2012 Academic Council
Important curricular and policy adjustments, which reflect the strategic plan, have been reviewed and approved by the Academic Council. Each January, the Council, a body comprised of academic leaders from across the three divisions, considers proposed curricular changes to:
- Ensure they support our goals of developing a cohesive and vigorous curriculum.
- Align with the Parish Principle of Definitive Preparation by creating learning environments where students think, collaborate, communicate, and create.
- Align with the Parish Principle of Innovation by providing opportunities for more tailored learning experiences for students.
The committee is pleased to present this brief summary of these meetings. While you will likely wish to look directly to the division which is your primary area of interest, we would urge you to review the changes in each division so as to gain an appreciation for how a unified strategic vision for teaching and learning is being realized across the entire school.
- Lower School
1). Advance use of teaching blocks and promote workshop approach to include:
- Humanities and STEM blocks in 3rd and 4th grade.
- Expand development of Writing Workshop in K-4.
- Continue building a balanced literacy approach to reading that includes whole group, small group, and individualized instruction. Guided reading will be implemented in 1st grade and will be reviewed for possible implementation in 2nd grade.
2). Launch the Hillcrest STEM Center.
- One building will house integrated science, math, design (art), and technology enriched experiences.
- Will have a dedicated teacher to coordinate, facilitate, and work with classroom teachers in this space.
- All prek-2nd grade classes will have designated times for exploratory or planned experiences, some in whole group others in small group.
- Will seek to incorporate visiting “teachers” in the form of older students or Midway teachers facilitating activities.
3). Align the grading and recording system.
- All of LS will report on trimesters
- o Checklists all three trimesters
- o Comments last trimester(end of year) only
- o 4th graders receive numeric grades beginning second trimester
- Conferences – 3x a year for all of LS.
- Report cards will be redesigned to align skills and benchmarks across all LS using published continuums and standards and Parish Profile of a Student as a resource.
4). Implement enhanced oral component to LS Spanish curriculum.
- Teachers are investigating Symtalk program as an added component to the LS Spanish curriculum to strengthen oral language skills.
- Middle School
1). 8th grade Algebra students take Upper School Algebra I course.
- Students will be placed, based on 7th grade performance and an “algebra readiness assessment” given at the end of 7th grade, into the Algebra I (Upper School credit) class.
- The 8th grade Algebra I course will be co-educational.
- The other 8th grade math course will be Introduction to Algebra and prepare students to take Algebra I as a 9th grader.
2). Explore grouping Middle School Spanish students by level of ability not grade level.
- Students will ideally complete Spanish I and II over the course of middle school.
- All students will take a placement test at the end of the year in order to be correctly placed the next school year.
3). Integrate STEM Robotics trimester electives into 7th and 8th grade to enhance students’ ability to compete in various robotics and science-related competitions. These will replace the VEX Robotics courses offered in 2011-2012.
- Trimester 1: First Lego League Robotics. Students will learn to collaborate with a small group of their peers to design, build, and program an autonomous LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT robot while investigating a problem related to the competition topic, interviewing subject matter experts, proposing and sharing their own innovative solution to their selected problem.
- Trimester 2: STEM Challenge/Competition. Students will select a STEM related national challenge/competition in which they would like to participate as an individual or with a team of students. Examples of competitions include but are not limited to: Siemens Change Your World Challenge, NAIS Challenge 20/20, Google Science Fair, and Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Competition.
- Trimester 3: Forensic Science. Students will work in teams to solve crimes using scientific knowledge and reasoning. In addition, students will incorporate the use of technology, communication skills, writing, mathematics and social studies. Course will culminate with the examination of a crime scene.
- Upper School
1). Offer new trimester elective, Tactics of Leadership.
- Course will be open to all interested students in 2012-2013 and focus on hard leadership skills including conflict resolution, building agendas and facilitating meetings, and enhancing communication.
2). Offer Engineering Design and Problem Solving Elective.
- Class will cover construction techniques, various locomotion systems, basic electronics, programming, and sensor based control systems. Students will produce a robot to accomplish specific goals outlined at the beginning of the trimester. Students will have the opportunity to compete in local competitions during Trimester 1 and Trimester 2. During Trimester 3, students will have the option of working on student – directed projects.
3). Offer two new English electives.
- Rhetoric of Politics: Open to juniors and seniors, students in this course will critically analyze the persuasive techniques employed in debates, speeches, and televised advertisements by candidates for the 2012 US Presidency.
- Children’s Literature: A senior elective, this course will study a range of children’s literature from different periods of history and cultural contexts, from Lewis Carroll's nonsensical Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to L. Frank Baum’s political The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
4). Implement two guided independent study courses powered by ParishVirtual, our blended learning solution. “Blended Learning” suggests a combination of face-to-face interactions with a teacher in a more traditional classroom setting and online course work – often done independently on a more flexible schedule.
- Blended Latin:
Blended Latin I, II, and III will substitute access to online coursework (via a content license purchased from PearsonVirtual and Florida Virtual School) in place of a traditional textbook. Students will, therefore, have access to all course content wherever and whenever they have Internet access.
