Course Catalog

  • Jewscast

    What would the Sages of the Talmud say about WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden? Would Maimonides argue that marijuana ought to be legalized for either medical or recreational use? What foreign policy advice would Rabbi Akiva give to President Obama regarding Russia's treatment of the Ukraine? In this course, students will select current events issues for class discussion followed by study of a selection of classic Jewish texts relevant to the contemporary issues being examined. Students will have the opportunity to explore the panoply of Jewish ideas and opinions surrounding the issues, and to use what they have learned to help others understand the different Jewish voices and values that can be considered when trying to formulate a “Jewish point of view.” Students will creatively share their learning with a larger audience through group projects and public presentation.

  • Ways of (Re)acting and Interacting

    As students ready themselves to leave the TVT cocoon, Twelfth grade Jewish Studies focuses on how our Jewish Identity and practice influences the way we act and interact with the larger world. Throughout the year, students will hear guest speakers offer their personal theology as students are challenged to formulate and ultimately present their own theology to the larger TVT community. Twelfth Grade Jewish Studies also explores the non-Jewish religious world that students will face as they leave TVT. Developing a sophisticated understanding of Jewish sexuality, ethics and citizenship will help our students navigate towards the Jewish ideal in the world beyond TVT. Lastly, twelfth Grade Jewish Studies will focus on the skills of how to “Do Jewish and Live Jewish” in an environment where living Jewishly requires intention, commitment and “Jewish know-how.”

  • Ways of Belonging

    Ninth Grade Jewish Studies explores the essential question of “Who’s a Jew?” Through a close reading of the Book of Ruth in its original Hebrew, students will strengthen their translation skills as they investigate the role that blood, belief and behavior play in the historical definition of “Jewish.” This class will also focus upon on how the “Who’s a Jew” debate plays out among the various Jewish denominations and within Israel today. Students will emerge from this class with a personal, nuanced understanding of the variables used to answer this age-old question and with the ability to textually support their personal definition of “Who’s a Jew.”

  • Ways of Responding

    Eleventh Grade Jewish Studies is devoted to the spiritual and factual preparation for our Eleventh grade Poland/Israel trip. Guided by the essential question, “How have Jews reacted and responded to their historical journey from powerlessness to power,” students will explore the history (and historical nuance) of both the Holocaust and the formation of the State of Israel. Along the way, students will study the Jewish theology that emerged around the historical realities of suffering and will be challenged to help create a new “Theology of Joy and Responsibility” that surrounds the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland and the flourishing of a Jewish diaspora.

  • Ways of Living, Thinking and Creating

    Tenth Grade Jewish Studies is the year when TVT students are introduced to serious Talmud study for the first time. Through the study of thematic units like Lost and Found, Overreaching, and the Stubborn and Rebellious Child, students will begin to understand why Talmud study is the “Jewish proving ground” for rigorous, critical and creative thinking. Through exposure to the “Talmud’s greatest hits,” students will be able to appreciate the Talmud as the ultimate repository of Jewish ideas and ideals. Throughout the year, students will be introduced to different methodologies for connecting with the Talmud. Students will emerge from this class with an appreciation of the Talmud as Judaism’s quintessential “pluralism poster child.”

  • 8th Grade Core Jewish Studies: The Book of Yonah, An Introduction to Jewish Theology

    Through an in-depth study of Sefer Yonah, 8th Graders will not only engage in a close and critical reading of a compelling narrative, but they will also investigate themes and questions that get to the heart of knowing themselves and understanding how God fits into their lives. The travels and trials of the Prophet Yonah will guide the path and provide a springboard towards topics that push students to struggle with the dissonance between “world as is” and “world as it should/could be.” Themes of exploration include:

    • Are we born with a life mission?

    • What is the Jewish “take” on fate and free will?

    • Is God personal?

    • How does God act in the world?

    • Can someone ever be unworthy of forgiveness?

    • What makes some prayers effective and others not?

    · Why is there a Jewish tension between justice and mercy?

    · How does Jonah compare to other prophets?

    In preparation for their trip to Washington D.C. and New York, 8th graders will engage in a 3-week unit studying American Jewish history. Specifically, inquiry will focus on how the American Jewish community developed a unique identity in the context of an open society.

