Students will read To Kill a Mockingbird and other works of fiction and non-fiction. Students are introduced to Shakespeare through our study of Macbeth. Using a variety of text as models, students write personal narratives, as well as different styles of five paragraph essays. Guided reading units include a selection of modern young adult novels. Poetry is used to augment understanding of theme and tone. Grammatical instruction focuses on sentence structure and style. Vocabulary study is drawn from class literature and augmented by vocabulary text.
The curriculum covers American history from the pre-Revolutionary War period to the Civil War. This course emphasizes political and social history. This is largely a discussion class, which teaches children to attend to, understand, and appreciate others’ viewpoints. Students also work on note-taking skills throughout the year and an extensive research paper in the winter term.
The math program is a rigorous traditional high school Algebra 1 course. Topics include a thorough study of one and two variable equation solving (including inequalities), multiplying and factoring polynomials, and solving systems of linear equations and inequalities in one or two variables. Students are expected to master solving and graphing of linear, absolute value, exponential, quadratic, radical and rational functions. As 8th graders, students apply the problem-solving strategies learned through the Math in Focus program and are encouraged to explore mathematical functions through the use of a Ti-Nspire graphing calculator.
Students will fully engage in the scientific method through the study of chemistry. Students will gain a better understanding of how atoms interact and the results of these interactions. Students will also explore climate change and atmospheric science. Emphasis is placed on experimental design and lab report writing.
Students continue to build their speaking, listening, reading, writing and culture skills in the target language, with nearly all classroom interactions conducted in the target language. Students move to more sophisticated language structures, including the past tense. Extensive and frequent peer interaction in the target language is central to the curriculum.
Eighth grade theater is a collaborative playmaking project. During this process, students participate as playwrights, directors and actors. They also participate in at least one technical role. Students have the opportunity to choose from many different technical roles, such as lighting, sound, set or poster design, costumes, props, set building, assistant stage manager, backstage crew and crew leader.
While the sixth and seventh grade curriculum focus on developing performance skills through the medium of cover songs, the eighth grade music curriculum has students creating their own pop and rock songs. Students learn how to write lyrics that are meaningful to them as well as craft melodies and chord progressions. Once they have created their song, they then record it and mix/master it until they have a polished final project. The curriculum effectively synthesizes the skills developed in sixth and seventh grade and ultimately allows them to create a complete song from beginning to end.
In the Upper School visual arts program, emphasis is placed on balancing fundamental skill development, individual creativity and hands-on experience with a wide variety of materials and techniques, aimed at opening as many creative and inspirational doors as possible. In the eighth grade, that continues with a deeper exploration of the creative process that emphasizes experimentation and risk taking as well as open-ended critical thinking. This is conducted in the context of a large-scale sculpture project within which students will utilize elements form both observation and imagination as they explore the creative possibilities hidden within their shared inspirational materials. Work with visiting artists may at times, replace this project to take advantage of special creative opportunities. All students will participate in the annual art show.
Students continue to apply and expand upon the conceptual models developed and reinforced throughout their seventh-grade year. The curriculum branches from the concrete core principles of the Latin language to more complex and abstract grammatical concepts. The course content continues to be supplemented with film and readings pertaining to classical mythology, Roman culture, and Roman history.
The goal of this course is to cultivate students’ critical thinking skills through the art of formal debate. Debate class explores a variety of debate formats including Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas, as well as projects that develop students’ persuasive communication skills through a variety of media. Students will strengthen their leadership, teambuilding, group problem solving, and oral presentation proficiency. During the course of the year, students will develop strong analytical skills, research experience, and persuasive writing practice. Additionally, students will improve their listening abilities by questioning and responding specifically to arguments made by their classmates.
The goal of the curriculum is to develop versatile movers with the confidence to learn new skills and the desire to engage in physical pursuits on a lifelong basis. Areas of focus include lifetime fitness and activities, traditional sports and an outdoor challenge course unit. Activities include flag rugby, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, and badminton. As a culminating activity in the challenge course, students gain the technical skills and confidence to run the high ropes course and challenge themselves to take appropriate risks.