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Accelerated Algebra I

This course explores the math discipline of algebra and builds a strong foundation of skills in preparation for advanced upper school math courses. As compared to Algebra I - 8, this course moves at a faster pace, covers more topics in greater depth, and requires students to apply their understanding of the topics to more complicated and abstract concepts and situations. Topics covered go beyond quadratic functions and include exponential, radical, and rational functions. (Open to students who have completed Pre-Algebra with a minimum grade of A, and with permission of the Mathematics Department.)

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Accelerated Chemistry

Mathematical Chemistry is a rigorous introductory course that covers both conceptual and analytical aspects of general chemistry. Major topics include atomic structure, chemical bonding, phase changes, solutions, chemical reactions, thermodynamics, kinetics, general equilibrium, acid-base equilibrium, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Emphasis is placed on developing problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, particularly in quantitative analysis. Laboratory work is an integral part of the course and is designed to both reinforce the concepts covered in class and provide experience with specific laboratory techniques. This course prepares students for the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Art History

This AP course is an in-depth study of the major achievements in the field of visual arts from pre-history to the present and from a variety of cultures. Art is one of the earliest and most significant of human activities. The impulse to make art has given us a window into centuries-old cultures, as well as a mirror into ourselves. The goal of this course is to enrich the students’ understanding of the roles of art and architecture and their impact on cultural advancement and cultural expression, both past and present. While AP Art History does not assume prior related coursework, it does require a high degree of commitment to academic work with significant independent preparation through extensive reading, writing, and analysis of visual art. Readings, essay writing, oral reports, projects, and required field trips to local cultural institutions encourage students to investigate movements or artists that interest them. Students who have done well in other courses in the humanities, such as history and literature, or in any of the studio arts, are especially encouraged to enroll. Students are required to take the AP exam in May.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Biology

This course is the equivalent of a general college biology course and is designed to be taken only after successful completion of a year-long introductory high school chemistry course and biology course. It follows the AP Laboratory Curriculum and covers a broad range of subjects taught through the lenses of four concepts: evolution, energetics, information storage, and transmission and systems interactions. These ideas are the unifying threads that run throughout the course, allowing students a variety of contexts to develop deeper conceptual understandings. All students are required to take the AP exam in May. 

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Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus AB

This course covers the differential and integral calculus of real functions, including algebraic, trigonometric, and transcendental functions. Application problems include maxima/minima, velocity and acceleration, related rates, area, volumes of revolution, slope fields, and separable differentiable equations. Students are required to take the AP exam in May.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus BC

In addition to the topics of AP Calculus AB, this course covers area using polar coordinates, lengths of curves, surface area, applications for physics, parametric equations, vectors, further methods of integration, infinite series, and first-order differential equations. Students are required to take the AP exam in May.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Chemistry

This course is the equivalent of a general college chemistry course and is designed to be taken only after successful completion of a year-long introductory high school chemistry course. A demanding laboratory program is an important part of this course and students must make an additional time commitment to it. All students are required to take the AP exam in May.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science A

The AP Computer Science A course is a year-long, college-level course. It introduces the key concepts and techniques of object-oriented programming in Java. It is designed with the idea that programming should be fun, engaging, and intuitive. Students explore various programming topics by working through increasingly involved projects where they develop sound problem-solving approaches and come to understand the interrelation between and proper use of programming tools. The course prepares students for the AP Computer Science A exam in May, and students are required to take that exam.

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Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and Composition

Why do some advertisements succeed while others fail? Why does one political candidate’s speech convince us when her opponent’s does not? Why are some college essays and job applications more effective than others? In this challenging course, we answer such questions through rhetorical analysis, studying how authors communicate within particular contexts. We investigate authors’ purposes, audiences’ expectations, genre conventions, historical and political situations, and all of the other elements that affect the writing and reading of texts. Students learn not only to understand others’ rhetorical strategies, but also to effectively use such strategies themselves. Reading assignments emphasize non-fiction from a variety of historical periods and include both visual and written texts. This course is the equivalent of an introductory composition course offered at most colleges.

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Advanced Placement (AP) European History

In this course, students examine five themes as they are exemplified in modern European history: Interaction of Europe and the World, Poverty and Prosperity, Objective Knowledge and Subjective Visions, States and Other Institutions of Power, and Individual and Society. While the chronological framework of European history has been retained in this revised College Board curriculum, reasoning skills such as comparison, contextualization, and causation are used to support analysis of historical evidence and argument development. Students make a commitment to significant independent preparation through extensive reading during the summer and throughout the year. Students are required to take the AP exam in May.

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Advanced Placement (AP) French IV Language and Culture

The French IV AP course is designed to prepare students for the rigorous Advanced Placement French Language and Culture exam. The course emphasizes language skills through discussion, focusing on listening and reading comprehension, speaking, and writing. It prepares and further develops skills required on the AP exam. These consist of the three modes of communication as defined in Standards for Language Learning in the 21st Century: interpretative, interpersonal, and presentational. Through thematic and authentic materials from the contemporary Francophone world, students learn language structures in context and use them to convey meaning. Materials for the course are designed specifically in preparation of the thematic elements presented on the exam. Through interactive media, students read a number of short stories from Francophone authors and view authentic media and broadcasts from French-speaking countries. Students also produce their own written and oral presentations in order to strengthen interpersonal communication and presentational skills. Students benefit from regular use of the Language Lab where oral and listening exercises help facilitate understanding. Students are required to take the AP exam in May.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Physics C (Mechanics)

This course is the equivalent of a semester-long, general college physics course and is designed to be taken only after successful completion of a year-long introductory high school physics course. AP Physics C uses calculus to examine Newtonian Mechanics. Topics include linear kinematics and dynamics, rotational kinematics and dynamics, energy, gravitation, and periodic motion. All students are required to take the AP Physics C (Mechanics) exam in May.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish IV Language

This course emphasizes language skills largely through discussion, focusing on speaking, listening comprehension, reading, and writing. Spanish IV AP closely follows the content, format, and expectations of the Advanced Placement exam that all students are required to take in May. Materials designed specifically for this exam form the core of the course work. Among the activities, students read a variety of short stories and novels by contemporary Spanish and Latin American authors in order to improve their reading comprehension, reinforce grammatical structure, and improve their vocabulary. Through a variety of interactive media, students are able to both listen to authentic materials, as well as produce their own in order to strengthen their interpersonal and interpretive communication skills. AP students also benefit from the Language Lab for oral and listening exercises that help them attain fluency. Students are required to take the AP exam in May. Students enrolled in Spanish IV are eligible for participation in the Spanish exchange program.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish V Literature

Representative Spanish and Latin American literary works are the focus of this course. The readings reflect the various genres and periods of literary history, ranging from medieval to postwar and magic realism. Students develop skills in literary analysis and increase their power to speak and write literary Spanish. Students are given many opportunities to write analytical essays and give oral presentations. The course culminates with the required AP Spanish Literature exam. Students enrolled in Spanish V are eligible for participation in the Spanish exchange program.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Statistics

This course covers the mathematics of gathering and analyzing data and drawing inferences from data. Topics include sampling techniques, the normal distribution, probability, linear correlation, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. Students use a graphing calculator. Students are required to take the AP exam in May.

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Advanced Placement (AP) Studio Art

This course is intended for highly-motivated students committed to the serious study of art. Throughout the year, students prepare a portfolio in two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, or drawing, and their work is submitted to the AP program in May. The portfolio includes a minimum of 29 works of art that are assessed in three categories: quality, breadth, and concentration. Art projects and assignments are determined by the requirements of each student's portfolio with the consideration of the artwork she completed prior to enrolling in the course. AP Studio Art does not count as a fourth major but does count as a fifth major.

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Advanced Placement (AP) United States History

In this demanding course, students focus on reading, writing, and document analysis as they explore the roots and impact of major social, political, and economic trends throughout United States history. This course requires a depth and breadth of study designed to challenge students to seek causal relationships between historical events, as well as gain a deeper understanding of the United States within a global context. It requires extensive summer preparation, student participation, outside reading, and writing assignments. Students are required to take the AP exam in May.

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Advanced Topics in Math (Honors)

This honors-level course is intended for the student who wants to further her study of mathematics outside of Calculus. The list of topics taught in this course changes on a year-to-year basis and may include compass and straightedge constructions, proof techniques and strategies, complex variables, number theory, abstract algebra, probability and combinatorics, and linear algebra.

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African Area Studies

This course surveys selected topics in the historical development of Africa from the ancient Nile civilizations to the recent struggles of African peoples, first to win independence from colonial powers and then to build new and stable political, economic, and social institutions. After an introduction to the geography and demography of Africa, students examine African cultural organization and values in the context of a broader discussion about culture. Films and readings inform a study of family and gender relationships, tradition and modernity, and the individual and the community. Selected topics in history form the major part of the course, including ancient Nubia, the early kingdoms of West Africa, Great Zimbabwe and Aksum, the Atlantic slave trade, European colonialism, and African independence. Over the course of the year, students examine historical and contemporary politics, economics, art, and literature in several regions of Africa with an in-depth look at one particular country of their choosing. They look at and interpret primary and secondary source documents using analytical papers, engage in debates, daily discussions, as well as complete interpretive projects. Students will also have the opportunity to engage in shared learning and teaching experiences as part of an ongoing collaboration with South Africa’s Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academic for Girls.

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Afternoon Community Service Program for Fitness/Athletics Credit

Students may participate in the Afternoon Community Service Program in lieu of one trimester of Fitness/Athletics. The Afternoon Community Service Program takes place on Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 2:15 to 5:45 p.m. As a group, students work together with a faculty member at a predetermined local service agency. Students may only participate in the Afternoon Community Service Program once per academic year, and sophomores participating in the Afternoon Community Service Program may not count these hours towards completion of the community service graduation requirement.

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Afternoon Fitness

In this course, students may choose to participate in a variety of cardiovascular or sports-related activities. Options may include circuit training, walking/jogging, weight training, strength and conditioning, rock climbing, and yoga.

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A History of Dance in the United States

In this course, students will explore various aspects of and experiences in dance in the United States through discussion, analysis, writing, and other academic projects. We will trace dances of early indigenous groups and enslaved Africans, as well as minstrelsy and the vaudeville era, and examine the ways in which these early traditions have influenced and are reflected in today’s culture, especially current practices in dance. The curriculum will also include an investigation of notable and diverse ballet, modern, post-modern, and diasporic dance throughout history, employing a critical lens of equity and inclusivity. Continuing to use this lens, we will deconstruct prevalent contemporary issues in dance around race, gender, and body image. Students will draw from text, film, and live performance throughout the year. This course meets during the academic day. (Open to students in grades 9-12. Full-year. ½ credit.)

