10th Grade

Sophomores need experiences of balance and inclusivity. Where a younger student may see things exclusively as “either-or,” the sophomore curriculum presents ideas for students to see the complexity of issues that can be perceived from multiple viewpoints. The tenth grade curriculum investigates inclusive ideals and achievements.

Core Curriculum


Geometry & Algebra II

This class begins at the intersection of Algebra and Geometry - graphing. The introductory concepts include ordered pairs, the Cartesian coordinate system, and plotting points. The students learn to graph linear equations in two variables (including horizontal and vertical lines using x- & y-intercepts), how to calculate slope, and how to use slope in graphing a line. The class works with slope-intercept form, standard form, and point-slope form, then moves into the basic concepts of Euclidean Geometry. Specific topics covered include congruency, parallel lines and transversals, congruent, and similar triangles. If time permits, students continue working with proofs of the geometric properties of circles.


This class begins with analytical geometry, looking at the Cartesian coordinate system, linear equations, and calculations of slope, midpoint, and distance. Students learn the basics of Euclidean geometry including point, line, ray, plane, and polygons. Working with polygons, students explore triangles. At the end of the year, students study circles and figures in three dimensions.

Independent Math Study

This class aims to advance a student’s competency in algebra and to introduce the student to other related mathematical topics. Students work in the following mathematical areas: real numbers and linear equations, lines and functions, systems of linear equations, quadratic functions, rational expressions, conic sections, and trigonometry. Other topics, such as logarithmic and exponential functions, are covered as time permits.

Greek Geometry

This class explores the Ancient Greek mathematical mind. Beginning each day with Pythagoras’ Golden Verses, students ask how do we know what we know? Understanding the Greek motivation to know the world through observation and thinking (rather than story and tradition) allows us to see why Euclid, the Father of Geometry, devoted his life to the systematic construction of theory after theory, based only on a handful of assumptions (postulates), definitions, and logical presuppositions. Finally, after practicing at the Great Greek Geometric Games using only compass and straightedge, the class studies Euclid’s proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.



The focus of this class is on the geophysiology of the earth. The sophomores look at many of the complex phenomena that make up the biosphere of our planetrom, including Hadley Cells, the Coriolis Effect and ocean currents, the pressure gradient force, jet streams, and global climate change.

Human Biology II

Topics in this class cover the anatomy and physiology of the heart, the circulatory system, the components of human blood, the significance of blood groups, the non-specific and specific immune systems, the nature of HIV infection and AIDS, the lungs, and lastly, the human brain.

Inorganic Chemistry

This class explores chemical processes, especially those involving salts, acids, and bases in relation to our senses of taste and touch. By dissolving various salts in water with varying temperatures, the class investigates the properties of solutions. They use microscopes to compare and contrast various forms of substances, including crystals formed out of solution via precipitation and/or evaporation. The class studies the formation of acids and bases either as complementary pairs arising out of heating a salt or out of oxidation of a pure substance. The electrolysis of water and conductivity measurements help introduce concepts involving the structure of chemical compounds and clarify further the meaning of “pH”. Final experiments involve “displacement” reactions, with application to launching a projectile and the study of sodium metal.


Through observation, experimentation, measurement, and calculation, students study motion in a historical context, making observations and asking questions as they were first asked by the scientists of the Age of Reason. Students repeat some of the classic experiments of Copernicus, Kepler, Brahe, Galileo, and Newton. At the end of the course, the students understand the laws governing the motion of planets, stars, galaxies, as well as satellites, baseballs, and leaves.


Ancient History

The study of early history shows human beings joining in ever-larger groups to practice the highest of arts: living together harmoniously and productively. This class begins with a brief look at the earliest humans, continues with an introduction of farming and settled living, and then looks at the rise and fall of empires. The class is divided into three parts: Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Greece. Readings include the Epic of Gilgamesh, laws of Hammurabi, Herodotus’ observations of the Egyptians, the myth of Isis and Osiris, and Pericles’ funeral oration. The class spends a morning sketching in the galleries of the Oriental Institute.

Classical History

This class continues the study of ancient history to create a firmer foundation for the 11th grade medieval history class. Students begin with a closer look at the life and teachings of Socrates, continue with the conquests of Alexander the Great, and then turn their attention to Rome. Students trace the development of Rome from its semi-mythical origins, then through the rise of the Republic, the Punic Wars, and the building of the Empire. The class concludes with the rise of Christianity and Constantine. Primary sources include Plato, Plutarch and Livy.


