Bay Area BlendEd

Bay Area BlendEd was founded by Urban School, The Athenian School, The College Preparatory School, Lick-Wilmerding High School and Marin Academy in order to bring our students a new level of engaging curriculum that takes advantage of the geography, talent and culture of the Bay Area.

Courses offered by the BlendEd Consortium combine face-to-face and online instruction and help our students prepare for the changing methods of instruction and communication they will see in college and in the workforce, while preserving the core relational culture and values that are at the heart of Urban’s and our partner schools’ educational missions.

BlendEd courses are interactive with significant time working online individually and in small groups, in occasional virtual class meetings, and with a minimum of three to five face-to-face sessions. These sessions will occur outside regular school hours and may occur on weekends. The face-to-face sessions may be held at one of the partner schools or at a specific location relating to the class topic. Three Urban Juniors and/or Seniors will be given spots for each of the courses. Note that for Urban students, the BlendEd course will overlap for a short period of time with either your winter or spring term classes. For additional information, please email Urban's BlendEd site coordinator Stacie Muñoz.

Course List for 2019-20
Note: most Bay Area BlendEd courses are based on a semester schedule. For Urban students, these courses will overlap portions of your winter or spring terms.

Summer-Fall 2019

Wilderness Studies
Conservation and Management of Public Lands in the Western United States

The West has always spanned a range of wild spaces and landscapes. For thousands of years, humans have lived in this wilderness. For the last 200 years, humans have ravaged many of these wildernesses. And yet in 2019, large tracts of wilderness still exist within the western United States.

This course will examine the value of wilderness and public land (commons land) in the year 2019. What is the value of these lands (and waters) to the people who use, manage, conserve, appreciate, or have traditionally lived on them? We will use a weeklong field experience to the Great Burn Recommended Wilderness of Montana and a weekend expedition to Point Reyes National Seashore to probe both the historical and current relationships between humans and these wild, largely untamed landscapes. Guiding questions for this course are:

  • Who is wilderness for? What groups have been historically underrepresented in conversations related to wilderness? What effects may these exclusions have on society and the environment?  How do we begin to change this story?  
  • How do we balance the preservation of public land with the need for local people to make a livelihood off the land?
  • What models can we use to balance the preservation of wildland ecosystems and the current and future use of public land by humans for tourism, recreation and utilitarian purposes? Can there be any land that humans are not managing or influencing?
  • How important is collaboration between governments, non-profits, businesses, user groups and cities in the process of public land conservation?

To answer these questions, students will participate in backpacking and camping trips to immerse themselves in the lands we’re studying while engaging with local experts who approach these landscapes from different ethical and practical approaches. Readings will provide additional knowledge in both the history of these spaces as well as current information and debates surrounding the use and management of the Great Burn and the Point Reyes National Seashore.
 
The trimester course will include weekly Zoom group discussions as well as four face-to-face trips, including the two intensive field experiences. Field experiences will involve rigorous  academic work and will be physically demanding. Students will maintain a cultural and natural history journal throughout the course and engage in weekly readings, discussions and reflections. Students will be asked to articulate their own land ethic by the end of the course by considering the significance of wilderness from their own personal lens, the field experiences from this course, and their understandings of the the cultural, political, ethical, historical and economic perspectives addressed in the course. The final challenge will require that students research and evaluate a chosen wilderness area and, applying their learnings from the class, make recommendations (based on sound research and the understanding of multiple perspectives) regarding the future of the land.

Important Dates:

  • July 14: Virtual course kick off and connection/pre-trip work via Canvas/Zoom
  • July 25 – August 1: Montana field experience trip
  • August 31 – September 1: Point Reyes weekend expedition
  • September 29: Environmental Law F2F
  • October 12: Academy of Science (Conservation Science), Final F2F

Full Year 2019-20

Multivariable Calculus

Multivariable Calculus will begin by exploring vector geometry and functions in more than one variable. Then, after expanding the concepts of limits and continuity to include multivariate functions, students will develop a rich understanding of concepts and methods relating to the main topics of Partial Differentiation and Multiple Integration.  After generalizing a number of tools from single-variable to multivariate calculus, we will explore topics of optimization and geometric applications in areas including physics, economics, probability, and technology. We will expand our fluency with topics to address vector fields and parametric functions, and we will understand applications of Green’s and Stokes’ Theorems. We will employ multidimensional graphing programs to aid in developing a more thorough understanding of the myriad ways for describing and analyzing properties of multivariate functions. At the conclusion of the course, students will have the opportunity to further explore applications of and/or concepts relating to topics covered by the course.