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Algebra I

This course is an upper school-level algebra course that explores algebraic concepts through quadratic functions. Topics include algebraic expressions, equations, inequalities, functions (linear, absolute value, and quadratic), systems of equations and inequalities, rules of exponents, and polynomials. An emphasis is placed on graphing and problem-solving skills. Because students often work in groups, they have ample opportunities to explain their reasoning while also being exposed to various approaches. Students also learn to use the graphing capabilities of their calculators. (Open to students who have completed Pre-Algebra with a minimum grade of B-, and with permission of the Mathematics Department.)

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Algebra I

This course covers traditional first-year algebra topics with applications in the context of real-world problems. Topics include properties of real numbers, exponents, linear equations and inequalities, linear systems, graphing, functions, factoring, polynomials, and solving quadratic equations.

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Algebra II

This course continues to develop the students’ algebraic skills and introduces elementary functions. Linear, absolute value, quadratic and polynomial, and rational, functions are explored both with and without the use of a graphing calculator. Additional topics include inverses, complex numbers, powers, radicals, inequalities, systems of equations, and SAT preparatory work.

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Algebra II Honors

This course covers all of the topics of Algebra II, as well as a great deal of material from Precalculus. Topics such as quadratic, polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, sequences and series, combinations, permutations, probability, and conics are studied in detail. These functions are explored with attention to graphing, evaluating, simplifying, solving, and modeling, both with and without the use of the calculator. This course incorporates the applications of mathematical topics and focuses on the comprehension of theoretical concepts.

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Algebra II with Applications

This course continues to develop the students’ algebraic skills and introduces elementary functions with attention to graphing, evaluating, simplifying, solving, and modeling. Linear, absolute value, piecewise, quadratic, polynomial, rational, radical, exponential, and logarithmic functions are explored both with and without the use of a graphing calculator. Other topics include inequalities, inverses, complex numbers, systems of equations, sequences, series, counting methods, and probability.

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Alternative Courses in the Performing Arts Department for Fitness/Athletics Credit

Dana Hall is committed to providing opportunities for students to engage in both athletics and dramatic productions during their years at the School. Students are best served if their commitment to both athletics and dramatic productions are appropriate and reasonable within the larger context of their academic program and other extracurricular activities. Students playing a team sport may not participate in the Fall Play or Spring Musical/Dance.

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American Identities

This course explores the multiple ways that “Americans” have defined themselves since World War II. Developed at the University of Massachusetts-Boston to introduce undergraduates to the American Studies major, this college-level seminar examines the struggle over American national, ethnic, racial, class, gender, and sexual identities through a wide range of historical “texts” produced by historians, novelists, documentary filmmakers, singer/songwriters, political activists, and artists. Students pay special attention to where they fit within these “American Identities” by writing a three-to-four generation family history and time line, linking their family’s history to the political, social, and cultural events studied in the course. All students are welcome to enroll in this course, regardless of national identity. Students are responsible for all course topics and materials, regardless of personal, political, or religious “taste” for the subject.

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Architecture I

In this course, students learn the basics of architectural planning. Emphasis is placed on the creative exploration of ideas and on concepts including, function, form, scale, and spatial relationships. Projects involve planning an ideal personal space and designing a modern wing on a traditional building chosen from a list that reflects many different cultures. Students learn the fundamentals of architectural drawing, and reference is made to architectural traditions of the past and present. In the second half of the year, students design and build a model of their environmentally-conscious “Dream House.”

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Architecture II/III

This course allows students who have taken Architecture I to continue their work in architectural planning. Projects are determined by student interest, but involve both drawings and a model. Previous projects have included landscape design, a plan for a future building on campus, a design for a community, an interior design converting a garage into an apartment, and a design for a business. In the second half of the year, projects are developed using ArchiCAD, a computer-aided design program. The development of ideas, close work with the instructor, and group discussion are all part of the process.

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ArtLAB

The goal of this hands-on studio course is to create work inspired by the art of the 21st century. Students with various interests, from sculpture and painting to filmmaking and public art, work on individually chosen themes in a class where the emphasis is on the development of ideas and experimentation with materials. Large-scale murals, found-object sculptures, and installation art are just a few examples of possible collaborative and individual projects that may be undertaken, in addition to new approaches in painting, sculpture, and photography. Students develop their own projects based on their personal interests from a wide range of starting points, including, for instance, related to global issues and social justice, science and nature, and music and dance. Students also work with Artists-in-Residence in the Dana Art Gallery, as well as with other visiting artists. Filmmaking is a key part of the course as students interested in film create documentary films based on the process and development of projects over the course of the year.

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Astronomy and Natural Science

This course helps students understand and appreciate the physical phenomena of the everyday world that surrounds them, including constellations in the night sky, moon phases, eclipses, comets, composition of the Earth, glaciers, and tornadoes and hurricanes. The curriculum contains aspects of meteorology, paleontology, oceanography, and physical geography, with the main focus on geology and astronomy. Astronomy and Natural Science is taught in a lab/lecture format.

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Being Human: Literature of the Monstrous and the Humane (AP English Literature and Composition)

What does it mean to be human? To be a monster? Can one be both? In this course we will read classic and contemporary works of literature that explore these questions, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, with its created “human’; Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, in which a boarding school is more than it seems; Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Aimé Césaire’s A Tempest, in which the colonized subject is framed as monstrous. Along the way we’ll visit with vampires, werewolves, cyborgs, witches, the golem (a huge, animated clay figure that protects its creator), scientific experiments gone awry, and monsters galore.

(Open to students in grade 12 after consultation with the student’s advisor and current English teacher, and with permission of the Department Head. Full year. 1 credit.)

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Biology (Molecular or Ecological)

These courses present a thorough survey of our living world through scientific inquiry. Major biological topics are presented in this comprehensive program that incorporates projects, field trips, technology-based research, and laboratory activities that enhance individualized learning. Building on the students’ prior knowledge of chemistry, both the Molecular and Ecological Biology courses provide students with a broad and detailed understanding of modern Biology. Molecular Biology stresses molecular and biochemical concepts while Ecological Biology places greater emphasis on ecological and environmental topics.

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Calculus

This course focuses on the fundamental concepts of differential calculus, including limits, derivatives, and derivative applications. It introduces the concept of integration with applications that includes finding the area under a curve and the area between two curves.

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Ceramics I

In Ceramics I, students begin their ceramics education by learning the basic rules and techniques of working with clay. Students are introduced to the fundamentals of hand-building with a focus on pinch, coil, and slab methods of construction. Students also learn to throw and trim small vessels on the wheel, and they cover the basics of high-fire and low-fire glazing. They have the opportunity to express their individual style within the guidelines of the assigned projects.

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Ceramics II/III

As students continue their education in ceramics, they build upon their knowledge of clay and further explore the various methods of glazing. They work to refine their hand-building and throwing techniques to make both functional and sculptural pieces. Attention to detail and aesthetic quality play a significant role in the creation of each piece. Students have the opportunity to challenge themselves in new and inventive ways with each project. Ceramics III students may propose and design an independent project of their choice using a combination of learned techniques.

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Chamber Ensembles

Chamber Ensembles are open to all students who have a minimum of three years of study on their instrument. All chamber music students must also receive weekly private instruction for their instrument. Chamber Ensemble Groups learn and perform works in a variety of styles, flexibly arranged to accommodate different playing levels and instrumentation. Groups are led by music faculty members, and students may participate as a pre-formed ensemble (duo, trio, or quartet) or are placed in an appropriate group dependent upon performance level and instrument. Groups meet once per week at the Dana Hall School of Music. All chamber groups are expected to rehearse on their own a minimum of one time per week for at least 60 minutes. As a course requirement, chamber ensembles perform together at least one time per academic year, and there are several performance opportunities throughout the year from which to choose. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Chamber Singers

Chamber Singers is open by audition to students who possess fine vocal and musicianship abilities and are committed to high performance standards. The group performs a challenging repertoire from a variety of styles ranging from classical to modern. Students strengthen musicianship skills through a variety of exercises intended to develop healthy vocal technique and abilities in improvisation, singing alone and in ensemble, sight-reading tonal and rhythm patterns, and singing melodies at sight. Emphasis is on strong vocal technique and creating expression through music. This group performs frequently at convocations, choral concerts, and other special school functions, including performances with the Chorus and with choirs from other schools. Attendance at many of these events, and the rehearsals leading up to them, is required. Group size is limited to 15-18 singers. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Chemistry

Chemistry is a fundamental introductory course that focuses on the conceptual aspects of general chemistry and supports them with basic analytical methods and mathematical calculations. Major topics include atomic structure, chemical bonding, phase changes, solutions, chemical reactions, thermodynamics, kinetics, general equilibrium, and acid-base equilibrium. This course aims to work through a student's conceptual understanding of the material while using problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to support her understanding. Laboratory work is used to reinforce the concepts covered in class and provide exposure to specific laboratory techniques.

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Chemistry Honors

Designed for the strong math/science student, this course covers the content of Accelerated Chemistry more rigorously and extensively. It provides a strong foundation for further advanced study in the sciences. In Chemistry Honors, students are expected to work independently on a variety of assignments and accept greater responsibility for their learning. Students should be able to apply skills gained previously to new situations.

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Chorus

The Upper School Chorus is a large ensemble that sings a wide variety of musical styles consisting of classical, musical theatre, spirituals, contemporary popular music, and music from different cultures in various languages. Members of the Chorus do not need prior musical experience; the Chorus consists of students of varying musical abilities from beginner to advanced. Students are taught the basic principles of singing, including proper breathing and posture, and they receive training in reading music, sight-singing, and solfège. Students sing unison, two-, three-, and four-part music, both accompanied and a cappella. Class is held during the academic day, but there are opportunities for performances at convocations and concerts throughout the school year. Attendance at many of these events, and the rehearsals leading up to them, is required. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Classic Greek

Latin students who have achieved distinction and have an interest in Greek influences on Latin literature may pursue independent study of classical Greek.

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Comparative Politics

With an emphasis human political behavior and decision making, students engage in a thorough exploration of the irrefutable relationship between the world’s economic and political systems. Using both historical and contemporary examples, this course takes a comparative approach to political science, offering students the opportunity to view the world’s systems from the perspectives of not only the political actors themselves, but also the people whom they represent. Daily class discussions grapple with questions pertaining to political culture, theory and ideology, the organization and function of government institutions, and the dual influence that exists between the people and their governments, all within the context of the economic forces that serve to drive and direct political activities. In the winter, students complete a trimester-long policy-analysis project in which they choose a global political or economic issue to research, identify policies that have been created to address the chosen issue, analyze and critique these policies, and develop recommendations for future policy action based on findings.

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Conceptual Physics / Physics 9

These laboratory courses provide a strong foundation for upper-level science courses. They familiarize students with the tools, skills, and language of the physical sciences as well as the thorough integration of mathematics and science. Through experimentation, class discussion, and projects, students learn the concepts of Newtonian mechanics, work, energy, electricity, and magnetism. Students also gain an understanding of the processes of scientific inquiry, experimental design, and data analysis. Together, the skills and knowledge taught in these courses prepare students for the study of all aspects of natural science. The Science Department assigns students to Conceptual Physics or Physics 9 based on a placement test as well as on the basis of previous mathematics and science background.

