Branson Curriculum Guide 2024-25

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CURRICULUM GUIDE 2024-25

TABLE OF CONTENTS WELCOME! 3 BRANSON’S GUIDING PRINCIPLES 4 BRANSON’S GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS 5 THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND 7 BRANSON’S CURRICULAR OFFERINGS FOR 2024-2025 8 ARTS 9 COLLEGE AND COMMUNITY 21 COMPUTER SCIENCE 23 ENGLISH 26 GENERAL ELECTIVES 34 HISTORY 36 HUMAN DEVELOPMENT 46 LANGUAGE 48 MATHEMATICS 56 PHYSICAL EDUCATION 63 SCIENCE 65 BLEND-ED COURSE CATALOG 2024-2025 72 2 BRANSON SCHOOL CURRICULUM GUIDE 2024-2025

WELCOME!

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the 2024-2025 Curriculum Guide

This document is the truest expression of our four core values, as well as a representation of the cumulative movements, people, trends, and contributions that have shaped and continue to shape the school The Curriculum Guide offers a doorway into our intellectual, social, cultural, and emotional life, including detailed descriptions of courses that will be offered, graduation requirements, and the various pathways that a student can take along their four-year journey at Branson I am confident that reading the guide and choosing your next set of courses will make you excited for the learning that’s just ahead of you, and I know I speak on behalf of the faculty that we’re excited to bring it to you

At a school that has always been committed to pursuing a transformative education, our remarkable teaching faculty continue to write and rewrite the curriculum, and the general course of study for our students is shaped by the aspirations of our mission and the ambition and vision of our strategic goals. Specifically, our curriculum is informed by a set of educational initiatives that aim to equip our students with the skills and knowledge that will empower them to chart their own course in school and life

Branson courses are designed to meet the rigorous standards of an educational approach that is:

● Interdisciplinary and offers authentic, substantive challenges

● Student-driven and offers self-directed learning

● Responsive to present day concerns and challenges

● Grounded in ethical problem solving

● Shaped by questions to which there are no readily available answers

Our commitment to growing good people is the hallmark of a Branson education. Accordingly, we are committed to helping every student choose a curricular path that is rewarding, dynamic, and personalized We very much hope that the course selection process affirms our students’ interests and passions Enjoy!

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BRANSON’S GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The statements and affirmations below communicate the principles by which Branson operates, and we encourage students and families to keep them in mind as they plan their Branson program

THE BRANSON MISSION STATEMENT

Branson develops students who make a positive impact in the world by leading lives of integrity, purpose, learning, and joy

OUR CORE VALUES

Courage, Kindness, Honor, Purpose

THE BRANSON HONOR CODE

In choosing The Branson School as a place to learn and a place to work, each member of the community – student, faculty, staff and parent – agrees to sustain an environment of honesty and integrity. We will, individually and collectively, do our part to create and maintain trust, respect, and care throughout school life by accepting responsibility for our own actions and those of others We make this commitment to ensure that each of us may grow both in knowledge and in wisdom and that we may leave this school having enriched it by our presence

OUR COMMUNITY STATEMENT OF BELONGING

Branson believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to create a truly excellent learning environment and a vibrant, caring community We aspire to have every member of the Branson community feel a deep sense of belonging and inclusion.

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BRANSON’S GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS

Students must complete a minimum requirement of sixty (60) units of academic credit and ninety (90) hours of community engagement to graduate from the Branson School Unless otherwise indicated, yearlong courses receive 3 units of credit and semester-long courses receive 1 5 units of credit

BRANSON GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS BY DEPARTMENT

ARTS

9 units (3 years)

COLLEGE AND COMMUNITY

1 5 unit (1 5 years)

ENGLISH

12 units (4 years)

HISTORY

9 units (3 years)

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

1 5 units (3 years)

LANGUAGE

9 units (3 years) of one language

MATHEMATICS

9 units (3 years) including completion of Algebra II

SCIENCE

9 units (3 years) that include Physics, Chemistry, and Biology

Students complete three years of coursework in the Arts department (Applies beginning with the Class of 2027).

All students take College Counseling I in the spring of eleventh grade, College Counseling II in the fall of senior year, and Civic Leadership in the spring of senior year

All students take English I in the ninth grade and English II in the tenth grade In the eleventh and twelfth grade, students choose from semester electives and must take an English class each semester.

All students take Modern World History in the ninth grade and U S History Honors in the tenth grade, and select a minimum of two semester-long seminars during the eleventh and twelfth grade

All students take The Developing Mind in the ninth grade, Healthy Sexuality in the tenth grade, and Leadership and Scholarship in the 11th grade Each class is one semester in length

Students are welcome to sign up for any first-year language, or take a placement test to determine placement into a higher level Students will complete three years of language study, including the successful completion of a level 3 course. (Applies beginning with the Class of 2027).

The core curriculum of the Mathematics program follows the sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Precalculus, and Calculus Students enter the program in the course that best suits their ability and background Regardless of where they begin, all students must complete at least three years of math, and they must complete all courses through Algebra II.

All students take Physics in the ninth grade, Chemistry in the tenth grade, and Biology in the eleventh grade Students may take elective courses in Science during the junior or senior year, and they may take advanced courses in Science during their senior year with approval of the Science Department

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GENERAL ELECTIVES

1.5 units (optional)

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

4 units (1 unit each year)

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

90 hours

IMMERSIVES

2 units (spring term in Grades 9-12)

General elective courses are UC-approved electives that do not fall within an academic department While they do not fulfill a specific graduation requirement, they ask the same academic commitment as any junior/senior level elective, receive a letter grade, and are equivalent to any other academic course

Students must complete at least 36 hours of Physical Education each year This requirement can be fulfilled by playing on a school-sponsored team, or completing an Alternate Activity Program Alternative Activity Programs must be school approved, and seniors must complete all AAPs by April 1 of their senior year.

Students must complete 5 Core and 10 Support hours in the ninth grade, and 15 Core and 10 Support hours in each of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. School service hours can fulfill ten Support hours for ninth graders and up to five Support hours for tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders

Students must complete 2 units by taking one immersive course every spring in the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade (Applies beginning with the Class of 2026).

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THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

Branson students are encouraged to create a program that is rewarding, appropriately challenging, and balanced To do so takes care, and there are many things to keep in mind The following items offer useful guidance and reminders

MINIMUM COURSE LOAD

Each student must be enrolled in at least five Branson academic courses each semester A Branson course is defined as a course offered in the Branson Curriculum Guide, including all arts courses For a sixth course, students may take a regular Branson course or a course offered through the Bay Area BlendEd Consortium In order for students to remain competitive in college admissions, the school recommends that students carry a load of six academic courses at all times

TAKING SEVEN ACADEMIC CLASSES

The Branson schedule has eight blocks, which means that during any given semester it is possible for a student to take up to eight classes Such a course load can be demanding, however, so students who would like to take seven academic classes are encouraged to confer with their advisor first, and then must petition the Director of Studies for permission, who will confer with the student’s teachers, advisor, class dean, and family, as well as the department chairs group

SINGLETONS

While we value the depth and breadth of our course offerings for the rich educational experience they offer to our students, we frequently can offer only one section of a particular course, particularly at the upper levels of the program We call such courses singletons, and when a student registers for multiple singletons, they are often faced with having to choose among singleton courses Students are encouraged to be aware of singletons they sign up for and to consider alternatives if they are unable to fit that course into their schedule

ADVANCED AND HONORS COURSES

Each department offers advanced courses that give students the opportunity to study a rigorous curriculum in depth that builds upon our own pedagogical priorities, draws on the expertise of our teachers, and allows students to do a variety of advanced work Any prerequisites for these courses are detailed in the course descriptions

COURSE AVAILABILITY

Some courses in this guide may not be offered if there are not sufficient sign-ups

GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS AND THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

A student who meets the Branson graduation requirements also meets the minimum course requirements for the University of California and California State University systems, as long as all grades earned are C-minus or higher in every required course

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COLLEGE COUNSELING AND CLASS RECOMMENDATIONS

Many college websites have a list of their required and/or recommended classes. Please keep in mind that a college’s required or recommended courses are not a comprehensive list of what they expect of applicants Many selective colleges admit students who exceed the official requirements The College Counseling office recommends that all students challenge themselves appropriately and enjoy the process of learning During the registration process each spring, students receive guidance from department chairs, teachers, and advisors

BRANSON’S CURRICULAR OFFERINGS FOR 2024-2025

All of Branson’s course offerings for the 2024-2025 school year are described on the following pages For each department there is a brief statement regarding the department’s goals and values, a recap of the department’s graduation requirements, a table showing the department’s curriculum at a glance, a brief statement of the departmental homework philosophy, and, finally, short descriptions of each course

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ARTS

The Branson Arts Department believes that the arts are an essential part of the human experience that take you on a journey of creation and inquiry Our studio practices weave a balance between artistic literacy, authentic expression, and collaboration The process urges students to redefine boundaries and use their creative voice in service to their vision for a more healthy, vibrant, and equitable world.

The graduation requirement in Arts is nine units or three full years of study Students may take courses in all areas of the arts or specialize as they choose.

ARTS CURRICULUM AT A GLANCE

DANCE

➢ Dance I, II, III, IV

➢ Dance for Men I, II, III, IV

➢ Dance Performance Ensemble Honors

THEATER

➢ Beginning Acting: Improvisation

➢ Intermediate Acting: Technique

➢ Advanced Acting: Rehearsal

➢ Acting Performance Honors

INSTRUMENTAL AND CHORAL MUSIC

➢ Music I: Roots of Americana

➢ Music I & II: For the Love of Singing

➢ Music II: Ensemble Workshop

➢ Digital Music and Composition I & II (offered sequentially fall and spring)

➢ Digital Music and Composition III

➢ Performance Seminar: Singing Honors

➢ Performance Seminar: Chamber Music

➢ Performance Seminar: Jazz

➢ Performance Seminar: Rock

VISUAL ARTS

➢ Survey of Visual Arts

➢ Intermediate Drawing and Painting

➢ Intermediate Photography

➢ Intermediate Sculpture

➢ Advanced Visual Arts: “SuperNatural” (fall)

➢ Advanced Visual Arts: “Machine of the Art World” (fall)

➢ Advanced Visual Arts: “Messaging the Masses” (spring)

➢ Advanced Visual Arts: “Abstract Vision, Symbolic Expression” (spring)

➢ Portfolio Review/Portfolio Review Honors (may be taken in fall semester or as a yearlong course)

INTERDISCIPLINARY AND EXTENDED ARTS OFFERINGS

➢ Collab Lab (Fall and Spring)

➢ Improvisation as a Life Skill (second semester seniors only)

➢ Stagecraft (.5 credit per semester)

➢ Musical ( 5 credit)

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ARTS DEPARTMENT HOMEWORK AND PERFORMANCE/EXHIBIT PHILOSOPHY

Arts courses are studio based classes. As such, the vast majority of course work is dependent upon deep engagement in class time activities Most classes require little in the way of traditional “homework ” Practice, rehearsal, and event participation are necessary aspects of every art offering Expectations vary among the disciplines. Students and parents can expect a detailed explanation of these requirements at first class meetings While we work with all Branson constituencies to minimize rehearsal and performance conflicts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the student to review rehearsal and event expectations and communicate any potential conflicts with their teachers well in advance

DANCE COURSES

Notable for their comprehensive and professional approach to dance, Branson’s dancers learn modern, ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance techniques in a collaborative and supportive atmosphere Instruction in technique, improvisation, and composition, as well as choreography by guest artists, prepares dancers to present two concerts per year – the Annual Dance Concert in the winter and the Festival of Arts at Branson (FAB) in the spring Other performing opportunities include the fall musical and the Branson Dance Performance Ensemble (DPE) As a member of the National Dance Education Organization and California Dance Education Organization, the Branson dance program honors those students who achieve artistically and academically by induction into the National Honor Society for Dance Arts

Note: If a student chooses to use a term of dance to fulfill a PE requirement, the student will not receive Arts credit for that term That student must inform the instructor at the start of the class

DANCE I

3 units

Prerequisite: None

Dance is for everyone. This yearlong course teaches the fundamental ideas and techniques of dance. Students develop an understanding of body alignment while increasing strength, flexibility, coordination, and musicality Students are introduced to hip-hop, jazz, modern, and ballet skills No previous dance experience is necessary.

DANCE II

3 units

Prerequisite: By audition or approval of the instructor.

This yearlong course is for students with previous dance experience Students study modern and contemporary dance techniques, jazz, ballet, improvisation, and basic choreographic principles. Introduction to dance history, a review of vocabulary and anatomy, and attendance at professional level dance concerts serve as the written portion of this course

DANCE III

3 units

Prerequisite: Dance I or II or approval of the instructor

This yearlong course strengthens and challenges the intermediate dance student and builds on the concepts and skills learned in Dance I and II The class will emphasize increased technical ability, more

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complex combinations, weight changes, level and floor patterns, use of momentum, use and understanding of classical and contemporary dance vocabulary, understanding of performance skills, and the ability to choreograph dance phrases to music. Dance history and dance reviews of professional level dance companies serve as the written portion of this course

DANCE IV

3 units

Prerequisite: Dance II or III with approval of the instructor

This yearlong course is for the advanced dance student and emphasizes contemporary dance technique Students will develop the ability to shape transitions, self-correct in various dance styles and techniques, collaborate, and use improvisation as a choreographic method Students continue to increase their understanding and ability to dance to a variety of complex rhythms, timings, and patterns with technical proficiency while relating to other dancers They will also acquire the ability to choreograph an entire dance that has form, structure, and transitions using a wide range of choreographic methods

DANCE PERFORMANCE ENSEMBLE HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: By audition or approval of the instructor.

This course is for the advanced dancer who has an interest in extra-curricular performance opportunities (including experiences on and off campus) throughout the school year Dance Performance Ensemble (DPE) has after-school class and rehearsal requirements as scheduled by the teacher. The dance ensemble is a pre-professional dance company that explores the students' ability to communicate through the medium of dance Along with the development of advanced performance and choreographic skills, dance students will be expected to develop individual styles and qualities in their dancing and are required to choreograph at least one work outside of their regularly scheduled class period In addition, dancers acquire the skills needed to audition for a college dance program

NOTE: The Dance Performance Ensemble course has a variety of on and off campus commitments and students' attendance at these events will be included in the course grade

DANCE FOR MEN I

3 units

Prerequisite: None

This yearlong course teaches the fundamental ideas and techniques of dance Male-identifying students develop an understanding of body alignment while increasing strength, flexibility, coordination, and musicality. Students are introduced to hip-hop, jazz, modern, and ballet skills. No previous dance experience is necessary

DANCE FOR MEN II, III, IV

3 units

Prerequisite: Sophomore, junior or senior standing and Dance for Men I or approval of the instructor

This yearlong course builds on the dance skills learned in Dance for Men I. With an emphasis on athleticism and physicality, male-identifying students learn to execute more complex rhythms and patterns, retain more complex choreography, and use improvisation as a choreographic method Dance reviews of professional level dance companies and the study of dance history serve as the written portion of this course

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INSTRUMENTAL AND CHORAL MUSIC COURSES

Our offerings are designed to meet musicians where they are in their music training Students without prior experience enter into the program with Music I. Experienced instrumentalists and vocalists may audition to participate and perform in a variety of ensembles, including various classical chamber music combinations, jazz ensembles, rock combos, and singing groups Below is a list of all of our music offerings.

MUSIC I: ROOTS OF AMERICANA

3 units

Students planning to engage in seminar level courses in future years are highly encouraged to take private lessons concurrently

Roots of Americana is our introductory music course designed for instrumental or vocal students motivated to experience and grow the skills required for participation in Ensemble Workshop, Digital Music and Composition, or the Jazz, Chamber Music or Rock Performance Seminars Emphasis is placed on learning new music together, rehearsing, and performing as a collaborative project. The specific mix of instruction and assignments will also be geared to give students a historical and perspective of the roots of American music Students learn music reading as one of the important languages of communication between composers and performers, and as a set of strategies and expectations rather than a list of rules We place a strong emphasis on rhythm skills and understanding, basic harmony, and ear training Students will be exposed to some of the foundations of analog and digital music preparation and production as applied to instrumental music The Music I class participates in Branson’s winter and spring arts festivals

MUSIC I: FOR THE LOVE OF SINGING

3 units

This course is designed for students who love to sing Singers will learn the art of communicating through musical collaboration and song, along with fundamental musicianship skills and principles of vocal production Songs in the repertoire will cover a broad range of musical genres and styles from around the globe and encompass more than 500 years of music history, from Medieval to Modern Singers will perform in the Winter Arts Festival, Gospel Night, spring Festival of Arts at Branson (FAB), as well as numerous other community events There will be opportunities for solo and ensemble singing, both accompanied and a cappella, as well as collaborations with the other music ensembles at Branson No audition is required

MUSIC II: FOR THE LOVE OF SINGING

3 units

Prerequisite: Music I: For the Love of Singing.

This course is designed for students who love to sing Singers will learn the art of communicating through musical collaboration and song, along with fundamental musicianship skills and principles of vocal production Songs in the repertoire will cover a broad range of musical genres and styles from around the globe and encompass more than 500 years of music history, from Medieval to Modern Singers will perform in the Winter Arts Festival, Gospel Night, spring Festival of Arts at Branson (FAB), as well as numerous other community events. There will be opportunities for solo and ensemble singing, both accompanied and a cappella, as well as collaborations with the other music ensembles at Branson No audition is required

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MUSIC II: ENSEMBLE WORKSHOP

3 units

Prerequisite: Music I or equivalent experience and approval of the instructor by audition Students who take this course are encouraged to take private instruction simultaneously

This course is designed for musicians motivated to enhance their skills and knowledge leading to successful participation in Branson’s Performance Seminars (Chamber Music, Jazz, Rock), or Digital Music and Composition Students actively study, rehearse, and perform music in small group settings We place a strong emphasis on communication and musicianship through ear training, rhythm, harmony, and notation The specific mix of instruction and assignments can be geared to student interests as well as the available instrumentation of the class Additional individualized assignments may be given to meet specific needs. Collaborations with other Branson music and arts classes are encouraged, and visiting artists contribute their professional insights Students in Ensemble Workshop perform at the Winter and Spring arts festivals

DIGITAL MUSIC & COMPOSITION I & II (Offered sequentially fall and spring)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Music I, II or Instructor Approval

This course explores the practices, process, and production of digital music We will explore beatmaking, songwriting, lyric writing, and looping to enhance your fundamental skills and understanding while building your own musical language. Initial projects will focus on traditional music theory, including basic rhythm, notation, chords and chord progressions exploring timbre, texture, and orchestration Additionally, you will learn to use and combine a variety of instruments available to the digital music composer while creating arrangements inspired from a variety of different genres and time periods of music history. Special emphasis will be placed on contemporary composers, including artists and groups often underrepresented in the canon of music history, whose works and influences we will explore in depth Students will also explore film and video game music in order to discover creative ways of producing unconventional music and sound effects Each semester culminates in music production, with students choosing a digital audio workstation to produce complete songs based on acquired knowledge

A basic understanding of music theory is necessary; however, experience with music production is not required to sign up for the course

DIGITAL MUSIC III

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Digital Music & Composition II; offered fall and spring, and may be repeated

This course expands upon the principles, processes, and production techniques introduced in Digital Music I & II, leveraging advanced composition, sound design, and music production skills for interdisciplinary collaborations The projects undertaken in this course will center on scoring music for diverse contexts such as live performances, film, video games, podcasts, and commercials, all facilitated through the use of digital audio workstations In addition to refining technical skills, the curriculum includes learning practical music business skills crucial for success in the industry Topics covered encompass networking, publishing, and licensing. A significant emphasis is placed on developing effective communication skills essential for collaborative work within the community While Digital Music I and II serve as prerequisites for this course, students with advanced experience in using digital music workstations may be exempt from this requirement. The ultimate goal is to empower students with a

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comprehensive skill set that prepares them to navigate the complexities of digital music production and thrive in the evolving landscape of the music industry

PERFORMANCE SEMINAR: SINGING HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: By audition only, to be held in May

Singing Honors is a choir that sings in a variety of genres and styles Admittance to the class is by audition only Previous choir experience is recommended, though not required Singers will learn about balance, dynamics, blending, good vowel production, and other essentials of singing. Songs in the repertoire will cover a broad range of musical genres and styles from around the globe and encompass more than 500 years of music history, from Medieval to Modern Singers will perform in Winter Arts Festival, Gospel Night, and spring Festival of Arts at Branson (FAB), as well as numerous other community events. There will be opportunities for solo and ensemble singing, both accompanied and a cappella, as well as collaborations with the other music ensembles at Branson

PERFORMANCE SEMINAR: CHAMBER MUSIC

3 units

Prerequisite: Music II or equivalent experience and approval of the instructor by audition All students enrolled in this course are encouraged to take private instruction simultaneously.

