Exploratory Classes

Students take a wide range of elective offerings to broaden their perspective and a give real-world significance to content learned in the core academic classes. Students are encouraged to take risks now while the stakes are as low as they will ever be. Grades are not given, students receive marks based on their level of participation and engagement in the course. Exploratory classes are a part of the class period rotation and students change courses every 9 weeks. Students are required to take one Fine Art each middle school year.

2019-20 Offerings by Grade

6th grade: Art, Band, Robotics, Life Skills, Robotics

7th grade: Art, Band, World Cultures, Music Theory: Composition

8th grade: Art, Band, Financial Literacy, Theater

6th Grade Course Descriptions

Presentation Skills 6
Sixth grade students will tackle their fear of speaking in front of others by participating in a wide variety of communication activities. Reading dramatically, participating in scenes from plays, presenting poetry, and participating in debate-style discussions will be included. Learning to effectively create visual presentations to augment oral presentations will be a focus. Students will be exposed to poetry, plays, stories, and TED talks as they learn to communicate their own stories and ideas in the 21st century.

Art 101 (Fine Art) 6
Students study the elements of line, shape, form, color, texture, space, and principles of design – the rules that govern how elements are organized in a composition. This course includes a variety of media and connections to art history, cultures, and artists. Students will gain a foundation to discuss and evaluate their own, along with peer work, in a supportive atmosphere.

Art 102 (Fine Art) 6
Students continue the study of the elements of art and discover the importance of balance, unity, contrast, emphasis, pattern, movement, and rhythm in the design process. A variety of media will be explored and may include painting, sculpture, fiber, book arts, drawing, cartooning, and clay. Resources from art history, cultures, and other artists will be used to inspire work.

Band (Fine Art)
This course provides students with learning and performance opportunities on a wide variety of “modern day” instruments (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, piano, and drums), as well as the traditional wind and percussion instruments. The primary focus is on the development and expansion of skills that are necessary for effective instrumental music performance, while maintaining a fun and exciting musical environment. In addition to large group ensembles, individual growth and achievement are encouraged through participation in solo and small ensembles and honor bands.

Life Skills
Life Skills is an exploratory class that teaches students skills and abilities that will help to make them successful and independent adults. Students will be involved in the following units: food, clothing, woodworking,etiquette, and gardening.

Improv (Fine Art)
This course features a range of confidence-building exercises, trust- and ensemble-building games, character development, and scene work. Students will learn to (gently) face fears while working to free the imagination, build self-confidence, and become more spontaneous and receptive to new playful ideas in a playful, safe atmosphere. This course will help students become more comfortable in themselves, no matter the situation. Sometimes silly, sometimes outrageous, improv asks students to think outside the box and say “yes” to the unscripted.

It’s Your World
This course will be an in-depth study of our current world. Students should have a greater awareness of the political, social, economy, geography and religious happenings of the current world. Through the exploration of current events using online resources, student will acquire a better understanding of the global community.

Robotics Ready ES
This activity-oriented, cutting-edge program shows students how technology is used in engineering to solve everyday problems. This course is designed to motivate students to become creative innovators. Students will gain the skills they need to develop, produce, and build innovative products and prototypes. They will face a variety of challenges that help them apply mechanical principles and programming skills.

Theater Makeup (Fine Art)
This course offers students the opportunity to learn and apply the fundamental principles of standard and character stage makeup. This course will introduce the application and design of makeup for the stage in both theory and practice. By the end of the semester, the student will be able to grasp the theoretical principles of makeup design and application. We will look at applying your own basic and corrective make-up, creating old-age makeup, design and applying the makeup for a character from dramatic literature, and designing and applying a fantasy or extreme makeup. We will also learn how to apply gore makeup, including cuts, bruises, burns, and scars, among others.

Theater Movement (Fine Art)
This course is based on physical movement exploration and exercises designed to help students overcome their stage inhibitions and to awaken them to fully embodying a character through a physical approach. The course will include learning to carry oneself for a variety of ages and characters, as well as stage combat and other movement techniques. The course also makes use of yoga, meditation, and relaxation to connect to the character through mind and body.

