Upper School Curriculum
- Graduation Requirements and Course Load
- International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme
- Language Acquisition: (Language B)
- Individuals and Societies
- Arts and Electives
To ensure that upon graduation students are fully prepared with a solid foundation in the liberal arts, Calverton requires that its students earn a minimum of twenty-three (23) credits in grades 9 through 12. A unit of credit is defined as a full year of class time. Credits are to be distributed as follows:
English 4 credits
Social Science 3 credits (One Social Science credit must be in United States History)
Mathematics 3 credits
Science 3 credits
World Language 3 credits
Physical Education 1 credit
Art 1 credit
Other 5 credits
Course Load Students are required to take a minimum of six (6) courses each year. The Upper School Head must approve any exceptions.
Physical Education Participation in Calverton School athletic teams may be credited to fulfill the Physical Education requirement. Each season played is the equivalent of one-third (1/3) of a credit.
The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The Diploma Programme encourages students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right. Click here for Diploma Programme testimonials.
Calverton’s 9th and 10th grade curriculum strives to provide a solid and well-rounded foundation for entry into the Diploma Programme. Students in 11th and 12th grade can take two-year IB courses and may test in May of their senior year for IB credit and possible college credit, similar to AP Exams.
Students who wish to earn the prestigious IB Diploma take three Standard Level courses and three Higher Level courses. They also complete the Theory of Knowledge course, the Extended Essay, and complete the requirements for Creativity, Action, and Service:
Theory of Knowledge
Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a course about critical thinking and inquiring into the process of knowing, rather than about learning a specific body of knowledge. It plays a special role in the DP by providing an opportunity for students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, to make connections between areas of knowledge and to become aware of their own perspectives and those of the various groups whose knowledge they share. It is a core element undertaken by all DP students, and schools are required to devote at least 100 hours of class time to the course. The overall aim of TOK is to encourage students to formulate answers to the question “how do you know?” in a variety of contexts, and to see the value of that question. This allows students to develop an enduring fascination with the richness of knowledge.
The extended essay is an in-depth study of a focused topic chosen from the list of approved DP subjects—normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects, or in World Studies. World Studies provides students the opportunity to carry out an in-depth interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance, utilizing two IB disciplines. Both are intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity, engaging students in personal research in a topic of their own choice, under the guidance of a supervisor (a teacher in the school). This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing, in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned, coherent and appropriate manner.
The extended essay, including the World Studies option, is a compulsory, externally assessed piece of independent research/investigation. Presented as a formal piece of scholarship containing no more than 4,000 words, it is the result of approximately 40 hours of student work, and concluded with a short interview, or viva voce, with the supervising teacher (recommended).
Creativity, Action, and Service (CAS)
Creativity, action, and service (CAS) is at the heart of the DP, involving students in a range of activities that take place alongside their academic studies. The component’s three strands, often interwoven with particular activities, are characterized as follows:
Pre-IB English I (Grade 9) and II (Grade 10)
English I and II are designed to help students become sharper thinkers, more perceptive readers, and more skillful writers. Each course endeavors to help students become more aware of the world and themselves through literary study. Central to each course is the practice of essay writing, and the study of vocabulary, grammar, and Formal Standard English. Students read a different genre work each unit, focusing on the novel, the poem, drama, and non-fiction works, such as memoir and essay. We consider how genre affects what a writer can say, as well as the manner in which he or she may say it. Students learn and become more facile with the lexicon used to discuss and analyze the works in each genre of literature. Students are introduced to the IB rubrics and standards, as they practice and become familiar with the types of writing assignments and activities which are part of our IB courses. For these Pre-IB courses, our focus is squarely on the ways in which language, structure, style, and technique intersect to create a work of literature that communicates with a reader.
English Language and Literature
This course comprises four parts – two relate to the study of language, and two to the study of literature. The study of texts produced in a language is central to an active engagement with language and culture, and by extension, to how we see and understand the world in which we live. A key aim of the Language A Language and Literature Course is to encourage students to question the meaning generated by language and texts, which, it can be argued, is rarely straightforward and unambiguous. Helping student to focus closely on the language of the texts they study and to become aware of the role of each texts wider context in shaping its meaning is central to the course. Students will continue to develop skills of textual analysis, question the meaning generated by language and texts, and to think critically about the different interactions between text, audience and purpose. Secondly, students will explore the themes of individual and society, leisure and work, and urban and rural.
English as a Second Language 1 (ESL 1)
ESL Language is designed to complement the work done in ESL Literature, which is taken concurrently. This course focuses on the mechanics and conventions of written and spoken English: vocabulary acquisition, grammar, punctuation, articulation, and pronunciation.