Chamber music is a unique musical conversation among friends that differs from traditional band/orchestral playing because there tends to be only one player on each part This course focuses on developing the skills of musical communication, connection, and collaboration that chamber music calls for All student musicians who demonstrate above-average proficiency on their instrument are encouraged to take part The repertoire, which is varied and eclectic, is often student-driven and based upon individual areas of interest or curiosity. We celebrate cross-cultural collaborations with the world’s non-Western classical music traditions, as well student arrangements and compositions Pieces may include the entire roster of the ensemble, or smaller configurations of duets, trios, quartets, quintets and more. Previous experience playing music with others is not required, but welcomed. Collaborations with other Branson music and arts classes are encouraged, and visiting artists contribute their professional insights

PERFORMANCE SEMINAR: JAZZ

3 units

Prerequisite: Music II or by audition All instruments are welcome Students who take this course are highly encouraged to take private instruction simultaneously. Woodwind players may choose to study saxophone or an appropriate double, e g flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon

This course is an opportunity for students to experience and develop the specialized knowledge, musicianship, and instrumental skills required of jazz musicians Ensembles range from small combos to a traditional big band Students will be grouped and regrouped for specific purposes and/or according to common levels of interest and achievement. Rhythm, improvisation, and ensemble playing are equally important to all facets of the program Music is selected primarily from the vast mainstream repertoire from the mid 20th century on Collaborations with other Branson music and arts classes are encouraged as well All students are expected to work on their own to maintain instrumental skills and learn the assigned music. Additional individualized assignments may be given to meet specific needs. Jazz students are encouraged to work towards meeting the college jazz and wind ensemble audition requirements for entering college freshmen

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PERFORMANCE SEMINAR: ROCK

3 units

Prerequisite: Music II or by audition. Students who take this course are strongly encouraged to take private instruction simultaneously

This yearlong course creates a full rock band that, over the course of the year, masters two 90-minute repertoires (approximately 60 songs) drawn from the rock ‘n’ roll canon to perform in December and May as midterm and final exam concerts Students will continue to develop expertise on their individual instruments as well as learning how to play in the context of a full band, with special emphasis on collaborative, close listening In addition to weekly performance labs, students will also learn the history of rock music from 1930s blues through the present day, continue to master the principles of tonal harmony (with special focus on the classic chord and scale building blocks of rock music), and learn to construct their own charts from recordings. Homework includes focused listening to canonical material as directed by the instructor, and nightly instrumental practice This course is not designed for beginning players, and moves at a challenging, focused pace

THEATER COURSES

Branson's theater program strives to challenge students both artistically and intellectually so that they may become critical and creative thinkers while developing professional skills and attitudes. Each course is designed to nurture the student to develop stronger physical, vocal, and emotional expression, while gaining self awareness and self confidence Performance opportunities include the fall musical, spring play, Theatresports competitions, FAB (Festival of Arts at Branson), and other additional pieces

BEGINNING ACTING: IMPROVISATION

3 units

Prerequisite: None

This entry-level class introduces students to acting through improvisation The class offers several opportunities for performance based on two schools of improvisatory theater: Theatresports and Commedia dell’Arte The course is designed for students interested in exploring theater as a means of personal development and expression, as well as for those who wish to begin to study the craft of acting

INTERMEDIATE ACTING: TECHNIQUE

3 units

Prerequisite: Beginning Acting or approval of the instructor

This course is designed for students who wish to learn the fundamental skills of text analysis and explore different techniques of acting The class covers the history of acting from the turn of the twentieth century until the present, studying masters as Stanislavski, Strasberg, Hagen, Adler, Meisner, and Bogart. Students will deepen their mastery of improvisation, analyze and rehearse scenes from contemporary plays, and perform a comedic one-act play at FAB

ADVANCED ACTING: REHEARSAL

3 units

Prerequisite: Intermediate Acting or approval of the instructor

A conservatory-style class, Advanced Acting is intended for students with extensive prior experience wishing to challenge themselves with textual analysis, development of the actor’s body and voice,

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scansion, creating a character, and working with the camera Students will analyze and perform a piece from the Shakespearean repertoire, and rehearse scenes from classic, modern, and contemporary plays, and perform an original play at FAB.

ACTING PERFORMANCE HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Approval of the instructor

This class brings together the techniques learned in all Branson acting classes and applies them to performance Members of the Acting Performance class form the core ensemble of the spring play, learn professional rehearsal techniques, work on audition material, and translate their skills from Branson’s acting program to other disciplines The class comes full circle to performing a completely improvised play at FAB.

VISUAL ARTS COURSES

The visual arts program seeks to foster effective studio habits, collaboration, process, technique, and understanding of context, as well as self-reflection that culminates in creative awareness and understanding. The curriculum and projects develop the creative process through active engagement, perseverance, individual expression, and the ability to transform the abstract into the concrete

SURVEY OF VISUAL ARTS

3 units

Prerequisite: None

Survey of Visual Arts puts a pen, a paintbrush, a camera, and a hammer in each student's hand. This introductory course fosters exploration into a variety of media while developing myriad answers to the question “What is art?” Students will explore and compare many styles including the emotional power of Henri Matisse’s line, the intricacy of Ruth Asawa's forms, and the bold color compositions of Amy Sherald’s portraiture Through a series of projects based on the seven elements of art, students will gain deeper insight into our visual culture and develop their own creative voice as painters, sculptors, photographers, and digital designers. The course simultaneously promotes experimentation with the many possibilities of art-making while providing the necessary fundamental practices of each discipline Upon completion of the Survey of Visual Arts course, students may continue their visual arts studies in Intermediate Photography, Intermediate Drawing & Painting, or Intermediate Sculpture

INTERMEDIATE PHOTOGRAPHY

3 units

Prerequisite: Survey of Visual Arts and/or approval of the instructor.

Fall term will focus on conceptually based assignments that push students to think about the function of photography as an art form. At this level, students will have the opportunity to work with medium format cameras and experiment with print size Winter term will focus on collaborative work with an eye towards interacting with the larger world For the final project of the year, each student will work with the teacher to create an assignment that directly engages individual concerns and interests Discussions, class work, projects, critiques, and technical skills are the main focus for Intermediate Photography.

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INTERMEDIATE DRAWING AND PAINTING

3 units

Prerequisite: Survey of Visual Arts and/or approval of the instructor.

Building upon the basic tenets of two-dimensional design and the aesthetic principles introduced in Survey of Visual Arts, students will further their study in the mediums of drawing, watercolor, acrylic painting, and printmaking Students will be assigned a variety of related projects asking them to consider the broader question “What does it mean to think like an artist?” Along the way, students will further their technical ability and expand their aesthetic knowledge while developing a deeper sense of their own artistic voice Projects will be based on contemporary approaches to traditional subjects including still life, landscape, and the figure Projects will also help students further their understanding of the roles of abstraction, expression, and contemporary media as they work to communicate their intentions through visual means.

INTERMEDIATE SCULPTURE

3 units

Prerequisite: Survey of Visual Arts and/or approval of the instructor

By employing both traditional and new media, students expand and refine their understanding of what it means to think and work like a sculptor Open-ended, studio-based projects allow students to become more fluent in the language of visual art: aesthetics, craftsmanship, and expression The variety of projects will deepen artistic understanding as students employ digital tools (graphics software, laser cutter) and traditional tools (woodworking, clay, and mold-making) to create three-dimensional forms. Projects include: Psychological Moment, studying the human body and the emotional power of art; Absurd Tool, employing found objects; and INside/OUT, utilizing multi-media to create an immersive installation space.

ADVANCED VISUAL ARTS: SUPERNATURAL (offered in Fall)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Intermediate Visual Arts and/or approval of the instructor

This course is focused on the natural world as inspiration to artistic creation For nearly all of history, humans' relationship to the natural world has shaped their quest for answers to existential questions of life, spirit, and purpose How can you find unique inspiration in the world around you as you work toward a greater understanding of your relationship with and dependence on that world? Along the way we will study a wide array of historic examples from Romanticism to Transcendentalism in the European tradition, sacred objects and rituals of indigenous cultures of Americas, and Contemporary artist and architects’ responses to ideals of sustainability and harmony. At least one project will be in collaboration with a local institution, group, or event beyond Branson An emphasis will be placed on developing an individual process and strengthening creative practice routines Peer review and critical dialogue will play a further role in helping students to better articulate their intentions and hone skills of visual analysis

Students will be encouraged to continue their previous area of study (Drawing & Painting, Photography, or Sculpture); students may receive year-long, UC-approved Advanced Arts Credit if they enroll in both Fall and Spring courses

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ADVANCED VISUAL ARTS: Machine of the Art World (offered in Fall)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Intermediate Visual Arts and/or approval of the instructor

Explore what it means to make art in dialogue with the messy and marvelous machine that is the modern art world! In addition to examining work from exciting contemporary artists, this course will also interrogate the larger ecosystem that buys, sells, exhibits, critiques, and consumes that very work Student artists will consider the mechanisms of the contemporary art scene while making work that enters into (or interrupts) the relationship between artist and consumer We will study the most revolutionary yet controversial 20th century movements from Dadaism and Pop Art to Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism to guide our creative inquiries and project assignments In the end, students will have a lot to say about the intersections between artists, museums, galleries, dealers, collectors, auction houses, critics, and themselves Join a collaborative journey, culminating in a unique portfolio reflecting your personal exploration into the machine of the art world!

Students will be encouraged to continue their previous area of study (Drawing & Painting, Photography, or Sculpture); students may receive year-long, UC-approved Advanced Arts Credit if they enroll in both Fall and Spring courses.

ADVANCED VISUAL ARTS: Messaging the Masses (offered in Spring)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Intermediate Visual Arts and/or approval of the instructor.

Students will sharpen their technical skills, refine skills of aesthetic valuing, and expand their conceptual ability to employ art as a form of cultural/societal critique or protest. An emphasis on developing an individual process and creative practice underlies the work while students grapple with the question of “What is the Artist’s Role in Society?” Examination of contemporary and historic artistic examples, along with trips to experience art in public and gallery settings, will provide guidance and inspiration for each project Peer review and critical dialogue will play a further role in helping students to better articulate their intentions and hone skills of visual analysis Presentation of work will take many forms as we explore the most socially impactful methods toward culture change Students will be encouraged to continue their previous area of study (Drawing & Painting, Photography or Sculpture); students may receive yearlong, UC-approved Advanced Arts Credit if they enroll in both Fall and Spring courses

Students will be encouraged to continue their previous area of study (Drawing & Painting, Photography or Sculpture); students may receive yearlong, UC-approved Advanced Arts Credit if they enroll in both Fall and Spring courses.

ADVANCED VISUAL ARTS: Abstract Vision, Symbolic Expression (offered in Spring)

1.5 units

Prerequisite: Intermediate Visual Arts and/or approval of the instructor

Discover your voice of creative expression as you explore collective archetypes and personal symbols

This unique journey goes beyond traditional artistic boundaries, inviting you to explore color, texture, pattern, and shape in ways outside the bounds of what we see in the physical world This course pushes you to think outside of the representational box We’ll ground our understanding of abstraction through artists like Hilma af Klint, Jackson Pollock, Louise Nevelson, and Mark Rothko. We’ll explore the potency of archetypes–the explorer, the magician, the hero, the outlaw–to weave between the individual and your

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personal experience with the collective and the human experience Join a collaborative journey, culminating in a unique portfolio reflecting your personal exploration of abstract and symbolic realms

Students will be encouraged to continue their previous area of study (Drawing & Painting, Photography or Sculpture); students may receive yearlong, UC-approved Advanced Arts Credit if they enroll in both Fall and Spring courses.

PORTFOLIO REVIEW/PORTFOLIO REVIEW HONORS

1 5 units or 3 units (*)

Prerequisite: Seniors standing and two semesters of an advanced visual art seminar, or approval of the instructor

(*) May be taken as a fall semester course or a yearlong course. Must be taken as a yearlong course for UC approval and Honors designation

Portfolio Review challenges the committed fourth-year visual arts student to step outside of the role of student and into the role of artist Primary interests in this course are developing an individual creative voice, cultivating an understanding and deftness with conceptual concerns, and finding the willingness to take risks and experiment. All projects are generated collaboratively between student and teacher using the throughline of “Who am I as an Artist?” As well as covering the creative endeavors of the artist, this course also provides extensive guidance in the more practical elements of working as an artist In the fall term, students will learn to document their work in a precise and professional manner, polish the ever-evolving artist statement, and use both of these elements to build an artist’s website. In the Spring, students will refine their artist statement and expand upon their portfolio Additionally, we will dissect what writers have to say about art and artists, and learn how to write about visual art Throughout the year, students will engage in a dialogue with professional artists and peers outside of their discipline.

INTERDISCIPLINARY ARTS ELECTIVES

Advanced electives are for students who have completed the two-year graduation requirement These courses offer students unique opportunities to practice and build upon the creative habits explored previously.

COLLAB LAB

1 5 units or 3 units (*)

Prerequisite: Completion of 2 yrs of Arts

(*) May be taken as a semester course or yearlong course

Experience the transformative power of interdisciplinary collaboration In this innovative class, dance, music, theater, and visual arts converge to create an electrifying fusion of artistic expression Throughout the course, students will embark on an exhilarating journey where they explore the interplay between movement, sound, and storytelling Through dynamic exercises and creative collaborations, participants will delve into the fundamental elements of each discipline, unlocking new realms of creativity and self-expression. Through collaborative projects and interdisciplinary exploration, students will discover the synergy that arises when practitioners of differing art forms come together Together, they will create original performance pieces that blur the boundaries between art forms in the quest for maximum creative impact

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IMPROVISATION AS A LIFE SKILL (spring only)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Seniors; Completion of 2 yrs of Arts

This accelerated course on improvisation translates the craft into tangible life skills. Practicing improvisation teaches people to be more effective listeners, more engaged coworkers, more persuasive speakers, and ultimately more empathetic and trusting human beings

EXTENDED ARTS COURSES

Extended Arts courses are offerings that meet outside of the daily block schedule These courses cannot be used for credit toward the two-year graduation requirement in Arts, but given the regularity of meetings, depth of commitment, and study required for these groups, these courses are recognized as credit-worthy endeavors of study

Each course requires 40 hours of meeting time for semester credit (1 5 units) and is graded on a Pass/Fail basis

STAGECRAFT

75 units or 1 5 units (*)

(*) May be taken as a semester course or yearlong course.

Stagecraft introduces students to the basics of technical theater operations and design for all areas of performance Students will get hands-on experience with the performing arts construction tools, digital lighting, and audio systems. Students will implement sets, lighting, sound, props, and costume designs. The course will demonstrate how to become an effective participant in a group setting, develop camaraderie, and practice emotional intelligence Students will actively work on the annual Fall Musical, Winter Arts Festival, Annual Dance Concert, Spring Play and Festival of Arts at Branson (FAB). Students may self-select which aspects to focus on during the year Students who take the course for a second semester (or beyond) further develop their proficiency in stagecraft design skills and take on leadership roles in the production and development of events. The class will be scheduled by student availability in concert with their fellow classmates and the Technical Director Students will meet an average of four hours per cycle with a minimum of 20 hours per semester Note: Some after-school and evening times may be required

MUSICAL

1 5 units

Being in the musical is fun: yes, it requires dedication and bravery but it also thrives on support and camaraderie The cast learns the techniques required to perform in a full-book musical Cast members will obtain training in singing, acting, and dancing. They will also learn proper rehearsal and performance etiquette, time-management skills, communication skills, how to work cooperatively in a group setting, and how to produce quality work in a fast-paced environment As this course culminates in the musical, students are expected to attend all after school rehearsals and performances Participation is by audition only

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COLLEGE AND COMMUNITY

The “College and Community” course is a once-a-week course for all juniors and seniors In the spring of junior year and fall of senior year, students meet once a week with the college counseling department to work on and complete their college applications. In the spring of senior year, students meet to discuss topics around building and sustaining community, including civic leadership and interpersonal skills Students co-create the curriculum with teachers to cover topics of particular student interest

COLLEGE AND COMMUNITY AT A GLANCE

FALL SEMESTER COURSES FOR JUNIORS SPRING SEMESTER COURSES FOR JUNIORS

➢ College Counseling I

FALL SEMESTER COURSES FOR SENIORS SPRING SEMESTER COURSES FOR SENIORS

➢ College Counseling II ➢ Civic Leadership

CIVIC LEADERSHIP (Spring for Seniors) 25 units

One cannot be a leader of others without being able to lead oneself. The course is focused on developing a student’s capacity to be a leader of one’s own responsibility and purpose while also ensuring that their success is tied to the success of a community that is culturally relevant Students will have the opportunity to apply lessons in this course to their various leadership roles both within and outside of Branson. While leadership is often generalized as the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal, Civic Leadership focuses on defining the common goal to be the betterment of society, especially those who are most systematically marginalized

One outcome from Civic Leadership will focus on building students’ innovation, adaptability, critical analysis, cross-cultural communication, and teamwork skills as critical aspects of one’s ability to contribute positively to any group or organization.

A second outcome is for students to increase their proficiency in how to navigate the topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion, with a focus on anti-racist behavior. Moreover, this course will focus on how students can deepen their understanding of systemic oppression and use this understanding to be more effective leaders

COLLEGE COUNSELING I & II (Spring for Juniors, Fall for Seniors) 25 units

Beginning in the spring of junior year and continuing through the fall of senior year, the College Counseling course provides a space of deep reflection and empowerment during a time that can often feel stressful to teenagers. The purpose of the course is to help students best navigate the college admission journey by providing scaffolding to build a well-balanced and smart college list and successfully submit thoughtful and powerful applications The college counselors offer insight into the world of

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standardized testing, letters of recommendation, and the importance of a robust extracurricular life, while also providing the students plenty of time for contemplation and self-discovery Consistent with Branson’s core values, this course supplements the one-on-one work with each individual student and allows for class-wide tone-setting, myth-busting, and team-building

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COMPUTER SCIENCE

Branson offers a variety of Computer Science electives that are intended to give students multiple ways to explore the subject Students may take one or more of the term electives, or take the yearlong ObjectOriented Programming in Java elective Interested students are also welcome to design their own term or yearlong independent study program in consultation with the Mathematics Department Chair and lead Computer Science teacher

With the exception of Applied AI in Python, all electives have no prerequisite and are open to all students. Students are welcome to take any course from either sequence, provided that it fits into their schedule All Computer Science courses are electives that students may take in addition to meeting their graduation Requirements.

COMPUTER SCIENCE CURRICULUM AT A GLANCE

YEARLONG COURSES

➢ Object-Oriented Programming in Java

FALL SEMESTER COURSES

➢ Game Design in Python

➢ Web Design

➢ Applied AI in Python (Offered through the Bay Area BlendEd Consortium )

SPRING SEMESTER COURSES

➢ App Development

➢ Applied AI in Python

➢ Game Design in Python

➢ Introduction to the Arduino and C Programming

Unless enrollment requests require a shift in offerings, all Computer Science courses will be singletons

COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT HOMEWORK PHILOSOPHY

The majority of homework in computer science will be project-based, with students continuing with assignments that they have been working on in class Students should spend their allotted time working on their project and avoid leaving their programming until the last moment In some cases, students may have up to twelve hours of class and homework time to complete a project, and therefore it is vital that the students manage their time well It is acknowledged that there will be times when students will be unable to fix a problem with their code and they should arrange to meet with their teacher if they are unable to progress.