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Creating Character: An Acting and Costume Design Workshop

Well-regarded acting techniques, such as Viewpoints movement and Linklater voice technique, are studied to help students become more confident, flexible, and creative thinkers and performers. While learning the principles of movement, voice, character, and scene study for an actor, students work on audition and polished performance pieces. The principles of costume design for the stage are also explored and experienced, from research, design concept, and sketching to hand-stitching techniques, alterations, and fittings. Themes and plays for the course alternate and cover a wide range of style and genre, prompting students to engage with diverse voices and movements in theatre, which in turn open windows to our world in both the past and the present. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years in order to collaborate with a new cohort of artists, develop a portfolio of costume designs, and perform for a variety of audiences.

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Creative Writing: Found Voices

In this workshop-style course, students discover what they have to say as they explore how to say it. As students read and write memoirs, short stories, essays, and screenplays, they develop a deeper understanding of their own preoccupations, personal symbols, and ways of seeing the world—and how these shape their writer's voices. Exercises in fiction writing give students a working understanding of dialogue, character, image, point of view, and structure. Memoir assignments invite students to explore the uses of narration and reflection, the distinction between public and private writing, and the variety of tones and registers available to them. Screenwriting projects focus on concept development and the arc of the hero’s journey. Students write one to three short assignments per week and are expected to embrace the process of revision – that is, to discover ways to close the gaps between what they think they want to say, what they actually want to say, and what they do say. Emphasis is placed on class participation with a focus on the art of giving and receiving feedback. Readings include works by Baldwin, Carver, Chandler, Danticat, Kincaid, Lahiri, Mansfield, Walker, Wallace, and Woolf.

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Current Topics in Science: Science and Society

This course allows students to explore the topics making science headlines through reading, laboratory investigation, case studies, research projects, and student presentations. Scientific argumentation is focused on in the course. Students will propose, support, and evaluate claims; validate or refute them on the basis of scientific reasoning, and craft complex written arguments. Students will practice analyzing and evaluating models and data sets in order to make claims they can back up with evidence. Specific units vary from year to year but may include climate change, infectious disease, forensic science, genetic engineering, marine biology, psychology, and neuroscience. (Open to students who have completed any level of both Biology and Chemistry, or with permission of the Department Head. Full year. 1 credit.)

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Dance I

This level is for students with minimal or no background in dance. This course emphasizes dance appreciation and fundamental skills building. Classes include barre exercises, warmups in the center, stretches, and cardiovascular exercises, as well as combinations across the floor. Each week, students in Dance I take one class in Ballet, Jazz, or Modern (see below), as well as at least one additional class in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, or Hip-Hop. Students enrolled in Dance I have the opportunity to perform in dance showings held in the fall and spring trimesters. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Dance II

This level is for the intermediate dancer who has some dance background. Classes include barre exercises, warmups in the center, stretches, and cardiovascular exercises, as well as combinations across the floor. Each week, students in Dance II take one class in Ballet, Jazz, or Modern (see below), as well as at least one additional class in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, or Hip-Hop. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Dance III

This level provides fast-moving, advanced classes for students with a strong dance background. Classes include barre exercises, warmups in the center, stretches, and cardiovascular exercises, as well as combinations across the floor. Each week, students in Dance III take a class in Ballet, as well as at least one additional class in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, or Hip-Hop (see below). Dance III students are also invited, but not required, to participate in Dance Repertory Group, and all have the opportunity to perform in informal and formal dance showings throughout the school year. To enrich the dance experience, guest artists are occasionally invited to teach master classes in various dance styles. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Dance Levels

The following is a sequential program designed to build dancers’ skills and create awareness of dance as an art form. At each level, these courses examine dance technique, styles, anatomy, and creative expression. The classes may be taken to fulfill the Fitness/Athletics requirement. Placement is determined by the Director of Dance at the start of the school year.

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Dance Repertory Group

An audition-based choreography, rehearsal, and performance course, this ensemble for advanced dancers focuses on performance skills, compositional tools with which to develop choreography, and the production of informal and formal concerts. Students in this course occasionally have the opportunity to perform in pieces created by guest choreographers. Dance Repertory Group students must be enrolled in Dance III. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Daytime Fitness

Students are introduced to all aspects of fitness, including cardiovascular fitness, nutrition, weight training, and stretching exercises. Circuit training, target heart rate, and individual programs are emphasized. The goal is for each student to learn lifelong fitness skills. This course is offered during the academic day.

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Drawing and Painting I

This course is designed for students interested in learning how to draw and paint in a ‘realistic’ manner. Through class exercises and extended projects, students strengthen their drawing skills through direct observation of natural and inorganic objects, focusing on proportion and spatial relationships. A variety of wet and dry media is then introduced to expand the students’ understanding of form and tone through shading. Painting projects in watercolor, gouache, and acrylics are then introduced as students explore composition, color relationships, expression, and the further representation of three-dimensional form.

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Drawing and Painting II/III

This course is offered to intermediate and advanced art students. In Drawing and Painting II, students continue the art of drawing and painting with an emphasis on the refinement of skills and the development of content. Through a combination of observational, expressive, and conceptual approaches, students explore a variety of wet and dry media, including conte, graphite, watercolor, and oil. Regular critiques allow students to examine their own work and explore visual language. Drawing and Painting III encourages individual development of personal imagery. Students focus on an in-depth study of drawing or painting within the classroom setting and work individually with the teacher to develop a theme or topic that they explore through a series of works. This course includes regular in-class critiques. Students learn how to prepare and submit a portfolio for college admission.

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East Asian Area Studies

East Asian Area Studies focuses on understanding the histories and cultures of China and Japan as a means to understanding their current successes and challenges as modern nations. Students begin the year with a thorough study of fundamental philosophical, religious, social, and political structures that originated in, or impacted, the civilization centers of China proper. Students study Confucianism, Buddhism, and Legalism in order to build a strong foundational knowledge of the traditional Han Chinese worldview and its impact on neighboring civilizations. The year continues with an in-depth look at the evolution of Japanese traditional culture and its debt to intellectual and social developments from ancient Korean kingdoms and China. The independent development of Japanese society during the Edo Period is also explored and complemented with a study of contemporary developments in Qing Dynasty China with a focus on how these two countries developed in the early modern era. This is followed with an examination of the transformative effects Western Europe and the United States had on China and Japan during the 19th and early-20th centuries. The course concludes with a survey of the tumultuous 20th century and the forces that created the People’s Republic of China, as well as a globally-influential Japan. These studies will include regular exploration of the literary and artistic traditions of China and Japan as valuable windows into the richness of these cultures. Students also study current issues of importance to East Asia as a whole and use online mapping technology to complement that learning experience.

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Economics

Economics is a social science concerned with how individuals and groups make decisions on the best use of limited resources. This course examines economic principles and theory, including microeconomics, macroeconomics, international economics and economic development, and behavioral economics. Students encounter a wide range of topics, including how individuals make purchasing decisions, how business firms decide to bring new products to market, how governments attempt to stabilize the economy, and how developing countries try to promote economic growth. The course makes extensive use of project-based learning and it cultivates 21st-century skills, including problem finding/problem solving, collaboration, and creative thinking.

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English 5

Fifth-grade English builds the foundational skills and strategies for reading comprehension and written expression that will serve students throughout their middle school years. Students strengthen both literal and inferential reading comprehension as they read selected works of fiction. Students also read poems, myths, and non-fiction texts related to the ancient civilizations that they explore in Social Studies. As the fifth grade strives to build an inclusive, safe community, students explore issues related to class, privilege, prejudice, bullying, and friendship in their discussions of literature. Writing instruction draws upon students’ enthusiasm for self-expression, providing many opportunities for students to develop their skills as expository and creative writers. Mentor texts serve as inspiration for students to explore, critique, and write poetry. Grammar, vocabulary, and spelling are taught as tools that foster effective communication and expression.

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English 6

The English 6 curriculum includes the study of literature, creative and expository writing, vocabulary development, and grammar skills. Students read literature in a variety of genres, including fantasy, realistic modern fiction, historical fiction, and poetry. While studying novels, students explore theme, character development, foreshadowing, and conflict; while studying poetry, they discuss structure, theme, tone, and the author’s message. Students read two books of their own choosing each trimester and discuss them in informal book talks with the Middle School librarian. Throughout the year, students write stories and poems, incorporating the literary elements studied in class. Students also write beginning essays based on the literature and learn to defend a point of view with supporting details and examples. Vocabulary development has two goals: students learn new words from the literature read in class, with the emphasis on improving reading comprehension, and they study Greek and Latin roots. In grammar and skills lessons, students identify parts of speech and review basic writing conventions. In all these activities, the development of critical thinking is fostered, along with a love for literature and the written word in all its forms.

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English 7

The English 7 curriculum includes the study of literature, creative and expository writing, vocabulary development, and grammar skills. Texts studied correspond to the theme of “finding your voice.” Students read and report on free-choice reading selections regularly. Writing instruction focuses on the writing process, from gathering ideas and drafting outlines to following assigned structures and using evidence from the text to support ideas. There is an emphasis on revision and editing, both independently and in a workshop setting. Creative writing opportunities include poetry that students compose and organize into digital portfolios that they share with the community. Vocabulary lessons focus on words from the assigned texts and build on previous work with Greek and Latin word roots; lessons are completed through an online, game-based vocabulary learning tool. Grammar lessons build on previous knowledge and are taught in the context of writing and vocabulary learning.

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English 8

The English 8 curriculum includes the study of literature with an emphasis on close reading and analysis. Texts studied correspond to the theme of “finding your place.” Students also read classic short stories, a Shakespeare play, and free-choice selections. Writing assignments invite students to undertake creative and personal writing in addition to analytical and persuasive writing. Projects include interdisciplinary Shakespeare performance pieces and autobiographical speeches written for the end-of-year Moving Up Ceremony. Vocabulary lessons focus on words from the assigned texts and build on previous work with Greek and Latin word roots; lessons are completed through an online, game-based vocabulary learning tool. Grammar lessons help students identify and correct common errors as they compose more sophisticated sentences.

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Epics and Sagas: Storytelling in Film and Television

Film and television have been strongly associated with narrative from the beginning, a history that this course will explore. The first half of the year provides an overview of the contributions of people (Edison, the Lumière brothers, and Méliès) and movements (German expressionism and Russian montage) in shaping the language of film. Through readings, film screenings, and analytical writing assignments, students will learn to better understand this language, considering how the elements of cinematography and screenwriting shape a given story. The second half of the year will explore the emergence of television, with a focus on how digital technology and streaming TV has changed the conventions of--and our expectations for--stories. Because of the increase in consumer demand for serialized, long-form storytelling, for heroes’ journeys that unfold over several seasons, screenwriters today are creating stories with roots in and similarities to epics and sagas that are centuries old. In the spring, students will create their own serialized TV shows, from concept to outline to one-hour pilot, and they will have the opportunity to pitch their projects to guest industry professionals. Works studied may include Un Chien Andalou; Meshes of the Afternoon; Potemkin; It (1927); Casablanca; Imitation of Life (1934, 1959); Breathless; Thelma and Louise; Spirited Away; The Elements Trilogy (Fire, Earth, and Water);  Moonlight; Coco; Get Out; Parasite; Riverdale; and The Morning Show. Other texts may include Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need; The Hero With A Thousand Faces; and Beowulf. (Open to students in grade 12. Full-year. 1 credit.)

