English 9: This required course is designed to develop students reading and writing skills through the systematic study of grammar and composition, both in their own writings and those of others. To increase understanding of the basics of English composition (including plot, character, theme, etc.), students are introduced to a wide range of literary genres, and are asked to analyze and differentiate between concepts, facts and opinion in a variety of contexts. Writing assignments and projects focus on all forms of composition - expository, descriptive, creative, analytical and persuasive. Prerequisite: None.
English 10: The focus of this second-level course is the examination of America’s values, conflicts and cultural heritage through the study and appreciation of American literature. Students are expected to engage in analytical and interpretative thought and are given several writing assignments throughout the term to assist in the continued development of composition skills. Authors may include: Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau, Sinclair, Crane, Fitzgerald, Emerson, Hughes, Twain, Hemmingway, Salinger, Faulkner, Steinbeck, James and Eliot. Prerequisite: None.
English 11: In this course students are exposed to the rich literary heritage of European and non-western cultures, including novels, plays, and poetry. Writing assignments reflect a stronger emphasis on critical thinking and expression of ideas, as well as more sophisticated thematic analysis and interpretive techniques. Authors may include: Dante, Cervantes, Goethe, Shakespeare, Euripides, Chaucer, Dickens, Ibsen, Joyce, Milton, Orwell, Bronte, Wells, Austen and Dostoevsky. Prerequisite: None.
English 12: Intended to act as a capstone of the English curriculum, this final required course will focus on advanced techniques of composition, with the intention of assisting students in expressing themselves and their ideas clearly and effectively. Students will be expected to demonstrate a thorough understanding of style, rhetoric, syntax and structure, and should be proficient in more advanced sentence and paragraph constructions. Techniques of argument and persuasion will be emphasized, as will research techniques and MLA drafting standards. Prerequisite: A required research project is an important part of the curriculum. English 9-11 or concurrent enrollment.
Fundamentals of Drawing: This course will focus on the development of observational skills and drawing techniques, utilizing a wide range of drawing media including charcoal, graphite, pastel, oil pastel, ink and mixed media. Students in this course will develop both technical abilities and creative responses to their material and subject matter. Additionally, students will learn how to critique drawings and receive criticism and advice from their peers and instructor. Prerequisite: None.
Fundamentals of Painting: This course will focus on the basic techniques and materials of painting, focusing on the development of observational skills using acrylic paints. Topics include color theory, materials, development and representational and abstract approaches to subject matter. Students will learn how to critique paintings and receive criticism and advice from fellow peers and instructor to articulate artistic concepts and processes. Using art vocabulary is a fundamental part of art education. Prerequisite: None.
Art History: This course presents the major themes, styles and subject matter of art and architecture from pre-history to the present, mainly focusing on Western civilization. Students will comprehend how art in western culture has developed from prehistoric times, including key cultural, individual, and technological contributions that occurred. Students will also learn to identify the historical periods/movements surveyed in this course. Prerequisite: None.
Independent Study in Art/Advanced Art: This course is designed for the advanced art student wishing to further enhance their artistic skill. Students will choose their subject matter and media to create independent projects. The students will employ their knowledge of composition and the role played by the elements and principles of art in creation of a successful works of art. Students are to develop an artistic work ethic, fostering confidence, responsibility, experimentation and originality.
Art Program: Big Sky Academy believes that all individuals have a creative spirit, and this has proven especially true of our population, and that creativity can foster learning on many levels. Our program is in part focused on the creative process experienced as a group collaborative. Through group projects, executed in a variety of media, students not only learn how to express themselves as individuals, but learn how that expression relates to others and to the world in which they live.
Working with a group on a specific project affords the opportunity to learn a particular artistic process. Mirroring the masters, professional artists that lead the program emphasize technical excellence and careful craftsmanship. The technical skills learned while working with the group can then be used to create more individual work; art that explores more personal subjects, or perhaps work given to formal investigation of a particular medium or technique. Our focus on the collaborative artistic process leaves time for students to communicate on an individual level and to explore their own creative, imaginative ideas.
By participating in the Art Program, students learn to cooperate with others, think and problem solve in multiple ways, find meaning in their own as well as other’s work, and learn about the role of art in our society and other cultures. Finally, by challenging students to participate in the creative give and take of collaborative art projects, we are integrating the creative process into the PPC model. The spirit of cooperation necessary to reach a common goal serves to strengthen the group, enhance the emergence of a positive peer culture and model behavior with connections to good citizenship, life and work.
The Art program is integrated into our accredited school curriculum.
