Upper School Curriculum

List of 6 items.

  • English

    ** A Sampling of Electives
     
    American Literature 
    This course is a required chronological survey for juniors focusing on selected American writers from our nation's settlement through the 20th century. Parallels will be drawn between our literature (essays, poems, short stories, novels, plays, and speeches) and the rich, diverse cultural history of our country. Although the emphasis will be on the literature of our nation, attention will be paid to our history as well as to the emerging and ever-changing "American character." Critical writing is a key component of this course.
     
    AP English Literature and Composition (A)
    Faulkner, Fitzgerald and Hemingway:  This portion of the course is an intensive study of selected novels and stories of these great American writers. In addition to literary considerations, the course focuses on the authors' lives and cultural contexts and on such issues as race, history, and alienation. Novels to be considered include The Sound and the Fury, Light In August, The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms.  Critical writing is a key component to this course.  Masterworks of Modern American Poetry and Drama:  This portion of the course is a close study of representative American poets and playwrights of the twentieth century. Major American poets will be studied as modernist artists, and, in the drama portion of this class, our focus will be on the texts in performance, examining each play both as literature and as theatrical experience. We will do script analysis as well as discuss each play as a staged event by considering such dramatic elements as set design, acting, and lighting. As part of our classroom activities, we will view most of the plays. Critical writing is the major component of this class.
     
    Film Study
    This course is an introduction to the critical study of and appreciation for film as a major art form. Through the analysis of approximately twelve classics of the cinema, we shall consider the relationships between thematic content and basic film techniques, between word and cinematic image. Reactions to such films as The Graduate, Bonnie and Clyde, and Dead Man Walking will be sought in discussions as well as in writing. Analytical writing is the major component of this course. 
     
    The Iliad
    This in-depth study of Homer's first great epic features the accessible Robert Fagles translation. Students will delve into each aspect of this work, including epic form and technique, and will examine the questions about war, heroism, and culture that it raises. Besides the extensive primary source reading, students will be exposed to secondary criticism and background information and will be required to complete a research project and paper as their culminating assessment in the course.
     
    Literary Revisions
    This class allows us to look at original works of literature and the modern texts that play off of their characters and themes. We will study the limits of epic, poem, novel, and play as we analyze the ways in which each group of texts compliments its counterparts. Students should expect significant reading and writing assignments both in class as and as homework.
     
    Myth & Fairy Tale
    This course will survey the works of Ovid, Grimm, and Anderson as we study human transformation and escape in literature. We will also consider modern interpretations of these ancient tales.
     
    Shakespeare's Tragedies
    The questions of existence, meaning, good, evil, suffering, and free will are examined in three of Shakespeare's great tragedies: Hamlet, King Lear, and Othello. In addition to studying the literature, we will continue to work on students' critical writing skills throughout the term.
     
    Trickster Literature
    This class will examine the archetypal character of the Trickster, tracing its origins from traditional oral storytelling and ancient text through today's media. This class will focus on literature that features different iterations of the Trickster while examining various texts from different regions and cultures around the world. In addition to a close study of the texts, students will produce well crafted, researched, and refined writings examining the Trickster in his various appearances. After completing the class students will be able to clearly and accurately identify the Trickster effectively and efficiently in their writing.
  • History

    ** A Sampling of Electives
     
    American Environmentalism
    Whether viewed as a wilderness to be conquered or a sanctuary to be preserved, the environment has always been a central theme in American culture and history. This course examines how perceptions have changed, and occasionally clashed, through history. Special emphasis is given to the modern environmental movement.
     
    Ancient Greece and Rome
    The modern world is forever indebted to the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome. How did these small Mediterranean villages grow to change the world? This course will examine the art, architecture, history, religion, and culture of the ancient Greek and Romans.  It is a study of the evolution of their societies and their impact and influence on later civilization.
     
