Core Academic Course Descriptions for Session 1, 2019-2020
ELA: ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS for 6th-8th Monday/Wednesday, 9:00-10:30 or 11:00-12:30* SYLLABUS HERE
This two-day core course will focus on reading and composition and can accommodate a range of skills. High-interest articles, essays and book excerpts will be enjoyed, with time for discussion, evaluation, and writing. Scholastic SCOPE or similar materials will be used for the analysis of current events (subscription included). Social studies/current event topics are often incorporated into lessons, with a range of activities to be expected (group presentations, reader’s theatre, etc). The focus in Session 1 will be summary; students should expect to complete at least two final draft essays. Basic conventions, mechanics and editing will be practiced each week. Additional independent reading will be assigned, as well as extra writing practice if needed. Materials needed: Spiral notebook, folder, assignment notebook, and pencil/pen. Independent reading and writing are required (2-3 hrs/week).
Students will need to have an approved novel of choice for independent reading each week. At least 5 novels should be completed annually. This is a full-year course of study
. The 9:00 class is recommended for levels 6th/7th. The 11:00 class is recommended for those at a 7th-9th level, but students at any level can be challenged appropriately if in either course. Subsequent sessions will focus on argument writing, literary response, and narrative. Instructor: Melanie Ware.
Max: 12 students.
LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION Tuesday, 11:00-12:30 (recommended for 8th-11th grade) SYLLABUS HERE
This year-long course aligns with the recommended curriculum for Golden Valley 9th graders
but is open to 8th
graders who are proficient in foundational English skills (composition/grammar) and can read proficiently at or above an 8th grade level
. In this course, students will analyze human behavior and power structures in societies, while making relevant connections to their world today. (For GVCS students, this course will fulfill most of the core reading/writing requirements for GVCS 9th Literature and Composition
; grammar practice outside of composition editing, some study guide activities, and GVCS required text-based lessons are not part of this course). Over the year, students will complete at least four classic novels (selections this year may include Fahrenheit 451, The Outsiders, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, and To Kill a Mockingbird
), several classic short stories or poetry (selections may include poems by Sandburg, Hemingway, Whitman, Frost, Hughes, Angelou, etc), and relevant articles and/or speeches. All reading will be accompanied by in-class reflection, discussion, note-taking, critical analysis, and historical and cultural connections. At least two essays per session will be completed and assessed. Lessons in composition skills (summary and literary analysis) will be included. This is a full-year course of study
. Independent reading and writing are required (2-3 hrs/week). Instructor: Lori Peters.
Max: 10 students.
FOUNDATIONS OF MATH Monday/Wednesday, 11:00-12:30 SYLLABUS HERE
This course is designed for students needing to solidify their foundational math skills before
Pre-Algebra, typically 6th
grade, but the course is open to any student 6th
in need of foundational skills in math. Using Everyday Math
, participants will practice foundational skills including basic algorithms of multiplication and division. They will also explore relationships between fractions, decimals, and percentages, and perform all operations involving decimals and fractions. Word problems, games and activities will be used to enhance understanding. Materials required: spiral notebook, folder, assignment notebook, and a pencil. Independent work is expected, 2 -3 hrs/week. $25 lab fee for Everyday Math Text, volumes 1 and 2
. This is a full-year course of study
. Instructor: Laura Erlig.
Max: 9 students.
PRE-ALGEBRA Monday/Wednesday 11:00-12:30 SYLLABUS HERE
Students will be provided instruction specifically targeting pre-algebra skills to build proficiency with key algebraic concepts, such as analyzing, using, and applying proportional relationships; rational numbers; algebraic expressions and linear equations; and appropriate geometric, probability and statistics concepts. This course will align closely with 7th-grade math standards and is designed to prepare students for Middle School Algebra. Format of lessons given is direct instruction, independent practice, problem-solving, and project-based learning. Instruction may be that of a “flipped classroom”. The family may replace independent, “at home” work with textbook practice if required from their student’s charter school. Materials Required:
1 subject spiral-bound notebook, loose-leaf lined paper, pencil & eraser, scientific calculator (TI-30 suggested), and ruler. Pre-assessment is required for placement into a class. Independent work is expected; 2-3 hrs./wk. This is a full-year course of study. Instructor: Lyra Porcasi
. Max: 9 students.
