The Computer School Curriculum
English / Language Arts
English Language Arts is the study and practice of reading, writing, listening and speaking. We introduce students to great literature, challenge them to think deeply and expansively, and help them find their voice. The curriculum is thematic and spans multiple genres, including fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry, drama, film and other media. Throughout the year, students critically analyze what they read, hear and see. They learn to make connections and identify various literary elements and text structures. Additionally, they become prolific and skillful writers in a variety of genres, such as literary essays, personal narrative, poetry, and fiction. In addition to these frequent writing assignments, students build vocabulary and grammar skills, which are aligned to the Common Core Curriculum. Looking into an ELA classroom at any given moment, you might see students engaged in lively discussion, theatrical presentations, shared reading, focused writing, and collaborative projects.
The Mathematics Department helps students fully develop their mathematical skills at a pace that is appropriate for each of them. 6th and 7th grade students are in grade level groupings, and instruction is differentiated such that students receive the support they require, build on their strengths, and excel to their potential. Thus, the Computer School’s math curriculum ensures the appropriate level of challenge and acceleration for students. Consistent with the Computer School’s interdisciplinary curriculum, math standards are frequently connected to the other subjects.
In 8th grade, students all learn Algebra and prepare for the Algebra Regents exam at the end of the school year. Regardless of students’ mathematical abilities on entering the Computer School, they will leave with a solid understanding of the Common Core Mathematics Standards.
Global Studies: 8th grade
The Global Studies curriculum centers on a thoughtful examination of the past and our place in the world today. Units include ancient civilizations, world religions, expansion and colonialism, and world revolutions – all viewed through various historical and sociological lenses. Throughout the year, students address world problems such as economic inequality, civil and human rights, woman’s rights, war, genocide, tolerance, freedom and social change; they examine their roles as members of the world community. Assignments offer rigorous preparation for high school, and require primary and secondary source analysis, advanced writing, mapping and other topographical skills, creating time-lines, and partaking in class debates.
Social Studies: 6/7th GradesThe social studies curriculum is designed to give students historical knowledge, excellent research and speaking skills, a keen sense of geography, strong reading and writing skills, and most of all, a love of history. We do so through the study of current events, civics, politics, and geography. Students are challenged to not just learn history, but to be Social Scientists and ask ‘Why’ from history. Students are asked to think critically about historical and contemporary issues and to look at problems from different perspectives. Students learn from a wide variety of sources such as maps, newspapers, memoirs, paintings, posters, historical documents, and textbooks. The city is often used as a classroom as well, with students learning in places such as Ellis Island, the Tenement Museum, Philadelphia, and the Constitution Works Trip to supplement their knowledge of the particular topic being discussed. Social Studies and English assignments are often coordinated, consistent with the school’s interdisciplinary approach.
Earth Science: 8th grade
Eighth graders take Regents Earth Science, a high school level course which is broken into three major components - Geology, Astronomy, and Meteorology. Successful completion of the course and passing of the Regents exam earns students high school science credit. The curriculum covers the following topics:
-Astronomy - Mathematical Analysis, Scientific Inquiry, Engineering Design, Information Systems, Systems Thinking, Models, Magnitude and Scale, Equilibrium and Stability, Patterns of Change, Optimization, and Interdisciplinary Problem Solving
-Geology - Geologic History, Plate Tectonics and Earth’s Interior, Weathering, Erosion and Deposition, Topographic Maps and Landscapes, and Minerals and Rocks
-Meteorology - Energy Sources for Earth Systems, Weather, Insolation and Seasonal Changes, the Water Cycle, and Climates
The Earth Science curriculum is supplemented by numerous trips to the American Museum of Natural History, water testing on the Hudson River, sailing and ecology studies on the historic Clearwater Sloop, and many other experiential learning projects.
6th and 7th Grade Science
Students explore topics such as matter, ecology, medical biology, and the physics of motion in 6th grade, while in 7th grade, they delve into water quality, aqueduct design, energy, bioethics, genetics, and natural selection. Through a dynamic curriculum, students examine issues that affect both their local and global communities, ranging from individual healthcare to our collective carbon footprint. Students learn through hands-on activities, conducting scientific experiments, setting forth their hypotheses, and carefully going through the necessary steps to prove or disprove them. When they write up their experiments, they further hone their critical thinking and writing skills.
(Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Mathematics) The iterative design and engineering cycle is the basis of all student exploration and learning in the STEAM lab. The lab time provides opportunities for students to explore powerful ideas through student-driven exploration. Learners are engaged in multiple and diverse ways of constructing their understanding of the world around them. Learners are able to demonstrate their understandings of this world through a variety of tools and media where innovation and creativity are what drives their ideas.
The Computer School strongly believes that art is a fundamental part of the curriculum, helping students to better understand their world and themselves. In grades 6 and 7, the two-year curriculum includes perspective and architecture, proportions, water colors, sculpture, silk screening, and collages, as well as learning about famous artists, such as Romare Bearden, Chuck Close, and Frida Kahlo. 8th grade offers a continuation of these studies, including the study of ancient and modern world cultures through Contemporary Art, Greek, Egyptian and Islamic studies, and modern movements. Students regularly visit museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see first-hand much of the art they are studying.
The more students are immersed in the Spanish language, the more productive their study of the language and culture will be. Through exposure to language and literature students are provided with a multitude of opportunities to speak, read, write, and listen to the Spanish language. Regardless of whether students are just beginning Spanish or speak it at home, their Spanish skills improve through the continuous practice they receive at the Computer School.
That students should have active and healthy lifestyles is the underlying premise of the Computer School’s physical education program. The physical education classes give students a safe and structured environment in which to be physically active and learn about the lifelong benefits of consistent physical activity. It also serves as a forum to help increase self-esteem and awareness, build community, and improve skills such as cooperation, teamwork, and collaboration.