THE ALEXANDER DAWSON SCHOOL AT RAINBOW MOUNTAIN
5-8 Fall Electives Catalog
An Overview and Description of Electives Fifth through Eighth Grade 1
5-8 Fall Semester Elective Offerings
As students progress, they are challenged by a well-designed curriculum which promotes success in high school and beyond. Students are also encouraged to explore an enormous variety of opportunities to discover and develop their interests and talents in both the visual and performing arts. We are proud of our independent curriculum that prepares students for their higher secondary education, providing a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning. Dawson students can also choose from a wide variety of elective classes. Each offers a unique opportu-
nity to learn in a highly integrated and project-based environment. Students will engage daily in various elective course choices and are given specific guidelines with an ample amount of creative freedom to explore course material. Emphasis is placed on organization, daily participation, and quality of work in each elective course. Problem solving and critical thinking are also key elements of each course.
Experience the Dawson Difference! 2
Sixth, Seventh & Eighth-Grade Elective Classifications ! ! ! Mastery Electives These course options place specific focus on excellence in performance. When students dedicate multiple years to one specific elective area, the goal is to provide an advanced skill set that serves as a foundation for future studies in that area. For example, all students select choir or orchestra as a “mastery elective” in fifth grade. They also select a world language choice for their four years in middle school. Mastery electives include a set of benchmark expectations on which students are coached and mentored to meet as they progress through coursework.
! ! ! Exploratory Electives These course options are designed to develop critical thinking and strengthen intrinsic motivation for tackling content by focusing on the process of learning. We encourage students to take risks and embrace the unknown when selecting their exploratory elective, trying courses that push them out of their comfort zone. Each year, the exploratory electives are re-evaluated and revised to respond to current and relevant themes, trends and ideas.
! ! ! ! ! Insights Rotation These course options have been strategically created to build effective life skills and advance student awareness about themselves as learners and their role in society. These quarter-long courses take place twice in a six-day cycle, and students will rotate through them one at a time. Focus is placed on topics that promote emotional intelligence and strengthen communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. While student choice is not embedded in these electives, the curriculum is designed to differentiate learning activities based on the needs and experiences of the small class size.
Fifth-Grade Exploratory Electives Students must choose one music course and one elective course
Theater-Acting: This course provides an introduction to the basics of acting for the stage. Students will learn how to develop strong character, voice and movements. This is a participationbased class that asks students to actively work on their acting skills. Students who complete this course will be prepared for auditions and participation in future productions.
Bear Symphony: In this course students will acquire introductory skills for brass, woodwind or percussion instruments. Through performance repertoire and music theory, students will gain the knowledge needed to pursue a journey on band instruments. This course is designed to teach students how to: play as an ensemble, have stage presence, read music, expand technique and train their ears. Ultimately, this course will stimulate an interest in music as students begin their expedition to learn the flute, saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, oboe, or marimba, just to name a few.
Visual Arts: The artists will explore a “Teaching for Artistic Behavior” studio. Student artists will be introduced to the creative process and supported in their individual artistic endeavors. Each artist will develop their own art piece and use feedback to create a unique, self-driven piece of art.
Photography: Using 35mm SLR cameras, black & white film, as well as digital, students will create unique, wellcomposed photography. They will also have the chance to explore various concepts behind creative composition and gain hands-on experience developing images in a traditional darkroom. Students also learn how to operate a digital SLR camera and how to refine their images within Adobe Photoshop CC.
Fifth-Grade Mastery Electives Orchestra: The Orchestra program will be the premiere instrumental performance group on campus. Students will have the opportunity to choose and learn the violin, viola, cello or bass, and continue with their chosen instrument in a group setting. Students will learn to care for, tune and perform on their instruments. Students hold a concert at the end of the school year to showcase progress and to prepare students for the next level. This class requires effort and two to three hours of individual practice (homework) per week. This is a year-long course. Choir: Students will join ranks with their fellow peers to create beautiful music. Students will have the opportunity to explore proper vocal techniques while strengthening their self-confidence and social skills. All students will participate in a culminating concert. This is a year-long course.