MIDDLE SCHOOL ALGEBRA Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:30 SYLLABUS HERE
Students will be provided instruction specifically targeting algebra skills to build proficiency with key algebraic concepts, such as analyzing, using, and applying rational numbers; algebraic expressions; linear equations and functions; and appropriate geometric, probability and statistics concepts. This course will align closely with the 8th-grade math standards and is designed to prepare students for 9th-level Algebra 1. Format of lessons given is direct instruction, independent practice, problem-solving, and project-based learning. Instruction may be that of a “flipped classroom”. The family may replace independent, “at home” work with textbook practice if required from their student’s charter school. Materials Required:
1 subject spiral-bound notebook, loose-leaf lined paper, graph paper, pencil & eraser, scientific calculator (TI-30 suggested), and ruler.Pre-assessment is required for placement into a class. Independent work is expected; 2-3 hrs./wk. This is a full-year course of study. Instructor: Lyra Porcasi
. Max: 9 students.
ALGEBRA 1 Tuesday/Wednesday 9:00-10:30 SYLLABUS HERE
A high-school level class in the language and practice of math, aligned with the Common Core Standards for 9th-grade Algebra. This class will prepare students to successfully demonstrate their mastery of elementary algebra skills on high school placement tests. Equally important, this class will prepare students to use algebra to understand and solve real-world problems in math, science, and life. REQUIRED MATERIALS
: Glencoe Algebra 1 (2012 edition, ISBN: 9780076639236) and a graphing calculator (TI-84 Plus). Pre-assessment is required for placement into a class. Independent work is expected; 2-3 hrs./wk. This is a full-year course of study. Instructor: Tim Handley
. Max: 9 students
WEIRD MATH Thursday 11:00- 12:30 SYLLABUS HERE
This 90-minute class features small class size, individualized instruction, immediate feedback, and expansion of critical thinking and reasoning skills. Students will be provided instruction specifically in the areas of conditional statements and truth tables, syllogisms and validity, modular arithmetic, and types of reasoning. The included text (Flatland/Sphereland
by Edwin A. Abbott) will illustrate and explain Euclidean (2-dimensional) geometry and Spherical (3-dimensional) geometry in a unique, fun, and interesting way, with engaging characters and settings. The format of lessons given is direct instruction, independent practice, reading and text discussion, problem-solving, and project-based learning. Some independent work may be assigned. Instructor: Lyra Porcasi
. Max: 9 students
SYSTEMS & ECOSYSTEMS Tuesday 11:00- 12:30 SYLLABUS HERE
If life were simple, it would also be boring. So, thank goodness for complexity – the thousand petals of a sunflower, the trillion living pieces of the Earth’s biosphere, and the diverse voices around and within us all. Our world is made up of systems within systems within systems. It is a beautiful, bewildering, and complicated collection of interconnected and interdependent parts. It is a place where every action sparks multitudes of reactions – sometimes predictable, sometimes unpredictable, and sometimes even dangerous. In this class, we’ll dig into this complexity. We’ll explore true stories of action and reaction in the natural world, covering the hopeful history of wolves in Yellowstone, the unfinished story of California sea otters, and the subtly pernicious dangers of New Zealand mud snails. From these stories, we’ll extract general principles related to systems and systems thinking, and attempt to apply them to everyday life. Classes will include a mix of lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities. Some independent work may be assigned, up to 30 min/wk. Instructor: Tim Handley
. Max: 9 students.
LIGHT & BIOMIMICRY Thursday 9:00- 10:30 SYLLABUS HERE
This class will include hands-on experiments to learn how we gain energy from light. For example, to learn how we draw light from the sun, we’ll build models to represent how sunlight hitting the Earth creates daytime and provides heat and energy to our planet. Students will learn about Bioluminescence and the energy that all organisms have that can power light. This is a very fun, hands-on course! This is an excellent foundational course for students wanting to participate in the Ventura County Science Fair, which is an option in Sessions 2 and 3. Independent work may be assigned, about 30 min/week on average. Instructor: Laura Erlig
. Max: 12 students.
SEEDS & SPROUTS Friday 9:00- 10:45 SYLLABUS HERE
Students will create an edible class garden that will connect their learning to our healthy eating. Students will have an opportunity to plan what is needed to update a garden and plant for the season, working toward a sustainable, year-round garden. Lessons will include the importance of decomposers and composting, life science, soil composition, seeds, pollinators, pests, and careers in agriculture. Hands-on activities will include time to plant, care for the garden. A field trip to a local gardening center may be included. Some independent work may be assigned, up to 30 min/week on average. Independent work may be assigned, about 30 min/week on average. Instructor: Laura Erlig with Deneen Cienfugeos assisting
. Max: 10 students.