Un-Improv (Fine Art)
(Acting with a script) If the idea of being totally unscripted terrifies you, then this course is the exact opposite! Un-Improv uses monologues, duet scenes, and group scenes to discover characters from existing scripts. Students will discover how to analyze a script to create an authentic character based on the author’s words and how to bring that character to life with basic acting techniques. The course will utilize a variety of genres, including humorous and dramatic, among others. While not improvisation, it is still possible to think outside the box while staying within the written page.

You Say Utopia, I Say Dystopia? (Fine Art)
We all dream of perfection; the body and skill of an Olympic athlete; all A’s on every report card; the perfect society, with everyone happily going about their lives. But perfection comes at a cost and remains always out of reach. The idea of a utopia, paired with the stark reality that it can never exist, is just one of the reasons Dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Divergent are so popular. Students will explore some of the shorter works of this genre, discussing why this post-apocalyptic attempt at perfection will always be doomed to fail.

Tech Skills Ready PM
This course is designed to help prepare students to be successful in Middle School. This is achieved by introducing them to essential technologies and skills such as Google, Typing, Coding, Presentation Skills, and 3D Printing.


7th Grade Course Descriptions

Health 7 *required
This course is designed for students to address ways to maintain overall health and wellness. Students will encourage a healthy lifestyle by developing sound nutritional practices and positive physical activity habits. Topics covered will include the following:
  • Promotion and protection of good emotional and mental health.
  • Understanding and developing skills to help avoid tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.
  • Understanding the physical and emotional changes that occur during puberty.

Mixed Media (Fine Art) 7th & 8th
This course will introduce students to the materials, techniques, concepts, and processes essential to understanding the visual arts and the role of the artist, through a series of studio projects. Students will be exploring a variety of media through collage, printmaking, drawing, and painting. Students will learn to layer and combine materials while creating meaningful works of art.

Drawing Techniques and Clay (Fine Art) 7th & 8th
Students will begin the course by exploring methods from the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. They will transition from the left brain to the right, leaving behind the verbal side and moving to the non-verbal side. Shape, space, negative space, perspectives, portrait drawing, and value using lights and shadows will also be covered.

The second half of the nine weeks, students will create art by using clay. Pinch, coil, and slab methods along with a variety of surface design and glazing techniques will be taught. Examples of projects may include decorative sculptures, coil vessels, slab boxes, bowls, and mugs.

Band (Fine Art)
This course provides students with learning and performance opportunities on a wide variety of “modern day” instruments (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, piano, and drums), as well as the traditional wind and percussion instruments. The primary focus is on the development and expansion of skills that are necessary for effective instrumental music performance, while maintaining a fun and exciting musical environment. In addition to large group ensembles, individual growth and achievement are encouraged through participation in solo and small ensembles and honor bands.

Music Theory: Composition (Fine Art)
Music making (composing, improvising, performing, listening) continues to change over time. This course allows students the ability to share their musical creativity, with providing and enhancing tools and techniques to foster development. The focus of written assignments will be to develop musical ideas and notation methods that effectively allows students to become successful performers.

Illuminated Autobiography
“Know thyself” is a maxim that originated in ancient Greece, but its value has been such that it has withstood the test of time and been passed down for generations; it is sage advice no matter the era or culture. To see the value of such wisdom, students of the Illuminated Autobiography Exploratory will get to know themselves (their strengths, weaknesses, what motivates them, etc…) by writing a series of prompted mini autobiographies. Students will then “illuminate” their autobiographies with visual representation of their message using multiple mediums. Finally, students will bind their illuminated autobiography into a book; one that can be kept to remind them of the importance of knowing thyself. Emphasized throughout the exploratory will be composition, writing mechanics, and benefits of self-reflection, and how to communicate effectively through multiple mediums.

Improv (Fine Art)
This course features a range of confidence-building exercises, trust- and ensemble-building games, character development, and scene work. Students will learn to (gently) face fears while working to free the imagination, build self-confidence, and become more spontaneous and receptive to new playful ideas in a playful, safe atmosphere. This course will help students become more comfortable in themselves, no matter the situation. Sometimes silly, sometimes outrageous, improve asks students to think outside the box and say “yes” to the unscripted.

It’s Your World
This course will be an in-depth study of our current world. Students should have a greater awareness of the political, social, economy, geography, and religious happenings of the current world. Through the exploration of current events using online resources, students will acquire a better understanding of the global community.

