Upper School Electives

Upper School Electives allow students to pursure specialized interests in various fields of study. Electives meet two days a week during 8th and/or 8th & 9th period and last the entirety of the school year.

List of 30 items.

  • Independent Study Robotics

    In this capstone course, students work with a mentor to conceive an original and independent robotics project.  The subject matter will move beyond the material covered in the previous engineering modules and the VEX and FRC robotics teams. During the course of the year, students will research the project, develop a design statement, design and implement the project.  A demonstration to the community of the final product along with a poster presentation is required.  Participation on the VEX robotics team and completion of two prior engineering modules are prerequisites for this course.
     
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  • Advanced Improvisational Theater

    Advanced Improvisational Theater, also known as ComedySportz HSL, is by recommendation only. In this class students will spend Tuesdays learning how to strengthen improvisation skills, allowing opportunity to be challenged by advanced concepts and structure! In this course we will tell complex narratives, deepen character study through nuance, find the game within the narrative, include status concepts, transfers and emotions to strengthen onstage performances. The course includes short form improvisation games and techniques.On Thursdays, students will either focus on Sketch Comedy Writing and Performance or Long Form Improvisation. Those who choose to focus on Sketch Comedy will create scripted comedy sketches. Utilizing narrative and character exercises, original comedy pieces will be written. Students will collaborate, sharing constructive criticism from both an audience and director point of view, through table reads. At least one performance will take place, showcasing the works created. Sketches will include both live comedy and digital shorts. Those more advanced students who instead pursue Long Form Improvisation how to create a show, how to create a hook for the show, research of genre and style, development process, performance structure, rehearsal, and final execution. At least one performance will take place, showcasing the work(s) created. This course will culminate in monthly performances on Windward’s ComedySportz HSL team and one or more long form performances in the school year. Students will be required to participate in ComedySportz LA’s Gamecon I and II and must see two or more Los Angeles improvisation shows and write a review. By recommendation only.
  • Advanced Mechanical Engineering Principles

    Prerequisite: 8th Grade Robotics 1 The goal of this course is to further develop an understanding of machine design and mechanical engineering applications. Using hands-on experiences, students will explore multiple modalities for locomotion and articulation, including gear train analysis, pneumatics and mechatronics. In addition, materials properties and constraints will also be studied and tested. 9th grade physics and the Intro to Mechanisms and Machines course are prerequisites for this course.
  • Broadcasting and Communications Workshop

    This course examines news, sports, and live broadcasting for TV. It provides basic training in the use of television equipment and facilities; camera operations; audio and visual control; lighting; graphics; editing; portable video, and audio production techniques. The class will focus on live remote broadcasts from various weekly events on campus. Students will have an opportunity to broadcast shows in combination with news, sports, and entertainment events. They will also learn the art of news writing, interviewing, color reporting and play-by-play. This is a handson participation class. After school productions and field work will count for 50% of the grade.
  • Creative Writing: The Living Word Project

    Workshop participants will engage in fun writing projects, lively debate and discussion, word games and critique. Genres will include poetry, memoir, creative fiction, and a few surprises. The group will also try “stress free,” “no pressure” exercises to help with performance of their work utilizing easy techniques for public speaking.
  • Dance Master Class: Dancing at the College Level

    As we have seen rising talent, dedication, and interest over the last few years in the dance program, this one semester workshop is designed specifically for senior level students who understand that a high level of talent and artistry can strengthen their college applications and even further for those who want to move on to that vital next step in their path towards becoming professional dancers. In this course, students will go through the process of college selection, the creation of a solo piece, guidance in the completion and submission of applications, and receive tools for a successful audition. The program will be tailored to meet the individual needs of each student, so whether the student is considering a full time arts conservatory or pursuing a minor in dance along with their academic major at a university, each student will have the resources to meet their needs. 
  • Exploring Global Health: Medical Service Learning in Guatemala

    Interested in the medical or health fields? Want to be involved in a program that makes a sustainable and enduring impact? During this course, students will travel to Guatemala to work side-by-side with Duke and Harvard University students and faculty, facilitating medical interventions and screenings in the pueblos around Xela, Guatemala. From March 22 - April 2, 2017 (includes a week of spring break), students will get intensive training in medical skills and in the culture and language of Guatemala to better interact with patients at clinics in Xela. While on campus, Windward students will prepare for this experience by exploring cross-cultural understandings, critical global medical issues, health care delivery and service learning methodology. They will work on honing their collaboration, communication and leadership skills, as they are related to integrating into a new community. Upon return from the trip, the class will reflect on their experiences and explore how the skills and curiosities they have built can be applied both locally and globally, in the present and in their future learning. The course is open to all students in grades 10 - 12. Prior study of Spanish is not required. Note: this course involves a required global trip, and students are required to apply. All interested are encouraged to apply, and admission to the course is expected to be competitive
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  • In the Headlines: Current Issues in Gender Studies

