Today’s edition of My Perfect School will focus on the curriculum of my school. I will not go into a huge amounts of detail but describe the general guidelines that will determine which classes a student needs to graduate from my school. This will be a high school curriculum.
Students would be required to meet the follow requirements to graduate from the school. A credit equals a full year of study on a particular curricular area. I will address the requirements for each curricular area. One key feature of this curriculum is I try to give student as much choice as when possible. If there are different classes a student could take to fulfill the requirements of the school, they should be given that option. The largest place this occurs would be fine arts, technology, physical education and social studies.
Reading (3 Credits)
The first big curricular area is for students to have a class where they read and analyze literature. Students would be required to take an American Literature and a World Literature course that coincides with their social studies counter parts. The third credit would be satisfied by an elective reading course, like Literary Genres, where students must read and analyze the different forms of literary genres, like mystery, historical fiction, romance, and others. Students could even do an independent reading course where they read a certain amount of books in the year and do book reports on them for a grade.
Writing (3 Credit)
I purposely separated the two parts of the English Language Arts programs in my school. In most high schools English class is part reading and part writing. I figured by separating them out we could have a better experience in both. Writing would have two required classes. One would focus on the mechanics of good writing and the types of essay writing. The other would focus on the process of research and writing longer papers or a thesis. Both classes would also be used to write, edit and revise essays assigned by the other classes of the curriculum which would be part of their assessment for the class. Students could retake the course for the third required credit or they could take a writing elective. One option would obviously be Journalism where the students produce a regular school newspaper. Another would be to teach students to write in particular genres, which could be easily tied to the Literary Genre reading elective.
On a side note the AP courses that focus on reading and writing (Literature and Composition and Language and Composition) could be included as part of the curriculum. I would recommend that students who take them will be given dual credit for those courses. Upon passing the class, they would receive a credit for reading and writing since both are essential to those classes.
Math (3 Credits)
As one of the three essential Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) math would be a requirement to graduate, many schools are going to four years of required math to graduate. I feel that if the student complete three good years of math education they should be fine. Students would be required to take Algebra and Geometry to graduate. I would like to implement as well a proficiency math testing system which standardizes that the student’s know how to do the math of each class before moving on to the next level. After that they could take any one of many different math electives, like AP Statistics or Calculus. I can imagine a classes like Every Day Math, where they learn how to do score bowling and balance a checkbook, or Math for Financial Literacy, where they apply math skills to financial objectives like the stock market.
History (4 Credits)
Students need four years of Social Studies. One class would be devoted to World History and/or Geography, which would be liked directly to the World Literature reading class. Students would be required to take two years of U.S. History. The first year would be cover the history of Native American civilizations through the Reconstruction after the Civil War. All students would take the same course level so they all have the same basis of knowledge. The second year of U.S. History would give the students more options. Those students interested in taking AP U.S. History could apply for the class, which would have prerequisites. They could take the generic U.S. History II course which would cover Western Expansion to Modern Day America. Or there could be some specific U.S. History electives that students could elect to take as well. Students would then be required to take a U.S. government course their senior year. This could be the generic U.S. government, AP U.S. Government, possibly a class designed to compete in the “We the People…” competition or some other Government class. The government class needs to be a year to address all the possible topics focusing primarily on the U.S. Constitution and its practice in today in the U.S.
Science (3 Credits)
This area is my weakest in terms of planning. I am not sure how science classes are divided. I do want students to have classes that show a diversity of science types. For example, students should take a life science course and physical science course. I am just not sure where some of them go or how they are differentiated.
Fine Arts (2 Credits)
Students need to be well rounded individuals and that means the inclusion of some Fine Arts classes. Typically a student may take as a Freshmen or sophomore a introduction to fine arts class that gives the student a taste of music, visual arts and theatre. Students also could get credit for being involved in band or choir. There are numerous options for classes and electives in this area of a students education.
Technology (1 Credit)
Students need some training in computers and technology. There are many options from a course on using Microsoft Office, a computer aided drafting class, or robotics.
Physical Education (3 Credits)
The requirements here are also necessary for a well rounded student. Students would be required to take a health class which might be a full year or maybe a semester in length. I would hope it would be a class with practical knowledge, not just scientific knowledge. Students would also be required to take some classes that teach them about taking care of physical well being with exercise. Students should get a choice in the classes they take though. I can see the school having a weight training or exercise class. A class that teaches students the rules and they play competitive sports, like most gym classes. Students could also get credit for participating in interscholastic athletic teams, like playing on the Varsity team for the school sports. The goal is to encourage students to be physically active and teach them how to do that safely and effectively.
Religion (3 Credits)
This requirement is added because I will more than likely in my future build a school that is a parochial or religious school. Students would be required to take one class based on the Scriptures of the Old or New Testament. They would also be required to take a course on the doctrine or theology of the church. After that they would need electives to fulfill that last credit requirement.
I am not sure if this should be a requirement for graduation. I do feel it is important for students to learn a foreign language, but I think student need a wide range of choices in this class. The school should be able to provide a teacher for certain popular language choices. Students could also maybe complete an independent study of a language through the Rosetta Stone software or some other program. They might also take a college level course of a specific language as well to get credit.
Each student would also be required by the school to complete a standardized number of community service hours during each academic year to graduate. While this does negate the idea of volunteering I feel its important that students give of their time to some organization that cannot necessarily pay them. This will help them become better members of society. Students could complete these hours at any nonprofit they choose, like their churches or other organizations. They could complete them at the school helping teachers or at school events. The key is that this service is voluntary and unpaid.
I would like for the school to partner with a local college or university so that students may take classes at the school for both high school and college credit.
Let me know what you think of this curriculum. I welcome all comments, suggestions and questions. Have a nice day.