High School » Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

High School Course Descriptions



English Department - Four credits of both English Literature and English Grammar and Composition are required.* 


English I - Literature- 2 semesters for 1 credit

This course will guide students in developing and comparing ideas, looking at different perspectives and points of view, and understanding the ideas and experiences that literary material provides. The textbook used contains a comprehensive collection of literature and nonfiction, including short stories, poetry, drama, epic, science-fiction, and fantasy. The material covered will assist in the development of comprehension skills with the ultimate goals of broadened knowledge and critical thinking. Reading comprehension exercises will be utilized. 


English I - Grammar and Composition - 2 semesters for 1 credit

This course is designed to help students develop a better understanding and command of the English language. This class will focus on English grammar, writing, and vocabulary. Students will study parts of speech, sentence structure, a variety of writing styles, and the expansion of vocabulary. A combination of textbook readings and handouts will provide students a comprehensive approach to improving English skills.


English II - Literature - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: English I

This course will continue to develop literary experiences through the analysis of a variety of materials. Students will discuss different perspectives and points of view as they gain an appreciation and understanding of literature.  The assigned textbook and supplemental materials will be used to improve critical thinking.  Students will read novels primarily for the ideas and experiences that it provides. Elements of fiction, literacy techniques, and comprehension and retention skills are emphasized.


English II - Grammar and Composition - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: English I

English II is designed to strengthen grammar and vocabulary skills through various exercises and writing assignments.  Students will develop a better understanding and command of the English language. Writing skills will be developed by using a step process method called Power Writing.  During the second semester, a research paper will be completed. 


English III - Literature - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: English I, II

English III encompasses the study of American literature, drama, and poetry. Novels and short stories are emphasized, and the classroom materials are drawn both from the textbook and outside reading sources. Reading techniques, critical thinking, and interpretation and analysis skills are taught with a variety of teaching methods. The basic components of literature are explored, and students are asked to read, analyze, and respond to the ideas presented. Writing skills are used continuously in this course as students learn to present their own ideas in a clear and succinct fashion.


English III - Grammar and Composition - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: English I, II

English III covers the basic skills associated with all forms of writing. Grammar, mechanics, usage, and composition are explored. Vocabulary, spelling, and research skills are also taught. A research paper is written with an emphasis on the correct process. Attention to detail is stressed and the MLA style is required to ensure careful documentation of the research. The goal of this course is to produce students who can create well written compositions and other forms of writing suitable for any situation.


English IV - Literature - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: English I, II, III

English IV is the study of classic and contemporary British Literature. Students will increase vocabulary through content covered and improve comprehension through comparing, contrasting, analyzing, and evaluating subject matter.


English IV - Grammar and Composition - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: English I, II, III

English IV includes the study of vocabulary, grammar, and composition. Emphasis is on the composition skills of organization, development, and correct manuscript form for various types of writing. Research skills are also studied and a research paper will be written.  Students will prepare for the SAT/ACT using Naviance, a self-paced online test preparation program.  When appropriate writing assignments will be designed to support the college application process and skills necessary for post secondary endeavors. 


*A four year English Essentials sequence is available for students for both English Literature and English Grammar. Essentials classes are taught at a slower pace, less content in both breadth and depth, more repetition, and drill in basics. Enrollment in Essentials level courses is restricted to students who have documented learning differences or deficiencies identified through standardized test results and teacher recommendations.



Math Department - Four credits of math are required.*


Algebra I - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: Pre-Algebra

Algebra I will cover a variety of mathematical topics including variables, expressions and equations, order of operation, graphing with coordinates, linear patterns, real numbers, absolute value, properties, computation, solving equations using properties, proportional reasoning, percent problems probability, graphing data, linear functions and graphs, defining slope, multiple and compound inequalities, graphing system of equations, and quadratic equations.


Geometry - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: Algebra I

This course will have students analyzing properties of plane and space figures. Students will explore congruence and similarity, use deductive reasoning to establish the validity of conjectures, understand and represent transformations in the plane using sketches, coordinates, vectors, and functions. Students will also use geometric models to solve problems in other areas of mathematics.


Geometry Essentials - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: Algebra I

Geometry Essentials is designed for those students that need to be taught at a slower place with more repetition and drills in the basic concepts. Students are placed in this class based on teacher recommendation and deficiencies that have been identified through diagnostic testing.


Algebra IIA - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: Algebra I and Geometry

Algebra IIA will cover the first six chapters of the Algebra II textbook. Topics covered include data and linear representations, numbers and functions, systems of linear equations, matrix, quadratic functions, and logarithmic functions.


