9th Grade Curriculum

The 9th grade curriculum engages the realm of abstract thinking and objectivity. In the freshman year, students practice accurate observation and clear recollection in various contexts. Students face creative challenges in the classes. They work within restricted parameters to learn universal rules and systems of reasoning and process.


9th Grade - Core Curriculum

Humanities &
World Languages

Math & Science

Fine & Technical Arts
  Comedy & Tragedy
History Through Art
German I-III
Advanced German IV/V
Spanish I-III
Advanced Spanish IV/V
World Exchange Program
  Algebra I
Algebra I/II
Independent Math Study
Permutations & Combs.
Human Biology I 
Organic Chemistry
Thermal Physics
  Black & White Drawing
Block Printing
Clay Sculpture

Music &

Movement &
Interest Groups

Electives, Field Trips (FT),
& Service Learning (SL)
  African Drumming
Chamber Ensemble
Beginning Guitar
Guitar Ensemble
Improvisational Ensemble
Jazz Band
Vocal Ensemble

Spanish Club
Student Leadership


Creative Writing
Current Events/World Issues
Literary Journal
Yearbook Staff
Agriculture (FT)
Homestead Farm, WI (SL):
-learning farm operations




The class explores three eras in Western theater: Ancient Greece, Elizabethan England, and twentieth century America. Students study plays from each period, examine the questions with which people wrestled, and consider how theater served as a platform for the exploration of these questions. The class introduces students to thesis-driven essays and literary analysis. For the final project, students may choose to build one of the three stages (the Greek theater, the Globe theater, or a proscenium stage), design costumes and character boards for a play, or memorize, rehearse, and perform a short scene from a play. 

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. 

This class begins with an introduction to the Modern, Post-Modern, and Classical Realist movements. After this orientation, students study the art and peoples of the Paleolithic era, continuing with the cultures of the ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans, the Early Medieval art and icon painting, the sculpture and stained glass windows of the Gothic Cathedrals, and the Italian and Northern Renaissance. Students compare the lives and works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Dürer, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. Students create at least one or more drawings from each day’s study to complement their notes for the day.

This class addresses three political revolutions: the American, French, and Chinese. The class begins with an overview of the three-fold social organization and the idea that major imbalances in this organization are almost always at the heart of any revolution. Students study the events in the American colonies which lead directly up to the revolution, plunge right into the action of the French revolution that ends with the execution of Robespierre, and finally, examine Confucius' role in Chinese culture and consider how nineteenth-century trade relationships with powerful western countries influenced the dramatic end of the Qing Dynasty. Students create a presentation, complete with artistic element and written text, on a revolution not covered in class.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Columbia, Chile, Austria, Switzerland, Korea, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan, France, and Peru, among others.


First, the class reviews and then develops greater facility in working with fractions, signed numbers, order of operations, and the distributive property. Next, students simplify expressions and linear equations, then solve algebraic equations. Students progress into the intersection of Algebra and Geometry - graphing. The class next moves into polynomials, including their characteristics, performing operations on them, using the distributive property, the FOIL method, and special products. The class also works with exponents, positive integral exponents, and negative integral exponents. From polynomial simplification, the class proceeds to the exact opposite operation, polynomial factoring. By the end of this factoring unit, the class masters factoring out the Greatest Common Factor, factoring trinomials, and the difference of squares.

The focus of this class is helping students develop mathematical thinking. Students determine mathematical relationships between all operations and numbers, use this knowledge to model situations with mathematics, and reason about these situations abstractly and quantitatively. The concepts students apply conceptually in the realm of pure mathematics and then model and evaluate real world situations are as follows: real number system, expressions and equations, graphs, functions, linear relationships, exponents and radicals, polynomials, quadratic relationships, introduction to trigonometry, complex numbers, linear algebra, exponential functions, and transformations.

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.

Students work with the concept of expected value and develop a mathematical analysis based on an area model for probability. Probabilistic thinking is often counterintuitive; for this reason, the activities in this unit model concrete experiences. The gambler's fallacy that the next roll of the dice depends on previous rolls is held with conviction even by well-informed adults. One goal of this unit is for students to recognize this fallacy, both in dice games and in real-life situations. More broadly, students come to understand theoretical probability and see how and when it can be used to model and give insight into every day situations.

This class studies all aspects of agricultural practice “from farm to table”. Students compare and contrast ancient agricultural practices with modern ones and large-scale industrial food systems with local systems. They also explore the practical implications of a more sustainable food system. Moreover, students gain skills to make informed choices about their own eating habits and how they can support the food systems they believe to be best for their health and the health of the Earth.  

This class begins with the consideration of several seminal insights that marked the birth of geology as a science. The freshmen learn of the geological phenomena that led Wegener to his idea of continental drift. They consider a series of discoveries (paleomagnetism, seafloor spreading, etc.) that contributed to the modern view of plate tectonics. Concepts such as mantle convection, converging and diverging plate boundaries, and hot spots illuminate many geological riddles that characterize our earth. The class concludes with a consideration of glaciers and the part they played in shaping the current topography of Illinois.

