Academics

Language Arts Courses

  • Honors English 9

    Students work on several formal essays, including: narration, description, process analysis, exemplification, cause and effect, comparison/contrast, definition, argumentation, and researched argumentation. Students study and respond to several literary essays from various authors, among them E. B. White, Jamaica Kincaid, and others. Short stories such as Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “A Very Old Man With Wings”, among others, are also studied.

    Public speaking components reflect our reading. Special attention is paid to the study and understanding of logical fallacies. Students keep a journal in which they write directed entries, take CLOSE reading notes and the class explores the basic elements of the writing process from pre-writing to proofreading and intensive revision, and reflect on their own growth as a writer. Homework each week generally consists of one or two typed journal entries and at least one additional longer writing assignment, including formal critical essays, creative writing, and other projects and presentations.

    We investigate grammar and usage as they apply to an individual’s writing. Critical thinking skills, time-management, interpersonal, and metacognitive skills are stressed throughout the course. Our classroom method encourages discussion within a co-operative workshop environment emphasizing peer feedback. Students receive informal assessment during the semester focusing upon their particular needs and submit a complete portfolio of revised work for the final grade.

  • Honors English 10

    Building upon the foundation of Honors English 9, students produce several more journals, oral presentations, short essays, and a literary research paper, learning proper approaches to argumentation, library research tools, formatting and citation, and balance of voice. The final unit is a creative literary journal highlighting the different writing techniques and styles the students have learned. Our class explores a play by Shakespeare, while keeping character diaries as we discuss and explicate the text; students also do individually researched presentations related to our reading.

    The literary research paper is chosen from a topic based upon our investigation of William Golding’s "Lord of the Flies" or Jacqueline Woodson's "If You Come Softly." Students meet public speaking requirements by delivering a speech related to our readings, and a memorized soliloquy from Shakespeare. Class discussions and assignments necessitate close and careful reading of the texts and materials to promote critical and creative analysis. Along with the play by Shakespeare and the two novels mentioned above, readings include essays, articles, non-fiction, short stories, screenplays, and poems by authors representing many different styles, time periods, and traditions. The class continues to hone the basic elements of the writing process from pre-writing to proofreading and intensive revision.

    We investigate issues of grammar and usage as they apply to an individual’s writing. Our classroom method encourages discussion within a co-operative workshop environment emphasizing peer feedback. Critical thinking skills, time-management, interpersonal and metacognitive skills are stressed throughout the course. Students receive informal assessments during the semester focusing upon their particular needs and a portfolio is submitted for the final grade after going through an extensive revision process.

  • Honors English 11

    Honors English 11 continues the development of the advanced compositional skills learned in Honors English 9/10. Specifically, we focus on mastering skills in literary analysis, critical thinking, cultural awareness, and sophisticated reading. Students will be introduced to critical literary lenses that they will explore through a variety of diverse texts both contemporary and canonical, including works by Shakespeare, Sophocles, Mary Shelley, Art Spiegelman, Emily Dickinson, Zora Neale Hurston, Mark Twain, Flannery O’Connor, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Franz Kafka, Herman Melville, Ross Gay, Sharon Olds, Ted Chiang, Margaret Atwood, Pablo Neruda, Yusef Komunyakaa, Tim O’Brien, and many others.

    Class time consists largely of cooperative learning ventures including extensive discussion, workshops, presentations, collaborative writing, peer review, as well as instructor lectures and guest speakers. Writing assignments, primarily analytical in nature, include formal essays, research papers, creative writing, and presentations. The readings include fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction, and represent many different styles, time periods, and traditions.

    All work is collected into a well-organized portfolio, which undergoes a review process and evaluation by peers and the instructor for a final grade.

  • Honors English 12

    Honors English 12 builds upon the foundation of development of advanced compositional skills in expository, argumentative, and creative writing begun in Honors English 11. The goals of the class are to foster critical thinking and increasingly sophisticated reading skills, literary and rhetorical analysis, and to promote greater artistic self-awareness. Cooperative learning ventures, including workshops, peer review, collaborative writing, and extensive discussion, comprise the heart of classroom activities. This term emphasizes different types of writing that include a literature of the Holocaust unit, a literature of war unit, a research paper, a spoken word performance, and other projects and presentations.

    Several major essays undergo an intense revision process until the thesis statements are clear, the arguments well supported, and the citations properly formatted in order to create elegant, articulate, and engaging papers. Special emphasis will be placed upon a research paper that will also serve as a source analysis project. The readings include fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction, and represent many different styles, time periods, and traditions.