    At most universities, there are exciting courses taught in Departments of Gender Studies. There are numerous student groups here at Windward that are exploring the topics and issues related to gender in our country and in the world, yet there are few places in our curriculum where students and teachers engage in intellectual discourse, research, and reflection on gender topics. In Current Issues in Gender Studies, open to all interested students in Grades 9-12, we will use both current events and issues of interest to our students to guide the selection of the topics we explore. Deliberative and respectful discourse and listening and understanding multiple perspectives on the issues will be of the utmost importance in this course. Topics may include, but are not limited to: Gender and achievement, gender and leadership, gender and religion, social and cultural constructions of femininity and masculinity, gender identity and expression, politics of gender, gender and beauty, gender and athletics, gender and the media, gender based violence, gender in the military and in combat.
  • Interdisciplinary Studio 1

    This course is designed for the passionate visual art student who wishes to explore his or her creativity and ideas in a more individualistic and self-directed way. Students set goals and propose individually designed projects, in any media of their choosing, in order to push their artistic practice in challenging directions. Students enrolled in this class must be highly motivated and self-disciplined. The teacher will guide the student through the creative process by setting deadlines, assigning creativity exercises, and providing feedback regarding ideas, planning, technical skills, and execution. The works created can be used for application to art schools and competitive summer programs as well as contests and exhibition opportunities outside of school. The work for this class cannot be used to fulfill assignments for concurrent art classes at Windward, nor can assignments for other art classes be used for this class. Students are expected to keep a daily sketchbook. This class meets during the extracurricular periods 8 and 9. 
  • Interdisciplinary Studio 2

    Students set new goals and propose new projects, in any media of their choosing, in order to continue pushing their artistic practice in challenging directions. Students enrolled in this class must be highly motivated and self-disciplined. The teacher will guide the student through the creative process by setting deadlines, assigning creativity exercises, and providing feedback regarding ideas, planning, technical skills, and execution. The works created can be used for application to art schools and competitive summer programs as well as contests and exhibition opportunities outside of school. The work for this class cannot be used to fulfill assignments for concurrent art classes at Windward, nor can assignments for other art classes be used for this class. Students are expected to keep a daily sketchbook. This class meets during the extracurricular periods 8 and 9. 
  • Interdisciplinary Studio 3

    In this class, students will produce the equivalent of an AP Studio portfolio to be used for college supplemental applications, art contests, exhibition opportunities, art school applications and competitive summer programs. With support from the teacher they will pursue individually designed projects in the media of their choice. The course allows students to express their creativity, develop their personal interests for art, and push their artistic practice in more challenging directions. Students should be eager to experiment, take risks and try new approaches and themes. Students enrolled in this class must be highly motivated and self-directed, and demonstrate increased levels of self-discipline in structuring their own time effectively. Students must submit proposals for their individual projects to be approved by the teacher, including due dates and agreed parameters. Through formal and informal, group and individual critiques, the teacher will guide the students through the creative process with creativity stimulating exercises, analysis of work by professional artists, and assessment and guidance regarding ideas, planning and technical skills. Students will go on a field trip to the graduate fine arts program at Otis School of Art, meet the chair of that program and have individual meetings with graduate students in fine art. Students will also have the opportunity to work in collaboration with a visiting artist or make works in response to that artistís installation project in the school gallery. At this level in the course, students should demonstrate a artistic maturity in style, thematic development, and technique. 
  • Intro to Electronics

    In this introductory course, students will learn the basics of electronics circuitry and soldering.  Through hands-on classwide and individual projects, students will learn how to program in the Arduino prototyping platform, understand the principles of programming micro-controllers, explore basic principles in electronics design and study and use many types of sensors and components.
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  • Intro to Improvisational Theater

    In this course, on Tuesdays students participate in an improvisation workshop designed for beginner and intermediate performers. Tuesday will feature techniques in, but not limited to, creating narrative, improvised scenarios, mastering playful games, discovering spontaneous characters, and learning how to think on the spot. On Thursdays, students will either focus on Sketch Comedy Writing and Performance or Long Form Improvisation. Those who choose to focus on Sketch Comedy will create scripted comedy sketches. Utilizing narrative and character exercises, original comedy pieces will be written. Students will collaborate, sharing constructive criticism from both an audience and director point of view, through table reads. At least one performance will take place, showcasing the works created. Sketches will include both live comedy and digital shorts. Introduction to Improvisational Theater is a perfect starting place for students who want to hone improv skills and eventually be on Windward’s ComedySportz High School League team or if you want to learn the skills without the pressure of performance.
  • Introduction to Mechanisms and Machines