Blended Latin I, II, and III will be scheduled as a single course section, and students studying at all three levels of Latin will learn collaboratively during more traditional classroom meeting times.
Students’ online course material, on the other hand, will be highly differentiated and level-specific. The classroom teacher will be available for tutorials and extra help, and (s)he will also provide structure and support to ensure students’ online learning proceeds at a vigorous pace.
- Blended Multi-variable calculus will be offered to a student who has moved beyond Parish’s calculus sequence. The online curriculum provided by Stanford University will be complemented by face-to-face interaction and support from a Parish teacher.
5). Give a GPA bump for dual credit courses.
- Dual credit courses will receive a .33 bump, similar to honors courses in the Upper School.
- Visual & Performing Arts
Visual and Performing Arts
1). Present a series of new Foundations courses at the 9th grade level.
Foundations in Studio Art: Students will discuss the meaning of art as they are exposed to art history and discover how art folds into to their daily life. This is a skills-based course where students will get their hands dirty printing their own images, mixing an edible color wheel, drawing with perspective, and rendering an image digitally. After completing this course, students will have the necessary skills, vocabulary, and insight to continue into Ceramics I, Printmaking I, Drawing and Painting I, and Photography I.
Foundations in Music: This course will feature units on science and acoustics, technology and how super computers are reshaping the way people create and edit music are foundations to fully understand music and practically implement it in academic studies. This course is the foundation for all music courses.
Foundations in Film: Will explore the history of filmmaking from its origins to today’s modern special effect films. Students will learn about making motion pictures from the ground up, and will have hands on opportunities to create shots and special effects.
Foundations in Theatre: Is designed to introduce students to the dramatic arts through the origins and history of Drama. This class includes a variety of theatrical experiences from seeing performances to being exposed to the experiences of others. Students will have the opportunity to perform in class and will be able to work on aspects of self-confidence, self-awareness, relaxation and focusing techniques.
Foundations of Dance: Will cover the basics of applied dance techniques, history and terminology. Each class period will consist of a quick warm –up followed by the learning and perfecting of a dance routine. Students are required to attend all performances of this class. Students may choose to receive PE or Visual and Performing Arts credit for their participation.
Oral Interpretation of Literature: Will explore the creation and analysis of argumentation as formed through published literature. Students will be expected to compile performances in a variety of competitive forensics events including prose/poetry, humorous/dramatic, and duet/duo. This course will prepare students for TAPPS, TFA, and NFL competition. Participation in at least two weekend forensics competitions is mandatory.
2). Implement Printmaking II – New VPA Course Proposal for Fall 2012
In this studio course students study advanced printmaking techniques; including relief, intaglio, monoprints, monotypes, and chine colle. Students work toward the expression of individual ideas and personal style in their own original prints as they explore the work of some major artists.
3). Offer guided independent study.
The student must be at least a sophomore and have completed the minimum arts requirement of three trimesters in a particular discipline earning an average GPA of at least 3.5 in those classes.
The goal of these options is to encourage students who are more critically engaged in the arts and seek a greater depth of experience than might be had by participating in a traditional class. The options made available to students are intended to meet the needs of the single student, in a meaningful way, to allow them to pursue their passion for the arts.
4). Allow Upper School dance classes to be applied either as a Physical Education or Visual and Performing Arts credit. Read more
New Courses Approved for 2012 SUMMER ACADEMY
Military History (new for 2012)
- In this course, students analyze war and battle strategy, study the art of leadership, and worldwide intercultural conflict as it has developed over time.
- Course counts .333 credits toward Parish graduation requirements in History.
Environmental Science: Ecology and Population Dynamics (new for 2012)
- Environmental science is an interdisciplinary study that employs several major unifying themes: science is a process; energy conversions underlie all ecological processes; the Earth itself is one interconnected system and humans alter natural systems; environmental problems have cultural and social contexts; and human survival depends on developing practices that will achieve sustainable systems.
- Course counts .333 credits in Science.
Psychology I, II, and III (new for 2012)
- Each of these three trimester-long courses introduces students to both historical and current thinking in the field of psychology. These courses are designed to spark an interest in process learning and the field of psychology. Psychology I focuses on the biological basis of behavior, learning, and memory. Psychology II focuses on developmental and personality psychology. Psychology III focuses on abnormal psych, motivation, and social psychology. Students may elect any of these courses in or out of sequence.
- Each course segment counts .333 Parish elective credits.
Personal Finance (NEW FOR 2012)
- Personal Finance prepares students to understand economic activities and economic challenges of individuals and families; the role of lifestyle goals in education and career choices; financial forms used in independent living; and shopping options and practices for meeting consumer needs. The course also prepares students to understand consumer rights, responsibilities, and information, protect personal and family resources, and apply procedures for managing personal finances.
- Note: course is open to students enrolled in 9th - 12th grades
- Course counts .333 Parish elective credits.