9th Grade Courses

Two Term Courses

These courses meet two out of three terms and earn 10 credits.

English 9: Power, Fate, and Choice

Power, fate, and choice play off each other in exciting, mysterious ways, in our own lives and in the stories we read. English 9 introduces you to a great diversity of literature with characters who make complicated, controversial choices for reasons both noble and selfish. In doing so, they fight fate and question the status quo. The characters’ struggles allow you to discover the universality of themes and questions that have fascinated authors for centuries, across boundaries of time and culture and space. You will explore the concept of the protagonist as a hero, whether tragic, traditional, reluctant, or imaginary, and question the hero’s fate and highest and best purpose. With each text, you examine the characters’ fights, intentions, and sacrifices, as well as how similar struggles continue to play out in society today. Readings include fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, and drama, incorporating ancient and contemporary texts. Class is structured around a reading and writing workshop model, in which you read independently and write personally and creatively on a daily basis. Participation involves discussions, debates, acting, and oral presentations. As readers, as speakers, and as writers, you are asked to move beyond simply observing and reporting to the more complex task of analyzing and interpreting, to offer your own fresh perspective of the literature. Throughout both terms, you will build your vocabulary and grammar skills during regular lessons.

Possible texts: Purple Hibiscus by Adichie; Oedipus Rex and Antigone by Sophocles; I Am the Messenger by Zusak; Macbeth by Shakespeare. Various selections of poetry and memoir also populate the course.

Global History I: U.S. History

Nation and Nationalism (Required)

If you could build your own nation, what would it be like? In this class, you will have the opportunity to understand how nations are built, how they expand, and how national identity is shaped and cemented through culture, politics, and conflict. You will also evaluate the goals of the U.S. as a new nation and examine how citizens have shaped its course toward these goals since its founding amidst ever-evolving global challenges and opportunities.

For the second term of Global History I students choose of the following options:

The Age of Reforms

From Thomas Paine to Sojourner Truth, and from the women’s rights movement of the early 19th century through the Progressive Era and the women’s suffrage movement, this course examines the root causes of the political, social, economic, and cultural reform movements that have existed in the United States. How successful were those reformers, and how did some of their objectives become part of mainstream political discourse? Using multiple perspectives and sources, you will learn about the people and movements that helped shape the United States and then assess the effectiveness of those movements.

Of the people, By the people, For the people

Is democracy the best form of government? What is “democracy,” anyhow? Can a true democracy adequately respond to the will of the majority while protecting the rights and interests of all citizens? Who holds the power in a democracy? This course will examine the U.S. political system, its development, its impact on society, and its influence around the world. You will also compare American democracy with other forms of government around the world and consider both its strengths and the challenges it faces in an increasingly complex global context.

Math: Algebra I

In this course, students will deepen their understanding of equations, systems of equations, rational and radical expressions, functions and graphing.  Students will build a strong foundation for Algebra 2 by working extensively with linear functions, improving number sense and grappling with a variety of real-world applications.

Not offered at the Honors level.

Math: Algebra II

This course reviews and extends Algebra I topics, covering linear and quadratic functions, linear systems, polynomials, and logarithmic and exponential functions.

Prerequisites: Algebra I. Honors level requires departmental permission.
Offered at the Honors and Standard levels. Recommendations made by the department.

Modern Language: Chinese I

This introductory course for Mandarin Chinese is designed for students who have no previous exposure to the language. It stresses the building blocks of spoken and written communication- pronunciation, tones, stroke order and radical recognition. Students will be able to engage in basic daily interactions in Chinese using speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Grammar is introduced incrementally through story telling as functional chunks for meaningful communication. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way, and the topics that are discussed include: introductory greetings, family, dates and time, hobbies, visiting friends, making plans, studying Chinese and school life. Students will also study cultural and historic elements of the Chinese-speaking world. Audio and video materials, computer software, games, projects, and presentations foster student interaction and participation. By the end of the first year, students should know approximately 300 words.

Two terms course.

Modern Language: French I

This introductory course provides students with the basic skills to read, write, speak and understand introductory-level French. The emphasis of the class is to acquire language through constant exposure to comprehensible input with the use of storytelling and reading. In the second term, the teacher uses French exclusively in class. Vocabulary will be taught communicatively through stories and with some thematic units including greetings, telling time, weather, school, sports, food, making plans, family, and clothing. Grammar will be acquired mainly through listening and reading, although there will be some direct instruction. Students completing this class will be able to comfortably use the present tense of common regular and irregular verbs, articles, subject pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, commands, question formation, possessive adjectives and more.