    AP European History
    This course is presented as a college level seminar and is offered to qualified seniors.  The modern era in Europe, beginning with the Renaissance, is examined in detail. Challenging readings are used as a basis for class discussion and writing assignments.  The use of a variety of films is an important component in this course. Students make one extensive research project presentation during the year and are prepared for the AP test in the spring.  The course culminates with a thorough review of current challenges in Europe. Consent of the department is necessary for placement.  
     
    AP Macroeconomics
    AP Macroeconomics is an introductory college‑level course that focuses on the principles that apply to an economic system as a whole. The course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price‑level determination; it also develops students’ familiarity with economic performance measures, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth, and international economics. Students learn to use graphs, charts, and data to analyze, describe, and explain economic concepts.
     
    Post World War 2 America: Conformity and Change
    This elective course considers one of the most tumultuous decades in American history (1955 through 1973).  We will delve in deeply to explore the major cultural and political movements, including civil rights, student radicalism, and the Vietnam War. The use of primary sources and frequent writing assignments are important components of this offering.
     
    Supreme Court: Race, Gender, Civil Rights
    In this course, students will explore how our highest court has weighed in on critical cases related to the development or hindrance of civil rights in the U.S.  We will look at cases particularly related to the changing legal status of race and gender. Students will read Supreme Court opinions from several landmark cases from the early national period to the present.
  • Mathemetics

    **A Sampling of Electives
     
    AP Calculus Calculus AB
    This course is a college level class in calculus which follows the syllabus for the AP exam in Calculus AB. A list of the topics for study can be found on apcentral.collegeboard.com and includes limits, continuity, derivatives, the applications of derivatives, integrals, and applications of integrals. Students investigate functions and their behaviors through a variety of methods aimed at allowing the students to reason graphically, analytically, and numerically. Emphasis is also placed on mathematical communication, both written and oral.
     
    AP Calculus BC and Multivariable Calculus
    This course is a continuation of Calculus AB. Students cover material which is on the syllabus for the AP exam in Calculus BC as well as additional material in multivariable calculus. Topics include series, techniques of integration, differential equations, partial derivatives and multiple integrals with applications.
     
    AP Statistics
    Four main themes of statistics will be studied in this course:  exploratory data analysis, methods of collecting data, probability as a tool in distribution of data, and statistical inference.  A hands-on approach with emphasis on graphical representation, simulation, technology, and experimentation will be used. The use of a TI-83/84 graphing calculator is required.
     
    Geometry
    This course emphasizes an understanding and appreciation of basic geometric structure.  It combines an integrated approach (with algebra) and an investigative approach (with hands-on and computer activities), develops logical reasoning, and connects with meaningful applications to the real world.  Specific areas of study include angles, triangle congruence, similarity, right triangles, circles, and areas and volumes. Appropriate emphasis is placed on formal proof and depth of study of individual topics.
     
    Introduction to Discrete Mathematics
    This course is taught concurrently with the Concepts of Advanced Mathematics course.  The basic concepts in the field of discrete mathematics beyond permutations and combinations, which have been covered in previous courses, will be explored.  Topics to be covered include the mathematics of social choice including voting and weighted voting systems, fair division and apportionment. Euler and Hamilton circuits will be covered if time permits. Concurrent with Concepts of Advanced Math
     
    Math of Finance
    This course will explore a variety of topics relevant to personal finances.  Students will use Excel spreadsheets extensively to exploresuch topics as inflation, long-term savings, personal loans, and mortgages. Each student will research a variety of important components of financial decision making, including interest rates, stocks, bonds, bankruptcy, and retirement accounts.  Students will end the term with a summative project. 
     
    Precalculus and Trigonometry
    This course includes a review and extension of advanced algebraic concepts.  New concepts covered include conic sections, unit circle trigonometry and extending its applications to polar coordinates and vectors. A core theme of the course is the study of functions, both algebraic and transcendental, including trigonometric, as a preparation for calculus. Further topics include series and probability.
  • Science

    **A Sampling of Electives
     
    Advanced Chemistry 2 (Honors)
    This course explores two areas of advanced chemistry at an introductory level: organic chemistry and biochemistry. Highly recommended for students intending to pursue science in college, this course allows students to discover the vocabulary and concepts of key topics in these two important areas of chemistry with correlated opportunities to explore these ideas in the laboratory. Students will design and conduct original research projects as well as visit local research facilities and hear from professionals in the field.  In this course, students will be challenged to become more proficient with scientific literacy in order to be effective communicators within the scientific community.
     
