Engaging Courses with Depth and Breadth

The MCDS high school program is designed to provide a comprehensive college preparatory experience for every student. The graduation requirements reflect our mission’s steadfast commitment to educating students in the liberal arts and sciences. By the time students graduate from MCDS, they will have engaged in a rigorous course of study across the curriculum, while having the opportunity to develop and further pursue specific areas of interest.

MCDS English Courses

Learn to understand an author’s perspective,
not just read.

In English classes, MCDS high school students develop critical and creative skills to read and write with power, purpose, and pleasure. Students study a wide range of important and complex world texts, by such authors as Homer, Plato, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Thoreau, Woolf, and Cisneros, which serve as an invitation for in-depth discussion and textual analysis—and also for writing. Through a workshop approach that emphasizes the writing process, student choice, and ongoing teacher and peer feedback, students write a variety of texts—including essays, expositions, narratives, and arguments.

English 9: Modes of Writing

Students read, analyze, and discuss works by Sandra Cisneros, Aldo Leopold, William Shakespeare, Homer, and Michel de Montaigne, among others. Using literature inspiration for discussion and composition, students write in a variety of genres and modes including the personal narrative, descriptive poem, science essay, romantic poetry, short fiction, and analytical essay. This course offers a framework for students to develop reading, writing, and research skills important to success in high school and beyond.

English 10 Rhetoric & Literary Analysis

Put simply, this is a course in rhetoric: the art of finding the most effective way to communicate well-developed ideas. In addition to reading rhetorical theory, such as Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Plato’s Gorgias, students will research a variety of topics and write their own arguments. They will also read and analyze speeches, essays, letters, plays, and literature that explore the concept of civil disobedience.

IB English Language and Literature I—SL/HL

In the first year of IB English, students develop their reading, speaking, thinking, and writing skills through understanding how form and context construct meaning in texts. In this course, “text” refers to any type of expression, whether verbal, written, or visual: speeches, advertisements, plays, podcasts, websites, novels, and cartoons all count as texts, and students develop the skills and knowledge to understand the value of each text in its original context. Students will develop their skills through seminar discussions, formal presentation, and written work. HL work includes higher‑level assignments and assessments.

IB English Language and Literature II— SL/HL

In the second year of IB English, students continue to develop their reading, speaking, thinking, and writing skills and enhance their ability to contextualize a variety of texts. Students approach texts in a more thematic manner, looking at themes such as how gender is presented and constructed in popular media and how politicians use language to persuade and shape public opinion. Students also explore literature’s place within society and culture, as well as the distinguishing features of literary genres (drama, fiction, poetry, and prose). HL work includes higher-level assignments and assessments.

MCDS Mathematics Courses

Learn the power of numbers
in everyday life.

MCDS high school students build a strong understanding of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and statistics. Our teachers support and challenge each student to become a competent and confident mathematician who can read, write, and discuss mathematics.

Geometry

Geometry helps students develop a strong spatial understanding as they explore two-dimensional shapes in Euclidean geometry. Congruence, similarity, transformational geometry, circles, and three-dimensional solids are the core topics of this course. Deductive reasoning is motivated by investigations using GeoGebra, and both direct and indirect proofs are utilized throughout the course. Algebra I skills are integrated into all applications of the concepts studied.

Honors Geometry

This course leads students to investigate complex geometric concepts and proofs, and develop a foundation in deduction and problem-solving. Congruence, similarity, transformational geometry, circles, and three-dimensional solids are the core topics of this course. Honors Geometry assumes that students possess strong problem-solving skills and are ready to think and work independently.

Algebra II

Algebra II continues with the study of algebraic concepts learned in Math 7 and Math 8. It develops understanding of advanced Algebra concepts such as functions, simultaneous equations, linear and quadratic equations and inequalities, absolute value, and complex numbers. Students will factor, describe and translate functions, and represent algebraic ideas on the coordinate plane. Students will be expected to read, write, discuss, and understand mathematical proofs.

Honors Algebra II

Honors Algebra II builds upon the concepts studied in mathematics the three years prior and has a strong component of mathematical proof. Core concepts of Honors Algebra II include functions, simultaneous equations, inequalities, absolute value, and complex numbers. While the concepts of this course are similar to those in Algebra II, students approved for Honors will have demonstrated strong technical and analytical skills, as well as an ability to work and learn independently.

AP Statistics and Advanced Pre-Calculus

The AP Statistics and Advanced Pre-Calculus course is designed to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college course in statistics, as well as preparing for IB Analysis and Approaches–Higher Level. Statistics is typically required for majors in the fields of science, engineering, mathematics, social sciences, health sciences, and business. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing and drawing conclusions from data. In addition, students will have the opportunity to learn about conic sections and dive deeper into the study of functions.

IB Math Applications and Interpretations SL I

This is the first course in a two-year progression. Applications and Interpretation is designed for students who enjoy using mathematics to describe the real world and solve practical problems. The topics of IB Mathematics Applications and Interpretation SL I are Algebra, coordinate Geometry, right triangles trigonometry, sequences and series, and statistics.

IB Math Analysis and Approaches SL I

This is the first course in a two-year progression. The SL level is designed for students who already possess knowledge of basic mathematical concepts and who are equipped with the skills needed to apply these techniques accurately and efficiently. The core topics of IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches I—SL are algebra, functions, trigonometry, statistics, and probability.

IB Math Analysis and Approaches HL I

This is the first course in a two-year progression. The HL level is designed for students with a strong mathematical background and a proven record of success in a range of technical and analytical skills. Students taking the HL level should be prepared for a rigorous and fast-paced course that requires independent learning. The core topics of IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches I—HL are Algebra, functions, trigonometry, statistics, probability, and vectors.

IB Math Applications and Interpretations SL II

This is the second course in a two-year progression. Applications and Interpretation is designed for students who enjoy using mathematics to describe the real world and solve practical problems. The topics of IB Mathematics Applications and Interpretation SL II are sets and Venn diagrams, logic, probability, the normal distribution, more complex functions, and differential calculus.

