11th Grade

In the 11th Grade curriculum, existential questions arise. Juniors learn to live with open–ended questions and begin the long path towards answers that may not be what they expect. The curriculum meets this fiercely idealistic age. These classes offer concrete opportunities to accomplish tasks and take responsibility for important work.

Core Curriculum


Algebra II & Trigonometry

This class builds on the concepts related to circles and basic trigonometric ratios by introducing the unit circle, reciprocal trigonometric ratios, and inverse trigonometric functions. Students study algebra topics including domain and range, linear equations, and functions. Students learn about systems of equations and how to solve them using a variety of methods (graphing, substitution, and elimination). Students also study quadratic functions, including creation (multiplying binomials), factoring, graphing, solving, and determining the equation from a graph. Finally, students learn about exponential equations, logarithms, and imaginary numbers.

Introduction to Calculus

This class begins with a general review of pre-calculus concepts including graphing and modeling, different types of functions and their graphs, and inverse functions. Students then begin their study of Calculus. The topics covered include:

- finding limits graphically
- evaluating limits algebraically
- defining continuity
- epsilon delta definition of a limit
- finding the derivative
- product, quotient, and chain rules
- implicit differentiation
- derivatives of inverse functions
- Newton’s method
- utilizing the derivative to describe a function
- concavity and second derivative tests
- optimization
- differentials

Projective Geometry

Through various geometric constructions first discovered by Pappus, Desargues, Pascal, and Brianchon, students explore the ways in which mathematicians for 2000 years flirted with the ideas which we now recognize as projective constructions. The effort moved forward when artists in the 15th century began to wonder how to depict scenes on flat paper which appeared to be three dimensional. Projective Geometry only began to be developed in the 19th century. Students come to appreciate a completely unfamiliar space of reality which is just as valid, and in fact more generally true, than the one with which we are more used to dealing.



In this class, students work with and catalogue observations of celestial movements, recognizing and identifying patterns and rhythms that occur in the sky. They track the positions of planets, moons, and stars and make conclusions about their movements. Students use astronomical tools (a clinometer and a compass) to locate objects in the night sky. They measure celestial distances and review various methods ranging from early Greek to modern day techniques. The class also calculates the distance from the Earth to the Moon, planetary distances to the Sun, and the distances to stars. There is an evening field trip to the Dearborn Observatory.

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.


This class covers the chemistry of elements: what is an element, what elements are commonly found in the human body, the important non-metals, the alkali and alkaline earth metals, the halogens, and some other metals and semi-metals. Students look at various properties of the elements: elemental masses, the valences of the elements in making compounds, and constant and multiple proportions in reactions. They study the structure of the periodic table and how its structure relates to chemical and physical properties. Experiments familiarize students with basic chemical reactions including combustion and metal replacement.

Developmental Biology & Genetics

This class considers the concept of an organism from several perspectives. Beginning with experimental embryology and Spemann’s Nobel Prize winning experiments, the class considers cell-division and cell-differentiation as these appear “in vitro” within a healthy organism and in cancer cells. Thereafter, students focus on the development of genetics from Mendel to the recognition of the central role that DNA and RNA play in protein synthesis, as well as recent discoveries in the realm of epigenetics.

Electricity & Magnetism

Today, life without electromagnetic technologies is almost inconceivable. For this reason, it is vitally important to understand the basic phenomenological observations which first led scientists to discover the conditions that give rise to electrical and magnetic effects. This class studies those effects, and carefully observes the conditions which create them. Both electricity and magnetism may be understood as forces that seek balance and students learn to understand such concepts as charge, field, voltage, current, resistance, and power within this framework. They go on to study technologies which harness the electromagnetic effect, such as series and parallel circuits (Ohm’s law), electric motors, generators, solenoids, and transformers. Finally, they consider how power is generated for the multiplicity of electric devices we use today, and the implications of these methods.


Age of Reason

The Enlightenment was a time when philosophers and scientists challenged one another. Rejecting the authority of church and king, they trusted the authority of their own reason and sought to discover the natural laws that governed the movements of bodies in the heavens and the society of humans on earth. This revolution in human thinking coincided with a time of political revolution. England's bloodless Glorious Revolution of 1688 ushered in the period and France's bloody Reign of Terror in 1793 ended it. Students read Immanuel Kant, Rene Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Locke, Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Alexander Pope, and Joseph Addison.