    This introductory course explores the role of mechanical engineering in developing many of the fundamental technological advances on which today's society depends. Students will be exposed to several mature and emerging technologies through a series of projects and case studies. Topics include: airplanes, automobiles, robots, and modern manufacturing methods. The physical concepts that govern the operation of these technologies will be developed from basic principles and then applied in simple design problems.
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  • Jazz Theory 1, 2, & 3

    The focus of Jazz Theory 1, 2 & 3 classes is take the motivated student to the next level of understanding the building blocks of music, whether it be in the improvised form or composing for a large ensemble. The graduated levels of this course allow the student to truly ingest these skills, and as the course continues with sections 2 and 3, the student gain deeper insight into how improvise on more complex chord changes and forms. A clear understanding of scales, chords, and jazz melodic and rhythmic structures is required, as students then have the freedom to explore idioms as both composers and improvisers. The ultimate goal of this course is to have students produce their own works as both composers and improvisers. 
  • Journalism and New Media

    Class activities and homework assignments enable students to learn the essential skills of journalism, including interviewing, researching, and writing articles. Students apply these lessons to articles written for The Windward Bridge which will be published both online and in magazine form. In addition to the magazine, students learn the skills necessary to use twenty-first century media tools to communicate their message to the public. 
  • Lead by Example: Goal Setting and Relationship Building

    The skill of goal setting allows for a clear, personalized direction for the individual. Students will learn about the goal setting process, different types of goals, and how to set their own goals for the year. These goals will encompass multiple aspects of life and are not limited to academic goals. Throughout this course students will learn how to reassess and adjust their goals as well as determine how to support their peers in the goal setting process. During this interaction, students learn powerful communication skills such as active listening, constructive feedback, coaching with questions, positive body language and effective written communication. By the conclusion of the course students will confidently be able to apply goal setting and communication skills to their everyday life in order to develop relationships and to be strong leaders in their communities.
  • Making and Engineering Design

    In this course, students will learn how to use a variety of tools and technologies in order to design, prototype, and develop their own creations. Through a diverse series of projects, ranging from whimsical to practical, students develop fluency in current technologies, grow as empathetic creators and collaborators, and become a part of the world-wide Making community. The course begins with several weeks dedicated to skill-building units followed by collaborative project-based units, culminating in an independent theme-based project.
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  • Model United Nations

    Given the increasingly global nature of our world, it is imperative that our students are able to not only understand but also to articulate their understanding of issues that affect us all. Model United Nations (MUN) has long been a program that excels in this regard. As a complement to Windward’s Global Studies program, this elective allows students to undertake detailed investigation of different countries’ perspectives as they prepare to participate as delegates in a series of MUN conferences in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Thus, this elective consists both of classroom time during 8th period and numerous opportunities to participate in MUN conferences
  • Product Design

    This class examines how designers invent or reinvent useful products. Using the design process and solid modeling software, students will ideate, design and create a variety of items that have real world applications. Students will engage in extended length projects where they will consider functionality and object aesthetics as well as environmental and social issues. They will also generate and maintain a portfolio of their work throughout the course.
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  • Social Justice and Service Learning

    Service learning experiences and volunteering within the local community offer students a unique opportunity to grapple with the concepts of equity and justice. By studying certain issues in depth (education, poverty, immigration), students in this course have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of these issues beyond the walls of the classroom. In this course, students are challenged to take their volunteerism to a new level as they strive to connect their work with becoming agents of social change. Service hours earned while in this course can be applied to the graduation requirement.
  • Speech & Debate

    Students enrolled in Speech and Debate have the opportunity to develop their abilities to reason logically, verbalize thoughts clearly and dynamically, organize ideas clearly and to generate speeches for a variety of occasions. They develop self-confidence as they learn to debate successfully as an individual and as a member of a team. Students are engaged in the process of learning the techniques of competitive high school parliamentary debate and other forms of debate such as Lincoln-Douglas, Policy, etc. This course requires considerable research during and outside of class. It also requires written composition of affirmative cases and negative blocks, and perhaps other persuasive speeches. Students are required to develop and maintain files on debate resolutions. Tournament competition is also required.
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  • Terrorism in the Modern World