IB Math Analysis and Approaches SL II

This is the second course in a two-year progression. The SL level is designed for students who already possess knowledge of basic mathematical concepts and who are equipped with the skills needed to apply these techniques accurately and efficiently. The core topics of IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches II—SL include vectors, as well as differential and integral calculus.

IB Math Analysis and Approaches HL II

This is the second course in a two-year progression. The HL level is designed for students with a strong mathematical background and a proven record of success in a range of technical and analytical skills. Students taking the HL level should be prepared for a rigorous and fast-paced course that requires independent learning. The core topics of IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches II—HL are limits, derivatives, integrals, differential equations, and infinite series.

MCDS High School Science

Learn how to think and experiment like a scientist, not just follow directions.

MCDS High School ScienceWith an emphasis on the scientific process, laboratory skills, and the theoretical underpinnings of the natural world, students pursue knowledge in the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics. The growth of MCDS High School has led to exciting new offerings for science. The integrated science courses for freshman and sophomore students, the Group 4 IB Project, advanced science research, and more create an engaging program of study for our students.

Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory Science I

In Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory Science I, students explore what energy is and how it is always conserved. Students will apply the conservation of energy to see how energy is transformed through motion, chemical bonding, heat transfer and through photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Students utilize these concepts while being introduced to proper lab writing techniques focusing in 9th grade on collecting, processing, presenting and analyzing data. Writing proper conclusions and evaluations will be introduced in 9th grade and further developed in 10th grade.

Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory Science II

In Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory Science II, students explore our interactions with the biosphere, atmosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere and the resulting interaction with climate. Students develop a deeper understanding of bonding and chemical reactions. Students apply their knowledge of bonds and chemical reactions as they study macromolecules including DNA and the role this plays in our food and resources.

IB Physics I & II—SL/HL

Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences and it strives to understand the essence of matter and energy that transcends everything between the microscopic and the macroscopic universe. Learning through experimentation is stressed so that students construct meaning by designing, conducting, and reflecting on scientific investigations. Understanding the scientific process through collaboration, hands-on experience, inquiry, and critical thinking, enables students to connect science to other areas of life. IB physics covers measurements and uncertainties, Newtonian mechanics, thermal physics, waves, electricity and magnetism, circular motion and gravitation, atomic, nuclear and particle physics, energy systems and production, and a choice of one of the following options: relativity, engineering, imaging or astrophysics. Students may take the IB Physics exam possibly earning college credits and/or placement.

IB Biology­ I & II—SL/HL

This two-year, pre-university biology course includes classroom study and 60 hours of laboratory work. In the first year, students study cell size, cellular structure, biochemistry, cellular processes, DNA, genetics, and genetic engineering. In addition, students select a research and laboratory project of their choice and pursue it in depth. In the second year, students study ecology, evolution, plant science, human anatomy and physiology. Students also complete their “group four” research and laboratory project. Sitting for the IB Biology exam may earn college credits and/or placement.

IB Chemistry I & II—SL/HL

IB Chemistry SL is an advanced, two-year, lab-based chemistry curriculum. Students complete a study of the IB Chemistry curriculum (SL/HL) which, over two years, encompasses an entire first year college chemistry course. IB Chemistry focuses on the study of chemical bonds and how they inform us about reactions, energy and properties of compounds. This course culminates with students taking the IB Chemistry exam (SL/HL) for which colleges may award credits and/or placement. In addition, students select and pursue an in-depth “group four” research project.

MCDS High School World Language

Learn how to be a global citizen.

MCDS High School World LanguageMCDS high school students have the opportunity to learn two languages: Spanish (beginning or intermediate level) or Japanese (beginning level). Students continually develop the four fundamental language skills: listening, speaking, writing, and reading. As students improve their proficiency, the language of instruction increasingly becomes the target language. Classes also have a strong cultural focus, including the history, customs, literature, film, and current events of the countries in which each language is spoken.

MCDS offers the unique opportunity to study abroad at one of our two sister schools in Ecuador and Japan. Exchange experiences in Spain are also a possibility.

Spanish I

The primary goal of this class is to develop the competencies to communicate successfully in simple daily-life situations, considering the social and cultural contexts. Students at this level are able to ask and answer simple questions and can communicate in writing or speaking using simple sentences. They mainly use present tense, and basic vocabulary and structures.

Spanish II

This course provides the students with the necessary skills to communicate in a variety of topics related to familiar topics and their daily life. Students continue to expand their awareness of the world and its diverse cultural perspectives. At this level, students are able to synthesize learned material in order to express their ideas and personal meaning. They can narrate and describe in the present and past tense, can engage in short conversations, and are able to write paragraph-length compositions and simple summaries.

Spanish III & IV

This two-year transitional course reinforces the skills students bring from middle school in order to be ready for the IB Standard Level, which is an intermediate high language level. This course is conducted in Spanish and during the two-year progression covers a revision of all of the main grammatical concepts. Students develop their language skills to communicate in a limited range of social, cultural and academic contexts. At this level they are able to communicate in familiar, as well as in some unfamiliar contexts.

Honors Spanish I

This course is conducted entirely in Spanish and focuses on encouraging students to communicate orally beyond the here and now. Paragraphs become the minimum unit of writing. The material to which students are exposed in class is increasingly more complex and authentic, including news, literature, and current events discussions. An in depth revision of grammar is completed in levels 3 and 4 with assessment in productive and receptive skills. Students work consistently to develop their own learning strategies and to reflect on their learning process.

Honors Spanish II

Students continue to review thoroughly complex grammatical structures, gaining knowledge about the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world through readings and discussions of current events and literary texts, including essays, short stories, and poems. As in Spanish I Honors, students continue developing their own learning strategies and reflecting on their learning process.

