Starting the year with To Kill a Mockingbird, students are then introduced to Shakespeare in our study of Macbeth. Nonfiction texts are explored with a focus on objectivity and bias. Using a variety of text as models, students write personal narratives as well as different styles of five paragraph essays. There are two guided units including a selection of modern young adult novels and classic novellas. Poetry is used to augment understanding of theme. 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, gaining a better understanding of how atoms interact and the results of these interactions. Students will also explore climate change and atmospheric science while partnering with schools around the world through a platform called “Level Up Village.” They will learn the basics of coding and website design in order to publish a website that contains various viewpoints from students in other countries. We have worked with classes from India, Palestine, Jordan, South Africa, Argentina, and Nicaragua thus far and the countries change each year. Lastly, students will begin to learn the basics of the sun-Earth-moon interactions and how it interacts with our solar system, as well as, the universe.
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 and critical thinking. This is conducted in the context of a large-scale sculpture project within which students will utilize elements from both observation and imagination as they explore the creative possibilities hidden within their shared inspirational materials. This major project is followed by a brief introduction to photography. Utilizing pinhole cameras, students learn about the fundamental principles, functions and processes involved in darkroom-based photography. All students’ finished work will be showcased 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.
Debate familiarizes students with research, analysis, composition, and public speaking skills essential for various styles of argumentation. Students learn constructive case development and defense of an affirmative or negative position through the use of critical thinking, logic, evidence, and compelling language. Developing note-taking skills by “flowing” their opponent’s arguments during a debate, students demonstrate listening abilities by both responding to arguments made by their classmates and by constructively critiquing performances.
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 disc golf, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, badminton, wiffle ball, yoga and table tennis. 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.