Emphasis will be placed on students expressing fluency with numerical, algebraic, visual, and verbal interpretations of concepts. Students can expect to collaborate weekly on homework, problem-sets, and projects in small groups and in tutorial with their instructor online; face-to-face sessions may include visits with experts analyzing functions in multiple variables as well as group problem-solving activities and assessments.

Prerequisites: Completion of one full year of Single Variable Calculus AB or BC
(1 credit)

Fall 2019


Art History Through Inquiry
The course will help you learn how to engage with art history outside the traditional lecture and textbook format. Instead, our questions and inspiration will come from five face-to-face meetings at various local museums in order to explore art through observation, inquiry and analysis. We’ll explore how museums foster critical thinking and creativity while you’ll also learn the skills necessary to research and learn more about art and its history. As you develop an understanding about both current and historical art—and the methods in which to approach this learning—you’ll also be determining your own path of research and depth. After each visit, you’ll choose an artist, movement or piece of work for further exploration, and, with support from the teacher and art research techniques, will eventually create a paper or project that demonstrates your knowledge and shares it with others.

Since this course is heavily based on face-to-face class visits to museums (such as the de Young, SFMOMA and others), you must be able to commit to the following four dates (10 am - 3 pm each day, including a break for lunch):
Saturday, September 7
Saturday September 28
Saturday October 19
Saturday November 16
Note that more face-to-face meeting details will be announced once local museum exhibition calendars are published for Fall 2019.
(½ credit)


Beats, Rhymes and Life
An Exploration of Hip-Hop, its History and Global Impact

This course is an examination of this movement of Hip-Hop as counterculture, its place in history and global impact. Students will examine the idea of Hip-Hop as a shadowed art form for muted voices. The contemporary foundations of Hip-Hop, the influence of the African Diaspora, the role of the Slave Trade, of cultural syncretism, the development of Jazz, Spoken Word as an art, and the influence of the Harlem Renaissance will be studied. Various artists will be explored along with their immediate and long-term impacts on the musical genre. Students will also study the uncanny connections between Hip-Hop and WEB Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam, Clarence 13x and the Black Panther Party. Students will also examine the voice of women and gay artists and their role in the culture of Hip-Hop, which often is misconstrued as a male dominated, misogynistic and/or homophobic art form. Students will end the course looking at the globalization of Hip-Hop and its role on the international scene as a form of political and youth advocacy in areas where people are voiceless. There will be four face-to-face meetings over the course of the semester. Dates and locations to be announced as available (the final will be an in-studio field trip to a professional recording studio). (½ credit)


Introduction to Psychology
This class will survey the evolution of psychology from psychodynamic theory to contemporary socio-cultural psychology. We will examine how the study of human development has progressed through time. Students will gain knowledge in human behaviors through introduction to basic concepts and theories in psychology. Students will also reflect on how human development might be culturally defined: from Freud’s psychoanalysis theory to today’s rising interest in multicultural psychology, how important is family, education or environment to our development and mental health? Together, we will conduct basic experiments to illustrate our theories, conduct simple field work and engage in conversations with professionals who will share their experiences with us. Students will also keep a journal in which they will reflect on observations of their environment and how it affects them. This class will be project-based, with virtual meetings taking place on a weekly basis to discuss, debate and present new ideas. Students’ participation in virtual meetings is essential to creating a sense of community, and to enriching the learning experience of all. Students will be responsible for leading discussions around articles assigned, or debating controversial theories or findings either in groups or as individuals. There will be four face-to-face (F2F) meetings over the course of the semester. Dates and locations to be announced as available (the first F2F will occur sometime in the opening two weeks and the final F2F will likely fall on the last Saturday of the term). (½ credit)