Spanish IB Ab Initio I & II— SL

The Ab Initio Spanish course is a two year program in which students are given opportunities to apply the knowledge they acquire to communicate in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes on topics pertaining to the five guiding themes of the IB: identities, sharing the planet, social organization, experiences, and human ingenuity. Students practice understanding, analyzing, and reflecting upon a range of authentic written, audio, and visual materials pertaining to everyday life in Spanish-speaking countries. Through the discussion of contemporary global issues, students are exposed to a variety of cultures and diverse perspectives that may differ from their own. Throughout the course, students practice critical thinking skills, expand their vocabulary, learn new grammatical structures as well as idiomatic expressions, and develop an understanding of the connections between languages, cultures, and other areas of knowledge.

IB Spanish I & II—SL/HL

This two-year course prepares students to engage in a wide range of communicative situations in the four skills. While doing so, students learn about the specificities of the Spanish IB exam and prepare for it accordingly. In writing, students must look beyond accuracy to consider register, audience, adequate text type, and focus on getting their message across effectively. At this point, language is used in the classroom as a means of communication, not as an end in itself. Additionally, HL students engage more in depth in literary texts.

Japanese 1

Students develop conversational skills and gain Japanese vocabulary, kanji, writing skills, and cultural knowledge. Students learn to read and write 46 hiragana characters, 46 katakana characters, and 60 kanji characters. Students make connections between Japanese language and culture, and use Japanese within the context of personal hobbies.

Japanese 2

Students in this course continue their study of Japanese language and culture while also further developing skills to enable them to talk about their own culture, likes, families, and so on. Students can expect to learn to use 180 additional kanji characters.

IB Japanese I & II— Ab Initio or SL I & SL II

IB SL/HL (with the option for Ab Initio): Students in this course continue their study of Japanese language and culture, and prepare for their IB assessments. As they cover a wider variety of topics such as traditional arts, traveling and health, they learn to state and support opinions with increasing persuasiveness, produce more in-depth writing, and read excerpts from newspapers and other sources. Students can expect to review and further solidify their understanding of kanji characters.

MCDS High School History

Learn to think like a historian, not just memorize facts.

MCDS High School HistoryMCDS history students develop an understanding of history as a discipline, including the nature and diversity of its sources, methods and interpretations. Our students learn to describe the purpose and significance of government and political systems and how their powers are acquired, used, and justified; demonstrate an understanding of the impact of historical developments at national, regional, and international levels; and develop an awareness of historical identity through the study of the historical experiences of different cultures.

History 9: America Since 1945

This course is an exploration of U.S. history in a global context from the middle of the 20th century to the present. After starting the year with a short unit focused on reviewing and solidifying key historical thinking skills, the course will move decade by decade from the 1950s to the early 2000s, exploring a wide range of themes, patterns, and processes that have shaped the world we know today, from the civil rights movement to the culture wars of the 1980s to the emergence of the internet age. Rather than simply following a rigid, rote progression through time, our emphasis will be on thinking critically as we develop evidence-based arguments about how and why particular documents, people, events, and ideas were especially important at different moments in the past (and how they still resonate in different ways in the present). Throughout the course, research, writing, and document analysis skills will be central to our work, and students will put these skills into practice with a large-scale independent research project on a topic of their choice to finish up the year.

History 10: Wisconsin in a Global Context

The idea at the heart of this course is that exploring different aspects of Wisconsin’s history will allow us to make deeper connections between local and global contexts; by acquiring tools that help us build a richer understanding of our current surroundings, we will be better able to orient ourselves in a rapidly changing world. To do this, we will emphasize primary source research and analytical writing skills throughout the course, with multiple “real world” opportunities to not only gain experience with the practice of “doing history” but also make connections to the community. Instead of attempting to provide a comprehensive overview of the entirety of Wisconsin’s past, this course is organized into thematic units (including political history, environmental history, and the history of race/social justice issues). The year will conclude with a comprehensive, student-directed research unit, in which each student will develop an original argument about why a particular aspect of Wisconsin’s past matters—and how digging deeper into local history can help us understand something meaningful about the broader world.

IB History I: 19th Century History of the Americas—SL/HL

IB History I focuses on North and South America during the “long” 19th century (1789 - 1914), a place and time of massive transformation that witnessed U.S. expansion in North America; the U.S. Civil War; the abolition of over 300 years of slavery; the suppression of Native American communities; full-scale industrialization and immigration, and popular movements that resisted these forces; and expanding U.S. influence into the Pacific and Central and South America. This course will prepare students to complete the HL portion of the IB exam in History.

IB History II: 20th Century World History —SL/HL

IB History II examines 20th century world history, particularly challenges to democracy, the growth of nationalism and authoritarianism, the effects of colonialism, and the causes, course, and consequences of warfare. Historical case studies include World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Congo Crisis and First Congo War. This course will prepare students to complete both the SL and HL portions of the IB exam in History.

MCDS High School Art

Discover a creative lens through which to view the world.

MCDS High School ArtIn high school, MCDS art students refine their understanding of balanced design using the elements of art (line, shape, form, value, space, color, and texture) organized by the design principles (movement, contrast, rhythm, proportion, and unity). While students continue to experiment with traditional art tools and techniques in various two- and three-dimensional media, they also focus on creating a meaningful relationship between the design and content in their artworks through careful examination of other artists' work.

Visual Arts and Theory I: Art Foundations

In this foundational course for the high school art program, students continue to work with a variety of two- and three-dimensional media. They explore the role of the building blocks of artwork—the art elements (shape, form, space, line, texture, and color) and examine the principles of design (unity, harmony, repetition, proportion, balance, rhythm, and movement)—to hone their knowledge of balanced composition. Students learn to recognize and examine various art forms from different cultures and times, building their understanding of the connection among artworks, artifacts and objects, and the cultural context in which they were created. Students also learn to write short reflections and evaluations of their own and other artists’ work, both strengthening their analytical skill and expanding their art vocabulary.