MAPPING THE WORLD Thursday, 9:00-10:30 SYLLABUS HERE
This full-year course
will allow students to immerse themselves in world geography, starting at any level. By the end of the year (IF
attending all four sessions and completing all assignments and independent practice), students will be able to draw a map of the world from memory
, on an equirectangular grid, and (dependent on his/her starting point of knowledge) will include most of the world’s 195 countries, major bodies of water, and major landforms. Like anything, the final product is determined by the time and effort
put into it, which begins in September! Lessons are taken from David Smith’s “Mapping the World by Heart” curriculum, as well as video and other sources, and will include the understanding of various maps, regions, climate, GPS, the spatial relationships of countries and continents to one another, and regional/cultural and historical information about MANY countries. Session 1 will focus on major world regions and the Americas
, with an independent country study presentation. Materials needed each week include a spiral notebook, folder, assignment notebook, sketchbook (at least 8 x 11″) and a pencil/pen (optional: a personal set of sharpened colored pencils). It is recommended that each student has his/her own physical world atlas and know how to use it
. Independent work is expected, about 2 hrs./week, and a culminating project in each session. This is a full-year course of study.
(Recommended: National Geographic Student World Atlas
, 2014 or newer) Instructor Lori Peters
has taught this unit many times before, and former students claim was one of the most beneficial projects they ever had. Max: 12 students
ANCIENT JOURNEYS Friday 9:00-10:45 SYLLABUS HERE
Students will acquire a broad overview of ancient history, with opportunities for more in-depth study. The lessons follow what is typically taught in 6th- grade
, but the course is open to 6th-8th graders (especially those who say they can’t remember what they learned!). Starting with a journey to Mesopotamia and ending in ancient Rome, each week students will “visit” important early civilizations, such as Egypt, Israel, China, India, Greece, and Rome– finding commonalities, differences, and connections. Each class will include an important reading segment on one ancient civilization, with a directed lesson of key points, video and/or an activity to bring the learning to life. Ancient world religions (polytheistic and monotheistic) will also be explored as related to civilization. Students’ reading level should be 6th-grade or above. Independent work is expected, about 2 hrs./week, and a culminating project. Instructor: Lori Peters
. Max: 10
AMERICAN NATIVE, Part 1 Thursday 1:30-2:45 SYLLABUS HERE
Today in the United States there are more than 500 federally recognized Indigenous nations compromising nearly 3 million people, descendants of the 15 million Native peoples who once inhabited this land. The centuries-long genocidal program of the U.S. settler-colonial regimen has largely been omitted from history. This course will begin in California with the local Chumash tribe and their coastal neighbors. We will explore the daily life and challenges the people faced as stewards of the land as well as the analysis of the U.S. governments invasion/occupation and theft of these people’s culture. We will also explore our fellow nations to the north: the Ohlone, Miwok, Washoe, and Pomo. And in the southwest: the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla (of Palm Springs) and move toward introducing Arizona and the Navajo, Dinétah. For each class, students will need a notebook, and folder for maps and handouts. Students will be expected to read all materials, submit after class observations/notations, engage in discussions and follow up with small assignments related to the day’s focus. Independent work may be assigned, about 30 min/week on average. Instructor: Sally Primm
. Max: 10
About Sally: Sally Primm has been working with One Spark students since 2014. Her classes have focused on conservationists, stewardship of planet earth, Native American stories and the US History that has been overlooked. She is a co-leader on the Board for FRIENDS of NAVAJOLAND and a volunteer with the National Parks Service at King Gillette Ranch Visitor Center in the Santa Monica Mountains. Originally from New York, she has lived in Thousand Oaks for 28 years where she and her husband Campion raised their three children.
VIEWPOINT: History Edition Thursday 11:00-12:30 OR Friday 9:00-10:45 SYLLABUS HERE
This course will look at a few events and movements in history that were met with controversy and a broad range of viewpoints. We will start with a lesson on media literacy, helping students understand what constitutes fact-based news, fakes news and propaganda, as well as the political bias ranking on various journalism news outlets. In addition, we will discuss how politics and media sway public opinion. Through discussion and research, students will determine their own viewpoint on the event after carefully weighing all sides. This will not be a debate class as much as it is a discussion class, and an opportunity to share informed perspectives with maturity and a willingness to hear others. A range of opinion is expected and welcomed! Possible topics for this session include the Equal Rights Amendment, the Civil Rights Movement and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Independent work may be assigned, about 30 min/week on average. Instructor: Melanie Ware
. Max 10.