    Possible readings are: Shakespeare ("Hamlet"), Mary Shelley ("Frankenstein"), Aldous Huxley ("Brave New World"), the romantic poets, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Raymond Carver, Kate Chopin, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, Audre Lorde, N. Scott Momaday, Michael Ondaatje, Lucille Clifton, Maxine Hong Kingston, Anna Akhmatova, Wislawa Syzmborska, Yusef Komunyakaa, Tim O’Brien, Mark Haddon, Neil Gaimen, Luisa Valenzuela, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others. All work is collected into a well-organized portfolio, which undergoes a review process and evaluation by peers and the instructor for a final grade.

  • AP English: Language and Composition and AP English: Literature and Composition

    ATYP AP English provides all students with the opportunity to take both the AP Language and Composition and the AP Literature and Composition Exams during early May. Accordingly, the course seeks to nurture and elevate students’ reading, writing, critical thinking, and literary interpretation skills to the university level. Utilizing a seminar/workshop format, the course is predicated upon further developing writing and interpretive skills through lecture and discussion and frequently employs small group discussions and interpretation, group presentations, and peer review. While placing its greatest emphasis upon literary analysis and formal critical essays, coursework also includes a substantial number of shorter response essays as well as creative writing assignments, all of which aim to foster increasingly sophisticated reading, writing, and interpretive skills and to cultivate students’ understanding of rhetorical and poetic strategies, literary history and genres, shifting historical and cultural contexts, and increasing authorial self-awareness. Students can expect to compose some half dozen response essays and four major essays each semester; the first drafts will receive feedback and marks, then after revision, a final grade will be assigned. Select practice AP tests and exercises will also be provided with increasing frequency as we move closer to the AP Exams in May.

    The course offers a broad range of readings in classic world literature, ranging from ancient epics to contemporary novels. This approach will seek to develop a broad understanding of the evolution of literary history, as well as diverse approaches to interpretation. Key focal points include the comparison of ancient, modern, and contemporary cultures and mythologies; the gradual emergence of democratic institutions and values; the evolution of literary genres; and the changing dynamics of collective and individual identity. Throughout the year, we will focus upon how rites of passage and myth serve as forms of cultural mediation in the relations between mortals and “immortals,” as well as between individuals and their societies. The first semester begins with contemporary authors, then moves to the voices of women exploring their identity and access, then to the mythical visions found in ancient epic poetry, culminating in a discussion of access to the American Dream. The second semester highlights Shakespearian tragedy, the emergence of the novel as the dominant modern literary genre, and the exploration of human freedom within utopian and dystopian visions ranging from Sir Thomas More and Dostoevsky to Zamyatin and Orwell to Atwood and Campbell. 

  • Year IV: Literature, Philosophy and the Media: Roaming the Anthropocene

    ATYP Year IV is an interdisciplinary humanities class exploring the Anthropocene, a newly coined word for this current era in which we live, defined by everything from climate change to late capitalism, Big Data to meme culture, artificial intelligence to political division. This class invites students to define this present moment as it unfolds, to pause and unpack the complex questions bombarding us every day. How do we form our identities in the hypervisible age of social media and cancel culture? How do we find common ground in an increasingly polarized, globalized world? What social, environmental, and personal challenges will we face down in the years to come, and where can we find the tools to solve them?

    Through studying a wide variety of philosophical, critical, and creative texts, we will explore what living in the Anthropocene means for all of us. This class is designed to be a “crash course” in humanities, pop culture, and the liberal arts. Throughout the year we will cover a lot of ground, with the intention of giving you a taste of a diverse array of writers, scholars, thinkers, and artists from all kinds of backgrounds and genres. A major component of this class will be your own contributions and input; many assignments are open-ended in subject and theme, and a primary portion of each class will be devoted to rigorous debate and discussion. The hope is that we will explore not just how we got to “this” moment, but what “this” moment even is.

    Requirements: Each student in the course should have a minimum of 5-7 hours per week available outside of class time throughout the academic year to complete assignments; additional time is desirable. This class meets two afternoons per week for two hours each meeting, or possibly one afternoon per week for three hours. Timing is dependent on students’ schedules and is determined in May. This is a one credit per year course.

The first two years of ATYP English (Honors English 9/10 the first year, Honors English 11/12) cover four years of high school language arts topics. The AP English course (the third year of the program) culminates in students completing the Advanced Placement Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition exams. Each AP exam passed with a high enough score usually allows the student to receive college credit.

ATYP IV (the final year) explores the relationship between self and society within postmodern culture. This course is expressly interdisciplinary in nature, with particular emphasis on philosophy and the arts. This class will count as an English credit in the student’s high school. 

