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Curriculum

Be an Architect of Your Own Education

 

Beacon students have the opportunity to explore their own interests and passions within the context of a robust, vibrant curriculum delivered by committed, caring faculty members. Our curriculum is designed to provide a broad base of knowledge while also allowing room for our students to follow a path that is self-designed. All of our students are prepared to tackle the rigor of college. More importantly, however, Beacon students learn to navigate the real world with a sense of purpose by their engagement in the courses, the flexibility of their schedule, and the opportunities they have to be the architects of their own education.

Our Courses

 

9th and 10th grade students take their courses in a cohort, with the exception of math and foreign language. The courses  include: Integrated Science, Math, Spanish, American History, American Literature, and Theatre, Visual Arts, or Music. The first two years of study prepare students to pursue more advanced classes as 11th and 12th graders. Please see below for a summary and download a clickable pdf here.

History

IB World History

IB World History explores the history of the Middle East and Africa after 1914, as well as conflicts and intervention, authoritarian states, and independence movements in the modern world. In this class students will work on the following historical skills: respecting the humanity of all those who have lived through trying to understand their world on their terms; accepting the vast number of historical narratives that can and do exist while rejecting that there is one “truth” of history; at the same time trying to make sense of how and why changes (big and small) have happened over time; being comfortable with not knowing; being resilient in the face of setback; asking historical questions (how and why does change happen over time?); finding and identifying varied sources to help answer those questions; close-reading and analyzing those sources; combining multiple sources to answer a question; articulating those answers as arguments in verbal, written, and other formats; and understanding what other historians have said about question/topics like students’ questions and articulating how students’ arguments relate to/expand on/contradict those historians’ arguments.

American History A and American History B

American History A and B is a mixed cohort, two-year cycle that addresses critical events, concepts, and problems in US History. During this cycle, students investigate a number of central themes: political and social revolutions, industrialization and its outcomes, movement of peoples, and the nature of culture. As they master themes and concepts, students also gain a strong grasp of timelines and historical turning points, which in turn shine a light on the nature of cause and effect in historical events.

Teachers stress collaborative work and discussions with a special emphasis on self-directed work and research. Students are assessed by a number of methods, including summative tests and thesis papers. Special attention is given to developing strong academic writing skills, along with the sophisticated reading comprehension skills necessary to work with primary texts. While stronger academic skills are one goal, it is equally important to cultivate a true appreciation, even passion, for the work of the historian. As a Montessori-based program, Beacon’s history curriculum seeks to inspire life-long learners who are confident, curious, and capable of being an active part of their own education.

World History Seminar

This class is designed for Beacon’s 11th-grade cohort. The class follows the theme-based nature of American History A and B but stresses independent inquiry and advanced academic writing. Students meet in a seminar setting and are expected to be active participants in their own education by choosing topics and arguments that inspire them. Picking fights with history is strongly encouraged in this class!

Students learn first-hand the power, as well as the limitations, of primary sources. The emphasis on analysis of sources in mind, assessments often take the form of extended in-class essays. A demanding final paper is the final component of the course. It’s the expectation of this course that students will enter their senior year at Beacon prepared for work at any level.

Ways of Seeing: Sight, Interpretation, and the Rise of Visual Culture

We live in a visual culture that favors pictures and images over other related forms of expression. And yet we all know not to put blind trust in what we see in the age of Photoshop and CGI. Sight is, was, and will be enormously important—but also limited and problematic. We will see this vexing combination in material ranging from cave paintings to an article so new it won’t be published until next autumn. This interdisciplinary humanities course will investigate how this specific human sense has been valued, questioned, maligned, and abused. We will consider some of the major debates around sight in order to understand, given the meteoric rise of visual culture in the last century, the solutions and successes as well as the thorny, troubling topics that persist. Our journey will show us how we got to where we are today, and along the way we will become more knowledgeable, nuanced, and self-aware interpreters of visual culture.

Given our investigation, it should come as no surprise that we will explore a broad range of material, requiring that we embrace diversity of media, field of inquiry, and opinion. We will study films, graphic novels, advertisements, YouTube, plays, paintings, television, photographs, video games, poetry, and social media. We will compare and synthesize ideas from fields of inquiry ranging from philosophy to anthropology to art history to neuroscience. We will encounter a wide range of perspectives and debate a plethora of controversies and dilemmas.

