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A Guide to Our Curriculum at Sora

Students design their curriculum with faculty

Our curriculum is custom-made in collaboration between our Learning Experts and each student to suit their specific interests and learning goals. Students design a journey that not only includes the required high school subjects, but also important financial literacy skills, ethics, design thinking, and life skills such as time management and professional communication.

No Traditional Lecture-Based Classes

Students learn at Sora in two major ways: Independent Projects, and Learning Expeditions.

Sora Academics

At Sora, students progress academically through Projects and Learning Expeditions.

Independent Projects at Sora

Students work on independent projects based on what they’re interested in learning or studying–anything from computer science to 18th century Victorian fashion. 

When a student works on a project, they mark what academic standards or Skills they’re learning in their project plan. Once a student decides to include a Skill in their project, they work with our Learning Experts to scaffold learning resources and create a project plan to complete their work. 

Students work on at least 1 individual project every month, and they meet with a member of our faculty to maintain accountability and guide them towards their project goal and deliverables.

Learning Expeditions at Sora

Once a month, students sign up for month-long Learning Expeditions that capture their interest. These expeditions are somewhat similar to a class, but they aren’t lectures. They’re socratic discussions, projects, labs, and other active-learning based formats. 

Students earn academic credit based on the material covered in the Learning Expedition. Expeditions have deliverables that our Learning Experts will assess to determine what a student has learned and to what degree in our Mastery scale.

Students in Learning Expeditions meet synchronously at select times throughout the week (ex. 2 days per week). They participate in at least 2 Learning Expeditions per month.

Mastery-Based Curriculum

At Sora, our curriculum is measured and assessed at the academic standard level. These academic standards, or Skills, add up to all of the required high school academic subjects in Math, Science, English, and History. As students work in Learning Expeditions and work on their Projects, they demonstrate competency and even mastery over these Skills. Through this Mastery-based system, we are able to evaluate students holistically and fairly, and students have multiple chances and ways to demonstrate their knowledge.

Skills are evaluated on a Mastery scale from 0 to 4

We call these mastery levels on the scale, “Stars”. Students need an average of 2.5 stars per skill to graduate.

  • 0 means that student has no exposure to the skill
  • 1 (Recognition and Recall) means that student is aware of the concept, can call it by name, has yet to apply it
  • 2 (Meaning and Intent) means that student can explain or translate into their own words.
  • 3 (Application) means that student is applying the skill to new situations and real-life circumstances.
  • 4 (World Class Work) means that student has applied their learning in a nuanced way, multiple times.

Students Graduate From Sora By Completing Every Skill

Students progress academically at Sora by completing all Skills. We have over 272 skills at Sora to complete for graduation requirements.

Graduation Requirements at Sora​

Sora has one graduation certificate, the diploma, which carries with it the school’s recommendation to college. The program of study leading to graduation requires a minimum of 22 units taken while at the high school.

Core Subject Requirements

English (4 units)

Mathematics (4 units) 

History/Social Science (3) units

World Languages (2+ units)

Science (4 units) 

Physical Education (1 unit)

Additional Requirements

Financial Literacy

Design and Creation

Philosophy, Logic, Ethics

Life and Professional Skills

The following is an overview of our core subjects. This may read as a course list, however we do not host classes at Sora. Each of the subjects and units are broken down into standards for students to master (in any order) with their projects. 

Math is a continuous journey of practice and application at Sora. The following “buckets” will be covered through project-based learning and guided online platform work like Khan Academy. 

Algebra I (optional)

This is a set of standards that cover the foundations of Algebra. First year students may enter Sora with prior credit in this subject area. Topics covered include functions, linear equations, roots, quadratic equations. 

Algebra II

Algebra II standards at Sora cover linear, quadratic, higher-degree polynomial, exponential, logarithmic, and piecewise functions. A major component is a focus on problem-solving, which by definition involves investigating unfamiliar situations. Students will be asked to apply ideas, tools, and reasoning from across their project and educational experience to address real world problems. 

Geometry/Trigonometry

Topics covered include solving right and oblique triangles, properties of polygons and circles, surface area and volume of three-dimensional geometric solids, and the properties and notation associated with various geometric transformations. Students will also learn and apply the law of sines and cosines. 

Pre-Calculus

Topics covered include mastery of vectors, scalars, matrices, the unit circle, and graphing. This set of standards is meant to prepare students with foundations for college-level Calculus as well as practical skills to graph and interpret scientific data. 

Statistics

This emphasizes student explorations of statistical problems in the real world. Major themes are exploratory analysis of data; design of data collection, including experiments and observational studies; probability as a descriptor of the patterns that emerge in random phenomena; and statistical inference as implemented both in hypothesis tests and in confidence procedures. 

Calculus (optional)

Emphasizes a multi-representational approach to calculus with concepts, results, and problems expressed geometrically, analytically, numerically, and verbally. Standards cover limits, the concept of the derivative, computational techniques, and interpretations and applications of derivatives. Upon completion, students are prepared for the subsequent integral calculus portion and additional topics covered in AP Calculus BC.