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Europe in the 20th Century

This elective course examines the history and culture of Europe between 1900 and the present. Students learn about a Europe divided by World War II into two worlds – one that produced World War II and one that emerged from the War. Specific topics include the two devastating world wars, the twin challenges of fascism and communism, a cold war waged under the specter of a nuclear cloud, the development of the European Union, and the fundamental challenges to civilization’s ideals posed by the Holocaust. The emphasis is on the ability to analyze, evaluate, and express an understanding of documentary evidence, literature, film, and conflicting historical interpretations of the major topics. Writing is a central component of the course.

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Exploring Design I

This course is for students who are interested in exploring the fundamentals of design and how they relate to problem solving in graphic design, advertising, fashion design, and computer graphics. No previous experience is necessary. Projects vary and students explore the principles of design and visual elements using hands-on materials and computer graphics programs, such as Photoshop and inDesign. They also work on product and fashion design projects, including garment design, construction, and illustration. During Trimester II, students study publication design, and as a culminating project they create fully illustrated portfolio catalogs of their work from the entire year that are professionally printed.

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Exploring Design II/III

This course is offered to students who wish to continue their study of design and concentrate within a specific field. Students focus in-depth on one of the following: fashion design, graphic design, product design, illustration, or computer graphics. Problem solving, documentation, field-specific methods and techniques, and contemporary and historical styles are explored. Students work on a variety of projects within their area of study and create a portfolio of work (or for fashion students, a “collection”), that is documented in a professionally printed portfolio catalog designed by each student. Exploring Design III students continue their exploration of their chosen field and design an independent program based on their specific interests.

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Fall Play

The Fall Play is a theatrical production that varies in style from year to year. Students audition to be an actor in the production or sign up for a technical theatre position. Each production offers challenging roles for experienced performers and ensemble parts. Students learn about the process of making theatre as they create a performance for the school community and the public. Performances are open to the public.

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Flute Choir

Flute Choir is open by audition to students who are accomplished in flute and committed to high performance standards. Members of Flute Choir must also receive private instruction in flute in addition to the class. The ensemble meets Thursdays from 5:15 – 6 p.m. The group performs repertoire that spans from baroque to modern music. There are several performance opportunities throughout the year and participation in at least three performances is required. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Foundational Pre-Algebra

This course allows students to solidify their arithmetic skills while also being exposed to new pre-algebra topics. A variety of activities help students develop conceptual understanding and apply mathematical rules to their problem solving. Topics include integers, rational numbers, exponents, algebraic expressions and equations, inequalities, applications of proportions and percentages, and the geometry of two-dimensional and three-dimensional figures.

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Foundations in Computer Science

This course is designed to build and nurture interest in technology and computer science in an effort to excite students about programming. Foundations in Computer Science surveys the foundational concepts of programming and logic that are the building blocks of computer science. During the year, students complete a variety of coding challenges that emphasize basic programming concepts such as variables, conditional statements, loops, and functions. Units include a variety of markup and programming languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Processing, and Java. 

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French I

This introductory course in French places primary emphasis on basic communication in the language. Students focus first on oral communication (listening and speaking) and basic conversational skills. Thematic vocabulary is presented throughout the course. French I is taught through a four-skills approach (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) and focuses on basic French sentence patterns and high-frequency vocabulary. Grammar is presented formally and is practiced in functional situations. Frequent use of the Language Lab reinforces topics and skills learned in the classroom.

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French III (or French III Honors)

This intermediate course is designed to help students expand their reading skills through the study of more advanced texts, develop their written and oral communication skills for more complex situations, and hone their writing and editing skills through frequent writing assignments. Emphasis is placed on helping students express themselves in French with greater confidence and ease. Vocabulary development and thorough review and expansion of grammar are key components of the course. In addition to the literary texts covered, supplemental materials from the Francophone world, such as films, songs, magazines, newspapers, works of art, and the Internet, are added to the curriculum. Students make use of the Language Lab to reinforce topics and skills learned in the classroom.

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French II (or French II Honors)

This Level II course reinforces and builds upon basic linguistic structures and communicative skills in the French language. Beginning with a thorough review of French I material, students learn more complex verb tenses, advanced sentence structure, and expanded vocabulary. Students read short stories and examine and discuss audio/visual media from the Francophone world, such as films, magazines, songs, podcasts, and poems. The course is designed to prepare students to study the intermediate level of French in subsequent years.

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French IV/V

This course is designed to help students continue to refine their language skills as they explore the richness and diversity of France and the French-speaking world. In French IV/V, students learn to communicate clearly and confidently by practicing both their spoken and written French. Video and audio exposure to native speakers allows students to further their listening skills. To this end, students make frequent use of the Language Lab. The study of the visual arts and the written and spoken word provides students with the opportunity to improve their skills of analysis as they discover Francophone art, music, cinema, and literature. Grammar reinforcement and vocabulary study continue throughout the year. Students write frequently, drawing upon a variety of topics. Course content includes the arts and the cultural and historical background of France and the French-speaking world, including possible units on the Francophone communities of North America, Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. Materials used in this course are representative of the diversity of the Francophone world and include poems, fables, short stories, cartoons, novels, visual art, songs, and movies.

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French V Honors

This academically rigorous course is intended for those students who wish to explore French literature at an advanced level. It gives an overview of French history and civilization through readings, textual analysis, and writing on a broad selection of texts from different genres and periods. Emphasis is placed on the appreciation and analysis of literary concepts in their historical and cultural contexts. All work, both oral and written, is conducted in French. All literary works follow a chronological sequence of study. Grammar reinforcement and vocabulary study continue as necessary throughout the year. A variety of assessments is used to evaluate student progress.

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Geometry

This course covers traditional topics in geometry emphasizing discovery along with the development and application of algebraic skills. Topics include the Pythagorean Theorem, parallel lines, similar triangles, congruent triangles, an introduction to trigonometry, circles, area, and volume. The course contains work with formal geometric proofs, as well as a short unit reviewing topics that appear on the SAT, such as data analysis, counting principles, probability, and logical reasoning.

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Geometry Honors

This rigorous course focuses on the discovery and comprehension of traditional Euclidean geometry. The detailed structure of logic and mathematical argument is emphasized. The final trimester is devoted to an in-depth study of equations, linear functions, linear inequalities, systems of equations, and matrices in preparation for Algebra II Honors, as well as a short unit reviewing topics that appear on the SAT, such as data analysis, counting principles, probability, and logical reasoning.

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Grade 5: Ancient Civilizations

This course focuses on civilizations in the ancient world, including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Nubia, the Indus Valley, and China. In order to understand the concept of time and humankind’s relatively short existence on Earth, the course begins with an examination of the geological clock. Students strengthen their knowledge of geography through exploration of the supercontinent of Pangaea and factors that contributed to the current configuration of the world’s geography. Human migration out of Africa and the role that evolution and technology played in this migration are explored. A study of archaeology helps students answer the essential questions: How do we know what we know prior to the invention of writing? Throughout the course, each unit involves relevant literature, primary sources, and opportunities for field trips, cross-disciplinary projects, and experiential learning. Students develop critical-thinking, organization, and interpretation skills through written work and preparing and giving oral presentations. Considerable time is devoted to learning how to effectively: 1) annotate expository texts for improved reading comprehension, and 2) present researched topics utilizing technology (Keynote, Green Screen, Pages, etc.) to inform and excite audience members. The curriculum also emphasizes the skills of listening, questioning, visualizing, making connections and inferences, synthesizing and comparing and contrasting.

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Grade 5: Classical Languages

In this course, fifth-grade students explore the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome through language. Students learn the Greek alphabet, read simple Greek and Latin stories, and speak ancient Greek and Latin. Students also gain a foundation in Greek and Roman mythology. The curriculum emphasizes culture through projects involving the Greek Olympics, classical art and architecture, ancient fashion, and more.

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Grade 5: Environmental Science

Fifth-grade science focuses on ecology and the environment. During daily course meetings, students are asked to think about the physical world around them creatively, critically, and quantitatively. Using hands-on experiments and activities, fifth graders create hypotheses, collect data, examine cause and effect relationships, and make observations about their investigations. Students maintain scientific journals in which they design and document experiments exploring the scientific method. Experiential learning and fieldwork on and around the Dana Hall campus are a cornerstone of this course.

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Grade 5: Exploration and Expression

Fifth-grade Visual Arts focuses on examining the world and self through a creative lens. Students engage in projects that foster creativity and develop the skills of envisioning, observation, expression, perseverance, risk-taking, and connecting. Students experiment with different media and art forms to discover the various techniques and multitude of ways they can represent the world around them and reflect on their experiences. Units covered include drawing, painting, two- and three-dimensional design, color relationships, and printmaking. Students explore art both in and outside of the classroom through on-campus outings and visits to local museums. This course also explores art related to the ancient civilizations studied in Social Studies.

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Grade 5: Math 5

This course is designed to transition students to middle school mathematics and build confidence and number sense. Through a variety of activities, students strengthen their conceptual understanding and practice whole number computation. Students gain experience with geometry, metric and customary measurement, fractions and decimals, interpreting graphs and charts, as well as problem solving and logic-building.

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Grade 5: Technology 5

This course introduces students to academic technology at Dana Hall and to fundamentals of computer science. Students build fluency with software applications and explore the ways iPads, laptop computers, and other devices can be used to support their learning. They are encouraged to identify the differences between public and private information, to think critically about their own decisions, and to become responsible digital citizens. As students learn to write computer code, design games, and program a robot, they develop a vocabulary for fundamental concepts in computer programming. Through hands-on projects, including 3D modeling and printing, students are encouraged to embrace the many ways technology and computer science are integrated in the world around them.

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Grade 5: Theatre Productions

The fifth-grade students undertake a short theatre production as an interdisciplinary project with World Languages. A play about the ancient world is performed as a class project, and all of the students experience being part of a theatre production.

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Grade 5 Workshop: Creative Movement

In the fifth-grade creative movement course, students learn from a model that draws upon dance and theater technique to explore fundamentals in the performing arts. Collaborative creation between and among students is encouraged. Basic modern dance skills, spatial awareness, and compositional elements are emphasized.