Occasionally, students will be given short programming exercises and reading assignments to enhance their learning in class This should be completed during the allotted homework time, which stipulates that sophomores through seniors should have, on average, approximately 40 minutes of homework per night per subject Students have permission to stop working on their homework if they have not completed it during the allotted time frame

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YEARLONG COURSES

OBJECT-ORIENTED PROGRAMMING IN JAVA

3 units

This yearlong course will give students a comprehensive introduction to object-oriented computer programming and the fundamental concepts of Computer Science. Using the Java programming language, the course begins with an introduction to data types, data structures, and the principles of object design Students will get hands-on experience implementing a number of standard algorithms for searching, sorting, manipulating strings, and managing compound data structures. Emphasis will be placed on the principles of structured program design, designing elegant solutions to computable problems, and learning to test and debug computer code effectively The course is project-oriented, with periodic quizzes and short homework assignments designed to give feedback and reinforce understanding. Prior knowledge of computer programming is not required.

FALL SEMESTER COURSES

WEB DESIGN

1 5 units

This course will cover the essential elements of responsive web design, from user interface design to programming in the HTML, CSS, and Javascript languages Students will learn how to use CSS libraries such as Bootstrap to create responsive layouts. They will also learn how to use Javascript variables and functions, and respond to user input using Javascript Students will get hands-on experience developing web applications such as an Instagram style photo gallery Finally, students will learn how to use the React and Firebase frameworks to create a data-driven website of their choice Emphasis will be placed on the project development life cycle and the importance of testing. The course is project oriented with periodic quizzes and short homework assignments designed to give students the opportunity to extend their knowledge and demonstrate understanding

GAME DESIGN IN PYTHON

1 5 units

This course will give students an introduction to the Pygame library and game design After a review of the Python programming language, students will learn how to create classes, sprites, and animation using Python and Pygame The course will then apply the concepts of objects, list, and tuples to game design Students will then learn how to process events and create sound effects. Finally, students will have the opportunity to design their own game as part of their final project Emphasis will be placed on developing the resilience and problem solving skills necessary to become an effective computer programmer The course is project based with periodic quizzes and homework assignments designed to develop students’ understanding of the Pygame library and game design

SPRING SEMESTER COURSES

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APP DEVELOPMENT

1 5 units

This course will give students an introduction to the powerful Swift programming language, now widely used to develop mobile applications for Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad Students will gain the skills necessary to develop an iOS app from scratch. By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate a completed app, and will have a basic understanding of object-oriented principles and memory management Emphasis will also be placed on user interface design principles and user acceptance testing The course is project based with periodic quizzes and short homework assignments designed to give students the opportunity to extend their knowledge and demonstrate an understanding of the key principles

APPLIED AI IN PYTHON

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Introduction to Computer Science or approval of the computer science teacher after demonstrating sufficient knowledge of Python;

This course will give students an introduction to machine learning algorithms in Python using the Google Colab environment. The course will explore the construction of algorithms which can make predictions. Students will also learn how to use the Pandas and Numpy libraries to clean data Students will then write their own collaborative filter and learn the underlying principles of neural networks Students will also consider the ethical implications of artificial intelligence and use their knowledge of machine learning to solve a real-world problem of their choice. Emphasis will be placed on the project development life cycle and the importance of testing The course is project oriented with periodic quizzes and short homework assignments designed to give students the opportunity to extend their knowledge and demonstrate understanding.

GAME DESIGN IN PYTHON

1.5 units

This course will give students an introduction to the Pygame library and game design After a review of the Python programming language, students will learn how to create classes, sprites, and animation using Python and Pygame. The course will then apply the concepts of objects, list, and tuples to game design. Students will then learn how to process events and create sound effects Finally, students will have the opportunity to design their own game as part of their final project Emphasis will be placed on developing the resilience and problem solving skills necessary to become an effective computer programmer. The course is project based with periodic quizzes and homework assignments designed to develop students’ understanding of the Pygame library and game design

INTRODUCTION TO THE ARDUINO AND C PROGRAMMING

1 5 units

This course will give students the opportunity to use the Arduino platform and learn C programming The Arduino platform is an open-source computer hardware/software platform for building digital devices and interactive objects that can sense and control the physical world around them Students will learn how the Arduino platform works in terms of the physical board and libraries. Students will also learn about shields, which are smaller boards that plug into the main Arduino board to perform other functions such as sensing light, heat, GPS tracking, or providing a user interface display The course is project oriented with periodic quizzes and short homework assignments designed to give students the opportunity to extend their knowledge and demonstrate understanding All hardware will be provided as part of the course

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ENGLISH

The English curriculum enables students to express and experience the school's four core values through analytical reading, writing, and discussion. All courses develop students’ attentiveness to language and meaning, capacity for self-expression in essay and narrative, and the ability to justify interpretations with reference to a text and its context

The graduation requirement in English is twelve units or four full years of study Classes cross-registered as “Humanities” can fulfill EITHER the English OR History requirement

ENGLISH CURRICULUM AT A GLANCE

YEARLONG COURSES

➢ English I

➢ English II

FALL SEMESTER COURSES

➢ The Beat Generation

➢ Building Nations, Telling Stories

➢ Children’s Literature

➢ Courage Spoken Here

➢ The Monsters We Make

➢ The Poetics of Place: The Literature of California

Humanities/Cross Referenced Courses:

➢ Advanced Journalism I, III (Same course as in the Spring)

➢ The End of the Innocence: American Society 1955-2001

SPRING SEMESTER COURSES

➢ The Art of Literary Translation

➢ Critical Theory

➢ From Story to Screenplay: Adaptation and the Craft of Dramatic Storytelling

➢ Hamlet and Hamnet

➢ Myth, Folklore, and Adaptation

➢ State of Mind

Humanities/Cross Referenced Courses:

➢ Advanced Journalism II, IV (Same course as in the Fall)

➢ History and Culture of Hip-Hop

ENGLISH DEPARTMENT HOMEWORK PHILOSOPHY

In the English classroom we work collaboratively, sharing purposeful talk about literature and ideas and developing skills and understandings that will serve students as lifelong learners. Homework assignments, on the other hand, focus on individual acts of reading and writing

Reading is a skill that develops with practice, much like driving. Students need hours “at the wheel” to develop fluency with a variety of texts and tasks Through regular practice at home, reading at their own pace, students develop independence as readers and the ability to animate characters, scenes, and voices in a text. Autopilot does not forge good practice. Rather, the critical element for successful reading is active engagement observing, noting, connecting, and raising questions in response to an author’s views Nightly reading then entails finding at least thirty minutes of quiet, focused time with a pen or pencil in hand Above all, reading is not a passive activity done as one is relaxing or falling asleep

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Writing, like reading, requires time and concentration The English Department assigns essays that at different times require analysis, close reading, reflection, creativity and sometimes a mix of all four and more. Teachers guide students in breaking down these varied writing tasks into manageable stages brainstorming, gathering evidence, developing a thesis, forming an outline or structure, drafting, seeking critiques from others, revising, and finally proofing and polishing over a series of classes and evenings. Teachers make time in class for collaboration through workshops and peer critiques and offer students opportunities to bring their ideas and drafts in for paper conferences Finally, teachers specify resources students may consult for any given assignment and require accurate citation of all sources

Students gain writing skills best by beginning tasks in a timely manner and setting aside thirty to forty minutes of focused time over two or three evenings, rather than postponing and struggling with a writing task late into a single evening Procrastination is particularly harmful because it inhibits true engagement with the subject and fosters reliance on old writing strategies, bad habits, and “rules,” rather than development of new and original thinking

YEARLONG COURSES

ENGLISH I

3 units

English I, a literature-based course, introduces ninth-grade students to the demands of high school reading and writing The course emphasizes the development of active reading skills such as annotating, building vocabulary, and analyzing the development of a theme over the course of a text by examining how it is shaped and refined by the author Materials are chosen from diverse cultures and settings, and thematically embody the school’s core values courage, kindness, honor, and purpose with the goal of creating a shared Branson identity. Through this study, we also explore the importance of literature as a vehicle for voice, power, and social change A focus on composition drives a significant portion of the learning experience, and short critical responses, longer essays, and creative projects provide a vehicle for demonstrating students’ deepening understanding of form, craft, and meaning. The course also prepares students to initiate and participate effectively in collaborative discussions, focusing on the skills of active listening, inquiry, and expressing their ideas clearly and persuasively Writers studied include: Rudolfo Anaya, Jhumpa Lahiri, William Shakespeare, Tommy Orange, George Takei, August Wilson, and various accompanying short stories, poems, essays, and visual texts Summer reading is required

ENGLISH II

3 units

Prerequisite: English I

English II continues the development of students’ reading and writing skills and the study of genres, themes, and concepts begun in the first year Students strengthen their abilities to support, test, and complicate conclusions drawn from reading and discussion while understanding those readings through the context of historical lenses that directly intersect and echo the tenth grade U.S. History curriculum. Students read texts that allow them to explore what it means to be American and to look at the values traditionally associated with American identity, both individual and national, especially as those values are impacted by markers such as race, class, gender, and sexuality Writers studied include: Octavia E Butler, Sandra Cisneros, Emily Dickinson, Frederick Douglass, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, and various accompanying short stories, poems, essays, and visual texts representing different American visions and voices Summer reading is required

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FALL SEMESTER COURSES

THE BEAT GENERATION

1 5 units

“It’s the beat generation, it’s beat, it’s beat to keep, it’s the beat of the heart, it’s being beat and down in the world and like old-time lowdown ” So goes Jack Kerouac in his description of the Beat literary movement in 1965 Kerouac – along with Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Diane di Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Gregory Corso – formed the core of the movement that caused quite a stir in the U.S. in the late fifties and sixties The movement was anti-establishment, non-conformist, and committed to literary, social, and political change The movement centered itself in San Francisco and became an important part of the city’s emerging counter culture, a counter culture that challenged traditional lifestyles and values. We will be looking at the movement’s core texts such as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters and using Ann Charters’ invaluable source The Portable Beat Reader for additional texts and context We will also be making use of the city of San Francisco as a means for retracing some of the movement’s literal steps and asking how the city helped to shape the Beats and their project Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions.

BUILDING NATIONS, TELLING STORIES

1 5 units

This seminar will introduce students to the rich history of mythmaking, storytelling, and literature in the South Asian region While the end of British colonial rule and the region’s partition into India and Pakistan will be front and center, the course will also explore pre-Independence literature (in translation); the divergence and overlap in the literary traditions of postcolonial India and Pakistan; the popularization of English as a mixed language; and the emergence of a contemporary voice impacted by religion, war, neoliberalism, caste, and a deepening relationship with the West. Through this survey, students will form an understanding of the region’s history, culture, and existential concerns of ancient identities in perpetual reconstitution; of nations that are built, broken, and built again Texts may include excerpts from Qurratulain Hyder’s River of Fire; selections by Ismat Chugtai, Saadat Hasan Manto, Mahasweta Devi, and Premchand; Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger, short fiction by Daniyal Mueenuddin, excerpts from Ayad Akhtar’s Homeland Elegies, and various poetry and film selections Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions

CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

1 5 units

What was your favorite book as a child? What did it mean to you? What would it look like to study it in an academic context? In this course we will analyze the history and development of children’s literature, an endlessly complex genre, with a focus on ideology and the construction of childhood Through the examination of classic texts, as well as rewritings and alternative points of view, we will consider children’s literature through the lenses of psychology, pedagogy, gender, sexuality, race, class, and nationality Ranging from fables and fairy tales to picture books to modern fantasy, readings may include works of: the Brothers Grimm, Lewis Carroll, Clarice Lispector, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Louise Erdrich,

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Chinua Achebe, Dr Seuss, Rebecca Solnit, and others, as well as important theorists of children’s literature and childhood studies Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions

COURAGE. SPOKEN. HERE.

1 5 units

Communication, collaboration and courage are key values recognized and fostered in a Beloved Community By reading and examining inspired pieces about these values, students will engage in rigorous debate and deepen their critical thinking skills while also exercising their own creativity to produce inspired original work Students will explore questions such as: how can we all speak our truth, and hold space for the contradictions that may arise, to become better people? When and how can we move towards a sense of knowing that comes from a deep sense of belonging to ourselves and to each other? What stories and shared experiences are valid markers of knowing in order to become more empathetic and critical thinkers? What creative risks can we take with our intellectual and emotional being to share writing that becomes source material for the next generation of thinkers, readers, and artists? Readings might include: Respect the Mic, Breakbeat Poets, The Poet X, Spoken Word: A Cultural History, and online poetry recordings and performances. Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including formal critical writing and original spoken word pieces for performance and the page

THE MONSTERS WE MAKE

1 5 units

Zombies! Vampires! Werewolves! Why do we make stories about monsters? What do the monsters we make reveal about the fears and values of our society? How do ideas of the monstrous delimit the boundary between the “human” and the “other”? In this course, we’ll analyze monster stories ranging from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Jordan Peele’s latest horror movies. Alongside our primary texts, we’ll read “monster theory,” with a particular eye to how monster stories engage issues of gender, sexuality, class, and race Texts and films may include: Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; short stories from Karen Russell, Samantha Schweblin, and Carmen Maria Machado; George Romero, Night of the Living Dead; Jordan Peele, Us. Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions

POETICS OF PLACE: THE LITERATURE OF CALIFORNIA

1 5 units

In her essay collection Where I Was From, Joan Didion described California’s distinction from the rest of the country as an exemption from the influence of history: “In California we did not believe that history could bloody the land, or even touch it ” This course will cast doubt on this sense of exemption by settling into the literary past, present, and future of California As we explore a range of genres through the long history of this territory – including texts by Indigenous authors, nature writing and ecocriticism, memoir, poetry, and fiction – we will also grapple with some ethical questions concerning our obligations to the land we occupy. Can literature help us to better understand the history of the places we live and work? How does narrative organize our comprehension of a place, and what does this narration have to teach us about the way we experience our daily lives? What can literature offer to guide us through our environmental crisis? Can we read “place,” as we would a novel or short story? We will pursue these

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questions through a wide variety of assignments, experimenting with active and close reading strategies, alternative forms of mapping, collaborative work with classmates, interviews, and atlas building

ADVANCED JOURNALISM I, III

1 5 units

Cross-registered Humanities class

Advanced Journalism I, II, III and IV are yearlong courses that produce the student newspaper by applying journalistic skills and standards This course is required for all editors except in special circumstances In addition to producing the newspaper, students will also hone their skills through discussing topics including: law and ethics; photography and design; business of journalism; and modern issues in the field Textbooks include The Elements of Journalism, The Associated Press Guide to News Writing, and pieces from professionals. All students will have the opportunity to attend the annual NorCal Media Day in the fall and National High School Journalism Convention in the spring Students who have taken Advanced Journalism I and II will enroll in III and IV Class will run subject to student interest

THE END OF THE INNOCENCE: AMERICAN SOCIETY 1955-2001

1 5 units

Cross-registered Humanities class

This course will examine events / artistic statements from this epoch of American history to examine the push and pull within American culture between the desire to maintain a sense of hopeful innocence, and the reaction and recalibration that occurs when that innocence is challenged. It will begin in the post-WWII era with the invention of the “teenager” as exemplified by Chuck Berry’s “School Days,” and will end with the events of 9/11/2001 Texts will include fiction, non-fiction, primary sources, films and songs Potential major texts include: In the New World, Lawrence Wright (selections); “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr ; “Slouching Toward Bethlehem, ” Joan Didion; “The Things They Carried, ” Tim O’Brien; Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde (selections); And The Band Played On, Randy Shilts (selections); All Involved, Ryan Gattis. Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions

SPRING SEMESTER COURSES

THE ART OF LITERARY TRANSLATION

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Students need to be enrolled in or have completed level three of a language

Traducir es la manera más profunda de leer / Translation is the closest possible reading

Gabriel García Márquez

During the first half of this course, students will learn the key tenets of translation theory by exploring questions like: Should a translator bring the text to the reader, or the reader to the text? To what extent is the translator invisible? What are the different kinds of translation? When is translation a form of appropriation? The second half of the course will be a multilingual creative workshop in which each student translates into English a literary text of their choosing Students will discover that literary translation can promote the acquisition of language skills, the improvement of writing skills, and the

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understanding of translation as an art form As a creative practice, it also provides a method and a model for the study of literature Readings may include: Gloria Anzaldúa, Walter Benjamin, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, June Jordan, Emily Wilson, and others. Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions

CRITICAL THEORY

1 5 units

Why should we read literature? And how should we read it why read it in the way high school English teachers insist upon? This course will explore these simple yet profound questions through the rich tradition of critical theory We’ll learn about the development of various theoretical schools, including Psychoanalytic, Marxist, Feminist, and Postcolonial criticisms. In order to practice these modes of reading, we’ll apply them as lenses to examine a deceptively familiar genre of stories: Disney movies You’ll come away from the course with a strong understanding of how to do literary analysis, and a theoretical toolbox for decoding depictions of class, race, gender, and nationality in any media you direct your attention to Texts and films may include: Lois Tyson, Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide; theoretical selections from Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Karl Marx, Judith Butler, Edward Said, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick; and movies including Disney’s Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Mulan, and The Lion King, among others Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions

FROM STORY TO SCREENPLAY: ADAPTATION AND THE CRAFT OF DRAMATIC WRITING

1 5 units

This class considers film to be a medium worthy of academic attention and starts by examining it side by side with literature In the case of a literal or traditional adaptation, how does a story change when translated from one medium to another? In the case of a more radical adaptation, how does the shift in cultural framework force us to refresh the questions we can ask of this narrative? This theoretical exploration will ultimately lead us to a creative space where, with a renewed understanding of cinema, adaptation, and storytelling, students will embark on their own creative projects, trying their hand at adapted as well as original writing for the screen. Literature/film pairings for the course may include Shakespeare’s Macbeth with Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021) and Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (1957), Ibsens’s A Doll’s House with Dariush Mehrjui’s Sara (1992) and The Young Vic’s Nora, Ted Chiang’s “The Story of Your Life” with Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival (2016), and Robert A Heinlein’s “All You Zombies'' with Michael and Peter Spierig’s Predestination (2014) Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including formal critical writing, a screenplay adaptation, and original writing for the stage or screen.

HAMLET AND HAMNET

1 5 units

“To be or not to be; that is the question ” That was Hamlet’s famous question in William Shakespeare’s play of the same name The question for you is: Are you ready for this? Are you ready for what is perhaps the most celebrated work in all of western literature? Hamlet is widely considered the greatest work by one of the greatest writers to have ever walked among us We will take our time with it We’ll go through all the famous soliloquies, act some of them out, watch and analyze different cinematic representations…we’re basically going to take the play apart and put it back together again trying to understand why it’s so celebrated, and, perhaps more importantly, why it still speaks to us As a parallel

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text, we will read Maggie O’Farrell’s 2021 novel, Hamnet, which recreates the story of Shakespeare’s son Hamnet who died in 1596, four years before the play Hamlet was first produced We will look at the ways in which his son’s death seems to impact the work that followed. Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions

MYTH, FOLKLORE, AND ADAPTATION

1 5 units

Carl Jung, the father of analytic psychology, claimed that the most important question anyone can ask themself is: "What myth am I living?" This class turns to myth as our oldest literary tradition, and an active resource for understanding the world we currently inhabit We will read classic Greek myths, common folklore, and popular Indigenous legends alongside contemporary adaptations of these narratives. Throughout the semester we will consider how and why we seem to return to the same narrative structures over and over again Possible texts include: The Odyssey and Circe by Madeline Miller, Labours of Hercules and Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, “Deer Woman” and The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions.