Two terms course.

Modern Language: Spanish for Native Speakers

This course offers Spanish-speaking students the opportunity to study Spanish formally in an academic setting in the same way that native English-speaking students study English language arts. In this course students will review grammar structures and develop academic vocabulary that will help them critically analyze a text, write essays, and acquire new information in different content areas. Students will examine not only linguistic but socio-cultural issues, developing a greater understanding of their Hispanic heritage. Students will develop their ability to think, write and speak maturely and persuasively in Spanish as they debate a variety of contemporary polemics. The course is divided into units, each one focusing on a particular Spanish-speaking author. Reading selections written in standard academic Spanish will serve as a departure point for discussion, writing and grammar activities. The instructional approach integrates language and content with emphasis on grammar and acquisition of new vocabulary, as well as developing techniques to write academic papers in Spanish.

Two terms course.

Modern Language: Spanish I

This introductory course provides students with the basic skills to read, to write, to speak, and to understand introductory-level Spanish. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way, and the topics discussed include: introductory greetings, friendship, school, sports, leisure activities, food, family, clothing, the home, and health. Grammar is learned incrementally, and the topics introduced include: indefinite and definite articles, subject pronouns, the present tense of regular verbs, the present tense of irregular verbs, adjective agreement and placement, possessive adjectives, direct and indirect objects, and the preterit tense of regular verbs. Students also study aspects of various Spanish-speaking countries. Audio and video materials, computer software, games, projects, and presentations foster student interaction and participation.

Two terms course.

Performing Art: Acting and Technical Theater - Foundations of Theater

This introductory course is an overview of the major components of theater including acting, technical theater, public speaking, and script analysis. Students will begin the year working on developing the Actor’s Process through warm-up exercises, rehearsal techniques and games, improvisation and scene work. Students will learn about specific script analysis tools and the design and production aspects of theatre. Practical hands-on stagecraft is taught in the various theatres and theatre-related spaces such as the scene shop and control booth. The aim of the course is to prepare students to implement and perform in a public production at the end of the spring term.

This course meets for two terms and is a prerequisite for students entering the Upper School Theater Program.

Performing Art: Choral - A Cappella

A Capella builds on and further develops the skills introduced in Circa and the Men’s Ensemble by strengthening students’ ensemble singing, vocal technique, and music literacy while introducing a cappella vocal arranging and improvisation. Students will begin the term by working on developing vocal technique through warm-up exercises, reading sheet music and exploring diverse repertoire. Throughout the course, they will learn how to work independently in smaller quartets and will be given leadership opportunities in weekly rehearsals. The aim of the course is to prepare students to arrange and rehearse a cappella vocal music independently and to perform in public concerts throughout the term.

Can be take for one or two terms.
Prerequisite: Men’s Ensemble or Circa or permission from the instructor.

Performing Art: Instrumental - Beaver Ensemble

The Beaver Ensemble is a two term course open to all instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass, percussion). This performing arts course strives to build a strong foundation for the student musician. Students will study and play a wide range of repertoire with a focus on building technical skills on acoustic instruments and making cultural connections with the music. Musicianship skills developed will include sight-reading, instrumental technique, improvisation, ear-training, ensemble skills, intonation and theory. The ensemble will perform in formal mandatory concerts throughout the year. Each student is required to audition for placement in this ensemble and should be capable of playing their instrument with at least one year of private lessons and/or ensemble experience. Weekly individual lessons on their instruments are strongly recommended and available on campus to students for an additional fee. Financial aid information for private lessons is available upon request.

Science: Conceptual Physics A and B

A student’s first upper school science course at Beaver, Conceptual Physics is a two-term course that introduces many of the major skills and themes of science through collaborative investigations and design challenges. The first term uses a hands-on, model-building approach to develop an understanding of how circuits work while developing foundational skills of inquiry, problem-solving, collaboration, experimentation, data analysis, communication of ideas, and more. The first term concludes with an introduction to kinematics and the use of algebraic and graphical tools to represent motion.

In the second term of physics, students will complete either a standard or honors curriculum (based on instructor recommendation) as they continue exploring kinematics, dynamics, Newton’s Laws, and energy. Basic algebraic expressions are used to describe various relationships, and development of problem-solving skills is an important goal. At the honors level, more complex mathematical manipulations are essential to deepening understanding of physical relationships.