  • 6th Grade Core Jewish Studies: Navi

    After a short overview unit of Jewish History from past to present, this core Judaics covers selections from 5 books of the :תנך Yehoshua, Shoftim, Shmuel א, Shmuel ב, and Melachim א. The subject of נביאים ראשונים begins where the תורה ends, covering a period of time in Jewish history from 1250 to 586 B.C.E. Through an in-depth study of the most famous selections from each of these books, students will travel from the banks of the Jordan River to the hills of Jerusalem and will then accompany the Jewish people as they walk mournfully towards the city of Babylonia into exile. During the year, students focus on the Israelite narrative from empire to exile through the lens of leaderships with the goal of helping students understand and explore their own leadership potential.

  • 7th Grade Core Jewish Studies: Toshba

    The 7th grade core Judaics class explores the shift of Judaism from its Biblical roots to the Rabbinic Judaism that emerged as a response to the destruction of the 2nd Temple. By investigating the development of Toshba (Torah She Beal Peh/Oral Law), students will come to understand how Jewish life, ritual, laws and customs were able to flourish even while Jews were denied access to their homeland. During the course of the year, students will study specific units dealing with Kashrut, Shabbat, and Jewish environmentalism. Additionally, they will investigate the theological underpinnings that allowed interpretation and development of Jewish law to flourish. How fitting it is for 7th graders to honor their own coming of age by charting Judaism’s transformation into adulthood. Seventh graders will also mark their Bar/Bat Mitzvah year by practicing the Jewish ideal of Tzedakah. As a class, the 7th graders will form their very own Philanthropy Board, deciding how best to donate over $3,000 to worthy non-profit organizations.

  • Chemistry

    Chemistry is designed to provide students with a solid foundation in chemical principles. It emphasizes the development of problem-solving skills and the refinement of laboratory techniques. Topics of the course include ionic and covalent bonding, development of atomic theory, electron configurations and periodic law, atomic orbital theory, mole conversions, gas laws, molecular structure of solids and liquids, solutions, acid and base chemistry, oxidation and reduction, electrochemistry, thermodynamics, reaction rate, and basic organic chemistry. This course is designed to prepare students for the SAT II exam in chemistry.

    Prerequisites: Biology and Algebra 1

  • Anatomy and Physiology

    This course covers the structure and function of major body systems such as the cardiovascular, skeletal, and nervous systems. Students study the cells, tissues, and organs that comprise each system. In addition, they study how each system functions by itself and in connection with others, and how diseases and injuries can negatively impact the body. There is a considerable amount of lab work and students should be willing and able to perform dissections of organs (heart, eye, brain) as well as entire organisms (frog, fetal pig).

    (Offered in Even Years)

    Prerequisites: Honors Algebra 1 and Honors Biology

  • Physics

    This course is an introduction to physics and generally follows the curriculum of the SAT II: Physics Exam. It is an algebra based course that introduces the main concepts in Physics and how they apply to the world we live in. Forces, waves, nuclear physics and heat are the main content areas. Laboratory work is an essential ingredient of the class and students learn how to analyze data and interpret trends in a variety of ways.

    Prerequisite: Algebra 2, Geometry Concurrent

  • AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based

    This is a year-long high school class that is the equivalent to a first-semester college course in algebra based physics. The course covers Newtonian mechanics (including rotational dynamics and angular momentum); work, energy, and power; and mechanical waves and sound. It will also introduce electric circuits.

  • Second Grade Art

    • Symmetrical letters of names
    • Color, balance and composition
    • Linear patterns
    • Camouflaging name in a bug
    • Painted gourds
    • Aboriginal design
  • English 6

    The purpose of the 6th grade Language Arts program is to engage students in the acts of reading, writing, and communicating. They will learn to become active readers and further develop reading comprehension, apply critical and creative thinking skills, and cultivate independent habits of mind. Students will write in many genres, including poetry, short stories, essays, journals, and persuasive speeches, as well as create interactive presentations. Students will also learn to organize, revise, and critique written work, and plan and implement a research paper and project


    The novels on the reading list present characters who are dynamic: their lives and identities are changing, they are gaining more awareness about who they are, and they are adapting to new environments and moments in history. Through the literature, we will discuss and write about the themes of change, awareness, adaptation.

  • AP Government and Politics United States

    This course prepares students for the AP Government test. Units covered include the Constitutional Underpinnings; Political Beliefs and Behaviors; Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media; Institutions: Congress, Presidency, Bureaucracy, Courts; Public Policy; Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Students receive considerable practice with the timed essay.

    Prerequisites: A- or better in US History or AP US History and teacher recommendation.

  • Medieval World History

    Students will learn about the social, cultural, religious, and political changes that occurred across the continents (Africa, South America, Asia, and Europe) from approximately 500 to 1400 CE. Students learn about the history and geography of great civilizations that were developing concurrently throughout the world during medieval times. We will examine the growing economic interaction among societies, as well as the exchange of ideas, customs, and inventions. Students will practice reading for comprehension and learn how to take efficient notes while reading. The exploration of current global issues and the evolution of students’ social consciousness are also discussed.