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Grade 6: America’s Beginnings: From Beringia to Philadelphia

The sixth-grade Social Studies program focuses on three sequential topics to create a foundation for understanding life in the United States. Students begin the year with an inquiry into the story of Native Americans of North America; their arrival during the Ice Age and their lives before and after contact with the Europeans. During the second trimester, sixth graders explore the settlement patterns in North America by the European immigrants. While examining European attitudes toward Native Americans, students discuss the reasons for European settlement and the creation of European colonies in North America. They also investigate the creation of an American identity before studying the concept of revolution during the third trimester: What did the word “revolution” mean in the 18th century, and how did the colonists move toward revolution? Each unit in this course involves relevant literature, primary sources, and opportunities for field trips and cross-disciplinary projects. When the students leave sixth grade, they do so with an understanding of America’s original inhabitants, the results of European contact, and a sense of the America to come.

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Grade 6: Math 6

This course seeks to strengthen the students’ number sense, build skills with decimals, fractions and percentages, ratio, signed numbers, and geometric reasoning. Concepts are presented with physical and visual models to promote deep understanding. Skill development is embedded in problem-solving activities to encourage critical thinking. There is increasing exposure to abstraction and algebraic reasoning. Students learn to work together, to communicate their thinking, and to persevere through challenges. They are encouraged to explore ideas, take risks, and think for themselves.

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Grade 6: Physical Science

Sixth-grade science emphasizes observation, critical-thinking, measurement, and experimental skills. Students investigate resources in the world around them with topics related to simple machines, motion, forces, and energy. They learn about the scientific method, formulate hypotheses, design experiments, and analyze data. Sixth graders develop their abilities to observe, ask questions, look for patterns, record and analyze evidence, present and interpret data, and draw conclusions. Through hands-on projects, such as the construction of model solar cars and various smaller building challenges, students apply scientific principles and develop problem-solving and engineering skills. Group work, presentation skills, and the effective use of technology are also important components of the course.

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Grade 6: Studio Art Immersion

Students participate in art-making experiences that emphasize careful observation, critical thinking, and creative exploration. They are introduced to a variety of media and approaches to making art. Units covered include drawing, two- and three-dimensional design, color relationships, and printmaking. Students also look at historical and contemporary artists to broaden their appreciation and understanding of the visual arts. Sixth-grade visual arts class meets twice a week for forty minutes for the full year.

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Grade 6: Technology 6

Students develop proficiency in the use of iPads and computers, and they build fluency with specific software applications while integrating concepts from other sixth-grade courses. During Trimester I, students explore the use of their iPads for organization, note taking, reading, and presentations. They identify the differences between public and private information and the decisions required to be responsible digital citizens. During Trimesters II and III, students develop their problem-solving and critical-thinking skills as they create their own computer games in Scratch, and explore coding concepts with Code Studio. They use a variety of presentation methods, such as online journals, movies, and screen casts to develop stories and tutorials. Students also design and print 3D models and finish the year programming Lego Mindstorms robots.

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Grade 6 Workshop: Dance

In Dance Workshop, sixth graders learn from a creative movement model that draws upon the fundamentals of dance technique and terminology. Basic jazz movements, spatial awareness, stage directions, and choreographic elements are emphasized.

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Grade 6 Workshop: Music

Students are introduced to all of the instruments in a standard symphony orchestra through notation projects and resources on the iPad. In addition, students review basic music notation and performance concepts. The class culminates with a trip to hear a performance by The Boston Symphony Orchestra.

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Grade 6 Workshop: Theatre

Students gain an understanding of the key elements of theatre: focus, imagination, collaboration, and communication. They practice these fundamental skills through movement and exercises from the Viewpoints actor training method. Culminating projects, including silent films and student-written stage adaptations of English class readings develop an appreciation for the creative process.

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Grade 6: World Languages and Culture

This course offers an introduction to the history of human language and the study of linguistics. Students learn about the anatomy of speech, the spread of language around the ancient world, and the evolution from proto-languages to modern languages. Units in Latin, French, Mandarin and Spanish provide exposure to the range of languages taught at Dana Hall. Students learn about the culture, history, and geography of ancient societies, indigenous societies, and colonial empires. Students will be able to make valuable connections between early languages and the modern languages that we speak today. At the end of sixth grade, students will select one of the three Romance languages (Latin, French, or Spanish) to study for seventh and eighth grade.

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Grade 7: Fundamentals of Art

Students build upon and solidify their knowledge of art terms and techniques. They focus on refining their observational drawing skills through a variety of two-dimensional projects that include both wet and dry media. Students continue to practice applying the elements and principles of design in their artwork while engaging in new concepts and materials. Seventh-grade visual arts class meets twice a week for forty minutes for one trimester.

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Grade 7: Life Science

Life Science focuses on the study of living things. Major topics include biodiversity, classification, the plant and animal kingdoms, cellular structure and processes, Mendelian genetics, and human physiology and body systems. There is an emphasis placed on experimental design. Students learn to ask sound scientific questions, plan and carry out controlled experiments, and collect their own data. They analyze their data and communicate their findings in the form of written lab reports. Throughout the year, students participate in long- and short-term experiments and hands-on activities.

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Grade 7: What Does it Mean to be an American? Stories of Dissent and Compromise

In this course, we explore history using the stories, laws, art, music, and speeches of the time. In the fall, topics include a study of the Constitution, the compromises and demands of creating a new government, and the structure of the government. Topics for the winter trimester cover westward expansion and its effects on all populations, both marginalized groups and those with power. Additionally, students explore the economic, political, and personal realities of slavery, the abolitionist movement, and the Civil War. In the spring, studies focus on the dawn of the 20th Century and the birth of modern America. Conversations about the post-Reconstruction struggle for Civil Rights prepare students for a more global consideration of the struggle for human rights in the eighth grade.

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Grade 7 Workshop: Costume Design & Playwriting

In this theatre workshop, students experience both elements of a character-driven, collaborative project. In the playwriting unit, students write a monologue inspired by their English class readings and learn elements of speech for performance. In the costume design unit, students begin with principles of movement for actors based on the Viewpoints actor training method. They then learn basic sewing techniques and the steps of costume design for theatre. The trimester culminates in a performance of the playwriting students’ monologues and a showing of costume designs.

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Grade 7 Workshop: Music Composition

Students expand upon their knowledge of music notation through a series of assignments using a web-based composition tool, such as NoteFlight. Concepts covered include motif, contour, question/answer phrases, chord progressions, augmentation, diminution, and sequencing. After exploring various musical structures and forms, the trimester culminates with each student creating an original 32-bar composition with melody and accompaniment.

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Grade 8: Earth Science

Earth Science focuses on the study of the inorganic components of our planet and universe. Major topics include geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy. Through their study of the Earth’s seasons, the moon’s phases, plate tectonics, and basic principles of physics, students improve their understanding of the physical world around them. Students also gain confidence and competence in group problem solving, and in collecting, manipulating, interpreting, and presenting data.

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Grade 8 Electives: Ceramics

Students are introduced to fundamental hand-building techniques for working in clay. They learn the processes of wedging, modeling, and hollowing clay to create three-dimensional forms. Students are also introduced to the basics of throwing clay on the pottery wheel and the use of low-fire glazes.

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Grade 8 Electives: Drawing

Students concentrate on honing their skills of observation and the rendering of form. They work in both wet and dry media and concentrate on shape, value, and composition. Students are introduced to projects of greater complexity that challenge them to problem solve and reflect.

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Grade 8 Electives: Painting

Students explore different styles and techniques of painting, and they experiment in watercolor, tempera, and acrylic paints. They continue to investigate and strengthen their understanding of composition, color relationships, and expression through both individual and collaborative painting projects.

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Grade 8: Identity and Injustice: A Case Study Approach to Social Justice

Students begin the year by examining aspects of individuality and society using the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum. The history of Germany, Nazi ideology, and the actions of victims, perpetrators, bystanders, and resisters are explored. In the second trimester, students learn about colonialism through an examination of South Africa and apartheid. During the third trimester, students study the religions of Hinduism and Islam and explore the role of religion in communities. The course concludes with an evaluation of the methods that have historically been used to achieve basic human rights and a major research capstone project on an upstander – a person who has made a positive change in the world. Research is demonstrated in a five-minute speech. In each unit throughout the year, geography is related to the context, and students use primary sources for study and research.

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Grade 8 Workshop: In the Director’s Chair: Directing and Acting Workshop

Students focus on stage direction, acting, and scene design. Each student directs a scene from contemporary dramatic literature. Activities include individual and group acting and directing exercises, individual and group in-class performances, peer response sessions, viewing and discussion of performance clips from notable directors, short in-class writing exercises, and short readings. Skills learned in this course are related to the study of Romeo and Juliet in English 8.

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Grade 8 Workshop: Introduction to Technical Theatre Design

Conducted in the Theatre Tech Shop, this course is structured to develop skills and confidence in the safe and practical use of workshop power tools. After an exploration of the design process, the class culminates in building props or set pieces for a Middle School or Upper School play.

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Grade 8 Workshop: Soundtracks and Scores: The Music of Film

Students study the styles, techniques, and influences of film composers. After exploring the work of the masters, students choose a 4-5 minute animated short video and create their own original soundtrack in GarageBand. Concepts covered include creating timelines, basic orchestration, and working with markers, loops, sound effects, and mixing.

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Grade 8 Workshop: Step It Up: Dance Composition and Performance

This course is designed for students with a strong background in dance and a curiosity for dance composition concepts. Classes include a warmup based on a combination of modern dance techniques as well as the introduction and exploration of various dance composition exercises. Students’ work throughout the trimester culminates in a performance project. (Open to students with permission of the Director of Dance.)

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Grade 8 Workshop: Step It Up: Technique and Performance

This course is designed for students with a strong background in dance. Classes include a warmup, stretching and strengthening, progressions across the floor, compositional elements, and center combinations with a focus on performance quality. Class content draws on elements of post-modern techniques. (Open to students with permission of the Director of Dance.)

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Grade 8 Workshop: Wild Styles: Acting Across History and the World

Students explore the connections between theatre and society in this scene-study class, through reading, viewing, and performing scenes from important playwrights and artistic movements in theatre history. Particular attention is paid to the theatre styles and dramatic literature of the countries studied in Social Studies 8.

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Grades 5-8: Private Music Lessons

Dana Hall students, regardless of previous music experience, may enroll in private music lessons through the Dana Hall School of Music. Instruction is offered in voice, including classical, jazz/pop and musical theatre, and on a wide variety of instruments, including piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, drums, flute, clarinet, trumpet, French horn, oboe, saxophone, trombone, harp, electric guitar, and electric bass, and erhu. Private music lessons take place once per week at the Dana Hall School of Music. Dana Hall music faculty members are professional musicians and educators drawn from the Boston area, and they tailor private lessons to address the learning style and goals of each student, from the beginner to the advanced student aspiring to a career in music. Numerous performance opportunities and faculty and guest artist recitals are available to students throughout the year. Students may enroll in music instruction over multiple years. (Open to students in grades 5-8. Full year. Ongoing registration. Additional music tuition charges apply.)

