Malone Schools Online Network Courses

MSON courses provide Winchester Thurston students with the opportunity to take special topic courses offered by select private schools around the country. Courses use a blended approach, combining synchronous, real-time video conferencing seminars delivered in high-definition classroom set-ups, with asynchronous instruction such as recorded lectures and exercises students complete outside of the class. Courses are taught by faculty from the Malone Scholars Schools and the Stanford Online High School. Each course has a minimum of six and a maximum of 16 students, allowing for a highly interactive, virtual discussion seminar setting. Courses meet twice each week for an hour and are either one semester (September through December or January to mid-May) or year-long.


  • Attendance in class is required: Students may not miss more than five class periods in a semester. However, students can login to their class from home if they have the required technology.
  • Students who enroll in an MSON class that overlaps with the time of a WT class must receive permission from their WT instructors to leave his/her class early or come to class late.
  • Students are responsible for carefully reading the course syllabus and policies for attendance, assignment requirements, due dates, and grading policies.
  • All enrollments for MSON courses will require approval from the Director of Upper School and the Director of eLearning.
  • MSON courses cannot be used to meet departmental core requirements.
  • Courses and grades earned are listed on Winchester Thurston transcripts.

2019 - 2020 Course Offerings

Fall Courses

Humanities and Social Sciences

Building Utopia

Fall Semester

TEACHER: Mary Ellen Carsley, Severn School, Severna Park, MD

Prerequisite: None; background in Ancient and European History recommended.
Target Grade Level: 9-12

Utopia, “a good place,” as defined by the Greeks, is a term coined by Sir Thomas More referring to a fictional ideal island society. The act of intentionally shaping one’s environment to be “a good place” modeled after sustainability, economy, and delight is a uniquely human endeavor. This semester long study examines the course of Western Architecture from the Ancient Egyptians to the 21st century through the lens of the primary philosophic ideas that have been the drivers of aesthetic vision of Western civilization architecture through the ages. The course will offer an introduction to design principles, the visual language of architecture, and design analysis. The necessities, desires, and spiritual beliefs which go into the shaping of a culture’s aesthetic vision of their ideal built environment will be examined in a series of seven units of the course of the semester:

  1. Forming the Human Universe: Mark Making and the Necessity of Shelter
  2. Creativity and Humankind: Beauty Defined and the Building of Civilizations
  3. Immortality and the Gods: Building for the Greater Glory
  4. Getting Perspective: Perfect Geometry in Design and Building in the Humanist and Rational World
  5. Power and Production: Society and the Machine
  6. Modern Utopia and the Architect’s Vision: Shaping an Individual World
  7. Back to the Future: Palimpsest and Irony

Time: Monday / Wednesday, 3:35-4:35 p.m. EST

Diversity in a Global Comparative Perspective

Fall Semester

TEACHER: John Aden, Canterbury School, Ft. Wayne, IN

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

This course examines the ways our Human Family has sought to create, marshal, contest, and maintain identities through Culture and relations of power. These identities can be appreciated through “lenses of analysis.” The course critically engages the traditional “Big Three” lenses of analysis: Race, Class, and Gender, understanding that Culture serves as an important backdrop against which these identities emerge. Once students appreciate the important ways the Social Sciences have engaged with, written about, and debated these three core modes of analysis, the course expands to incorporate other, equally rich, lenses: age, ableism, intellectual diversity, geographic diversity, cognitive and neurological diversity, and the business case for Diversity, as well as how to study synergistically intertwined phenomena. Film and Critical Film Studies, as well as the role Colonialism has played in the major conflicts of the last 500 years, each serve to enrich student understandings of Diversity.

Time: Tuesday / Thursday 3:35 – 4:35 p.m. EST

Stolen Lives: Captivity in History and Contemporary Contexts

Fall Semester

Target Grade Level: 11-12

Prerequisite: Previous or concurrent enrollment in a US or World History course preferred.
TEACHER: Emily Wardrop, Casady School, Oklahoma City, OK

Captive taking and enslavement have been near-universal trends among human societies throughout history. Traditionally, the majority of these captives were young women and children. This course will explore captivity in a variety of contexts, beginning with a broad survey of captive-taking practices worldwide and an examination of the crucial role that captives have played not only in delineating the differences between nations, but also serving as cultural mediators, purveyors of new technology, and agents of change. Students will then read a variety of captivity narratives, discerning the patterns, themes, and tropes of this genre and comparing narratives across time and cultures. The final section of the course will focus on instances of modern-day captivity including, the treatment and fate of incarcerated individuals, victims of human trafficking, and non-human captives.

