The eighth grade year completes the process begun in sixth grade. Students are expected to demonstrate significant independence and proficiency in all academic areas. The eighth grade year also brings a number of exciting events.
A week-long environmental science and teamwork field trip to the Chesapeake Bay. Trips to the Holocaust Museum, Martha’s Table, and a range of DC metro area spots are also built into our year.
The sealing of the eighth grade time capsule and the eighth grade closing ceremony celebrate the end of the girls’ years in the Middle School and the beginning of their success in the Upper School.
The eighth grade language arts curriculum centers around the writing process. Students write several essays each trimester and are walked through the steps to edit writing effectively. Their writing journey culminates in a research paper to introduce students to the research process in preparation for high school. Several novels are also read during the eighth grade year, each tying into the current Social Studies eras. Short stories, poetry, vocabulary, and grammar round out the Language Arts curriculum, and provide the students with multiple ways of expression.
Picking up where they ended in seventh grade, eighth grade Social Studies begins with a review of the Civil War. From there, the girls are immersed in an interactive, award-winning interdisciplinary unit on Immigration. This unit wraps with a trip to Ellis Island to see where many of our ancestors entered America. We then move through history, usually ending the year with a unit on World War II and the Holocaust. Eighth graders also study Civics, focusing on a citizen’s rights and responsibilities, as well as the three branches of government, political parties, and elections. The students also study current events, tying them to historical precedents and events.
The eighth-grade Algebra I program broadens logic skills, strengthens mathematics computation and enhances concept formation and mastery. A special emphasis is placed on verbal and written communication of math concepts. (Note: Eighth grade students who took Algebra I in seventh grade will be enrolled in Upper School math class, either Honors Algebra I or Honors Geometry.)
The eighth grade science program consists of introductory cell biology, plant biology and environmental science.
We explore viruses, bacteria, the cell cycle, the different kingdoms of living organisms, and the interactions of various living and non-living factors that contribute to an ecosystem. Students engage in laboratory exercises to gain experience, apply what they have learned, and deepen their knowledge of the material, working on their ability to utilize the scientific method to interpret data and make reasonable deductions.
Finally, we look forward to a culminating week-long trip to Echo Hill in the spring, in which students are exposed to and learn about the Chesapeake watershed, drawing on what they have learned throughout the year. Special attention is given to each student’s skill in inquiry, interpreting results and communication.
Eighth grade students continue the study of the language they began in seventh grade. Along with review and expansion of themes covered in their first year, students improve their listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills through traditional written assignments, presentations, skits, and songs, as well as projects.
New vocabulary and grammar themes are explored to broaden students’ ability to communicate. Students see growth in themselves as they become comfortable in the language classroom and are able to express their thoughts and understand others.
The eighth grade religion course focuses on the great philosophical questions and how the world and religion answer those questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Why is there suffering in the world? Why do we believe what we believe? Why is it reasonable to believe? How are the ideas of the Catholic faith relevant to the world today?
During this time of their faith development, a foundation is laid for asking meaningful and thoughtful questions, which is developed through intricate class discussions, personal reflection journals, creative art projects and a spiritual retreat where students can commune with God, with nature and each other. Students are encouraged not only to ask questions, but to pursue answers, with the goal of helping them deepen their own faith and understanding of the faith.
As the year progresses, students will study Judaism and Islam, focusing on understanding the similarities and differences among the three major monotheistic religions. With the Vatican II Council document, Nostra Aetate as their guide, students gain an appreciation and understanding of the shared spiritual patrimony with these two great religions and a healthy respect for the common values we share.
Prayer services, liturgies and community service projects provide opportunities for students to live out their faith in a meaningful way.
In music, eighth grade is a culmination of all of the skills that have been taught and practiced so far in middle school general music. Singing, music theory, sight-singing, playing the piano, and projects on GarageBand also continue.
Music history is studied, focusing on the 20th century in classical music and popular music, including jazz, rock and roll, and contemporary pop music.
The students study the form and structure of the music in preparation of their own songwriting project. In class, the students are led in analyzing specific songs for their orchestration, lyrics, timing, and structure. The students then will write their own lyrics, write, and record their own song using GarageBand and MIDI keyboards.
As in earlier years, we continue the theme with 8th grade, play with a purpose. Underlying all the games units is the importance of being fit. Students are introduced to the three aspects of fitness: flexibility, strength training and cardiovascular exercise. Basic skills and game strategies of various sports are introduced. Students work with manipulatives – hula hoops, poi and Bal-a-Vis-X, to increase their motor integration.
In art, eighth grade students continue to deepen their understanding of line, shape, value, color and composition. They explore thematic ideas through two and three-dimensional projects. By the end of the year, students have developed a rich visual language and have a strong sense of how to make their art personally meaningful.
Class meetings, the focal point of the Middle School Counseling curriculum, continued in 8th grade, with gatherings once a week. These small groups led by the school counselor discuss issues impacting the students’ lives to develop communication skills and an understanding of their values and emotions.
The specially created curriculum includes topics such as communication skills, drugs and alcohol education, human sexuality, cyber safety, nutrition and a healthy body image—the emphasis changes somewhat as the girls mature. Student-centered discussions take over after a level of trust is established, and the conversations may move to friendship difficulties, school stressors, and healthy life choices.
This safe place for the students to discuss and implement positive solutions to social and emotional issues with the help of their peers and under the guidance of the school counselor is even more critical as they enter their teens and approach high school.
We work as a team to establish the class meeting as a non-judgmental and caring environment.
Beginning in the second trimester of sixth grade, students choose to participate in an activity that takes place the last period of the day three afternoons a week. Students are encouraged to try out new things and explore their talents and passions and must select a new pursuit each trimester. Read More