Mathematics Courses

  • Algebra I/II

    The Academically Talented Youth Program year I course is a rigorous, accelerated class that covers two years of high school algebra in a single school year. The class contains the standard content for comprehensive high school algebra I and algebra II classes including linear equations in one, two or three unknowns, polynomial and rational expressions, inequalities in one and two variables, lines, factoring, exponents, radicals, quadratic formula, complex numbers and roots of high-degree polynomials, as well as some basics of probability, sequences and trigonometry. Students will learn to use their graphing calculators as a powerful instructional tool through graphing and programming. The students sharpen their skills by submitting their solutions to more than 1500 homework problems. Enrichment work in mathematical problem solving is emphasized.

  • Geometry

    The first semester of year II contains the topics of a standard high school course in plane and solid geometry, specificallydistance, angles, area, Pythagoras theorem, congruent triangles, polygons, dilations, similarity and transformations. Students are given rigorous weekly homework assignments that help them learn to formulate mathematical proofs and derive general formulas. Emphasis is placed on mathematical thinking and methods of proof. 

  • Precalculus

    Second semester, the fast-paced precalculus portion of ATYP’s math sequence covers the topics of a standard high school course in trigonometry and analytic geometry, specifically equations, inequalities, graphs, functions which include polynomial, rational, exponential, and logarithmic functions; trigonometry which includes angles, right triangle trigonometry, circular functions, identities and equations; polar equations, parametric equations and conic sections. The course makes extensive use of graphing calculators, which help to promote each student's conceptual understanding of the various topics. Students are given challenge problems each week to promote problem solving skills.

  • Classes

    These classes meet one afternoon per week from 1:20 to 3:50 p.m. The day of the week varies each year depending on number of students and instructor availability. A break is held half-way through the class meeting to allow the students to stretch, use the restroom and get a snack from the vending machines (money needed). The classes meet in a classroom on the Western Michigan University campus with an instructor that is qualified in mathematics and understands gifted youth. Each instructor creates their own assessment tools that are used throughout the year. Typically, there are two tests given each semester and a nationally normed standardized test is given at the end of each semester to assess the student’s knowledge of the topics studied. Grades are given and sent to the student’s school at the semester break and at the end of the year. A study session is run by a tutor each weekend that allows the students to discuss the homework and generate ideas for solutions.

  • Homework

    Homework is assigned in a rotational manner so that each homework assignment will have three parts. Approximately one-third of the homework questions will come from material that has just been discussed in class. Approximately one-third of the homework questions will come from material that was discussed the week before. So, they will have done some problems for this section the previous week, gotten some feedback on how they handled those problems, and (hopefully) internalized the concepts more thoroughly. The last one-third of the homework questions come from material discussed two weeks prior. Thus, this material should be mastered as they solve these questions. This approach helps solidify the concepts being taught in an individual manner and without unnecessary repetition in class.

  • Calculator policy

    A graphing calculator can enhance the understanding of mathematics by allowing student access to harder problems and alternate ways of representing data. However, students are not encouraged to use a graphing calculator until a few months into the program. This is to make sure the student understands basic principles and theorems before allowing the calculators to do the work for them. ATYP encourages students to make use of concepts introduced in the book and not to reach for a calculator to do basic mathematics operations.

    This being noted, ATYP utilizes graphing calculators in all years of its mathematics program. Most current graphing calculators are acceptable. If a student already owns a graphing calculator, then check with the instructor to make sure that it is compatible with ATYP’s program. If a student needs to purchase a graphing calculator for ATYP’s program, then both a TI-83+ and a TI-84+ are acceptable. Since KAMSC is recommending that their incoming freshman have a TI-84+ calculator, by purchasing a TI-84+ you may be able to use your calculator throughout more of your school career. A calculator with a keyboard or one containing a computer algebra system does not help a student learn mathematics and, as such, should not be purchased for this program.

Typically, the algebra courses are completed the first year, while the other two topics are finished in the second.

AP Computer Science is also available. No qualifying scores are required for AP Computer Science, but Algebra I must be completed before class starts in the fall.

  • AP Computer Science

    Prerequisite

    Any student who has completed Algebra I with good grades and who feel they may have some aptitude in this area may take this class.

    Description

    This course will be an in-depth introduction to computer programming in the Java language. Computer Science A emphasizes object-oriented programming methodology with a concentration on problem solving and algorithm development and is meant to be the equivalent of a first-semester college-level course in computer science. It also includes the study of data structures, design and abstraction. In addition, an understanding of the basic hardware and software components of computer systems and the responsible use of these systems are integral parts of the course. Written communication between the programmer and the user will be emphasized. At the end of this course students take the AP Computer Science A exam. Many colleges accept a score of a 4 or 5 on the AP exam to count as a semester of a college computer science course.

    Requirements

    Each student in the course should have a minimum of three hours per week available outside of class time on a computer throughout the academic year to complete assignments; additional time is desirable. This computer should be capable of running Java programs. Free software is available; the student just needs access to a relatively recent computer.