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Intellectual Virtues Academy: Public High School

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Course Descriptions

ALGEBRA I
Algebra I is a year long course built on the fundamental properties of the real number system.  It fulfills one of the two required math courses in the California High School Course Requirements, and one of the three required math courses in the UC/CSU Course Requirements.  Algebra I is fully aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in both content and its guidelines for Mathematical Practice.Topics will include algebraic expressions, linear functions, graphing, exponents, logarithms, systems of equations, basic statistical analysis, and quadratic functions amongst some other concepts and topics that develop naturally out of a study from the main ones listed.  The course is designed as an exploration of mathematical concepts through solving complex problems and learning within that context through experimenting, investigating, asking questions, making and testing conjectures, reflecting on your work, and then communicating your ideas.  These lessons and concepts form the foundation for the higher mathematical understanding that comes in other subjects like Geometry or Algebra II.
 
ALGEBRA II
Algebra II is a year long course that expands on the foundation of knowledge built in Algebra I--namely the fundamental properties of the real number system. Algebra II takes those concepts further and addresses the complex number system as well.  It fulfills one of the two required math courses in the California High School Course Requirements, and one of the three required math courses in the UC/CSU Course Requirements.  Algebra II is fully aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in both content and its guidelines for Mathematical Practice. Topics will include the complex number system, expressions, polynomial and rational expressions, equations, inequalities, interpreting and building functions, modeling with different types of functions (linear, quadratic, exponential), trigonometric functions, expressing geometric properties algebraically, statistical analysis, and probability amongst some other concepts and topics that develop naturally out of a study from the main ones listed.  The course is designed as an exploration of mathematical concepts through solving complex problems and learning within that context through experimenting, investigating, asking questions, making and testing conjectures, reflecting on your work, and then communicating your ideas. These lessons and concepts form the foundation for the higher mathematical understanding that comes in other subjects like Geometry or Pre-Calculus.
 
ART 
Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power - Oxford Dictionary. The main focus of this year long UC approved course is to learn how to think like an artist. Students will be able to achieve this goal by creating various works of art using the elements of art and principles of design. This course is divided by themes which contain an essential question, such as “What is Art?” and “What can we learn about a culture through its art forms?” Through the process of art making and reflection, students will be able to gain a deep level of understanding.
 

BIOLOGY (College Prep & Honors)

Biology focuses on the mastery of basic biological concepts and models while building scientific inquiry skills and exploring the connections between living things and their environment.  The course begins with an introduction to the nature of science and biology, including the major themes of structure and function, matter and energy flow, systems, and the interconnectedness of life. Students then apply those themes to the structure and function of the cell, cellular metabolism, and biogeochemical cycles. Building on this foundation, students explore the connections and interactions between living things by studying genetics, ecosystems and natural selection, and evolution.

 

Biology Syllabus

Biology Syllabus H

Marine Biology Syllabus

ENGLISH (College Prep & Honors)

English builds upon students' foundation of critical reading and analytical writing skills.  Through texts that range from investigative journalism, essays, articles and historical documents to a novel, drama, poetry and short stories, students analyze the use of elements of literature and nonfiction.  As they develop their writing skills and respond to claims, students learn to refine arguments and organize evidence to support their position.  To hone their listening and speaking skills, students engage in a variety of media types through which they analyze and synthesize information, discuss material, create presentations, and share their work.  Students build their writing and speaking skills in journal responses, discussions, frequent free-response exercises, and essays or presentations, learning to communicate clearly and credibly in the narrative, argumentative, and explanatory styles. 

 

English 10 Syllabus

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (College Prep & Honors)

Environmental Science is the study of the natural world and how humans interact with the environment.  This class will focus on many different aspects of the environment including environmental ethics, government policy, human impacts, and use of resources.  The overarching goal of this class is for students to learn more about how they affect the world they live in and for them to gain a better appreciation for the natural systems that we sometimes take for granted.

“The Earth is what we all have in common.” – Wendell Berry
 
 
ETHICS (College Prep and Honors)

Our central question for this course is “What is the right thing to do?” By engaging with contemporary moral problems through readings, films, discussions, thinking routines, thought experiments, writing, creative projects and reflection, we will inquire what constitutes morally right action. Through this inquiry, we will develop key skills that underlie moral argumentation, engage with both historical and contemporary philosophical works, and gain familiarity with and command over key philosophical concepts and movements.


