Curriculum and Instruction » Core Curriculum

Core Curriculum

Maspeth High School employs a classical curriculum built on two pillars. The first pillar of our classical education model is language-focused: learning is accomplished through the study of words, written and spoken, rather than through images. The second pillar is adapted from the trivium - grammar (the art of interpreting symbols), dialectics (the art of reasoning), and rhetoric (the art of expression). The trivium is the structure of every subject and discipline. To the classical mind, all knowledge is interrelated and derived from history. Eventually, our students develop an understanding of the role of their lives, families, and communities as part of the broad landscape of human existence and achievement.
We believe that a student who has engaged in English language arts, Mathematics, Science, and History for all four years of high school will be well equipped for post-secondary success. As such, all students are encouraged to enroll in the core disciplines in each year of their high school career.
English language arts (ELA) courses guide students toward mastery of the skills and standards associated with the Common Core curriculum through the lens of classical texts. Throughout their literary journey students at our school demonstrate their comprehension of each unit through participation in Socratic seminars and declamations. In 9th grade, students explore Classical Mythology through texts such as The Iliad and The Odyssey. In 10th grade, students are prepared to take the New York State Regents exam through the study of Philosophy and related texts. In 11th grade, students engage with the literary works of classical American authors and in their final year of study, students complete their classical journey with British Literature. Students also have the opportunity to enroll in AP Literature and Composition and AP Language and Composition throughout their high school career. The ELA department concludes each year by hosting a school-wide declamation competition.
Mathematics is our primary forum for teaching dialectics. Our teachers push our students to view mathematics as a method for logic and reasoning with applications in their daily lives. The mathematics department aims to dispel the stereotype that mathematics is only understood by some. All students are expected to follow the New York State mathematics sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II in their first three years of high school. Students who complete the sequence are provided with the opportunity to enroll in AP Calculus, a Pre-Calculus course sponsored by St. John's University, or Advanced Algebra with Financial Applications. Students are encouraged to take four years of mathematics in order to ensure college readiness. Each year, the mathematics department also hosts a school-wide Pi Day to promote mathematics through activities such as a competitive recitation of the digits in Pi.
All Science classes are scheduled to include a double period lab once per week in order to complete inquiry-based experiential laboratory experiments. Students are offered a wide array of science courses throughout their high school career; many choose to follow a traditional Science track of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics over their first three years of high school. In their senior year, students are given the option of four different Advanced Placement courses including AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics or AP Environmental Science. Students who choose not to enroll in an Advanced Placement course choose either Earth Science or College Astronomy sponsored by St. John's University. Additionally, each year the science department hosts a school-wide science fair in which students present their innovations and investigations of the world surrounding them.
Students begin their high school journey in history by enrolling in two years of Global History and Geography or AP World History. In 11th Grade, while students are exploring American Literature in their ELA course, they are also learning American History or AP United States History. This horizontal alignment allows for a more coherent structure and the opportunity for students to explore the content with greater attention to detail. Students in 12th grade have the option to take Government, AP Comparative Government, or AP United States Government, and Economics. The primary form of assessment across the history curriculum is a debate; debates are organized using various formats including team debates, Parliamentary debates, Lincoln-Douglas debates, and presidential debates.
Our curriculum supports college and career readiness by focusing on foundational skills that students require to be successful in their post-secondary endeavors. Our students use higher order thinking skills daily, as each lesson is built on the foundations of Webb's Depth of Knowledge and Bloom's Taxonomy. We challenge our students with daily writing prompts, class discussions and assessments of mastery. We also utilize resources such as career interest inventories, learning style assessments and self-discovery tools, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, to guide our students toward making informed choices about their lives beyond Maspeth High School.