Essential Questions, Writing and Learning Objectives
The objective of the course is to increase the student’s fluency and comfort level in written and spoken
English. Students will answer their own questions as to how English differs from their native languages, and what effect these differences have on thought. The ultimate goals are to help students reach a level of fluency where they can contribute meaningfully and learn effectively in their other courses and in future mainstream English classes, and to enable them to learn successfully and comfortably in an American college of their choice.
IB English Literature SL/HL
This literature course develops understanding of the techniques involved in literary criticism and promotes the ability to form independent literary judgments. In literature, the formal analysis of texts and wide coverage of a variety of literature—both in the language of the subject and in translated texts from other cultural domains—is combined with a study of the way literary conventions shape responses to texts. Students completing this course will have a thorough knowledge of a range of texts and an understanding of other cultural perspectives. They will also have developed skills of analysis and the ability to support an argument in clearly expressed writing, sometimes at significant length. This course will enable them to succeed in a wide range of university courses, particularly in literature but also in subjects such as philosophy, law and language. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information and for different expectations for SL and HL coursework.)
This course is designed for students who have no previous exposure to French. A communicative approach is used to teach students the French language within the context of the francophone world. Students acquire proficiency in listening to, speaking, reading and writing French, while developing cultural sensitivity to the everyday activities of French-speaking people throughout the world. Since the focus of the classroom is student interaction, from day one students practice communication with their peers in paired groups. Easy to answer questions require students to speak about their daily lives, express their opinions, and supply real information. Reading selections, films, and videos introduce the students to the geography and culture of France and the francophone world. In addition, the internet offers endless potential as a tool for teaching and learning French by providing students with materials that are up-to-date and culturally authentic.
In this class students will expand upon the communicative tasks and skills they have practiced in French I. The students' fluency with French will improve as they learn how to analyze and interpret songs, poems, articles and stories, to take notes, and write summaries and business letters. They will become acquainted with French people, both past and present, who have become famous for their accomplishments in art, science, film, literature, sports, politics, etc. The students will learn more about their neighbors in French-speaking Canada as well as about interesting regions and sites in France. The students will also heighten their awareness of other French-speaking countries from Morocco to Martinique and from Tahiti to Tunisia.
Although the main teaching objective in French III is to expand the vocabulary and strengthen the grammar base of the students, this objective can be successfully met only if the students can handle with confidence the material presented in French I and II. Because French III is the prerequisite for IB French SL, the French III class devotes several chapters to solidifying the structures and vocabulary presented in French I and II before moving on to more advanced study.
IB French HL/SL
The IB Diploma Programme French language course provides students with the opportunity to acquire or develop an additional language and to promote an understanding of other cultures through the study of French. This course is designed for students who possess a degree of knowledge and experience in the target language. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information.)
Prerequisite: French 3
Spanish I is an introductory level course to the Spanish language and Hispanic culture. Students learn the vocabulary and speaking skills that will allow them to carry on basic conversations in the Spanish language. Although the focus of the class is speaking and listening, there are reading and writing assignments that round out our engagement with the language. Chapters are organized into thematic units that incorporate both the vocabulary and sentence structures needed to converse about certain basic topics. Some of these topics include "The Family," "School and the Classroom," and "Hobbies and Pastimes." Elements of Hispanic culture are introduced within the context of the theme; students may learn about Spanish naming customs in the "Family" unit or Argentinian dances in the "Hobbies and Pastimes" unit. Units typically conclude with students reading about and discussing the history, culture, and traditions of a specific Spanish-speaking country.
Spanish II builds on the skills and vocabulary developed in Spanish I. It is intended to provide students with the necessary skills and intercultural understanding to enable them to communicate successfully, both when in Spanish-speaking countries and with Spanish-speaking members of their own communities. Unit topics include the following: health and basic medical vocabulary, technology and the internet, parts of a house and household chores, the environment and conservation, activities in the city. Cultural highlights include on overview of Costa Rica, Argentina, Panama, Columbia, and Venezuela. The course will focus on listening and speaking as a means of natural acquisition, and on reading and writing as a way to extend understanding to a higher level.
Spanish III is an intermediate level Spanish and Hispanic culture class. Students continue to develop skills for expressing more complex ideas and opinions in Spanish. Although we continue to review vocabulary and grammar, the focus of Spanish III is on expanding and conversing on a slightly higher level than previous levels. We continue with thematic units that incorporate elevated vocabulary and topics of discussion; some of the chapter themes include "Health and Well-being," "Jobs and the Workforce," and "Current Events." Students engage with the topics both in the context of their personal lives as well as within the framework of the Spanish speaking world, typically rounding out the chapter with a study of salient historical events and figures of Hispanic descent.
