Our students learn to appreciate the power of mathematics and the integral role it plays in modern society. Upon enrolling at AMS, each student is placed in one of several math programs according to their experience and skill level.
AMS math programs are as follows:
Students are also exposed to geometry and statistics at each level. Within the selected program, both student and teacher work together to develop individual tasks and goals that are appropriate for the student based on his/her abilities and interests.
We use the SAXON mathematics materials from the very basics of math on through Algebra 1/2 in elementary and middle school for curriculum consistency. The McDougal-Littell Larson series is implemented for Algebra 1 and Algebra 2. Please visit the web sites of SAXON and McDougal-Littell for a complete overview of the materials. For AMS's more advanced mathematics classes, texts are chosen to reflect our high standards and effective pedagogical methods.
Wherever it is pedagogically sound to do so, we incorporate technology in our courses. At the middle school level, classes meet seven times per week, allowing students time to utilize the computers for math on a regular basis. All students have access to Study Island, a Web-based software program that provides practice with basic skills. In our advanced mathematics courses, students use graphing calculators to deepen their exploration of concepts.
The middle school science classes include earth science, biology, chemistry and physics at each grade level. They serve as an introduction to high school science. Students develop reading and writing skills that allow them to create connections among concepts taught in class. Students outline chapters, identify main ideas, and answer recall and critical-thinking questions. Through field trips, multi-media presentations, hands-on activities, and computer-generated curricula, students develop a current understanding of technology and its role in science.
Regular classes in high school focus on biology, chemistry, and physics. The college dual-enrollment classes focus on marine biology and environmental biology. Some of our classes are dual-enrollment classes which allow qualified students to receive college credit at the 200 level, and these credits are recognized by state universities in Arizona as well as most out-of-state colleges and universities.
The high school biology course provides an in-depth investigation of all forms of life, including their classification, physiology, chemistry, and interaction. Topics covered include evolution, natural selection, ecosystems, the interdependence between organisms and their environments, and the anatomy and physiology of multi-celled organisms. Students explore human anatomy and physiology, ecology, botany, biochemistry, genetics, and cellular biology. Students are exposed to various ways of information gathering and applications, including the use of the Internet, text searches, lectures, class discussions, videos, and lab research work. Students are expected to learn and recall facts, write lab reports, apply knowledge to unknown circumstances, take notes, answer questions logically and clearly, and write scientifically-based essays.
The chemistry course provides an in-depth investigation of key elements of chemical processes. This includes the study of matter, chemical nomenclature, formulas, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, bonding, solutions, and the contributions of major scientists.
In physics, students are exposed to physics as an independent scientific discipline, and also encouraged to develop connections between physics and other sciences. Students begin by learning formulas and applications for forces, magnetism, work, energy, waves, and motion. In addition, students use algebra-based mathematical concepts to evaluate motion in two dimensions (vectors). Learned information is then applied to a variety of projects and presentations.
Language arts at the Academy of Math and Science explores authors of the past and present. Students participate in a variety of activities and projects to reinforce the four major standards: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
The language arts curriculum encourages the development of critical thinking skills and applies knowledge gained through relevant life situations. It is designed with several core skills in mind within the following categories:
• Reading and Literature
• Writing and Research
• Grammar and Usage
• Spelling and Vocabulary
• Viewing and Presenting
The middle school grades have seven (7) periods of English per week, with four (4) dedicated to literature and three (3) dedicated to language, including grammar and syntax. Our main course text for literature study is Prentice Hall's Literature: Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes series. The writing and language component text is the Glencoe Writer's Choice series.
The high school students take English Composition, American Literature, British and/or World Literature, and Writing 101, which is a college dual-enrollment course. Writing 101 credits are accepted by all universities in Arizona and most out-of-state universities.
Reading and Literature
Students interact with literature through the exploration of writing samples from various genres. Students have the opportunity to learn about works written by authors from diverse communities and backgrounds as well as practice their own creative writing skills. Some of the works studied include Homer's The Iliad, Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar, Richard Wright's Black Boy, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac.
Writing and Research
Writing and research concentrates on preparing students for both college careers and employment. Classes address such topics as the writing process, analytical writing traits, using computers for writing and research, how to overcome writer's block, writing concise and effective sentences, how to use punctuation correctly, making papers more persuasive, and writing for unity and clarity.
Grammar and Usage
Grammar and usage at AMS is a context-based program designed to be a concise, yet comprehensive, coverage of basic grammar and mechanics principles.
Students play grammar games, have drills and reinforcement exercises to help them practice their skills, and participate in group and peer editing review. Every attempt is made to pique student interest with study tips, memory devices, humorous bloopers, and career advice (grammatical usage for resume building, business letter writing, and job applications).