Just about everything we do, from major projects to daily discussions, will be created collaboratively. In fact, students will play an essential role in determining the precise trajectory of the course beyond the opening weeks. Assessments will vary between traditional and non-traditional, obvious and unusual, typical and weird.

Senior Seminar: Exploring the Human Condition

In this interdisciplinary humanities course we will explore fundamental questions about the human condition:

  • What does it mean to be human?
  • How do we define – and understand – who we are?
  • What are our responsibilities to others?
  • How did we, and others, get to this place in the world?
  • How can we think about our lives in this world and discover our roles in it?
  • How ought we, both personally and communally, respond to the world and its demands?

We will read and study texts by Aristotle, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Hobbes, Soren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Emmanuel Levinas (among others). This course will be run like an intensive college seminar. Students will be responsible for thoughtful class engagement and initiating and leading class discussions. The material will be complex, the pace rapid, and the standards high – just like college.

Literature

IB English Literature

The IB English course gives students the exciting opportunity to study a wide range of diverse world literature. The course is built on the assumption that literature is concerned with our conceptions, interpretations and experiences of the world. Students are encouraged to appreciate the artistry of literature and to develop an ability to reflect critically on their reading. Works are studied in their literary and cultural contexts, through close study of individual texts and passages, and by considering a range of critical approaches. In view of the international nature of the IB and its commitment to intercultural understanding, the study of works in translation is especially important in exploring other cultural perspectives. The response to the study of literature is through both oral and written communication, thus enabling students to develop and refine their command of language.

American Literature A and American Literature B

American Literature A and B is a mixed-cohort, two-year cycle that addresses critical reading and writing, genre recognition, creative writing, and literary terminology as well as philosophy and the history of ideas. This course is run seminar style where students engage each other as they read challenging, thought-provoking literature. The course follows a workshop approach that emphasizes writing as a process by attending to strategies for generating interpretive ideas for essays, writing effective and authoritative essays, and revising and rewriting essays to sharpen both acuity and expression. Assignments include informal response papers, in-class critical analyses, longer essays, and class presentations. Students are also responsible for keeping a reading journal throughout the year. Authors we will read include: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Flannery O’Connor, Richard Wright, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tim O’Brien, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Zora Neale Hurston, Cormac McCarthy, Billy Collins, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gene Luen Yang, and Audre Lorde.

World Literature

World Literature is run like an intensive seminar. Lecturing is at a minimum: Students are responsible for active class engagement and initiating and leading discussions. The course focuses on close, critical textual analyses; intertextual studies (how different works influence and “speak to” each other); historical context; and performance. Using a wide spectrum of literary works (poetry, drama, short and long fiction) students synthesize and analyze information and sharpen their critical reading and writing skills. Assignments vary from informal response papers and short essays to longer research papers (using secondary resources), creative projects, and class presentations. Students also maintain a reading journal throughout the year. Our texts will include: Hamlet, Jane Eyre (Brontë), The Stranger (Camus), Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Márquez), Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky), as well as some poetry and other shorter fiction.

The Russian Novel: Tolstoy and Dostoevsky

We will read, analyze, and discuss War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov within the broader intellectual and historical context of Russian history and culture. Our primary focus will be on literary form and the novel as a medium for philosophical investigation. Our primary inquiries will include: the genre of the novel, depiction of history, concepts of the self, and religious experience in fiction.

Ways of Seeing: Sight, Interpretation, and the Rise of Visual Culture

We live in a visual culture that favors pictures and images over other related forms of expression. And yet we all know not to put blind trust in what we see in the age of Photoshop and CGI. Sight is, was, and will be enormously important—but also limited and problematic. We will see this vexing combination in material ranging from cave paintings to an article so new it won’t be published until next autumn. This interdisciplinary humanities course will investigate how this specific human sense has been valued, questioned, maligned, and abused. We will consider some of the major debates around sight in order to understand, given the meteoric rise of visual culture in the last century, the solutions and successes as well as the thorny, troubling topics that persist. Our journey will show us how we got to where we are today, and along the way we will become more knowledgeable, nuanced, and self-aware interpreters of visual culture.

