So many classes, so little time: going beyond the core


As you go about choosing your courses for the 2018-2019 school year, here are a few that might be of interest. The Colt sat down with some teachers and students to discuss elective courses that should not be overlooked. If you are interested in any of the following classes, contact the teachers or your counselor.

All course descriptions come from the Arlington ISD High School Course Description Handbook.

College and Career Readiness (Grade Placement: 9-12, .5 credit)

This one-semester course is an SAT preparation course that emphasizes vocabulary development, writing skills and comprehension skills needed to excel on the SAT. The curriculum also provides practice in improving reading rate, reading flexibility and study skills needed for college readiness

Room: B118

[email protected]

The Colt: Why should students take this class?

Jessica Wilson: This class offers you several different pieces of information. First and foremost you’re going to learn about college readiness skills so this class is not just an ACT or PSAT prep class. When we say college-ready we mean life skills, they’re called soft skills, that help you be successful in your advance academic courses. Those things look like research, critical thinking, creative thinking, reflection, communication, organization, self management, time management – we work through all of these components. Some of them we work through directly like a lesson on time management and some of them we teach you as we go. If you’re needing those skills this could be helpful for you.

It is also designed for students to help decide whether IB is a good choice for them. What we’ve noticed is that there are a lot of students who know what AP classes are but they don’t really know so much about the IB program so we’re just wanting to get the information out there and just educate students on what IB classes are like because they’re very different. The style of the class, the way that you learn, the way you’re assessed is different so we want to educate you and give you that experience so you can decide which path is best IB or AP. Neither one is right or wrong we just want you to find what’s best for you and in order for you to do that we want you to be properly educated.

TC: What kind of students should take this class?

JW: It is open to all types of students. If you really want to get the part of deciding whether you want IB or not, a freshman or a sophomore would be preferable, if you’re really focusing on the college readiness part, any grade is fine. Pretty much what we read is what we talk about, we want to know what you think, what’s your opinion. You don’t have an opinion? Let’s make some. Teach yourself to make opinions and be able to talk about them. We talk a lot about creativity, activity, and service which are huge components of the IB program. We talk about personality styles, how do we interact with one another, what are good strategies for overcoming stress, stress management and time management are huge things.

Cormac Brown, sophomore, and Nikita Kabir, senior, have taken College and Career Readiness and shared their insight.

TC: Why did you take this class and what have you learned from it?

Cormac Brown: I took this class because its a prep for IB, in the class I learned how to organize.

Nikita Kabir: My counselor suggested [I] take this class because I took seven AP classes so she thought it would be nice for me to have some sort of support to teach me the college readiness skills. This class helped me with stress management skills and time management skills. It was really a relief to go into that class, into that environment, after all my AP classes.

Debate I (Grade Placement: 9-12, 1 credit)

This course is designed to give each student an overview of forensics through the development of 37 persuasive and critical thinking skills through class activities and participation in competitive tournaments in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Cross-Examination Debate, Extemp and Student Congress. UIL, TFA or NFL tournament competition is at the discretion of the Director of Forensics.

Debate II (Grade Placement:10-12, prerequisite: Debate I and approval of the Director of Forensics, 1 credit)

This course is designed with more emphasis on preparing cases in Lincoln-Douglas Debate, cross-examination debate and competition in in Student Congress and Extemp. Additional research time will be spent to gain advanced research skills. The student is required to compete in two tournaments per semester.

Debate III (Grade Placement:12, prerequisite: Debate II, 1 credit)

This course is designed to integrate the critical thinker into the democratic process. The student acts as a role model and assistant coach working independently on cases and helping prepare the novice debaters for competition. Competing in three tournaments per semester is required.

Oral Interpretation I (Grade Placement: 9-12, 1 credit)

This course is an introduction to the analysis and performance of poetry, prose, dramatic and humorous literature, duet acting and original oratory. Students prepare for UIL Competition and TFA State qualifying tournaments. UIL,TFA or NFL tournament competition is at the discretion of the Director of Forensics.

Oral Interpretation II (Grade Placement:11-12, prerequisite: Oral Interpretation I and approval of the Director of Forensics, 1 credit)

This course emphasizes advance poetry, prose, dramatic and humorous literature, duet acting, and original oratory. Students will compete in UIL contests and TFA state qualifying tournaments. Students are required to compete in two tournaments per semester.

Oral Interpretation III (Grade Placement:11-12, prerequisite: Oral Interpretation II, 1 credit)

This course emphasizes all speech competition events for the advanced third-year student. Students will compete in UIL competition/TFA state tournaments and serve as a role model to prepare novice students for competitive situations. Students are required to compete in three tournaments per semester (if academically eligible).

Room: C214

[email protected]

The Colt: Why should students take this class?

Jonni Davis: I think students should take speech and debate because it’s one of the best pathways to college and to any other career they want. In almost any career speaking well is going to be key to success. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates said about a year-and-a-half ago the most important skill that they look for and the people they look for most of those who can speak. They said anybody can do computers, anybody can learn how to do computers, but it’s the ability to speak, to communicate effectively, that’s most important. One of the things we do is communicate effectively, that’s the whole purpose of what we are doing with this class.