Fifth-Grade Insights Rotation
• Quarter One: Cultivators (held in The Ruffin Organic Garden) • Quarter Two: CKR: Coding, Keyboarding and Research • Quarter Three & Four: Design Thinking
Sixth-Grade Elective Offerings Group One - Mastery Electives
Group Two - Exploratory Electives
Choir: Students will join ranks with their fellow peers to create beautiful music. Students will have the opportunity to explore proper vocal techniques while strengthening their self-confidence and social skills. All students will participate in a culminating concert. This is a year-long course.
Fine Art Photography: Students will explore the world of digital communication. They will use digital SLR cameras, studio lighting, and a professional version of Adobe Photoshop as a means to focus on visual communication, self-expression, and creative composition. This is a semester-long course.
Orchestra: Students will have the opportunity to choose and learn the violin, viola, cello or bass, and continue with their chosen instrument in a group setting. Students hold a concert at the end of the school year to showcase progress and to prepare students for the next level. This class requires effort and two to three hours of individual practice (homework) per week. This is a year-long course.
Beginning Music Technology: This class will explore sequencing, recording, songwriting, music notation, and audio workstation software and equipment. Some of the programs students will use include GarageBand, Audacity, Finale and Logic. Students will learn how to setup and use microphones, speakers, recorders and digital instruments such as an electronic drum set. This class will also include travel opportunities to see music technology in action. This is a semester-long course.
Digital Art: Sixth-grade students will have an opportunity to explore the world of visual art, digitally. Using Wacom Intuos Pro Digital Tablets and Adobe Photoshop, each student will work towards building a portfolio of digital art involving drawing, painting and graphic design with an emphasis on individual creativity and visual communication. This is a year-long course.
Insights Rotation Global Studies: The world is in need of global thinkers who understand that people are affected by environmental, economic, social, cultural and civic inequalities. As future leaders and compassionate citizens, our students will develop global thinking skills needed to understand diverse perspectives and the importance of being a change agent in an increasingly complex and global world. This is a quarter-long course. Design Thinking: Students will live the design thinking process through a variety of structured and open-ended activities. From deconstructing devices to determine their function to thinking of ways to address global issues, students will be given the tools and freedom to explore their ideas and visualize their thinking process. This is a quarter-long course.
Theater-Acting: Students are invited to embark upon a contemporary theatrical journey with emphasis on character development through improvisation and ensemble work. Students will continue to expand their theatre vocabulary and acting skills as they rehearse and perform a production at the culmination of the semester. This is a semester-long course.
Human Growth and Development: This course provides students with decision-making skills about situations often faced in real life. Students discuss age-appropriate topics related to self identity, goal setting, growth and development, healthy relationships, communication, bullying, media influences, body image, and sexuality. This is a quarter-long course.
Forensics I: In this beginners’ guide to forensic science, students will explore the distinction between observation and inference. They will simulate the work of detectives, forensic scientists, and lawyers working through fictional crime scenes by observing, collecting and testing evidence, analyzing results, and drawing conclusions. A presentation on fingerprinting from The Mob Museum Educational Outreach Program is planned. This is a semesterlong course.
Cultivators: This course takes place in the Richard and Malena Ruffin Organic Garden and allows students to learn about sustainability through handson gardening. Students will learn about soil health and its impact on plant health as they examine a whole-systems approach to gardening. The course also explores various techniques for growing different kinds of garden plants. This course includes the coordination and execution of an on-campus farmer’s market. This is a quarter-long course.
Seventh & Eighth-Grade Group One Elective Offerings Fine Art Photography: Students will explore the world of digital communication.
Advanced Orchestra: This course is for orchestra students with experience in an
They will use digital SLR cameras, studio lighting, and a professional version of
orchestra class or private lessons. Students will continue using the string method
Adobe Photoshop as a means to focus on visual communication, self-expression, and
book but will focus on preparing fun, exciting and beautiful music for concerts.
creative composition. This is a semester-long course.
This class will teach advanced techniques such as vibrato, playing in higher positions and bow control. This class requires effort and two to three hours of individual practice (homework) a week. Audition is required. This is a year-long course.