Visual Arts and Theory II: Creative Thinking: Concepts in Design

This studio course continues the journey from Visual Arts & Theory I and further explores traditional and experimental art techniques and approaches to create two- and three-dimensional pieces. Studio work focuses on refining both students’ craftsmanship skills and application of the art elements and design principles to effectively convey their ideas. Students continue to expand their analytical skills through written evaluations of their own and other artists’ work. They delve deeper into the cultural context in which selected artworks were created that helps students interpret the purpose and function of the works. Students develop informed ways of viewing and examining the work of other artists to better understand how critical investigation underpins the art-making process.

IB Visual Arts I—SL/HL

In the first year of IB Visual Arts, students develop a cohesive portfolio of artworks that illustrates their personal interests and involvement. Students independently select art materials, techniques, and styles to experiment with and apply in their studio work, thoughtfully considering the connection between the design and idea. Students use their visual arts journal to support and inform the development of their artwork through focused contextual, visual, and artists’ research. Together, the students’ research, creative work, and evaluations help students develop their own artistic voice, place their own work into a wider context, and consider its effect on an audience.

IB Visual Arts II—SL/HL

During their second year of IB Visual Arts, students prepare for the IB final exam by completing the comparative study project, creating an electronic portfolio with research and critical reflections, and exhibiting a body of works supported by a cohesive artist statement. HL requires advanced research and additional projects for completion at this level.

MCDS High School Music

Learn to express your self and culture through music.

MCDS High School MusicThe MCDS Music Department strives to provide a comprehensive music education for each child, promoting a balance of discipline, creativity, and aesthetic understanding.

Music 9: The African Voice in American Music

Students are introduced to the music of West Africa and its influence on many genres of music in the Western hemisphere. Students explore the music of West Africa (including native rhythms and dance), Caribbean music, and the evolution of American Jazz and the birth of Hip Hop. Projects and activities include: playing and dancing to Latin grooves, harmonizing/orchestrating jazz standards, and creating a fully-produced hip hop song using the recording studio. Music theory concepts include chord inversions, jazz chord notation, and harmonization

Music 10: The History of Rock and Roll

This course will allow students to learn and appreciate how the evolution of American Rock and Roll has changed the world in the last 75 years through freedom and expression of music (social/cultural connections), the development of the “hit” song, and innovations in the technology of recording music. Students participate in group discussions, listening sessions, and even play some of the studied works on their primary instruments. The period of study spans from approximately1940 (Development of Blues music) to 1985 (Innovation in recording, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album).

IB Music I— SL/HL

A basic survey of Western European eras covers the music of the Renaissance, early Baroque, Classical musical forms, Romantic Program composers, 20th century composers, tonal and atonal music, performance media, and social context of music. Students use traditional and modern technologies to analyze major works in history. Students also draw connections in modern music to the works of study in form and harmony.

IB Music II—SL/HL

Students continue to study Western music history, World Music, and fusion from the 20th century. Music theory instruction is tailored to individual cases, but major units include scale modes and extended chords. Students study the prescribed works (Joseph Haydn’s “Surprise Symphony” and “Rhapsody on a Theme from Paganini” by Sergei Rachmaninoff), review for IB exams, and work on the Musical Links Investigation paper.

Band

Band gives the student the opportunity to study, learn, appreciate, rehearse, and perform various forms of music in a large instrumental group setting. The ensemble will work on many genres of music including contemporary concert band selections, Jazz and World Music. Throughout the year, the group performs at various events including concerts, recitals, assemblies, tours at various local venues, and graduation ceremonies.

Orchestra

The high school orchestra class represents the culmination of orchestra ensemble participation at MCDS. Students will learn intermediate and advanced instrumental techniques to further refine their expressive capabilities and to help students reach their full artistic potential. The high school orchestra performs a wide variety of challenging repertoire throughout the year in various genres including classical, jazz, rock and popular music. Students also rehearse and prepare works for small chamber ensemble for performance on two student recitals. Performance venues include school concerts, tours, festivals, and others.

Choir

As a member of high school choir, students will study, prepare, and perform four-part repertoire from a variety of genres, especially works of historical or cultural significance. Through their work in preparing these pieces, singers will improve their understanding of singing technique and gain confidence in their voices. These student-musicians will also acquire and reinforce the skills, knowledge, and habits of working together in a cooperative ensemble. Throughout the year, the group performs at various events including concerts, recitals, assemblies, tours at various local venues, and graduation ceremonies.

MCDS High School Theatre

Learn to express the human condition through acting.

MCDS High School Theater

Theatre I: The Actor’s Toolbox

The course introduces the beginning actor to the fundamental vocabulary, skills, and concepts required to perform in theatre, film, and television. The focus is on individual acting, voice, and movement skills necessary for solo performance, auditions and monologues. Each element is explored with practical applications in an environment encouraging creativity, focus, discipline, and control. Using improvisation, observation, exercises, theatre games, text analysis, and monologue work, each student creates their own “actor’s toolbox” and lays the foundation for future performance courses. The course explores the actor’s role in making compelling and engaging theatre. Students build on innate talents and capacities to become more mentally flexible, emotionally fluent and controlled, physically expressive, as well as more articulate, disciplined, and self-confident.

Theatre II: Scene Work: The Art of Acting

The tenth grade theatre class centers on working in space with others by developing ensemble and scene work. Theatre explorations focus on the teachings of Uta Hagen, Stanislavski, and Michael Chekhov. Scene work actively explores the theatre of ancient Greece, Shakespeare, Commedia dell’ Arte, Modern Realism, and World Theatre. The actor’s work is coordinated with voice and movement training applicable to each style and genre. Students emerge from the class with a comprehensive understanding of creating a physically and psychologically complex character while becoming a more mentally flexible, emotionally fluent, and physically expressive human being.

