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St. John's Episcopal School

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Eighth Grade


Eighth grade English completes the high school preparatory phase of students’ education, and eighth grade English prepares students to complete high school level work with facility. The novels read, Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, concern themselves with, among other things, the relation between the individual and societal position and power. Therefore, one of the main areas of focus this year is rhetoric—i.e., the use of language to get someone to do something. The study of literature extends to discussions and assignments that challenge students to evaluate not only their own position in society, but also their role as a reader, writer, and effective communicator.


Fundamentals of Algebra

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 covers algebraic expressions, real number operations, equations, inequalities, graphing, formulas, and word problems. Students work individually and cooperatively to explore and extend their knowledge. As in Algebra I, connections to geometry, probability, statistics, and technology occur as students progress through the course. The Fundamentals of Algebra class follows a high school Algebra I curriculum, but does not complete the entire course. The teacher moves at a pace appropriate for the particular group of eighth graders. Students who take Fundamentals of Algebra in eighth grade generally take Algebra I or Honors Algebra I as first-year high school students.

Algebra I

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 are 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. The 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 eighth grade Algebra I and the selected high school's math philosophy, an Algebra I student may place out of Algebra I when entering high school.


Eighth grade science emphasizes a strong foundation in physics and chemistry while exploring the connectedness of STEM topics. Central to the physical sciences is the concept of energy -- how it is transformed, transferred, and used. Students explore the importance of energy at the physical, atomic/chemical, molecular, and biological levels while learning about different types of energy, how energy is conserved, and the roles of energy in everyday life. Throughout the course, significance is placed on critical thinking, research and experimental design, and scientific writing to prepare students for scientific study at the high school level.

Social Studies

In eighth grade history, students explore the founding principles of the U.S. by analyzing historical and current events through the lenses of the three branches of government. Students study how Congress reflects the ideals laid forth in the founding documents, and they analyze moments when the laws are unable to solve a crisis and America has gone to war. Students also examine landmark court cases that have helped guide the course of the U.S. The purpose of the course is to discover how the nation's handling of present affairs is the result of many significant rules, conflicts, and decisions in the past. The eighth grade U.S. History curriculum includes essential questions that students strive to answer as they gain insights about history and the world around them. The class emphasizes the development of writing, critical thinking, debating, and research skills through the use of primary and secondary sources, current events, art, and music. Students work individually and collaboratively on several projects throughout the year, including a Mock Trial project in the second semester.

World Languages


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 anticipated action are also explored. Reflexive verbs are introduced. All forms of adjectives are taught. Cultural comparisons and investigations are also covered through skits, and projects.


Eighth grade German equally addresses listening comprehension, written skills, and oral skills. The curriculum includes: reviewing previous 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.


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.