Sports Analytics for Students
Students will be introduced to the analytical research and methods used by professional sports organizations to put the most successful, cost effective teams on their respective playing fields. Students will learn how math data is quantified and applied to personnel decisions.

Theater Makeup (Fine Art)
This course offers students the opportunity to learn and apply the fundamental principles of standard and character stage makeup. This course will introduce the application and design of makeup for the stage in both theory and practice. By the end of the semester, the student will be able to grasp the theoretical principles of makeup design and application. We will look at applying your own basic and corrective make-up, creating old-age makeup, design and applying the makeup for a character from dramatic literature, and designing and applying a fantasy or extreme makeup. We will also learn how to apply gore makeup, including cuts, bruises, burns, and scars, among others.

Theater Movement (Fine Art)
This course is based on physical movement exploration and exercises designed to help students overcome their stage inhibitions and to awaken them to fully embodying a character through a physical approach. The course will include learning to carry oneself for a variety of ages and characters, as well as stage combat and other movement techniques. The course also makes use of yoga, meditation, and relaxation to connect to the character through mind and body.

Un-Improv (Fine Art)
(Acting with a script) If the idea of being totally unscripted terrifies you, then this course is the exact opposite! Un-Improv uses monologues, duet scenes, and group scenes to discover characters from existing scripts. Students will discover how to analyze a script to create an authentic character based on the author’s words and how to bring that character to life with basic acting techniques. The course will utilize a variety of genres, including humorous and dramatic, among others. While not improvisation, it is still possible to think outside the box while staying within the written page.

You Say Utopia, I Say Dystopia? (Fine Art)
We all dream of perfection; the body and skill of an Olympic athlete; all A’s on every report card; the perfect society, with everyone happily going about their lives. But perfection comes at a cost and remains always out of reach. The idea of a utopia, paired with the stark reality that it can never exist, is just one of the reasons Dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Divergent are so popular. Students will explore some of the shorter works of this genre, discussing why this post-apocalyptic attempt at perfection will always be doomed to fail.

8th Grade Course Descriptions

Research, Live, Create: Tell the Story
Students should experience the wide variety of ways to inform themselves and others through both formal research and the power of creative storytelling. Participants in this course will complete a fully documented research paper from a list of three choices. Emphasis will be on creating citations & taking notes in order to meld three credible sources into a coherent, meaningful, research paper. Noodle tools, Google Docs, and Turnitin will be used.

During the second half of the quarter, students will transform their research into the creative writing style of the graphic novel. Finally, they will reflect on their own life and studies to create graphic panels. Pixon.com and Story Board will be used.

Band (Fine Art)
This course provides students with learning and performance opportunities on a wide variety of “modern day” instruments (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, ukulele, piano, and drums), as well as the traditional wind and percussion instruments. The primary focus is on the development and expansion of skills that are necessary for effective instrumental music performance, while maintaining a fun and exciting musical environment. In addition to large group ensembles, individual growth and achievement are encouraged through participation in solo and small ensembles and honor bands.

Broadcast Journalism
This exploratory is an introduction to journalism. Middle grades students who think they may be interested in writing for a newspaper can explore what it means to be a journalist and write the news. The focus of the exploratory will be small scale such as daily/weekly announcements, real-time sports updates, and student activity/academic reminders. News will primarily be communicated through social media applications such a Twitter and SnapChat with an emphasis on creating captivating and accurate infographics to communicate news concisely and with high interest.

Coding
This course is an introduction to computer science and coding. Students will focus on core computer science concepts, problem-solving, design, and programming. Students will learn fundamental computer science concepts in the context of modeling and simulation by creating. Topics covered will include sequencing, repetition, events, conditional logic, animation, storytelling, and debugging.

Digital Photography 101 (Fine Art) 8th
Students will learn the functions and modes of a DSLR camera, including an introduction to white balance, histograms, flash, rule of thirds, and other camera techniques. Students will experiment with different camera shots: landscapes, portraits, action shots, and wildlife. Use of Photoshop for basic photo editing will also be covered.

