Eighth Grade Curriculum Overview
In Eighth Grade, students read novels, short stories, dramas, nonfiction, and poetry which support cultural diversity and the study of modern world history. They continue their study of Shakespeare and his works. Comprehension and thoughtful consideration of the literature’s meaning are stressed at all times. Eighth Grade students write analytic essays about the literature they are studying which emphasizes the foundations of critical thinking. Research reports, persuasive and informational compositions, comparison and contrast essays, short stories, and poems are also studied. Students write and speak with an attention to standard English conventions, including sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. Vocabulary is studied through an emphasis on Classical roots and literary context.
Students utilize the computer lab on a regular basis to advance their writing with the one-on-one attention of their teacher as he moves each child forward in his or her growth.
Eighth Graders work on Algebra 1, Algebra 2, or Geometry, according to their advancement level. They gain a solid understanding of the basics, preparing them to enter high school the following year with a broad base of knowledge about, and confidence in, approaching problems in Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry.
Additionally, students learn how to use Singapore Math techniques in their approach to word problems, and they are required to also practice math using IXL.com which is tailored to meet the individual needs of the child.
Chemistry is the focus in the first semester of Grade 8, with attention on the periodic table of elements and chemical reactions. In the second half of the year, students study Astronomy and Sound & Light where they use their higher level Math skills to understand these aspects of Science more thoroughly. Students participate in weekly labs and daily discussions of scientific current events. Each year the students do an individual science project for the annual Science Fair, helping them to learn the important concepts of observation, prediction, conducting an experiment, recording data, analyzing results, creating a display, and presenting the material to others.
In Health class, students study human reproduction, anatomy, and body structures.
Eighth Grade students enjoy World Studies, which includes an in-depth look at the evolution of societies and World Geography and seeks to understand the modern world in relationship to its history.
International Studies focuses on "hot topic" countries, which help students understand how governments and cultures respond to current events. Additionally students study the people, culture, history, geography, animals, climate, religions, politics, economics, and politics of the region. They will create a dramatic presentation as a part of their International Fair presentation in June. Recent studies include North Korea, Iraq, Russia, and the dynamic between Israel and Palestine.
Eighth Graders continue their study of Spanish by wrapping up the level 3 textbook and working outside of a textbook. Opportunities to make use of their Spanish skills are provided through the use of Spanish readers, translating materials, writing essays and plays, as well as participating in conversations. Students prepare for high school placement exams and take the National Spanish Exam. Students have Spanish three times a week.
Upper School students continue to challenge themselves as artists under the tutelage of an art specialist. They look at the important periods and schools of art history and apply what they have learned to their own work in a variety of media, including architecture and drafting with use of the Sketch Up software. Students have art class once a week.
Upper School students learn how to play the melodies and chords on the ukelele as they continue to increase their knowledge of notation, rhythm, melody, form, and timbre. Students learn to write major scales and identify what key a song is in by looking at the key signature. They also learn how to transpose songs into a new key and demonstrate their understanding of I, IV, V chord structure. Furthermore, students take their performance skills to the next level as they practice singing and playing solo and in synchronization with the group using a varied repertoire of music. Students will analyze, describe, and perform a song of their own choice and also compose a simple song using traditional chord structures. They also study music history and enhance their performance skills through participation in the two all-school music performances. Students have music once a week.
The Physical Education curriculum for Six - Eighth Grades increases students' basic knowledge and skills in team sports. They gain precision with increasing control and accuracy. They develop habits of teamwork and learn how to apply the basic rules of various sports. Students have Physical Education two times a week.
Technology and Research
Middle school students use the computer lab for their papers, projects, and flow charts as well as their continued use of ixl.com for math. Sixth graders use Common Sense Media's Digitial Citizenship, amongst other resources, to learn how to safely and effectively work and play online. Seventh graders develop their own website with videos and delve into a study of the media and its influences. Eighth graders explore project-based learning by creating their own digital legacy project for the students who come next. Eighth graders also create the yearbook for the school.
Sixth - Eighth Grade students participate in service learning classes, entitled Community Council, weekly. They discuss and research current events, determine areas in our community which need improvement, create an action plan to meet these needs, and take steps toward improving the situation they have deemed in need of attention. Students will go out into the community individually and also as a school to do community service. We seek to create a group of students who understand the power of their voices in matters of social justice, and who understand that they have a responsibility to improve the world according to the principles that guide them. All students participate in yearly Service Learning projects as well as complete volunteer hours individually outside of campus. Middle school students take on the responsibility of specialized duties (including computer lab monitor, art studio helper, campus clean up supervisor, etc.) and serve as STEAM buddy group leaders. Students practice their Hilldale Habits of Respect, Leadership, and Independent, Lifelong Learning on a daily basis.