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High School

All students will take part in the courses listed below. Each course description below describes much of the curricula, structures, and learning activities that students will typically experience during a day at Unity. While detailed, these descriptions are by no means comprehensive. For more information on a particular subject area, please contact your child’s teacher(s) directly.

English Language Arts (ELA)

Unity teachers utilize a workshop model of instruction in which teachers demonstrate specific reading and writing skills and strategies, lead students through guided practice, and then confer and collaborate with them during independent practice. The curriculum is divided into interrelated reading and writing units that address a wide range of genres. In reading workshop, students learn how to access and interpret texts across

genres, develop their ability to write and speak about what they read, build fluency and vocabulary skills, and read extensively in a variety of settings. In writing workshop, students write, revise, and edit extensively to develop creative and expository writing skills, an appreciation of craft, and increasing command of grammar and conventions. For both reading and writing, units culminate in summative assessments and projects that reflect increasingly sophisticated reading and writing skills. ELA classes at Unity include the following features:

  • Mini-lessons (short lessons that teach essential reading and writing techniques through explicit modeling), guided practice, and independent practice

  • Interactive read-alouds with accountable talk: teachers modeling fluent reading and comprehension skills and strategies; students alternating between speaking in partnerships, recording written responses to questions or prompts, and other forms of active engagement

  • Word study/phonics: students learning spelling patterns, roots, prefixes, and suffixes and building vocabulary skills through a variety of exposures

  • Grammar/usage/mechanics study: students learning about the conventions of academic English by editing their own writing and through related exercises

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)

LLI is a small-group, supplementary literacy intervention designed to help teachers provide powerful, regular, small-group instruction in both reading and writing. Students are assessed on a one-to-one basis to determine their instructional reading level and then placed into homogenous small groups (no more than 5 students). During regular class sessions (4 times/week for 6th graders; 2 times/week for 7th and 8th graders), students will work to develop their reading and writing abilities, making strides towards grade-level competency and beyond. LLI classes at Unity include the following features:

  • Combination of reading, writing, and phonics/word study

  • Emphasis on teaching for comprehending strategies

  • Explicit attention to genre and to the features of nonfiction and fiction texts

  • Special attention to disciplinary reading, literature inquiry, and writing about reading

  • Specific work on sounds, letters, and words in activities designed to help students notice the details of written language and learn how words “work”

  • Close reading to deepen and expand comprehension

  • Explicit teaching of effective and efficient strategies for expanding vocabulary

  • Explicit teaching for fluent and phrased reading

  • Use of writing about reading for the purpose of communicating and learning how to express ideas for a particular purpose and audience using a variety of writing strategies

History (Ethnic Studies, Global History)

Unity’s history curriculum approaches the study of history through the conceptual framework of essential questions, student-centered learning activities, and exploration. In each unit, students develop answers to the essential questions through simulations and activities that connect historical issues or subjects to students’ personal lives and prior knowledge as well as critical reading and thinking, discourse, and debate. In the process, students develop literacy skills through reading book clubs, vocabulary building, close reading, note-taking, written responses, and analytical essays. Engaging activities, which appeal to a number of different learning modalities, challenge students to think like historians by putting historical events into context, analyzing problems, engaging in debate, generating claims, and defending their thinking. History classes include the following features:

  • Preview assignments: students previewing key concepts and activating prior knowledge through activities such as simulations, hypothetical questions, read alouds, and written personal responses

  • Vocabulary development activities: students completing vocabulary development activities to gain familiarity with key content terms; teachers introducing key academic vocabulary

  • Independent/shared text readings with guided note-taking: students reading and completing structured note-taking sheets, including various graphic organizers and scaffolds. Students participating in historical fiction/ non-fiction book clubs.

  • Interactive learning activities: students role-playing, collaborating to resolve historical problems in context, analyzing images, composing written responses and interpreting text, and participating in a variety of other learning stations and activities. Students researching historical topics while evaluating the validity of primary and secondary sources.

  • Speaking and listening activities: Students participating in daily discussions on content, and shared text. Students presenting research projects and arguments to classmates.

Mathematics (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II)

Mathematics at Unity is designed to engage students the study and application of math in a real-world context.  Math classes take two forms: math workshop and math skills.

In math workshop, students are asked to actively engage with new material and demonstrate understanding through discussion and application.  Math workshop is where each student is given the space to think critically, approach a problem with unique strategies and defend their choices to their peers.  The year is divided into a series of interrelated units that emphasize extensive, in-depth coverage of material, with students gaining mastery of skills and solving problems of increasing complexity over a period of several weeks. Instruction is separated into three phases: exploring, application and summarizing.  In the exploring phase, the teacher reviews related concepts, presents an opportunity for students to either explore or directly learn a new skill and puts the problem into a real-world context. During the explore phase, students work individually, in pairs, in small groups, or occasionally as a whole class to solve the problems related to the concept.  Students also gather data, share ideas, look for patterns, make arguments, and develop problem-solving strategies. During the summary phase, students present and discuss their solutions as well as the strategies they used to approach the problem, organize the data, and find the solution.

In math skills, students are encouraged to explore how numbers and operations in math work.  Math skills is where students are exposed to new ways of thinking though a problem based on the ways in which the numbers can be manipulated.  In skills class, students explore new strategies in small groups or individually and prove their strategies through application.  Each class is separated into three phases: explore, understand and application.  During the exploration phase, students are re-introduced to numbers and asked to think deeply about other ways in which they work together.  During the understanding phase, student deepen their understanding of numbers and operations through activities and discussions.  And during the application phase, students apply these new strategies or ways to think about the numbers in context.