MCDS High School Physical Education

Learn how a healthy body mirrors a healthy mind.

MCDS High School Phy Ed

PE Grade 9: PE & Health

Students participate in an array of fitness and leadership activities to build camaraderie and communication within their ninth grade peers. Students receive an overview of strength training in our fitness center as well as First Aid/CPR/AED certification. In Health, students cover the seven dimensions of wellness while creating a better understanding of their personal wellness. Discussions revolve around the seven dimensions of wellness including: intellectual, physical, social, environmental, occupational, spiritual, and emotional health. The topics of nutrition, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, healthy relationships, and sexually-transmitted infections are included.

PE Grades 10–12

Students participate in a variety of fitness activities including but not limited to strength training, aerobics, and yoga.

MCDS IB Diploma Courses

Learn to think critically and communicate effectively.

MCDS High School IBFind your unique path. MCDS offers multiple pathways for your high school coursework and diploma:

MCDS Diploma

Earned by completing the necessary coursework and credits for an MCDS diploma.

IB Credits

Earned by taking relevant IB Exam after completing an IB course.
Can be worth college credit and/or placement.

IB Diploma

Earned by completing IB coursework (3 HL + 3 SL), extended essay, TOK, and CAS. IB students can earn up to sophomore status in college plus the ability to place into higher-level classes faster.

English 9: Modes of Writing

Students read, analyze, and discuss works by Sandra Cisneros, Aldo Leopold, William Shakespeare, Homer, and Michel de Montaigne, among others. Using literature inspiration for discussion and composition, students write in a variety of genres and modes including the personal narrative, descriptive poem, science essay, romantic poetry, short fiction, and analytical essay. This course offers a framework for students to develop reading, writing, and research skills important to success in high school and beyond.

English 10 Rhetoric & Literary Analysis

Put simply, this is a course in rhetoric: the art of finding the most effective way to communicate well-developed ideas. In addition to reading rhetorical theory, such as Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Plato’s Gorgias, students will research a variety of topics and write their own arguments. They will also read and analyze speeches, essays, letters, plays, and literature that explore the concept of civil disobedience.

Geometry

Geometry helps students develop a strong spatial understanding as they explore two-dimensional shapes in Euclidean geometry. Congruence, similarity, transformational geometry, circles, and three-dimensional solids are the core topics of this course. Deductive reasoning is motivated by investigations using GeoGebra, and both direct and indirect proofs are utilized throughout the course. Algebra I skills are integrated into all applications of the concepts studied.

IB English Language and Literature I—SL/HL

In the first year of IB English, students develop their reading, speaking, thinking, and writing skills through understanding how form and context construct meaning in texts. In this course, “text” refers to any type of expression, whether verbal, written, or visual: speeches, advertisements, plays, podcasts, websites, novels, and cartoons all count as texts, and students develop the skills and knowledge to understand the value of each text in its original context. Students will develop their skills through seminar discussions, formal presentation, and written work. HL work includes higher‑level assignments and assessments.

IB English Language and Literature II— SL/HL

In the second year of IB English, students continue to develop their reading, speaking, thinking, and writing skills and enhance their ability to contextualize a variety of texts. Students approach texts in a more thematic manner, looking at themes such as how gender is presented and constructed in popular media and how politicians use language to persuade and shape public opinion. Students also explore literature’s place within society and culture, as well as the distinguishing features of literary genres (drama, fiction, poetry, and prose). HL work includes higher-level assignments and assessments.

Honors Geometry

This course leads students to investigate complex geometric concepts and proofs, and develop a foundation in deduction and problem-solving. Congruence, similarity, transformational geometry, circles, and three-dimensional solids are the core topics of this course. Honors Geometry assumes that students possess strong problem-solving skills and are ready to think and work independently.

Algebra II

Algebra II continues with the study of algebraic concepts learned in Math 7 and Math 8. It develops understanding of advanced Algebra concepts such as functions, simultaneous equations, linear and quadratic equations and inequalities, absolute value, and complex numbers. Students will factor, describe and translate functions, and represent algebraic ideas on the coordinate plane. Students will be expected to read, write, discuss, and understand mathematical proofs.

Honors Algebra II

Honors Algebra II builds upon the concepts studied in mathematics the three years prior and has a strong component of mathematical proof. Core concepts of Honors Algebra II include functions, simultaneous equations, inequalities, absolute value, and complex numbers. While the concepts of this course are similar to those in Algebra II, students approved for Honors will have demonstrated strong technical and analytical skills, as well as an ability to work and learn independently.

AP Statistics and Advanced Pre-Calculus

The AP Statistics and Advanced Pre-Calculus course is designed to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college course in statistics, as well as preparing for IB Analysis and Approaches–Higher Level. Statistics is typically required for majors in the fields of science, engineering, mathematics, social sciences, health sciences, and business. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to major concepts and tools for collecting, analyzing and drawing conclusions from data. In addition, students will have the opportunity to learn about conic sections and dive deeper into the study of functions.

IB Math Applications and Interpretations SL I

This is the first course in a two-year progression. Applications and Interpretation is designed for students who enjoy using mathematics to describe the real world and solve practical problems. The topics of IB Mathematics Applications and Interpretation SL I are Algebra, coordinate Geometry, right triangles trigonometry, sequences and series, and statistics.

IB Math Analysis and Approaches SL I

This is the first course in a two-year progression. The SL level is designed for students who already possess knowledge of basic mathematical concepts and who are equipped with the skills needed to apply these techniques accurately and efficiently. The core topics of IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches I—SL are algebra, functions, trigonometry, statistics, and probability.

IB Math Analysis and Approaches HL I

This is the first course in a two-year progression. The HL level is designed for students with a strong mathematical background and a proven record of success in a range of technical and analytical skills. Students taking the HL level should be prepared for a rigorous and fast-paced course that requires independent learning. The core topics of IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches I—HL are Algebra, functions, trigonometry, statistics, probability, and vectors.