  • S.T.E.M. Year Three

    Students will continue to work on the project they began in years one and two and submit this project to various national science and technology competitions such as: the Intel Science Competition, Google Science Fair, and other new STEM competitions.

  • S.T.E.M. Year Two

    Biomedical Engineering is the second year of the three year course sequence in the STEM program. In this year-long course students will continue computer programming and working in teams of three on the design project they began in STEM year one.

    This course begins with an overview of biology concepts as they are applied to the field of medicine. Students will also gain important knowledge in anatomy and physiology in this second year. The emphasis of biomedical engineering is on finding solutions by researching, testing, and applying medical, biological, chemical, electrical, and materials information. Students will learn what it means to pursue an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and the types of jobs and carreers they may consider in the future. Engineers are employed by hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, medical device and testing companies, government agencies, universities, and medical schools. in order discover new ways to answer the combines the rigors of applied medicine. As in STEM year one, students will need to devote a considerable amount of time and independent learning in this course.

  • S.T.E.M. Year One

    This is the first class in a three-year sequence of engineering courses. It is open to 9th and 10th graders only. This is a project-based learning class where students learn to build circuits using breadboards and to program using an Arduino. Using their newly acquired electricity and programming skills, students work in teams to design and build a product that solves a problem. Since this course requires a significant amount of independent learning, students who have demonstrated a strong motivation to learn will be the first to be considered.

  • Upper School Instrumental Music

    The goal of Instrumental Music is to create an ensemble of musicians capable of playing many different styles and genres of music including classical, jazz, Jewish spiritual music as well as popular contemporary pieces. Vital aspects of this goal include:

    · familiarity with great instrumental music of the world

    · proficiency in student’s primary instrument (proficiency in any instrument is acceptable and encouraged)

    · familiarity with reading music as well as sight reading

    · familiarity with form and harmonic constructs (changes) and the working shorthand for these constructs

    · an understanding of basic improvisation and how it relates to the song’s chord changes

    · a working vocabulary of what is being heard and a critical vocabulary that will provide students with the skills to analyze instrumental music intelligently

    · a willingness to assert oneself musically without fear of disapproval

    Prerequisite: None

  • Upper School Art 1

    This course provides fundamental art experiences for the beginning high school artist. Students are introduced to a variety of techniques and media and learn to express visual concepts in black and white as well as color. Drawing and painting are the focus of the first semester, while three-dimensional design and sculpture are the focus of the second semester. Emphasis is placed on understanding art vocabulary and on being able to effectively apply art vocabulary reference to developing projects. Students learn to incorporate the elements and principles of design with increasing proficiency, including composition, color theory, and concept development. Craftsmanship, aesthetic presentation, and innovation are stressed as they learn to observe and interpret. Students will learn to use drawing pencils, charcoal media, soft and oil pastels, colored pencils, watercolor paints, collage methods, printmaking, plaster, wire and clay. In addition, students are introduced to artists and art history as a basis for realizing the relationship between ideas and art creation. A writing component stresses critical thinking. Class critiques emphasize art aesthetics through the comprehension of design assessment tools.

    Prerequisite: None

  • Human Genetics

    Human Genetics, a lab science, provides an in-depth extension to the introductory genetics covered in Biology-I with an emphasis on human genetics and disease. The course follows a historic timeline beginning with classical genetics, progressing through molecular genetics and recombinant DNA technology, to genomics and proteomics. The connection between Mendelian and Molecular Genetics is presented. The genetics of individual organisms and the study of genetic variation in populations are both presented. Building on this is the study of what molecular evidence is teaching scientists about human evolution. The course also covers the impact of genetics on society and current ethical issues are discussed throughout the course. In the laboratory portion of the course, students are taught to design experiments with the necessary controls, to record data accurately in a laboratory notebook, and to analyze data and formulate conclusions. In addition to experiments in the laboratory, students learn to navigate on-line bioinformatics websites, where they annotate genes, perform BLAST searches, predict protein structure and function, perform CLUSTALW alignments, and construct evolutionary trees.

    (Offered in Odd Years)

    Prerequisite: Algebra 1 and Biology

  • AP Chemistry

    This course is a continuation of the topics covered in honors chemistry that prepares the students for a successful completion of the AP chemistry examination. This course will review the topics of atomic theory, stoichiometry, solution chemistry, acids and bases, and organic and inorganic chemistry. The topics of thermodynamics, crystalline structure, reaction kinetics, molecular geometry, and oxidation-reduction reactions will be explored in more depth. Students will complete the coursework and laboratory experiments equivalent to a first year college chemistry course.

