April 18, 2024

Course planning is a stressful time for all students. With so many choices, it’s easy to be indecisive, wondering things like which courses I will enjoy most, what the contents of each course are, and which skills are important to help my future! Due to the addition of four new courses at WGSS next year, there are even more choices than before! 

Don’t worry! In this article, we will do a little breakdown of a couple of the new courses, including exclusive interviews with the teachers; hopefully, this article will help with your selections this course planning season! 

AP computer science A 

Prerequisite: Grade 11 or 12 with Computer Science 12 or AP Computer Science Principles, or permission of instructor 

With yet another advanced placement opportunity being offered at our school, this course is for computer science lovers who want to pursue the subject at a higher level! 

Behind the course: Because of the growing number of students showing interest in computer science, Mr. Fleming recognized the need for a more challenging course to prepare students for university-level computer science studies. As he explains, “There are so many students taking computer science, either Computer Science 12 or AP Computer Science Principles, that I thought they needed another level.” 

During this course, students can choose to take the AP exam! As AP courses are equivalent to a first-year university course, students can potentially receive university credit by taking the exam. Mr. Fleming assures that this course will “prepare the [students] for the content covered in a first-year computer science course.” Therefore, this course makes it very beneficial for students looking for potential careers in computer science. 

Students will tackle algorithmic problem-solving, hands-on coding exercises, and software development using Java programming throughout the semester. Mr. Fleming explains while the course may be more challenging to students than previously offered AP Computer Science Principles, he assures students that it is a “doable challenge” for those serious about pursuing computer science. In addition, he comments that this course will allow students to develop essential skills like analytical thinking. 

Moreover, he highlights the versatility of Java programming — the primary programming language studied in this course. He explains that “Java is a very popular and common language used in Android apps and object-oriented programming…[Students] will be able to apply their skills to create a variety of apps or programs, extending what they’ve learned to a higher level.” 

Why should I take this course: To students who may be uncertain about enrolling in the course, Mr. Fleming’s advice is clear: although a more challenging course, “if you plan to take computer science or are seriously considering it for university, this would be a good course to take.” 

Asian Studies 

Prerequisite:  Social Studies 10 and in Grade 11 or 12 

Have you ever touched on Asian history in your social class and wanted to learn more? Well, it’s no surprise; the complex and diverse nature of Asian history makes it fitting to have a course completely dedicated to it! 

Behind the course: Mr. Haney explains, “With most social classes, we don’t really get the chance to talk about Asians as a continent. So I thought it would be a good opportunity to allow students to kind of explore that content area.” Moreover, he plans to make this course more independent research-based as a result of his own high school experience: “I didn’t really learn how to research anything…it was just more like the teacher [telling] you stuff. I feel like this really allows students to pique their interest.” 

But what topics will students explore under the umbrella of Asian Studies? Mr. Haney says that the course will cover the period from 1850 to the present day. He outlines that “Asian Studies is a huge course, so [the curriculum] is going to kind of be like a themed-based course where we talk about themes like urbanization, industrialization, territorial disputes, and more” he emphasizes that students will have the opportunity to choose what they research and therefore develop this skill throughout the course. 

This course offers a comprehensive exploration of the continent’s history from the Middle East to Central Asia, South Asia, and East Asia. In terms of course structure, Mr. Haney emphasizes a project-based approach, allowing students to delve into topics of personal interest and develop valuable research skills. He explains, “It’ll be more project-focused, with students conducting independent research and presenting their findings.” 

Indeed, Asian Studies offers students a unique opportunity to develop research skills essential for success in university and beyond. Mr. Haney underscores the importance of research skills: “Being able to research enables students to look up academic sources and write coherent arguments based on their findings. This course serves as a valuable starting point for developing these skills.” 

Why should I take this course: Mr. Haney explains, “If it’s something you’re interested in, then you should do it. Asian Studies provides an opportunity to build skills and explore an area of study that students may not otherwise encounter.” 

Français à l’Oral et la Culture Francophone 

Prerequisite: All prior grade 8, 9 and 10 French Immersion courses 

A special opportunity for the French immersion Gators, the exciting course, “Français à l’Oral et la Culture Francophone,” explores the vibrant world of French language and culture. 