Algebra IIB - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II A

Algebra IIB will cover the last seven chapters of the Algebra II textbook.  Topics covered include polynomial functions, rational functions, conic sections, and trigonometric functions.


Math Studies Essentials – 2 semesters for 1 credit – Prerequisite:  Algebra I and Geometry

Math Studies is designed for junior students that need an overview of the math courses at high school level.  It includes a review of Algebra I, Geometry, and a broad overview of Algebra II.


Consumer Math Essentials - 2 semesters for 1 credit:  Prerequisite: Algebra I and Geometry

Consumer math is designed for senior students who have a basic grasp of mathematical computation but require additional instruction for applying skills as a wise consumer.  Topics covered include wages, budgeting time and money, tips, salary, commission, check books and business and life skills.


*The four year sequence for math is Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra IIA, and Algebra IIB. A four year Math Essentials sequence is available for identified students. Essentials classes are taught at a slower pace, less content in both breadth and depth, more repetition, and drill in basics. Enrollment in Essentials level courses is restricted to students who have documented learning differences or deficiencies identified through standardized test results and teacher recommendations.



Science Department - Four credits of science are required.


Principles of Physics- 2 semesters for 1 credit

This course will expand the student's knowledge of various sciences. Physics is the study of matter and energy and the interactions between them. Topics covered will include energy, forces, motion, simple machines, electricity, thermal energy, and waves. Students will use equations to demonstrate the concepts, as well as lab experiments and models.


Biology - 2 semesters for 1 credit

Biology is a laboratory science course that covers the study of living things. Students will study life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution. The scientific process and laboratory skills are emphasized along with biology's connections to other scientific disciplines.


Chemistry - 2 semesters for 1 credit

This course explores the branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed, the investigation of their properties, and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change with the use of energy. Mathematics will also be utilized. By studying matter and the way it changes, students can gain an understanding of all the “stuff” they see and interact with in everyday life.


Environmental Science - 2 semesters for 1 credit

The study of Environmental Science is concerned with the relationships between organisms and their environment. Students will learn how to look at the environment through the lens of several disciplines including chemistry, biology, soil science, geology, and geography, while studying possible solutions to our world’s ecological problems. Students will also become aware of some of the real world problems that are going on in the environment today.



Social Studies Department- Four credits of social studies are required.


World History - 2 semesters for 1 credit

World History is a two semester survey of World History that traces the development of civilizations from prehistory to the present. This course is designed to examine people as social beings, to examine the origin and development of social groups, to study past success and failure in governments, to learn about human beings' magnificent efforts to create beauty, and to learn how people satisfy their spiritual needs.


World Geography - 2 semesters for 1 credit

World Geography will utilize a variety of teaching methods and materials to enhance each student's knowledge of the world.  Students will study issues of many areas around the world and learn how peoples around the world are impacted.  The goal of this class is to challenge students to become more global thinkers and to gain a curiosity about their own being in an ever changing world. Students will work with maps, textbooks, and with supplementary materials.


American History - 2 semesters for 1 credit

In American history, students will study the ideals presented in the founding documents and how these ideals have continued to impact American history and its people.  This course implements social political, economic, military, and cultural history while emphasizing the uniquely American abilities of compromise and adaptation.  Events from the past are linked to today to give the students a broader understanding of their world.  A variety of teaching methods and materials are used to enhance the student's knowledge of American History.  A major goal of this course is to challenge students to become critical thinkers in their society.


Government - 1 semester for .5 credits – Prerequisite: American History

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to both the theory and practice of American government. Students will begin by outlining the broad logic underlying the formation of governments and then move to a specific focus on the formation and development of American democracy. We will examine the founding principles and texts from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Next we will turn our attention to the formal institutions of American government with the aim of understanding the complex web of relationships among these institutions. During the second half of the course, attention will shift away from the formal institutions to the avenues for public influence on policy. We will conclude with a study of the continuing struggle over both the definition and the extension of civil liberties and rights.


Economics - 1 semester for .5 credits

The purpose of this course is to equip students with a working understanding of economics and its principles of business and personal applications. As such, we have crafted an easy-to-understand course comprised of Economics’ principle tenets while specifically highlighting such central ideas such as supply and demand, interest rates and inflation, and the Stock Market. Economics is an inherent part of our world and, with every passing day, economics becomes more and more pivotal to our survival. From the items we buy at the store and our personal banking accounts to the types of industries in which we work and the resources government employs to sustain our communities, we are surrounded by economically-based challenges on a daily basis. This course will enhance these topics, bringing our students a true understanding of both micro and macroeconomic issues.