Spelling and Vocabulary
Spelling and vocabuly, like grammar and usage, is also context-based. Class journals contain, among other writings, a list of vocabulary words each day for building comprehension in order to develop a broad vocabulary in business and literature. Each list is gleaned from class readings, assignments, Latin-based words, and other sources. A typical journal entry for a vocabulary word contains the word, at least one common definition, a sentence using the word properly, and a citation of where that word might be found in use.
Viewing and Presenting
Viewing and presenting curriculum is designed to enable students to participate in and observe a wide variety of public speaking venues. Students participate in small in-class drama presentations, research presentations, group finding reportage, mock job interviews, and forensics. In addition, students are expected to participate in rating and questioning other presenters.
Social studies aims to imbue students with the background and understanding of how our society is structured so that they will gain the skills and attitudes to allow them to be actively-engaged citizens in our complex society. To achieve this end, students learn how societies were structured in the past while studying relevant aspects of contemporary societies and the issues they face.
The courses taught are divided into three main categories: World History and Geography, U.S. History and Geography, and Government and Economics.
Course curriculum encourages the process of discovery which helps students to identify cause and effect relationships, synthesize interpretations, and develop theories with regard to the subject covered.
World History and Geography
World History and Geography focuses on significant historical cultures, regions, people, events, and achievements from Paleolithic times to the present day. Some countries and regions have always been perceived to have a great influence on Western Civilization (Israel, Greece, Rome and Western Europe, etc.) while the influence of others (Africa, Southwest Asia, India, China, Mongolia, Japan and Russia) is newly recognized.
Increasing interaction between all cultures and countries of the world requires significant time to be spent investigating all of the regions which have had an effect on the history of the United States. In doing so, this facilitates a more productive understanding of, and interaction with, the world in which we live.
Students also learn geography. Special emphasis is placed on the five themes of geography (location, place, region, movement, and human-environment interaction) and significant physical features in the world. Students explore the relationships of events and people and interpret significant patterns, themes, ideas, beliefs, and turning points in world history. They analyze locations, regions, and spatial connections, recognizing the natural and cultural processes that have impacted the ways in which people and societies have lived and interacted with each other and their environments.
U.S. History and Geography
US History and Geography focus on significant historical cultures, people, events, and achievements from Paleolithic times to the present day in the region that now encompasses the United States and Arizona.
Students are also presented information and concepts about geography. Special emphasis is placed on the five themes of geography (location, place, region, movement, and human-environment interaction) and significant physical features in the United States.
Students explore the relationships of events and people and interpret significant patterns, themes, ideas, beliefs, and turning points in world history. They analyze locations, regions, and spatial connections, recognizing the natural and cultural processes that have impacted the ways in which people and societies have lived and interacted with each other and their environments.
Government and Economics
Government and Economics focus on the identification, interpretation, and analysis of how the United States is governed as well as the functioning and issues of the U.S. economy. Students are presented with theories of how government and economic systems came to their present forms. Students identify, analyze, and interpret these systems with the goal of understanding the circumstances that allow for optimal performance of each system.
Students will receive specific instruction on the interaction and operation of;
Each project introduces or reinforces art concepts and art vocabulary while offering students skills practice in various media and art techniques. Concepts are set in an historical context, and the works of famous artists are used to introduce and demonstrate topics.
Hands-on skills practice encourages the mastery and retention of concepts. Students gain skills in drawing and the use of watercolor and oil pastels. Students also explore various art styles and content areas, such as Abstraction, Impressionism, portraits, and landscapes. To encourage mastery and retention, student projects incorporate exploring the following elements: line, balance, abstraction, and composition as well as geometric and organic shapes.
At the advanced level, students develop individualized projects through in-depth research on specific artists, styles, and techniques. The focus is on art as a means of personal expression. Art projects at this level focus on an exploration of the ways in which art and artists influence, and are influenced by, society and culture.
Student projects at all levels are graded using a rubric (guideline for success) which specifies the art concepts being introduced, or reinforced. Students are graded on their demonstrated understanding of the concepts and their diligence in completing the assigned tasks.
The goal of the AMS music program is to provide students with a broad knowledge and appreciation of music.
Middle school students have music two times per week where they learn to play their choice of guitar or piano, and to read and compose music. These lessons culminate in two recitals each year. In addition, students are taught the history of Western music, the music of other cultures around the world, and the skill of audiation (being able to think in musical terms). This is the most important skill for students to develop as it prepares them for the rewarding appreciation of what music conveys.