This class introduces students to the writing and research expectations of high school. They are given a variety of opportunities to conduct research, to plan and write essays and reports, and to make presentations to the class. A theme of the year is unprejudiced, accurate observation. The content is modern history and literature with the aim of giving students an understanding of issues of the present day. Units often include the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights movement, the modern short story, Animal Farm by Orwell and related events of Russian history, the Cold War, and Things Fall Apart by Achebe and related events of African history.

History Through Language

English is a relatively young language, said to have been born in 449 AD with the Anglo Saxon invasions of the British Isles. However, the language of those early raiders cannot be understood by English speakers of today. English has been shaped by migrations, invasions, explorations, and commerce, as well as by song and story. This class traces the development of English from its prehistoric, Indo-European roots, through the measured cadences of Beowulf, Chaucer’s witty heroic couplets, Shakespeare’s sonnets, the sonorous poetry of the King James Bible, and the erudite definitions of Samuel Johnson’s and Noah Webster’s dictionaries. The class studies the evolving vocabulary and grammar of English as well as changing literary forms.

US Constitution & Government

In this class, students examine the United States Constitution, a document which expresses the soul of the nation it serves. In addition to reading the Constitution, students analyze journals, letters, documents, and pamphlets from the period.

World Languages

German I

Students can take German I with little or no prior experience. In the first semester, the students learn basic everyday greetings, vocabulary, and grammar. By the second semester, students form more complex sentences, both ask and answer questions, and learn more advanced grammar for writing and speaking. By the end of Level I, students should have mastered basic German vocabulary, grammar, and communicative skills. Grammar concepts include pronouns, present and future tense verbs, nouns, articles, adjectives, conjunctions, negations, prepositions, and the difference between the nominative and accusative cases.

German II

In the first semester of German II, students review verbs, learn more tenses, and address proper sequence and sentence structure. In the second semester, students recall past events and describe them in proper sequence, practice case prepositions and subordinate clauses, and learn colloquial phrases. By the end of Level II, students should have mastered the imperative tense and present, past, and future verb tenses. Students should also know the difference between superlatives, comparisons, subordinate clauses, conjunctions, the accusative case, and dative case. They should be able to write and tell stories in present and past tense.

German III

By the end of German III, students should have mastered the present and past verbs, including reflexives. They should be able to differentiate between the nominative, accusative and dative cases in terms of prepositions, articles, and pronouns, as well as know and apply with accuracy, dative verbs and relative clauses. Practically speaking, students should also know how to ask for products in a pharmacy, describe their injuries or illnesses, tell/recount a story in the present and past, look for a hostel while traveling, and read a short novel.

Advanced German IV/V

This class is an opportunity to study independently with the teacher. By the end of this course, students should have mastered the usage of the subjunctive cases (I and II), passive voice, phrases such as um…zu, je…desto, and da-wo compounds. Practically speaking, the students should know how to write a formal/informal letter and email, how to apply for a job, how to give a presentation, and how to defend his or her own opinion about a worldwide and/or local social problem.

Spanish I

Students learn basic everyday greetings, vocabulary, and grammar. By the end of the class, students form more complex sentences, both ask and answer questions, and learn more advanced grammar for writing and speaking. Students should master basic vocabulary, grammar, and communicative skills. Grammar concepts include pronouns, present and future tense verbs, nouns, articles, adjectives, conjunctions, negations, prepositions, and the difference between the nominative and accusative cases.

Spanish II

The focus of this course is on the systematic review of basic grammar: gender and number of nouns, adjectives, and the present and past tenses of regular and irregular verbs. For the second semester, new grammar topics include comparison of adjectives and prepositions. The students also work on more verb tenses (such as the imperfect), begin to learn the future and conditional tenses, learn new vocabulary, and read short stories from different Latin American authors. The project for the first semester is on a renowned Latin American destination. For the second semester, students present the life and work of a Latin American painter or sculptor.

Spanish III

The goal of this course is to provide the basic grammatical structures needed to communicate in Spanish. The students learn vocabulary for typical activities related to traveling in a foreign country and vocabulary pertaining to housework, shopping, weather, transportation, restaurants, and everyday life. Students learn more complex verb forms (such as the imperfect, future and conditional tenses). They also read short stories from different Latin American authors and work on two different projects for each semester.