Given our investigation, it should come as no surprise that we will explore a broad range of material, requiring that we embrace diversity of media, field of inquiry, and opinion. We will study films, graphic novels, advertisements, YouTube, plays, paintings, television, photographs, video games, poetry, and social media. We will compare and synthesize ideas from fields of inquiry ranging from philosophy to anthropology to art history to neuroscience. We will encounter a wide range of perspectives and debate a plethora of controversies and dilemmas.

Just about everything we do, from major projects to daily discussions, will be created collaboratively. In fact, students will play an essential role in determining the precise trajectory of the course beyond the opening weeks. Assessments will vary between traditional and non-traditional, obvious and unusual, typical and weird.

Senior Seminar: Exploring the Human Condition

In this interdisciplinary humanities course we will explore fundamental questions about the human condition:

  • What does it mean to be human?
  • How do we define – and understand – who we are?
  • What are our responsibilities to others?
  • How did we, and others, get to this place in the world?
  • How can we think about our lives in this world and discover our roles in it?
  • How ought we, both personally and communally, respond to the world and its demands?

We will read and study texts by Aristotle, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, Simone de Beauvoir, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche, Thomas Hobbes, Soren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and Emmanuel Levinas (among others). This course will be run like an intensive college seminar. Students will be responsible for thoughtful class engagement and initiating and leading class discussions. The material will be complex, the pace rapid, and the standards high – just like college.

Mathematics

IB Mathematics (Standard Level)

This course focuses on developing an interconnected, conceptual understanding of the skills, techniques, and habits of mind necessary for mathematical problem solving. Students will grow in their ability to recognize and model patterns, communicate about math both verbally and in writing, and apply course content to solve non-routine problems. Content will come primarily from the six core areas of mathematics established by the IB curriculum: algebra, functions, trigonometry, vectors, probability & statistics, and calculus. In addition to the external written assessment, students will have the opportunity to engage in a project in which they deeply explore and write about an area of mathematics of personal interest. Where appropriate, students will also learn effective use of mathematical technology, including graphing calculutors and Excel. The standard level course is intended for students with a strong interest in math, who are looking for a challenging, conceptual treatment of the material.

IB Mathematics (Higher Level)

This course focuses on developing an interconnected, conceptual understanding of the skills, techniques, and habits of mind necessary for mathematical problem solving. Students will grow in their ability to recognize and model patterns, communicate about math both verbally and in writing, and apply course content to solve non-routine problems. Special emphasis will be placed on the development of formal mathematical language and notation, as well as rigorous justification and proof of results. Content will come primarily from the six core areas of mathematics established by the IB curriculum – algebra, functions, trigonometry, vectors, probability & statistics, and calculus – as well as the in-depth treatment of an optional topic to be chosen as a class. In addition to the external written assessment, students will have the opportunity to engage in a project in which they deeply explore and write about an area of mathematics of personal interest. Where appropriate, students will also learn effective use of mathematical technology, including graphing calculutors and Excel. The higher level course is intended for students with a strong interest and aptitude for math, who are looking for a challenging, rigorous treatment of the material.

Math 1

In Math 1, students develop the concepts, skills, and habits that form the foundation of high school mathematics. Many of the tools are algebraic, but almost all concepts are looked at in a variety of ways including geometric, numeric and verbal approaches. Primary course topics include the study of linear, quadratic, and exponential functions; congruent and similar triangles; the geometric concepts of polygons and circles; the right triangle trigonometric ratios; and probability and statistics. Students utilize their experience to create models and solve contextual problems.

Math 2

Math 2 is an integrated course where students explore various algebraic concepts, such as simplification of square roots and variation functions, are approached geometrically. Slope and measurement are used to introduce trigonometric ratios. Primary course topics include further exploration into quadratic functions; formally defining higher degree polynomial, square root, absolute value, and rational, functions with applications; co-ordinate graphing and transformations of geometric figures; unit circle and general triangle trigonometry; further work with circles (arcs and sectors); statistics and probability. Students utilize their experience to create models and solve contextual problems.

Math 3

Math 3 continues and deepens the work with algebraic manipulation and graphical representation of functions as mathematical models. The practices developed in previous courses are expected to be in place so that the focus is on understanding concepts and demonstrating mastery. Primary course topics include further exploration into all previously studied functions: formally defining the logarithmic function; conic sections; trigonometric identities; graphing trig functions; matrices and vectors; sequences and series; further statistics and probability. Students utilize their experience to create models and solve contextual problems.