IB Math Applications and Interpretations SL II

This is the second course in a two-year progression. Applications and Interpretation is designed for students who enjoy using mathematics to describe the real world and solve practical problems. The topics of IB Mathematics Applications and Interpretation SL II are sets and Venn diagrams, logic, probability, the normal distribution, more complex functions, and differential calculus.

IB Math Analysis and Approaches SL II

This is the second course in a two-year progression. The SL level is designed for students who already possess knowledge of basic mathematical concepts and who are equipped with the skills needed to apply these techniques accurately and efficiently. The core topics of IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches II—SL include vectors, as well as differential and integral calculus.

IB Math Analysis and Approaches HL II

This is the second course in a two-year progression. The HL level is designed for students with a strong mathematical background and a proven record of success in a range of technical and analytical skills. Students taking the HL level should be prepared for a rigorous and fast-paced course that requires independent learning. The core topics of IB Mathematics Analysis and Approaches II—HL are limits, derivatives, integrals, differential equations, and infinite series.

Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory Science I

In Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory Science I, students explore what energy is and how it is always conserved. Students will apply the conservation of energy to see how energy is transformed through motion, chemical bonding, heat transfer and through photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Students utilize these concepts while being introduced to proper lab writing techniques focusing in 9th grade on collecting, processing, presenting and analyzing data. Writing proper conclusions and evaluations will be introduced in 9th grade and further developed in 10th grade.

Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory Science II

In Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratory Science II, students explore our interactions with the biosphere, atmosphere, geosphere and hydrosphere and the resulting interaction with climate. Students develop a deeper understanding of bonding and chemical reactions. Students apply their knowledge of bonds and chemical reactions as they study macromolecules including DNA and the role this plays in our food and resources.

IB Physics I & II—SL/HL

Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences and it strives to understand the essence of matter and energy that transcends everything between the microscopic and the macroscopic universe. Learning through experimentation is stressed so that students construct meaning by designing, conducting, and reflecting on scientific investigations. Understanding the scientific process through collaboration, hands-on experience, inquiry, and critical thinking, enables students to connect science to other areas of life. IB physics covers measurements and uncertainties, Newtonian mechanics, thermal physics, waves, electricity and magnetism, circular motion and gravitation, atomic, nuclear and particle physics, energy systems and production, and a choice of one of the following options: relativity, engineering, imaging or astrophysics. Students may take the IB Physics exam possibly earning college credits and/or placement.

IB Biology­ I & II—SL/HL

This two-year, pre-university biology course includes classroom study and 60 hours of laboratory work. In the first year, students study cell size, cellular structure, biochemistry, cellular processes, DNA, genetics, and genetic engineering. In addition, students select a research and laboratory project of their choice and pursue it in depth. In the second year, students study ecology, evolution, plant science, human anatomy and physiology. Students also complete their “group four” research and laboratory project. Sitting for the IB Biology exam may earn college credits and/or placement.

IB Chemistry I & II—SL/HL

IB Chemistry SL is an advanced, two-year, lab-based chemistry curriculum. Students complete a study of the IB Chemistry curriculum (SL/HL) which, over two years, encompasses an entire first year college chemistry course. IB Chemistry focuses on the study of chemical bonds and how they inform us about reactions, energy and properties of compounds. This course culminates with students taking the IB Chemistry exam (SL/HL) for which colleges may award credits and/or placement. In addition, students select and pursue an in-depth “group four” research project.

Spanish I

The primary goal of this class is to develop the competencies to communicate successfully in simple daily-life situations, considering the social and cultural contexts. Students at this level are able to ask and answer simple questions and can communicate in writing or speaking using simple sentences. They mainly use present tense, and basic vocabulary and structures.

Spanish II

This course provides the students with the necessary skills to communicate in a variety of topics related to familiar topics and their daily life. Students continue to expand their awareness of the world and its diverse cultural perspectives. At this level, students are able to synthesize learned material in order to express their ideas and personal meaning. They can narrate and describe in the present and past tense, can engage in short conversations, and are able to write paragraph-length compositions and simple summaries.

Spanish III & IV

This two-year transitional course reinforces the skills students bring from middle school in order to be ready for the IB Standard Level, which is an intermediate high language level. This course is conducted in Spanish and during the two-year progression covers a revision of all of the main grammatical concepts. Students develop their language skills to communicate in a limited range of social, cultural and academic contexts. At this level they are able to communicate in familiar, as well as in some unfamiliar contexts.

Honors Spanish I

This course is conducted entirely in Spanish and focuses on encouraging students to communicate orally beyond the here and now. Paragraphs become the minimum unit of writing. The material to which students are exposed in class is increasingly more complex and authentic, including news, literature, and current events discussions. An in depth revision of grammar is completed in levels 3 and 4 with assessment in productive and receptive skills. Students work consistently to develop their own learning strategies and to reflect on their learning process.

Honors Spanish II

Students continue to review thoroughly complex grammatical structures, gaining knowledge about the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world through readings and discussions of current events and literary texts, including essays, short stories, and poems. As in Spanish I Honors, students continue developing their own learning strategies and reflecting on their learning process.

Spanish IB Ab Initio I & II— SL

The Ab Initio Spanish course is a two year program in which students are given opportunities to apply the knowledge they acquire to communicate in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes on topics pertaining to the five guiding themes of the IB: identities, sharing the planet, social organization, experiences, and human ingenuity. Students practice understanding, analyzing, and reflecting upon a range of authentic written, audio, and visual materials pertaining to everyday life in Spanish-speaking countries. Through the discussion of contemporary global issues, students are exposed to a variety of cultures and diverse perspectives that may differ from their own. Throughout the course, students practice critical thinking skills, expand their vocabulary, learn new grammatical structures as well as idiomatic expressions, and develop an understanding of the connections between languages, cultures, and other areas of knowledge.

