Ninth Grade Comparative Cultures
This course aims to cultivate cross-cultural understanding through examination of and interaction with a variety of cultural groups, from our own multicultural community to several areas of the world, including China and selected countries in the Middle East and Africa. We study the complex cultural, political, and geographical forces that have shaped each region, and we follow the threads of continuity and change to examine these contemporary societies. We begin the year with a study of the United Nations to give students a framework for thinking about international issues such as human rights and conflict resolution. Throughout this project-based course, students use historical research and inquiry to view issues from multiple perspectives, using literature, films, nonfiction texts, periodicals and museum exhibits. In addition, students practice taking notes, debating, writing critically and making oral presentations. The centerpiece of the course is an optional two-week study tour in China, where students spend four nights with a host family from Yali, our sister school in Changsha.
In past years, text selections have included Fires in the Mirror, Things Fall Apart, China A to Z, Red Scarf Girl, The Good Earth, In the Country of Men, and a variety of contemporary newspapers, periodicals and blogs, speeches, government documents, short stories, poems, films, historical and contemporary maps and other primary and secondary sources.
Throughout the year, our ninth graders take on “expert group” assignments, learning as much as they can about important Chinese sites, traditions, artworks, and historical items. In March, our students travel to China to return the visit and to immerse themselves in Chinese culture.
This high school course is composed of three parts:
• Ecology and Comparative Anatomy (fall)
• Cellular Biology and Biochemistry (winter)
• Evolution and Genetics (spring term)
Lab and fieldwork are important aspects of this course, and students are encouraged to generate knowledge directly from their own observations of natural and experimental phenomena and to learn how such knowledge can be evaluated for precision, accuracy and reliability. Throughout the fall, the West River and Long Island Sound serve as living laboratories. Students evaluate the watershed using topographic maps, Google Earth software, and site visits. From their data, students assess potential and actual human impacts on water quality. In teams, they carry out physical, chemical, and biological sampling at selected locations on the river and New Haven Harbor. The anatomy of an invertebrate (crayfish) and a vertebrate (perch) are compared. Dissections of each organism are carried out to establish the elegant connections between form and function of animal organ systems, tissues and cells. Comparisons to human biology are also explored.
During the winter term, the focus is on the form and function of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Representative cells and some organelles (chloroplasts, nuclei, cell walls) are observed directly using compound microscopes. Other samples are studied using electron photomicrographs and computer animation. The spring term is devoted to the study of evolution by natural selection and the principles of heredity. Mitosis, meiosis and classical genetics are studied in depth, and the structure and function of DNA is introduced.
The Eighth and Ninth Grade classes delve more deeply into algebraic and linear functions, complex operations, and applications of mathematical thinking. Our program emphasizes Algebra I in eighth grade, either as the first half of a two-year course, as a one-year Algebra I class, or in combination with Geometry for students who began Algebra I in seventh grade. Students at these upper grades also learn and practice higher-level thinking in analytical reasoning and logical deduction, and apply these skills to mathematical proofs. Ninth grade students have the opportunity to engage in more complex and sophisticated mathematical reasoning. Some students complete the two-year Algebra I program; others are enrolled in Geometry. An Algebra II course is also offered when appropriate.
The ninth grade writing and literature program continues to develop the students' ability to analyze literature critically, both orally and in writing. The course approaches literature from an anthropological perspective, guiding students to identify elements of culture through classical texts. The curriculum focuses on autobiography and fiction, both in complete books and excerpts. Poetry is read and written throughout the year, culminating in a "poetry cabaret" conceived and performed by the students in June. Multi-draft critical essays, as well as personal narrative essays and creative compositions and projects related to the reading are assigned throughout the year, allowing students to work on skills such as forming and supporting a thesis as they work on developing a strong personal voice. Mechanics and grammar are taught based on the individual needs found in students' work. The month of May is devoted to discussing the poems that we have covered during the year and selecting and rehearsing material to be performed in the year-end cabaret.
In recent years, texts for this course have included This Boy’s Life, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Looking for Alaska, and The Book Thief.
At Foote, we believe in nurturing our students’ physical health and growth as well as their academic progress. With that philosophy as a guiding force, our physical education program is designed to support students’ self-image, build sportsmanship, and provide a basis for a healthy lifelong attitude toward fitness. Our curriculum is carefully sequenced to match the stages of physical, social, and emotional development from year to year. In addition to athletic skills, our program encourages creative expression, builds social concepts such as sportsmanship, cooperation, and fair play, offers opportunities for leadership, encourages children to take risks, and fosters a sense of well-being in a non-competitive setting.
All children at Foote School are members of either the Maroon or Grey sports teams. Spirit is high on our annual Field Day, when students participate in a variety of fun and competitive events between the Maroon and the Grey. Kindergarteners take part only in the morning, competing in a fun run, a scoop relay, and a shuttle relay. All the other students participate in a full day of events, culminating in an all-school relay race around the entire field, featuring the day’s winners of the 60-yard dash from each grade.