Science

IB Biology

Through studying biology students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, it is the emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that characterizes Biology.

The aims enable students, through the overarching theme of the Nature of science, to:
1. Appreciate scientific study and creativity within a global context through stimulating and challenging opportunities
2. Acquire a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterize science and technology
3. Apply and use a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterize science and technology
4. Develop an ability to analyze, evaluate and synthesize scientific information
5. Develop a critical awareness of the need for, and the value of, effective collaboration and communication during scientific activities
6. Develop experimental and investigative scientific skills including the use of current technologies
7. Develop and apply 21st century communication skills in the study of science
8. Become critically aware, as global citizens, of the ethical implications of using science and technology
9. Develop an appreciation of the possibilities and limitations of science and technology
10. Develop an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and their influence on other areas of knowledge.

IB Chemistry

Chemistry is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. It is often called the central science, as chemical principles underpin both the physical environment in which we live and all biological systems. Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, chemistry is a prerequisite for many other courses in higher education, such as medicine, biological science, and environmental science. Beacon Academy students will also examine how the nature of science plays a role in chemistry through studying the development of theories, performing laboratory investigations, and discovering the many interdisciplinary connections of chemistry.

Integrated Science A

This course is an integrated study of the sciences. It focuses on lab work and the lives of scientists.  Lectures, seminars, group work, lab experiences, and fieldwork combine to create a cross-disciplinary grounding in the sciences. Communication, reading, writing and current events in science are also an important aspect of this science class.   As well, this course will cover planning scientific investigations, evaluating results and making real world connections. Specific emphasis will be given to atomic structure and the periodic table and how these atoms and molecules combine to make up the world around us. In addition to this integrated approach, this course raises questions about the ethics of science, including environmental issues, research ethics, genetic engineering, and health care ethics.

Integrated Science B

This course is an integrated study of the sciences. It focuses on lab work and the lives of scientists.  Lectures, seminars, group work, lab experiences, and fieldwork combine to create a cross-disciplinary grounding in the sciences. Communication, reading, writing and current events in science are also an important aspect of this science class.   As well, this course will cover planning scientific investigations, evaluating results and making real world connections.  Specific emphasis will be given to the local ecology and the study of native flora and fauna to better orient students with their place in the world. In addition to this integrated approach, this course raises questions about the ethics of science, including environmental issues, research ethics, genetic engineering, and health care ethics.

Physics

This course will cover physics topics including forces, waves, energy, light and electricity.  Students will learn how to interpret and build electronic circuits, and study the forces associated with designing and building a roller coaster.  Communication, reading, writing and current events in physics and science are also an important aspect of this class.   As well, this course will cover planning scientific investigations, evaluating results and making real world connections.

Advanced Biology

This course takes an in-depth look at cell and molecular biology, genetics, organismal biology, evolution and ecology. This biology course, therefore, is aimed at introducing principles and concepts that apply to life at all levels of organization, no matter how simple or complex they may be.  The class delves further into these topics by introducing real world problems which may include topics such as cell biology and cancer, emerging and re-emerging diseases, stem cell biology, genetically modified organisms and droughts.  In each of the these areas the student will learn using a variety of educational approaches, such as; lectures, discussions, lab activities, experiments, research, independent study, and cooperative learning activities.

Marine Biology

Analysis of the ecology of marine systems. The open ocean, estuaries, salt marshes, beaches, mud and sand flats, seagrass beds, rocky shores, coral reefs, and deep sea are examined. Introduction to the ecology and conservation of large marine animals including marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, invertebrates, bony fishes, and sharks. Using marine megafauna examples and case studies, this course integrates fundamental ecological concepts with interdisciplinary discussion of ocean ecosystems, animal physiology and behavior.  We will consider social value and cultural use, and national and international conservation and management.  Problems of pollution, beach erosion, and the management of declining fisheries is also presented.

Environmental Issues

Introduction to national and global environmental issues. Students learn the basic concepts of ecology, including population growth models, species interactions, and ecosystem and biosphere processes. Building on this scientific base, students use an interdisciplinary approach to analyze economic, ethical, political, and social aspects of environmental issues. Topics include human population dynamics, air and water pollution, toxic wastes, food production, land use, biodiversity and energy utilization.