Behind the course: With a love for the French language, Mme. Anastasiou offers this course to give French immersion students a different learning experience. She shares her motivation: “I love French, and I feel like there’s never enough time to do all the fun things and really delve into it in the regular classroom setting. So I thought this would be a great place where people who actually really enjoy the subject can come and learn French in a little bit less textbook and more real-life and spontaneous way.” 

This new course offers students the opportunity to develop their French language skills while gaining a deeper appreciation for the Francophone world under the guidance of Mme. Anastasiou. From readings to videos, films, songs, and French television, students will engage with a variety of course materials that reflect the richness and diversity of Francophone culture. This course will incorporate current content sourced from different regions where French is spoken, providing a holistic understanding of the language and its cultural aspects. 

Mme. Anastasiou explains, “I [will] be using a lot of what’s current…like movies, music, YouTube videos, magazines, pretty much just pulling from all sorts of media and texts…[it’s about] focusing on what’s being spoken currently, what people are interested in terms of culture whether it be pop culture or cinema.” 

Mme. Anastasiou further highlights that “learning a second language is beneficial in itself…whether it’s for travelling, continuing at university, or [getting] a job that requires French.” She even speaks from personal experience that knowing French opened up numerous opportunities for her in terms of work and travel. Indeed, the potential career paths for French speakers are diverse, ranging from teaching and government positions to roles in tourism and translation. Mme. Anastasiou emphasizes, “We live in a bilingual country, so there are plenty of local career opportunities where French language skills are valued.” 

Why should I take this course: We all know that learning a language is tough, and this course is a fantastic way to introduce a more fun and engaging aspect of the French language! Students can speak more functional and conversational French from this course, and their language skills will significantly improve. In her own words, “If you like French or want to improve, it’s just going to be an opportunity to have fun and play around with the language. Experience it in a completely different way than in your previous French classes and actually see where and how it’s being used outside of a classroom.” 

History of Math 

Prerequisite: any Mathematics 10 course. It is recommended that students have ability in algebra and writing. 

Have you ever wondered about the fascinating origins of the mathematical concepts we use today? Well, get ready to embark on an exciting journey through time with the new course, “History of Math,” at our school. 

Behind the course: Inspired by a passion for mathematics and a desire to ignite students’ interest in the subject, the teacher behind this innovative course, Mr. Lowes shares his journey: “When I was in university, I took a history of math class [and it was] probably one of my all-time favourite classes. So when I saw it as part of the grade 11 curriculum, I thought that I could bring that enjoyment of math back into high school, where a lot of people don’t enjoy math.” 

From ancient Babylonian times, approximately 7,000 years ago, to the present day, students will explore the evolution of mathematical concepts and the contributions of mathematicians throughout history. The course structure will include a blend of historical exploration and hands-on activities, such as writing papers about mathematicians from different time periods and experiencing ancient methods of mathematical computation. Mr. Lowes adds that the course will look not only at the historical aspects and contributions of math but also at science and the world in general. He also emphasizes the unique approach of the course: “We’ll be adding and subtracting the way the ancient Babylonians did in base 60, and we’ll be looking at some geometry from the ancient Greeks, or how to construct an equilateral triangle without measuring.” 

Of course, some background knowledge in algebra is helpful, but the course may actually be beneficial to students who struggle with traditional math classes. Described as “socials on the subject of math,” Mr. Lowes elaborates that the course offers a refreshing perspective on the subject by providing a historical context and exploring alternative methods of mathematical computation. As he explains, “It’s kind of less strenuously focused on mathematical calculations and more on that social look at math.” 

Why should I take this course: As this course is such a new concept here at WGSS, Mr Lowes advises to just “give it a try. If you like math but don’t like all those heavy calculus and precalculus calculations and methods…[this course] looks at math from more of a history side, [and] it’s a viable alternative for your math credit.” 

Hopefully, this article helped you just a bit in making a decision for course planning! For more information on these new courses, visit the wgss.ca “courses” tab.

 ( https://wgsscourseguide.ca/department/ )

Special thank you to Mr. Fleming, Mme. Anastasiou, Mr. Haney, and Mr. Lowes for the interviews! 

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Andrea Ho

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