Mixed Media (Fine Art) 8th
This course will Introduces students to the materials, techniques, concepts, and processes essential to understanding the visual arts and the role of the artist, through a series of studio projects. Students will be exploring a variety of media through collage, printmaking, drawing, and painting. Students will learn to layer and combine materials while creating meaningful works of art.

Drawing Techniques and Clay (Fine Art)
Students will begin the course by exploring methods from the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. They will transition from the left brain to the right, leaving behind the verbal side and moving to the non-verbal side. Shape, space, negative space, perspectives, portrait drawing, and value using lights and shadows will also be covered.

The second half of the nine weeks, students will create art by using clay. Pinch, coil, and slab methods along with a variety of surface design and glazing techniques will be taught. Examples of projects may include decorative sculptures, coil vessels, slab boxes, bowls, and mugs.

Improv (Fine Art)
This course features a range of confidence-building exercises, trust- and ensemble-building games, character development, and scene work. Students will learn to (gently) face fears while working to free the imagination, build self-confidence, and become more spontaneous and receptive to new playful ideas in a playful, safe atmosphere. This course will help students become more comfortable in themselves, no matter the situation. Sometimes silly, sometimes outrageous, improve asks students to think outside the box and say “yes” to the unscripted.

Modern Ec
A forward-thinking new kind of class that will give a generation of young people the skills to shop intelligently, cook healthily, manage finacially, and live well. Students will develop valuable skills that will be relevant and useful for the rest of their lives.

Speak Up!
Ha-hmmm… check, one, two…thp, thp, thp…is this thing on? You have, no doubt, heard of fates worse than death. Well, for many people, there is one that stands above all others: public speaking. Learning to communicate well and speak with poise is among the most beneficial skills with which you can leave DWS. In this course, students will learn to plan, research, compose, practice and deliver speeches. So, open your mind, clear your throat, and get ready to overcome your fears and become a better orator.

Theater Makeup (Fine Art)
This course offers students the opportunity to learn and apply the fundamental principles of standard and character stage makeup. This course will introduce the application and design of makeup for the stage in both theory and practice. By the end of the semester, the student will be able to grasp the theoretical principles of makeup design and application. We will look at applying your own basic and corrective make-up, creating old-age makeup, design and applying the makeup for a character from dramatic literature, and designing and applying a fantasy or extreme makeup. We will also learn how to apply gore makeup, including cuts, bruises, burns, and scars, among others.

Theater Movement (Fine Art)
This course is based on physical movement exploration and exercises designed to help students overcome their stage inhibitions and to awaken them to fully embodying a character through a physical approach. The course will include learning to carry oneself for a variety of ages and characters, as well as stage combat and other movement techniques. The course also makes use of yoga, meditation, and relaxation to connect to the character through mind and body.

Un-Improv (Fine Art)
(Acting with a script) If the idea of being totally unscripted terrifies you, then this course is the exact opposite! Un-Improv uses monologues, duet scenes, and group scenes to discover characters from existing scripts. Students will discover how to analyze a script to create an authentic character based on the author’s words and how to bring that character to life with basic acting techniques. The course will utilize a variety of genres, including humorous and dramatic, among others. While not improvisation, it is still possible to think outside the box while staying within the written page.

You Say Utopia, I Say Dystopia? (Fine Art)
We all dream of perfection; the body and skill of an Olympic athlete; all A’s on every report card; the perfect society, with everyone happily going about their lives. But perfection comes at a cost and remains always out of reach. The idea of a utopia, paired with the stark reality that it can never exist, is just one of the reasons Dystopian novels like The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Divergent are so popular. Students will explore some of the shorter works of this genre, discussing why this post-apocalyptic attempt at perfection will always be doomed to fail.

Robotics Ready PM
This activity-oriented, cutting-edge program shows students how technology is used in engineering to solve everyday problems. This course is designed to motivate students to become creative innovators. Students will gain the skills they need to develop, produce, and build innovative products and prototypes. They will face a variety of challenges that help them apply mechanical principles and programming skills.

Entrepreneurship
This is a 9-week course is designed to teach students what being an entrepreneur is all about. It will go over the risk and rewards and that can come from being an entrepreneur. It will dabble in money management, marketing, selling, and anything else that comes up throughout the 9 weeks. The last half of the class students will create their own business in which they actually sell a product or service and charge a fee.


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