World Language

IB Spanish I

The purpose of IB Spanish is to foster the language acquisition process necessary for students to become proficient in Spanish by improving the four languages skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students will be able to use Spanish effectively and respond spontaneously according to the cultural context of a situation. They will also be able to analyze and respond critically to the topics developed in class. Students will also develop an objective appreciation of the different views of people from other cultures and their cultural legacy. The course will also help students become citizens of the world.

IB French I

The purpose of this course is to foster language acquisition, intercultural understanding, and global citizenship. The course is organized into thematic units that put the French language into context and encourage development of the IB learner profile. By exploring thematic content, students will expand their skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students will be able to use the language effectively and respond spontaneously according to the cultural context of a situation. They will also be able to analyze and respond critically in the target language to the topics developed in class. Students will also develop an objective appreciation of the different views of people from other cultures and their cultural legacy.Spanish I

In Level 1 Spanish, students take the first steps towards fluency by learning proper pronunciation, accumulating a vocabulary of up to 650 words and learning the present, present progressive, Direct Object pronouns and the beginnings of the preterite tense. Each week students making use of that vocabulary through grammatically correct and conversation relevant to the student’s high school experience. Year 1 is about learning the language that can be used in the context of friends family and in the city of Chicago. Throughout the course of the year, Instagram images, music and videos are viewed and analyzed on a basic level. By the end of the year students will have read their first novel in Spanish, and they will be comfortable having basic conversation revolving around who they are, what they like, and what they observe about the people and the world around them. Starting semester 2, the class is taught solely in Spanish.

Spanish II

Level II Spanish reviews and expands upon basic grammar concepts and conversation previously learned. Students will review the present and present progressive tense and will learn the preterite tense, preterite imperfect, reflexive verbs, and commands. They are introduced to 450 plus words added to the vocabulary they learned the year prior. Students continue to apply and learn vocabulary relevant to their high school experience and the city of Chicago but, they now begin to apply what they know to a global context. Instagram images, music, news articles, and videos are watched and analyzed on a more complex level.  Lessons will taught mostly in Spanish but, students are expected to engage with their peers and teacher solely in Spanish. By the end of the year, they will have read a beginner/intermediate Spanish novel and be writing and be able to engage in Spanish conversation using complex sentences.

Spanish III

Level III Spanish introduces advanced grammar i.e. future tense, conditional tenses, and the subjunctive. The year begins with a review of previously learned tenses and the addition of specialized vocabulary lists relevant to national and global contexts. Instagram images, music, news articles, and videos are watched and analyzed in a way which students will engage in critical thinking conversations in Spanish.  All lessons will be taught in Spanish and students are expected to engage with their peers and teacher solely in Spanish. A portion of Level III Spanish will take the students into Spanish speaking neighborhoods of Chicago to engage with the community in the Spanish language. By the end of the year students will be writing essay pieces in Spanish, have read a Intermediate level Spanish novel, and they will be eloquent conversational Spanish speakers.

French I

This course is intended for the beginning French student; no previous knowledge of the language is necessary. Using immersion-based classroom techniques, songs, and games, we will focus on the four major areas of language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. There will be an emphasis on interactive communication skills, and students will be encouraged to focus on how they can use the language in practical contexts. We will also cover cultural topics and authentic texts from the Francophone world, such as short stories, poems, current events, music videos, short films, and social media. Possible areas of focus include French-speaking countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and the Caribbean. 

French II

Building upon students’ previous knowledge of the French language, this course will focus on extending skills and acquiring a deeper understanding of the language. Instruction will be designed to meet students’ individual needs, with the knowledge that there may be a variety of levels within the classroom. We will work together on more complex grammatical structures and developing skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing. As in French I, there will be an emphasis on interactive communication skills, and students will be encouraged to focus on how they can use the language in practical contexts. This course will also cover cultural topics and authentic texts from the Francophone world, such as short stories, poems, current events, music videos, short films, and social media. Possible areas of focus include French-speaking countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and the Caribbean.

Physical Education

The program is one of fitness for life that provides opportunities for students to engage in life sports and physical activities in addition to playing with friends. The course offers introductions to a variety of team and individual sports as well as opportunities for basic cardio training, strength training, geocaching, orienteering, yoga, and others.