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Grades 5 and 6 Ensemble: Chorus

The fifth- and sixth-grade students come together to form this choral group. The Chorus sings a variety of music while learning about breathing, intonation, and reading music. Chorus performs four times a year, including a featured performance in the annual Revels production.

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Grades 7 & 8: Engineering and Computer Science

Building upon the skills they have gained in 5th and 6th grade, students in grades 7 and 8 use discipline-specific digital tools in all of their academic classes. Graphing tools and digital spreadsheets allow students to depict mathematical and scientific information; mapping tools, multimedia and publishing applications enhance the humanities; digital audio and video media are incorporated into language courses, and electronic research tools are used throughout the curriculum. 

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Grades 7 and 8 Ensemble: Instrumental Chamber Ensemble (Audition required)

Chamber Ensemble Groups learn and perform works in a variety of styles, flexibly arranged to accommodate different playing levels and instrumentation. Groups are led by music faculty members and meet once per week. Chamber Groups have the opportunity to perform at varying Dana Hall occasions throughout the year. Membership is by audition or permission of the instructor. (Additional music tuition charges apply.)

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Grades 7 and 8 Ensembles: Chorus

Chorus sings a variety of music ranging from folk songs to musical theatre pieces to neo-classical arrangements. Intonation and music theory are key elements of this ensemble.

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Grades 7 and 8 Ensembles: Keyboard Ensemble

This ensemble is geared toward students who are familiar with basic notation or have been exposed to instrumental music in the past. Students use both acoustic pianos and USB keyboards to learn piano technique. Students practice scales and chord progressions in major and minor keys, as well as play and read repertoire pieces. Along with ensemble pieces, students learn solo repertoire for short informal performances at the end of each trimester.

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Grades 7 and 8 Ensembles: Ukulele Ensemble

Students learn basic technique that includes how to hold their instrument, tune the ukulele, and coordinate fingering and strumming. They learn how to read a melody line, as well as read chords and basic charts. Students are encouraged to learn songs by ear as well as read melodic lines. They will play arrangements of songs together for various performances. Students also learn about the history of the ukulele and the guitar and their importance in jazz and popular music. Students are encouraged to perform in their own informal recital for each other at the end of the year.

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Grades 7 and 8: French

French 7 and 8 cover a traditional Level I curriculum designed to provide students with a comprehensive foundation in French. Students master fundamental grammar concepts, build essential vocabulary, and learn idiomatic expressions that enable them to use the target language spontaneously and authentically in speaking, reading, writing, and aural comprehension. Learning to communicate confidently in French on a basic level is a priority, and the Language Lab is used regularly as a resource in practicing speaking and listening skills. In grades 7 and 8, short readings are introduced and there are frequent writing assignments and oral presentations. Additionally, throughout the two-year course, students explore the history, geography, and culture of the French-speaking world through projects and discussions.

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Grades 7 and 8: Latin

The main objective of the Latin 7 and 8 curriculum is to allow students to begin reading Latin with confidence. As outlined in descriptions for the modern languages, Latin classes draw upon all language skills: the reading that is traditionally emphasized in Latin classes, as well as the essential skills of writing, listening, and speaking. Students will begin building a foundation of Latin vocabulary concerning mythology, homes, family, and public spaces, which will support them through the higher levels of Latin. They will begin using Latin phrases and sentences, and writing in Latin. Cultural understanding will be created through reading and discussion. Students will develop novice language skills and learn about Roman culture.

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Grades 7 and 8: Spanish

Spanish 7 and 8 cover a traditional Level I curriculum designed to provide students with a comprehensive foundation in the language. Students master fundamental grammar concepts, build essential vocabulary, and learn idiomatic expressions that enable them to use the target language spontaneously and authentically in speaking, reading, writing, and aural comprehension. Learning to communicate confidently in Spanish on a basic level is a priority, and the Language Lab is used regularly as a resource in practicing speaking and listening skills. In grades 7 and 8, short readings are introduced and there are frequent writing assignments and oral presentations. Additionally, throughout the two-year course, students explore the history, geography, and culture of the Spanish-speaking world through projects and discussions.

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Independent Study in Athletics

Although the School maintains a strong belief in the value of participating in Dana Hall team sports, on occasion, a Middle School student's involvement in an organized athletic activity not offered at Dana Hall may be significant enough to provide a similar learning experience. In such instances, students are allowed to apply for an Independent Study in Athletics for one trimester. Applications are reviewed by the Director of the Middle School and the Director of Athletics, Health, and Wellness, in consultation with relevant coaches/instructors.

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Independent Study in Athletics

Students may satisfy their Fitness/Athletics requirement if they are continuing their participation in a competitive, athletic activity outside Dana Hall. Students may not submit a proposal to start an activity that is new to them. Participation on a town, club, regional, or state team is approved as an exemption only in the case of a sport not offered at Dana Hall. Students must be active participants in their activity for at least ten hours per week and receive approval from a committee chaired by the Director of Athletics, Health, and Wellness in order to qualify for Independent Athlete status.

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Interscholastic Sports

Teams are selected by ability. The number of teams for each sport and the availability of a particular sport may vary in a given year.

  • Fall team offerings include Cross Country, Field Hockey, Soccer, and Volleyball.
  • Winter team offerings include Basketball, Fencing, Ice Hockey, Squash, and Swimming.
  • Spring team offerings include Equestrian, Lacrosse, Softball, and Tennis.
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Introduction to Calculus and Statistics

This course will introduce students to the study of calculus, where it focuses on the fundamental concepts of differential calculus, including limits, derivatives, and derivative applications. Additionally, this course will introduce students to statistics, covering the mathematics of gathering and analyzing data and drawing inferences from data. Statistics topics include sampling techniques, the normal distribution, probability, linear correlation, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing.

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Introduction to Computer Science in Python

This course is designed to provide a more in-depth study of computer science with a focus on writing algorithms, working on labs, and applying and continuously acquiring knowledge to solve diverse and unique problems in software design. Students develop logical thinking and problem-solving skills using Python. The course provides students with the opportunity to explore more advanced software programming topics as well as prepares them for the AP Computer Science A course.

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Jazz Combo

Jazz Combo is a small group class that welcomes instrumentalists and vocalists with a minimum of three years of music study in either classical, jazz, or rock. Students are placed in small groups (duo, trio, or quartet) and meet weekly with the jazz instructor. The class teaches the basics of improvisation and ensemble performance. Members must also receive weekly private instruction for their instrument or voice. Jazz Combo members are required to participate in at least one performance per year. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Journalism I/II/III: Hallmanac, the Dana Hall Student Newspaper

This course teaches students to write quickly, accurately, and effectively and helps the student editorial staff produce a polished, responsible newspaper that reflects and enlivens the Dana Hall community and presents the School to the world as the vital, intellectual, and exciting place that it is. The editorial staff publishes an electronic newspaper several times a year. Students identify and write newsworthy items, feature articles, and editorials; work as a team to set and meet deadlines; revise, polish, proof, and edit articles for posting; and create or select illustrations and photography. Students may enroll in this course for multiple years.

View: Hallmanac

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Language-Intensive Literature and Composition I

Language-Intensive Literature and Composition I is designed for international students who need to build their skills in reading and writing American English. Students learn the strategies that help them enjoy greater confidence and success as readers and writers. As in Literature and Composition I: Literary Odysseys, students read a variety of texts, with a special focus on tracing the archetypal Hero’s Journey. Critical, mindful reading is emphasized. Extra attention is devoted to vocabulary development, as well as grammar, usage, and mechanics. This course is taken concurrently with Writing and Communication.

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Latin American Area Studies

This course studies the history, society, politics, and culture of Central and South America from prehistory to the modern age. The first trimester examines the pre-Columbian civilizations of Mesoamerica and the Andes, and Spanish and Portuguese colonization. The second trimester traces colonialism in Latin America between the 16th and 18th centuries, paying special attention to the ways that indigenous and colonial forces created a backdrop for the revolutions of the early-19th century. The third trimester takes students from the mid-19th century up to present day exploring efforts to create effective political systems, economies, and national identities. While the backbone of the course is chronological, students also pause during key periods to compare and contrast four regions/countries: Mexico, Brazil, Peru, and Cuba.

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Latin I

Latin teaching has changed considerably in recent years, incorporating more modern language-acquisition techniques to help learn this vibrant language. As outlined in descriptions for the modern languages, Latin classes draw upon all language skills: the reading that is traditionally emphasized in Latin classes, as well as the essential skills of writing, listening, and speaking. Students will begin building a foundation of Latin vocabulary concerning mythology, homes, family, and public spaces, which will support them through the higher levels of Latin. They will begin using Latin phrases and sentences, and writing in Latin. Cultural understanding will be created through reading and discussion. Students will develop novice language skills and learn about Roman culture.

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Latin II

In Latin II, students continue to build upon the foundation that they acquired in Latin I. Students read longer, more complex paragraphs and answer comprehension questions about reading passages. Students are also able to orally express their understanding of the reading passages. Students continue to build a strong Latin vocabulary concerning war, government, hero, and heroines. Regular visits to the Language Lab boost student confidence and facility in the language.

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Latin III

Students review and complete their study of Latin grammar and begin an introduction to Latin prose. The skills of listening and speaking also help strengthen the interpersonal and interpretive communication skills of the students. In this transitional level of language learning, students learn to read more than translate, to use the language actively, and to grow more confident about their abilities. Students will continue building a foundation of Latin vocabulary, which will support them through the higher levels of Latin. They will begin to read longer Latin texts and to read authentic materials. Cultural understanding will be created through reading and discussion. Students will develop intermediate novice level language skills and learn about Roman culture.

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Latin IV/V and Latin IV/V Honors

Advanced courses in Latin poetry are offered in alternate years, Vergil in odd years (e.g., 2019-2020) and the poets Catullus and Ovid in even years (e.g., 2020-2021). Fourth- and fifth-year students study together.

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Literature and Composition III: American Literature

In Literature and Composition III, students examine how writers depict, create, and criticize American myths, identities, and problems in literature. Students practice close reading of novels, poetry, and plays by such diverse authors as Jacobs, Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, Whitman, Dickinson, Fitzgerald, Wilson, Kesey, Walker, and Kushner. Students continue to become more sophisticated writers through the composition and revision of analytical and personal essays as well as creative assignments. Students compile, revise, and edit writing portfolios to be assessed at the end of Trimester III in lieu of a final exam in June.

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Literature and Composition II: World Literature

Students study literature of varied genres with a focus on women in an international context. Readings include poetry; novels such as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale; and plays such as Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and Shakespeare’s Othello. Students become increasingly more adept, sophisticated writers by writing in a variety of modes. Students emerge from Literature and Composition II with strengthened critical writing skills and a broadened global perspective on literature.

