8th Grade Curriculm
- Algebra I/Algebra I Honors/Advanced Algebra I Honors
- Earth Science
- World History
- World Languages
- Discovery Classes
- Physical Education
Algebra I and Algebra I Honors cover variables in polynomials and number sequences; graphing one and two variable equations and inequalities, algebraic functions and problem-solving. In advanced Algebra I Honors, students cover advanced topics in Algebra I and move into beginning geometry and Algebra II concepts.
An inquiry-based course investigating environmental science and basic geological principles. Students learn the characteristics of the earth and its atmosphere and hydrosphere while studying catastrophic events such as earthquakes, storms and volcanoes. Topics include heat transfer, global climate change, using earthquakes to explore the Earth’s interior, and igneous rock formation and crystallization.
An analytical study of great works of literature from major genres: short stories, poetry, plays and novels. Students emulate stylistic techniques of great authors in their own creative writing. Students continue grammar study and vocabulary development. English classes are segmented by gender in the eighth grade.
This course is a study of the modern world and initially focuses on the time period between the Renaissance and the French Revolution. The course continues with a study of the social, political and economic forces that have created the world we live in today. Great importance is placed on practices of historical thinking, study of primary sources and analysis of current events. Research and essay writing are also common themes throughout the year.
The Middle School band puts on two major concerts per year and stages other smaller performances for the student body. A variety of styles, including jazz, classical, popular, and Broadway, are showcased. Students learn how to read music, assemble and produce a characteristic tone on their instrument, and develop finger technique, ensemble balance and dynamics. Band develops lifelong skills that increase brainpower and build discipline, and the course offers a team atmosphere in which students make beautiful music with their friends.
A yearlong course for students who seek to develop their vocal and musical skills. Students learn various types of literature, including but not limited to classical, pop, jazz and Broadway. The primary focus of each class is to learn to read music and then develop those skills in a more refined way. Students also learn to match pitch, develop healthy breathing techniques and improve tone quality. There are numerous opportunities for solos within the choral group, and students perform at concerts, assemblies and various school events throughout the year.
This yearlong elective selection is composed of a semester of design exploration and a quarter each of robotics and programming. In design exploration, the class approaches design as both a process—a mindset plus skills and techniques—and as a product—the production of things and ideas. Students engage in several design projects, moving from idea conception through iteration to user engagement. In robotics, students learn programming and design using LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robots. Computer programming teaches students the basics of programming skills, helping them further develop their problem-solving and collaboration abilities.
Seventh and eighth graders who want to pursue visual art in more depth may take a yearlong study of art. The focus in both courses is on the 2D and 3D studio experience, but art history and field trips to local exhibits are other important components of the curriculum. Studio Art 8 refines students' understanding of creating a composition by developing works that are realistic, symbolic or totally abstract. There is a focus on both observational and imaginative projects, and students explore the more global focus in art and how one’s personal experiences and traditions are expressed visually throughout the world. Students use a variety of techniques for creating sculptural volumes and the illusion of the third dimension on a flat surface. (Studio Art 7 is not a prerequisite for Studio Art 8.)
Every 8th grade student will have visual art classes. The multi-media approach, which
will include drawing, painting, and sculpture, will also coordinate with the academic
curriculum whenever possible. The program will be process-based, encouraging students
to take creative risks with ideas and materials. Besides making art, students will discuss
concepts through verbal critiques; they will write evaluations of their work and they will
explore the history of what has come before in the world of art. At all levels we will
strive to clarify what art is.
"If to teach is to learn, then to learn is to question.” The topics covered in Holocaust and Civil Rights Studies allow students to learn, to question and to discuss. The lessons from the past, both from the Holocaust and from the Civil Rights Movement, help us frame our questions as we engage in learning from history.
Daily physical education classes in single-gender groups are required for all Middle School students. The physical education department strives to improve students' physical skills while also developing thinking, creating and feeling capacities. Students are exposed to cardio exercises, flag football, gymnastics, lacrosse, swimming, weight training, wrestling and personal fitness. All Middle School students are pre- and post-tested on the five components of fitness using the President's Fitness Challenge Test.
Debate is an elective course for seventh and eighth graders. The class meets for one semester in the Discovery block. Students may take both an arts elective (band, chorus, strings, STEAM or art studio) and debate. The course focuses on policy debate, a fast-paced game of smarts and strategy in which wins and losses are based on how well students understand and explain their own claims and how thoroughly they analyze and defeat opponents’ arguments. Because the playing field for this type of debate uses facts and theories about current events, a significant portion of classroom time is spent exploring details about government, politics and international relations, in addition to the time spent developing students’ speaking and critical-thinking skills. This course is designed for students who are interested in the subject matter and who have demonstrated the ability to focus and work independently.