Foreign Language Department - Two credits of foreign language are required.*


Spanish I - 2 semesters for 1 credit

Spanish I utilizes an interactive, kinesthetic, and communication based approach to language acquisition.  Vocabulary is reinforced through sheltered immersion, word associations with movement and gesture, as well as oral and written practice. Online platforms provide extended practice with audio and video components, tutorials, games and test preparation. Elements of Latin culture will be explored through projects, readings, field trips, discussion, and instructional media.  Major themes to be covered include greetings, basic vocabulary, sentence structure, agreement, and present tense verbs.


Spanish II - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: Spanish I

Spanish II expands upon the foundation of language and culture presented in Spanish I. Spanish II focuses on review of major concepts covered in the previous course and the acquisition of intermediate vocabulary, common expressions, irregular present tense, past tense and future tense verbs. Emphasis is placed on conversational practice and aural comprehension.


*Students who have significant language difficulties may request not to take Spanish. Most four year colleges and universities recommend or require two consecutive years of a foreign language for admission.


Fine Arts Department– One credit of fine art is required.


2-Dimensional Art - 2 semesters for 1 credit

Students will have the opportunity to explore and discover their creative side in a variety of assigned studio art projects.  Students will study famous artists and their styles and influences.  Student projects will use the elements and principles of good design, such as form, spacing, color, proportion, balance, and movement.  Students will try their hand at a variety of mediums such as pastels, scratchboard, paints, and colored pencils.


Art Materials and Techniques – 2 semesters for 1 credit

The goal of this yearlong art class is to inspire, empower and encourage students while honoring each of their individual needs in a fun and nurturing studio environment!  Students will explore a variety of art materials and processes used in creating 3/D designs including cardboard relief, papier-mâché, ceramics, wire sculpture, woodcut printmaking, carving, and much more.  All projects are designed for student success and building creative confidence.


Performing Arts Class- 2 semesters for 1 credit

This class offers high school creative experiences in a wide-range of performing arts formats including acting and improvisational skills, show-building, creative movement, self-expression, field trips, and participation in school performances. Daily participation will include warm-ups, theater games, creative movement, pantomime, improvisation, social role-playing, self-expression, imagination relaxation, and the development of theater knowledge and skills. Stage and technical behind-the-scenes experience will also be included. Rehearsal and performance participation will be required throughout the year.



Speech Department – One half credit is required.


Speech/Public Speaking – 1 semester for .5 credits

Speech is a semester course which introduces students to the fundamentals of speech construction and delivery. Students will have opportunities to develop various speaking and listening skills which are necessary for effective communication and essential for personal, academic, and professional success.



Physical Education and Health - One credit of PE is required and a half credit of health is required.*


Physical Education -Girls PE and Boys PE - 2 semesters for 1 credit

Physical Education is designed to increase the physical competence, health-related fitness, self-responsibility and enjoyment of physical activity for all students so that they can be physically active for a lifetime. The curriculum consists of calisthenics, walking, jogging, yoga, resistance training, games, and seasonal sports.


Health - 1 semester for .5 credits

Health is a course designed to inform students of the relationships that exist among physical, mental, and social health.  Students will discover how their decisions may affect all facets of their well-being, and how healthy decisions will enable them to cope effectively with life’s challenges.


Yoga – 2 semesters for 1 credit

In this course, students will be introduced to a variety of yoga styles. Students will learn a variety of basic postures (asanas) such as mountain pose, downward facing dog, upward facing dog, warrior, and Sun Salutations. Students will practice forward bends, backward bends, side bends, hip openers, twists, arm balances, and inversions. Classes will focus on alignment and holding postures as well as focusing on flowing movement through a series of postures. The mediation and breathing components will focus on the wellbeing of the mind and body, and the integration of the breath with movement. Goals for the course include students becoming more comfortable with their bodies, gaining an appreciation of general anatomy of muscles and bones, increasing range of motion, learning stress reducing techniques, and an overall improvement in health and happiness.


*In lieu of a PE class, students may receive PE credit for playing or managing approved school sponsored competitive athletics. This provides more opportunities for elective classes.



Department of Creative Technology – Creative Technology courses may be taken for elective credits in order of listed classes


Graphic Design - 2 semesters for 1 credit

Graphic design is an introduction to digital imaging and computer-based art created within an advertising platform.  Students will explore different avenues of visual communication, self-expression, and creative problem-solving through the creation of commercial advertising and marketing materials.  All work is based upon the study, aesthetics, purpose, and criticism of digital art forms based in a commercial medium.  Ultimately each student will create a model company based on their personal interests and create assets for that organization, which include business cards, door hangers, company logos, brochures, and a design side company website.