Visual and Digital Arts

Digital Filmmaking  | ( Fall 2016)

A course designed to cover key concepts and practices for making a digital video project. Topics include an introduction to digital video cameras, camera movement, lighting, shot composition, sound, visual storytelling, working as a film making crew, and editing with an Apple computer. In-class demonstrations and exercises will allow students to work collaboratively on group projects as a digital cinema team.   Grading will be based on assigned classroom work, in-class presentations,and a major video project completed during the semester. 1/2 credit.

Project Studio | ( Spring 2017)

Beacon Project Studio – A semester long art elective. Graded with 1/2 hour credit. Entrepreneurial, Self-directed, Interdisciplinary. You Can Choose to do ANYTHING. It can be something you learn, something you become, something you explore, something you discover, something you change, something you design, something you organize … anything. It doesn’t have to be something you make.  Each student must select and design the course of action.  Build a piece of furniture, make a mobile app for IOS or Android, learn a programming language such as Python, Ruby, or C++, study lead levels in Evanston water supply, make a short movie, make a short documentary, write a short story or a graphic novel, understand and take steps to improve a local social problem, start a business, create an artistic representation of a mathematical model, learn to make five “signature dishes,” produce a video commercial for a local business using “whiteboard” animation, create a science experiment and produce a paper with results, record audio or video of a family elder, grow microgreens, build concrete bowls, make a quilt, learn to sew or knit or crochet, learn to fish on Lake Michigan, learn to use woodworking tools, crosscut, write a stand-up comedy routine or a “Moth Radio” type story and deliver it at a club, memorize and recite a long poem, volunteer to improve a program at a hospital, learn to shoot a shotgun, and be able to identify 10 trees and 10 birds common to Northern Illinois.  Students will submit proposals to the academic dean prior to the semester for one or more “projects” they intend to pursue. We will assess a “percentage of semester” value to each project. Some projects might only have 25% semester value. Others might be 100%. Submittals must total 100% value.  The Beacon adult course “mentor” would work with each student and provide advice, guidance, and assessment.   Students would base the work out of Beacon or other approved location.  Students may work on the project at any time, but must attend during the formally scheduled Beacon time twice each week.

IB Visual Arts

The visual arts course is student-centered and places student exploration at the heart of a holistic learning experience. Students have a free choice to identify, select and explore artists, artworks, cultural contexts, and media and forms for study which interest and excite them. They also have freedom to present their studies in a variety of creative ways, including presentations, demonstrations and exhibitions. Organization, self-management and independent study skills are important, as well as higher-order thinking skills, such as analysis and synthesis. Students should also learn to make decisions about what is relevant and useful for their own investigations and how to put their knowledge and understanding into practice, transforming ideas into action.

Students will explore the following three core areas:

   Theoretical Practice – Students will examine and compare works of arts from different cultures and periods of time, investigate different processes and techniques, and explore ways to communicate their ideas through art making and the written word.

   Art-making Practice – Students will develop a body of artwork through the process of investigation, thinking critically, and experimentation with different processes and techniques. Reflection and assessing will be an important part of this process.

   Curatorial Practice – Students will formulate personal intentions for creating and displaying their work. They will assess and reflect whether their work communicates meaning and purpose.

Studio Art

Beacon Academy Studio Art Class is student-centered and places student exploration at the heart of a holistic learning experience. First time Studio Art students will explore a variety of art media, tools, and techniques while being challenged by thought provoking projects. Students will develop a body of artwork through the process of observation, investigation, critical thinking, experimentation, and reflection. They will examine and compare works of art from different cultures and periods of time. These works will inspire and influence artistic decisions that students make. As students develop as an artist they will have the freedom to explore the materials and techniques of their choice, while developing personal intentions. Students will be encouraged to explore personal, cultural, political, and social justice topics, while forming themes and ideas for their artwork. Project ideas will be available for those students who would still prefer some guidelines.

Music

IB Music

This course is designed for music students with varied backgrounds in music performance. The aim of the IB music program is to give music students the opportunity to explore and enjoy the diversity of music throughout the world by enabling them to creatively develop their knowledge, abilities and understanding of music through a variety of experiences including research, performance and composition. Students will be expected to demonstrate their understanding of music by using appropriate musical language and terminology in analyzing musical works from many varied cultures and periods, and by exploring music through music theory, aural skills, composition, and music history.

