PRISMS aims to provide a comprehensive 9-12 high school education with a particular focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and a culminating research or development project in an area of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics.

Humanities and World Languages

Core Humanities Course

BASE Literature – Integrated with BASE (Bridging the Arts, Science and Applied Engineering)

The goal of the first year required BASE Literature program is to expose students to various forms of literature that will encourage them to make discoveries about themselves and the world around them. Through studying models of many genres, students sharpen their writing skills by producing their own analytic, creative, and scientific work. Students read and analyze a variety of literary and nonfiction texts, exploring the characteristics of different forms and the techniques authors use to achieve their intended purpose. Students apply their understanding of grammar, language mechanics, sentence structure, and paragraphing to varied and frequent writing assignments. Through analytical writing, students build on their understanding of writing as a process of prewriting, drafting, revising, and publishing. In the research process, students find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to access information to create a research product. They also develop communication skills through listening to and practicing oral presentations. Students experience the processes used in writing, working in groups, reading, listening, speaking, and viewing. In each of these areas, they examine their experiences and knowledge.

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Ancient World Literature

During the second year of required English, students explore our literary heritage primarily from the Ancient and Classical periods, though texts may also include modern resonances. Students learn how to write analytical essays that connect form to meaning. Building knowledge of literary terms and increasing facility with syntactical and paragraph structure and diction lay a foundation for the practice of clear, effective writing. Students will study the literary world masterpieces in poetry and prose, investigating how authors “speak” to one another across time and cultures. This course integrates by content, theme, and through projects and assignments with Ancient Civilizations.

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Modern World Literature

During the second year of required English, students explore our literary heritage from in the modern world across cultures with touchstones from the Ancient and Classical periods. Students learn how to write analytical essays that connect form to meaning. Building knowledge of literary terms and increasing facility with syntactical and paragraph structure and diction lay a foundation for the practice of clear, effective writing. Students will study the literary world masterpieces in poetry and prose, investigating how authors “speak” to one another across time and cultures. This course integrates by content, theme, and through projects and assignments with Modern World History.

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Modern World Literature

During the third year of required English, students explore our literary heritage from in the modern world across cultures with touchstones from the Ancient and Classical periods. Students learn how to write analytical essays that connect form to meaning. Building knowledge of literary terms and increasing facility with syntactical and paragraph structure and diction lay a foundation for the practice of clear, effective writing. Students will study the literary world masterpieces in poetry and prose, investigating how authors “speak” to one another across time and cultures. This course integrates by content, theme, and through projects and assignments with Modern World History.

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American Literature

In the third year of required English, American Literature introduces students to a variety of texts from major literary movements and historical periods such as Native American mythology, Colonial literature, American Romanticism, Transcendentalism, Realism, Naturalism, Modernism, Contemporary literature and marginalized voices. Through writing and in class discussions, the students practice close textual analysis that involves deepening skill in the interpretation of literary techniques and rhetorical strategies. This course integrates by content, theme, and through projects and assignments with US and AP US History.

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AP English Language and Composition

AP English Language and Composition is a college level course designed to improve writing and thinking skills by drawing attention to rhetorical styles and persuasive techniques. Although the AP curriculum stresses nonfiction prose in general and essays in particular, the student writing assignments involve creative work as well as analytical and research writing. Vernacular models of composition including journalistic modes and models that incorporate visual images play a significant role in the AP definition of the course and hence also in the classroom. Students can expect to prepare for the AP Language and Composition exam as well as hone writing skills that they will use in college and future careers.

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AP English Literature and Composition

AP English Literature and Composition is a college level course designed to improve reading, writing, and thinking through “engag[ing] students in close reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature to deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to proved both meaning and pleasure. As they read, students consider a works structure, style, and themes, as well as its use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone. Writing assignments include expository, analytical, and argumentative essays that require students to analyze and interpret literary works.” (College Board) Students will learn to read and analyze full works by American, British, Russian, and international novelists and poets. Students can expect to prepare for the AP English Literature and Composition exam as well as hone writing and thinking skills and processes useful in college and future careers.