Visual Art

In this class you will have the opportunity to work in all the visual art studios and with all the visual art faculty. Identify your own artistic interests, build on past creative experiences, and develop the technical skills you need to make your ideas visible. Instruction will cover a range of materials, tools, and techniques. Regular discussion of The World of Art and Art History will provide context for our work. Critiques, documentation, and presentation will be essential elements of the class, with an emphasis on both process and product. Try something new or pursue your lifelong passion. 

This class may be taken more than once. No prerequisite


One Term Courses

These courses meet one term, Fall, Winter, or Spring and earn 5 credits each. English and history students seeking Honors designation sign contracts in the first term of next year to earn that credit.

Modern Language: Foundations of Chinese

Foundations of Chinese builds on students’ basic proficiency established in Chinese I. Students may enroll in this course having demonstrated proficiency equivalent to completion a full-year high school course. This course will continue to develop students’ listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. Grammar is studied incrementally through story telling as functional chunks for meaningful communication. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way, and the topics that are discussed include: hobbies, weather, dining, celebrations, shopping and asking for directions. Students will continue to study the culture of the Chinese-speaking world in the form of language use, traditions and current events. Audio and video materials along with computer software, games, projects, and presentations will be used to foster student interaction and participation. The following non-sequential, Foundations of Chinese courses will be offered in 2015-2016. Most students will want to sign up for both courses in order to be prepared for Intermediate Chinese the following year.

Make a Good First Impression: Students will learn to introduce themselves in culturally appropriate ways and learn about formal and informal speech.

Friends from the Start: Students will learn vocabulary related to background information, hobbies, leisure time and celebrations. Stude

Modern Language: Foundations of French

In Foundations of French (formerly French 2), students will continue to develop their language skills through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Vocabulary will be taught through stories and accessible texts chosen around the themes of each one-term class. The class will be driven by comprehensible input; in other words, listening and reading that is understandable. Through readings and research students will also expand their cultural understanding of France and the Francophone world. Students completing this class will be able to comfortably use verbs in the passé composé and imperfect, direct and indirect pronouns, reflexive verbs, some relative pronouns and negative expressions. Students will show the language that they can produce creatively through writing assignments, videos and projects.

Prerequisites: French 1 or MS French C. Most students will want to sign up for two of the following 5-credit courses in order to be prepared for Intermediate French the following year.

FRENCH FOUNDATIONS Courses:

Modern Life: Students will get a chance to compare their lives to those of French and Francophone teens today. They will connect with teens via email and social media. They will get a chance to see what is hip in France through various level appropriate magazines, blogs and videos including music, celebrities and film. Students will also learn about technology in the francophone world and use related vocabulary to learn about coding.

Home Life: Students will compare their home life to that of students in France. They will research cultural traditions from festivals to local dishes through level-appropriate sources such as readings and videos. Students will create projects describing a fictional day in the life of a francophone or French family based on research.

The Marketplace
Students will develop their oral and written skills in French as they learn about the buying and selling of goods in the French speaking world. From groceries and clothing to hotels and restaurants, students will learn to barter, compare and contrast. Students will learn vocabulary related to groceries, ingredients and cooking. They will also learn about typical prepared foods that can be found in the marketplaces of francophone countries.

Modern Language: Foundations of Spanish

In this course, students will continue to develop their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. Vocabulary is practiced in a thematic and communicative way. Grammar is learned incrementally, and the topics that are discussed include: the present progressive tense, direct and indirect object pronouns, estar + adjectives, reflexive verbs, verbs like gustar, comparatives and superlatives, the imperfect tense and the preterite tense. Students will study the culture of the Spanish-speaking world in the form of language use, customs, celebrations, art, historical figures, and current contributors to Latin American and Spanish society through a series of two or three one-term Foundations of Spanish courses. Most students will want to sign up for two of the following 5-credit courses in order to be prepared for Intermediate Spanish the following year. Course topics are briefly outlined below.

Prerequisites: Spanish 1 or MS Spanish C. Most students will want to sign up for two of the following 5-credit courses in order to be prepared for Intermediate Spanish the following year.

SPANISH FOUNDATIONS Courses:
Social Life: Students will study vocabulary related to family, friends and social life in the Spanish-speaking world. Students will build their communication skills as they tell stories about family and friends.

The Marketplace: Students will develop their oral and written skills in Spanish as they learn about the buying and selling of goods in the Spanish speaking world. From groceries and clothing to hotels and restaurants, students will learn to barter, compare and contrast.

Home Life & Leisure Time: Students will learn vocabulary related to hobbies and leisure time. They will also learn about different celebrations in the Spanish-speaking world. They will develop their communication skills as they talk about their favorite activities.

