Literature & Composition
Language Arts The Junior High curriculum at Hillside Student Community School incorporates Language Arts through a unique and successful system. The daily Word Roots class focuses on language arts, vocabulary development, study skills, and organization. In the rotating afternoon blocks, students delve deeper into the study of classic literature and the art of writing.
Word Roots The Word Roots class emphasizes English vocabulary studies based on Latin and Greek roots. This approach equips students with additional tools to comprehend and decipher challenging words encountered throughout their studies. The class also correlates with successful performance on college entrance exams and provides a firm foundation in English grammar, spelling, and word transference. Students engage with both non-fiction and fiction books across various genres, writing book report summaries and completing projects that incorporate arts, crafts, poetry, and drama to demonstrate their understanding of the themes, characters, setting, plot, and symbolism within the literature.
Classic Literature The Classic Literature studies further develop grammar, composition, creative writing, and poetry skills. Students explore and gain an understanding of various themes, plot, characters, and symbolism through journaling and discussions. The class concludes with the writing of a well-constructed theme paper, with explicit instruction and peer collaboration throughout the writing process to refine their skills.
The seventh-grade Classic Literature Block includes works of fiction such as “The Secret Garden” by Burnett, “The Prince and the Pauper” by Twain, “The Little Prince” by Exupery, and “Treasure Island” by Stevenson.
The eighth-grade Classic Literature Block draws from works of fiction like “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Remarque, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Lee, “The Tombs of Atuan” by LeGuin, and “The Old Man and the Sea” by Hemingway.
Pre-Algebra I Pre-Algebra I provides students with a strong foundation for excelling in algebra. Students learn to solve one-step equations and become familiar with properties such as commutative, associative, and distributive properties, as well as the laws of exponents. Geometric concepts, such as volume of three-dimensional figures and the triangle sum theorem, are also covered. Students have the opportunity to discover new material independently, followed by instruction on multiple problem-solving methods and practice. The pace of the course may vary depending on individual student comfort levels, covering either the 7th grade Common Core Standards or both the 7th and 8th grade Common Core Standards.
Pre-Algebra II Pre-Algebra II builds upon the material covered in the 8th grade Common Core Standards. This course further solidifies students’ understanding of concepts that form the foundation for algebra. Topics include probability, solving multi-step equations and inequalities, and an introduction to graphing lines. Similar to Pre-Algebra I, students engage in independent discovery followed by instruction and practice on multiple problem-solving methods.
Algebra Algebra is a subject often seen as a gateway to higher-level math courses. It is crucial for students to connect new ideas with their prior knowledge of number sense and arithmetic skills in order to achieve deep understanding. This course focuses on hands-on investigations, open-ended tasks, and the use of symbols to represent mathematical specifics and find solutions. The course emphasizes understanding why a function or approach works and when and how to apply it. Class time is divided between group problem-solving and individual work on computation skills, preparing students for success in higher-level Algebra courses.
Forest Ecology The Forest Ecology course immerses students in the study of the forest ecosystem. Students make daily trips into the forest on campus, learning to identify individual species and understand their interactions. They develop their own scientific questions, formulate hypotheses, and design and conduct studies to test their hypotheses. The course also covers topics such as habitats, ecological interactions, energy flow, nutrient cycling, succession, and natural resource management. Students observe these concepts in action in the forest, providing a practical application of their classroom learning.
Introduction to Physics The Introduction to Physics course offers a survey of various topics, including Newton’s Laws, electricity, color, and wave properties. The focus is on developing an understanding of units, manipulating formulas, solving for unknown variables, and writing clear explanations of ideas. The goal is to equip students with the necessary skills for future science classes while fostering an appreciation for the beauty of physics.
General Science The General Science course covers critical components of science from the smallest scale to the largest scale. It begins with a study of atoms and molecules, providing a foundation for understanding chemical reactions in human biology. The course then explores our planet Earth and its interactions with the rest of the solar system, galaxy, and universe. Throughout the year, students learn the importance of scientific evidence and focus on quality experimental design.
Washington State History and Government The Washington State History and Government course examines the history of Washington from geographic, political, economic, and cultural perspectives. The course is divided into three blocks:
- The first block focuses on the history of Native Americans in Washington and the impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 on the Chinese community. Students also explore Japanese American resistance during the 1940s through the study of archives detailing everyday life in the Puyallup Assembly Center.
- The second block delves into the history of labor unions in Washington and examines the Chicano and Black Panther movements of the late 1960s and 1970s. Students learn about these movements through documentaries, oral history, art expressions, and field trips.
- The third block examines the function of local and state government, while also focusing on life skills such as decision-making, problem-solving, time management, and communication. The goal is to inspire students to advocate for themselves, build healthy relationships, and make effective decisions.
Successful completion of this course fulfills a full year of Social Studies, exceeding the half-year requirement for Washington State History.
Global Studies The Global Studies course explores the geography, general histories, and current events of South America, Asia, and Africa through various mediums such as stories, film, music, dance, art, food, field trips, and guest speakers. Each block, students research a country and create presentations or visual materials about their chosen country. The course also focuses on skills such as summarization, notation, and MLA citation for historical research writing, paragraph structure, and identification of bias in writing.
Fundamentals of Visual Art I (7th Grade)
The Fundamentals of Visual Art I course provides seventh-grade students with a foundation in the basic principles of art and design. Students explore a wide range of media and techniques through assignments categorized into drawing/painting, design/composition, and three-dimensional crafts/sculpture. Classes also emphasize the importance of maintaining a sketchbook for drawing practice both in and out of class.
Fundamentals of Visual Art II (8th Grade)
Building upon the foundations laid in grade seven, the Fundamentals of Visual Art II course introduces eighth-grade students to new media and techniques. Students further develop their skills in drawing/painting, design/composition, and three-dimensional crafts/sculpture. In addition to class exercises and assignments, students are required to complete a personal project during the block, allowing them to pursue their interests and challenge themselves in a medium of their choice. Sketchbooks are also used to cultivate the discipline of drawing practice.
The Creative Dramatics program offers students the opportunity to engage in drama games, improvisation, and acting exercises. Through these activities, students explore various ethical and moral issues, study relationships, and learn to tell original stories with imagination and wit. This program fosters important skills such as the ability to take risks, the power of effective communication through spoken word, emotional resilience, and the ability to think on one’s feet.
The Physical Education program at Hillside Student Community School includes four periods per week of supervised, non-competitive physical activity. Additionally, the school offers a fencing club after school as a competitive sport open to the broader community.
During the month of September and again from May to June, students have the opportunity to participate in afternoon block electives. The specific elective courses vary each year based on student and teacher input, drawing upon community artists and resources. These ungraded courses aim to encourage student participation in a wide range of experiences. Past electives have included Astronomy, Auto Mechanics, Classical Greek, Creative Writing, Community Service, Computer Science, Cooking, Drama, Drawing and Painting, Film Making, Forestry, Pottery, Robotics, Rock Climbing, Sewing, and Woodcarving.
Drama Elective The drama elective at Hillside offers students the opportunity to explore self-expression and teamwork through classic plays of world theater. Students engage with various disciplines such as natural sciences, history, dance, music, literature, language, and philosophical discussion. By finding and developing a character, students gain insights into human motives and learn to communicate effectively. Recent productions include works by Bertolt Brecht, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Nicolai Gogol, Thornton Wilder, Mikhael Bulgakov, Tim Supple, and Jean Giraudoux, as well as plays by William Shakespeare.