    Anatomy and Kinesiology
    This course is designed to study the anatomical makeup of the human body and how muscles propel the body during movement.  Basic anatomy will be taught with all muscle origins, insertions, and actions being studied. We will then study how these muscles are used in the actual physical movement of the body during exercise.
     
    Applied Ecology
    In this elective course you will be tasked with landscape and design projects. We will focus on sustainable design bridging gaps between human systems and the environment. In this process you will learn about climate change, land use, life history strategies, symbiotic relationships, and sustainable agriculture. You will be expected to present a final project that combines these different topics and teaches them to members in and outside of the community. Class will include lectures, discussion, labs, projects, and field trips.
     
    Biology
    Biology is an introduction to high school science which focuses on the living world around us. Biology provides the student with the solid foundation necessary to comprehend the expanding role of biology in society. Major topics include cells, cell processes, inheritance, evolution, and overviews of plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria. This course of study combines lectures, a practical laboratory component, and online activities that help students connect the content to their lives and prepare to study Chemistry and other science courses in the future.
     
    Forensic Science: Evidence Analysis
    Forensic science is the study and use of basic scientific concepts and technologies related to solving crime.  Through the study of forensic science techniques, students are given the opportunity to explore and further understand how basic scientific concepts apply specifically to this field of study.  Scientific principles acquired in previous science courses will be applied through the discussion of realistic scenarios and by engaging in laboratory experiments, internet research assignments, and case studies.
     
    Honors Chemistry
    Honors Chemistry is a one-year laboratory course that covers the foundational concepts of chemistry, exploring the composition of matter and the changes that it undergoes. The curriculum is designed to be challenging and fast-paced so that maximum in-depth exposure is given to the concepts of this first-year chemistry course. Additionally, students in Honors Chemistry are expected to approach learning with independence and dedication to excellence. As chemistry is essential to understanding all other sciences, success in this course will permit a student to pursue further studies in the more advanced sciences offered at the Tatnall School.
     
    AP Environmental Science
    The goal of the AP Environmental Science course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methods required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world. Students will analyze environmental problems, evaluate risks associated with these problems, and consider solutions for preventing such problems. Among the topics studied are population issues, water and water pollution, air and air pollution, renewable and nonrenewable fuels, farming, and pesticides. We look at problems from a local, national and world perspective. Students will conduct classroom experiments as well as analyze data on actual environmental issues. Students will also study the policies and laws that impact these problems.
     
    Physics
    This is a conceptually-based introduction to the major principles of physics that also emphasizes the development of algebraic problem-solving skills. The laboratory and problem-solving approach are designed to give the student a basic understanding of physical concepts in oscillations, waves, sound, light and optics, Newtonian mechanics, energy, and kinematics. Students should be adept at manipulating simple algebraic equations and graphing.
  • The Arts

    ** A Sampling of Electives
     
    Visual Arts
     
    Architectural Design
    Students will experience a broad based overview of key architectural ideas and formal approaches and begin to understand architecture as cultural and social expression. Students will complete a series of introductory design and model making assignments before proceeding into the conceptual development and plans for an original site-specific design. The term will culminate in a series of student presentations and a gallery exhibition showcasing the final architectural models.
     
    Ceramics 
    This course will provide an introduction to hand building and wheel-thrown ceramic methods. Students will learn in clay in order to create both functional and sculptural ceramic pieces. The course will emphasize both the structured design process as well as experimental and investigative approaches to working with clay. Students will also explore the vast possibilities of surface design and texture.The course culminates in a final series project demonstrating skills learned over the course of the term.
     
