Learning in middle school + high school
Learning in middle school + high school
Our students come to Proof School as math kids. Where they go, and who they become, is discovered each year, in secondary school and beyond.
We are a school for kids who excel in many, if not all, subjects. We want our students to deepen as thinkers and become eager, capable learners. We aim for our graduates to lead in the world as analytical, literate, compassionate citizens.
All students across all years study foundational subjects in ways that are both intellectual and hands-on. Courses at Proof School focus on the tools of project- and inquiry-based learning. We infuse our courses with distinctive emphases: reading & writing, speaking & listening, making & doing, and experimenting & practicing. We learn, collaborate, share, and serve each other at school and in our broader community.
Grades 6-8 feature rich discovery courses in foundational subjects: math, literature, history, science, programming, and the arts.
We spiral through them year-by-year, engaging more complex ideas and material, and becoming more confident as we go. These grade levels also cycle through additional subjects that are relevant to our school and to our students, with emphases on personal and social/emotional (SEL) development. We also highly value verbal and nonverbal communication.
During the middle school years, many subjects are combined, giving students a dynamic, interconnected, and multidisciplinary perspective on learning.
Courses across the curriculum begin at the advanced high school and college levels.
Students take a wide swath of courses with the aim of having our students graduate as informed, global citizens. These courses ensure a solid liberal arts education for every student and help students remain open to discovering new interests. Over the course of four years, students fulfill the UC a-g subject requirements.
Students nearly fulfill the three-year UC mathematics requirement in just two years. Beyond math, students complete four years of English; two years each of history, science, and a language other than English; and one year of arts. Writing and presenting across the curriculum is an essential part of all course offerings. Collectively, these courses provide students with a liberal arts foundation to excel in college.
While we meet standards, we do so in ways that don’t waste time. We see the UC a-g requirements as minimums, not impositions. By not over-subscribing our students with additional requirements, students are able pursue individual interests with electives, directed research courses, and a senior capstone project.
Our courses balance inspiration with transferable skills. Read an index of our courses here.
Blog posts from faculty
Blog posts from faculty
Our faculty author blog posts each block that give parents, prospective applicants, and the larger public a sense of our classroom activities and pedagogy.
Expect to read thoughtful reflections on not only what we're doing in the classroom but why we're doing it. We reflect on all aspects of our curriculum, not just what is happening in a specific class.
Students study a single subject in depth for six weeks (one block) at a time, for a total of five subjects per year.
With over two hours in class each afternoon, teachers have 66 contact hours with students per block, covering an amount of material equivalent to nearly half a year in a conventional classroom.
Imagine covering content from five different college level math and computer science courses during one year of high school. Some of our students are already doing just that. At the same time, Proof School offers a wide range of courses to inspire and instruct every student who loves math, regardless of their prior background.
As students progress and are assessed for mastery, topics become increasingly sophisticated and diverse, ensuring both a strong foundation and opportunities for specialization. Spiral learning reinforces the interwoven nature of the mathematical sciences.
Advising prior to each block and frequent teacher-student interaction ensures that students are placed into suitable courses that match their potential. Instructors design and customize elective courses for students who have completed all core offerings.
Courses are highly experiential, with students actively exploring, conjecturing, communicating, and proving.
Becoming adept at coding gives us the power to bring ideas to life.
By creating digital images, instructing machines to play games, teaching robots to accomplish tasks, testing conjectures electronically, or writing code to gather and analyze data, kids immersed in computer science create new possibilities to learn. That’s why CS is a central feature in our curriculum at Proof School.
Of course, numerical investigation has a place in the math classroom, so we incorporate calculators and mathematical software into our courses in an appropriate manner. But beyond this we give every middle school student a solid grounding in programming, built right into and right across our morning classes.
To reinforce this foundation, we pair programming with other subjects at different points of the school day and in varied settings to apply new skills.
