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Humanities redesign

Northwood’s favorite two-year, four-class course is undergoing a curriculum overhaul as English and history teachers come together to redesign the Humanities Core.

The new class structures, which have come into effect this year, include much more cross-curricular collaboration than just the anchor, with the Humanities 9 students kicking off the school year with a joint project between the two classes. Teachers hope that this will teach students to think of the courses in a more interwoven way, especially on the history side, than previous years may have.

“In the past, students would say ‘I hated doing it, but the anchor was probably one of the best things that I ever did in preparation for college,’” Humanities 10 English teacher Christina Banagas-Engelerdt said. “It’s not the content they’re talking about; it was the the skills they got from that assignment. The redesign is just a focus on trying to get more of those skills.”

The curriculum has not seen major modification since 2000, but a change in the state’s history Common Core framework in 2015 incited a spark in teachers from both departments.

“We saw it as an opportunity, since the the state is changing everything, to blow everything up and do everything we really wanted to do,” Humanities 9 History teacher Bryan Hoang said.

Of course, this new vision does not come without some serious changes to the courses. For instance, the freshman are no longer reading Shakespeare’s infamous “Romeo and Juliet,” which has been replaced with “Julius Caesar,” and are also being exposed to newer material like the hit Broadway production “Hamilton.”

“It’s meaningful because we’re stressing historical thinking, analysis and sourcing skills that can be taken outside into the real world,” Humanities 10 History teacher Steven Plette said.

With the beginning of this transformation in action, the only thing left to do is see how it goes, and adapt along the way.

“I think any time you get something new you’re just like, ‘I’m not sure how it’s gonna all play out,’ and we have that same idea when we’re planning something new,” Banagas-Engelerdt said. “You want it to work really well, and you won’t know until you get all the way through it.