Interim Week - February 2017

A Taste of Chicago Colleges

This full day interim program open to sophomores and juniors will introduce students to six distinctive colleges and universities in the greater Chicagoland area. Using public transportation, we will depart from Beacon each morning to explore a different college or university in our region. We will spend time on each campus, taking an official admissions tour and sitting in on an information session, but also taking advantage of the opportunity to explore on our own by sitting in on a class, wandering the campus, and (as the title implies) eating lunch at each college. We will visit colleges of different types, including The University of Chicago (a private midsized urban research university), the University of Illinois at Chicago (a large public urban research university), DePaul University (a large Catholic urban university), Loyola University Chicago (a midsized urban Catholic university), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (a small urban private college for art and design), Columbia College Chicago (a midsized urban private college for creative fields), and Elmhurst College (a small private suburban liberal arts college with a heavy emphasis on social justice). This Interim will require a lot of walking and comfort with public transportation systems. Students might wish to bring petty cash for transportation costs, snacks, and bookstore swag.

 

Exploring the Worlds of D&D

In this course we will explore Dungeons & Dragons from a wide variety of angles based on student interest. There are many possible paths, and I’ll list just a few options we may consider. We might learn how to be an effective Dungeon Master (DM), both in assembling a campaign and in running the game session, and players can practice running short encounters and assemble materials for a future campaign. We might explore the materials of Fifth Edition, especially some of the brand new supplemental volumes adding new character types, monsters, locations, and lore. We might run a variety of scenarios to sharpen our roleplaying abilities to maximize effective strategy and group fun. We might discuss how the game has evolved, including important changes, additions, and controversies. We might deep dive into particular aspects of lore and background information — some students may want to learn more about, for example, a famous city, a certain group of monsters, or the religious practices of Orcs.

 

 

Exploring British Culture

For this interim we will explore different aspects of British culture, including dialect, history, media and of course food. We will also discuss some of the differences between American and British culture. The interim will also include visits to different restaurants to try out some proper British food. From Downton Abbey to having a cheeky Nando’s, come along and find out what puts the great in Great Britain – it will be brilliant!

 

 

Passion to Action

This class will focus on community service and outreach. Each day we will engage with members of the Evanston community, learn more about non-profit organizations, and do community outreach and service projects. We will also have the opportunity to partner with students from other Evanston schools (ETHS and Roycemore) for activities during Youth Leadership Day on Friday, March 3. This class is a great way for students to get involved in service projects in our larger school community!

 

 

Percussion Ensemble with the Old Town School

In this program, students learn and share the rhythms of West Africa with an experiential, community-building process. Through hands-on instruction, collaborative discussion, reflection and experimentation, students grow in their musical knowledge and use creative thinking and decision making skills to form their own unique performance ensemble. Drums and percussion instruments include djembe, dunun, agogo bell, clave, shekere and more.

 

 

Iron Chef…Beacon Style

Twelve students max. Four teams go up against each other to shop, create, and present a culinary experience based on a different theme each day. This is a morning interim class; dishes will be presented at lunch time. Celebrity” judges will comment and choose a winner.

 

 

A Course About Nothing: How Seinfeld Shaped Modern Comedy

It is a scientifically proven fact that Seinfeld remains the most relevant, culturally impactful sitcom in the history of television. A mainstay of NBC’s primetime lineup from 1989-1998, the series follows Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer, a gang of single, thirty-something New Yorkers, as they banter over the “excruciating minutiae” of their remarkably mundane existences.

 

Doing Something and Learning while Drinking Coffee

This interim is designed by the students who attended the FIRE conference at Lake Forest Academy and wanted to keep thinking about what they learned there — while doing something with what they learned. Students are all interested in different issues (human rights, the environment, women’s rights, poverty, mental health, racial justice, to name only a few) but are all invested in creating an interim that allows them to learn more about the things they and other students care about.

 

 

Our Food Choices

This interim will take a look at how our food choices not only impact our bodies and health but the environment. As consumers, we have a lot of choices when it comes to what we eat but often limited information and knowledge. During this interim you will learn more about food from farming techniques to what a genetically modified crop is. We will discuss controversial topics in the food industry such as Food Labeling, Food Fraud, Animal Treatment and how much the government should regulate.