STATE OF MIND

1 5 units

This is a literature seminar that explores how people express their mental health in creative and artistic ways We will examine how fictional characters specifically are reflections of the journey the artist has taken to express their mental health and its impact on the purpose they find in life. We will explore the questions: What beautiful and profound perspectives are borne from moments of crisis? When and how can taking care of mental health be an opportunity for creative expression? How might reflection and creative expression be a catalyst for healthy self awareness and creating purpose? Texts may include, Colorful by Eto Mori and The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki Students will synthesize their findings through a variety of compositional styles including but not limited to: formal critical essays, lyric/personal essays, design-thinking projects, and other creative compositions

ADVANCED JOURNALISM II, IV

1 5 units

Cross-registered Humanities class

Advanced Journalism I, II, III and IV are yearlong courses that produce the student newspaper by applying journalistic skills and standards. This course is required for all editors except in special circumstances In addition to producing the newspaper, students will also hone their skills through discussing topics including: law and ethics; photography and design; business of journalism; and modern issues in the field Textbooks include The Elements of Journalism, The Associated Press Guide to News Writing, and pieces from professionals All students will have the opportunity to attend the annual NorCal Media Day in the fall and National High School Journalism Convention in the spring Students who have taken Advanced Journalism I and II will enroll in III and IV Class will run subject to student interest

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HISTORY AND CULTURE OF HIP-HOP

1 5 units

Cross-registered Humanities class

This seminar covers the evolution of hip-hop as it moved from a counterculture to a multi-billion dollar industry and global movement. The class will explore various social, economic, political, and cultural foundations that birthed the movement in 1970s New York City, then trace the change of the culture over time The course is necessarily interdisciplinary in nature, blending social and political history with film study, poetics, and basic introductions to the formal elements of hip-hop’s “pillars”: DJ-ing/beat making, rapping, dance, graffiti/visual art, and fashion/style The class considers several issues pertaining to race, class, gender, language, and sexuality relevant to hip-hop’s spread and commercialization Ultimately, the course intends to convey an understanding and appreciation of the causes, course, and consequences of hip-hop’s trajectory as a movement that has transformed global culture. Class will run subject to student interest

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GENERAL ELECTIVES

General elective courses are UC-approved electives that do not fall within an academic department

While they do not fulfill a specific graduation requirement, they ask the same academic commitment as any junior/senior level elective, receive a letter grade, and are equivalent to any other academic course

YEARLONG COURSE

HAMMERING OUT A SOLUTION: BAY AREA HOUSING

3 0 units

This interdisciplinary course combines hands-on construction with an introduction to architecture and engineering and a history and examination of Bay Area housing policy Students will help to construct a (tiny) home from start to finish, scheduled for delivery to ReBuilding Together by June 2025. Along the way, we will explore the many various professions and public careers that play vital roles in shaping the scope of Bay Area housing Each week will include both hands-on design and building with a team as well as discussion and project-based research on the complex history of housing in America and the Bay Area, in particular. NOTE: a supplementary application will be required of interested students.

FALL SEMESTER COURSES

ENTREPRENEURSHIP LAB (e-Lab)

1.5 units

Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing

Entrepreneurship Lab (e-Lab) is an introductory course to Entrepreneurship and Innovation. This highly immersive, semester-long course will provide an overview of entrepreneurship and inspire students to create and develop a concept of their choice into a viable new business venture The curriculum will be segmented into six modules: (1) Introduction to Entrepreneurship, (2) Ideation and Innovation, (3) Product and Brand Development, (4) Creation of a Business Plan, (5) Raising Capital and The Art of Negotiation, and (6) The Pitch This course will be highly collaborative and will incorporate exercises, simulations, group discussions, workshops, roleplays, and lectures into class time In addition, a case study approach will be utilized to deep-dive into the history and the legacy of several highly successful start-ups. Peer learning will be foundational on how the course is run, with a particular focus on collaboration Finally, throughout the semester, several successful entrepreneurs and investors will be invited to speak and will share their experiences on entrepreneurship and innovation.

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FINANCIAL LITERACY

1 5 units

This fall elective will be an introduction to finance and financial literacy, building practical financial management skills with a focus on building responsible financial habits throughout one's life We will also develop a firm understanding of core financial principles, including the time value of money, compound interest, debt, leverage, credit, and more Moving beyond the theoretical and foundational principles of finance, we will ground our work together in the practical tools to understand trends, articulate current and potential economic challenges, and develop strategic approaches to sound financial management and financial responsibility

Throughout the elective we will explore investment management, portfolio construction, entrepreneurism, building a robust understanding of financial statements, business planning, applying basic accounting principles, and will also learn more advanced concepts and inputs like the Consumer Price Index, inflation, and macro-economic financial trends to understand the real-life impacts to financial decisions The format will be highly interactive with pre-work and post-work as well as case studies We will also learn how to use Excel to build complex financial models, pro formas, and related analytical tools. The elective will also apply strategic frameworks and competitive analysis tools (e g , SWOT, Blue Ocean, Porter’s 5 Forces, etc ) to enable participants to better understand organizations through these lenses

SPRING SEMESTER COURSES

THE SCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY OF WELL-BEING AND HAPPINESS

1 5 units

What does it mean to live a happy and meaningful life? What gets in the way of achieving the life you hope for? A recent survey found that 37% of teens say they have poor mental health This course aims to curb this mental health crisis by bringing together the best insights from recent research In this course, you will explore what the field of psychology teaches us about how to be happier, how to feel less stressed, and how to thrive in high school and beyond. The daily and weekly lessons will ultimately prepare students to put these scientific findings into practice in their own lives Students will also study the role that Branson plays in their mental health, and after significant analysis and investigation, will make research-backed recommendations to the administration about how the school can best support the mental health needs and challenges of the student body The ultimate goal is for students to understand mental health in all its forms through practice, learning, research, and work with experts in the field

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HISTORY

The History Department offers a diverse curriculum that challenges students to engage with the past critically in order to better understand and affect the world we live in today. Through a sequenced program of integrated skill-building, students are encouraged to formulate their own questions about the past, analyze primary and secondary sources, design research plans, and write papers from a variety of perspectives. The goal is to deepen students’ understanding of how the world has come to be what it is today and to sharpen their sense of responsibility as global citizens The History Department believes that the study of the past fosters the compassion, humility, and moral vision that Branson strives to impart

The graduation requirement in History is a minimum of nine units, or three full years of study, consisting of Modern World History in the ninth grade, United States History in the tenth grade, and two upper-level semester courses in History taken over the course of the eleventh and twelfth grades Classes cross-registered as “Humanities” can fulfill EITHER the English OR History requirement.

HISTORY CURRICULUM AT A GLANCE

YEARLONG COURSES

➢ Modern World History

➢ United States History Honors

FALL SEMESTER COURSES

Honors History Seminar I:

➢ American Politics

➢ California History

➢ Modern East Asia

➢ Ethics and Justice

➢ European History: From Renaissance to Enlightenment

➢ History of American Sports

➢ Latinos in America

➢ Principles of Economics (Same course as in the Spring) †

➢ Women's History

Humanities/Cross Referenced Courses:

➢ Advanced Journalism I, III (Same course as in the Spring)

➢ The End of the Innocence: American Society 1955-2001

SPRING SEMESTER COURSES

Honors History Seminar II:

➢ Art History

➢ Food History

➢ Land and Water Stewardship

➢ Native American History: Contemporary Native Americans

➢ Principles of Economics (Same course as in the Fall) †

➢ Public Opinion & Current Events

➢ World Religions

➢ World War II

Humanities/Cross Referenced Courses:

➢ Advanced Journalism II, IV (Same course as in the Fall)

➢ History and Culture of Hip-Hop

➢ Protest and Reform in History and Literature

† Principles of Economics cannot be used to fulfill the graduation requirement in History

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HISTORY DEPARTMENT HOMEWORK PHILOSOPHY

The written source is the essential tool of any historian, and thus the Branson History Department strives to imbue a deep appreciation for historical texts in each of our students A strong command of critical reading provides a factual foundation for the student to participate in our collective analysis of historical events, trends, personalities, and systems of power during each history class meeting. Our homework philosophy stems from this fundamental belief in the power of the source for historians and for the student of history and the importance of document analysis as one of the key elements needed to create a robust classroom discussion When assigning reading in preparation for class, we encourage our students to actively read and annotate the text, to seek out thematic trends and connections to past readings, and to retain a critical skepticism of any source that might drift from the author’s perspective into polemics

Invariably students will be required to do some reading prior to the meeting of a history class. While this reading is most often in the form of a textbook in our freshman and sophomore survey classes, or more detailed monographs in our junior and senior seminars, the reading might also be a primary source or scholarly article. Regardless, students are expected to come to class with a working knowledge of the assigned reading Members of the History Department assess this knowledge in class using a number of different techniques, but all strive to ensure that each student masters the content of the reading on a nightly basis. Some techniques for assessment include collecting a written summary of the reading, requiring notes in the margins of the text, or asking students to complete a series of analytical questions based on the reading

While our homework philosophy focuses most consistently on the importance of critical reading in preparation for discussion, the History Department also requires students to complete written assignments outside of class Occasionally, members of the department might require minor assignments such as completing data charts or discussion questions, but the most consistent written homework assignment is the analytical essay The History Department strives to assign essays that can be tackled over a series of evenings, thus allowing the opportunity for in-class discussion and reflection throughout the course of the writing process. We believe that, like critical reading, analytical writing is best done carefully and deliberately, and thus we strongly encourage our students to manage their time outside of class to the best of their ability It is through deliberate, focused effort and careful use of time that students best prepare for class discussions and generate the most thoughtful written work

YEARLONG COURSES

MODERN WORLD HISTORY

3 units

Modern World History provides a study of the world from around 1500 (Colliding Worlds) to the present. The course will introduce students to the habits of mind used in the study of history: close-reading and analysis of primary sources; articulating arguments grounded in evidence; participating in civil discourse; and writing historical analysis essays. Themes of the course include: identity, faith and role of religion, power and authority, and exchange Units of study include, but are not limited to: early modern colliding worlds; revolutionary movements of the modern era; world wars, decolonization, and globalization The course culminates in a History behind the Headlines Project where students analyze the historical antecedents of a global current event.

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UNITED STATES HISTORY HONORS

3 units

The grade 10 U S History Honors course is a thematic examination of the arc of American history that reinforces and extends the writing, research, and historical thinking skills introduced in the ninth grade course. Stretching from the revolutionary era through the early twenty-first century, the course emphasizes critical interpretation and analysis of primary and secondary sources, and the ability to communicate understanding clearly and effectively through varied formats Specifically, the course asks students to narrate history thoughtfully, interpret human motivations empathetically, explain context attentively, and communicate judgments responsibly The course culminates in a capstone project in which students apply the skills and habits of the year to a topic and theme of their design and choice

FALL SEMESTER COURSES

AMERICAN POLITICS

1.5 units

American Politics will examine the development of the American Republic and its institutions, and will investigate the various groups, practices, and ideas that characterize current U.S. politics. Constitutional questions, political values, political beliefs, political parties, interest groups, the influence of mass media, and the effects of government and public policy (both upon states and individuals) will be studied throughout the course Because 2024 is an election year, a great deal of emphasis will be placed upon studying party systems and politics, as well as presidential and congressional campaigns Class will run subject to student interest

CALIFORNIA HISTORY

1 5 units

In its almost 800 miles of length, from North to South, California holds a rich history. We will begin this course by exploring Native California, from the Missions to the Gold Rush You will learn how colonization and settler colonialism impacted Indigenous peoples from San Diego to Humboldt County Together we will explore the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the Great Depression, and racial oppression in California In this course, we will pay close attention to social movements happening in California during the 1960’s and focus on the forgotten voices of California We will look at: the Occupation of Alcatraz; the Civil Rights Movement, the Farmworkers Movement, and the Chicana/o Movement as a way to understand what different communities in California were fighting for in the 1960’s. Additionally, we will explore the role of Hollywood in California’s history as well as queer history in the Golden State You will have the opportunity to research what has been done historically and currently to address social and racial inequalities in communities across California. Lastly, we will explore the role of immigration and borders in contemporary California history Class will run subject to student interest

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MODERN EAST ASIA

1 5 units

The histories of China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan are distinct yet intertwined, and their geographical closeness and connected histories allow for interesting exploration of their social, political, and economic issues of the 21st century. How do cultural diffusion and syncretism manifest in China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan? How do these countries’ connected histories affect their modern relationships with one another? Are these East Asian states unique or influenced by one another? The course will begin with a review of East Asian history before the turn of the 20th century and then focus primarily on events of the 20th and 21st centuries The Very Short Introductions series are the primary texts for the course, supplemented by primary source material from historical and contemporary writers and artists Class will run subject to student interest

ETHICS AND JUSTICE

1 5 units

How do I live a happy, meaningful, “good” life? Sages in Eastern and Western traditions hold that the “good life” is not necessarily the easy life, but the one lived well, according to ethical principles In this seminar, we will think hard about this assertion, and consider some of the most fascinating – and challenging – issues of ethics and justice Students will study the ideas of writers such as Aristotle, Kant, Rawls, and Mill We will apply these ideas to the ethical dilemmas we face in our everyday lives as well as considering our communities and broader society The primary text in the course is Michael Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? In our study of applied ethics, we will read selections from Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Bryan Stevenson’s formative work Just Mercy We will explore the ways that ethics and justice play out in the Juvenile Justice System nationally and in the Bay Area Class will run subject to student interest.

EUROPEAN HISTORY FROM RENAISSANCE TO ENLIGHTENMENT

1.5 units

In this class we will explore revolutions in European culture, thought, and society between 1400 and 1800 that shaped the world we live in today We will examine the art, sculpture, and architecture of Renaissance geniuses like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. We will relive the advent of the empirical sciences by simulating inventions and discoveries in engineering, cosmology, biology, medicine, and weaponry We will explore revolutions in religion, society, and political thought, paying special care to how states inspired by ancient Rome formed democratic republics, and expansionist empires. Importantly, we scrutinize how the discovery of new worlds contributed to European thought, and led to philosophical and political systems of oppression We will consider how we too live in a world of expanded information, questioning, nationalism, and individualism, and how we can transform it with our own genius.

HISTORY OF AMERICAN SPORTS

1 5 units

While sports are sometimes dismissed as mere games or unsophisticated mass entertainment, organized athletic competition has a long tradition as a defining institution for communities and societies Consider the fact that, before “The Star-Spangled Banner” formally became the anthem of the nation, it had become the anthem of professional baseball Or consider how much the language of sports (analogies and metaphors) is used to shape and describe professional and political life This class considers the relationship of modern (since the turn of the 20th century) American sports to the major themes of U.S. history The class will also explore sports’ interrelationship with other aspects of individual and communal

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identity formation: race, gender, class, age, national and local identity, and origin The class capstone will be an independent student project exploring some aspects of the course’s themes and applying them to a topic of student choice. Class will run subject to student interest.

LATINOS IN AMERICA

1.5 units

In this course, we will explore the historical and contemporary development of Latinx communities in the United States that currently make up 19 1% of the population (U S Census Bureau, 2022) We will begin by exploring the rich culture of the Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations of Mexico, Central, and South America and explore their contemporary influence in Latinx art and activism Additionally, we will focus on the rise of social movements of the 1960’s led by the Mexican American and Chicano Generations The course will also introduce students to the political climate of Latin America and Latin American Civil Wars that have led to the mass migrations of Latinos We will think critically in this course about immigration, education, health care, and language politics that impact Latinx communities in the United States – as well as examine the role of Latinx communities as consumers in the United States and the history of Latinos in the media Lastly, we will dive into how the artistry of Latino artists, such as Bad Bunny, are influenced by the history of their countries Class will run subject to student interest

PRINCIPLES OF ECONOMICS (offered Fall and Spring)

1 5 units

Note: Principles of Economics cannot be used to fulfill the graduation requirement in History

The experience of economics is the study of how individuals, governments, and societies choose to use the scarce resources that nature and previous generations have provided While studying different economic models, we’ll answer core questions: What are these scarce resources and how are they distributed? What is a monopoly? Can monopolies charge any price they want for their products? What is game theory? How does it play a role in economic decision making? The course will also explore behavioral economics, the intersection of psychology and economics. We will explore the role of the Federal Government and the Federal Reserve in affecting unemployment, inflation, interest rates, national debt, and the global economy: How are tax and spending decisions made on a federal level? Should we care about inflation and unemployment? What is the debt ceiling and what role does it play in the economy? What is the impact of increasing economic inequality on our society? Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussions, apply qualitative and quantitative reasoning, and think critically Class will run subject to student interest

WOMEN’S HISTORY

1 5 units

Inspired by the motto “Feminism is for everybody” (bell hooks), we will learn how women have altered the course of American history by examining their contributions to labor, politics, sexuality, consumer culture, the household, and community We will focus on three themes: First, systems of patriarchy in the past and present Second, the fight to obtain equal rights and opportunities: freedom from oppression, servitude, and abuse; suffrage; property rights; employment opportunities; equal wages; and reproductive rights

Third, how this dialogue has intersected with race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity, thereby inspiring new conversations about the limits and possibilities of equality. Class will run subject to student interest

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ADVANCED JOURNALISM I, III

1 5 units

Cross-registered Humanities class

Advanced Journalism I, II, III and IV are yearlong courses that produce the student newspaper by applying journalistic skills and standards. This course is required for all editors except in special circumstances In addition to producing the newspaper, students will also hone their skills through discussing topics including: law and ethics; photography and design; business of journalism; and modern issues in the field Textbooks include The Elements of Journalism, The Associated Press Guide to News Writing, and pieces from professionals All students will have the opportunity to attend the annual NorCal Media Day in the fall and National High School Journalism Convention in the spring Students who have taken Advanced Journalism I and II will enroll in III and IV Class will run subject to student interest

THE END OF THE INNOCENCE: AMERICAN SOCIETY 1955-2001

1.5 units

Cross-registered Humanities class

This course will examine events / artistic statements from this epoch of American history to examine the push and pull within American culture between the desire to maintain a sense of hopeful innocence, and the reaction and recalibration that occurs when that innocence is challenged It will begin in the post-WWII era with the invention of the “teenager” as exemplified by Chuck Berry’s “School Days,” and will end with the events of 9/11/2001. Texts will include fiction, non-fiction, primary sources, films and songs, and assignments will range from analytical writing and personal essays to group projects Potential major texts include: In the New World, Lawrence Wright (selections); “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr.; “Slouching Toward Bethlehem, ” Joan Didion; “The Things They Carried, ” Tim O’Brien; Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde (selections); And The Band Played On, Randy Shilts (selections); All Involved, Ryan Gattis

SPRING SEMESTER COURSES

ART HISTORY

1 5 units

What can art teach us about human experience, emotion, and history? In this class, we will use observation, inquiry, and analysis in class, museums, and public spaces as we survey early modern and contemporary material culture in Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Africa We have three goals: 1) To learn more about world cultures and societies by studying art as a lens through which we can better understand politics, economy, religion, identity, and power; 2) To contemplate the ways that design, material, media, form, color, texture, and composition affect visual experience; 3) To consider our own personal connection to pieces We will pay particular attention to the ways that people express personal and communal identity through art; the ways that people used (and use) art as resistance; and the ways that communities across the world today are confronting works of art with legacies of harm Class will run subject to student interest

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FOOD HISTORY

1 5 units

Apple pie, hamburgers, fortune cookies, cioppino, enchilada and chicken bog Momo, pasty, empanada, pierogi The food we eat is the story of religion, culture, race, and identity It is the story of the agricultural revolution, the Silk Road, Columbian Exchange, economic hardships, imperialism, immigration … and Instagram and YouTube In this course, we will tackle the topic of food by studying its history; by reading works from chefs, food historians, and food critics; and by diving into the world of food television and documentaries Finally, we will explore our own histories with food and how food has affected our lives and our families’ stories The course will culminate in a research project based on a historical menu from a wide selection of time periods and geographical locations Class will run subject to student interest

LAND AND WATER STEWARDSHIP

1 5 units

Native American and Indigenous peoples are the original stewards of this land and have been trying to protect it for many generations In this course, you will be introduced to traditional ecological knowledge and its role in land and water stewardship We will focus on topics that are foundational to understanding land and water management, such as: the water and land rights of Native American and Indigenous communities, environmental racism, environmental injustices, land conservation, and Federal/ State water and land laws We will explore the connection between health and the environment in this course, as well as looking into social movements in the United States, like Standing Rock and the Flint Michigan Water Crisis, that revolve around communities’ rights to have clean water. In California, we will look into organizations such as Save California Salmon, to understand what steps are being taken towards policy change, advocacy, and protection of rivers and land in California Through the documentary Inhabitants, we will follow five Native American communities across the United States who are working to restore their traditional ways of managing land and water We will also look into the activism and work of Native American and Indigenous women in their fight for environmental justice Additionally, we will also explore our own relationships and connections with land and water. We will have a chance to hear from experts in the field and go on a field trip to enrich our knowledge of water and land stewardship Ultimately, students will come away from this course with an understanding of environmental justice and advocacy in Native American and Indigenous communities Class will run subject to student interest

NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY: CONTEMPORARY NATIVE AMERICANS

1 5 units

Despite the United States’s continued efforts of assimilation and erasure, Native American and Indigenous communities are still present today In this course, we will explore how myths about Native American and Indigenous peoples are created using historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s book All the Real Indians Died Off: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans We will look into social movements like Standing Rock, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's Movement (MMIW), and Mauna Kea, to understand the continuous fight for justice in Native American and Indigenous communities As a class, we will research the origins of Native American and Indigenous stereotypes Through media analysis, we will explore old westerns, Disney’s Pocahontas, and more contemporary representations like Reservation Dogs in order to understand the trajectory and development of Native American and Indigenous stereotypes and their effects on Native American and Indigenous communities. From the creation of the Indian Health Service (IHS) to COVID, you will develop an understanding of the current health inequalities that show up in Native American and Indigenous communities Additionally, we will explore sports and school mascots, the Supreme Court Case of ICWA, politics and other contemporary topics in Native American communities We will have a chance to hear from experts in the field and go on a field trip to the

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Native American Health Center Ultimately, students will come away from this course with an understanding of current social and political issues that Native American and Indigenous communities continue to fight today. Class will run subject to student interest.