Photoshop (Web 2) - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: Graphic Design credit required or teacher consent

If you want to know everything about Photoshop CC - you’ve come to the right place.  Each student will come to understand the use for Photoshop CC digital software and how it applies to image manipulation, which allows one to create and manipulate images for print, the web, and other media. Photoshop is almost limitless in its ability to manipulate and edit images, but don't let that scare you! This class has been created to help students take advantage of the many features of this industry standard software using current techniques.  Although not all students will go on to be designers or Photoshop professionals, the intent is to realize a true respect for how raster graphics are used and manipulated in all current industry situations.


Web Design – 2 Semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: Graphic Design and Photoshop credit required or teacher consent

Students will learn the fundamental principles for creating and maintaining web pages. Each student will come to understand the use for Dreamweaver Web Design software and how it applies to today’s business world. Students will learn to build and manipulate web pages and produce assets with this industry standard software and current techniques.  Although not all students will go on to be web designers, the intent is to realize a true respect for how web sites are created and how concepts are developed - this will be the main focus of this class. We will have fun creating html and using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to create original and re-purposed templates.



Electives – Three credits of electives are required.  Creative Technology and Fine Arts coursework may also be taken for additional elective credits.


Career Exploration – 1 semester for .5 credit

Career Exploration prepares students for the 21st century workplace. This program integrates academic activities with real-world workplace connections emphasizing workplace skills, technology, and understanding and working with cultural differences. Students will take self assessments to determine the best career path, investigate careers of interest, and learn the keys to successfully securing and maintaining a job.


Criminal Justice – 1 semester for .5 credit

The objective of this course is to provide students with an overview of the criminal justice field in terms of what is involved in choosing a career in the three areas of criminal justice including law enforcement, corrections, and legal careers. Students will learn basic concepts, vocabulary, and theories in each of the above-mentioned areas. 


Forensic Science - 1 semester for .5 credit

In this course, students will improve their observation and critical thinking skills by exploring forensic science techniques. Forensic science is the application of science to those criminal and civil laws that are enforced by police agencies in a criminal justice system.  Major topics include processing a crime scene, collecting and preserving evidence, identifying types of physical evidence, organic and inorganic analysis of evidence, hair, fibers, and paint, toxicology, arson and explosion investigations, DNA, fingerprints, and document analysis.


Foundations in Personal Finance – 1 semester for .5 credit

Foundations in Personal Finance will teach principles that lead to financial success and set students on a path towards responsibility in money management challenging their current view of money. They will be empowered, equipped and entertained while building confidence in their own financial decision-making.Topics covered will include saving, budgeting, credit, debt, financial planning, insurance, income, taxes, and giving. 


History of Music and Film - 2 semesters for 1 credit

The History of Music and Film is a two semester elective. The first semester will cover the History of Music which will take an in-depth look at the role of music in the social history of our country. The course will look at the different movements in rock-and-roll chronologically beginning with the blues and working through to the present day. The class will focus on looking at the artists who defined different eras sociologically and examine the different sociopolitical forces that shaped rock-and-roll. The second semester will cover the History of Film which will look at the history of film from the early European Art Film movements through current cinema. The class will look at film developments throughout history and directors’ expression of art through film. In the final six weeks the students will create their own film reworking a classic European art film of one of the following eras – German Expressionism, Italian Neorealism, or French New Wave.


Debate/Persuasive Speaking - 2 semesters for 1 credit

Persuasive Speaking will provide students with a basic foundation for understanding debate. Students will study the Lincoln-Douglas debate format. Students will prepare for and participate in classroom debates. Students will learn the values of debate and the debate process. The course will also include a study of vocabulary terms used in formal debate.   


Who, Where, and When In the West - 2 semesters for 1 credit

This course will survey the Westward Expansion of the United States in the 1800's, including the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Oregon Trail and pioneer settlement on the Pacific Coast, the California Gold Rush, and Native American traditions and cultural conflicts. Against the backdrop of these exciting stories of America's past, students will be provided opportunities to apply the knowledge and skills of the social sciences: critical-thinking skills; collection, organization and analysis of historical data; problem solving and decision making; communication of information in written, oral and visual form. Ken Burns' PBS series, Lewis and Clark, and Steven Spielberg's series, Into the West, will be incorporated into the study to provide lasting and memorable visual images of the era, engage student interest and encourage interaction and discussion.


Yearbook Journalism - 2 semesters for 1 credit - Prerequisite: Teacher recommendation

Yearbook is designed for students to explore the world of journalism with a hands-on experience of creating the Dallas Academy yearbook, the DA Legend. Students will study copy writing, design and layout, learn and practice effective interview techniques, develop journalistic photography skills, produce documents using on-line design on Balfour software, and gain important life skills of responsibility, leadership, and decision-making.