IB Spanish I & II—SL/HL

This two-year course prepares students to engage in a wide range of communicative situations in the four skills. While doing so, students learn about the specificities of the Spanish IB exam and prepare for it accordingly. In writing, students must look beyond accuracy to consider register, audience, adequate text type, and focus on getting their message across effectively. At this point, language is used in the classroom as a means of communication, not as an end in itself. Additionally, HL students engage more in depth in literary texts.

Japanese 1

Students develop conversational skills and gain Japanese vocabulary, kanji, writing skills, and cultural knowledge. Students learn to read and write 46 hiragana characters, 46 katakana characters, and 60 kanji characters. Students make connections between Japanese language and culture, and use Japanese within the context of personal hobbies.

Japanese 2

Students in this course continue their study of Japanese language and culture while also further developing skills to enable them to talk about their own culture, likes, families, and so on. Students can expect to learn to use 180 additional kanji characters.

IB Japanese I & II— Ab Initio or SL I & SL II

IB SL/HL (with the option for Ab Initio): Students in this course continue their study of Japanese language and culture, and prepare for their IB assessments. As they cover a wider variety of topics such as traditional arts, traveling and health, they learn to state and support opinions with increasing persuasiveness, produce more in-depth writing, and read excerpts from newspapers and other sources. Students can expect to review and further solidify their understanding of kanji characters.

History 9: America Since 1945

This course is an exploration of U.S. history in a global context from the middle of the 20th century to the present. After starting the year with a short unit focused on reviewing and solidifying key historical thinking skills, the course will move decade by decade from the 1950s to the early 2000s, exploring a wide range of themes, patterns, and processes that have shaped the world we know today, from the civil rights movement to the culture wars of the 1980s to the emergence of the internet age. Rather than simply following a rigid, rote progression through time, our emphasis will be on thinking critically as we develop evidence-based arguments about how and why particular documents, people, events, and ideas were especially important at different moments in the past (and how they still resonate in different ways in the present). Throughout the course, research, writing, and document analysis skills will be central to our work, and students will put these skills into practice with a large-scale independent research project on a topic of their choice to finish up the year.

History 10: Wisconsin in a Global Context

The idea at the heart of this course is that exploring different aspects of Wisconsin’s history will allow us to make deeper connections between local and global contexts; by acquiring tools that help us build a richer understanding of our current surroundings, we will be better able to orient ourselves in a rapidly changing world. To do this, we will emphasize primary source research and analytical writing skills throughout the course, with multiple “real world” opportunities to not only gain experience with the practice of “doing history” but also make connections to the community. Instead of attempting to provide a comprehensive overview of the entirety of Wisconsin’s past, this course is organized into thematic units (including political history, environmental history, and the history of race/social justice issues). The year will conclude with a comprehensive, student-directed research unit, in which each student will develop an original argument about why a particular aspect of Wisconsin’s past matters—and how digging deeper into local history can help us understand something meaningful about the broader world.

IB History I: 19th Century History of the Americas—SL/HL

IB History I focuses on North and South America during the “long” 19th century (1789 - 1914), a place and time of massive transformation that witnessed U.S. expansion in North America; the U.S. Civil War; the abolition of over 300 years of slavery; the suppression of Native American communities; full-scale industrialization and immigration, and popular movements that resisted these forces; and expanding U.S. influence into the Pacific and Central and South America. This course will prepare students to complete the HL portion of the IB exam in History.

IB History II: 20th Century World History —SL/HL

IB History II examines 20th century world history, particularly challenges to democracy, the growth of nationalism and authoritarianism, the effects of colonialism, and the causes, course, and consequences of warfare. Historical case studies include World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Congo Crisis and First Congo War. This course will prepare students to complete both the SL and HL portions of the IB exam in History.

Visual Arts and Theory I: Art Foundations

In this foundational course for the high school art program, students continue to work with a variety of two- and three-dimensional media. They explore the role of the building blocks of artwork—the art elements (shape, form, space, line, texture, and color) and examine the principles of design (unity, harmony, repetition, proportion, balance, rhythm, and movement)—to hone their knowledge of balanced composition. Students learn to recognize and examine various art forms from different cultures and times, building their understanding of the connection among artworks, artifacts and objects, and the cultural context in which they were created. Students also learn to write short reflections and evaluations of their own and other artists’ work, both strengthening their analytical skill and expanding their art vocabulary.

Visual Arts and Theory II: Creative Thinking: Concepts in Design

This studio course continues the journey from Visual Arts & Theory I and further explores traditional and experimental art techniques and approaches to create two- and three-dimensional pieces. Studio work focuses on refining both students’ craftsmanship skills and application of the art elements and design principles to effectively convey their ideas. Students continue to expand their analytical skills through written evaluations of their own and other artists’ work. They delve deeper into the cultural context in which selected artworks were created that helps students interpret the purpose and function of the works. Students develop informed ways of viewing and examining the work of other artists to better understand how critical investigation underpins the art-making process.

IB Visual Arts I—SL/HL

In the first year of IB Visual Arts, students develop a cohesive portfolio of artworks that illustrates their personal interests and involvement. Students independently select art materials, techniques, and styles to experiment with and apply in their studio work, thoughtfully considering the connection between the design and idea. Students use their visual arts journal to support and inform the development of their artwork through focused contextual, visual, and artists’ research. Together, the students’ research, creative work, and evaluations help students develop their own artistic voice, place their own work into a wider context, and consider its effect on an audience.

IB Visual Arts II—SL/HL

During their second year of IB Visual Arts, students prepare for the IB final exam by completing the comparative study project, creating an electronic portfolio with research and critical reflections, and exhibiting a body of works supported by a cohesive artist statement. HL requires advanced research and additional projects for completion at this level.