Cuisine & Culture: Students will learn vocabulary related to groceries, ingredients and the kitchen. They will learn different expressions as well as units of measurement used in Spanish-speaking countries. They will also learn about the typical gastronomy of different countries.

Customs and Celebrations: In this course, students will explore assimilation and acculturation, cultural syncretism, and how globalization shapes communities.

Travel & Tourism: In this course students will know about different Spanish-speaking countries, their most important historic places, the urban and rural environment and will also practice the necessary skills and vocabulary to plan a trip and make reservations.

Modern Language: Intermediate French

In Intermediate French (formerly French 3), students will improve their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. At this level, students have greater autonomy with the language and are encouraged to use it creatively and authentically. Vocabulary is acquired through exposure to authentic texts and communicative practice, and the topics that are explored include: making recommendations, expressing doubt and certainty, and expressing opinions. Grammar is refined incrementally. Students will learn a few more tenses while refining their written and oral communication. The class will use more authentic texts and documents from the Francophone world to guide both language learning and discussions. Students will study culture and diversity in the form of current events, film, music, and famous novels and stories.

Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Foundations of French skills, usually 10 or 15 credits of Foundations of French. Most students will want to sign up for two of the following 5-credit courses in order to be prepared for Advanced French the following year.

FRENCH INTERMEDIATE COURSES:
France: A Nation of Regions:
As a country, France is known for, among many other things, its cheese and gastronomy; but each dish and each cheese comes from its own distinct region. What makes a country roughly the size of Texas have so many distinct regions with their own distinct cultures? In this class we will look at the regions of France and see what makes them unique and proud including gastronomy, art, poetry, music, literature and history. We will look at the French idea of terroir and why the foods from one area are unique to that area and cannot be reproduced elsewhere. The class will also look at how the French government and the regions themselves attempt to preserve their cultural heritage in the face of a changing world and globalization.

Action and Romance: This course will use abbreviated versions of some of the most important pieces of French literature. Students will be exposed to new tenses and review the past tense, while reading works such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Count of Monte Cristo, and or the Phantom of the Opera. Using these stories as a starting point, students will build mastery in the future and conditional tenses by reworking and re-imagining the tales.

Place & Identity: Students will explore cultural identity and how it is related to place. We will look at themes such as immigration and rural vs urban environments. Students will look at a variety of authentic sources that explore places and the people that inhabit them including Butterfly in the City and Jean de Florette, as well as representations of place and identity in poetry and music. Finally, we will look at how places have influenced and been represented in art.

Folklore: Students will be introduced to stories and different forms of storytelling from around the francophone world. We will study the oral storytelling traditions from western Africa and how it differs from, has influenced and has been influenced by French colonialism and later by modernity. Most of our sources will be written renditions of folklore, but we will also use recorded storytelling and film. Students will work on writing their own stories and reinterpreting traditional stories to their own lives.

Modern Language: Intermediate Spanish

In Intermediate Spanish (formerly Spanish 3), students continue to develop their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. At this level, students have greater independence with the language and are encouraged to use it creatively and authentically. Vocabulary is acquired in a thematic and communicative way. Grammar is practiced incrementally, and the topics that are practiced include: imperfect, familiar, formal and nosotros commands, future and conditional, present subjunctive, present and past perfect, and past participles as adjectives. Students also study the culture of the Spanish-speaking world in the form of authentic literature, historical and literary figures, customs, celebrations, and music. Audio and video materials, Skype conferences, computer software, games, projects, and presentations foster student interaction and participation.

Prerequisites: Demonstration of mastery of Foundations of Spanish skills, usually 10 or 15 credits of Foundations of Spanish. Most students will want to sign up for two of the following 5-credit courses in order to be prepared for Advanced Spanish the following year.

SPANISH INTERMEDIATE COURSES:
Health & Wellness: In this course, students will explore topics including exercise and eating habits, access to healthcare, and the cultural context and politics of food.

Me, Myself and I: In this course, students will explore their personal histories and origins, relationships with their communities, how their choices shape their future.

Urban Life: In this course, students will explore changing landscapes, displaced communities, and migration in the context of the Spanish speaking world.

Storytelling: In this course, students will explore aspects of storytelling including short stories, journalism, poetry, and oral histories and the art of the interview.

Business & Entrepreneurship: In this course, students will explore how Hispanic and Latino businesses shape communities, creating business plans tailored to the needs of Spanish-speaking communities, and designing, producing, and marketing products.