PRINCIPLES OF ECONOMICS (offered Fall and Spring)

1 5 units

Note: Principles of Economics cannot be used to fulfill the graduation requirement in History

The experience of economics is the study of how individuals, governments, and societies choose to use the scarce resources that nature and previous generations have provided While studying different economic models, we’ll answer core questions: What are these scarce resources and how are they distributed? What is a monopoly? Can monopolies charge any price they want for their products? What is game theory? How does it play a role in economic decision making? The course will also explore behavioral economics, the intersection of psychology and economics This course will also explore the role of the Federal Government and the Federal Reserve in affecting unemployment, inflation, interest rates, national debt, and the global economy: How are tax and spending decisions made on a federal level? Should we care about inflation and unemployment? What is the debt ceiling and what role does it play in the economy? What is the impact of increasing economic inequality on our society? Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussions, apply qualitative and quantitative reasoning, and think critically Class will run subject to student interest

PUBLIC OPINION & CURRENT EVENTS

1 5 units

In this class, we will examine how people influence history through individual behavior that becomes powerfully collective Using a case-study approach to current events, we begin by asking where our ideas about topics and issues come from: Our beliefs, values and attitudes? Community? Political ideology? The media? We then examine how opinion becomes law, from polling to interest groups to policy-making in Congress In the second unit, we will examine public opinion through the lens of the history of immigration to the United States The class culminates in student-led classes on topics in current events of their choice. Our goals are to build media literacy, create respectful discourse, build public speaking skills, and develop a nuanced understanding of ideas and perspectives that are perhaps different from our own Topics of inquiry include (but are not limited to) politics, the housing crisis, transgender rights, the healthcare system, reproductive rights, gun rights, affirmative action, climate change, and global crises.

WORLD RELIGIONS

1 5 units

As TS Eliot asks, “Where is the wisdom that is lost in knowledge?” In what ways does the study of religious traditions deepen our understanding of what it means to be human? In this seminar, we will explore our own conceptions of faith as we study the major world religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism) along with other religious traditions such as Shamanism, Mysticism, Taoism, Confucianism, and modern religious sects We will also explore our own systems of belief and experience holy places of worship in the Bay Area. We will complete site visits to local places of worship temples, a mosque, and a zendo We will have the opportunity to interview religious leaders, hear personal stories from adherents, and deepen our understanding of each faith and philosophy Class will run subject to student interest

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WORLD WAR II

1 5 units

This seminar explores World War II from its inter-war causes in East Asia and Europe, through its major military campaigns, to the American homefront, and to the aftermath of the war While keeping the American experience of the war as a focal point, it looks to examine the war through a global perspective as well It includes discussion of economic, geopolitical, as well as moral and ethical questions and consequences of the war We ask whether major decisions by individual leaders determined the grand strategic outcomes of the war, or whether material factors offer a better explanation for who won and lost and how they won or lost While the course explores grand strategy, it also deals with battle as experienced by the combatants The final research project of the course will allow students to select a topic of their choice and take a deep dive into both the primary and secondary sources as well as the latest scholarship on the war.

ADVANCED JOURNALISM II, IV

1.5 units

Cross-registered Humanities class

Advanced Journalism I, II, III and IV are yearlong courses that produce the student newspaper by applying journalistic skills and standards This course is required for all editors except in special circumstances In addition to producing the newspaper, students will also hone their skills through discussing topics including: law and ethics; photography and design; business of journalism; and modern issues in the field. Textbooks include The Elements of Journalism, The Associated Press Guide to News Writing, and pieces from professionals All students will have the opportunity to attend the annual NorCal Media Day in the fall and National High School Journalism Convention in the spring Students who have taken Advanced Journalism I and II will enroll in III and IV. Class will run subject to student interest.

HISTORY AND CULTURE OF HIP-HOP

1 5 units

Cross-registered Humanities class

This seminar covers the evolution of hip-hop as it moved from a counterculture to a multi-billion dollar industry and global movement The class will explore various social, economic, political, and cultural foundations that birthed the movement in 1970s New York City, then trace the change of the culture over time The course is necessarily interdisciplinary in nature, blending social and political history with film study, poetics, and basic introductions to the formal elements of hip-hop’s “pillars”: DJ-ing/beat making, rapping, dance, graffiti/visual art, and fashion/style The class considers several issues pertaining to race, class, gender, language, and sexuality relevant to hip-hop’s spread and commercialization. Ultimately, the course intends to convey an understanding and appreciation of the causes, course, and consequences of hip-hop’s trajectory as a movement that has transformed global culture Class will run subject to student interest.

PROTEST & REFORM IN AMERICAN HISTORY AND LITERATURE

1.5 units

Cross-registered Humanities class

Since the American Revolution (the nation’s founding protest), the United States has seen three sustained periods of grassroots momentum to change political, economic, and social life: the decades between the First Industrial Revolution and the Civil War (the antebellum period); the roughly 40-year

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period from 1880-1920 (the Gilded Age and Progressive Era), and the decades following World War II (the Civil Rights Movement and Rights Revolution) Considering and exploring both the history and literature of these times, the class will explore each of these periods, as well as more modern (last 50 years) American history, to examine what lessons these historical ideas and events hold for government, politics, and society today The final project will allow students to consider what comparisons can be drawn between these histories and contemporary social movements via an independently designed research topic and presentation format

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HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

The Human Development program teaches adolescents interpersonal and self-management skills needed to navigate a diverse and changing world, and to make informed decisions that benefit themselves and others, so they can evolve into kind, curious, and self-aware young adults By providing accurate and relevant information in a nonjudgmental, socially sensitive way, we create safe spaces to have uncomfortable conversations about real-life situations, where students cultivate their personal agency, gain a deeper awareness of their role in the community, and learn to foster healthy relationships of all kinds

There is a 1.5 year graduation requirement for Human Development. All Human Development courses are semester classes In general, there is no homework assigned in Human Development classes, and all classes are graded on a Pass/Fail basis Students take all Human Development classes in addition to their normal Branson course load. Each Human Development course earns 0.5 credits of graduation credit

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT CURRICULUM AT A GLANCE

REQUIRED COURSES

➢ Human Development 01: The Developing Mind

➢ Human Development 02: Healthy Sexuality

➢ Human Development 03: Leadership And Scholarship

REQUIRED COURSES

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT 01: THE DEVELOPING MIND

5 units

The freshman Human Development curriculum is rooted in the social and emotional principles of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, and covers aspects of psychology 101, basic neuroscience, mindset, and health education. The first half of the course will introduce students to a study of the teenage brain and explore ideas on how to become well-balanced high school students by understanding the learning process as well as the impact of habits, sleep, and stress on one’s well-being. The second half of the course will focus on health and social areas where students may be faced with new challenges This course offers the opportunity for students to define their personal values and examine their choices more clearly through group discussion, individual reflection, and peer collaboration Specific topics will include: drugs and alcohol, healthy peer relationships, organization and study habits, suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and stress management

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HUMAN DEVELOPMENT 02: HEALTHY SEXUALITY

5 units

The sophomore Human Development curriculum explores issues related to sexual health and identity, with the overall goal of providing accurate, current information that will foster healthy decision-making now and in the future. Topics discussed will include gender identity and expression, media influences on sexual development, reproductive anatomy, sexually transmitted infections, and contraception The second half of the course will focus on developing healthy relationships and recognizing unhealthy or abusive warning signs The process of discovering what one needs from a relationship requires much self-reflection; students will be given opportunities to ask themselves challenging and important questions to become aware of their own values and boundaries Through this exploration of self in relationships, we will review and dive deeper into such topics as consent laws, sexual abuse and harassment, drugs and alcohol, and mental health issues.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT 03: LEADERSHIP AND SCHOLARSHIP

.5 units

The junior Human Development curriculum explores issues related to leadership, both within Branson’s community and without, and scholarship, specifically around how to write an effective application for fellowships or jobs Students will discuss what they imagine to be the essential components of great leadership and explore how those qualities intersect with Branson’s core values They will then research opportunities to hone those skills and start to build an understanding of what kinds of leaders they would like to be The course will also help students ideate, describe, and apply for the Branson Junior Fellowship program, and in so doing, learn the skills that will help them put their best feet forward for employment or internships or any programs that catch their eye.

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LANGUAGE

At the heart of our Language Department lies a deep-seated belief in the transformative power of community-building through communication We believe language learning is not only about linguistic proficiency but also about forging connections and understanding diverse perspectives By fostering inclusive classrooms, by cultivating empathy through cultural exploration, and by providing opportunities to stretch beyond their comfort zones, we invite Branson students to become compassionate global citizens who use their language skills to bridge divides and to foment understanding at home and abroad

The graduation requirement in Language is twelve units, or three full years of study of one language, including completion of a level 3 course

LANGUAGE CURRICULUM AT A GLANCE

LATIN

➢ Latin IV Honors: Golden Age Poetry

MANDARIN

➢ Mandarin I

➢ Mandarin II

➢ Mandarin III

➢ Mandarin IV Honors

➢ Mandarin V

SPANISH SPANISH FOR NATIVE AND HERITAGE SPEAKERS

➢ Spanish I

➢ Spanish II

➢ Spanish III Honors

➢ Spanish IV or V Honors Electives (available to all Spanish students):

● Spanish Through Cinema (fall)

● The Monsters (fall)

● Becoming Storytellers (fall)

● The Oldest Colony – Exploring Puerto Rico’s Complex Identity (spring)

● Pachamama and the Wendigo (spring)

● Rhythmic Wings (spring)

➢ Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers

➢ Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers Advanced

➢ Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers III Honors

➢ Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers IV

➢ Spanish IV or V Honors Electives (available to all Spanish students):

● Spanish Through Cinema (fall)

● The Monsters (fall)

● Becoming Storytellers (fall)

● The Oldest Colony – Exploring Puerto Rico’s Complex Identity (spring)

● Pachamama and the Wendigo (spring)

● Rhythmic Wings (spring)

LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT HOMEWORK PHILOSOPHY

The Language Department believes that learning about another culture in another language is a continuous process that requires curiosity and daily practice Due to the fact that we do not meet every day for class, homework offers students the opportunity to stay engaged with their language learning outside of class

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We assign up to approximately 20-40 minutes of homework in Levels I and II so that students can have the time to process information that they learned in the classroom and can reinforce their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. Assignments may include writing short paragraphs, reading or audio comprehension with questions, recordings, and online grammar and vocabulary activities

In Levels III and IV we assign up to approximately 40 minutes of homework. Preparation through careful completion of homework assignments will make students feel more confident to participate in our class discussions as informed, active listeners and responders Both active listening and speaking are necessary for a robust and authentic conversation to take place, and such conversation can only happen fully if students come to class having done the assigned homework preparation

LATIN COURSE

LATIN IV HONORS: GOLDEN AGE POETRY

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Latin III with a B- or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair.

The first part of the year will round out students’ mastery of Latin grammar, with a specific focus on the future tense and hypothetical conditions. Topics will include travel, the sea, occupations, crime, and justice The second half of the course will expand on those themes with a wide selection of readings from the poetry of the Golden Age, with a particular focus on Ovid’s epic Metamorphoses and the lyric poetry of Catullus In addition to reinforcing students’ command of Latin syntax, the course will include techniques for close reading of literature, as well as poetic scansion (dactylic hexameter, hendecasyllabic, and elegiac couplet), and poetic devices By the end of the course, students should feel confident reading, analyzing, and discussing most ancient Latin texts

MANDARIN COURSES

MANDARIN I

3 units

The main goal of this course is to introduce Chinese language and its culture to the students via dialectic teaching strategies and varied activities The students are encouraged to practice their listening, speaking, reading, writing, and viewing skills in Mandarin They learn Mandarin with the help of pinyin – a Romanized form of the language – and simplified characters are taught in a systematic way so the students can build a competent familiarity with the language. In this course, the students use reference resources and technology tools that help them to be successful in their Mandarin studies, such as learning to write in Chinese characters on the computer or iPad The students are taught through arts and crafts, books, dialogues, games, music, athletics, etc. Students use the Language Lab (if possible) to apply what they have learned, and they watch Chinese movies and documentaries to learn more about the cultural products, practices, and perspectives At the end of the first year, the students will maintain their interest in Chinese learning and get ready for Chinese II learning. The first five lessons of Integrated Chinese, Volume 1 are used as the primary text

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BRANSON

MANDARIN II

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Mandarin I with a C- or above, or equivalent score on the placement test.

This second-year course builds on the foundation of Mandarin I and asks students to go beyond the basic level in each of the four basic language skills. Students will continue to read and write sentences in pinyin and Chinese characters, using a broader vocabulary and more complex grammatical structures to better express their ideas They will participate in authentic conversations in a growing variety of contexts and they will learn about various aspects of Chinese culture Students will actively participate in class through group discussions, partner work, online language games, and an interactive audio program The course evaluates the four language skills throughout the year The last five lessons of Integrated Chinese, Volume 1 are used as the primary text

MANDARIN III

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Mandarin II with a C or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair

The third year of study continues to build on the basic oral and written skills the students need to communicate effectively in Chinese Students will continue to improve their reading comprehension and writing composition skills with daily lessons and nightly assignments Students are expected to use only Mandarin and are always welcome to ask questions during discussion This stage of Mandarin learning enables students to develop their communicative competence and provides them with a daily opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture This course uses the first five lessons of Integrated Chinese, Volume 2 as the primary text

MANDARIN IV HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Mandarin III with B- or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair

This advanced course builds upon the skills learned in Mandarin III, focusing on students' ability to present and interpret language in spoken and written form. Films, videos, and podcasts are used to provide students with the opportunity to listen to various accents from native speakers and enhance students' listening skills Students are expected to speak only in Mandarin and practice speaking skills through class conversations, partner discussions, and laboratory exercises. Social, cultural, and historical themes are explored through literature, newspaper articles, films, and current events Students integrate the vocabulary and grammar learned in the classroom by completing projects, writing essays, and participating in discussions and debates.

MANDARIN V

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Mandarin IV Honors with B- or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair

This course will continue to build on the skills that students developed in Mandarin IV. The main focus of this course is to engage students deeply in their own language learning process by evaluating what they have learned and what they need to improve in order to engage in conversations with native Mandarin speakers, as well as to apply the skills they have learned to real world situations. Students will study current events, read some basic works of literature, create projects, and investigate issues facing the

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Mandarin-speaking world This course uses the first five lessons of Integrated Chinese, Volume 3 as the primary text

SPANISH COURSES

SPANISH I

3 units

Spanish I is an introduction to the fundamentals of the Spanish language Students of Spanish I will acquire basic proficiency in the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students learn to use these skills meaningfully in the context of the Spanish-speaking world Spanish I is an immersive class, and students speak the target language at all times An active learning method is used to teach grammar and vocabulary as students begin to express themselves with confidence both in oral and written work. Students are exposed to the culture of Spanish-speaking people through authentic readings, music, and videos that introduce them to the different accents, geography, and history of countries where Spanish is spoken All four skills are tested regularly throughout the year Upon completion of the course, students will be able to communicate in the present tense and preterite tense using basic vocabulary and grammar in speech and in writing about everyday life experiences

SPANISH II

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish I with a C- or above, or equivalent score on the placement assessment

This dynamic course invites students to take their Spanish language skills to the next level through a communicative approach that emphasizes real-world interaction and cultural exploration Spanish II continues to strengthen the four communicative skills – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – that were developed in Spanish I Students work to build their vocabulary and to build bridges between language, culture and history of Latin America and Spain Units explore students’ interests including geography, sports, politics, and pop culture through interactive, engaging lessons.

SPANISH III HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish II with a C or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair

Spanish III introduces students to different social, political, and cultural aspects of Latin American life. Students expand their vocabulary base and continue to learn and reinforce grammatical structures in the context of thematic units They increase their ability to express themselves in speech and writing by discussing a range of cultural topics, such as immigrant identity, the uses and abuses of political power, and expressions of contemporary art Students engage in a variety of individual and group activities that allow them to deepen their understanding of the topics as they expand their linguistic skills They play games, draw, make videos and recordings, participate in debates, create short stories and skits, and write gradually more complex reflections and analyses Upon completion of the course, students will be able to communicate their opinions about specific social issues in speech and writing in Spanish by applying learned vocabulary and grammatical structures in contextualized discussions, recordings, and paragraphs so that they can integrate their language learning into their development as socially informed global citizens

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SPANISH FOR NATIVE AND HERITAGE SPEAKERS

3 units

Prerequisite: Approval of the department chair.

This course is designed specifically for native or heritage speakers of Spanish Generally, the term “heritage speaker” refers to students who have a home background in the language and therefore some oral/aural proficiency Given the wide range of proficiency levels among heritage speakers, the course is structured to accommodate students with varying backgrounds, from those who are minimally functional (can comprehend Spanish but are not able to speak fluently, read, or write) to those who are more proficient and/or literate in Spanish The linguistic and cultural objectives of the course work in tandem The class builds on the language base students already possess, capitalizing on the wealth of knowledge students bring to the table in order to develop communicative competence in all of the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). These linguistic goals are achieved by working with a range of materials, specifically focused on Hispanic cultures and the experiences of Spanish heritage speakers in the United States The dual linguistic and cultural focus allows the course to become a space in which to validate and deepen students' understanding and appreciation of their rich heritage.

SPANISH FOR NATIVE AND HERITAGE SPEAKERS ADVANCED

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers with a C- or above, or equivalent score on the placement test

This advanced course builds upon the skills and concepts covered in Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers Given the wide range of proficiency levels among heritage speakers, the course and instruction will continue to accommodate students of varied backgrounds and competencies The linguistic and cultural objectives of the course work in tandem. Students will continue to learn grammar concepts while being exposed to the richness of Latino and Latin American culture via expository readings, videos, literature, current events, and familial stories Linguistically, the class covers active/passive voice, future, conditional, present subjunctive, and imperfect subjunctive. The class fosters a sense of camaraderie that helps students share their personal experiences and their cultural heritage Communicative competence continues to be the focal point; students work on all language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) These skills are enhanced by actively engaging in oral and visual presentations, daily discussions, debates, daily writing activities in their diaries, and/or in homework assignments.