This class begins with a focus on the human sensory organization. After an extensive consideration of the eye and vision, students explore the sense of balance and the kinesthetic sense. The second part of the class involves observations and reflections on the human skeleton, which include comparative studies of human and animal skulls, and how the human foot develops over time in the process of learning to stand and walk.

This class considers chemical aspects of major life processes that occur in plants, animals, and human beings. The goal of the class is to discover something about the chemistry of life. What chemical transformations can we attribute to life? The class focuses on developing skills and background in chemistry and provides opportunities to explore experimental methods. Subsequently, students observe or execute experiments that demonstrate aspects of important life-related processes. The class examines the nature of gases, our dependence on fossil fuels, photosynthesis and respiration, and fermentation and distillation.

Thermal physics addresses concepts of heat and cold. Through historical investigation, experimentation, and observation, students experience, characterize, and conceptualize the following: the expansion and contraction of solids, liquids, and gases; the three methods of heat energy transfer; the ideal gas law; Lord Kelvin's hypothesis of an absolute coldest temperature; phase diagrams; and the special thermal properties of water. Students learn the story of the development of precise thermometry and calibrate their own thermometers. Finally, students learn about technologies that use the laws of thermodynamics, including the thermostat, the four-stroke combustion engine, the steam engine, and the Stirling engine.


Students learn how tones of light and dark reveal form. They draw each other's portraits in profile, 3/4 profile, and full face. They work in both charcoal and graphite on white paper, and white chalk and pencils on black paper. Students draw from imagination and work out tonal plane relationships. Many of the skills are used again in block printing.

Students design individual pieces from observation and from imagination to illustrate a theme. The class engraves both rubber and linoleum blocks and, time permitting, woodblocks. Students complete at least two designs and print ten consistently-inked copies for each. Students are evaluated on design, line quality, printing consistency, and class participation.

This class begins with the study of skeleton letters and the Black Letter hand. After working in pencil, students progress to pen and ink. They learn to find the correct height for each hand using the width of the pen nibs. Using triangles, t-squares, and protractors, students rule out their own practice sheets and find the correct pen angle for each hand. The final project is to produce a large page with a quotation chosen by the student in Black Letter, with illuminated block letters incorporating two colors, plus black. Students add an illustration related to the verse to fit around the lettering. 

Using clay introduces the class to the basic elements of sculpture: concavity, convexity, double bent curves, and the interaction between flat and curved planes. Students work with additive and reductive approaches. Focus themes are selected based on the needs and interests of the class, but polarity is always one of the foci. 

This is an introductory class in the art of acting, introducing the ninth graders to basic speech exercises, physical warm-ups, and theatre games inspired by the work of Viola Spolin. In addition, the students enact scenes from the plays they read in their History of Theatre class, memorize their lines, and block the scene with their scene partners. The class culminates in a presentation of the scenes to an invited audience. 

Handwork includes learning manual skills in felting, crocheting, knitting, sewing, basketry, weaving, dyeing, and bookbinding. These skills are taught to aid students' dexterity, focus, motor-coordination and integrative capacities. Many studies have shown that such kinesthetic learning amplifies cognitive skills: so the patterning works aids in the conception of mathematical patterns and systems operations in higher order mathematics. Similarily, experimentation with materials and transformative processes connect the students to scientific exploration and enhance their undersanding of the physical properties and chemical underpinnings of our world.

This course introduces students to basic metal working skills through forming a bowl and stand. They cut a circle from a flat sheet of copper using a jeweler’s saw. They learn to anneal using the kiln and then begin to sink the bowl using ball peen hammers. The students facet the surface by planishing. The students use their left-over copper to design and form a support for their bowl.

This course introduces the history, techniques, and art of film photography. Major topics include: history of photography, camera equipment, lenses and focal length, shutter speeds, aperture and depth of field, light, and composition. Darkroom work includes film and print developing. Students learn to “see well” and think critically about their pictures. They work on the elements that combine to make an image, including subject, light, background, and space around the subject.


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 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. 

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.

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. 

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.  

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 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.

High school members of the Student Social Action Council created the Peaceful Action for a Community of Tolerance (PACT) group to invest in activities raising community and student body awareness to issues of inclusion, diversity, communication, and negotiation for the expression and health of the community. PACT members take an active role in representing the student perspective in community dialogues.

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.

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.



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.

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.

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.

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.

Students taking the agriculture block spend three days in field trips visiting local urban initiatives and rural farming institutions to learn about sustainable agriculture.

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.

The entire 9th grade spends two weeks at the Community Homestead Farm in Osceola, Wisconsin. They staff a variety of work crews that undertake many projects essential for the operations of the farm.


9th graders study the dramatic events of The American Revolution and Civil Rights Movement