Students are welcome to pursue the following Math AP exams.

AP Calculus AB

Emphasizes a multi-representational approach to calculus, with concepts, results, and problems expressed geometrically, numerically, analytically, and verbally. Skills cover limits, the concept of the derivative, computation and applications of derivatives, techniques and applications of anti-differentiation, the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, separable differential equations and slope fields, interpretations, properties and numerical approximations of the definite integral, and applications of integrals. All students take the AP Calculus AB Exam.

AP Calculus BC

This covers all the topics of AP Calculus AB starting with applications of the derivative. In addition, this covers the calculus of polar, parametric, and vector forms, differential equations, slope fields, Euler’s Method, more advanced techniques of anti-differentiation, improper integrals, and power series. All students take the AP Calculus BC Exam.

AP Statistics

AP Statistics is organized around four basic themes; exploring data planning and conducting a study; probability and its role in anticipating patterns in distributions of data; and statistical inference using point estimation, confidence intervals, and significance tests. All students take the AP Stats exam.

Science is at the core of every student project at Sora. From neuroscience to ballistics, students incorporate skills from the following buckets throughout their journey with us. Students complete 4 science subjects to graduate. Biology, Physical Science, and Chemistry or Earth Science are the required science subjects. 

Beyond the core subjects, students select one Advanced Science subject to work on. Any advanced science subjects students select will be added to their dashboard and hence their roadmap to graduation.

 

Biology

This set of standards revolve around virtual laboratory-based experiments that emphasize an exploration of scientific inquiry, developing experiments, analyzing data, and writing effectively. Students engage actively in the process of scientific inquiry and discovery while simultaneously mastering the basics of biological chemistry, cell physiology, energetics, molecular biology, evolution, genetics, reproduction, and animal physiology. In addition to virtual labs and workshops, students are encourages to incorporate Biology skills into their project-work.

Chemistry

Includes the following topics: atomic structure, nomenclature, stoichiometry, periodicity, bonding, states of matter, gas laws, kinetics, equilibrium, acid-base, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, nuclear and organic chemistry. There is a focus on higher-level analytical problem-solving.

Physics

This is a rigorous set of standards including all or most of the following topics: kinematics, Newton’s laws, gravitation, energy, torque, electrostatics, electric circuits, magnetism, sound waves, light, optics, and topics in modern physics. There is a focus on higher-level analytical problem-solving with student projects.

Physical Science

This is a less rigorous set of standards revolving around Newton’s laws, gravity, force, energy, and waves. Students build core skills to construct projects revolving around kinematics and energy transfer.

Planetary and Earth Science

This variety of standards cover core Earth science topics such as volcanic activity, earth’s core and climate change. Students will also study and apply concepts in orbital mechanics, star energy and form an understanding of the importance of water.

Advanced science subjects include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Advanced Physics
  • Oceanography
  • Micro-Biology
  • Forensic Science
  • Zoology
  • Biology Labs
  • Computer Science

Students are welcome to pursue the following Science AP exams

AP Biology

Topics of study and virtual lab work (and observation) fall within four themes required for a deep understanding of the biological sciences. These themes include evolution, cellular processes, genetics and information transfer, and interactions. Additionally, these standards are designed to enhance critical thinking and inquiry, including designing experiments and analyzing project data. Must take AP Biology exam in the Spring.

AP Chemistry

For highly motivated students with a genuine interest in chemistry. Must take College Board AP exam in the spring.

History is contextual at Sora. Students can cover history topics in their projects from relevant time periods, all the way up to present day 2020. The following are the three main “buckets” of skills covered at Sora. We also place a huge emphasis on empathy and understanding of other cultures and perspectives. This theme is clear in our workshops and advisement on projects.

History of the Ancient World

Topics range across the period (4th century BCE-15th century CE) and include the society and politics of republican and imperial Rome, the Islamic Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and medieval Europe. Students are also responsible for analyzing macro trends in ancient history such as early language, cities, agrarian societies, trade, etc.

History of the Modern World

Topics cover the post-15th century CE period in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and include the rise of Western political and military power, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, imperialism and colonial empire building, revolutions and reactions, industrialization and technological development, international conflict, the benefits and costs of economic growth, the spread of and resistance to democracy, and the challenges of modern globalization.

United States History

Covers a range of topics in American history, from the Columbian 15th century and European colonization to the Revolutionary and early-national periods, Jeffersonian and Jacksonian democracy, the Civil War, industrialization and urbanization, becoming a world power, the impact of liberalism and conservatism, the challenges of the post-Cold War world, and present day civil rights.

English at Sora is a continuous journey that includes mastering the skills below. Each of these skills is tracked on a continuum for students to see where they are in their development of each skill. Different criteria are benchmarked on the continuum for students to reach based upon their goals (e.g. publishing a novel, college readiness, copywriting work, etc). 