Medical Problem Solving
This course uses medical case studies as vehicles for students to learn collaboratively about the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Each student has the responsibility of researching aspects of the case study in question in order to create informative presentations that educate the entire class. Then, as a group, the class evaluates the information, much as detectives evaluate clues, in order to arrive at potential diagnoses which they must then defend. Throughout the term, we will hold weekly virtual class meetings to discuss the case studies, review progress on research topics and discuss diagnoses and treatment plans. Students will occasionally connect with the teacher and other classmates through online discussions and virtual meetings to share presentations, receive and provide feedback and ask questions. Our three face-to-face meetings will be reserved for field trips to Bay Area medical facilities and presentations from local medical professionals. Prerequisites: Two years of high school science. (1/2 credit)


Public Health and Vulnerable Populations
The San Francisco Bay Area is rapidly becoming one of the most inequitable places to live in the nation. Taking a casual BART ride can reveal the environmental disparities that exist between places like the affluent suburb of Pleasanton and an industrialized community like West Oakland. The lack of income and environmental equality is obvious, but the disparities run much deeper. A short ride between BART stations can mean an 11-year difference in life expectancy. Folks getting off the train and living in neighborhoods near BART’s Walnut Creek station live on average 84 years, while folks that exit at and live near the Oakland City Center station live on average only 73 years. In other words, living just 16 miles apart can mean the difference between living more than a decade longer. Why does such a health disparity exist? This course will dissect the factors that influence this social gradient of health.

There will be three whole-class face-to-face sessions and at least one off-campus face-to-face meeting with a teammate. During our first face-to-face trip on Saturday, September 7, we will be assessing the health of the Bayview Hunters Point Neighborhood in San Francisco. On Saturday, October 19, we will volunteer in the native plant nursery at the Literacy for Environmental Justice in the Candlestick Point State Park Recreational Area from 9:45 am - 1:30 pm. Our final whole-class face-to-face trip will be to the Emergency Department at Highland Hospital in Oakland. The exact day of this trip has yet to be determined, but it will likely be from 3:45 pm - 6:30 pm one weekday between Monday, December 2 - Wednesday, December 11.  Additionally, students will be expected to meet with a teammate to collaborate on the Just Video Project outside of school hours at a time and location that is convenient for the team between Tuesday, October 29 - Tuesday, November 5. Students will also be expected to attend one of two virtual meetings roughly every other week on either Tuesday or Wednesday for one hour. (½ credit

Spring 2020


Bay Area Cinema and Filmmaking
Film, animation and alternative film and video has been a stalwart of Bay Area culture from Muybridge to Silent Film and from Pixar to the Prelinger Archive. In this course we will explore the history of the moving image and its cultural impact in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as create our own imaginative responses to the ideas and concepts in the course. Students will get a chance to study films, technologies, philosophies and ideas related to the manipulation of time as well as create their own art, videos and visual journal entries. Topics will include a wide variety of cinematic genres and motion picture technologies. Students will learn interdisciplinary skills related to their own independent filmmaking in tandem with film and cultural studies. Students will be expected to make connections with larger social, political and cultural forces and be interested in independently creating artworks, visual journal entries and film and animation.

Online meetings with the whole class will take place every other week to discuss projects and share presentations. Students will sometimes be paired together or in small groups during our online meeting time or may occasionally arrange their own meeting times for collaborative activities and projects.

During our five face-to-face sessions we may be meeting filmmakers, exploring museums, cinemas, archives, film festivals and places of cinematic industry in the prolific Bay Area arts culture. Tea and discussion will follow. Students will need access to a digital still camera and be able to upload images to the web. Students will need to have some knowledge of video editing and have access to basic video editing software, a digital video camera/tripod combination and will need access to basic art supplies. Some supplies will be provided. (½ credit)


Comic Book Literature
Pow, Bam, Zap: The Study of Modern Mythology and Social Constructs through Comic Book Lit

Comic books have been around for over 100 years. Rather than merely a source of entertainment, the medium has been used as a means of political persuasion and as a flexible platform for critiquing the social status quo. In this course, we will examine the ways in which comics respond to, comment on, and critique American culture from the 1940s to the modern day. Together we'll read and analyze a diverse array of comics and critical essays about comics. Assignments will include analytical discussion board posts, a literary analysis paper, a book review paper, and, finally, an original, student-created comic book that will appear in an end-of-term showcase. Face-to-face meetups will include a seminar-style discussion of V for Vendetta and a viewing of portions of the 2005 film adaptation; a screening of Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse; a visit to the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, featuring a talk by comic artist Svetlana Chmakova; and a gallery-style showcase of students' original comics. (½ credit)
 