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Literature and Composition I: Literary Odysseys

Literature and Composition I provides students with opportunities to further develop their reading and writing skills. Readings, which include such works as The Catcher in the RyeAntigoneThe Hate U GiveBless me, Ultima; and a Shakespearean tragedy as well as assorted short stories and poetry, emphasize coming-of-age themes. Students embrace the writing process in a variety of assignments, from creative pieces to thesis-driven essays. Critical, mindful reading is emphasized. This course also includes vocabulary development and a focus on grammar, usage, and mechanics.

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Making History: Research, Writing, and Dana Hall Memory

From its campus and buildings to its culture and traditions, Dana Hall’s past is all around us. How we understand that past and what impact it has on us today is the subject of this course. In Making History, students explore the School’s history from women’s rights to student rebellion, through both primary and secondary sources, paying special attention to how the story is told, upon what sources that history is based, and how that past affects us today. Students perform original historical research in Dana Hall’s Nina Heald Webber ’49 Archives, the Wellesley College Archives, and at the Wellesley Historical Society. They get a chance to “pull on the white gloves” and handle artifacts, from love letters to lace, from dinner menus to dance cards. Finally, students spend a significant amount of time writing about their research and contributing to the collective memory of the School. Writing is both analytical and creative, and it will be published through the Dana Hall Memory Project website, the Dana Hall Memory Project Wiki, and on occasion, in the Hallmanac and the Bulletin.

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Mandarin Chinese I

In this introductory course, students learn the phonetic system (tones and pinyin) and the structures of Chinese character strokes. They can use acquired language skills in a variety of classroom activities. The focus is primarily on oral proficiency and aural comprehension, including the mastery of tones as well as cultural exploration. At the conclusion of the course, students acquire the following language skills that allow them to ask and answer questions; narrate events; describe likes and dislikes; make short oral presentations in Mandarin Chinese; and engage in short reading and writing activities that show mastery of approximately 300 characters. Mandarin I takes full advantage of the School’s Language Lab.

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Mandarin Chinese II

This course continues to build upon the language skills taught in Mandarin Chinese I: oral proficiency, aural comprehension, reading, and character formation. The primary emphasis placed on conversational fluency is complemented by an increasing focus on reading and writing skills. Students master approximately 400 additional characters and are able to recognize significantly more in context. Students learn to expand on Mandarin Chinese phrases on the computer. Well-known poems are taught to enrich the students’ understanding of the written language and culture of China. Language study is enriched with China’s history and culture through audio, visual, and online sources. Mandarin II takes full advantage of the School’s Language Lab and other technology tools with the iPad.

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Mandarin Chinese III

Students enrolled in Mandarin Chinese III continue to develop communication skills using more advanced vocabulary and grammar, increase their focus on reading and writing, and learn to use character input computer software. Students connect their prior knowledge of character structures with new characters and become more skillful in decoding and applying them. This course uses the textbook Integrated Chinese, Level 1, Part 2 and supplementary materials, including audio CDs, interactive CD-ROMs, typing software, and videos. Cultural exploration is integrated with thematic learning. Mandarin III takes full advantage of the School’s Language Lab and other technology tools.

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Mandarin Chinese IV (or Mandarin Chinese IV Honors)

Students are introduced to more sophisticated grammar patterns and vocabulary to help their viewing, listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills reach the advanced level. The content and exercises in Mandarin IV and IV Honors build upon the students’ prior study of the language, gradually adding more sophisticated idioms. Topics for this level reflect the diversity of students' lives, from school-based interests and activities to personal/social concerns about health, adolescence, part-time work, relationships, customs, technology, and environmental issues. Diary entries, compositions, and literature assignments provide the opportunity to review and reinforce their Chinese language knowledge and deeper cultural understanding. This course uses the textbook Integrated Chinese Level 2, Part 2. Other supplementary materials including a variety of technological tools are also integrated. The class is conducted completely in Chinese. Mandarin IV and IV Honors take full advantage of the School’s Language Lab.

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Middle Eastern Area Studies

The Middle East is a region that has always had significance to the Western world, and the intensity of United States involvement is very high. Students in this course explore the ancient Middle East and the rise and influence of the three monotheistic religions. During the second trimester, students focus on the great Islamic civilizations through achievements in politics and the arts. In the last trimester, students examine the ideology of nationalism, the struggles for independence, and the interaction between Western and Middle Eastern powers. In each trimester, students respond to current events, particularly using political cartoons and literature; visual arts and music are used as a window into cultures of the peoples studied.

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Middle School Teams
  • Every student is provided an opportunity to play on a team. In some sports, there may be cuts due to space.
  • The emphasis at this level is on instruction, development, teamwork, fair play, and sportsmanship.
  • Participation is a key component for Middle School teams. At this level, it is anticipated that all team members will play in every game.
  • When there are large numbers of students participating in a sport, there may be multiple teams based on ability level.
  • In those sports where a Middle School program is offered, exceptionally proficient eighth-grade athletes in that sport may petition the Director of the Middle School and the Director of Athletics, Health, and Wellness to participate on an Upper School varsity team.
  • When the School does not offer a particular sports program in the Middle School, Middle School students may try out for the Upper School team.
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Music Theory and Composition

Classes in music theory and composition are open to all students with a minimum of one year of instrumental or vocal studies. Students may study privately or are grouped in classes according to level (beginner, intermediate, or advanced). Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Photography I

This beginning-level course is for students with an interest in exploring photography as an expressive medium of visual communication. Students build a strong foundation in creative work in both color and black-and-white photography through an exploration of digital-imaging techniques and an introduction to the basic methods and controls of Adobe Photoshop software. While creative work is focused in the digital lab, the history of film and darkroom photography is also introduced. Interpretive assignments help students explore aesthetic and technical aspects of the medium and how to use the camera as a highly personal seeing tool. The fundamentals of 35mm camera operations, learning how to interpret differing lighting situations and principles of exposure controls, composition, framing and point of view are taught. Students are exposed to the work of many photographers and introduced to the medium’s history.

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Photography II/III

This course explores more extensively both the aesthetic and technical dimensions of the medium with an emphasis on the visual language of photography. Photography II/III is designed to focus on the development of each student’s personal vision and unique photographic voice through a series of exercises, self-assigned projects, independent work, and class discussions. This advanced course is aimed towards further exploration of the relationship between image-making and context through a deeper understanding of contemporary practices and the history of photography. Critical issues are examined through individualized assignments, indepth projects, class presentations, lectures, and more advanced technical skills. The course is designed for students who have achieved competence in manual camera operations and working with digital capture cameras. Color photography is taught through the use of digital-capture cameras and Adobe Photoshop software. Additional approaches to photography, such as text/image, collage/montage, appropriation, and series and sequence, are introduced. Individual approaches to assignments are stressed.

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Physics and Engineering

This course provides students with an opportunity to both immerse themselves in the study of classical physics while also applying these concepts to engineering design challenges. In addition to a traditionally mathematical approach, students are charged with developing their scientific writing, communication, and logical problem-solving skills. There is a heavy focus both on the testing of scientific laws to understand how they function and on the iterative design process followed by engineers. Students are evaluated on their problem-solving skills, performance on long term projects, and traditional written assessments.

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Pre-Algebra

This course is designed to transition students from arithmetic to algebra in preparation for upper school-level math courses. The focus is on the basic principles of algebra and geometry. Topics include algebraic expressions, operations with rational numbers, solving equations and inequalities, exponents and roots, rates and proportions, spatial thinking, geometry of two-dimensional and three-dimensional figures, the Pythagorean Theorem, and probability. Students are further challenged by problem-solving investigations and critical-thinking puzzles. (Open to students who have completed Math 6 with a minimum grade of B, and with permission of the Mathematics Department.)

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Precalculus

The majority of the curriculum in this course covers a detailed study of trigonometry. Students also explore circles on a coordinate plane, logarithmic and exponential functions. There is continued study of polynomial and rational functions. Other topics include a unit reviewing topics that appear on the SAT, such as data analysis, counting principles, probability, and logical reasoning.

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Precalculus Honors

During the first half of the year, this course completes the study of precalculus topics with an emphasis on trigonometry. During the second half of the year, it covers the differential calculus topics taught in AP Calculus AB. The goal is to prepare students to take AP Calculus BC the following year. Students use a graphing calculator.

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Precalculus with Applications

This course includes a detailed study of trigonometry. New topics, such as conic sections and matrices are introduced. There is continued study of sequences and series, combinations, permutations, probability, exponential, logarithmic, polynomial, and rational functions with and without the use of a graphing calculator. The application of these topics to real-world problems is emphasized and developed throughout the course.

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Principles of Engineering

This minor elective course is intended for students of all backgrounds who wish to explore the dynamic field of engineering through an innovative hands-on, interest-based curriculum. Engineering impacts and improves all aspects of our lives, and in this course, students are exposed to various disciplines in the field through guest speakers, videos, discussions, field trips, articles, and hands-on projects. The list of topics covered includes, among others, biomedical engineering, computer engineering, and environmental engineering.

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Private Music Lessons

Dana Hall students, regardless of previous music experience, may enroll in private music lessons through the Dana Hall School of Music. Instruction is offered in voice, including classical, jazz/pop, and musical theatre, and on a wide variety of instruments, including piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, guitar, drums, flute, clarinet, trumpet, French horn, oboe, saxophone, trombone, harp, electric guitar, electric bass, and erhu. Private music lessons take place once per week at the Dana Hall School of Music. Dana Hall music faculty members are professional musicians and educators drawn from the Boston area, and they tailor private lessons to address the learning style and goals of each student from the beginner to the advanced student aspiring to a career in music. Numerous performance opportunities and faculty and guest artist recitals are available to students throughout the year. Students may enroll in music instruction over multiple years.

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Riding Lessons

The Karen Stives ’68 Equestrian Center offers a program designed for all levels of riding from beginning to advanced horsemanship. Particular emphasis is on hunt-seat equitation. Classes are grouped according to ability and experience; progression to more advanced levels is based on individual achievement. The development of confidence is especially stressed at the beginning level with a strong emphasis placed on safety and control. Stable management and horse care are considered integral parts of the rider’s education. A fee is charged for this program. In order to earn Fitness/Athletics credit, a student must take two lessons per week and attend a lecture series.

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Rock Band

Rock Band welcomes instrumentalists and vocalists with a minimum of one year of music study in either classical, jazz, or rock. Students are placed in small groups (duo, trio, or quartet) and meet weekly with the instructor. The class teaches ensemble performance, rock repertoire, rhythm, and musicianship. Rock Band members must also receive weekly private instruction for their instrument or voice. Rock Band members are required to participate in at least one performance per year. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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Russian Area Studies

Russian Area Studies is an exploration of the history and culture of a region that, even after the breakup of the Soviet empire, remains the largest country in the world, spanning eleven time zones and with a landmass over twice that of the United States. Within the framework of the course, chronological, contemporary events and cultural topics are addressed throughout the year. Russia is the only major nation to so powerfully straddle two continents, resulting in an uneasy and uncertain mix that is clearly European and confidently Asian. This enriches Russian cultural contributions, justly celebrated throughout the world, to literature, music, cinema, and the visual and performing arts. The learning in this course is centered on the ability to analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and express an understanding of documentary evidence and conflicting historical interpretations.