IB Spanish SL
The IB Diploma Programme Spanish language course provides students with the opportunity to acquire or develop an additional language and to promote an understanding of other cultures through the study of Spanish. This course is designed for students who possess a degree of knowledge and experience in the target language. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information.) Prerequisite: Spanish III
Comparative Governments and World History (Grade 9)
Comparative Governments is a course designed to explore the historical, political, geographical, economical, and social interactions between the United States government and the different forms of government around the world. By studying the foundations of American government in conjunction with current events, the class will uncover how and why the U.S. government was formed the way it was, and the unique relationships it holds with governments in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. By examining a series of thematic questions throughout the year, students will examine the formation of other types of government and how those differences create the various and, sometimes, tenuous relations in today’s world.
United States History (Grade 10)
The design of this course will begin with a review of key ideas from the inception of the United States of America to current principles set forth in our country’s foundational documents. Students will reflect on the development and implementation of domestic and foreign policy decisions that define our role in the world, from the nation’s emergence as a 20th Century world power to the 21st Century. The effects of both World Wars, Nationalism, the Cold War, and the Civil Rights Movement will encourage students to survey, analyze, and evaluate both political and economic factors that have presented historic challenges and still continue to have relevancy.
IB History SL/HL
The IB Diploma Programme standard level history course aims to promote an understanding of history as a discipline, including the nature and diversity of sources, methods and interpretations. Students are encouraged to comprehend the present by reflecting critically on the past. They are further expected to understand historical developments at national, regional and international levels and learn about their own historical identity through the study of the historical experiences of different cultures. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information and different expectations for SL and HL coursework.)
IB Psychology HL
The IB Diploma Program Psychology course is the systematic study of behavior and mental processes. Psychology has its roots in both the natural and social sciences, leading to a variety of research designs and applications, and providing a unique approach to understanding modern society. IB psychology examines the interaction of biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behavior, thereby adopting an integrative approach. Understanding how psychological knowledge is generated, developed and applied enables students to achieve a greater understanding of themselves and appreciate the diversity of human behavior. The ethical concerns raised by the methodology and application of psychological research are key considerations in IB psychology. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information and different expectations for SL and HL coursework.)
IB Environmental Systems and Societies SL
The IB Diploma Program Environmental Systems and Societies standard level course aims to provide
students with a coherent perspective of the interrelationships between environmental systems and societies; one that enables them to adopt an informed personal response to the wide range of pressing environmental
issues that they will inevitably come to face. Students’ attention is constantly drawn to their own relationship with their environment and the significance of choices and decisions that they make in their own lives. It is intended that students develop a sound understanding of the interrelationships between environmental systems and societies, rather than a purely journalistic appreciation of environmental issues. The teaching approach strives to be conducive to students evaluating the scientific, ethical, and socio-political aspects of issues. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more Information)
Algebra I is a yearlong exploration of the branch of mathematics that deals with general statements of relations, with great attention to logic and the problem-solving process. Algebra bridges the gap between fundamental math skills and higher-level mathematics courses. Topics include: writing and solving linear equations, quadratic equations and the quadratic formula, graphs of linear equations and nonlinear functions, properties of exponents, rational expressions and equations, functions and absolute value, and the solution of linear inequalities in one variable. Two major goals of this class are to help the students improve their
mathematical communication and their confidence in their abilities.
This course emphasizes and integrates logical reasoning and spatial visualization skills. The goal is to encourage students to apply a problem-solving attitude to questions that arise in and out of the classroom. Topics include deductive reasoning, parallel lines and planes, congruent triangles, quadrilaterals, similar polygons, right triangles, circles, and constructions and loci. The two major focus points of this class are to help students improve their mathematical foundation, while instilling confidence in their abilities.
In Algebra II students study linear, quadratic, exponential, and rational functions, along with their applications to modeling. The course also develops students' facility with manipulating and operating on linear, polynomial, and rational equations, as well as solving related equations and systems of equations. The goal is to become familiar with the graphs and characteristics of each type of function, thus enhancing synthesis and application to real world problems.
The IB Diploma Programme Mathematical Studies course, available in standard level only, is for students with varied backgrounds and abilities. The course is designed to build confidence and encourage an appreciation of mathematics in students who do not anticipate a need for mathematics in their future studies. Students taking this course, however, should be already equipped with fundamental skills and a rudimentary knowledge of basic processes. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information.) Prerequisite: Algebra II & teacher recommendation
IB Math Analysis SL
The IB Diploma Programme Mathematics Analysis standard level course is for students with knowledge of basic mathematical concepts who are able to apply simple mathematical techniques correctly. The course provides students with a sound mathematical background to prepare for future studies in subjects such as chemistry, economics, psychology and business administration. Students will be introduced to important mathematical concepts through the development of mathematical techniques in a way that emphasizes subject comprehension rather than mathematical rigor. Students should, where possible, apply the acquired mathematical knowledge to solve realistic problems. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information.)