Time: Wednesday / Friday 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. EST

Playing God? The Ethics of Biomedical Advancements

Fall Semester

Target Grade Level: 11-12 (Occasionally tenth graders, at the recommendation of home school administrator)

No Prerequisite
TEACHERS: Ellen Johnson, Wilmington Friends, Wilmington, DE and Joyce Lazier, Canterbury School, Ft. Wayne, IN

The objective of this course is to provide students with the tools and experience necessary to better make difficult, ethical decisions. In order to achieve this, we will study and evaluate critically several different ethical theories including Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics, and Deontology. Which framework students choose to use as their guide is up to them, but by the end of this course they should be able to defend their choices and ethical decisions clearly. The course strives to develop a cross conversation between two academic disciplines - philosophy (ethics) and biology (medical research, molecular genetics). This is a collaborative teaching effort between Joyce Lazier (background in philosophy and ethics) and Ellen Johnson (background in biology and genetics), and an evolution of two previously existing courses. Both teachers will be present for all classes, focusing on the growth that comes from a shared discourse.

Time: Wednesday / Friday, 3:35 - 4:35 p.m. EST

Positive Psychology

Fall Semester

TEACHER: Blake Keogh, Waynflete School, Portland, ME

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 10-12

This course begins by providing a historical context of positive psychology within broader psychological research, and helps explain why the field is of particular importance to those in a high school or college setting. Students will be introduced to the primary components and related functions of the brain in order to understand the biological foundation of our emotional experiences. Current research will be used to develop a broader sense of what positive psychology is and is not, and how it can be applied in students’ own lives. Additionally, students will gain an understanding of basic research methods and their application to the science of psychology.

This course will require substantial reading (sometimes on par with 100 level college courses) and writing. Students will be asked to reflect regularly on their individual experiences in order to integrate course material into their daily lives. One of the key learning outcomes is to have each participant identify his or her own strengths while simultaneously recognizing and respecting the attributes others bring to the course.

Time: Monday / Thursday 3:35-4:35 p.m. EST

Think Global, Debate Local

Fall Semester

TEACHER: Dan Jacobs, Roeper School, Bloomfield Hills, MI

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

Water justice. Gentrification. Housing. Education. Race Relations. Public Safety. Environmental Issues.Is it wrong to shut off water service to households that are delinquent on their water bills? When forced to choose, should a city invest limited funds in education or public safety? Should cities and states focus more on improving neighborhoods or enticing business investments? When in conflict, should environmental issues take priority over the needs of businesses?

Many cities in the United States (and around the world) struggle with these and other challenges. In Debate Local, Think Global, we use our local experiences to take deep dives into the facts and philosophies underlying the challenges, values, and perspectives that shape our cities, neighborhoods, and homes, and that form the foundation of our experiences within them.

The overarching goal of this course is for students to teach each other about important topics in their own neighborhoods, towns, states, and regions, and to use debate as a tool to examine the arguments surrounding those topics. Other goals include: achieving a better understanding of complex issues by taking on and arguing for the viewpoints of various stakeholders; discovering ways to shift from an adversarial to a cooperative relationship when disagreements arise; and understanding the ways different values can be used as filters through which to view a given issue.

Time: Tuesday/Friday 4:40-5:40 p.m. EST


Introduction to Organic Chemistry

Fall Semester

TEACHER: Jocelyn Rodgers, Maret School, Washington, D.C.

Prerequisite: Completion of Chemistry
Target Grade Level: 11-12

This semester course will provide useful background information in organic chemistry by covering topics not typically found in high school chemistry courses. The course will give insight into the importance of the chemistry of carbon compounds to our daily lives. Topics covered will include organic nomenclature, structural formulas, stereochemistry, bonding, reaction mechanisms, and chemical transformations of functional groups. Completion of the course should make students more confident in their chemical background when entering college biology or chemistry courses.

Spring Courses

Humanities and Social Sciences

Creative Non-Fiction Writing Workshop: If Only You Could See This Place

Spring Semester (Alternating year offering)

TEACHER: Susan Conley, Waynflete School, Portland, ME

No prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

How do we write great non-fiction (and this includes all flavors of essays – college essays, literary journalism, memoir, and more), so that our stories have an injection of narrative tension that invites the reader to sit down inside our stories and stay awhile? This workshop will help you become a better writer so that your stories contain an electrical charge that starts at the sentence level and travels through the entire piece. This tension, or electrical charge, is the engine that great non-fiction runs on. Students will search the places in one’s life that have mattered most, and using a series of fun writing prompts, generate new writing, using place as a portal to help land on the life stories that students’ most want to tell. Later, the class will move into class workshops of each student’s work. Each session will also look at other specific craft aspects: primarily beginnings, endings, and the weaving of multiple story lines in one essay. This is an ideal course for juniors beginning to think about ideas and drafts of their personal essay for college.