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Songwriters’ Experience

In this course, students explore the world of creative songwriting and composition.  There is no need for prior experience with music. Students learn about lyric writing, music history, and music theory as it pertains to composition. Students create their own works through the use of computers, electric keyboards, and music software. By year’s end, students make a CD featuring the work they composed in the course.

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Spanish I

Students study introductory grammar and build vocabulary, practicing their skills in dialogues, games, reading, writing, and listening. They develop a strong foundation in the basic grammatical structure that they will need to attain linguistic competence as they move to the more complex aspects of the language in Spanish II. Lessons give students an authentic feel for the cultures of Spain and Latin America through geography, television programs, folk music, and food. A variety of interactive media is used to expose students to authentic materials. Through continuous practice in the Language Lab and the use of various technological tools, such as iPads, Dropbox, and Schoology, students are able to reinforce the material studied in class and become more confident in its use.

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Spanish III (or Spanish III Honors)

This course is devoted to a systematic study of grammar and intensive vocabulary development to assist students in the analysis of style, content, and syntax. Through an interactive approach, emphasis is placed on oral and written fluency in the language and on developing reading skills. Students make use of the Language Lab in order to strengthen their listening comprehension and speaking skills, thus furthering their linguistic competence. This course also strives to help each student gain competence in literary writing. Readings from literature are combined with materials from magazines, newspapers, and films from Spain and Latin America. Through a variety of interactive media, students are able to both listen to authentic materials, as well as produce their own. Students enrolled in Spanish III are eligible for participation in the Spanish exchange program.

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Spanish II (or Spanish II Honors)

Students reinforce the basic linguistic elements learned in Spanish I in order to continue a more comprehensive and in-depth study of the most important grammatical concepts. As students master the complex tense structures of Spanish and broaden their vocabulary, they improve their interpersonal and interpretive communication skills. Through continuous practice in the Language Lab and the use of various technological tools, such as iPads, Dropbox, and Schoology, students are able to reinforce material studied in class to build confidence. Use of the Language Lab also helps students continue to develop linguistic competence through strengthening their listening, comprehension, pronunciation, and speaking skills. In addition, students read a variety of short literary works by contemporary Spanish and Latin American authors. Through a variety of interactive media, they are able to both listen to authentic materials, as well as produce their own. Students enrolled in Spanish II are eligible for participation in the Spanish exchange program.

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Spanish IV/V

This course focuses on language and culture through literature, paintings, and film. Students continue to reinforce grammar skills and build vocabulary throughout the year. They demonstrate their knowledge of Spanish in all four skill areas (listening, reading, writing, and speaking), and they communicate primarily in the target language. Toward this end, the course focuses on Latin American literature and culture, analyzing works by Ariel Dorfman, Isabel Allende, Julia Alvarez, Francisco Jiménez, and others. Students also have the opportunity to appreciate important Latin American painters, such as Frida Kahlo, Fernando Botero, Roberto Matta, and Diego Rivera. The course concludes with an in-depth study of the cultural, regional, and political aspects of 20th century Latin American history through cinema: Diarios de motocicleta and La misma luna, among others. All of these experiences are reinforced through activities developed in the Language Lab and the use of a variety of technological tools that build language skills. Students enrolled in Spanish IV/V are eligible for participation in the Spanish exchange program.

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Spring Musical/Dance

The Spring Musical is produced in conjunction with area schools. Show selection aims to expose students to a range of musical and dance styles. Students audition to be an actor in the production or sign up for a technical theatre position. Each production offers challenging roles for experienced performers and ensemble parts. Students learn about the process of making theatre as they create a performance for the school community and the public. Performances are open to the public.

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Student-Directed Play

The Student-Directed Play is an entirely student-run theatrical production, with the support of the Director of Theater. Through an application process, students will be chosen to fill the positions of director, technical director, production manager, and stage manager. This team will facilitate the audition, casting, and rehearsal process. The cast and crew will explore the logistics of staging a full-length production, resulting in a performance in front of an audience.

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Studio Art

This foundation course is the prerequisite for all visual arts elective courses. The primary goal of the course is to encourage and increase visual awareness. Seeing is perhaps the most powerful and complicated of the senses and the primary source of information we gain about the world beyond us. Since drawing develops the skills of seeing, the course begins with basic observation and the drawing of three-dimensional forms and spaces. Students study composition and the visual language of advertising through design projects that are often based on design traditions from other cultures. Color theory and painting complete the course, and additional projects may include printmaking and clay or wire sculpture.

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Team Manager

Students in grades 9-12 may fulfill their Fitness/Athletics requirement by participating as a team manager. Team managers attend all home and away games. At these games, they keep track of the scoring, timing, and statistics, and they are responsible for all equipment and supplies. Managers are expected to attend all game-day events and tournaments. Managers are considered part of the team and therefore are held to the same attendance and grading policies as the players.

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Technical Theatre

Technology and artistic creativity combine in this course as we explore the challenges and rewards of designing sets, props, lighting, and live and recorded sound for the Upper School Fall Play, the Dance Concert, and the Upper School Musical. Following initial instruction in the skills involved, students become a member of the Tech Crew for two of the three major shows. The course is practical, offering opportunities for hands-on experience with professional equipment in the theatre, and with the building tools available in the scene shop. Students may enroll in this course over multiple years.

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This is Us: Contemporary Narratives of the Human Experience

Sometimes we lose sight of the big picture amid the business of our day to day lives; we infrequently stop, breath and ask ourselves: Who am I as an individual? Who are we as a collective? What discoveries have I made about myself and humanity thus far and what other discoveries are on the horizon? In this course, we will explore both ourselves and our communities by asking and attempting to answer questions that are essential to the human experience. To do so, we will engage a series of topics such as the need for individualism, gender identity, the interplay between humans and the environment, race relations, artistic expression, mental health, and the power of memory via pairings of contemporary texts and films that relate thematically. Combinations may include The Bell Jar and Girl, Interrupted; 1984 and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest; The New Jim Crow and 13th; and “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” and Pan’s Labyrinth, among others. The course will feature much discussion, frequent analytical and comparative writing, film screenings outside of class, and nightly reading from the texts; it will culminate in a creative project: a short film based upon the themes of a self-selected essay, short story or poem.

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To Hold the Mirror Up to Nature: An Acting, Directing, and Playwriting Workshop

All students will develop and refine skills in acting, including scene study, voice, and movement. Training in Viewpoints composition will help students develop clear storytelling and divergent thinking skills, while Linklater voice helps students develop healthy and strong speaking technique. Students will work in ensembles on polished performance pieces; interested students will learn directing skills while in this workshop mode, including crafting a vision for a play, interpreting text with actors, communicating with designers, and communicating ideas clearly to an audience. Students interested in playwriting will have the opportunity to create new work within the structure of the course. Themes and plays for the course alternate and cover a wide range of style and genre, so students may enroll in this course over multiple years in order to develop a deeper knowledge of theatre histories and literature and gain experience as a leader and actor. There will be opportunities to engage with the Boston theatre community.

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Transitional Algebra

This course focuses on establishing a strong foundation of mathematical and problem-solving skills in order to prepare students for Algebra I in the ninth grade. Topics include integers, algebraic expressions, rational numbers, exponents, metric and customary measurements, and analysis of data-based graphs. There is an emphasis on graphing linear functions, and quadratic functions are introduced. Students also learn to use the graphing capabilities of their graphing calculators. Activities relate concepts to real-life contexts.

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United States History

In this survey of the history of the United States, students analyze primary source documents and a history text in a chronological and thematic exploration of the major issues concerning freedom, property, race, rights, gender, and class. Students are challenged to read and think critically, write directly and persuasively, and debate historical arguments from colonial times to the present. Each trimester, students keep current events journals through class blogs that focus on political trends, social history, and economic developments.

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Western Civilization

This foundation course introduces students to the concepts used to study and discuss civilization. By exploring the roots of Western culture, students learn the elements of human organization and gain literacy in the history of Western Civilization. In this process, students also gain the basic skills necessary for all Social Studies courses, including documentation, library use, primary source interpretation, geography awareness, and essay writing. The course focuses on the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome, ending with an introduction to Medieval Europe. This course prepares students to succeed in studies of other world regions.

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Wild and Free: Exploring Freedom in Literature (AP English Literature and Composition)

“All good things are wild and free,” wrote Henry David Thoreau in his 1861 essay Walking. To him, personal freedom can only be obtained when societal pressures are lifted, nature is embraced, and when we slow down and “walk like a camel.” In this course, we will look deeply at the notion of freedom--personal freedom, societal freedom, natural freedom. We will address the following questions: 1) what does it mean to be free, and can all humans obtain freedom? 2) how is freedom impacted by our surroundings? 3) what role does power play in our search for freedom? 4) does one need to be wild, or in the wild, to be free?  We will read a variety of genres from multiple time periods and parts of the world. Authors may include Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Aphra Behn, Sarah Ruhl, Isabel Allende, Tie Ning, Thomas Hardy, and Trevor Noah.

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Women at the Edge: Women Pioneers, Explorers, Rebels, and Researchers (AP English Literature and Composition)

This course provides a historical survey of women in fiction. In Trimester I, readings may include selections from the Old and New Testaments, The Thousand and One NightsThe Lais of Marie de France, Christine de Pisan’s City of Women, as well as Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. In Trimester II, readings may include Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Walker’s The Color Purple, Crane’s Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, Bly’s Ten Days in a Madhouse, Wharton’s The Old Maid, and Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” In Trimester III, readings may include Ruhl’s Clean House and a broad selection of short stories by international 20th and 21st century women writers from countries such as Canada, China, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the United States.

(Open to students in grade 12 after consultation with the student’s advisor and current English teacher, and with permission of the Department Head. Full year. 1 credit.)

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Women in Music

Women in Music is an investigation into and a celebration of women’s musical activities in a variety of capacities and musical traditions. This course will cover not only women composers, but also women performers, women patrons, and the depiction of women in the marketing and consumption of music. We will survey a variety of music styles, from medieval chants to current popular music. The course will conclude with a student-chosen project involving either songwriting, performing, or an oral presentation highlighting an aspect of women in music.

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Writing and Communication

Writing and Communication is designed for international students who need to build their skills in reading, writing, and speaking American English. This writing-intensive course develops students’ ability to read critically, discuss and present ideas fluently, and write clearly in a variety of formats. Vocabulary lessons focus on words from assigned texts as well as Greek and Latin roots. Grammar lessons help students identify and correct common errors as they create more sophisticated sentences. This course is taken concurrently with Language-Intensive Literature and Composition I.

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