Juniors are ready for rigorous reading and thoughtful analysis. The class begins with a combination of literature and history by reading John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and considering its moral and social questions. Students complete individual research projects and presentations on the period. Units on Dante’s Divine Comedy and Shakespeare’s Hamlet offer insight into Medieval and Renaissance eras and illuminate basic human questions. A unit on the Romantic Movement further illustrates the ideas of the Enlightenment. Students choose their senior project topics and write a five-page paper following MLA guidelines.

History Through Music

Students study the parallel historical development of human consciousness and music. They learn to analyze music through the phenomena of melody, harmony, rhythm, and tone color (timbre) through in-depth listening, discussion, and textural analysis of music in the Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras. The students create their own listening journal entry on a composition of their choosing. The class presents a final music project on the last day.

Medieval History

The Middle Ages are often defined as the millennium between the 5th-century fall of Rome and the 15th-century Age of Discovery. This class studies a European world cut adrift from its ancient moorings and slowly reinventing itself. The ideas of Constantine, St. Benedict, Mohammed, Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Pope Urban, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Marco Polo, Joan of Arc, and others illuminate themes of authority, freedom, orthodoxy, heresy, love, and war. The readings include selections from the Rule of St. Benedict, Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, the poetry of the troubadours, and Boccaccio’s Decameron. Students develop the ability to work logically and creatively with primary source material.


Parzival is a vast, complex tale of adventure and romance written in the early thirteenth century by Wolfram von Eschenbach, a minnesinger who claimed – perhaps facetiously – to be illiterate. It tells of Parzival’s journey from clownish ignorance, through sorrow and doubt to become a Knight of the Round Table and Lord of the Grail. The grail is not a cup in this story, but a mysterious stone that has power to nourish and to heal. In addition to the challenging reading, students keep a journal addressing themes of the class, to develop artistic responses to the story, and to write a final essay.

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 class studies the dramatic form of the monologue, beginning with Shakespeare, moving to excerpts from modern plays, and ending with their own compositions. The students examine how language reveals character through the use of literary and theatrical devices. They also explore the acting techniques of the Russian director, Constantin Stanislavski, and his student, Michael Chekhov, as a way of further revealing character onstage. The class culminates in a performance of one of their monologues for an invited audience.


This course introduces the students to the basics of bookbinding techniques from use of a bone folder to various styles of sewing signatures and cover design. Each student completes three different styles of books as well as one or two extras which they present in their senior year to their first grade partners from the Rose Ceremony.

Digital Publishing

After an introduction covering the history of publishing, students learn to create their own eBooks, incorporating text, images, photos, charts, and more. The course also covers principles of graphic design and typography.

Enameling & Etching Design

Adding to the skills learned in ninth grade, in this class, students learn the components of etching and enameling. Students begin by learning to enamel pieces of copper using opaque enamels. They practice a variety of techniques for developing etching designs that are then enameled using transparent enamels. Once they have mastered these skills, they design and create an individual project.

Human Form

The inspiration for this class is Michelangelo and contemporary artists and teachers who came out of that stream. Students study figure drawing while taking turns doing one, five, ten, and two twenty-minute poses in street clothes for the class. Beginning with a gesture sketch, students learn how to construct the figure in geometric shapes and then make the forms more organic, before finally rendering the drawing visually during a long pose of about forty minutes.

Landscape Painting

Students study the technique of outdoor painting in oils, striving for the color perception exhibited by French and American Impressionist painters. The teacher demonstrates the application of oil colors from the tube to canvas and students watch a video demonstration of a method of impressionist landscape paintings; then, they begin their own paintings. They paint at least two scenes otudoors on both a gray day and sunny day, returning at the same time each day to study the color. They stand up to paint at easels, juggling their palette knives, paper towels, and an egg carton filled with oil color.


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

Drama Club

This after-school club mounts a theatrical production in the Fall semester. Students select a script and collaborate with members of the Drama and Music Faculty to produce a play for the school community. Previous productions have included classic stories like Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice as well as more contemporary plays such as the Matthew Shepard Story


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.

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.

Portfolio & Technical Arts

Students engage in technical workshops and complete assignments and critiques to prepare a portfolio of their creative projects. They review and update past projects and create new works to finalize their presentation portfolio.

Independent Science Seminar

This elective offers students opportunities to make science-based projects in consultation with a High School Science faculty member. Often the independent science seminar offers the roots of scientific research that students hone to final form in their Senior Projects. In the past, other independent science projects have taken the form of group project-based classes like the CWS Rocket Club.

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.

Camphill Village

The entire 11th grade spends two weeks in May working and living in community with disabled adults at Camphill Community, in Kimberton, Pennsylvania. They learn and are taught by and collaborate with the residents who live in this intentional, self-sustaining community.