Performing Art: Choral - A Cappella

A Capella builds on and further develops the skills introduced in Circa and the Men’s Ensemble by strengthening students’ ensemble singing, vocal technique, and music literacy while introducing a cappella vocal arranging and improvisation. Students will begin the term by working on developing vocal technique through warm-up exercises, reading sheet music and exploring diverse repertoire. Throughout the course, they will learn how to work independently in smaller quartets and will be given leadership opportunities in weekly rehearsals. The aim of the course is to prepare students to arrange and rehearse a cappella vocal music independently and to perform in public concerts throughout the term.

Can be take for one or two terms.
Prerequisite: Men’s Ensemble or Circa or permission from the instructor.

Performing Art: Choral - Circa - Women's Vocal Ensemble

Circa introduces female singers to the fundamentals of ensemble singing, including vocal technique, music literacy, and concert review. Students will begin the term working on vocal technique through warm-up exercises, reading sheet music, vocal improvisation and exploring diverse repertoire written for women’s voices. They will also learn to critique by writing a review of one public concert. Students will be given leadership opportunities in weekly rehearsals such as leading vocal warm-ups or serving as section leaders. The aim of the course is to prepare students to perform in a public concert at the end of the term and develop a collaborative spirit within the ensemble.

No prerequisite.

Performing Art: Choral - Men’s Vocal Ensemble

Beaver’s Men’s Ensemble introduces male singers to the fundamentals of ensemble singing, including vocal technique, music literacy, and concert review. Students will begin the term working on developing vocal technique through warm-up exercises, reading sheet music, vocal improvisation, and singing diverse repertoire written for men’s voices. They will also learn to critique by writing a review of one public concert. Students will be given leadership opportunities in weekly rehearsals such as leading vocal warm-ups or serving as a section leader. The aim of the course is to prepare students to perform in a public concert at the end of the term and to develop a collaborative spirit within the ensemble.

No Prerequisite.

Visual Art

In this class you will have the opportunity to work in all the visual art studios and with all the visual art faculty. Identify your own artistic interests, build on past creative experiences, and develop the technical skills you need to make your ideas visible. Instruction will cover a range of materials, tools, and techniques. Regular discussion of The World of Art and Art History will provide context for our work. Critiques, documentation, and presentation will be essential elements of the class, with an emphasis on both process and product. Try something new or pursue your lifelong passion. 

This class may be taken more than once. No prerequisite


Three Term Courses

These courses meet 4 days per week for 3 terms and earn 10 credits.

Modern Language: Foundations of Arabic

Unlike our other languages, we do not have a full 3-year program in Arabic. This means that Foundations Arabic is open to any student, but only students who have fulfilled their language requirement may take Arabic as their only language class. Other students must also be enrolled in a Spanish, French or Chinese in order to fulfill their graduation requirement. Once a student progresses satisfactorily through Foundations Arabic, (s)he may enroll in Intermediate Arabic. Arabic classes will meet twice a week during G-block throughout the school year. Foundations of Arabic is a 5-credit class.

Modern Language: Intermediate Arabic

Unlike our other languages, we do not have a full 3-year program in Arabic. This means that Foundations Arabic is open to any student, but only students who have fulfilled their language requirement may take Arabic as their only language class. Other students must also be enrolled in a Spanish, French or Chinese in order to fulfill their graduation requirement. Once a student progresses satisfactorily through Foundations Arabic, (s)he may enroll in Intermediate Arabic. Arabic classes will meet twice a week during G-block throughout the school year. Intermediate Arabic is a 5-credit class.

Prerequisite: Foundations of Arabic or Departmental Permission

Performing Art: Instrumental - Ikonoclastic: All Female Ensemble

Ikonoclastic is open to all instruments including strings, woodwinds, brass and rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass, percussion). This performing arts course strives to build a strong foundation for the student musician. Students will study and play a wide range of repertoire with a focus on building technical skills while exploring the cultural and historical context of the repertoire. This course utilizes components from the classical music traditions as well as contemporary styles such as jazz and blues as vehicles to develop students’ technique and creative processes. Class material will integrate music theory, instrumental technique, rehearsal/performance skills, and improvisation skills. The ensemble will perform in formal mandatory concerts throughout the year. Students should be capable of playing on their instrument with at least one year of private lessons and/or ensemble experience. Weekly individual lessons on their instruments are strongly recommended and available on campus to students for an additional fee. Financial aid information for private lessons is available upon request.

This class meets all three terms.
Prerequisite: One year experience with private lessons and/or ensemble experience.