HISTORY & SOCIAL SCIENCES
World History: The development of Western civilization from the ancient world through the Middle Ages to early modern times. Through the study of the cultural, political, social, and intellectual heritage of Western societies, students will be familiarized with the most important facts, trends, concepts, and interpretations of Western history as well as the rise and development of the ideas and attitudes which uniquely shaped the character of the West. Particular emphasis will be placed on impact of feudalism, the growth of monarchial power, the Renaissance and Reformation, the age of Enlightenment, the age of revolution, and the world wars of the 20th century. Prerequisite: None.
United States History: This course is a required survey of the history of the United States of America. The first term of the course will trace American history from the arrival of European settlers on the continent to the U.S. Civil War, while the second term of the course will focus on history of the United States from the Reconstruction era to modern times. Major themes of this course include the following: the development of the United States from a rural agrarian nation to an urban, industrialized country; the contributions of diverse peoples and cultures to the American experience; and the understanding and analysis of the shared American values of democracy, civil liberties, and freedom of expression. Prerequisite: None.
United States Government: This course serves as an introduction to both the institutions (Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary) and the processes (elections, media, public opinion, etc.) of American government. Particular attention will be given to the origins of democratic thought, the development and evolution of the Bill of Rights, the struggle for civil rights and equality under the law, the influence of political parties and interest groups, and the expansion of the modern presidency. Outside readings will include the texts of several landmark court cases, and students are encouraged to pay close attention to current political events. Prerequisite: U.S. History or concurrent enrollment.
World Geography: This course serves as a study of people, places, and environments at local, regional, national, and international levels from the spatial and ecological perspectives of geography. World Geography encompasses similarities and differences among people, including their beliefs, knowledge, changes, values, and tradition. Students will explore these elements of society to develop an appreciation of and respect for variety of human cultures.
Economics: This course will give students a greater understanding of economics ranging from the viewpoint of the individual consumer or small business owner to the global economy. This course will include the law of supply and demand, forms of business, labor unions, government finances and influence on the economy, money and prices, inflation and deflation cycles. This course sill enable student to develop an economic way of thinking with an understanding of different economic systems used throughout the world and understanding supply and demand, competitive markets and regulations.
Psychology: This course is designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings. Students are exposed to the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. Students will learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice.
Pre-Algebra: This course reinforces and builds upon mathematical skills taught in previous classes with additional advanced computation including an emphasis on algebraic concepts. Students study factions, decimals, percents, positive and negative integers and rational numbers. Students will be more proficient in using ratios, proportions and solving algebraic equations. Students will develop and expand problem- solving skills (creatively and analytically) in order to solve word problems. Successful completion of this course prepares students for success in Algebra 1.
Beginning Algebra: This course is designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to the mathematical field of algebra, and provide students with the skills necessary for further study in mathematics or science. Students will learn how to solve for unknown values and variables, how to manipulate expressions and equations, solve and graph linear equations and inequalities, polynomial operations, factoring and exponents. Students will also be exposed to second-degree equations, their graphs, and the quadratic formula. Probability and statistics are introduced, and students receive basic instruction in the use of graphing calculators. Prerequisite: Pre-Algebra credit/knowledge.
Geometry: This course will introduce topics from geometry, trigonometry, probability and statistics. Students will be exposed to Euclidean Geometry (including polygons, quadrilaterals, circles, right triangles, and special right triangles) and trigonometry (including sine, cosine, tangent, use of calculator and table for calculations, and applications of the three basic trig functions). Probability and Statistics topics include combinations, permutations, mean, median, mode, range and midrange. Students will also learn how to program graphing calculators, in preparation for Algebra II. After completing this course students will be prepared for the Geometry questions on the SAT. Prerequisite: Algebra I.
Advanced Algebra: This course extends the skills learned in Algebra 1 and Geometry, extending the use of linear equations, inequalities, and functions to include linear systems with two variables and introduces systems with three variables. The course also expands the content of quadratic equations and functions to include quadratic inequalities and systems, as well as the complex number system. Additional topics to be covered include logarithmic and exponential functions, the binomial theorem, probability and statistics, and an introduction to trigonometric functions. Students will use graphing calculators to enhance learning. Prerequisites: Beginning Algebra and Geometry.
Pre-Calculus: This is a preparatory course for Calculus for those wishing to develop higher-level skills in mathematics. Topics that will be covered include trigonometric functions, polynomial functions, functions and their graphs, vectors, complex numbers, polar coordinates, infinite series, and conic sections. Some specific sub-topics to be covered include transformations of functions, inverse functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, trigonometric identities, and solving trigonometric equations. Students will use graphing calculators along with algebraic manipulations. Prerequisite: Advanced Algebra.
