Middle & High School Academics
Constructivist and Socratic teaching methods are at the core of the Attic’s pedagogical approach. Attic students are intrinsically motivated and active learners. The principle role of the instructor is to act as a facilitator, consistently challenging assumptions, highlighting nuance, and encouraging students toward deeper understanding and higher level thinking. Attic classes encourage students to go beyond the “facts” toward an understanding of “why” and “how”; they challenge students to approach learning with an open, inquisitive, and critical mind.
Middle & High School Course Catalogs
In middle and high school, English classes focus on writing fluency and proficiency, with classes exploring strong essay writing skills, literary analysis tools, narrative and persuasive writing, and advanced writing conventions. Wherever possible, courses strive to connect literature and writing to students’ own world experiences and life questions. Attic writing classes empower students to write at a highly rigorous level, while still retaining their constructivist approach and focus on intrinsic motivation.
Attic science classes in middle and high school utilize a constructivist approach, while at the same time offering a rigorous course of study, in a variety of science disciplines. Science choice is incorporated into the schedule as much as possible allowing students to follow their individual interests and goals. Classes offered in previous years include geology, invertebrate biology, human anatomy and physiology, genetics, physics, ecology, environmental science, chemistry, and cell biology. The overall goal of science classes at the Attic is to encourage active, critical scientific thinking. To this end, science classes involve a comprehensive lab component to nurture high level scientific methodology; are taught for conceptual understanding; and require a high level of engagement, reading, and writing. Text books used are typically advanced high school/college level.
Math at The Attic is highly individualized. math groups typically consist of four to seven students, and students are carefully placed into math groups based on understanding. A strong visual approach for conceptual understanding is used at all levels of the curriculum. In middle and high school, students complete Visual Math Course 3 from the Math Learning Center in Salem, Oregon, then move onto the Integrated Mathematics Program from Key Curriculum Press. Combined, these curricula provide an integrated math approach that blends the traditional Algebra I- Geometry-Algebra II/Trigonometry-Precalculus sequence. Through high level work in these programs, students develop intuitions about math, which enables them to think logically and effectively about complex, abstract mathematical concepts. Students who complete the full IMP math curriculum usually place into pre-calculus 141 or 142 at the community college level, or move directly into calculus.
Middle and high school level social science courses cover a range of subject areas including geography, U.S. history, political literature, and current events. College level courses, offered to upper-level high school students, include philosophy, comparative religion, and world history. All social science courses at the Attic are highly reading- and writing-intensive. Class time is organized around group discussion and debate of the major questions, themes and ideas underlying the social sciences. Emphasis is on developing open-minded, deeply thoughtful, critical thinkers who are knowledgeable and reflective about their world and can clearly communicate their ideas verbally and in writing.
The Attic offers a wide variety of electives in areas such as music, creative writing, current events, fine and visual arts, drama, computer programming, project-based language immersion, and weight training. Many high school students also take adavantage of the opportunity to teach multi-age classes in their area of expertise. Past student-led classes include Mouse Genetics, Flash-Fiction, drama and soccer.
The Attic is committed to a strong language program at the high school level. Currently there is a sequential instruction in two languages, Mandarin and Spanish. Attic language courses support students as they develop the linguistic and cultural competency needed to communicate and work effectively in our global society. Emphasis is on funcitonal use of the target language while students develop listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. In addition to proficiency in the target language, courses help students gain an understanding of diverse cultures while deepening their empathy for those different from themselves.
Interest projects are an annual tradition at the Attic. Each year, students of all ages select a topic based on their individual passions and interests. Students spend nearly four months researching, drafting their papers, and preparing presentations,becoming an expert in their chosen field in the process. They then share their expertise by teaching their subject to an audience of teachers, parents, and fellow students at the Attic’s annual interest project night. Interest projects play a large part in helping Attic students become very skilled researchers and confident, articulate public speakers.
High schoolers have the option of entering NWABR’s highly-acclaimed Bioexpo.
The Student Bioexpo is a unique science fair that engages high school students to demonstrate their understanding of biotechnology and biomedicine in creative ways. Each student chooses a biology topic and project category from a variety of forms - art, drama, music, molecular modeling, web design, traditional scientific research, creative writing or journalism. During their project, students have the option to work with a mentor scientist currently working in the field of biotechnology. For all projects, students are required to do extensive research, write an in-depth scientific paper to rigorous standards, and present their findings to judges and spectators.
Beginning in high school, Attic students add Walkabout to their schedule. This class is designed to help teens develop a deeper sense of self as they enter young adulthood; to nurture their passion for learning; and to provide them with the support and freedom that are needed to develop more deeply as a self-directed learner. An overnight high school retreat and community service projects are integrated into the class and deepen students’ sense of self and community.
Beginning at age 15, Attic high schoolers have the option to take classes at the Attic part-time at a reduced tuition. This allows students to explore other learning and/or internship opportunities. Many students take advantage of this, integrating classes at their local high school and community college (through Running Start), as well as participating in high school sports, working part-time, or doing internships in the community.