Advanced Spanish IV/V

In Spanish IV/V, students read El Esclavo by Francisco J. Angel. Students spend time discussing the book in order to deepen their fluency and write assignments in order to focus on their Spanish reading and writing. Their final test is to summarize the novel in a brief Spanish language essay.

World Exchange Program

As part of the extensive and growing global network of Waldorf schools, the Chicago Waldorf School offers a distinctive exchange program that places our High School students in Waldorf Schools across the world and welcomes exchange students and international students to visit and enroll in our school. Exchange students come to our school from diverse countries including Colombia, Chile, Austria, Switzerland, Korea, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan, France, and Peru, among others.



The 10th grade rehearses and performs a play on a classical theme. Recent choices have been Mary Zimmerman’s The Odyssey and an adaptation of Euripides’ Iphigenia. The class designs their production in a combination of modern and ancient styles to convey the universality of the themes. Each student has one or more speaking roles and also participates on one of the production crews. The class culminates in two evening performances for a public audience.

Soapstone Sculpture

After sketching different animals focusing on the 'S' curve of their spines, students begin modeling forms in beeswax and clay. Once they have chosen their animal, students choose a soapstone and reshape the movement gesture of that animal so that they see how it emerges from the stone as they carve. This challenging experience requires steady, focused attention to see where stone can be filed or carved. Students reassess their work as it develops and solve problems that arise, all while learning to use a new set of tools and unfamiliar medium. When the form is finished, they use dry and wet sandpaper and polish to seal the stone.


Students design and complete projects in beginning and complex knitting as well as various forms of spinning and simple weaving. With these projects, students enhance their own technical skill as well as their understanding of the history and development of textiles.

Veil Painting

Veil Painting is a watercolor technique in which pigments are thinned and glazed over one another on white paper to achieve subtle color washes, or 'veils.' The colors are mixed only on the paper, and only one at a time in a wash over dry colors. Students create three paintings with warm and cool luster colors (red, yellow, and blue) and image colors (white, black, green, and peach). The first painting divides the canvas into six panels and students paint pairs of colors in each panel. In a second painting, students transpose a black and white engraving into color masses, using the full palette. A third painting incorporates the Goethean color wheel.


Students use traditional woodworking techniques and methods of joinery in the context of modern design. They consider the importance and logic of traditional building techniques and handcraft in everyday objects and their environments. The class emphasizes creating quality craft with basic hand tools. The students work individually or in groups to design and build a functional object, with both structural and artistic integrity. They learn to properly and safely use hand and machine tools, including pull saws, chisels, squares, stationary drill press, and band saw.


African Drumming

Students develop technique, hand coordination, and traditional rhythms in an ensemble. Additionally, students investigate the cultural and historical significance of the djembe drum, the oral history of each rhythm and song, and the geography of regions specific to the tradition of the djembe as well as Africa in general.

Chamber Ensemble

Chamber Ensemble is for those students who wish to continue the study and performance of music on classical instruments. The students study and perform standard orchestral works arranged for small ensemble and also continue playing both by rote and by improvisation. Listening – melody, harmony, accompaniment – is emphasized, as is technique.

Beginning Guitar

Students learn basic musical concepts and skills with an emphasis on how they apply to guitar as well as to singing. Students learn to play chords, scales, and full songs and attain a basic proficiency in reading music.

Guitar Ensemble

Students who have a basic level of guitar skill play a range of parts (according to level of ability) that when combined, create a cohesive whole, as in an orchestra. Moving beyond unison chords, students will learn to play single line melodies and two or more notes simultaneously, in addition to broken or block chords. Students also sharpen their listening and collaboration skills. The class takes up different genres – classical, folk, rock, jazz – over the course of the year.

Improvisational Ensemble

Based on the notion of improvisation that there are “no wrong notes,” this class offers an environment in which students feel comfortable experimenting with and creating new sounds. Students play any instrument they feel comfortable with, including voice, general percussion instruments provided for the class, and any instrument the student would like to bring (guitar, harmonica, woodwinds, strings, etc). Students may split into smaller groups in order to apply the core principles of improvisation and to build connections between players. Collaboration with classmates is highly encouraged and showcased at the end of the year in the "Show of Work" performance.

Jazz Band

The Jazz Ensemble plays many different styles of jazz including Dixieland, Bebop, Bossa nova, Swing, and Standards. The students play at a high level on their instruments, study music theory, and improvise as part of the ensemble.

