The Dearborn Academy High School curriculum is designed to ensure that all our students receive a high quality education. While many students come to Dearborn with gaps in their learning or needing to re-take core courses, we help all students prepare to pass the required MCAS exams and graduate with a plan for the future.
Our core curriculum classes are characterized by hands-on and project-based learning. We do our best to relate content to real-life problems and to our students’ experiences. To that end, we meet students where they are – adapting the curriculum to their abilities and interests.
Math, language arts, history, and science comprise our core curriculum for all students. We teach in small classes that make it easier for our staff to meet individual needs. We work hard to support both students who need extra help, as well as students who show strong interests in greater challenges and will adapt our curriculum.
All our classes are small enough to allow for a great deal of one-on-one support. Any class with over six students has at least two teachers. Our staff is dedicated to knowing each of the students well. Smaller class sizes enable teachers to customize the curriculum to best fit individual learning needs.
We also offer remediation and individual skill support for those who need it. Our Learning Center specialists are available to help students tackle challenging concepts, improve test-taking skills, and catch up after an absence.
Focus on the Future
The Dearborn Academy High School curriculum is designed to ensure that all of our students receive a high-quality education aligned with the Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks. No matter what their learning challenges or gaps in their education, all our students will be prepared to pass the required state exams.
Math gives us an important way of understanding our world and is vital to every student’s future success.
At Dearborn math classes prepare students to apply math skills in real life. We want our students to feel confident with math requirements in a job, conducting a science experiment, analyzing data, managing personal finances, creating a budget or running a household.
To help students achieve mastery, we introduce math ideas in hands-on ways to help abstract ideas become more concrete. We also weave mathematical thinking into assignments in other classes – science, shop and technology, for example. By keeping our classes small, we’re able to group students by ability and adjust the curriculum to be as responsive as possible to student needs – and still achieve important goals.
Working It Out
We teach math four times a week in 45-minute periods. Students also have math homework three times a week. How you think about problems is sometimes more important than getting to the right answer, so we expect everyone to show their work. Explaining the steps taken to solve a problem will help a student and their teachers understand how they think and help them develop strong math skills.
What You’ll Learn
Math at Dearborn covers a range of topics: number sense and operations, measurement, statistics, probability, geometry and algebra – all in line with State Educational Frameworks. All Dearborn students will meet the state standards by graduation – many will go further.
Starting in the high school, students begin with pre-algebra and advance as far as algebra II, trigonometry and pre-calculus. We also offer math for business and include math challenges in science, technology, shop and other courses so they will learn how to apply their growing knowledge. When students are interested, we’re also happy to provide additional math challenges.
Some students sail through math. Others need to work a lot harder to be successful. Not everyone learns the same way. Our goal is for every student to graduate feeling confident in math and capable of applying their knowledge to everyday situations.
Classroom teachers do an excellent job providing engaging lessons, but sometimes students need special assistance or one-on-one attention. Our Learning Center specialists are available to help you tackle challenging concepts, improve your test-taking skills and catch up after an absence.
At Dearborn students become confident, engaged and enthusiastic readers.
Reading lets students explore the world and human knowledge, history and culture and can be a rich source of pleasure. On the other hand, struggling to read through their school career can be devastating to a students confidence. Dearborn strives to help all students overcome their reading and writing difficulties and provides instruction and support to match their needs. Everyone gets strong preparation for the ELA part of the MCAS.
Read and Write
Dearborn Academy’s high school language arts classes meet four times a week in 45-minute periods. Three times a week there is also homework – reading assignments, writing assignments and other kinds of work to support critical thinking.
English courses at Dearborn include a variety of materials: newer books and classics, poems, plays, essays, inspiring biographies, science fiction and other genres. To help students learn to draw connections across disciplines, some books are related to other classes. For example, while studying early American history, a student might also read The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s great play about the Salem witch trials.
When English Is Not the First Language
Dearborn will provide support to students who do not speak English as their first language. When they have a learning disability and speak another language, learning to read and write in English is doubly hard. Dearborn will provide intensive support to students who are not native English speakers.
For language-based, nonverbal learning disabilities including dyslexia, our Learning Center specialists provide one-on-one or small group support to improve reading comprehension and writing skills. Students come into the Learning Center once a week for services outlined in their IEP, depending on the level of intervention they require. They may get help getting organized for a paper, thinking through an assignment or just want to talk current reading assignments.
Learn more about Reading at Dearborn and our approach to educating students with dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities here (Learning Center).
Global Warming. Stem Cells. Nuclear and Alternative Energy.
At Dearborn Academy we know that being familiar with scientific principles and understanding the goals of scientific inquiry are extremely important for our students as they plan for the future. It is a major priority in our curriculum, and we often go beyond the Massachusetts Frameworks. Even if our students never take a science course again after graduating from Dearborn Academy, we want to ensure that they have the knowledge they need to think like a scientist.
Science classes are held four times a week for 45-minutes. Frequently students participate in labs that provide the opportunity for hands-on learning and field work. Most sciences classes have homework assignments twice a week. Ninth and tenth graders study life sciences, juniors focus on earth science and seniors study physics.