    Junior Art Portfolio
    This course provides committed juniors with an opportunity to develop skills and ideas from previous fine art coursework and to create an advanced body of work. Students will strengthen their portfolios in areas of drawing, design, and conceptual basis. Students interested in preparing a portfolio for college admissions, fine art scholarships, and to prepare for AP Art & Design (2-D, 3-D, or Drawing) senior year are encouraged to take Junior Portfolio. Students are expected to maintain a sketchbook to function as a resource for artistic development. Junior Portfolio students are expected to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the elements and principles of art and to use studio time in a disciplined and mature manner. Students will also participate in both formal and informal class critiques to sharpen their critical thinking skills and expand their artistic vocabulary. 
     
    Photography
    This course is an introduction to understanding the basic operations and functions of digital photography: how a camera works, the use of settings, and how to take interesting photographs. Students will learn about the photographic elements of art and principles of design, composition, and lighting. This course will familiarize the student with the history of photography, imagery techniques, lighting, photographic equipment, and software. Students will keep an online digital blog throughout the course, and complete up to three photographic series for their portfolio.
     
    Printmaking
    Students will explore a variety of printmaking processes including relief, intaglio, solar plate, collagraph, monoprint, and serigraph (silkscreen). Students are encouraged to be experimental and innovative in their approach to printmaking. Students will also be exposed to the history of printmaking and examine the work of contemporary printmakers such as Rauschenberg, Warhol, and others.
     
    Music
    Concert Choir
    Concert Choir provides  those who sing the opportunity to collaboratively prepare and perform music from Pre-Renaissance to the Contemporary. Private study is encouraged, but not required. There will be a Young Women’s Chorus and a Young Men’s Chorus to be combined as a Concert Choir. The select ensemble, Tatnall Singers, will meet on Monday evenings.
     
    Symphonic Band
    Symphonic Band provides experienced woodwind, brass, and percussion players the opportunity to collaboratively prepare and perform music in a variety of styles and genres.  Students develop skills specific to their instrument as well as concepts that can be applied to any musical setting. Private study is encouraged, but not required. Students who play other instruments may participate with instructor approval (based on instrumentation needs)
     
    String Ensemble
    The Tatnall Upper School String Ensemble provides experienced violin, viola, cello and upright bass players the opportunity to perform string orchestra and chamber music of various styles and genres.  Through performance experience students gain an in-depth understanding of musical form, melody, harmony, rhythm and history.
     
    Foundations of Music
    Students explore rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, form, and style while learning to play a variety of instruments found in the music of the last 50 years.  Performance and/or songwriting skills are cultivated. No previous singing or playing experience is necessary.
     
    Theater/Film
     
    Foundations of Technical Theater
    This class will introduce students to the technical aspects of theater and how they are applied here at Tatnall.  Scenic construction, lighting, and sound will be covered. Design elements will be discussed. Acting is not part of this class.
     
  • World Languages

    ** A Sampling of Electives
     
    French
    By the end of this course, students have encountered almost all basic grammar structures and have expanded their usable vocabulary.  In addition to the cultural material that students encounter in the text, culture is studied through videos and class projects.
     
    Latin
    Latin 1 will catapult students into a serious study of the language and culture of ancient Rome. This fast-paced introductory course surveys the history of ancient Latin Literature, with students reading adaptations of classic authors such as Cicero, Caesar, Vergil, Ovid, and Tacitus, while making connections between the language of the Romans and our own. Students who take Latin will gain an understanding of language and culture that will illuminate their studies across the curriculum.
     
    AP Latin
    This course is designed to prepare students to excel on the AP Latin exam. Students will translate, analyze, and discuss selections from Vergil’s Aeneid and Caesar’s Gallic War. Paying close attention to the literary devices, meter, and syntax of Vergil’s epic poem, we discuss numerous themes including passion vs. reason, the importance of pietas, and whether this work, which was considered the national poem during the Roman Empire, is really as patriotic as it seems. As we read Caesar, we strive for true mastery of his prose style and an understanding of his cultural impact and political character. The course teaches and expects excellence in the field of Latin Literature.
     