By learning the language of music as one learns any other language, students develop the basis for a life-long relationship with music. Teaching methods include aspects drawn from Suzuki, Kodaly, and Edwin Gordon. All instruction includes a playful element so that students are encouraged to be spontaneous and creative with music.
Computer literacy is increasingly important in today's technologically advanced world. The AMS computer program provides a comprehensive view of the technological world and provides grade-appropriate instruction concerning hardware, software, and the Internet.
Students learn to use Microsoft Office software applications and the Internet for many practical purposes. Internet use is monitored through web-blocking software and by ensuring that activities are carried out under adult supervision.
Introductory classes work on building computer and technology vocabulary. Students learn about computer hardware and its functions which provides a firm basis for progressing into knowledge application.
Intermediate instruction develops a skills base through a variety of typing exercises and exposure to software packages, such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and spreadsheet applications. At this level, the computer instruction program also facilitates the application of the learner's expanding knowledge pool by providing opportunities to actively and safely participate in Internet research projects and activities. Such activities are beneficial to other areas of the school curriculum as they enable students to navigate through a wide range of reference sources.
Advanced computer instruction and the curriculum of the Computer Electives option expands on existing knowledge and allows for the application of more advanced skills. An introduction to Microsoft Publisher applications, featuring the design of business cards and brochures and instruction in desktop publishing, give students vital skills to apply in contexts including, but not limited to, school and professional work environments. Internet technology is also explored, combining theory and practice in Web page design instruction. Students design and create a "mock" website, and maintain it throughout the semester. Daily and weekly projects provide valuable practice to reinforce concepts and skills.
Enthusiasm for computer coursework at all levels is maintained when students participate in enrichment activities, such as Scavenger Hunts, or Web Quests, where students utilize online resources to answer assigned questions. Students explore the Internet as a reference source, and learn useful strategies to gather information for other subjects in the school curriculum.
Students involved in AMS computer instruction are given the opportunity to progress from knowledge to skill application in the fields of hardware and software. AMS provides computer instruction as a tool for life-long learning with the application of skills outside of their original contexts.
Modern convenience in today's society removes much of the physical activity from daily life. AMS understands the necessity to create and maintain a healthy body to match the healthy intellect of our youth.
As such, AMS regards physical education (PE) as a very important part of a student's education. PE classes for all AMS students begin with a group stretch, followed by a calisthenics period to include jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups.
Students exercise in two-person teams in order to foster encouragement and to allow students to assist in the completion of their partner's repetition. A variety of games are played that require students to use both their large and small motor functions and muscles. Sports equipment, such as hula-hoops, basketballs, soccer balls, volleyballs, and floor scooters allow for a variety of activities.
Students learn the traditional rules of sports and are also encouraged to participate in creating their own games - past favorites have included scooter tag, scooter floor hockey, and scooter relay races.
Students in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades are assigned the task of creating a "safe" obstacle course to test their agility skills. The ultimate goal of AMS's PE program is to foster teamwork in a safe and fun environment while students develop physical fitness and an appreciation for a variety of sports.
Learning a second language is highly beneficial to a student's progress in other subjects because it enhances both language skills and logic abilities. AMS provides students with opportunities to expand their language skills by means of a comprehensive foreign-language instruction program.
In middle school, students have a choice between Spanish and Russian languages. In high school, Spanish language is offered.
Explorations of the food, music, videos, and literature of Spanish and Russian-speaking populations supplement the AMS Spanish and Russian curricula.
The Spanish classes are designed to progress from the elementary levels, comprised of simple words and phrases, to the high school level, with journal writing, discussions, and advanced grammar. At the middle and high school levels, entry-level students who lack a background in Spanish-language structures and vocabulary are provided with foundational materials. The expectation for all students is that, regardless of their level of knowledge and skill, they strive to improve on a daily basis.
AMS strives to include every person with disabilities in the general education under the inclusion model. This is facilitated through direct services, consultation, and support offered by a Special Education Teacher.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was last reauthorized in 2004. The law is known as IDEA 2004. IDEA 2004 states all individuals with disabilities from birth through 21 years of age are to receive a free and appropriate education (FAPE). This education must occur in the least restrictive environment (LRE) and provide supplementary aids and supports when necessary. Curricular adaptations, which include both accommodations and modifications, are changes in the educational environment that allows the student equal opportunity to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement as their non-disabled peers. School districts, including charter schools, are responsible for identifying and providing special education services to students from 5 to 21 years of age. AMS provides support to students with disabilities in the LRE and educates students as much as possible in the same physical environment as their non-disabled peers.