 

 

Tech Week

Students will have the option to work on a variety of tech project including disassembling and building a desktop computer, configuring a Raspberry Pi computer with the Linux OS, experimenting with the Electric IMP module for data acquisition and cloud based reporting, using our 3D Printer, testing and analyzing an actual 80-watt solar panel, starting an online Python course, creating a whiteboard animation, and perhaps a field trip or two.

 

Triathlon

During this half-day interim, students will learn about the sport of triathlon as well as prepare to complete a mini indoor triathlon at the YMCA on Friday. Participants will need to be willing to swim, bike and run/walk (at least 2 out of 3 disciplines each day). Students will set individual goals, so all speeds are welcome, so long as the student has a good attitude about participating! There will also be time for discussion, a movie about triathlon, and/or a guest speakers each day. The mini triathlon at the end of the week will consist of a 10-minute swim, 30 minutes on a spin bike and a 20-minute run/walk.

 

 

African Cultural Immersion

In this course we will explore African cultures through film, literature, food, and performance. In particular we will explore the cultures of Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, and (perhaps) Algeria. This will be a very engaging and interactive interim – and you will learn a lot about this majestic and diverse continent!

 

 

Make ART!!!

Spend a week making art! The art studio will be opened for you to concentrate on one art form or explore and experiment in processes that you have been meaning to try. Painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking are some of the mediums that you can work in. Try our new printing press! I will provide demos on several printmaking processes if there is interest.

 

 

Beacon 2016-17 Yearbook

Be a pivotal part of designing, laying out, and creating the Beacon Academy 2016-17 yearbook! Interested in writing? This is for you. Interested in design? This is for you. Interested in photography? This is for you. Interested in creating a piece of Beacon history? This is for you!

 

 

Stage Combat with R&D Choreography (Piven Theatre)

Students work with highly sought-after Chicago theatre professionals to learn the basics of stage combat in a fun, challenging, and safe environment. R&D Choreography was founded in 1997 by David Bareford and Richard Gilbert for the purpose of improving the power and effectiveness of Chicago area theatre through the art of violence design. R&D has designed violence for over three hundred productions, taught stage combat at universities, colleges, and workshops, and performed in traditional theatre, live stunt shows, and film. R&D has designed violence for dozens of Chicago area theatres.

 

 

The Laramie Project Rehearsal

The Beacon cast and will rehearse for their upcoming performances of Moisés Kaufman’s play.
This interim class is required for all cast members in the play.

 

 

Guitar Sessions

Do you want to dedicate a week to guitar? Now is your chance! As long as you have fingers and are interested in making music, you are a good candidate for this session. During our afternoons together the goal is to learn a few songs and acquire new skills. “Do I need experience,” you ask? Nope. Many guitar players are self-taught. They started by finding a tune they enjoyed and they figured out the chords. This is what we will be doing together. Short lessons will be offered for those that need the basics and then – we play! For those with experience, this is a time to stretch yourself, learn new chords, new songs, and enjoy playing with others. The days will consist of music making, breaks with food and music listening, and an outing where we play in a found spot outside of school. If you do not have a guitar, we will provide you with one. Rest assured, there will be no final performance. The point is to make music, learn skills that you can carry on when interim is over (and look super cool with a guitar of course).

 

 

Becoming Global Citizens

In this interim, students will tackle some of the biggest issues facing our global society: Education for all, peacekeeping and conflict resolution, and how to approach the fight against poverty. We may also investigate how to address climate change and water safety/pollution. We need students who are interested not only in brainstorming, but also gathering data, conducting interviews, and even willing to help make a short film about our chosen topic. This is in preparation for a Beacon presence (along with The Catherine Cook School) at the worldwide G.I.N. Conference happening in early March.

 

 

Hidden Messages in DNA

This interim will introduce students to the many encoded rules within the DNA sequence. This type of science, Bioinformatic Algorithms, is used to find where a gene begins, where a gene ends, where viruses like to insert themselves into a DNA sequence, and such. We will start with the steps to find a rule within the DNA sequence, and eventually use computer programs that have the rules in the programing (algorithm) to “scan” the DNA sequence to find our hidden messages.