Mathematics classes at Unity include the following features:

  • Preview activities: students attempting to solve preview questions that reflect the major mathematical goal(s) of the unit; teachers previewing goals to highlight the unit’s key ideas

  • Investigations: students working to solve carefully sequenced problems by exploring them individually, in groups, or as a whole class; teachers pulling the class together afterwards to help students explicitly describe the mathematics of each problem

  • Applications and extensions: students utilizing ideas and strategies from the previous investigation and attempting to solve challenge questions that foreshadow mathematics in future units or involve interesting applications of their knowledge

  • Mathematical reflections: students organizing their thoughts and summarizing key concepts and strategies by speaking, writing, and reflecting on what they have learned

  • Unit projects: students completing open-ended tasks that offer opportunities to engage in independent work and demonstrate a broad understanding of the mathematics of the unit

Science (Living Environment, Earth Science, Chemistry)

Unity’s science curriculum consists of research-based units that focus on scientific inquiry, hands-on active learning, multi-sensory exposure to scientific concepts, student-to-student interaction, and discursive and reflective thinking. Under this model, students begin with conjectures, collect data and make observations based on labs and demonstrations, and develop explanations for their findings. In this way, students interact with materials and work cooperatively to construct new understandings before moving on to abstractions, models, or simulations. In each unit, students also learn to make conjectures, follow procedures, make precise observations and calculations, and refine and clarify their thinking, both independently and in collaboration with peers. Science classes include the following features:

  • Focus questions and quick writes: students responding to preview questions and recording their thinking prior to investigating the subject

  • Data acquisition and organization: students recording data in the form of narratives, drawings, charts, tables, graphs during demonstrations, labs, and investigations

  • Data analysis: students developing and supporting claims to answer the focus question based on patterns, trends, or relationships in the data they collected through careful observation

  • Reflection and self-assessment activities: students discussing their findings, critiquing other students’ explanations, completing supplemental readings, receiving key information and instruction from the teacher, and, finally, returning to their original work to assess its accuracy and completeness and revise their thinking by incorporating new information

Computer Science

Unity’s computer science courses provide ample opportunities for students to develop a technical and critical understanding of how technology can augment and enhance what they are learning in their core-content courses and their lives beyond the school. Students engage in critical thinking, researching, collecting and representing data, communicating, and problem-solving. Computer science courses have been developed by Unity’s instructional leaders and classroom teachers. The 8th grade curriculum introduces students to computer programming with Scratch, the publicly shared block-based coding platform created by MIT.

Unity’s computer science classes include the following features:

  • Project-based learning: each unit culminating in a project that provides opportunities to develop and apply essential organizational and management skills

  • Students working in teams: team members working in specific roles and holding one another accountable through peer reviews and team-based deadlines

  • Problem- and solution-centered learning: each project representing an identified problem or opportunity to improve a given condition in the school or local community, with students creating solutions to these problems under the teacher’s guidance

  • Interdisciplinary/core content reinforcement: students applying skills and concepts they are learning and developing in their core-content courses to reinforce key skills and concepts

  • Technology as a tool: students learning to use technology through direct application through their project work, including storage and maintenance of class assignments and files

  • Presentations and demonstrations: students celebrating their work and the skills and processes involved through oral and visual presentations and demonstrations

Foreign Languages: Spanish

Unity’s language courses are an introduction to the Spanish language and culture.  The goal is to teach students to think and express themselves in another language. While acquiring a solid, basic vocabulary, the beginner will exercise the four skills necessary for the mastery of language: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  The courses combine a communicative approach with a solid grammar base, enabling beginning students to express themselves.  In the course of study of the language, students are exposed to different cultures, traditions, and ways of living through video, hypermedia, and trips to cultural events and museums.  Appropriate readings from authentic sources, communicative activities, and cultural presentations will serve to enhance student learning.  This knowledge enables students to gain a more profound understanding of another culture.

Physical Education, Dance, and Health

Through participating in Unity’s physical education (PE) courses, students acquire an appreciation for the important role that physical, mental, and emotional health play in their lives and well-being. Students in middle school learn to play different sports and athletic activities, learn about their bodies and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Along the way, students gain important life skills in teamwork and how to effectively act with others in settings where acting as a team is essential to achieving goals and overcoming challenges.  They also gain an appreciation for how to effectively practice a new sport or activity so that they may improve their skills on their own once they have discovered a passion in which they wish to excel.

Through participating in Unity’s dance courses, students gain a new appreciation and understanding of dance physically, mentally, emotionally and musically. Dance is a safe space for students to move their bodies and feel expressive. It is also a fun safe space for beginner, intermediate and advanced dancers to explore a wide range of dance styles with on emphasis on learning terminology, proper alignment, anatomy, musicality, expression, aesthetic and dance history.  Styles taught include Hip Hop, Latin, African, Ballet, Dunham/Modern in addition to students learning how to create their own choreography.  By participating in Unity’s dance classes, students develop important qualities that benefit them on the dance floor and beyond, including self discipline, creativity, self-expression, working with others, leadership, fellowship, responsibility, self-pride, and appearance.

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