Prerequisite: Algebra II & teacher recommendation
IB Math HL
The IB Diploma Program Mathematics higher level course is for students with a strong background in mathematics and competence in a range of analytical and technical skills. Students will be likely to include mathematics as a major component of university studies - either in its own right or within courses such as physics, engineering or technology. The course focuses on developing important mathematical concepts in a comprehensive, coherent and rigorous way through a balanced approach. Students are encouraged to apply their mathematical knowledge to solve problems set in a variety of meaningful contexts and to justify and prove results. Students develop insights into mathematical form and structure and become intellectually equipped to appreciate the links between concepts in different topic areas. They will also be urged to develop the skills needed to continue their mathematical growth in other learning environments. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information.) Prerequisite: IB Math SL1 and permission of the Math Department Chair in consultation with the instructor.
Pre-IB Integrated Science, Year 1
This two-year course is designed to provide students with a firm foundation in Chemistry, Physics, and Biology, in order to be well-prepared for any of the options in the IB Diploma Program (11/12th grades). Crucial pre-IB skills such as experimental design, data collection, and critical analysis weave throughout the course. The theme of the course is “A History of the Universe.”
We begin with the Big Bang and sub-atomic particles, which combine to form atoms and the elements; these interact in chemical reactions to create and destroy more complex molecules. Gravitational, electrical, and magnetic fields allow bodies to apply forces to one another, changing their motion in space. By the end of the year, the solar system has formed and the world has cooled off enough to allow water to exist in three phases.
Pre-IB Integrated Science, Year 2
Year 2 begins with an atmosphere that warms and cools, causing pressure changes and weather. Simple life arises, organic molecules are formed, energy is harvested in photosynthesis and respiration, and food webs appear as organisms feed on one another. Cellular DNA is passed from one generation to the next and random errors create differences within populations. Natural selection drives extinctions and results in tremendous diversity of life on our planet. Complex organ systems allow us to thrive in our environment, but overpopulation puts our ecosystems at risk of getting knocked out of balance.
IB Biology HL
The IB Diploma Programme biology higher level course covers the relationship of structure and function at all levels of complexity. Students learn about cell theory, the chemistry of living things, plant science and genetics, among many other topics to further their understanding of and learning about biology. Throughout this challenging course, students become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. Further, students enjoy multiple opportunities for scientific study and creative inquiry within a global context. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information.)
IB Environmental Systems and Societies SL
The IB Diploma Programme Environmental Systems and Societies standard level course aims to provide students with a coherent perspective of the interrelationships between environmental systems and societies; one that enables them to adopt an informed personal response to the wide range of pressing environmental issues that they will inevitably come to face. Students’ attention is constantly drawn to their own relationship with their environment and the significance of choices and decisions that they make in their own lives. It is intended that students develop a sound understanding of the interrelationships between environmental systems and societies, rather than a purely journalistic appreciation of environmental issues. The teaching approach strives to be conducive to students evaluating the scientific, ethical, and socio-political aspects of issues. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more Information)
IB Physics HL
The IB Diploma Programme Physics course exposes students to this most fundamental experimental science, which seeks to explain the universe itself—from the very smallest particles to the vast distances between galaxies. Students develop traditional practical skills and techniques to increase facility in the use of mathematics, the language of physics. They also develop interpersonal skills as well as information and communication technology skills, which are essential in modern scientific endeavors—and are important life-enhancing, transferable skills in their own right. Students, moreover, study the impact of physics on society, the moral and ethical dilemmas, and the social, economic and environmental implications of the work of physicists. Throughout this challenging course, students become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. Further, students enjoy multiple opportunities for scientific study and creative inquiry within a global context. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more Information, as well as the expectations for SL and HL.)
Prerequisite: co-enrollment or completion of IB Math SL
For Principles of Engineering, Computer Science, and Independent Project courses please see the electives section.
Art and Design
Art and Design is a multi-level art course in which students of varying abilities will have an opportunity to work with a wide range of materials and techniques including: painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, and printmaking. Students will learn the technical, aesthetic, and conceptual aspects of being a contemporary artist. Student work will be inspired by art history and arts and from around the world. As a result of this course, students will be able to speak critically about works of visual art while gaining a better appreciation for its creation. Each Unit the students will receive a calendar that outlines the assignments, outcomes, and the expectations for each project. Students will be graded on work ethic, progress, critique, writing projects, and final art works.