    Although it might appear that terrorism is a new concept which made its bold first appearance with the 9/11 attacks, it is not a new occurrence. Scholars have struggled for years to define the term, but there is consensus that terrorist activities can be located as far back as the Biblical era. This course explores the idea of terrorism and how it is manifested in the modern world. We will look at terrorism’s many definitions, and the many considerations which go into formulating its meaning. In addition to studying terrorism as an abstract idea we will look at different terrorist groups and their motivations. The class will reveal that terrorism is a global phenomenon which requires a coordinated, cooperative response on a variety of fronts. Lastly, the course will look at how artists, specifically filmmakers, have grappled with, and tried to make sense of, terrorists and their activities.
  • The Supreme Court and Your Rights

    The decisions of the Supreme Court affect the lives of every single American citizen. Arguably, no individuals are more influential in shaping the course of American society than the Supreme Court Justices. In this course, we will examine the Supreme Court decisions that most affect our lives and our rights today. What are the limits on free speech in our society? What are the decisions that have defined and protected the civil rights of women, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals? What rights do we have when interacting with representatives of the government, and what decisions explicate those rights? In this course, we’ll ask and answer those questions (and more) by examining the history of how our current understanding of our Constitutional rights came to be defined as they are and discussing and debating how rights issues might play out in real world situations.
  • The War on Art

    In light of the recent events that have foregrounded the fraught relationship between armed conflict and cultural property, this course will examine and contextualize the historical precedents for the war on art currently being waged by ISIL. Taking a case-study approach, we will seek to determine the role that cultural property has played in cultural conflicts and to evaluate the ways in which art, architecture, and artifacts have been, and continue to be, employed as weapons in the construction of social and political identity. In addition to ISIL, case studies will include the war plunder accumulated by Julius Caesar, the looting of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, Napoleon’s construction of the Louvre, and the Nazi’s and Allies’ policies toward cultural property during World War II.
  • Think Differently

    The goal of Think Differently is to help students gain and hone the skills that are necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. This course redefines entrepreneurship and exposes students to the different types of entrepreneurship. In addition, students learn the business model canvas, engage with real businesses, and have the opportunity to develop a business. This course provides real world, hands-on learning related to actually starting a scalable company. This class is not about how to write a business plan, although a strong startup tangibles do result from taking this course. It’s not an exercise on how smart you are in a classroom, or how well you use the research library to size markets. Students are required to talk to customers in order to do research. In addition students work in teams learning how to turn a great idea into a great company. Students learn how to use a business model to brainstorm each part of a company and customer development.
  • Why Should We Care: Controversial Issues in Contemporary Society

    In this course we tackle and explore controversial topics at issue in the U.S. and the world today involving inequality, class, race and gender. We examine dilemmas surrounding such possible topics as torture, marriage equality, stem cell research, genocide, affirmative action, human trafficking and gun violence. Through considering particular case studies in historical context, we will work to understand and grasp the many moral and ethical complexities, as well as the multiple perspectives, involved in these issues. The text that grounds the course is Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel, Professor of Government at Harvard University. Ultimately, through these investigations, we hope to become more thoughtful, knowledgeable, global citizens who are better able to answer the question, “Do we have a responsibility towards one another?” 
  • Wicked Solutions: Identifying, Framing and Solving Complex Problems

    Wicked Solutions is a fast-paced, interdisciplinary elective which introduces students to ways of identifying and solving some of the most tenacious problems of the 21st century. In addition to familiarizing students to some of the most current models for contending with the increasingly challenging problems of our world, this class aims to provide students with a platform for developing, sharpening and practicing leadership and collaboration skills. Ultimately, students will learn and practice methodologies designed to yield innovative solutions for virtually any challenge be it entrepreneurial, global, organizational or personal. Much of the work of the class is done in teams and is grounded in research. The final project of the course may, upon approval. 
  • Writing Seminar

    Writing Seminar is an advanced workshop for passionate writers who want to go further than their English curriculum allows. Focusing on creative nonfiction in 2016- 17, the Seminar will be a place of experimentation in writing, as seminarians try new approaches and engage with various texts and styles. They will host several annual events, including readings of their own new work, and publish a small magazine of their best pieces. 
  • Writing Workshop

    Writing Workshop will support students with writing mechanics and fluency, focusing on their existing coursework and assignments (instead of requiring additional pieces of writing in a new and separate curriculum). The workshop will emphasize principles of grammar and usage, empowering students to understand and correct errors in their own writing. Students who need help with (or want explicit study of) sentence parts and sentence construction will experience focused attention on these writing practices and skills. Students, for instance, who struggle with comma splices or sentence fragments will be able to attend Workshop for extra help, as well as students working on things like issues of agreement or sentence variation.
Windward School is a 7-12, co-educational, independent day school in Los Angeles, California.