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World Civilizations

World Civilizations introduces students to the rich diversity of human culture from the dawn of humanity to contemporary society. The course will focus on the study of literary, religious and philosophical texts as ways of narrating, symbolizing, and commenting on all aspects of human social and material life, primarily centered on the study of the ancient world. We will ask questions such as: how have different cultures imagined themselves? What are the rules that they draw up for human behavior? How do they represent the role of the individual in society? How do they imagine "universal" concepts like love, family, religion, and money? How have their writers and artists dealt with encounters with other cultures and other civilizations? World Civilizations will also discuss definitions of history, the role of the historian, the types of evidence historians use, the kinds of questions historians ask, and think critically about the past. This course integrates by content, theme, and through projects and assignments with Ancient World Literature and prepares students for the study of modern world history.

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Modern World History

This course surveys modern history from a global perspective, in order to understand modern history, economics, warfare, philosophy, politics, and contemporary culture. Beginning with the early modern era (around 1500 CE), Modern World History explores via region, theme, and comparative topics the world’s cultures, geography, movements, conflicts, successes and failures. This course integrates by content, theme, and through projects and assignments with Modern World Literature.

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United States History

U.S. History focuses on developing students’ understanding of the cultures and geography of the North American continent and what became the United States of America before European settlement to the present. Students will develop an understanding of major themes in U.S. history, including American identity, economic and social life, political change and continuity, and the role that the U.S. has played throughout world events and will explore trends as well as significant footnotes in history through the analysis of documents, images, quantitative data, as well as other primary sources. This course integrates by content, theme, and through projects and assignments with American Literature.

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AP United States History

AP U.S. History focuses on developing students’ understanding of the cultures and geography of the North American continent and what became the United States of America before European settlement to the present. Students will develop an understanding of major themes in U.S. history, including American identity, economic and social life, political change and continuity, and the role that the U.S. has played throughout world events and will explore trends as well as significant footnotes in history through the analysis of documents, images, quantitative data, as well as other primary sources. Students can expect to prepare for the AP U.S. History Exam throughout this course, which moves more quickly and in more depth than U.S. History. This course integrates by content, theme, and through projects and assignments with American Literature.

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United States History

U.S. History focuses on developing students’ understanding of the cultures and geography of the North American continent and what became the United States of America before European settlement to the present. Students will develop an understanding of major themes in U.S. history, including American identity, economic and social life, political change and continuity, and the role that the U.S. has played throughout world events and will explore trends as well as significant footnotes in history through the analysis of documents, images, quantitative data, as well as other primary sources. U.S. History integrates thematically and through readings with AP English Language and Composition and AP English Literature and Composition.

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AP United States History

AP U.S. History focuses on developing students’ understanding of the cultures and geography of the North American continent and what became the United States of America before European settlement to the present. Students will develop an understanding of major themes in U.S. history, including American identity, economic and social life, political change and continuity, and the role that the U.S. has played throughout world events and will explore trends as well as significant footnotes in history through the analysis of documents, images, quantitative data, as well as other primary sources. Students can expect to prepare for the AP U.S. History Exam throughout this course, which moves more quickly and in more depth than U.S. History. This course integrates thematically and through readings with AP English Language and Composition and AP English Literature and Composition.

Humanities Elective Courses:

Microeconomic Theory

“Microeconomics [...] focuses on the principles that apply to an economic system as a whole. The course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price-level determination; it also develops students' familiarity with economic performance measures, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth, and international economics. Students learn to use graphs, charts, and data to analyze, describe, and explain economic concepts.” (College Board)

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United States Government and Politics

“This course introduces students to key political ideas, institutions, policies, interactions, roles, and behaviors that characterize the political culture of the United States. The course examines politically significant concepts and themes, through which students learn to apply disciplinary reasoning, assess causes and consequences of political events, and interpret data to develop evidence-based arguments.” (College Board)

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AP World History

“The AP World History course focuses on developing students' understanding of world history from approximately 8000 B.C.E. to the present. The course has students investigate the content of world history for significant events, individuals, developments, and processes in six historical periods, and develop and use the same thinking skills and methods (analyzing primary and secondary sources, making historical comparisons, chronological reasoning, and argumentation) employed by historians when they study the past. The course also provides five themes (interaction between humans and the environment; development and interaction of cultures; state building, expansion, and conflict; creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems; and development and transformation of social structures) that students explore throughout the course in order to make connections among historical developments in different times and places encompassing the five major geographical regions of the globe: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.” (College Board). The course will prepare students for the AP World History exam.