Time: Tuesday / Thursday, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. EST

American Voice, American Speech: Word as Action From Annie Bardstreet to Donald Trump

Spring Semester (Alternating year offering)

TEACHER: Sharon Louise Howell, Indian Springs School, Indian Springs, AL

Prerequisite: Completion of US History (may be concurrent)
Target Grade Level: 11-12

In this course, students will listen across history to the American voice—from Bradstreet and John Winthrop, through Franklin, Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Jacobs, Douglass, Twain, Cole Porter, James Baldwin, and Gertrude Stein, to MLK, Dylan, Steinem, and Obama. We will listen to music, look at art and film, and consider the more tangled “voice” of advertising, television, and political theater. Even as it has proliferated and transformed, the American voice has maintained an urgent ambivalence about what it means to speak the truth, who should speak it, and to what end. We will look at the ongoing, central tension in much of American speech between the individual and the democratic collective, and also consider the related tension between reflection and action as conditions of possibility. We will also investigate what forms of speech are surrounding our students and how we might replicate them in order to understand them. Among other writing assignments, students will maintain an ongoing analytical blog and submit a final paper on a topic of the student’s choosing in consultation with the teacher.

Time: Monday / Wednesday 3:35-4:35 p.m. EST

Man's Inhumanity to Man: Genocide and Human Rights in the 20th Century

Spring Semester

TEACHER: George Dalbo, Mounds Park Academy, St. Paul, MN

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

The story of genocide in the 20th century stands in stark contrast to the social progress and technological advancements made over the last 100 years. As brutal culmination of nationalist and racist attitudes and policies, as well as a poignant reminder of both the cruelty and resilience of human beings, these genocides punctuate modern history with harsh reality. This course explores the many facets of genocide through the lenses of history, literature, art, sociology, and law. We will turn our attention to understanding the framing of genocide as a legal concept. Using the holocaust as our foundation, we will examine examples of additional genocides from the 20th century. Ultimately, we will train our attention to the enduring legacy of genocides around the world, especially as we consider attempts to recognize, reconcile, and memorialize genocide from the individual to the collective. Students will read and analyze primary source material, secondary historical accounts, genocide testimony and memoirs, in addition to examining individual fictional and artistic responses and the collective memories and memorials of whole societies.

Time: Monday / Thursday 4:40 – 5:40 p.m. EST

The Fiction of James Joyce

Spring Semester

TEACHER: Aaron Lehman, Porter-Gaud School, Charleston, SC

Prerequisite: Recommended past or concurrent enrollment in either AP Language & Composition or AP Literature & Composition or the equivalent
Target Grade Level: 11-12

James Joyce created the most beautiful literature of the Twentieth Century, prose that has thrilled and at times confounded readers for generations. Simply put, Ulysses, his 1922 masterpiece, changed the landscape for the novel as a whole. This course will unpack the mystery and loveliness of two Joyce novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, giving students the close-reading tools to appreciate and make sense of Joyce’s particular literary power, to scale the edifice of Ulysses to see it for what it truly is: a marvel of stylistic achievement, a testament to the ways in which language shapes us as we shape it, and, at its core, a gorgeous love story and an exploration of the everyday heroism that we often overlook. In particular, we will explore how Joyce tried to render the authentic human experience through language: how Joyce wanted literature to look and feel more like life than like “art,” how he wanted literature to mirror the texture of the actual thinking and feeling mind. To that end, while the course will give students an intensive look at arguably the greatest literary mind since Shakespeare, it will also have us—teacher and student alike—consider what it means to inhabit fully our hearts, minds, and selves in the modern world.

Time: Monday/Wednesday 3:35 – 4:35 p.m. EST

Environmental Bioethics

TEACHER: Ellen Johnson, Wilmington Friends School, Wilmington, DE

No Prerequisite
Target Grade Level: 11-12

This course will focus on such cases as environmental sustainability, global energy and food resources, gathered from sources in literature, journalism, and film. The academic study of ethics examines how people make the decisions. Curricula will build on a foundation of theoretical moral theories, more specifically, how one makes decisions when faced with complex, often controversial, issues. No prior knowledge of philosophy is assumed, however, authentic assessment of students’ initial facility with logical analysis will ensure that all students are challenged to grow and deepen their theoretical and practical understandings of the subject.

Time: Tuesday / Friday, 3:35 – 4:35 p.m. EST


Advanced Topics in Chemistry

Spring Semester

TEACHER: Jocelyn Rodgers, Maret School, Washington, D.C.

Prerequisite: Chemistry
Target Grade Level: 11-12

This semester course explores aspects of chemistry that are often skimmed over or omitted in most chemistry courses – chemical applications and the history of chemistry. Real-world applications abound in areas such as nuclear, medical, atmospheric, industrial, food, water, and consumer product chemistry. We will begin with an exploration of energy sources such as nuclear power, solar power, and lithium ion batteries. We will then explore computing – both the properties of the elements that power the computers we use every day as well as computational techniques that have revolutionized the ability of scientists and students to visualize and understand chemical processes at a molecular level. Throughout the semester, we also explore the history and life events of scientists who discovered the chemical elements and have impacted the history of the world through chemistry. In independent projects, students will explore the periodic table for daily applications and technologies, from cell phones to photovoltaic cells to medical treatments. This course will be heavy in applications and theory, with less of the traditional problem-solving found in other courses.

Time: Monday / Thursday, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. EST

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P: 412-578-7500
F: 412-578-7504

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Allison Park, PA 15101
P: 412-486-8341
F: 412-578-7504