IB Visual Arts SL/HL
The IB Diploma Program Visual Arts course encourages students to challenge their own creative and cultural expectations and boundaries. It is a thought-provoking course in which students develop analytical skills in problem-solving and divergent thinking, while working towards technical proficiency and confidence as art-makers. In addition to exploring and comparing visual arts from different perspectives and in different contexts, students are expected to engage in, experiment with, and critically reflect upon a wide range of contemporary practices and media. The course is designed for students who want to go on to further study of visual arts in higher education as well as for those who are seeking lifelong enrichment through visual arts. The role of visual arts teachers should be to actively and carefully organize learning experiences for the students, directing their study to enable them to reach their potential and satisfy the demands of the course. Students should be empowered to become autonomous, informed, and skilled visual artists. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information.)
This class will involve theory, listening, language, music history, analysis and composition. We will be
considering different time bands from early music to contemporary music. Students will study a variety of music, and improve listening and analysis skills along with basic theory skills. Compositions will be
incorporated in relationship to the time band we are studying. A variety of listening styles and composition will be encouraged. While it is possible to take this class for one of the trimesters, it will run sequentially throughout the three trimesters and all three are recommended in order to complete the process. This class is targeted as a prerequisite to IB music class, but is open to any interested in the study and making of music. Theory and listening in a fun, supportive, yet challenging setting!
Repertoire and Performance
This class will involve solo/small group instrumental study (including voice). Sight singing and reading will be included. It is for the student that already plays an instrument or sings. Instrumentalists can be beginners, but must have a band or orchestra instrument. Vocalists must have some knowledge of keyboard, or the
willingness to learn basic skills. There will be an emphasis on performance technique, expanding the range of repertoire, developing ensemble skills and generally improving skill level through practice and experience. The student will have opportunity through this class to perform in recitals and concerts both as a soloist and/or in a small group. While consistent practice and learning will facilitate and promote excellent performance, both semesters are not necessary.
Keeping in mind that students learn and comprehend in many different ways, this course is designed to teach students about history, rhythm, chords and song structure in an innovative way. Each student will be given the tools to be able to play songs on their own. The class will teach students how to continue learning on their own even after the conclusion of this course. This course will take place in a fun and competitive environment that will speed up the students’ learning process and have them rocking out in no time at all.
IB Music SL/HL
The IB Diploma Program higher level Music course seeks to develop students’ knowledge and potential as musicians, both personally and collaboratively. IB Diploma Program music students are required to study
musical perception and actively listen to a wide range of music from different parts of the world, musical
cultures, and time periods. They also develop aural perception and understanding of music by learning about musical elements, including form and structure, notations, musical terminology, and context. Through the course of study, students become aware of how musicians work and communicate. (Please see IB Subject Brief for more information)
Principles of Engineering
In this course, students will explore the nature and process of engineering through a series of challenges that expose the class to various forms and strategies of solving open-ended, real-world problems. The process of designing, manufacturing, testing, and refining and enhancement will be carried out in a hands-on manner
allowing students to develop critical skills in both working within a team and creative problem solving.
Computer Science Elective
The Computer Science course requires an understanding of the fundamental concepts of
computational thinking as well as knowledge of how computers and other digital devices operate. The course, under-pinned by conceptual thinking, draws on a wide spectrum of knowledge, and enables and empowers
innovation, exploration and the acquisition of further knowledge. Students study how computer science
interacts with and influences cultures, society, and how individuals and societies behave, and the ethical issues involved. During the course the student will develop computational solutions. This will involve the ability to identify a problem or unanswered question, design, prototype and test a proposed solution, liaise with clients to evaluate the success of the proposed solution and make recommendations for future developments.
Independent Projects and Competitions
This elective is designed to provide motivated individuals with a dedicated time, space, and mentorship for their pursuit of their passions. Students enrolling in this elective may decide to focus on an individual or group extramural competition/exhibition with a science, design, or technology focus (eg. Science fairs, Odyssey of the Mind, KidWind, etc). Utilizing a 1 to 1 strategy, the teacher will help each student/team develop a plan to research and prepare, execute, and present/compete based on their stated goals. Students in this class should be prepared to work independently on their projects but will receive support and guidance as they strive to represent themselves and Calverton in the wider community.
Students who take this class will form the staff that will create the yearbook for the entire school. Students will be able to contribute in various ways to the overall construction of the book. The book is designed through an online editing program that allows students to design the book in hundreds of different ways. Students will be expected to take pictures, create layouts, and organize the overall theme.