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Science Writing

The ability to recognize and sharpen important ideas, ask incisive questions about complex subjects, and tell accurate, compelling stories are skills that are more essential than ever. This need is largely due to the disruption that the Internet is causing, eroding the process of evaluation by editorial and profession peer-review. Students will discover that assimilating a piece of research published in the primary scientific literature and reorganizing that information to produce a successful piece of science journalism is an excellent exercise in summarizing information, simplifying complex material, and de-jargonizing their writing. The course will also demonstrate that the best science, health, and environmental journalists do not just translate the latest scientific discoveries into lay language, but provide nuanced context and critical analysis. Students will read and discuss leading science (and select science fiction) writers, craft news stories about ongoing research projects at PRISMS, report on contemporary scientific discoveries and debate, and write editorials on current scientific, health, environmental, and technology topics.

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Internet Studies

In less than 20 years, the Digital Revolution has transformed our world. The Internet has disrupted way we communicate, work, research, consume/produce entertainment and news, and do business. This new online world is fast-paced and often bewildering, and this course explores, explains, and raises awareness about the topics that we need to know about to thrive as digital citizens. Students will study the inner working of the Internet (from how the Internet works; the role of algorithms; big data, metadata, and data visualization; the economic model of the Internet), The Digital World and Us (Privacy; Identity; Human Relationships online; Cyberpsychology; Digital Ethics; Distraction), and Digital Literacy (the Digital Media revolution; Remix culture; Gaming), and much more.

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Journalism & Media Studies

This course focuses on the art of journalism, the role of journalists in informing citizens in free societies, and the future of digital newsgathering and information sharing. Students will examine the history and development of media; the course will place special emphasis on the emergence of “new” digital media and the consequences for journalism from the viewpoint of both producers and consumers. Students will also look at different forms of journalism and write pieces for print, video, online, and mobile platforms. Areas of study will include generating story ideas, reporting, interviewing, ethics, editing, photography, news video production, on- camera delivery, page design and newsroom management. Students will be challenged to imagine new ways of news-sourcing and storytelling that best serve their generation.

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Chinese History and Culture

The People's Republic of China is the world's most populous state as well as the second largest state by land area. Geographically diverse, China's landscape contains deserts, tropical forests, vast mountain ranges, and mighty rivers. The Chinese people have adapted to any environment, from the Tibetan Plateau, one of the least habitable environments, to Shanghai, Chengdu, and Beijing, among the most densely populated and technologically advanced cities in the world. Known as "the cradle of civilization," China is one of the world's oldest cultures and has impacted the world in countless ways through its language, philosophies, politics, and art.

This course will explore the scope of the Chinese society and culture through its history, geography, philosophy and religion, literature and the arts, science, technology, agriculture, medicine, economy and politics, role in world events, ethnicities and cultures, and the role of gender and the family. Students in the course will be encouraged to compare across cultures in the pursuit of deepened understanding of our world's diversity.

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World Languages

English Communication and Composition

English Communication and Composition is a class for English Language Learners to enhance their English for improved fluency and in preparation for university level studies. The class aligns with the individual needs of the students through collaboration with their current coursework through a dual focus on improved communication, both speaking and listening, and composition, both reading and writing. Students will improve skills in grammar, diction, syntax, vocabulary in a variety of disciplines, and will continue to develop confidence and ethical practices in communicating orally and in writing.

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Mandarin Chinese

The curriculum of Mandarin Chinese language and culture class is based on ACTFL 5Cs Standards and New Jersey World Language Standards. The unit focuses on topics concerning daily, academic and civil life, and the content covers both what is on the textbook, and beyond-textbook learning content. The language proficiency expectations for Zero-background learners are the following: they can achieve Novice-Mid/High after 1 academic year’s learning; Intermediate-Low/Mid after 2 academic years’ learning; IntermediateHigh after 3 academic years’ learning.

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French

Students develop the ability to communicate about themselves and their immediate environment using simple sentences containing basic language structures. This communication is evidenced in all four language skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing. As students advance they continue to develop proficiency in all four language skills. They learn to function in real-life situations using more complex sentences and language structures. They read material on familiar topics and produce short writing samples. Further progression leads to communicating with more complex language structures on a variety of topics, moving from concrete to more abstract concepts.

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Spanish

Students develop the ability to communicate about themselves and their immediate environment using simple sentences containing basic language structures. This communication is evidenced in all four language skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing. As students advance they continue to develop proficiency in all four language skills. They learn to function in real-life situations using more complex sentences and language structures. They read material on familiar topics and produce short writing samples. Further progression leads to communicating with more complex language structures on a variety of topics, moving from concrete to more abstract concepts.