play for presentation to the public using student actors.

    MUSIC
    For applied music offerings, see Class IX
    MUSIC PERFORMANCE (half credit; throughout the year): awarded to instrumental and voice students who satisfy requirements through a recital given in Class XI or XII. Admission to this program is by audition in Class X or XI.

    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: see Class IX

    CO-CURRICULAR
    JUNIOR SEMINAR: a yearlong class that encompasses health education, life skills, college advising and the transition to college (Required of all students in Class XI ).

    COMMUNITY SERVICE: see General Catalogue:Learning Beyond the Classroom, page 46

    POETRY WORKSHOP: see Class X

    SCIENCE RESEARCH SEMINAR: see Class X
  • Class XII

    ENGLISH: required unit of essays and poetry; electives from late fall through the winter term in Russian literature (short fiction by Chekhov, Gogol, Pushkin, Tolstoy and Turgenev; Anna Karenina), William Faulkner’s fiction, Virginia Woolf and James Baldwin, South African literature; spring electives determined by interests of students (in recent years, primarily individual projects in fiction, drama or writing).

    MATHEMATICS
    FUNDAMENTALS OF CALCULUS: covers the basic topics of differential and integral calculus with an emphasis on applications.

    CALCULUS: differential and integral calculus of functions of one variable with application. Students wishing to take the College Board AP AB Calculus exam will nd that this course provides suitable preparation.

    ADVANCED CALCULUS: see Class XI

    LINEAR ALGEBRA: vectors, linear transformations, general vector spaces and the algebra of matrices.

    INTERSCHOOL GAME THEORY: see Class XI

    INTERSCHOOL COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING (half credit; throughout the year): Students work together on one very challenging problem at a time the way mathematicians do - collaboratively and over an extended period of time. 
    Problems discussed in class will be chosen so as to introduce a particular topic. There will be homework consisting of problems taken from the same topic. Students will gradually acquire sophisticated problem solving skills and a knowledge base that allows them to successfully tackle the sorts of problems one sees on the more challenging math contests, such as AIME or the United States Mathematical Olympiad.

    HISTORY
    HISTORY OF CHINA AND JAPAN: see Class XI
    MODERN EUROPEAN HISTORY: see Class XI
    HISTORY OF WARFARE: see Class XI
    MODERN LATIN AMERICA: see Class XI
    MODERNISM IN ART: see Class XI
    LAW, ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY: see Class XI

    SCIENCE
    ADVANCED BIOLOGY: see Class XI
    ADVANCED CHEMISTRY: see Class XI
    ADVANCED PHYSICS: a calculus-based extended study of relationships between forces, matter and energy through lectures, creative problem solving and experimental design. Selected topics include kinematics and dynamics, rotational mechanics, wave mechanics, physical and geometrical optics, and nuclear and particle physics. Prerequisite: Physics.
    CHEMISTRY: see Class X
    PHYSICS: see Class XI
    ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY: see Class XI
    COMPUTER SCIENCE AND PROGRAMMING: see Science, Class XI

    MODERN LANGUAGES
    FRENCH V: exploration of French and francophone cultures, including political and sociological issues of the modern world, through readings drawn from classical and contemporary literature as well as other media including newspapers, magazines and the Internet.

    MANDARIN V: focus on formal grammatical structures and phrases. Students will further expand their vocabulary and identify subtle differences between synonyms. Readings include novels by contemporary Chinese authors from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

    COMPREHENSIVE SPANISH IV: completion of the course of study began in Class IX. Discussion and written analysis of cultural topics based on films chosen from various countries in the Hispanic world.

    SPANISH V: completion of the course of study begun in Class XII.

    CLASSICS
    LATIN V: the study of a particular author or genre; for example, the speeches or letters of Cicero, the comedies of Plautus, Horace’s Odes or selections from the Roman historians.

    GREEK I: see Class XI

    GREEK II (half credit; throughout the year): continuation of the study of Attic Greek. Students read adapted versions of The Apology, The Clouds and the histories of Herodotus.

    ARTS
    ACTING AND DRAMATIC LITERATURE (half-credit; spring semester): combines the study of major plays, predominantly modern, with the chance to perform in an intensive scene workshop. Playwrights in the syllabus include Williams, Miller, Ibsen, Treadwell, Hellman and Parks. The class meets at least two evenings in the semester to attend professional theatre.

    STUDIO ART: see Class XI
    DRAWING: see Class XI
    MUSIC: see Class IX
    MUSIC PERFORMANCE CREDIT: see Class XI

    COMPUTER EDUCATION
    COMPUTER SCIENCE AND PROGRAMMING (divisible into two separate half courses): see Science, Class XI
    PHYSICAL EDUCATION: see Class IX

    CO-CURRICULAR
    SENIOR SEMINAR: a yearlong class that encompasses health education, life skills, college advising and the transition to college (Required of all students in Class XII ).
    POETRY WORKSHOP: see Class X
    SCIENCE RESEARCH SEMINAR: see Class X
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