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9th Grade Curriculum
Maintaining its strong tradition of progressive education, The Putney School is implementing a 9th grade curriculum informed by insights from recent brain research, most notably, that adolescents learn in multifaceted and interdisciplinary ways. At the same time, Putney remains grounded in the traditions for which it is well known: connection to the land and the arts, hard work, environmental sustainability, personal responsibility, and citizenship in an intentional community.
Each 9th grader takes math, a modern language, an art, and an integrated course called
Humans in the Natural World: Academic Studies in Context
By viewing the disciplines as a coherent web, rather than as isolated and competing activities, the interdisciplinary approach of this new 9th grade course gives students greater opportunities for understanding and analysis. Co-taught by educators from different disciplines, the course thoughtfully and intentionally ties together History, Science, English, and the Arts into a comprehensive program that builds a solid skill and content base for further study at The Putney School and beyond.
What does the course teach?
To have students
- develop a broad understanding of how the ecologies of our planet have shaped human experience and social institutions
- study and use tools of the primary academic disciplines so as to be prepared intellectually for higher level learning in high school and college
- develop skills in observation, research, analysis, and communication both as individuals and as active contributors to a functional cooperative group
- English (1 credit)
- Science ( 1 credit: Biology .5, Earth Science .5, some Psychology)
- Social Science (1 credit, combined History, Geography, Economics)
- Math (students will also take a stand-alone math course)
- Arts (students may also take a stand-alone arts course)
- Theory of knowledge
Fall Trimester: The Power of Observation
- How do we take in information? How do we turn information into understanding?
- What can we learn by observation, how do we analyze what we observe, and how can we best present our analysis?
- What is the structure of the academic disciplines?
- What are the tools of the disciplines, and how does each discipline investigate the world?
- What is the nature of the land around us? What are the physical characteristics of organisms on the land, and how are they described and categorized?
- How does the nature of the land impact the economics of the local society?
Learning Skills and Habits of Mind
- The methods used by each academic discipline
- Close listening and visual observation
- Close reading of texts
- Data analysis
- Field sketching
- Analytical writing
- Imaginative writing
- Visual presentation of data
- Oral presentation of thought
Fall Trimester Projects
A plot of land for each student
- Close observation and data keeping
- Tree and plant ID, mineral and rock ID
- Photosynthesis and nutrient cycles, ecology
- Drawing, listening, writing
Analysis of the five senses
- Anatomy/biology of information input
- Literature about sensory input
- Psychology of information input
- Cultural lenses of information input
Reading the local landscape
- Local novels and poetry
- Local history and economics
Commodity analysis (collaborative)
- Maple syrup – biology, history, economics
- Milk – biology, history, economics
Winter/Spring Trimesters : Complex Systems
- What are the characteristics of biomes and climate areas, and how do these characteristics help to create the human and animal cultures that live in them?
- What are the interrelationships between a country’s environment and its cultural, economic, political, and social structures?
- What is the role of natural resources and agriculture in global systems of trade, collaboration, and conflict?
- Country study: Each student will become a country expert, looking deeply at one place while learning the general academic overview of cultural geography, arts and literature, economics and trade, political geography, history
Commodity Study: Each student will become an expert in one commodity while learning the general academic overview of mineral science, agriculture,
economics and trade, and globalization
- Wiki: Students will construct a wiki that captures and connects the learning of class members in their country and commodity studies
- Model United Nations conference: Students will conduct a MUN conference, requiring them to use the knowledge and skills they have acquired in the country and commodity studies
Continued work on each student’s plot of land
- Close observation of change over time and data keeping
- Comparisons and extrapolations to other plots, other places
- Drawing, listening, writing
|Katie Ross Gardener and Farm Assistant||
Director of Technology
and Library Services
ESOL & French Teacher
|Dawn sees herself not so much as a teacher in the classic sense than as someone who ignites students' interests, then guides their inspiration to learn more.||Katie holds a masters of science degree from Antioch University New England, and lives and breathes sustainability both on the farm and off.||Kevin has extensive experience as a technical writer, archivist, historian, and school technology leader. He is particularly interested in how students can acquire the skills necessary for the effective acquisition and use of information.||Before teaching English at The Putney School, Zoe taught in diverse schools from Boston to Turkey to Colorado. She lives nearby with her family in a solar and wood heated house surrounded by organic gardens.||
Marie studied to teach English in Bordeaux, France. She is now teaching ESOL and French as well as assisting in running the International Program and promoting cultural fluency at Putney, in and out of the classroom. She also enjoys spending time in the sun with her family and friends, watching movies and doing yoga.