  • Storytelling: Student’s ability to confidently share a compelling narrative.
  • Active Listening: Student’s ability to hold eye contact, follow the conversational path, and intelligently respond to drive the discussion forward.
  • Leading Group Discussion: Student’s ability to guide a group conversation while still respecting and engaging every participant.
  • Citing Sources: Utilize textual evidence or direct quotes to support an argument or claim.
  • Themes and Tropes: Determine a theme or central idea of text and closely analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details.
  • Character Development: Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
  • Writing Techniques: Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
  • Analyzing Multimedia: Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
  • Critical Reading: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
  • Primary Source Analysis: Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare as well as one play by an American dramatist.)
  • World Literature Analysis: Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century foundational works (of American Literature, British Literature, World Literature, or Multicultural Literature), including how two or more texts from the same period treat similar themes or topics.
  • Informative Writing: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • Narrative: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • Research: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • Sourcing and Integration: Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and over-reliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.

Students receive 4 units of English Language/Literature through this continuous structure that spans project, research, professional, and humanities work.

As global citizens, students at Sora are language learners. While we allow students to learn any language they’d like, we currently provide learning support for Spanish and French (and soon Mandarin). Our language program consists of Duolingo software, language group meetups, and 1:1s with our World Language Guides to set goals, practice, and track progress.

  • Listening Comprehension: Understand multiple ideas and topics delivered in a standard accent and dialect without having to ask for repetition often.
  • Reading Comprehension: Process text, understand its meaning, and to integrate with what is already known.
  • Spoken Interaction: Express knowledge, feelings, ideas and suggestions through oral communication, correct errors and maintain conversation.
  • Spoken Production: Organize and express verbal content with minimal errors and able to correct these errors upon reflection.
  • Written Production: Organize and express written content with minimal errors and able to correct these errors upon review.
  • Strategies: The ability to defend oneself and conscientiously correct mistakes.
  • Quality of Language: Communicate with language in a manner that is useful and which aides in understanding.
  • Global Comprehension: Understand the world around you, starting with
    a very general idea or fist of a conversation after the
    first or second listen, leading to over-hearing
    and understanding conversations from afar
    and comprehending the interaction with near
    complete accuracy.
  • Oral CommunicativeCompetence: Express communicative intent and utilize creativity in the communication process.
  • Emergent Comprehension: Accurately understand the language in stressful situations or under pressure.
  • Emergent Communication: Successfully communicate needs and ideas in a stressful situation or under pressure.
  • Creative Writing: Manipulate the language in interesting and demanding ways to express uniquely personal meanings and display invention and imagination.
  • Spelling: Write out the language with minimal error.
  • Pronunciation: Use correct sounds to speak each word.
  • Expansive Vocabulary: Describe and articulate ideas with a range of words.
  • Improvisation: Invent, fabricate, and arrange using what is conveniently on hand.
  • Word Retention: Recall newly learned vocabulary without difficulty.

In addition to meeting the subject-based graduation requirements, students will also leave Sora as effective and professional communicators, with skills to scaffold solutions to real world problems. Our project-based learning model helps hone their design thinking skills and develop empathy for the people around them. Throughout their time with us, students are seeking and finding mentors in their field of interest that can give them feedback on their projects and path along the way. This is all towards students being able to make a conscious, purposeful decision of what’s next after high school, based on well-articulated and developed goals and interests. 

Students at Sora Receive The Mastery-Based Transcript

Our program packages all of the individual Skills, or academic standards, back into their academic subjects and produces a mastery-based transcript for colleges and institutions of higher education. We use the innovative transcript format designed by the Mastery Transcript Consortium used by hundreds of other innovative schools across the United States.

We also feature students’ top projects and accomplishments right at the top of the transcript, so admissions counselors have more context into the in-depth work performed by students at Sora. This is important because they get to see the student’s work that represents deep knowledge and interest in a certain field or subject. This also helps students draw a clear path of their journey through our program, adding context and color to their decisions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do students complete all of these Skills?

Students are responsible for hitting a certain “pace” per monthly cycle. This is a simple calculation of their total Stars required to graduate, divided by their weeks left until graduation. To make pace, students participate in expeditions, incorporate skills into their projects, and self-study using asynchronous resources curated on Sora Home. 

Students can also choose to take AP exams

Often, students are able to receive AP-level credit for their project work, especially for longer, more in-depth projects. Students can elect to order Spring AP exams at the beginning of the Fall semester. We will also add structured guidance for each AP to their yearly path with us. 

How do I know if my student is progressing?

Every student and parent at Sora have a personal online dashboard for the student’s learning journey, where they can view academic progress, Skills earned, and set Learning Goals.

How do students learn Math?

Students have Math Learning Guides that meet with students weekly to set goals and do 1:1 check-ins. They also host math challenges with students on similar levels and partner with each learner to pair their project and Expedition work with their math goals.  

Ready to attend a high school unlike any other?