    Spanish
    This course is a continuation of the study of Spanish grammar and literature. Students will further develop their proficiency in all four skill areas by a thorough review of grammar with a greater emphasis placed on developing reading and speaking and listening skills. Culture will be explored through authentic readings and videos, as well as individual written and oral projects.  Students who demonstrate a high level of proficiency will be recommended to take Honors Spanish 4.
     
    AP Spanish Language & Culture
    This course is designed to prepare students for the AP Spanish Language and Culture examination by providing a thorough review of Spanish grammar and intensive vocabulary and idiom building.  The students speak, read, analyze and write about contemporary Spanish issues and literary topics focusing on six overarching themes that are central to real-world communication. Students will read short stories as well as articles taken from Hispanic newspapers and periodicals. Listening and speaking competency is developed through the use of authentic contemporary written, visual and audio media. Students will receive intensive practice to improve the four skills.

Academic Expectations

Tatnall’s school year has three terms of roughly 54 days each, and final exams are given at the end of the years. The daily schedule consists of 6 rotating 50 minute block periods, with time built in for Community Gathering, Advisory, lunch, and student activities. Students are expected to take at least five academic courses per term, plus a sixth elective. Students are required to complete courses for graduation, including:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3 years of mathematics
  • 3 years of history
  • 3 years of science (2 years of laboratory science)
  • 3 years of world language
Requirements also exist in arts, athletics, and service.


Honors and Advanced Placement Courses

Advanced Placement (AP) courses follow the curriculum established by The College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program. The AP Program allows approved students the opportunity to take a challenging college level course that reflects the AP standards while still in high school, and the possibility of earning credit or advanced placement or both at the college they attend. 


Honors courses differ from regular courses in that they are taught with a college-like approach.  Material is covered in greater depth and expectations are higher than in regular courses.

Art
Junior Portfolio
AP Studio Art - Drawing
AP Studio Art 2D Design
AP 3D Design

English
Honors English 10 (10)
AP English Language (11,12)
AP English Literature (11,12)

World Language
Honors French 4 (11,12)
Honors Spanish 4 (11,12)
Honors Latin 4 (11, 12)
AP French Language (12)
AP Spanish Language (12)
AP Latin (11,12)

History
AP European History (12)
AP U.S. Government & Politics (12)
AP U.S. History (11)
AP Economics

Mathematics
Honors Algebra 2 (9,10)
Honors Precalc and Trig (10,11)
AP AB Calculus (11,12)
AP BC & Multivariable Calculus (12)
AP Statistics (11,12)

Science
Honors Biology (9,10,11)
Honors Chemistry (10,11)
Honors Advanced Chemistry 2 (11,12)
Honors Physics (11,12)
AP Biology (12)
AP Environmental Science (10,11,12)
AP Physics: Mechanics (12)

Upper School Required Courses

Credits (3 credits = 1 year)
9th Grade 
3 credits
English: English 9: Elements of Literature   
3 credits
World Language 
3 credits
History:  World History 1
3 credits
Mathematics: Geometry, Algebra 1 or Algebra 2 (reg. or hon.)
3 credits
Physical Education 
2 credits
Science:  Biology (reg. or hon.)
3 credits
10th Grade
English:  English 10: Bible, Myth, and Epic  (reg. or hon.)  
3 credits
World Language
3 credits
History: World History 2
3 credits
Mathematics: Geometry, Algebra 2 (reg or hon), or Precalculus (reg or hon) 
3 credits
Physical Education
2 credits
Science:  Ecology or Environmental Sci. or Chemistry (reg. or hon.)
3 credits
11th Grade
English: AP Language or American Literature
3 credits
History: U.S. History (AP or reg.)
3 credits
Mathematics
3 credits
World Language (if Level 3 not yet complete)
3 credits
Physical Education
2 credits
Science: Chemistry (reg. or hon.) or Physics (reg. or hon) or Ecology or Environmental Science
3 credits
12th Grade
English: Upper Level Elective (AP or reg.)
3 credits
Physical Education
2 credits