In Dearborn’s biology classes we study everything from the smallest genes to vast habitats. Students learn about DNA, create models of cells and take a close look at real animal specimens to understand their physiology. The two-year biology curriculum rotates through plant and animal sciences, anatomy and population dynamics with exploration of topics like stem cells and genetically modified foods.
Geology is part of our earth science program, along with topics such as meteorology, land use and alternative energy sources. Students develop different methods of inquiry through rock identification labs, controlled field study outdoors and Internet research. Students learn the physical and environmental connections to the world around them, develop areas of expertise, and share their discoveries through oral and visual presentations.
Physics focuses on forces, motion and energy. So students spend a lot of time out of their seats exploring Newton’s Law of motion in labs and projects. With each activity, our goal is to make the formulas students are learning come to life through observation measurement, and analysis.
In all of these areas, students have the opportunity to work on some interesting projects. They amy even work on things like a hovercraft.
History is how we learn about our world and ourselves.
History helps students put themselves in other people’s shoes – to imagine life, for example, as a 14-year-old Jewish immigrant fleeing the Nazis or the president of a small country negotiating with a super power. History can challenge us to put aside our individual perspectives and think instead in terms of others.
Dearborn’s history program includes the study of world events and cultures. Our primary focus is on the history of the United Sates, our systems of government and their purpose, and the geographical and cultural makeup of the world-at-large.
We teach high school history four times a week in 45-minute periods. At Dearborn, we use a cross-discipline approach to history and try to engage our students through a variety of projects, field trips and special events. To supplement and reinforce what they’re learning in history, students study related texts in their language arts class – such as Number the Stars during our study of the Holocaust unit and The Crucible when we explore the meaning of the Salem witch trials. Students, of course, link historical events to current events.
High school history starts with a two-year course in American history. Students in the 11th grade focus on geography and world cultures, which takes a special interest in looking at how human cultures have developed based on the very different natural environments surrounding them. Twelfth grade students study world history and start with ancient civilizations.
We start by studying early American history, including Native American cultures, the first European contact, and the formation of American political institutions. The second year deals with the emergence of the United States as a growing nation and its political history up to modern times.
One of the highlights of the ninth grade year is our trip to Plimoth Plantation to learn about Native American and early Puritan culture. Another popular project occurs in the unit on the American industrial revolution, when students explore Henry Ford’s invention of the assembly line – by manufacturing pizza bagels.
Geography and World Cultures
In their junior year, students start by exploring the different ecological systems of our planet and looking at how different human cultures have developed based on the natural environment. We then move on to explore human relationships, governments, religion and traditions. For example, one of our most popular assignments has been “Make Your Own Country.” Students have created of a nation, applying their knowledge of existing world cultures with posters, flags, essays and presentations that go above and beyond what the project requires.
World history starts with ancient civilizations. Students have fun studying these cultures and have produced a newspaper called “Spartan News” through which to learn about the Romans. Other groups created an “Ask Amy” column and playfully sketched out the cultural norms for the Romans and how they would have resolved various social conflicts. “Letters from the Battlefield” journal different military campaigns and described conditions and costs, social and otherwise, of different conquests.
Body and Mind
As current research has demonstrated, health fitness and exercise are crucial to mood regulation, stress reduction, attention and learning.
Health and fitness opportunities at Dearborn Academy range from a regular health class where students learn important information about their emotional and mental health, to activities woven in to our gym program, to physical activities during recess and regular breaks.
High School students take a health class at least once weekly. This class provides education on the following topics:
- Nutrition and diet
- Physiological and psychological benefits of exercise
- Health risks associated with substance abuse
- The effects of stress on health and well being
- Healthy social relationships
- STDs and reproductive health
During the fitness section of the course students engage in a variety of physical activities (stretching, jogging, calisthenics), often outdoors, and learn to monitor their progress. Students actively learn about a cardiovascular work out and different stress reduction techniques from breathing exercises to guided imagery and yoga.
All students take part in at least one 45-minute gym class per week. Activities include basketball, tennis, volleyball, badminton, kickball, soccer, football and softball. Ninth and tenth graders take a two-period gym class each week, which offers a variety of activities, including a hiking option and a team sports option.
In Grades 11 and 12, students have one gym class each week that offers a variety of activities, including team sports and adventure-based activities. During two periods each week, students participate in individual fitness activities, including, walking, running, stretching and calisthenics. Students set goals and monitor and log their own progress.
Dearborn’s basketball team successfully competes against other alternative schools. Practice is in the mornings before breakfast; games are held during the school day. Usually there are also one or two middle school students who make the team. Home games are held at Fidelity House in Arlington Center.
For Dearborn Academy course descriptions, please download the course catalog.
Mastering a Foreign Language
The Spanish program at Dearborn Academy provides Spanish language instruction and an introduction to Spanish culture for all students in our high school. Our Spanish teacher Maria Landaverde – trained in both foreign language instruction and special education – understands the unique needs of students with learning differences.
The Spanish teacher has created a Language Lab at Dearborn Academy using Chromebooks to support self-paced learning for each student. They take Spanish I/Intro to Spanish according to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks standards for Foreign Language.
The program provides a wonderful learning opportunity for all students and is especially beneficial for those that are college-bound. Graduates of 766 schools usually have to waive their foreign language requirement. Thanks to our Spanish Language Program, students attending Dearborn Academy will no longer have to request a waiver.