Notes from the High School: Weeks 3 and 4

(We’ve been busy, so we’re doubling up these weeks!)

Jason’s got everyone hopping in our warm-up geography class, identifying the highest and lowest points in the United States, exploring the major waterways of North America, and finally figuring out what makes Alabama the Yellowhammer State (it’s apparently a Civil War reference).

Week 3 wrapped our Big Myths of U.S. History review (through the end of the 19th century edition), in which we dug into the history behind the mythology of the War of 1812, the institution of slavery in the United States, and the causes of the Civil War. With Week 4, we started new and exciting units, kicking off our study of Transcendentalism with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Nature” (that’s the one with the transparent eyeball!). Preparing to dive into the Salem Witch trials, we spent the week trying to get oriented in the 17th century mindset — a world view that relies heavily on superstition and religion. APUSH students made it to the Great Awakening and the new sense of being “American” that would point them on the road to revolution with Britain. (It’s a lot of reading, but comparing Zinn's take to the more traditional textbook and then exploring ideas through other critical lenses has been really rewarding, I think!)

Latin students are humming along. Latin III students are diving into the complexities of the imperfect tense; Latin II is preparing for their official unit exam, which is the gateway from beginning Latin to more advanced Latin; and Latin I students are getting comfortable with the ways endings indicate grammar in simple sentences.

In Spanish, everyone teared up a little reading poetry by Pablo Neruda and then everyone teared up again a little in math as Jason pushed them to master the handful of SAT problem types they’ve been avoiding. 

Chemistry students explored the history of chemistry (alchemy!) with the classic Silver Tree experiment and practiced separating mixtures in the lab, which is surprisingly challenging, even when you have a big stack of filters.

All in all, a busy and worthwhile couple of weeks!