Upper School students at AIM Academy actively engage in cultivating the skills necessary to excel in the 21st century. Our students think globally, make connections, create and collaborate every day through meaningful, interactive, research-based experiences. Not only is our Upper School curriculum mapped to the Common Core State Standards, aligned with IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards, and E. D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Curriculum, but we are also building interdisciplinary connections through the STEAM model. STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) has grown out of the federal education initiative STEM and reflects the philosophy of a growing number of professionals who recognize the importance of art and design in the thinking skills of 21st century learners.
Upper School English at AIM is both rigorous and engaging. All students in grades 9-11 participate in a 100-minute block each day dedicated to literature and writing. In addition, students receive literacy instruction with a specific focus on morphology, fluency, comprehension, metacognition, decoding and encoding in preparation for college level work.
Literature: AIM Upper School students read relevant, award-winning literature, which inspires powerful discussion and thoughtful, reflective writing. Exposure to both classics and contemporary literature that gets to the heart of modern issues is the focus. Examples include but are not limited to Animal Farm, MacBeth, Beowulf, Raisin in the Sun, Romeo and Juliet, Edith Hamilton's Mythology, Inherit the Wind, The Odyssey (Fagles Translation), The Alchemist and excerpts from Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories.
Writing: Students continue to engage in the steps of the writing process and refine their expressive skills in preparation for the demands of college-level writing. Our writing teachers implement current research-based practices, utilizing graphic organizers and technology to support the executive functioning skills necessary to generate a compelling piece of writing, whether it is in classic poetic forms or expository/persuasive text. Student progress is carefully measured monthly through the use of writing samples and rubrics.
Wilson®, Just Words®: For some students who still require explicit instruction in word study, decoding and/or spelling, we continue to offer daily Wilson and Just Words instruction, delivered with fidelity. Students who have “graduated” from Wilson programs, progress to one of AIM’s newer courses, Advanced Word Study and Research Writing in Content Areas. These courses provide an in-depth study of language structures and harness morphology skills to strengthen their comprehension of the vocabulary necessary for advanced reading and writing.
Latin I & Latin II
As a component of our language progression, we offer two years of Latin. While many schools have abandoned the study of Latin, the research behind the benefits for students with language-based learning differences is profound. Latin provides students with a deeper understanding of the English language and builds bridges between all of their previous language instruction.
Math is often a favorite subject at AIM due to the use of multi-sensory, individualized and rigorous instruction. Our math teachers use the extensive research of the NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) to drive the focus of their instruction. We continue to approach concepts from a conceptual level and build toward the more abstract procedures.
Math Courses Include:
Vital research in literacy instruction, matched with the STEAM model helps bring science to life in a very unique and profound way for our Upper School students. Side by side with the traditional coursework, students are learning and innovating by building indoor irrigation systems and recycling plastic bags into useful (even marketable) products. They also make connections between science and the arts that have opened up many opportunities for interdisciplinary project-based work surrounding current issues facing our world today. In addition to high school dissections and chemistry labs our students delve deeply into the language of science through the exploration of morphology.
Science Courses Include:
Robotics: VEX Robotics Design System provides an exciting platform for Upper School students to explore science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). Students learn the science and engineering principles behind developing a VEX Robotics project. The process facilitates important lessons in collaborative learning and encourages leadership and problem solving among groups. We belong to a growing number of high schools and universities around the globe that build VEX labs into their science coursework.
Upper School students engage in the study of American and World History through close analysis of both primary and secondary text resources, project-based assignments, and the use of cross-curricular connections. Previously learned strategies for text reading, note taking, and assessment are reinforced and utilized. Through the use of literary connections, technology, visiting experts, and field trips, we engage our students in meaningful inquiry-based research and analysis. Research shows that this depth of knowledge secures enduring understandings.
History Courses Include:
At AIM technology use is cutting edge. Each of our high school students has a Macbook loaded with research-based assistive software, including: Don Johnston's SOLO Suite, Read Naturally and Fast Math. Additionally, our students use a variety of web-based programs such as Google Applications (Earth, Docs, Forms, Sites, Sketch-up, Scribe, etc.), CAST, Storybird, Glogster, Edmodo, Many Eyes, I-Flash, Geometer’s Sketchpad, Timeliner, Prezi, Scratch, Sumo Paint, Garage Band, and Diigo. In addition to our 1:1 laptop program, teachers and students use SmartBoards throughout the school to foster interactive, meaningful learning experiences across the curricular areas of reading, writing, math, science and history. We also have a fully equipped graphics space in the Global Resource Center complete with brand-new 27 inch iMacs loaded with full animation/graphics capabilities, Canon digital SLR cameras, Canon digital video cameras, large format printers, large format scanners, and a Mediascape (a six-person collaborative digital workstation).
AIM offers a wide variety of electives that focus on the fine arts, performing arts, creative literary arts and more:
Travel plays an important role in making rich connections to the curriculum and contributing to a wealth of background knowledge. Various interdisciplinary trips and optional travel opportunities include:
During In-Focus Weeks, students select from a list of weeklong intensive workshops that are designed to capture their curiosity or tap into their talents. There are a broad range of subjects to choose from including Long-distance Cycling, S.T.E.A.M. Workshop, Somatic Poetry, Photography, Digital Game Design to name a few. In-Focus Week workshops are taught in small groups, held during the regular school day and geared toward student interests. Most Upper School workshops are held off-campus, but AIM provides transportation.