Upper School Curriculum


Upper School at a Glance

Motivated by their love for learning and desire to take intellectual risks, our Upper School students strive for academic excellence. Students in grades 9 to-12 begin to take on more challenging course work and become more independent and dynamic thinkers in the classroom. Students may place into Advanced Placement (AP) courses starting in grade 10. Once in grade 11, students also have the opportunity to pursue the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma. Advisory meetings are a time for students to develop relationships with peers and faculty members and build skills essential to their personal development. Most importantly, Upper School students are the leaders of our community and often are seen spearheading clubs or activities, organizing House challenges, and presenting and leading sessions during school events.


View Our Course Descriptions
 

Please note that while this guide reflects the current and/or upcoming academic year offerings, courses are subject to change. Families are encouraged to inquire with our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Sara Crucet, via scrucet@dwight.global about any specific courses or subject areas of interest. 

AP Statistics | Grade 11, 12

Based on the four themes of exploring data, sampling and experimentation, anticipating patterns, and statistical inference, this year-long course is roughly equivalent to a semester of college statistics, and enforces the major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data. Using technology, including graphing calculators, investigations, problem-solving, and writing, students can expect to build conceptual understanding as they prepare for the Advanced Placement exam.

Prerequisite: Two years of High School Math; Departmental permission required

  • AP Class
AP Calculus AB | Grade 11, 12

With a focus on differential and integral calculus concepts, this year-long course will explore limits, derivatives, definite integrals, the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and more. Students will discover how to approach calculus concepts and problems when they are presented graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally, and to make connections among those representations. Rigorous coursework will help prepare students for the Advanced Placement test; this course is roughly equivalent to a first-semester college Calculus course.

Prerequisites: Algebra II & Trigonometry and Precalculus

  • AP Class
AP Biology | Grade 11, 12

With a focus on helping students examine the “big ideas” of biology, this year-long course involves inquiry-based investigations into a range of compelling topics, including evolution, cellular processes, energy and communication, genetics, information transfer, ecology, and interactions. Equivalent to a college-level introductory biology course, it’s a fast-paced deep dive into biology’s core scientific principles, theories, and processes, as well as subjects such as genetics, information transfer, ecology, and interactions. In preparation for the Advanced Placement test, students will perform hands-on laboratory work and virtual labs, led by inquiry-based investigations to enable opportunities for them to apply the science practices.

Prerequisites: successful completion of Biology

  • AP Class
AP Chemistry | Grade 11, 12

Expanding on the fundamental concepts of chemistry, including structure and states of matter, intermolecular forces, and reactions forms the basis of this year-long, fast-paced course, which essentially replicates a two-semester freshman college chemistry class. Structured around the six big ideas of chemistry, students will explore the seven science practices that capture the crucial aspects of chemistry and can expect to design experiments to test theories, create graphs and models to represent chemical phenomena, balance chemical equations, and more, all in preparation for the Advanced Placement exam. Hands-on lab work, high-level experiments, and rigorous classroom discussions make this course stand out from the non-AP course.

Prerequisites: successful completion of Chemistry

  • AP Class
AP Physics 1 | Grade 11, 12

With a deep commitment to helping students develop complex understandings of the foundational principles that shape classical mechanics, this year-long course is an algebra-based, college-level option that will prepare students for the Advanced Placement test. Students can expect to develop the ability to reason about physical phenomena using crucial science practices as they cultivate advanced knowledge of physics concepts including systems, fields, force interactions, change, conservation, and waves. Classroom study and inquiry-based laboratory work will aid them in developing skills to explain relationships, apply and justify the use of mathematical routines, design experiments, analyze data, and make connections across topics.

Prerequisites: Algebra II, Chemistry, Precalculus

  • AP Class
AP French Language and Culture | Grades 11, 12

Communicating clearly and effectively in French and preparing students for the French Advanced Placement test forms the core goal of this year-long course. With an emphasis on clarity and communication -- specifically, being understood by French speakers and understanding those speaking French -- will occur through students’ application of interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational French skills using real-life situations. From vocabulary to language control, from cultural awareness to communication strategies, this course enables students to hone in on the specific and practical nuances of this world language so they can be most effective. Taught almost exclusively in French, the course will also engage students in an exploration of francophone culture, including its tools, practices, and perspectives.

Prerequisites: French IV or departmental permission required

  • AP Class
AP Chinese Language and Culture | Grades 11, 12

Communicating clearly and effectively in Mandarin and preparing students for the Chinese Advanced Placement test forms the core goal of this year-long course. With an emphasis on clarity and communication -- specifically, being understood by Mandarin speakers and understanding those speaking Mandarin -- will occur through students’ application of interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational Mandarin skills using real-life situations. From vocabulary to language control, from cultural awareness to communication strategies, this course enables students to hone in on the specific and practical nuances of this world language so they can be most effective. Taught almost exclusively in Mandarin, the course will also engage students in an exploration of Chinese culture, including its tools, practices, and perspectives.

Prerequisites: Mandarin IV or departmental permission required

  • AP Class
AP Spanish Language and Culture | Grades 11, 12

Communicating clearly and effectively in Spanish and preparing students for the Spanish Advanced Placement test forms the core goal of this year-long course. With an emphasis on clarity and communication -- specifically, being understood by Spanish-speakers and understanding Spanish speakers when they speak -- will occur through students’ application of interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational Spanish skills using real-life situations. From vocabulary to language control, from cultural awareness to communication strategies, this course enables students to hone in on the specific and practical nuances of this world language so they can be most effective. Taught almost exclusively in Spanish, the course will also engage students in an exploration of Spanish culture, including its tools, practices, and perspectives.