SPANISH FOR NATIVE AND HERITAGE SPEAKERS III HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers Advanced with a C or above, or equivalent score on the placement test

This course will build upon grammar concepts and vocabulary covered in the Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers Advanced The course reviews the most challenging grammar structures, considering patterns of errors common to students who have had a formal and informal background with Spanish Through the reading of short stories, novels, and the logical grouping of idiomatic expressions, the course also introduces and practices a rich variety of vocabulary The reading of authentic materials, or more extensive readings, affords these students the opportunity to delve deeper into the nuances of their native language. The emphasis is on honing students’ understanding and active use of complex grammatical structures and significantly expanding their vocabulary base so that they can speak with sophistication, ease, and confidence in any situation Social, cultural, and historical themes pertaining to the Spanish-speaking world, specifically countries represented by the students enrolled in the course, are explored through the study of films, music, dance, art, and current events These cultural units also

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provide extended opportunities for putting into active use the grammatical structures and vocabulary studied in the textbook, through discussions, debates, oral and written projects, essays, and creative writing assignments. This course will prepare students for the Advanced Placement test offered in May, and students may opt to sit for that test

SPANISH FOR NATIVE AND HERITAGE SPEAKERS IV

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers III with a B- or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair

This course will explore diverse cultural aspects of the modern Spanish-speaking world and the United States through a variety of perspectives and media as they relate to Latino students and their families The main objective of the course is to engage students as deeply and honestly as possible in their own language-learning and cultural experience as a means of empowerment while exploring the overarching theme of identity It will do so by challenging students to reexamine constantly both what they have learned, experienced, and what they need to hone in order to: 1) engage in conversation with a native Spanish speaker or their own next of kin with ease and confidence; and 2) speak knowledgeably about the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world and issues that directly and indirectly affect Latinos in the U S The materials we will work with will vary, depending on the particular interests of any given group of students We will work with literature from Latino and Spanish authors as well as study art, history, and current events of various Spanish-speaking countries around the world We cannot hope to cover all the rich diversity of the Spanish-speaking universe, including the U S , but, by capitalizing on students’ curiosity and passions, we can delve seriously into specific corners and gain a more complex understanding of cultural traditions and values, as well as of contemporary political, economic, and social issues that bring about the duality of the Spanish/heritage speaker in the contemporary United States

FALL SEMESTER ELECTIVE COURSES

SPANISH IV / V HONORS: SPANISH

1 5 units

THROUGH CINEMA (Fall)

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers III or Spanish III H with a B or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair

Welcome to "Spanish through Cinema," an engaging and dynamic high school Spanish class that explores the rich and vibrant world of Spanish language and culture through the lens of film. This course is designed to not only enhance your language proficiency but also deepen your understanding of the diverse cultures and societies within the Spanish-speaking world In this course, students will embark on an exciting cinematic journey, discovering the power of storytelling, cultural nuances, and linguistic expression through carefully selected Spanish-language films By integrating the visual medium of film, we aim to make the language-learning experience both immersive and enjoyable By the end of the course, students will not only have strengthened their Spanish language proficiency but will also possess a deeper appreciation for the rich cultural tapestry of the Spanish-speaking world "Spanish through Cinema" invites you to explore, engage, and connect with the Spanish language and culture in an exciting and innovative way ¡Bienvenidos al mundo del cine español! (Welcome to the world of Spanish cinema!)

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SPANISH IV / V HONORS: THE MONSTERS (Fall)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers III or Spanish III H with a B or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair

"The Monsters" offers students a dynamic and interdisciplinary exploration of Latin American and Spanish history, culture, and identity, inviting them to discover the hidden depths of the collective imagination and memory through the fascinating realm of folkloric and literal monsters of our shared history To do this, we will examine film, art, pop culture, testimony and more By the end of the course, students will emerge with a deeper understanding of the complex tapestry of Latin American and Spanish societies, equipped with the language skills and cultural insights necessary to connect and engage meaningfully with the Latinx community, language, and culture Students will be expected to produce a final project across mediums that will demonstrate their understanding of the Monsters.

SPANISH IV / V HONORS: BECOMING STORYTELLERS (Fall)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers III or Spanish III H with a B or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair.

We humans are storytellers at a deep, primal level, wired to connect emotionally through the generous, ongoing give and take of narrative We put into story those moments, relationships, feelings and experiences that matter most to us so that we can make sense of them, preserve them for ourselves, and be witnessed and understood by others In this course we will explore the art of oral storytelling as a path to self-knowledge, community building, and simple joy Students will be given the space and support to develop their own voices as storytellers, discovering the stories they want to tell and the ways in which they want to tell them Central to this enterprise will be the creation of a supportive community of listeners that welcome and embrace all of our diverse stories and styles And to top it all off, this will all be done in Spanish! By learning how to craft and tell stories that truly matter to them, and by listening to the authentic stories of their classmates, all through the medium of the Spanish language, students will gain a more meaningful connection to the language and will learn about themselves and each other: their values, what they care about, who they are now, and who they want to be The course will culminate in a shared storytelling hour, open to the whole school community.

SPRING SEMESTER ELECTIVE COURSES

¡BIENVENIDOS A SPANISH IV / V HONORS: THE OLDEST COLONY – EXPLORING PUERTO RICO’S COMPLEX IDENTITY (Spring)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers III or Spanish III H with a B or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair.

In this course, students will embark on a thought-provoking exploration of the unique cultural, historical, and linguistic landscape of Puerto Rico Through an interdisciplinary approach, students will delve into the island's rich heritage, examining the intricate blend of indigenous Taíno, African, and Spanish influences that have shaped Puerto Rican identity The course will also navigate the complex political status of Puerto Rico as a territory of the United States, providing insight into the ongoing conversations

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surrounding autonomy and independence By the end, students will have gained a nuanced understanding of Puerto Rico's multifaceted identity, its historical complexities, and the ongoing struggles for autonomy. Join us on this academic journey as we explore the vibrant tapestry of Puerto Rican culture and grapple with the pressing questions surrounding its status as "The Oldest Colony" ¡Descubre la riqueza de Puerto Rico con nosotros! (Discover the richness of Puerto Rico with us!)

SPANISH IV / V HONORS: PACHAMAMA AND THE WENDIGO (Spring)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers III or Spanish III H with a B or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair

What can we do as the world burns? This advanced language course explores the intricate relationships between indigenous cultures and the modern world. Students will delve into and celebrate the diverse traditions, beliefs, and practices of indigenous communities as well as explore the legacy that colonialism has on our current global crisis Through this communicative learning journey, students will deepen their Spanish language skills, develop cultural competence, and cultivate empathy for indigenous perspectives, emerging with an appreciation for the richness and resilience of indigenous cultures and their relationship with the environment A portion of the course will be dedicated to Panama, its indigenous populations, and their unique cultural heritage. The course will culminate in a project that will inspire hope and agency beyond the classroom

SPANISH IV / V HONORS: RHYTHMIC WINGS (Spring)

1.5 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers III or Spanish III H with a B or above, or approval of the instructor and department chair

What makes a poem sing, speaking so powerfully to us that it stops us in our tracks, suspended, enchanted, enthralled? Where does poetic inspiration come from and how can we tap into the flow within us to forge our own resonant, rhythmic truths? The answers to these questions are as varied as there are humans on this planet The Brazilian poet Cecília Meireles tells us, “I sing because the instant exists/ and my life is complete ” Poetry, or at least the poetic moment held lovingly in her poem “Motivo,” is not about grand or cataclysmic events but rather about an instant of beauty and a feeling of wholeness in that delicate instant. She goes on to sing that “[t]here is eternal blood to the rhythmic wing.” In this course we will soar on that wing or dive deep – all the metaphors apply! – with poetic voices that have moved the Spanish-speaking world, combing the 20th and 21st centuries for poetic manifestations that speak truth to us and inspire us to connect with our own inner poets. From the traditional to the rule-breaking, from Pablo Neruda’s love sonnets to the social justice raps of Puerto Rican rapper Residente, students will read and listen omnivorously, tuning closely into what moves them In the process, they will learn about worlds distant from their own and cultivate their own poetic voices. The course will culminate in an evening of shared poetry, open to the whole school community

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MATHEMATICS

Mindful of the importance of mathematics, the Mathematics Department is dedicated to maintaining a curriculum that offers students the opportunity to:

➢ Master mathematical skills, understand mathematical concepts, and prepare for the continued study of mathematics

➢ Develop the ability to think logically

➢ Develop critical thinking

➢ Develop the ability to conceptualize, to generalize, to visualize, and to solve problems creatively

➢ Persevere, build self confidence, and experience a sense of accomplishment

➢ Appreciate and enjoy the beauty of mathematics

➢ Explore the relationship between mathematics and other disciplines

Initial placement into the Branson Mathematics program is based largely on performance on one or more applicable placement assessments, given in late spring Most incoming students will take the Algebra Placement Assessment, which is appropriate for placement into Algebra I or Geometry Students who have completed Geometry should take the Geometry Placement Assessment, which may lead to placement into Algebra II Students hoping to place higher than Algebra II should contact the department chair At the conclusion of each year, a student's mathematics teacher will advise him or her on future math course options and make a recommendation for the next year's course.

The graduation requirement in Mathematics is nine units and completion of Algebra II

Note: The TI-84 graphing calculator is required in all mathematics courses

MATHEMATICS CURRICULUM AT A GLANCE

CORE COURSES ELECTIVES

➢ Algebra I with Computer Science

➢ Geometry

➢ Geometry Honors

➢ Algebra II

➢ Algebra II Honors

➢ Introduction to Precalculus and Statistics

➢ Precalculus

➢ Precalculus Honors

➢ Calculus

➢ Calculus Honors

➢ Accelerated Calculus Honors

➢ Statistics Honors

➢ Introduction to Data Science

➢ Linear Algebra (Fall)

➢ Multivariable Calculus (Spring)

➢ The History, Philosophy, and Mathematics of Astronomy (Spring)

➢ Real Analysis (Fall)

➢ Foundations of Abstract Mathematics: A Journey Through Proof Writing (Spring)

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MATHEMATICS DEPARTMENT HOMEWORK PHILOSOPHY

The Branson Mathematics Department considers homework to be an indispensable opportunity for students to practice the skills they have learned in class, deepen their understanding of the course material, and build overall mastery in Mathematics

The Mathematics Department does its best to honor the homework time allotment policy of the school, which stipulates that freshmen should have, on average, approximately 30 minutes of homework per night per subject, and sophomores through seniors should have, on average, approximately 40 minutes of homework per night per subject We also recognize, however, that the same assignment might take different students different amounts of time to complete, so it is impossible to guarantee that every student will finish every assignment in the allotted time As a result, the Mathematics Department generally gives students permission to stop working on their homework if they have not completed it during the allotted time frame, particularly if they feel they must devote their time to other subjects Students are still responsible for that material, and they are encouraged to finish their assignment at another time. When stuck on a problem it helps to walk away from it and come back to it later with a fresh perspective They are also encouraged to meet with their teacher if they have an ongoing problem with completing their assignments in a reasonable amount of time

In order to help students get the most out of their homework and complete it in the allotted frame, the Mathematics Department strongly encourages students to do their homework in an environment that is conducive to sustained concentration A work environment that is quiet, comfortable, and free from interruption or distraction is best, although some students can work effectively with music playing. Texting, using the Internet, watching TV, or talking on the phone all greatly interfere with concentration, and are strongly discouraged

Some students find that working together with a classmate can be helpful in developing a mastery of new material, and such collaboration is generally permitted Indeed, good problem solving skills and a deep understanding can be gained from discussing problems, comparing strategies, summarizing concepts, and collaborating in general Unless otherwise prohibited, students are permitted to work together on their homework assignments, provided each does their own work and does not simply give others their answers Students also need to be mindful of maintaining their focus and productivity as they work together, and not inadvertently relying too heavily on each other for support. If students have any doubts or questions about whether their collaboration is acceptable or effective, they should ask their teacher

CORE COURSES

ALGEBRA I WITH COMPUTER SCIENCE

3 units

Algebra I with CS offers a comprehensive exploration of the major skills and concepts of elementary algebra, and provides an excellent foundation for the continued study of mathematics at Branson. The course also uses computer science as a tool for enhanced understanding Students will learn how to use variables, conditional statements, and functions in a mathematical context Mathematical topics studied in depth include operations on real numbers, manipulation of variables, solving equations and inequalities, lines, linear inequalities, systems of linear equations, exponents, polynomials, factoring polynomials, square roots, and solving quadratic equations by completing the square and using the quadratic formula

Students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through the application of real world examples

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such as a car sales program and a number guessing game Emphasis is placed on expanding cultural resilience through building independent problem-solving, innovation, adaptability, critical analysis, and cross-cultural communication and collaborative skills.

GEOMETRY

3 units

Prerequisite: Algebra I with a C- or above and demonstrated proficiency in the end of the year assessment, or demonstration of mastery of Algebra I concepts on the Branson Algebra Placement Assessment

This course consists of the study of Euclidean Geometry After learning the fundamental concepts of point, line, and plane, students investigate properties of intersecting and parallel lines, congruent and similar triangles, quadrilaterals, other polygons, and circles. Area and volume of plane and space figures are covered in depth, and students receive an introduction to right triangle trigonometry Formal 2-column proofs are stressed throughout the course, along with the development of analytical reasoning skills Algebra skills are reviewed and reinforced throughout the year.

GEOMETRY HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Grade of A or higher in Algebra 1, or excellent performance on the Branson Algebra Placement Assessment

This honors geometry course is mixed with algebraic processes. Students explore lines, polygons, and vectors, in both two and three dimensions Right-triangle trigonometry is introduced, as are circles and parabolas Linear motion is explored through the use of parametric equations This new and dynamic vision of geometry is further enhanced by viewing similarity and congruence through transformations and logic and proof This class seeks to create a collaborative learning environment through a problem/discussion-based environment which builds from students’ prior knowledge, connecting topics that perhaps seemed unrelated, and applying these skills to solve new problems.

ALGEBRA II

3 units

Prerequisite: Geometry with a C- or above, or Algebra I with an A or better and concurrent enrollment in Geometry or successful completion of Branson’s summer Geometry course

This intermediate algebra course begins by reinforcing and advancing the core skills of algebra proficiency Topics covered include functions, polynomials, rational expressions, and exponential and logarithmic functions Conic sections will be covered if time permits

ALGEBRA II HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Geometry Honors with a B+ or above, or Geometry Honors with a B and approval of the department chair, or excellent performance in Geometry and approval of the department chair

The goal of this Honors Algebra II course is to enable students to expand their view of algebra and geometry to include nonlinear functions and motions.The investigation includes the focus and directrix approach to parabolas, ellipses, and hyperbolas, and applications of exponential and logarithmic functions Students will also dive deep into the world of polynomial functions, rational functions, vectors and sequences and series. Topics such as unit circle trigonometry and the geometry of complex numbers will also be introduced This class seeks to create collaborative learning through a

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problem/discussion-based environment which builds from students’ prior knowledge, connecting topics that perhaps seemed unrelated, and applying these skills to solve new problems

INTRODUCTION TO PRECALCULUS AND STATISTICS

3 units

Prerequisite: Algebra II with a B- or above, or Algebra II Honors with a C- or above. Students passing Algebra II with a grade lower than B- may take Introduction to Precalculus and Statistics with approval of the department chair and successful completion of summer work as demonstrated on a proficiency assessment at the end of the summer

Introduction to Precalculus and Statistics begins with a basic review of the skills and functions studied in Algebra II, with the goal of reinforcing and deepening students’ understanding of these topics Exponential and logarithmic functions are covered in depth, followed by an exploration of trigonometry. Trigonometry topics include unit circle values, graphs of trigonometric functions, basic trigonometric identities, right triangle trigonometry, the laws of sines and cosines, and an introduction to inverse trigonometry The second half of the course will involve an exploration of statistics and its applications. Emphasis is placed on developing a deep understanding of the concepts underlying each skill and topic Projects are a significant component of this course (including a Surveying Project, Credit Card Project, Python Programming, and a Statistics Project).

PRECALCULUS

3 units

Prerequisite: Algebra II with a B+ or above or Algebra II Honors with a B- or above.

Precalculus begins by reviewing and extending the main topics of Algebra II and Algebra II Honors, with special emphasis placed on functions and their properties and the development of students’ problem-solving skills Polynomial, rational, exponential, and logarithmic functions are covered in depth, followed by a thorough treatment of trigonometry Toward the end of the course, students will be introduced to several additional topics including polar coordinates and vectors and parametric equations. The course concludes with a study of limits – the foundation of calculus Applications are interwoven throughout the course

PRECALCULUS HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Algebra II Honors with an A- or above, or approval of the department chair

Precalculus Honors is a demanding and fast-paced course that is designed to prepare students for success in Honors Accelerated Calculus The course begins with a largely self-directed, integrated review and extension of the main topics studied in Algebra II Honors that emphasizes the development of independent problem-solving skills Polynomial, rational, exponential, and logarithmic functions are among the topics covered in depth The course then performs a thorough treatment of trigonometry and an exploration of polar coordinates, conic sections, and parametric equations Finally, the course concludes with an introduction to the major topics that will be covered in calculus – limits, the definition of the derivative, and finding area under a curve Applications are interwoven throughout the course

CALCULUS

3 units

Prerequisite: Precalculus with a B- or above, or Precalculus Honors with a C+ or above and approval of the department chair.

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This year-long Calculus course is designed to stimulate the student’s intellect, enhance their problem-solving abilities, and foster self-reliance Building upon their foundation in Precalculus, this course delves into concepts such as limits, continuity, differentiation, maxima and minima, and the chain rule Additionally, there will be a review of trigonometric, logarithmic, and exponential functions, exploring their applications in differentiation and integration Moreover, this course introduces methods of integration, including determining area between curves and calculating volumes using the disk method.

CALCULUS HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Precalculus with a B+ or above, or Precalculus Honors with a B- or above and approval of the department chair

This yearlong course is a college-level introduction to the theory and applications of calculus. Topics covered include limits, continuity, differentiation, integration, and applications thereof The material covered aligns with a Calculus AB Advanced Placement syllabus

HONORS ACCELERATED CALCULUS

3 units

Prerequisite: Precalculus Honors with an A- or above.

This yearlong course is a fast paced college-level introduction to the theory and applications of Calculus

All of the topics in the Honors Calculus course will be covered Additional topics include advanced integration techniques, improper integrals, convergence tests, power series, Taylor series, and the calculus of parametric curves, polar curves, and vector-valued functions The material covered aligns with a Calculus BC Advanced Placement syllabus

ELECTIVES

STATISTICS HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Algebra II with a B+ or above, Algebra II Honors with a B- or above, Introduction to Data Science with a B or above or approval of the department chair.

This course provides a college-level introduction to the concepts and techniques of statistical analysis Topics covered include probability, linear regression, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing using binomial, normal, student-t, and chi-square distributions. Students will plan surveys, experiments, and simulations They will also learn how to summarize and interpret the results in a meaningful manner The TI-84 graphing calculator is used extensively throughout the course as a tool for simulation, discovery, and analysis. This course is equivalent to one semester of first year non-calculus based college Statistics. The material covered aligns with a Statistics Advanced Placement syllabus

INTRODUCTION TO DATA SCIENCE

3 units

Prerequisites: Concurrent enrollment in a post-Geometry math course, or completion of Precalculus Honors, Precalculus, or Introduction to Precalculus and Statistics This course is suitable for students with any level of programming and statistics background, including none at all.