Forensics II: At this level, students will focus more on fine-tuning their observation,
Advanced Vocal Ensemble: This dynamic group of singers will perform an
inference and analysis skills, as well as their ability to use forensics as a basis to
eclectic range of music from classical to contemporary a cappella, and everything
engage in argument from evidence. They will conduct investigations of fictional and
in between. Students must have taken choir in previous years. Audition is
true crime scenarios, recognize the function of forensic evidence for legal purposes,
required. This is a year-long course.
and solve a virtual online crime entitled “Murder at Old Fields.” A presentation on ballistics from The Mob Museum Educational Outreach Program is planned. [Although participation in Forensics I is NOT a prerequisite for this course, students will get the most out of the program of study if they take both.] This is a semesterlong course. Journalism/Broadcasting: In this course, students will learn how to gather
Computer Engineering: Using Raspberry PI units, students will learn how to
information, organize ideas, format stories for different forms of news media and
build and program their own powerful credit card-sized computer. This course
edit their stories for video production and publication. Students will hone their
includes hands-on circuit board training, electricity knowledge, computer terms
interviewing, writing, photography, film and documenting skills, as well as help
and computer programming. This is a semester-long course.
produce episodes of Paw Press TV. They will create a portfolio containing projects produced throughout the year and may contribute to an online newspaper. This class may require meeting outside of normally scheduled class time. This is a year-long course.
Seventh & Eighth-Grade Group Two Elective Offerings Photojournalism: Students will be submersed in the art of capturing life in motion
Visual Arts: The artists will explore a “Teaching for Artistic Behavior” studio.
and exploring the importance of visual imagery for communication and storytelling.
Student artists will be introduced to the creative process and supported in their
They will learn to recognize quality photographs, both technically and aesthetically,
individual artistic endeavors. As a class, we will investigate artists and artistic
and learn to make, manage and edit photographs with digital cameras and Adobe
movements that are relevant to our work. Each artist will develop their own art
Photoshop. The photojournalism team’s top priority will be documenting school events and daily student life for the annual yearbook publication. This is a semesterlong course.
piece, using feedback to revise and improve a unique, self-driven piece of art. As a 21st Century artists, they will also create a 'website' as a promotional tool and an online presence. This is a semester-long course.
Future City: This course lets students do the things engineers do: identify problems,
Yearbook: Students become a team of intrepid reporters who document the story of
brainstorm ideas, design solutions, test and retest, build and share results. Future
the year and gain experience in journalistic writing, photojournalism, themed page
City challenges students to discover engineering, tackle authentic and real-world
design and online publishing software. Yearbook production class allows students
problems, and apply math and science to those problems. Students themselves are
to develop their scholastic journalism skills while producing a yearly publication
responsible for the direction of the Future City class, as they make most of the design
for the student body. This course sometimes requires students to meet outside of
decisions themselves. If students decide to compete, there are times when they are
designated class time. This is a year-long course.
expected to meet outside of class. This is a year-long course. Space is available in the second semester for additional students. Technical Theater - Construction and Design: Students interested in behind-the-
Theater Acting Students will embark on a contemporary theatrical journey with
scenes aspects of a theatrical production will learn the basics of technical theater,
emphasis on character development through improvisation and ensemble work.
including set design and construction, lighting design, prop design and construction,
Students will continue to expand their theatre vocabulary and acting skills as they
costume design and creation and makeup design. This exciting hands-on course
rehearse and perform a production at the culmination of the semester. This is a
encourages creativity and teaches basic design and creation skills. This is a semester-
long course. Debate/Mock Trial: Students will develop persuasive and informative writing,
Advanced Music Technology: This class will explore sequencing, recording,
listening and speaking skills as they research and defend a variety of positions on
songwriting, music notation and audio workstation software and equipment.
relevant “hot topics”. This class will prepare students to speak in front of any
Some of the programs students will use include GarageBand, Audacity, Finale
audience, as well as share facts and opinions in a fair and coherent manner. Students
and Logic. Students will learn how to set up and use microphones, speakers,
interested in law or who like to debate will also be introduced to the judicial system
recorders and digital instruments such as an electronic drum set. This class
and court proceedings. They will enjoy important courtroom procedures such as
will also include travel opportunities to see music technology in action. This
creating opening statements and conducting direct examinations, cross examinations, objections and closing arguments. This is a semester-long course.
is a year-long course.
Seventh-Grade Insights Rotation
Eighth-Grade Insights Rotation
HUMAN GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
GLOBAL STUDIES - CSPAN PROJECT
CAPSTONE SERVICE LEARNING PROJECT
An overview and description of Dawson's elective choices for grades 5-8.