Kids who hanker for computer science find ample opportunities to roll up their sleeves at Proof School. Each year, we host a school-wide AI competition. Students may choose to take courses such as app design, artificial intelligence, or data mining during Block 5 almost every year. We meet students’ interests and abilities—even (and especially) when they extend far beyond typical high school fare.
Finally, students are also able to pursue their CS interests during club time, electives, projects, math bursts focused on research, and directed research. In short, there is far more CS available for kids at Proof School than just about any other secondary school.
Our goal is for all students to become scientifically literate.
Through our science offerings, students gain proficiency and confidence in the sciences. Exceptionally motivated students have the opportunity for substantial coursework as well as independent research.
Our science studio courses focus on hands-on learning, experimenting, and testing.
Courses introduce students to a foundation in physics, chemistry, and biology. The studio classes emphasize deductive reasoning, thoughtful testing of ideas, report writing, and experiment design.
Proof School's science curriculum plays a pivotal role in other courses as well. Our first-year art curriculum focuses on materials and engineering, and our introduction to Python gives students the foundational skills to enter fields like computational biology and chemistry. Our high school digital humanities courses build upon students' programming foundation.
By the time students reach high school age, they are ready to devote entire years to deep study of particular subjects.
We teach physics in 9th grade, chemistry in 10th grade, and biology in 12th grade. This order may seem unconventional, but it is actually the natural progression of these subjects.
Students who wish to pursue science further have several possible avenues open to them. We plan to offer electives based on student interest and faculty expertise, such as computational chemistry, quantum mechanics, or special relativity.
The course sequence in history from middle school to high school introduces students to the concept of multiple "histories."
Our middle school course offering focuses on ancient Athens, with the goal of contextualizing modernity within the distant past. In later years, students take a comparative approach to world history, with a special emphasis on social justice and museum studies, and a design-oriented class on US history.
The literature and language arts program is carried by a robust curriculum in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
We read a variety of literatures and engage a range of language arts: the classic and the contemporary, the epic and the poetic, the theatrical and the novel. But we also look at literature from a wide angle lens, and include artwork and music as part of our reading. Projects include creative engagements with literature, such as making altered books and staging plays, that help activate analytical engagement with our reading.
The arts program at Proof School lays the foundation for physical and expressive explorations across the curriculum, all done in a creative lab environment.
The arts help us visualize research, materialize how we interpret a favorite book, and transform intellectual inquiry into craft. The program forms the backbone of our maker culture.
Our arts program is primarily visual (think anamorphic projections and book arts), but we give students plenty of opportunities to engage a full range of artistic expression: in music and sound, in drama and set design, and in science and computer science.
Proof School students study at least two years of Latin at the high school level. Our goals with this course offering include learning a language other than English, studying Roman civilization and history, and supporting larger learning goals.
As the root of several modern languages, including the languages of law, government, modern science, and logic, Latin helps our students practice deep literacy across the curriculum.
We don't over-schedule students. Instead, we keep them focused on foundational ways of doing and thinking, like writing, presenting, experimenting, and building.
We see UC a-g subject requirements as minimums, not impositions, and this allows us to give each student, starting their sophomore year, a variety of electives and directed research tutorials, including a senior capstone project.
Electives give students a chance to jump into specific topics of interest. We give students as many options as possible to spiral back through a foundational course, to form a small-group seminar based on shared interests, or to create a tutorial under the direction of our faculty.
Directed research projects focus on independent research, writing, and presenting. Each directed research class is a year-long inquiry into a specific field; syllabi are authored by students and guided by faculty and community advisors. All directed research courses capitalize on our students' interests, their growing independence, and the mentorship of our team of faculty and advisors.
In their final year, students focus an entire course on a senior capstone project that results in significant contribution to a community or to a body of literature. Students consult with a range of experts and give final, culminating presentations. The senior capstone project is a centerpiece to any student’s portfolio of work and achievement at Proof School.