We will succeed in this task of inquiry by developing the following philosophical skills:

  • Textual, visual, and dialogical analysis (“What is this, are we, saying here?”)
  • Argumentative reasoning skills (“Here’s what I think, and here is why.”)
  • Critical self-examination (“I wonder why I think that?”)
  • Generating meaningful questions (“To answer X, we have to know Y”).
  • Listening and reading to understand (“What is she/this saying, and why?)

Throughout our inquiry, we will generate questions that guide a critical, reflective, and communal exploration of many...

  • Philosophical figures: e.g. Aristotle, John Rawls, Iris Marion Young, MLK Jr.  
  • Topics: e.g. global poverty, climate change, theories of justice, animal ethics
  • Concepts: e.g. basic human rights, anthropocentrism, normativity, oppression
  • Theories: e.g. utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, ethics of care
 
 

GEOMETRY (College Prep & Honors)

Geometry builds upon students’ command of geometric relationships and formulating mathematical arguments. Students learn through discovery and application, developing the skills they need to break down complex challenges and demonstrate their knowledge in new situations. Course topics include reasoning, proof, and the creation of sound mathematical arguments; points, lines, and angles; triangles and trigonometry; quadrilaterals and other polygons; circles; congruence, similarity, transformations, and constructions; coordinate geometry; three-dimensional solids; and applications of probability.

 

Geometry Syllabus

PHILOSOPHY (College Prep & Honors)

This course will explore the Big Questions of human existence as an introduction to the types of inquiry expected of college students. Throughout this course, students will utilize and build upon their intellectual virtue foundation from the freshman year to carefully reflect and examine deeper questions about life and existence. The Big Questions covered may include: (1) ethical questions, such as ‘What is the good life?’ ‘Is virtue necessary for happiness?’ and ‘How is human personality related to human character?’ (2) metaphysical questions, such as ‘What is the nature of the Universe?’ ‘Are virtuous actions free?’ and ‘Who am I (or, who are we)?’ and, (3) epistemological questions, such as ‘How can I obtain truth?’ ‘How is virtue necessary for knowledge?’ and ‘What is education?’ This course will also introduce the study of primary sources to expand students’ informational literacy.

 

Introduction to Philosophy Syllabus

MODERN WORLD HISTORY

This course is structured around the investigation of the changes in societies across the globe from approximately 1200-1800 CE. It allows us to compare our modern perspectives, ideas, and values to those found during the medieval, early modern, and enlightenment periods of history. Students will learn to use a cultural lens to look at the past. In doing so, they will try to be sensitive to past attitudes and assumptions. They will also consider when it is fair or unfair to make moral judgments about historical actions and actors. We will also explore questions about how history is written and about the reliability of various kinds of sources. Students will learn to carefully examine key ideas and details in both primary and secondary source
documents. Students will be dealing with texts that use language in ways that are sometimes new and unexpected. We will discuss the connotations of words from other periods as we work together to make sense of the past. 

World History Syllabus 

SPANISH (College Prep & Honors)

Spanish teaches students to greet people, describe family and friends, talk about hobbies, and communicate about other topics, such as home life, occupations, travel, and medicine. Each lesson presents vocabulary, grammar, and culture in context, followed by explanations and exercises. Vocabulary includes terms to describe school subjects, parts of the body, and people, as well as idiomatic phrases. Instruction in language structure and grammar includes the structures and uses of present-tense verb forms, imperatives, adjective agreement, impersonal constructions, formal and informal address, and reflexive verbs. Students explore words used in different Spanish-speaking regions and learn about the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries and regions within and outside Europe. The material in this course is presented at a moderate pace.

 

Spanish  Syllabus

US History (College Prep, Honors and Advanced Placement)
This course is structured around the investigation of the changes in America from before 1492 until the present. Students will also learn to use a cultural lens to look at the past. In doing so, they will try to understand past visions of the world, and they will consider when it is fair or unfair to make moral judgments about historical actions or actors. We will also explore questions about how history is written and about the reliability of various kinds of sources. Students will learn to carefully examine key ideas and details in both primary and secondary source documents. Students will be dealing with texts that use language in ways that are sometimes new and unexpected. We will discuss the way that the meanings of words have changed when we look at the past. Students who want to take the AP exam will be given the opportunity to do so through the Honors course with further support during Academic Advisory and as needed.