Classic literature is at the heart of the eighth grade English curriculum. Through culturally significant works, students develop their critical thinking skills as they examine themes of discrimination, growing up, integrity, love, friendship, and moral decision-making. In addition, one day each week students participate in reader’s workshop, a program in which they read and respond to books of their own choosing. The curriculum also seeks to expand students’ precision of language as they learn to properly use new vocabulary taken from the class literature and their vocabulary workbook.
Eighth grade writing lab allows students to develop their writing skills in coordination with their literary study. Students analyze poetry to study the different elements of an author’s craft. They use some of these writing techniques in their own writing. In a workshop environment, students experiment with creative assignments and expository essays as they work towards crafting articulate multi-paragraph analyses. The course reinforces the familiarity of the writing process: outlining, drafting, editing, and revising in addition to paragraph and essay construction, effective thesis statements, and adequate support of main ideas. Students compose at least 500 words per week and choose their best three pieces of revised work for their portfolio each trimester. Further, building on their previous understanding of grammar, eighth grade students gain greater command of complex English syntax.
Fundamentals of Algebra is designed for eighth grade students whose mathematical development warrants a deliberate introduction to and reinforcement of essential algebraic concepts. This class will cover algebraic expressions, real number operations, equations, inequalities, graphing, formulas, and word problems. Students will work individually and cooperatively to explore and extend their knowledge. As in algebra, connections to geometry, probability, statistics, and technology will occur as students progress through the course. Our Fundamentals of Algebra class follows a high school Algebra I curriculum, but does not complete the entire curriculum. The teacher moves at a pace appropriate for the particular group of 8th graders. Students who take Fundamentals of Algebra in 8th grade generally take Algebra I as high school freshmen.
Algebra I is offered to eighth grade students who have demonstrated a secure mastery of pre-algebra concepts in seventh grade. The course begins with a review of algebraic expressions, simple linear equations and inequalities, and real number operations. Students build upon this knowledge to explore equations and inequalities both symbolically and graphically, functions, exponents, radicals, polynomials, quadratics, proportionality, and rational equations. Throughout the course, problem solving skills and techniques will be reviewed and strengthened. Pattern recognition is at the core of mathematical knowledge and connections between algebra and geometry, probability, statistics, and technology occur naturally as the course progresses. Our Algebra I class follows a complete high school Algebra I curriculum. The teacher dictates the pace of the class to complete the curriculum by the end of the school year. Depending on a student's mastery of concepts in 8th grade Algebra I and the selected high school's math philosophy, he or she may place out of Algebra I as a high school freshman.
Eighth grade science emphasizes a strong foundation in physics and chemistry, leading naturally to related topics in the life and earth sciences. Themes unify the sciences in this program by linking the structures on which the science disciplines are built. The four main themes addressed are Energy, Systems and Interactions, Scale and Structure, and Stability and Change. Energy is a central concept of the physical sciences and an integral part of the biological and geological sciences. Systems and Interactions are based on the concept that by defining the boundaries of the system, one can study the interactions among its parts. Scale and Structure emphasizes the relationship among different structures and the focus of the relationship. Stressed throughout each unit is “how we know what we know and why we believe it to be so.” Stability and Change is characterized as trends, cycles, and irregular changes in systems.
This practicum allows students to conduct individual research on topical issues, and to develop cooperative learning skills through group projects focusing on concrete products. Past research and projects have produced tree and plant guides for the Wildscape, nature photos of professional quality, articles in community newspapers, environmental curriculum formation for the lower grades, planting of garden plots, in-school environmental newsletters, investigative reporting and development of a science web-page, storm sewer marking for the City of Dallas, participation in the White Rock Market at the Greenspot, building and racing solar cars, building and operating individual wind turbines. Students are encouraged to become informed and knowledgeable about all sides of environmental issues.
Eighth grade U.S. history covers the history of The United states from its European roots during The Age of Discovery up through The Civil War. Emphasis is also placed on the earlier cultural and trade interactions with Africa, The Middle East, and Medieval Europe as they pertained to the needs of Spain, Portugal, England and France to discover a waterway to Asia for trade. There is also an intensive study made of The Constitution of The United States and its effects on the entire world.
Eighth grade French extends the students’ vocabulary and grammar material. More independent work in all areas of the language is encouraged. The students explore the vocabulary associated with clothing, holidays, sports and leisure time and food. The grammar includes learning all three verbs groups (-er verbs, -ir verbs, re-verbs) in the present tense. Past and anticipation action are also explored. Reflexive verbs are introduced. All forms of adjectives are taught. Cultural comparisons and investigations are also covered through skits, projects, and a field trip.
Eighth grade German equally addresses listening comprehension, written skills, and oral skills. The curriculum includes: reviewing the sixth- and seventh-grade curricula; choosing from a menu and ordering at a café or restaurant; expressing likes and dislikes; making requests and giving advice; exploring German cuisine—foods, eating establishments, beverages, ice cream flavors; handling modals, future tense and negation; asking about prices, describing and choosing clothing; talking about a department store; writing a letter or a card; talking about birthday presents, and exploring the most important celebrations of life events in German culture.
In eighth grade Spanish students write, speak and understand more complex Spanish. They learn affirmative tú commands, the present progressive tense, a great variety of irregular and stem-changing verbs direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns. They learn how to conjugate regular verbs in past tense and how to use this in conjunction with the present tense.