Consumer Math (Personal Finance): Math skills needed to survive as an intelligent consumer in today's society will be developed in Consumer Math. Topics will include the mathematics of personal income, purchasing and discounts and mark-ups, banking, budgeting, investments, taxes, travel and fitness. All juniors and seniors would benefit by taking this course.
NATURAL & PHYSICAL SCIENCES
Earth Science: The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the general principles, concepts and terminology of ecology, geology and meteorology. Topics will include geologic evolution, the earth's internal structure and magnetic field, rocks and minerals, sedimentary processes, geological phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanoes, atmospheric structure, weather and climate, and the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the world’s oceans. Students will also be exposed to the concept of life and energy from the individual organism to the whole biosphere, plant photosynthesis, the impact of extinction on ecosystems, and the effects of the human population on earth resources (e.g. global warming, ozone destruction, pollution, deforestation and energy choices). Prerequisite: None.
Biology: This course introduces students to the basic principles of biology and the study of living organisms. Through lectures and laboratory work, students are given an understanding of cell structure and function, ecological principles, and the morphology, physiology and taxonomy of plants and animals. We explore the molecular interactions that make life possible, the flow of energy through living things, the unity and diversity of life on Earth, basic genetic principles, and the processes of evolution that inform all modern biological thought. Prerequisite: None.
Chemistry: This course is an introduction to the fundamental principles of chemistry and their application to the substances that we use in our daily lives and that affect us and our environment. Topics such as atomic structure, chemical bonding and reactions, the nature of solids, liquids and gases, chemical equilibrium, thermodynamics, oxidation and reduction, acids and bases, electrochemistry and aspects of nuclear chemistry will be discussed. The laboratory will introduce students to basic experimental methods and techniques. Prerequisite: Beginning Algebra.
Physics: This course is a non-calculus based introduction to classical physics, with relevant applications to the life sciences. Topics will include Newtonian mechanics, conservation laws, harmonic motion, wave behavior, optics, light and sound phenomena, electricity, magnetism, Einstein's relativity theories, and an introduction to atomic and nuclear physics. Prerequisite: Beginning Algebra. Recommended: Geometry and Advanced Algebra
Spanish I: This first course is designed to introduce the basic elements of the Spanish language. Oral and written skills are developed through the study of Spanish vocabulary, grammar, and idioms. Pronunciation, comprehension, and writing are emphasized. The goal of the course is to enable students to speak and write simple Spanish in a range of everyday situations, and prepare students for more advanced study of the Spanish language. The course also introduces students to a cultural context for the language, with focus on the Hispanic presence in Central America, South America and Europe. Prerequisite: None.
Spanish II: This is the second course for students of Spanish. The purpose of this course is to help students continue developing proficiency in the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) essential to effective communicative language learning. By the end of this course, students are expected to understand basic conversations, speak in Spanish on a variety of everyday topics, describe and express ideas in writing with coherence, engage in selected reading of Spanish texts, and demonstrate knowledge of the Hispanic world and sensitivity to its culture. Prerequisite: Spanish I or equivalent.
Spanish III: This is the third course for students of Spanish. The aim of this class is to develop and consolidate student knowledge and use of the Spanish language within an appropriate cultural context. Students will continue to develop communication skills and cultural concepts as they relate to the Spanish language and culture. By the end of this course, students are expected to possess the ability to understand spoken Spanish (aural comprehension), the ability to give and defend a short presentation in Spanish (oral expression), and the ability to understand average Spanish texts (reading comprehension). Prerequisite: Spanish II or equivalent.
Physical Education: This course is designed to build strength, stamina, flexibility and endurance through individual and group activities such as, aerobics, weight training, calisthenics, soccer, touch football, basketball, tennis, softball and volleyball. Cooperation, sportsmanship and teamwork are emphasized. Students will also receive information regarding the role of nutrition and healthy life styles in promoting, maintaining and improving well being.
SAT/ACT Preparation: This course provides intensive SAT/ACT preparation incorporating materials (including texts, workbooks, sample tests and CD-ROMs) from Kaplan Test Prep, the College Board and Princeton Review. Focus will be on general SAT/ACT content review, standardized testing strategies and remedying specific math or verbal deficiencies as determined by our analysis of an initial diagnostic SAT/ACT exam given to all students at the beginning of the process. Students will also take several full-length SAT practice exams under test conditions so as to be able to track their progress and identify continued strengths and weaknesses. Prerequisite: high school junior; must be eligible to take the SAT/ACT on next testing cycle.
OUTDOOR/EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION & RECREATION
Students will have recreation and learning opportunities in a variety of enrichment activities including but not limited to:
Capture the Flag
College research, application
Daily dorm and group chores
Friday night movies