#Entrepreneurship through Design Thinking
Living in the Bay Area, we are in close proximity to the most important and innovative companies in the world. This course will leverage the unique accessibility we have to cutting edge fields and empower students to create a unique product, service or program that is original, viable and socially beneficial. In addition to employing the design thinking process, students will be equipped with marketing skills and techniques that allow them to engage a fast emerging industry and strategize on ways to create their own business entities. Students will learn different methods of utilizing social media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter in order to promote the products, programs or services that they create. We will begin with our first meeting in a BlendEd school classroom and then the subsequent meetings will involve field trips to some of the major local social media companies in order to give students a hands-on experience of seeing entrepreneurship in action. There are no prerequisites for the course. There will be four face-to-face (F2F) meetings over the course of the semester. Exact dates and details to be announced as available, but we have traditionally participating in The Diamond Challenge, as well as having an April field trip to Facebook and our culminating F2F at Google HQ in May. (½ credit)
 

Ethics: The Good Life
Sages in Eastern and Western traditions hold that the “good life” is not necessarily the easy life, but the one lived according to universal ethical principles. In this course, we will think hard about this assertion, and consider some of the most fascinating – and challenging – issues of the human condition. What makes a dilemma an ethical dilemma? Are all ethical principles relative, or are there some truly universal values? If there are, then how do we know what is right? Where does our own sense of ethics come from – parents, religion, reason, society, biology? Where ought it to come from? Is there a relation between our happiness and the ethical values we hold? The emphasis will be on thinking through the ethical implications of everyday life, using philosophy, film, literature and current events to do so. We will conduct a virtual meeting on a weekly basis for these conversations and to build a shared understanding of the traditions we study and the community of learners in the course. Each student will be responsible for leading discussions during one of these virtual meetings. There will be three face-to-face meetings during the course— the first will take place in the first two weeks of the term; additional meeting dates and details will be announced as available.
 

Introduction to Organic Chemistry
This introductory survey course will cover organic chemistry and relevant biochemistry. The cast of organic compounds is a virtual who’s who of chemicals, including foods, medicines, drugs, and cellular components. Their compositions and structures determine how they perform their functions. The course will cover the chemistry of carbon, functional groups, hydrocarbons, determining molecular structure via a variety of lab techniques, reaction mechanisms, and biochemicals. Organic chemistry is considered to be one of college’s most challenging and difficult science courses, and one aim of this course is to at least partially allay these notions prior to attending college.

Students will work both individually and collaboratively on homework, problem sets, assessments, and projects. Molecular modeling will be emphasized. During our 2-3 hour long face-to-face sessions (1/21/20, 2/15/20, 4/11/20, 5/12/20, we will work collaboratively doing experiments, solving problems, making animations of chemical mechanisms, and educating one another via presentations at a culminating event. Weekly online virtual classes (typically 30-60 minutes long) offer opportunities to develop course community, to answer questions about the material, to introduce new concepts, and to reinforce present material through group problem-solving. Prerequisites: Successful completion of a high school chemistry course. (½ credit)
 

Introduction to Psychology
This class will survey the evolution of psychology from psychodynamic theory to contemporary socio-cultural psychology. We will examine how the study of human development has progressed through time. Students will gain knowledge in human behaviors through introduction to basic concepts and theories in psychology. Students will also reflect on how human development might be culturally defined: from Freud’s psychoanalysis theory to today’s rising interest in multicultural psychology, how important is family, education or environment to our development and mental health? Together, we will conduct basic experiments to illustrate our theories, conduct simple field work and engage in conversations with professionals who will share their experiences with us. Students will also keep a journal in which they will reflect on observations of their environment and how it affects them. This class will be project-based, with virtual meetings taking place on a weekly basis to discuss, debate and present new ideas. Students’ participation in virtual meetings is essential to creating a sense of community, and to enriching the learning experience of all. Students will be responsible for leading discussions around articles assigned, or debating controversial theories or findings either in groups or as individuals. There will be four face-to-face (F2F) meetings over the course of the semester. Dates and locations to be announced as available (the first F2F will occur sometime in the opening two weeks and the final F2F will likely fall on the last Saturday of the term). (½ credit)