Prerequisites: Spanish IV or departmental permission required

  • AP Class
AP Environmental Science | Grades 11, 12

New course offering for the 2021-22 school year — description coming soon.

  • AP Class
AP Music Theory | Grades 10, 11, 12

New course offering for the 2021-22 school year — description coming soon.

  • AP Class
AP United States History | Grade 10

From pre-Columbian civilizations to its height as a global superpower, the history of the United States is complex and vast, and this year-long course will cover the ideals upon which the U.S. was founded in addition to its influence on the rest of the world. Students can expect to deeply analyze both primary and secondary sources as they discuss and debate history, becoming empowered to engage in government as informed citizens through their understanding of the historical development of the economic, social, and political systems. Challenging and fast-paced coursework will prepare students for the Advanced Placement test.

  • AP Class
AP United States Government & Politics | Grade 11

An intensive study of the formal and informal structures of government and the processes of the American political system, this year-long course emphasizes policy-making and implementation and includes the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. government and politics, and analysis of specific moments in history. Students should be familiar with the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute U.S. government and politics, and can expect to examine a variety of theoretical perspectives on government behaviors and outcomes while analyzing and interpreting relevant data. Engaging debate and coursework will prepare students for the Advanced Placement test.

Prerequisite: successful completion of U.S. History

  • AP Class
AP European History | Grade 12

From the basic chronology of modern European history to the major milestones, including the Renaissance through the post-Cold War era, this year-long course explores the political-diplomatic, social-economic, and intellectual-cultural histories of Europe. Centered around seven themes -- Interaction of Europe and the World, Economic and Commercial Developments, Cultural and Intellectual Developments, States and Other Institutions of Power, Social Organization and Development, National and European Identity, and Technological and Scientific Innovation -- this course will prepare students for the Advanced Placement test and lead them through thought-provoking class discussions, group projects, and independent study as they draw connections between historical developments throughout the continent.

  • AP Class
AP World History: Modern | Grade 12

An immersive examination of the events throughout history that shaped the world, from 1200 CE to present day, this year-long course is set at a fast pace and offers exciting academic challenges for students preparing to take the Advanced Placement test. Students will develop higher-level thinking skills and examine sophisticated themes in history, drawing connections between them and seeking to understand the major events of the world and their impact on our lives today.

  • AP Class
AP Calculus BC | Grade 11, 12

Using the foundation of calculus concepts from AP Calculus AB, this year-long course will enable students to further explore more challenging and sophisticated calculus concepts, such as additional methods of integration, Polar Coordinates, and Infinite Series concepts. Due to the rigorous coursework, this class is roughly considered to be the equivalent of the first three semesters of a college Calculus course, and will prepare students for the Advanced Placement test.

Prerequisites: Calculus, AP Calculus AB or Departmental permission

  • AP Class
AP Computer Science A | Grades 9-12

Once students have explored Python concepts in the introductory Computer Science course, it’s time to discover Java! Students will develop an understanding of object-oriented programming based in Java, and can expect to cover programming constructs such as classes, encapsulation, polymorphism, inheritance, and complexity of an algorithm. Rigorous challenges and experiments will help prepare students for the Advanced Placement test.

Departmental permission required

  • AP Class
AP Psychology | Grades 9-12

Psychology as an academic discipline is immense in scope, and in this year-long course, students will scientifically and systematically study human behaviors and mental processes, engaging with diverse readings and analyzing data in preparation for the Advanced Placement test. Through rigorous examinations into the facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the subfields within the science of psychology — including human development, cognitive processes, social behavior, and more — students will pay particular attention to the ethics and research methods practiced in the field.

  • AP Class
AP Microeconomics | Grades 9-12

How does a free market economy work? What individual business decisions drive supply and demand, and how do government regulations affect production of goods and services? In AP Microeconomics, students will gain a deep, thoughtful understanding of economic concepts as they apply to the behavior of individuals. Students can expect an exploration of how the actions of millions of consumers influence the allocation of resources, using data to analyze, describe, and explain sophisticated concepts. Engaging discussion and rigorous coursework will prepare students for the Advanced Placement test.

  • AP Class
AP English Literature and Composition | Grades 11, 12

Both classic and contemporary texts, including titles like Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and Fences by August Wilson, will serve as tools for students to engage in close readings and critical analyses of literature. In this year-long course, developed using the knowledge and skills from previous courses and prior exposure to literary techniques and texts, students will hone their close reading skills from three lenses: experience, interpretation, and evaluation. Rich poetry and short story texts will support students as they develop solid understandings of the variety of genres, periods, and cultures represented in literature, while rigorous writing exercises will spark them to make connections between great literature and the world around them. This course aligns with an introductory college-level literary analysis course, and will prepare students for the Advanced Placement test.

  • AP Class
AP English Language and Composition | Grades 11, 12

Developing awareness of how language works and how to use it to effectively communicate will serve students well throughout their lives, and in this year-long course, students will read and analyze a broad range of challenging, diverse texts to continue developing skills in language and writing. Through close reading and frequent writing exercises, they’ll bring a greater awareness of language structures and strategies to their work and can expect to strengthen their own abilities to compose engaging, compelling prose. Thoughtful assignments and discussions will encourage students to think deeply about their writing goals, and a variety of projects will help them improve their time management skills. This course will prepare students for the Advanced Placement test in this subject.

  • AP Class