TC: What kind of students should take this class?

JD: I think anybody who’s motivated to improve themselves. I think anybody who’s willing to stand up and speak. I think students who are interested in finding out about what’s going on around them and affecting their world and learning about their world so, pretty much anyone can be successful at this. I’ve had students with limited English backgrounds and students whose peers have said said, “Oh you can’t do this, it’s too hard” come and be very successful.

TC: What types of discussions and class work are done in the class?

JD: We discuss pretty much anything from whether Coke or Pepsi is better or chocolate or vanilla ice cream is better to whether or not we should have a universal health care system, whether or not we should have plea bargaining, whether or not we should improve schools, what the situation is with North Korea, whether diplomatic processes are best. We also look at domestic issues. One of the issues we looked at was whether deadly force was important, at what point could deadly force be involved. We looked at judicial review for police officers, so we run the gamut. Pretty much anything that you think is important to you, important in your world, we are probably going to discuss it.

TC: Is there anything else you would like to add?

JD: Just that everybody should try this. We have a small but dedicated team. Some schools around our larger Fort Worth/Dallas area start debate as early as third grade, many of them have junior high programs, the fact that we don’t at Arlington ISD shouldn’t be a hindrance on how many people sign up for high school so everyone should try it out at least once.

Gracie Spencer, junior, spoke to us about Debate and Lauryn Atlas, junior, spoke to us about Oral Interpretation.

TC: Why did you take this class and what have you learned from it?

Gracie Spencer: I originally took this class because I was recommended debate in junior high and so I went into this class expecting it to be kind just like it and I discovered it’s a whole completely different world but it’s a really great one. It’s not just about arguing and sitting there and structureless speaking it’s more of a communications class and it helps me in all of my classes. It helps me in my writing skills and I’ve learned a lot about structured arguments.

Lauryn Atlas: Well I originally signed up for debate because in eighth grade I was like, “I wanna be a lawyer”, then I started and realized it wasn’t really for me so I did the oral interp side instead. It’s basically where I go through all the books in the classroom and I find different pieces to perform at tournaments or I write speeches that I can perform at tournaments. It gives me a chance to be more creative than I would have in debate and I feel like I’m a really creative person.

TC: Is there anything else you would like to add?

GC: I think it’s a really great class and no matter what you want to do in life I think debate can really help you. I think anyone who ever wants to talk to a person ever should take debate.

LA: I think it’s really fun. Anyone who wants a way to be creative without having to be in art they should definitely take this class because it allows you to act but not in the way theater has you be in a whole performance. It is just for you.

Digital Design and Media Production (Grade Placement: 9-12, 1 credit)

This course was previously titled Multimedia Production. Students will gather and create electronic information, which will allow for problem solving and making informed decisions regarding media projects. Students will learn digital citizenship by researching current laws and regulations and by practicing integrity and respect. Students will demonstrate a thorough understanding of digital design principles and will transfer those skills to other disciplines.

Room: A102

[email protected]

The Colt: Why should students take this class?

Kim Davis: Digital Design is a fun class. First thing I tell people is we don’t have homework in here. Everything is done in class because we do things that are software specific so we learn about photoshop, editing features, filters, special effects. We also do a lot with audio and video which is pretty fun and neat. I try to come up with lessons that are creative and what’s out here and now, what’s out in the real world.

TC: What kind of students should take this class?

KM: Any students can take this class. I have students from 9th to 12th grade. My classes are mixed. There aren’t any prerequisites. You come in, I teach you what we are going to do, follow along with me and then I give you some creative freedom that you can do on your own with some guidelines.

TC: What types of discussions and class work are done in the class?

KM: Discussions are when we go over a different tool or effect or program and I try to relate it to the real world – in the real world this tool is used for this. I try to make it real world relatable to get students motivated and thinking about some things they can do.

TC: What are some projects your students normally get pumped up for?

KM: Around Halloween they get excited because there’s an assignment where they create their own scary Halloween scene, so again that’s kind of one of those freedom assignments, do whatever you want as long as it looks appropriate and you use different effects and filter to make it look “halloweenish”. The other one is something we do with puppet warp, they get to manipulate images and if somebody is standing straight they can use puppet warp to make them look like they’re in a cheer position or arms folded, whatever it is. In audio they really get excited about the music mix. I try to keep student examples to give students ideas about what they could do. Pretty much all of the photoshop assignments are interesting as well but it really is that Halloween assignment that gets people excited.

TC: Is there anything else you would like to add?

KM: Just that it’s a fun class and it’s not a pen and paper type of deal, you have some creative freedom within reason and following my grading rubric. Computers are in everything and I think the more programs kids are exposed to the more they can put on their resume to say “oh I know how to work with that, I’ve used that before.”

Angel Cardenas, junior, has taken Digital Design.

TC: Why did you take this class and what have you learned from it?

Angel Cardenas: I took this class because its technology based and as part of the IB program you have to take certain electives. Since I already knew [Mrs. Davis] I wanted to take her class. I wanted to learn more about computers and you get to see how you can impact other countries and how they use the same technology to help others.