    Prerequisites: Chemistry Honors

  • AP Biology

    AP biology is an intensive study of biological principles for students with strong backgrounds in biology and chemistry. It is designed to be the equivalent of a first year college course for Biology majors. Topics covered include, ecology and animal behavior, organic chemistry, cell biology, genetics, biotechnology, metabolism, anatomy and physiology, evolution and the classification of organisms. The eight major themes of biology, science as a process, evolution, energy transfer, continuity and change, structure and function relationship, regulation, interdependence in nature, and science, technology and society are emphasized throughout the course, where they are used to tie concepts together. The course has a rigorous laboratory investigation component which complements the class material. Emphasis is placed on fostering independent learners by developing the following skills: analysis and critical thinking, scientific writing, oral communication and teamwork skills.

    Prerequisites: Biology Honors and Chemistry Honors (concurrent enrollment in Chemistry Honors accepted)

  • AP Environmental Science

    The goal of the AP Environmental Science course is to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or preventing them. Environmental science is interdisciplinary; it embraces a wide variety of topics from different areas of study. Yet there are several major unifying constructs, or themes. In particular the course focuses on science as a process, energy conversions in ecological processes, the Earth as one ecosystem, the effects of humans on the environment and environmental issues in cultural and social context.

    Prerequisite: Biology and Chemistry

  • AP Physics C: Mechanics and Electricity & Magnetism

    The emphasis of this course is to prepare students to take and pass the AP Physics C exam. The coursework is demanding and covers the same material as a first year, calculus based college physics course. The topics covered in the course are kinematics, Newton’s laws of motion, work, energy and power, linear momentum, circular motion and rotation, oscillations and gravitation, electrostatics, conductors, capacitors, electric circuits, magnetic fields and electromagnetism. AP Physics C requires a solid understanding of calculus. This course emphasizes analytical and problem solving skills. The electricity and magnetism portion is taught mostly in the second semester.

    Prerequisite: AP Calculus AB or BC Concurrent

  • Biology - Honors

    Honors biology provides an introduction to the principles of biology and prepares students for college biology. Topics covered include, ecology, animal behavior, evolution and the origin of life, biochemistry, cell biology, mitosis and meiosis, genetics and biotechnology, classification of organisms, comparison of the three domains of life, human anatomy and body systems. The laboratory investigation component of the course emphasizes the scientific method and develops laboratory skills. The impact of biology on society and current ethical issues are discussed throughout the course. Emphasis is placed on developing critical thinking skills and application of knowledge. Although this course covers the same topics as Biology, the course is more rigorous and the topics are covered in greater depth.

    Prerequisite: Physical Science and Honors Algebra 1

  • History 6: Ancient World

    Students in sixth grade study the Ancient Civilizations. The overarching theme is Interactions and Changes. An introductory geography unit addresses topics such as the ways in which people interact with the land, the environment’s influence on human societies, and adaptations to the physical world. Following a geography overview, the course next examines the historical changes that have occurred as societies shifted from nomadic lifestyle to settled agrarian communities, and the specialization of labor that follows. Students will focus on the civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Finally, the cumulative unit of study explores comparative philosophies, incorporating elements from the year’s studies. The Ancient Civilizations course also provides opportunities for students to develop skills in the areas of comprehensive reading, critical thinking, evaluating different sources, communicating ideas formally and informally, and writing analytical paragraphs.

  • Modern World History - Honors

    This more intensive course covers the same content as Modern World History but incorporates more depth and concentrates on higher-level skills. Students examine the detailed causes and effects of the turning points that have shaped the modern world. They also develop thinking, speaking and writing skills in connection with their deeper knowledge of history. Students in the honors course are required to participate in scored discussions and to complete numerous written essays, such as an analysis of Machiavelli's The Prince.

    Prerequisites: None.

  • AP European History

    This course prepares students for the Advanced Placement test in European History and also is designed to satisfy intellectual curiosity about an influential and dramatic part of world history. Students study Europe from the Middle Ages to present day. The complexity of readings, deep level of analysis and rigorous pace of the course provide accelerated and motivated students a college-level experience. In addition to the class lectures, discussions and tests, students will be expected to do considerable reading of historical texts and primary source documents and writing of essays both in-class and as homework.

    Prerequisites: A- or better in Modern World History or Modern World History Honors and teacher recommendation.