Vocal Ensemble

Vocal Ensemble is both a performance-driven chamber choir focused on the rehearsal and performance of choral and vocal music, and a supportive environment to try new things, experiment with improvisation, and have fun creating music together. The class places emphasis on vocal development, independence in part-singing, stylistic understanding, and performance technique. Time is spent on reinforcing and developing an understanding of musical notation and conducting patterns.



This class introduces students to the basic elements and history of the Brazilian art of Capoeira. Capoeira can be danced, practiced as a martial art, or played as a game. Students learn to move rhythmically alone and with partners. They learn to play the instrument called the Berimbau to accompany lessons. Students also learn about the history of capoeira and its use as expression and liberation in Brazilian slave culture. A capoeira unit is offered to all four high school classes.


Eurythmy is a performing art that engages aspects of dance, music, poetry, speech, and kinesthetic expression. A feature unique to Waldorf education, the beautiful, spiritual, and emotional art of eurythmy introduces students to the frameworks underlying speech and music through movement. The study of Eurythmy develops concentration, spatial orientation and dexterity, and engages students in the study of enhanced rhythms of speech and music as experienced and interpreted through the whole body.


This class engages students in strength and endurance-building activities using their own body weight. They also learn movement techniques for traversing and negotiating obstacles in their environments including, but not limited to, walls, railings, bars, stairs, and ledges. Students are taught to be creative, sometimes adding their own style to the movements, or selecting their own way to navigate the obstacles. Risk and fear management are also a big part of the training as the students are often taken outside of their comfort zones; students learn to know their limits and how to surpass them. Parkour is offered to all four high school classes.


In the first semester of gym, students review the basic vocabulary, rules, and techniques of volleyball and basketball. Students are expected to come to class every day with proper attire and are expected to participate fully in every activity. Students examine their own areas of strength, weakness, and progress; they help to organize teams and structure games. At the end of each class, students participate in fast-paced games and mini-tournaments.

Electives & Interest Groups


In the first semester of gym, students review the basic vocabulary, rules, and techniques of volleyball and basketball. Students are expected to come to class every day with proper attire and are expected to participate fully in every activity. Students examine their own areas of strength, weakness, and progress; they help to organize teams and structure games. At the end of each class, students participate in fast-paced games and mini-tournaments.

Math Club

This extracurricular club offers students opportunties for customized study in math, fun group challenges, and problem-solving projects, all in a collaborative social millieu. The Math Club travels to the Regionals and State Math competitions, where for many years our Student Mathletes have won top trophies for outstanding performances, and earned many other accolades and marks of distinction.

Spanish Club

Students in this after-school club convene to study lessons and enjoy social events that celebrate and investigate Spanish Culture. They visit cultural institutiosn and museums, and study the film, music, literature and art of Spanish and Latino cultures. Many students enroll in Spanish club in preparation for the cultural exchange they will experiene when they study abroad in Latin America for their Sophomore or Junior year in the school's World Exchange Program. Others use the club to supplement their preparations for the summer travel abroad program that visits the spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona.

Student Leadership

In this class, students undertake projects of student initiative for the High School student body. In the past, these have included surveying the High School students about key issues, organizing the High School Spiritwear program, staffing other activities, and planing events such as the school prom.

Creative Writing

This writing seminar allows students the opportunity to work on their creative writing within a group discussion, critique framework, and consult with a member of the English faculty.

Current Events/World Issues

This class focuses on topical issues of importance. Students engage a course of study that analyzes a contemporary issue (or issues) within the a framework of its historical, social, cultural, and political context.

Literary Journal

Students write, edit, and manage the production of the school's literary anthology, the CHI WAL HI Journal. The student staff solicits and edits all submissions to this journal of poetry, prose, and short stories.

Yearbook Staff

Students join the production staff to engage in publications skills (photography, writing/editing, illustration and layout) and distribution processes (promotions, advertising, and sales) to create The Loop, the school's annually published yearbook.

Student Ambassadors

The Student Ambassadors are practiced in representing the school to external audiences. They make presentations about student life and their own experiences as students at the school's Tour and Orientation events, as well as at outreaach events, neighborhood festivals, and other annual promotional events in which the school participates.

Field Trips & Service Learning

Indiana Dunes

The entire High School travels to the Indiana Dunes National Park. For five days the students and faculty camp at this beach campground while engaging in workshop activities and group discussions that both welcome the new incoming freshmen class and cement social bonds and relationships in the High School's student body.

St. Bernard Parrish Hurricane Relief

The entire 10th grade spends two weeks in May working with the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans, Louisiana rebuilding homes that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.