Music 9: The African Voice in American Music

Students are introduced to the music of West Africa and its influence on many genres of music in the Western hemisphere. Students explore the music of West Africa (including native rhythms and dance), Caribbean music, and the evolution of American Jazz and the birth of Hip Hop. Projects and activities include: playing and dancing to Latin grooves, harmonizing/orchestrating jazz standards, and creating a fully-produced hip hop song using the recording studio. Music theory concepts include chord inversions, jazz chord notation, and harmonization

Music 10: The History of Rock and Roll

This course will allow students to learn and appreciate how the evolution of American Rock and Roll has changed the world in the last 75 years through freedom and expression of music (social/cultural connections), the development of the “hit” song, and innovations in the technology of recording music. Students participate in group discussions, listening sessions, and even play some of the studied works on their primary instruments. The period of study spans from approximately1940 (Development of Blues music) to 1985 (Innovation in recording, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album).

IB Music I— SL/HL

A basic survey of Western European eras covers the music of the Renaissance, early Baroque, Classical musical forms, Romantic Program composers, 20th century composers, tonal and atonal music, performance media, and social context of music. Students use traditional and modern technologies to analyze major works in history. Students also draw connections in modern music to the works of study in form and harmony.

IB Music II—SL/HL

Students continue to study Western music history, World Music, and fusion from the 20th century. Music theory instruction is tailored to individual cases, but major units include scale modes and extended chords. Students study the prescribed works (Joseph Haydn’s “Surprise Symphony” and “Rhapsody on a Theme from Paganini” by Sergei Rachmaninoff), review for IB exams, and work on the Musical Links Investigation paper.

Band

Band gives the student the opportunity to study, learn, appreciate, rehearse, and perform various forms of music in a large instrumental group setting. The ensemble will work on many genres of music including contemporary concert band selections, Jazz and World Music. Throughout the year, the group performs at various events including concerts, recitals, assemblies, tours at various local venues, and graduation ceremonies.

Orchestra

The high school orchestra class represents the culmination of orchestra ensemble participation at MCDS. Students will learn intermediate and advanced instrumental techniques to further refine their expressive capabilities and to help students reach their full artistic potential. The high school orchestra performs a wide variety of challenging repertoire throughout the year in various genres including classical, jazz, rock and popular music. Students also rehearse and prepare works for small chamber ensemble for performance on two student recitals. Performance venues include school concerts, tours, festivals, and others.

Choir

As a member of high school choir, students will study, prepare, and perform four-part repertoire from a variety of genres, especially works of historical or cultural significance. Through their work in preparing these pieces, singers will improve their understanding of singing technique and gain confidence in their voices. These student-musicians will also acquire and reinforce the skills, knowledge, and habits of working together in a cooperative ensemble. Throughout the year, the group performs at various events including concerts, recitals, assemblies, tours at various local venues, and graduation ceremonies.

Theatre I: The Actor’s Toolbox

The course introduces the beginning actor to the fundamental vocabulary, skills, and concepts required to perform in theatre, film, and television. The focus is on individual acting, voice, and movement skills necessary for solo performance, auditions and monologues. Each element is explored with practical applications in an environment encouraging creativity, focus, discipline, and control. Using improvisation, observation, exercises, theatre games, text analysis, and monologue work, each student creates their own “actor’s toolbox” and lays the foundation for future performance courses. The course explores the actor’s role in making compelling and engaging theatre. Students build on innate talents and capacities to become more mentally flexible, emotionally fluent and controlled, physically expressive, as well as more articulate, disciplined, and self-confident.

Theatre II: Scene Work: The Art of Acting

The tenth grade theatre class centers on working in space with others by developing ensemble and scene work. Theatre explorations focus on the teachings of Uta Hagen, Stanislavski, and Michael Chekhov. Scene work actively explores the theatre of ancient Greece, Shakespeare, Commedia dell’ Arte, Modern Realism, and World Theatre. The actor’s work is coordinated with voice and movement training applicable to each style and genre. Students emerge from the class with a comprehensive understanding of creating a physically and psychologically complex character while becoming a more mentally flexible, emotionally fluent, and physically expressive human being.

PE Grade 9: PE & Health

Students participate in an array of fitness and leadership activities to build camaraderie and communication within their ninth grade peers. Students receive an overview of strength training in our fitness center as well as First Aid/CPR/AED certification. In Health, students cover the seven dimensions of wellness while creating a better understanding of their personal wellness. Discussions revolve around the seven dimensions of wellness including: intellectual, physical, social, environmental, occupational, spiritual, and emotional health. The topics of nutrition, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, healthy relationships, and sexually-transmitted infections are included.

PE Grades 10–12

Students participate in a variety of fitness activities including but not limited to strength training, aerobics, and yoga.

Theory of Knowledge I & II

In this 18-month course, students step back from the relentless acquisition of knowledge, beliefs, and opinions from academic studies and life outside the classroom in order to reflect on the questions: How do I know? What counts as knowledge? How do I gain knowledge? What knowledge do I have? How do I use this knowledge? Students will gain awareness of different perspectives and the disciplinary, ideological, and personal assumptions that underlay human knowledge, including one’s own. Students will think critically by analyzing causes and limitations of knowledge, linking ideas from different knowledge areas, and developing an appropriate flexible framework for approaching complex situations. Students explore several areas of knowledge, including: the arts, mathematics, natural sciences, human sciences, history, and ethics.

CAS: Creativity, Activity, Service

As a requirement to earn an IB Diploma, students will complete 150 hours of integrated creativity, activity, and service components; examples include everything from creating an elective course for middle school students to competing in WIAA athletics to volunteering at a non-profit organization.

Extended Essay

Students write a 4,000-word original research paper with the guidance of an MCDS high school faculty member as a requirement to earn an IB Diploma. After completion, students are exceptionally well prepared for the rigors of college research and writing on an academic topic of their choice.

Explore your passion in a variety of fields

GOA courses change every semester. Fall semester 2021 classes are shown below.

Swipe through the list below to discover the variety of current GOA course opportunities. Learn more about Global Online Academy at MCDS.