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Data science is an interdisciplinary field that uses statistics and computer science to collect, process, and extract insights from raw data This project-based applied math course is taught in partnership with UCLA. Students will learn to code and compute with data that is relevant to their lives Students will develop graphical and numerical summaries to communicate findings and to generate further exploration

The course will use a variety of mathematical and technological tools, including modern randomization and simulation techniques as well as more traditional statistics and probability To accomplish this, we will code in R, a language designed for statistical computation Instead of tests and quizzes, students will be assessed via a variety of projects and coding-based “lab” assignments that focus on real data. In sum, students will develop their abilities to find and communicate meaning in data, and to think critically about arguments based on data

LINEAR ALGEBRA (Fall semester)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: This course can be taken concurrently with Calculus AB or permission of the department

This course takes a geometric/visual approach to linear algebra Determinants will be introduced as the area of a parallelogram instead of the more traditional way of cofactor expansion The course also covers the core skills and concepts of linear algebra, including matrix arithmetic, determinants, vector spaces, inner product spaces, eigenvectors and eigenvalues, diagonalization and quadratic forms, and linear transformations We will also look at the applications of linear algebra in recommendation softwares

During the year students will also have the opportunity to explore various applications of linear algebra, especially in Python. Proof-writing and abstract reasoning are significant components of this course, and students finish the year with a culminating independent research project

MULTIVARIABLE CALCULUS (Spring semester)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Honors Accelerated Calculus or permission of the department

Multivariable calculus, as the name suggests, is an extension of the fundamental techniques of single variable calculus to multiple variables and dimensions As such, much of the interest (and difficulty!) of the topic comes from the more complicated geometry of higher dimensions Intervals and tangent lines are pretty straightforward, but arbitrary Euclidean regions, planes, and surfaces are not Thus, one of our first topics will be an examination of foundational work in the geometry of higher-dimensional Euclidean space We will then study the continuity and differentiability of multivariable functions in detail and proceed to multiple integration (double and triple integrals, change of variables) and the classical results of vector calculus (Green's theorem, Stokes' theorem, etc )

THE HISTORY, PHILOSOPHY AND MATHEMATICS OF ASTRONOMY (Spring

semester)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: Algebra II Honors

The study of astronomical phenomena provides a conspectus of problems not only in mathematics and physics but also in philosophy and history As such, the aim of this course will be two-fold: first, to understand the interplay of astronomical and mathematical developments from approximately 2000 BCE to 1700 CE; and second, to examine how these technical developments grew out of antecedent scientific theories and philosophical postulates about the universe

We will begin with the astronomy and mathematics of the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians. We will then study in some detail the cosmological theories of the ancient Greek philosophers (the Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, Epicureans, and Stoics), and consider how their theorizing influenced the classical Greek

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astronomers from Eudoxus to Ptolemy Next, we will consider how Islamic astronomers modernized the mathematics of Greek astronomy Finally, we will finish by assessing the contributions of the central astronomers of the heliocentric theory: Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. Time permitting, we may also take a brief excursion into Einstein’s theory of general relativity

Students will get to see how much of the “standard” high school mathematics curriculum (and much more besides, including calculus and differential geometry) was developed to account rigorously for astronomical observations I hope to communicate to the students that the mathematical concepts they often take for granted did not always have the appearance of being “fixed” or “given ” Rather, they arose from dynamical historical and philosophical processes

REAL ANALYSIS (Fall semester)

1.5 units

Prerequisite: A in Honors Accelerated Calculus or permission of the department and a willingness to engage with more abstract mathematics

What is real analysis? A first-pass definition is that real analysis is a subfield of mathematics that makes rigorous the concepts and results of calculus, e g , limits, continuity, differentiation, and integration As such, one can conceive of real analysis as the "foundations of calculus." More generally, however, the subject matter of real analysis encompasses more than this: it is the rigorous study of real numbers, sequences and series of real numbers, and properties of real functions Most generally, it is the study of infinite processes and what one can do with limits

In this course, we will study all three aspects of real analysis We begin with the construction of the real numbers and a discussion of crucial properties of the reals Next, we will study sequences, convergence, and continuity in the more general setting of point-set topology. Then, we will study the rigorous definition of differentiability and prove many of the theorems of differential calculus that you know and love Finally, we will do the same for integration Time permitting, we will conclude with a brief introduction to sequences and series of functions. This course will also serve as an introduction to the understanding and construction of proofs (including basic proof techniques and the fundamentals of logic)

FOUNDATIONS OF ABSTRACT MATHEMATICS: A JOURNEY THROUGH PROOF WRITING (Fall semester)

1 5 units

Prerequisite: This course can be taken concurrently with Calculus AB or permission of the department

Mathematics is not merely a set of formulas and rules; rather, it comprises a collection of ideas expressed through definitions, theorems, and proofs While many mathematical concepts find application in real-world problems, their practicality is not a fundamental aspect of mathematics itself. The study of mathematics involves learning to think abstractly and to construct logical arguments This course aims to equip students with the foundational skills needed to engage with abstract mathematical concepts and to develop proficiency in constructing and understanding proofs Through the exploration of fundamental concepts and techniques, students will learn how to approach mathematical problems analytically and rigorously By mastering these essential skills, students will be prepared to tackle a wide range of mathematical challenges and to appreciate the elegance and beauty of abstract mathematics We begin the course by delving into logic and set theory, exploring the foundational axioms in mathematics. From there, we embark on a journey to understand the concepts of relations and bijections between sets, expanding our comprehension of cardinality and exploring different types of infinity, such as countable and uncountable sets, and discerning the distinctions between them.

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PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Physical activity, exercise, and wellness are essential to the Branson School experience Whether through participation on an interscholastic sport or club team, or an alternate activity, the goal is for each student to develop an appreciation for an active lifestyle, good character, and a positive self-image. While the program offers diverse opportunities, an emphasis is placed on:

➢ Lifelong habits that contribute to being a part of something bigger than one’s self

➢ Team building and sportsmanship

➢ Development of leadership skills

➢ Cooperation among peers

The program also challenges students to raise their fitness levels and develop an understanding of the relationship between fitness and lifelong physical and mental wellness Some students will choose to participate in an interscholastic sport or club team, while others will choose to fulfill their requirement through an alternate activity

The graduation requirement in Physical Education is four units, with at least one unit completed during each school year All Seniors participating in an Alternate Activity Program must complete their hours by April 1 All Physical Education units are graded on a Pass/Fail basis

PHYSICAL EDUCATION CURRICULUM AT A GLANCE

Interscholastic Athletics

➢ Cross Country

➢ Football

➢ Girls Golf

➢ Girls Tennis

➢ Girls Volleyball

➢ Boys Basketball

➢ Girls Basketball

➢ Boys Soccer

➢ Girls Soccer

Club Sports

➢ Fencing

➢ Mountain Biking

Alternate Activity Programs

➢ Ballet/Dance

➢ Martial Arts/Boxing

➢ Rowing/Crew

➢ Sailing

➢ Strength and Conditioning Training

➢ Yoga

➢ Other (with approval)

➢ Fencing

➢ Mountain Biking

➢ Pickleball

➢ Ballet/Dance

➢ Martial Arts/Boxing

➢ Rowing/Crew

➢ Sailing

➢ Strength and Conditioning Training

➢ Yoga

➢ Other (with approval)

➢ Baseball

➢ Boys Golf

➢ Boys Lacrosse

➢ Girls Lacrosse

➢ Swimming

➢ Boys Tennis

➢ Track and Field

➢ Boys Volleyball

➢ Girls Beach Volleyball

➢ Fencing

➢ Mountain Biking

➢ Ballet/Dance

➢ Martial Arts/Boxing

➢ Rowing/Crew

➢ Sailing

➢ Strength and Conditioning Training

➢ Yoga

➢ Other (with approval)

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2024-2025
FALL SEASON WINTER SEASON SPRING SEASON

COURSE OFFERINGS IN ATHLETICS

INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETICS OR CLUB SPORTS TEAM

1 unit

Students may participate in one of Branson’s interscholastic athletic or club sports teams. In order to earn credit, students are required to attend all games and practices as outlined by the Head Coach and Athletic Department Leaving or being dismissed from an athletic team may result in Physical Education credit not being given for that term Practice times shall not exceed two hours on weekdays and two hours on Saturdays There is no practice on Sundays Fall athletes are expected to attend practices during August; winter and spring athletes are expected to attend practices and games scheduled during school breaks Athletes should note that, in many cases, full participation includes a commitment to the sport beyond the term of the regular season.

ALTERNATE ACTIVITY PROGRAM (AAP)

1 unit

The Alternative Activity Program (AAP) is an independent study program, designed to provide students opportunities to pursue organized classes of instruction outside of the school – for example, ballet, strength and conditioning, equestrian, martial arts, competitive dance, etc Students must select their AAP during the normal class registration period AAP’s must be approved and monitored by the Athletic Department Students will be required to submit a letter of agreement signed by their instructor, their parents/guardians, and themselves. This course requires 36 hours.

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SCIENCE

The world is a complex place governed by laws of nature as well as the laws of politics and economics

The Science Department is dedicated to enriching students’ understanding of the natural world and enabling students to have a more positive interaction with their environment It is our fond hope that a Branson education will encourage students to pursue the study of nature while making deep and wise impacts on the occupants of this earth, our only home. Additional departmental goals include:

➢ Develop in students the habits of intelligent inquiry, thoughtful research, organized experimentation, and critical analysis, including the ability to express scientific ideas clearly, interpret data, and organize a diverse body of material into a coherent whole

➢ Encourage students to use these acquired skills in other academic disciplines and everyday life

➢ Foster in students a spirit of cooperative learning

➢ Develop students' enthusiasm for, and confidence in, all of science so as to maximize their potential for excellence in any future scientific endeavor

➢ Help students gain perspective on, and understanding of, the natural world and their role in it

➢ Encourage students to develop an open, yet critical, mind so that they can distinguish the wonders of real science from the wishful thinking of pseudoscience

The graduation requirement in Science is twelve units or three full years of study that includes Physics, Chemistry, and Biology

Concurrent enrollment in two science classes in the junior and/or senior year is possible, subject to approval by the department chair, advisor, class dean, and Director of Studies. Elective science courses are the courses best suited for doubling in Science

Advanced Biology, Advanced Chemistry and Advanced Physics are available to students in their senior year with approval of the Science Department

SCIENCE CURRICULUM AT A GLANCE

CORE COURSES

➢ Physics I

➢ Physics I Honors

➢ Chemistry

➢ Chemistry Honors

➢ Biology

➢ Biology Honors

ELECTIVE COURSES

➢ Astronomy and Astrophysics

➢ Biotechnology, Medicine, and Science Research

➢ Engineering, Design, and Analysis

➢ Environmental Science (Spring semester)

➢ Introduction to Research in Science (Spring semester)

➢ Marine Ecology (Fall semester)

➢ Microbiology and Infectious Disease

➢ Research in Science

➢ Advanced Biology (Seniors only)

➢ Advanced Chemistry (Seniors only)

➢ Advanced Physics (Seniors only)

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SCIENCE DEPARTMENT HOMEWORK PHILOSOPHY

To enrich students’ understanding of the natural world and enable them to have a more positive interaction with our shared environment, the Science Department assigns homework that provides students with opportunities to develop habits of intelligent inquiry, to apply critical thinking and analytical skills, and to practice skills introduced in the classroom

The Science Department believes homework is meaningful when students have the opportunity to:

➢ Practice skills independently and at their own pace

➢ Read background information in preparation for discussion and interaction in the classroom

➢ Assimilate new information and connect ideas

➢ Test their knowledge by applying concepts to new scenarios

➢ Experience another voice (via videos, texts, articles or journals) explaining a phenomenon

➢ Think abstractly

➢ Solve problems

➢ Analyze data

➢ Apply critical thinking

➢ Grapple with ideas presented in class

In the freshman year we typically assign 20-30 minutes of homework per class meeting and in the sophomore through senior years we assign 40 minutes per class meeting. Research projects, lab reports, and/or problem sets are often spread out over a week or more, enabling students to receive feedback on drafts, collaborate with lab partners, and actively engage in class discussions

The Science Department monitors the effectiveness of homework through verbal check-ins, written feedback, and student performance on assessments.

The Science Department honors the value of homework by addressing homework topics in lessons, demonstrating their connections and importance to understanding the material and giving credit for some of the independent work students have done

CORE COURSES

PHYSICS I

3 units

In Branson’s introductory science course, students develop skills in experimental design, analysis of evidence, communication, collaboration, problem solving, research, and critical thinking through the study of fundamental physics principles Students will deduce the laws of nature through first-hand experimentation before applying these laws to solving problems The course will cover in-depth the laws of motion, forces, energy, and other topics In addition, students will be guided through several exciting projects where they apply their learning and science skills to complex, real-world scenarios and data sets

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PHYSICS I HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Placement by the Science Department, as determined by superior performance on the Algebra and Physics placement assessments

In Branson’s introductory science course, students develop skills in experimental design, analysis of evidence, communication, collaboration, problem solving, research, computational modeling, and critical thinking through the study of fundamental physics principles Students will deduce the laws of nature through first-hand experimentation before applying these laws to solving mathematically rigorous problems The course will cover deeply the laws of motion in two dimensions, forces, energy, and other topics This course will move at a faster pace and will investigate each unit with somewhat greater challenge and depth

CHEMISTRY

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Physics I or Physics I Honors and completion of Algebra I.

In Chemistry, we will examine the composition of matter and the changes it undergoes In a course that emphasizes logic and analytical thinking, students will learn to understand the world on an atomic level. Students will explore atomic structure, periodicity, stoichiometry, chemical reactions, bonding, gasses, thermochemistry, equilibrium, and acid-base chemistry Additionally, there will be several opportunities to research and study the chemistry of the environment, particularly as it relates to global warming and other areas critical to the environment and scientific literacy. Students will develop their analytical abilities through lectures, discussions, and laboratory experience At several points during the year, students will be asked to design their own protocols in order to investigate given questions Students who perform at a high level in Chemistry will be prepared to take Advanced Chemistry in their senior year.

CHEMISTRY HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Physics I with an A or Physics I Honors with an A- or better, concurrent enrollment in Algebra II or a more advanced math class, and recommendation from the Science Department

The Chemistry Honors course is ideal for the student who has a strong mathematical background and seeks to be challenged in a higher level, faster paced science course Chemistry is all around us, and students will explore the atomic view of the world utilizing critical thinking skills and the scientific process as well as deductive reasoning and inferential logic Some of the key topics include atomic structure and bonding, periodicity, stoichiometry, gas laws, dynamic equilibrium, acid-base reactions, and thermodynamics. Weekly experiments allow students to experience the magic of chemistry first-hand. In the laboratory, students will have the opportunity to independently design investigations and to develop their deductive analytical skills while solving open-ended questions Students who perform at a high level in Chemistry Honors will be prepared to take Advanced Chemistry in their senior year

BIOLOGY

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Physics I or Physics I Honors and completion of Chemistry or Chemistry Honors

This course focuses on biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, evolution, ecology, and human body systems. Biology will also expose students to contemporary advances in biological science that continue to emerge

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and change each year Students will develop scientific skills through group discussions, laboratory experiences, formal presentations, and research projects Guest speakers representing a diversity of studies within the biological sciences will enrich the student experience and connect them to the outside world Relevance to students’ lives will be a unifying theme while exploring biology’s relationship with health, bioethics, race, and sustainability as well as other academic disciplines and societal issues Through this course, students will build scientific skills as well as an understanding of how biology has affected and continues to affect and influence their lives and the world around them

BIOLOGY HONORS

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Physics I or Physics I Honors and completion of Chemistry or Chemistry Honors and recommendation from the Science Department

This course is ideal for the student who seeks to be challenged and is ready and willing to take intellectual risks While the topics covered in this course are similar to those in Biology, students will be expected to be self-motivated and independent learners in order to delve into significantly deeper applications. Some summer work may be assigned to connect chemical concepts to those needed for this course

This course focuses on biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, evolution, ecology, and human body systems. Biology Honors will also expose students to contemporary advances in biological science that continue to emerge and change each year Students will develop scientific skills through group discussions, laboratory experiences, formal presentations, statistical analysis, reading of primary scientific literature, and research projects. Guest speakers representing a diversity of studies within the biological sciences will enrich the student experience and connect them to the outside world Relevance to students’ lives will be a unifying theme while exploring biology’s relationship with health, bioethics, race, and sustainability as well as other academic disciplines and societal issues. Through this course, students will build scientific skills including accessing and understanding primary research, as well as an understanding of how biology has affected and continues to affect and influence their lives and the world around them

ELECTIVE COURSES

ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Physics or Physics Honors and Chemistry or Chemistry Honors, and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Algebra II

Modern astronomy is filled with amazing discoveries, like gravitational waves caused by black hole mergers, planets around other stars, clues about the formation of the Earth, and the search for life in the solar system. This class will provide a foundation to understand it all. The units of study are broken down by essential questions that students will seek to answer, such as: What is the cultural significance of astronomy? Where should we search for life outside of Earth? What is the most significant advancement to telescope technology in the last 100 years? And more! Through hands-on experience, students will learn how to find and identify constellations, make astronomical observations, and analyze astronomical images Further fascinating topics of study include: eclipses, measuring huge distances in space, supernovas, detection of exoplanets, black holes, gravity, the Milky Way galaxy, and the expanding universe – all riddled with beautiful photos and humbling truths.

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BIOTECHNOLOGY, MEDICINE, AND SCIENCE RESEARCH

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of or concurrent enrollment in Biology/Biology Honors.

Biotechnology, Medicine, and Science Research focuses on learning the process of scientific discovery Students will engage with topics including genetic engineering, stem cell biology, cancer biology, and immunology To peek into the scientific process, students will engage in methods-centered reading of primary research and student-driven research Students will have the chance to use advanced research techniques and equipment including the cell and tissue culture facility at Branson and will be expected to engage and correspond with mentors in the scientific community Juniors taking Biotechnology, Medicine, and Science Research are encouraged and supported to continue diving into scientific research during the summer of their junior year at an outside institution

ENGINEERING, DESIGN, AND ANALYSIS: ENGINEER YOUR WORLD

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of Physics and Chemistry, and completion of or concurrent enrollment in Algebra II

In this class, failure is not an option – it’s mandatory! The design and construction challenges in this class, each drawn from one of the major engineering disciplines, will allow every student to experience the challenges and rewards of engineering as their team designs, prototypes, revises, perfects, and documents its approaches Students will discover how engineers use creative design approaches, make data-supported design decisions, collaborate to solve complex challenges, and improve lives. Developed with funding from the National Science Foundation by a team of University of Texas faculty and NASA engineers, Engineer Your World engages students in authentic engineering practices in a project-based environment.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE (offered in Spring)

1.5 units

Prerequisite: Completion of or concurrent enrollment in Biology/Biology Honors

The goal of the Environmental Science course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies necessary to understand and critically evaluate many of the environmental challenges facing the world today This course will allow students to understand interrelationships in the natural world, identify and analyze environmental challenges, evaluate the relative costs (seen and unseen) of environmental degradation, and develop solutions for these issues. Environmental Science is interdisciplinary; it embraces and utilizes a variety of concepts from different areas of study, including biology, design, ecology, economics, engineering, history, and philosophy Specific units of study include (but are not limited to): food systems, climate change, conservation, environmental ethics, renewable energy, and sustainable design The course includes rigorous discussion and debate, inquiry-based and student-centered project-based learning, and the reading of current environmental literature

INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH IN SCIENCE (offered in Spring)

This course is graded on a Pass/Fail basis

0 75 units

Prerequisite: 10th, 11th, or 12th grade standing.

This course is an introduction to conducting scientific research, in order to prepare students to embark on independent research in Research in Science. The class explores how scholars approach the process of identifying and pursuing research questions, and introduces students to research methodologies, reading

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scholarly articles, writing and presenting research, and ethical considerations Students will also be exposed to a variety of different research areas through talks by peers, visiting researchers, and the science faculty at Branson. This course is a prerequisite for Research in Science and meets once weekly.

MARINE ECOLOGY (offered in Fall)

1.5 units

Prerequisite: Completion of or concurrent enrollment in Biology/Biology Honors

Our earth is a marine planet, with oceans covering 71% of the earth's surface Marine Biology introduces students to this fascinating realm of the world’s oceans and the spectacular creatures who inhabit these waters through exploration of local field sites, laboratory investigations, and related classroom studies

The Earth’s oceans are filled with amazing creatures and a surprisingly large variety of habitats In this course we will dive into this mysterious world by investigating ocean chemistry, local kelp forests and intertidal systems, bony and cartilaginous fish, marine mammals, marine ecology, several ocean ecosystems and their inhabitants, and much more An additional goal of this course is to foster a lifelong interest in, and stewardship for, our world’s oceans and their role in the health of our planet.

MICROBIOLOGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE

3 units

Prerequisite: Completion of or concurrent enrollment in Biology/Biology Honors

This course is designed to cover the basic concepts in microbiology, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoa We will focus our studies on the pathogenic microorganisms, specifically in human infectious diseases, and how our immune system responds to them Specific examples of diseases we will study include Ebola, Influenza, HIV, Tuberculosis, MRSA, and Malaria. We will not only examine the direct cause and effects of these diseases, but also their broader implications in medical care and public health We will also examine the inequities in our healthcare system and the propagation of misinformation in this field. There is a strong laboratory component to the course as well as an emphasis on independent research

RESEARCH IN SCIENCE

This course is graded on a Pass/Fail basis

1 5 units

Prerequisite: 10th, 11th, or 12th grade standing and completion of Introduction to Research in Science

The Science Research Program provides students with authentic research opportunities Students conduct their research projects on campus or in an off-campus research setting with guidance and supervision from a mentor, the mentor’s laboratory staff, and Branson Science faculty. Students will have the opportunity to explore their area of interest, while learning skills and habits that will serve them in their scientific endeavors and beyond including developing and implementing a long-term research project, communicating effectively with diverse audiences in varied forms and media, and developing an analytical and growth mindset Students may also have the opportunity to submit their research project to various science fairs and competitions, publish and share their research at scientific conferences and in scientific journals, and share their research with the Branson community and beyond

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ADVANCED BIOLOGY

3 units

Prerequisite: Senior standing and approval of the Science Department, based upon completion of Physics or Physics Honors, Chemistry or Chemistry Honors, and Biology or Biology Honors at an exemplary level

Advanced Biology is a rigorous, in-depth study of biology. This course will be a contemporary and application-rich exploration of biology which may include advanced topics in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, genetics, evolutionary biology, and human body systems, with a particular emphasis on topics not studied in Biology or Biology Honors Students will build on and apply concepts from Biology and Chemistry and will engage in advanced techniques used in modern biology while also learning about the process of scientific inquiry, discovery, and dissemination of knowledge Students will be expected to develop scientific skills including experimental design, communication, and literature analysis Students enrolled in Advanced Biology should expect a challenging workload and pace, and the expectation of comprehensive individual work outside of class

ADVANCED CHEMISTRY

3 units

Prerequisite: Senior standing and approval of the Science Department, based upon completion of Physics or Physics Honors, Chemistry or Chemistry Honors, and Biology or Biology Honors at an exemplary level.

Advanced Chemistry is a rigorous, fast-paced, and in-depth study of chemistry Students will expand their knowledge of key chemistry principles and investigate the application of chemistry principles Topics covered may include: atomic and molecular structure, nuclear chemistry, phases of matter, thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, equilibria, acid-base reactions, electrochemistry, and green chemistry

Particular emphasis will be placed on contemporary topics in the field of chemistry Students will have the opportunity to plan experiments and gather and interpret experimental data through hands-on lab experiences An emphasis is placed on using analytical and logical reasoning skills to solve problems in a collaborative environment Students enrolled in Advanced Chemistry should expect a challenging workload and pace, and they will do comprehensive individual work outside of class.

ADVANCED PHYSICS

3 units

Prerequisite: Senior standing and approval of the Science Department, based upon completion of Physics or Physics Honors, Chemistry or Chemistry Honors, and Biology or Biology Honors at an exemplary level

Advanced Topics in Physics is a rigorous, in-depth study of physics. This course will be a dynamic and application-rich exploration of classical and modern physics and will cover a variety of topics which may include electric fields, voltage, current, and physical and geometric optics Applications such as atomic spectroscopy, musical harmonics, image formation and manipulation, and the construction and measurement of circuits will be explored The course will culminate in a fundamental understanding of the conceptual and mathematical heart of wave-particle duality As the capstone lab, students will experimentally derive a value for Planck’s constant by performing the photoelectric effect experiment Students enrolled in Advanced Physics should expect a heavy workload and significantly rapid pace, with an expectation of extensive individual work outside of class

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BLEND-EDCourse Catalog 2024-2025

The BlendEd Consortium partners to offer distinctive courses that blend the best of online learning, in-person experiences, and the assets of our region.

BlendEd Course Enrollment

All students submit enrollment requests for BlendEd courses as part of their home school’s course selection process. Each school typically enrolls a minimum of 2 students in each BlendEd course. Note that the BlendEd Consortium may add or decrease course offerings based on the actual student enrollment demand

BlendEd Readiness

Students are expected to spend approximately 6 hours per week on their BlendEd course Before students enroll in courses offered through the BlendEd Consortium, they should first assess their readiness for learning in a blended/online format Please review the BlendEd Readiness Checklist & Learning Habits to get a better understanding of the skills and mindsets that make for a fruitful BlendEd experience

BlendEd Meetings

BlendEd courses feature both synchronous (real-time virtual and in-person) and asynchronous (self-paced) activities. Attending and participating in all the synchronous activities is essential to getting the most out of the BlendEd learning experience Depending on the course, there are typically 7 to 15 Zoom meetings and 3 to 5 face-to-face (F2F) meetings each term

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BlendEd Courses At A Glance

Full Year 2024-2025

Ancient Greek

Fall 2024

Applied AI in Python

Astrophysics

Fundamentals of Filmmaking

The Golden Gate: Bay Area Literature, History & Activism

Incarceration Nation: The Rise of the U S Prison Industrial Complex

Mathematics of Politics

The Science of SciFi

Spring 2025

Black Holes and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

Fundamentals of Filmmaking

Movements for Change

Poetic Computation

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Full Year 2024-2025

Ancient Greek

This course offers an introduction to ancient Greek, focusing on the Attic dialect of the 5th century BCE (the language of Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Euripides, etc ) In this course consisting of two semesters, students will learn basic elements of ancient Greek orthography, morphology, syntax, and vocabulary as we proceed through a reading-based textbook (Athenaze: An Introduction to Ancient Greek) in which themes including daily life, mythology, ancient history and more will be discussed Course work primarily focuses on reading and writing ancient Greek, and students will practice pronunciation and basic question-and-answering in ancient Greek via oral drills and reading exercises. Although the course will focus on Attic Greek, the course will also be valuable to those interested in Koine (Biblical) Greek as well as Homeric Greek, both of which will be discussed in comparison to Attic Greek alongside basic readings

We will meet as a class weekly on Zoom to discuss readings, participate in small group work, and give short presentations Your presence and robust participation in our virtual meetings is an essential component of the course, and will help foster a sense of intellectual community that is necessary to do the rigorous scholarly work of thinking deeply and critically about our topic. We will also meet in-person 3-5 times throughout the course to build class community, for field trips, and to engage with guest speakers

Fall 2024

Applied AI in Python

This semester-long course will give students hands-on experience with artificial intelligence (AI) by applying machine learning models and libraries using the Python programming language The course will explore the construction of algorithms which can learn from and make predictions on real-world data Students will first recap on Python loops, lists, and dictionaries and learn how to manage file input and output They will then learn how to use the Pandas and Numpy libraries to analyze and interpret data Students will then be introduced to the Tensorflow and Keras frameworks and build machine learning models to analyze images and text. Students will apply their knowledge to implement and refine machine learning models to a data set of their choice and understand the ethical implications Finally, students will present their findings to an authentic audience Emphasis will be placed on the project development life cycle and the importance of testing Students will be expected to conduct independent research in addition to working collaboratively on projects. Weekly Zoom sessions will be used for short presentations, Q&A, and discussions In-person sessions will be used to present and discuss project progress with the rest of the class and meet with guest experts At the end of the course, students will have a basic knowledge of machine learning models and libraries and how to use these tools effectively with real-world data

Prerequisites: Introduction to Python Programming (B+ and above) or sufficient knowledge of Python.

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Astrophysics

In this project-based class, we will explore the dynamics and evolution of the contents of our universe We will grapple with a series of essential questions: How do we know what planets and stars are made of? How do stars die? Do other star systems support life? Where do black holes come from? How big is the universe? How do we even know all of this?

While astronomy and astrophysics both involve the study of planets, stars, galaxies, and the history and evolution of the universe and its contents, astronomy is more descriptive, with a greater focus on the history and methods of astronomical observation, including telescopes and the apparent motion of objects in the sky Astrophysics, by contrast, makes greater use of the tools of physics and chemistry and is more quantitative and computational in nature. That said, because of the differing order in which BlendEd member schools offer science courses, no prerequisite study in physics or chemistry is required; we will introduce what we need

We will spend significant time and energy on the metacognitive processes of learning, with the expectation that the communication and reasoning skills students acquire in this course will be generally useful, even outside of STEM courses.

Students are expected to attend once-per-week, camera-on Zoom sessions on Mondays at 7:30 pm and to schedule once-per-week project sessions with other small-group members Students must also attend at least 3 of the 5 planned in-person sessions on weekend evenings to be announced. In-person activities may include visits to local astrophysics research laboratories, scaffolded research project work, nighttime visits to observatories, and some classwork and assessments

Fundamentals of Filmmaking

This beginning filmmaking class is designed to introduce students to the exciting world of filmmaking Through hands-on experiences, students will develop their original ideas into compelling visual stories and screenplays, learn how to create storyboards to blueprint their films, plan a realistic pre-production schedule, and understand how to shoot cinematic images using available technology Students will also be introduced to editing software and learn how to distribute their films to an audience through platforms like YouTube and high school film festivals.

In addition, students will acquire strong skills in communicating their ideas through image and sound, as well as gain valuable experience in planning and implementing real-world projects They will work with the latest technology for filmmaking in the 21st century and collaborate with their peers to create dynamic films

Our students have a track record of success, with many of their films being featured in film festivals across the country, including some of the largest and most prestigious festivals in the nation This class is the perfect starting point for any student interested in pursuing a career in filmmaking or just looking to develop their creative and technical skills.

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Online meetings with the whole class will take place every other week to discuss projects and share presentations Students will sometimes be paired together or in small groups during our online meeting time or may occasionally arrange their own meeting times for collaborative activities and projects

During our 3 to 4 face-to-face sessions we may be meeting filmmakers, visiting cinemas, film festivals and film production studios Students will need access to a video camera (this can be your smartphone) and to be able to upload video to the web. Students should also have access to video editing software and a tripod

The Golden Gate: Bay Area Literature, History & Activism

Did you know that with the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in the 1950’s, the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco sparked a poetic and political revolution that became the Beat Movement? Do you know about the ‘60’s free speech and civil rights movement that took place on the steps of Sproul Plaza at U.C. Berkeley? Or why the Black Panther Party began in Oakland? Did you know that San Francisco-born photographer Ansel Adams’ work was instrumental in galvanizing awareness and activism to expand our national parks, just as Dorothea Lange’s work was in exposing the injustice of Bay Area Japanese Americans’ internment? What do you know of The Grateful Dead’s impact on the Summer of Love and Haight-Ashbury or politician Harvey Milk’s impact on the LGBTQ community and the Castro-Mission Districts?

Profoundly, Bay Area writers, artists and activists have long served as important catalysts for awareness and change, locally and across America This course will explore these individuals, questions, and much more as we read novels, poetry, short stories, and essays; view and listen to words, music, art and film; and discover the history and impact of such changemakers in the Bay Area We will consider the ways in which artists and their work have created and defined a counterculture and activist spirit that continue to thrive today near the Golden Gate

Representative texts include Tommy Orange’s There,There, Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s San Francisco Poems and Cathy Arellano’s Salvation on Mission Street. The class will meet once per week for Zoom sessions in the evening (either Mondays from 7-8 pm or Tuesdays 6:30-7:30 pm) and periodically for independent project sessions in small groups throughout the course Additionally, students are required to attend 3 to 5 planned in-person field outings on weekends to Oakland, Chinatown-North Beach, Castro-Mission, and more (TBD).

Incarceration Nation: The Rise of the U.S. Prison Industrial Complex

This course will trace the historical origins of what has been called the United States’ “prison industrial complex,” or the U.S. “carceral state” that intricate and elusive web of relations between state and corporate power that currently holds over 2% of the U S population under correctional control (which includes prison, parole, and probation) In the five decades since the notorious New York state

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Rockefeller Drug Laws were passed in 1973, the United States has undergone an explosive growth in the number of prisons being built, and prisoners being locked up, unparalleled in world history. The trend of mandatory sentencing for drug-related crimes that began with the Rockefeller Laws has swelled the ranks of U S prisons with millions of non-violent offenders, some serving life sentences (among these many juveniles tried as adults), the majority of whom are poor men and women of color. In more recent years, U S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has erected an architecture of detention and surveillance that has well over 200,000 people (many fleeing violent conflicts that have causal strands which tie back to U S foreign policy and intervention in the Americas during and after the Cold War) caught in its maw. While recent moves to decrease the number of people in cages for low-level non-violent drug offenses has dropped the U S from #1 to #6 on the list of countries with the highest per capita rates of incarceration, the U S still has the largest prison population overall in the world

To understand the historical processes behind the rise of this carceral state we will explore a number of theories that seek to explain its origins and rise These are not competing explanations per se, but varied ways of looking at the same complex phenomenon one that is irreducible to a simple logic (i.e., ‘tough on crime’ laws, the state-corporate-prison nexus, etc ) We will examine a number of scholarly approaches to the problem of mass incarceration from different disciplinary perspectives, among them history, the law, public health, political science, and cultural geography We will also interrogate a number of approaches taken to address the crisis from mainstream criminal justice reform, to calls for the abolition of police and prisons You will end the course with a fuller and more nuanced understanding of one of the most pressing issues facing our society

We will meet as a class weekly on Zoom to discuss readings, participate in small group work, and to give short presentations Your presence and robust participation in our virtual meetings is an essential component of the course, and will help foster a sense of intellectual community that is essential to doing the rigorous scholarly work of thinking deeply and critically about our topic We will also meet in-person 3-5 times throughout the course to build class community, for field trips, and to engage with guest speakers.

Mathematics of Politics

This course will start by exploring the seemingly simple question “What is fair?” from both a political and a mathematical perspective We will then use this foundation to explore the intriguing intersection of mathematics and government by delving into political and electoral processes, along with mathematical concepts that underpin these processes.Topics will include voting methods, apportionment, gerrymandering, the census, and polling Through a combination of theoretical exploration, data analysis, and case studies, students will complete projects to develop critical thinking skills and gain insights into the complexities of the political world.

Students are expected to attend weekly Zoom sessions at a mutually convenient time after school and to schedule weekly project sessions with other small-group members There will also be 3 to 5 planned in-person sessions to be announced. In-person activities may include a “Proposition Party” where students collectively share information about ballot initiatives in the upcoming election, a visit to a local Elections Department, an opportunity to work at a polling site during an election, and/or guest speakers

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The Science of SciFi

Is X-ray vision possible? How would near-speed-of-light travel work? What technology could lead to the existence of cyborgs? The goal of this course is to engage our scientific curiosity and explore the intersection of technology and imagination, science and literature. We will read and watch a variety of science fiction works (books, movies, and short stories), identify elements of fantastical science that capture our interest, and then dive deep into understanding the current technology that could become those things in the future

The culmination of this seminar is a creative project where you pick a current technology and predict the arc of that technology’s evolution into the future, then create something (e g a story, artwork, instruction manual, music) about that future.

Classes will meet weekly over Zoom to discuss the works we read and watch, and then explore the science behind them. There are no prerequisites for this course, but you should be open to learning some advanced ideas in special relativity, physics, climate science, and biology with support

There will be 3 to 5 in-person class gatherings or field learning experiences, such as the Chabot Space and Science Center, the Exploratorium, a trip to see a sci-fi movie in a theater, and a fiction writing workshop

Spring 2025

Black Holes and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

Have you ever contemplated the reality of a black hole? How long does it take to create a black hole, or how much matter does it take, or how do you calculate its mass? Will our galaxy be consumed by a black hole? What would happen if you fell into a black hole? If you would like to know the answers to these questions, then this is the class for you.

This class is concerned with studying the effects that gravity has on the structure of spacetime, from length-scales starting around 10−13 cm (the radius of an elementary particle) up to around 1028 cm (the radius of the universe) In order to understand these effects, we will use Einstein’s theory of relativity

Playing a fundamental role in our course will be the concept of a spacetime singularity more precisely, a black hole Thus, more precisely stated, this course will provide a direct examination of general relativity and black holes. However, instead of the typical approach, where one first learns the principles of relativity then, using them, proves the singularity theorems of Penrose and Hawking, we will go in the opposite direction We will assume their existence and then, using the properties of non-spinning and spinning black holes, introduce Einstein’s theory.

Along the way, we will learn about the physics of flat spacetime (the special theory), curvature, metrics,

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tests of the general theory, the physics of black holes, cosmology, and gravitational waves, with other fascinating topics sprinkled throughout.

Throughout our development of the theory and its consequences, we will use only calculus and algebra, and require only the basics of introductory physics in order to achieve our goals. Class activities will consist of working through problems related to selected readings, discussions, and question/answer sessions We will also be treated to a few video simulations, expressing the marvels of Einstein's theory

This class will have weekly meetings via Zoom. These virtual assemblies will be used as a time for discussion of the topics from the readings, along with highlighting the problems and debating their solutions, as well as Q&A sessions

In-person sessions will be used as time for students to present projects that they have worked through, guest presenters (on occasion), and ‘verification’ of the models to describe large-scale spacetime that we are learning about. In addition, we are hoping to be able to visit a nearby observatory where we can see the theories in action

Prerequisites: Mathematically speaking, if you are conversant in Calculus, you are ready for this course

Fundamentals of Filmmaking

This beginning filmmaking class is designed to introduce students to the exciting world of filmmaking Through hands-on experiences, students will develop their original ideas into compelling visual stories and screenplays, learn how to create storyboards to blueprint their films, plan a realistic pre-production schedule, and understand how to shoot cinematic images using available technology Students will also be introduced to editing software and learn how to distribute their films to an audience through platforms like YouTube and high school film festivals

In addition, students will acquire strong skills in communicating their ideas through image and sound, as well as gain valuable experience in planning and implementing real-world projects They will work with the latest technology for filmmaking in the 21st century and collaborate with their peers to create dynamic films

Our students have a track record of success, with many of their films being featured in film festivals across the country, including some of the largest and most prestigious festivals in the nation This class is the perfect starting point for any student interested in pursuing a career in filmmaking or just looking to develop their creative and technical skills

Online meetings with the whole class will take place every other week to discuss projects and share presentations Students will sometimes be paired together or in small groups during our online meeting time or may occasionally arrange their own meeting times for collaborative activities and projects

During our 3 to 4 face-to-face sessions we may be meeting filmmakers, visiting cinemas, film festivals and

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film production studios. Students will need access to a video camera (this can be your smartphone) and to be able to upload video to the web Students should also have access to video editing software and a tripod

Movements for Change

What does it mean to encourage social change, and how does history tell the story of activists whose work inspired change? In what ways does our reflection/collective memory of these movements impact their historical legacies?

In this course, students will take a deeply thematic dive into social movements (both popular and lesser known) to determine the complex ways in which these movements have shaped present movements for social change Framed around the concept of intersectionality, this class will provide students the opportunity to scour the archives, using a sociological and cultural lens to examine impact Students will also consider how they may use archives and the historical record to inspire the social change they’d like to make/see

Select movements included for study: The Suffrage Movement, The Civil Rights Movement, The Black Power Movement, the American Indian Movement and the LGBTQ Movement of the 1960s and 70s

Students will use rich primary sources to unpack the many ways both activists and the larger community have advocated for change At the end of the course, students will have the opportunity to create a final project of their thematic choosing, which may include (performance piece, manifesto, traditional research paper, blog, podcast, oral histories, art, etc ) and share their research with classmates and peers

Collaboration with other students is encouraged! Join us as we connect with guest presenters, visit local organizations and archives, and embark on a discovery of change

Poetic Computation

This class is an introduction to both the philosophy and practices of Computational Poetics as a subset of new media art Together we will explore existing works and artists in the field, build ways of critically engaging with applications of modern technologies such as ChatGPT and other generative algorithms, and learn to build our own poetic web spaces using HTML and Javascript

This class will meet every other week on Zoom to discuss readings, share experiments, and co-create understandings of our tools and technologies Your presence and robust participation in our virtual meetings is a core component of the course, and will help foster a sense of intellectual community that is essential to engaging in this kind of critical and artistic expression You will be expected to experiment with tools outside of class, and share your ideas, your work, and your questions during our meetings

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The culmination of this class will be the creation of a computationally poetic piece in HTML and JS to be hosted online. Using other tools/frameworks to create your final project is open for consideration as well, with the requirement of available online documentation of the work

There will be 3-4 in-person sessions where we will have field learning experiences, such as visiting the SFMOMA, the Computer History Museum, and having in-person demonstrations/presentations of our work

Prerequisites: Introductory experience with programming is suggested, but not required.

Learn more about BlendEd

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2024-2025

Branson develops students who make a positive impact in the world by leading lives of integrity, purpose, learning, and joy. branson.org

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