Grade Eight Course Descriptions

Language Arts/Social Studies

The eighth grade Language Arts/Social Studies curriculum is designed to prepare students for a successful upper school experience.  The language arts and social studies are often integrated in such a way that the social studies serve as a springboard for the language arts.  The emphasis for the social studies is global studies, giving students the opportunity to explore the geography, history, and current events of the global community. Readings in language arts include novels, historical narratives, short stories, plays, and poems that enhance historical and cultural lessons. Students enrich their communication skills by writing persuasive essays, creative short stories, book reviews, and research papers.  They also write and perform dramas, create documentaries, and debate controversial topics.  Class time is given for students to engage in discussions, helping them develop their critical thinking, speaking, and listening skills. Sample units of study include:

  • Middle East and the causes and effects of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks
    • Europe and the causes for the European Union and recent financial crisis
    • Africa and the impact of European imperialism on current affairs,
    • Asia and the factors leading to recent rapid economic development
    • Central and South America and the impact of the illegal drug trade on regional stability

    Integrated Math 1

    Integrated Math 1 advances students’ understanding of mathematics through interwoven strands of algebra and functions, statistics and probability, geometry and trigonometry, and discrete mathematics.  These strands are unified by fundamental themes, common topics, mathematical practices, and by mathematical habits of mind.  Developing mathematics along multiple strands help students develop a connected understanding of mathematics and nurtures their differing strengths and talents.

    The problem-based curriculum emphasizes flexibility and adaptability in thinking through mathematical modeling, which includes the processes of data collection, representation, interpretation, prediction, and simulation. This allows students to experience mathematics as a means of making sense of data and problems that arise in real-world situations and in diverse contexts, and it gives them a venue for mathematical investigation and discourse to deepen their understanding.

    Units of study include:
    • Patterns of Change
    • Patterns in Data
    • Linear Functions
    • Discrete Mathematical Modeling
    • Exponential Functions
    • Patterns in Shape
    • Quadratic Functions
    • Patterns in Chance

    Enriched Integrated Math 1

    This course covers the same general units of study offered in the regular Integrated Math 1 course but at a greater depth and at a faster pace.  Particular emphasis is given to problem seeing, information gathering, and solving.   


    Eighth graders focus on physical science concepts related to motion and energy. Problem solving skills are developed as students confront content-related design and engineering challenges. Projects include building balloon jet cars, water bottle rockets, and solar houses. Students develop critical thinking skills and familiarity with programming tasks during a LEGO robotics unit, which builds on the robotics skills learned in 7th grade science. Additionally, eighth graders explore sustainability topics related to energy consumption and examine proposed energy alternatives. Sample units of study:
    • Measuring bodies in motion: speed, acceleration, and momentum
    •  Beyond Oil: an alternative transportation study
    •  Blasting off with Galileo and Newton: gravity and the laws of motion
    •  The future of energy: coal, nuclear, wind, and solar power


    Eighth grade Spanish students expand upon their language foundation to communicate more independently. There is a greater focus on grammar, which allows students to express themselves
    in a more sophisticated and complex manner. Students become more connected with the Spanish-speaking world through the use of technology and exposure to real world scenarios. At the end of the eighth grade year the students have the opportunity to travel to a Spanish-speaking country, where they participate in a home-stay and visit several sections of the country. Sample
    units of study:
    • Planning and implementing travel
    • Maintaining good health
    • History and geography of Spain
    • Current events and pop culture
    • Influential individuals in the Spanish-speaking world


    This third year of French prepares students to move into a level 2 high school French class. Students begin to notice and use  language in several tenses. Reading and discussion make up more of the curriculum. Students read a novelette on their own for homework. Students are encouraged to read on-line in the areas of their own interests so they can start to acquire specialized vocabulary that is meaningful to them.  If students are traveling to France during the 8th grade year, time will be taken to plan the trip in class. Otherwise they plan a projected trip. The curriculum continues to focus and build on the students as they acquire more language to be able to talk about themselves and relate to their peers and others in French. Music and stories are the arenas for much input. Possible topics besides travel can include:
    • Goals for the future
    • Expectations from teachers and parents
    • Choices in personal time and money
    • How to do something (giving instructions)

    Performing Arts

    Performing Arts
    In the middle school, performing arts classes three times a week help students develop their ability to participate in music, dance, and theater. All students participate in two yearly concerts showcasing choral singing, dancing; there are also performances by hand chime groups, a dance team, the Carolina Day Choristers, and the 7th and 8th grade advanced chorus. When available, guitar, strings, brass and woodwind chamber music groups also prepare pieces for the concerts.

    In music, students in all three grades work toward understanding the concepts of rhythm, pitch, melody, harmony, form, dynamics, and tempo.  Genres studied are classical, musical theater, country, folk, blues, jazz, pop/rock, and world music.  Ongoing units of music study include:

    • Solfege and sight-singing
    • Performance and analysis of choral literature
    • Guitar
    • Piano
    • Drums (hand drums and drumset)
    • Bass
    • Hand chimes
    • Orff mallet percussion

    Dance in all forms, from improvised movement to choreographed routines, is part of each Performing Arts class. Dance units include:

    • Swing
    • Salsa
    • Square dance/country line dance
    • Traditional folk dances
    • Hiphop
    • Musical theatre dance styles

    Theatre training gives every middle school student the opportunity to work on public speaking, risk-taking, and communication skills in a fun, safe setting.   Theatre units include:

    • Scene work
    • Monologue preparation
    • Improv comedy
    • Theatre games

    Theatre Production
    Middle School Theatre Production is an extracurricular program open to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. The annual winter musical provides an exciting opportunity for an introduction to the world of theatre. Whether students participate on stage or as part of the tech crew, they learn teamwork, communication skills, leadership, flexibility, and how to prepare for and meet deadlines.

    Visual Arts

    The global perspective of the eighth grade curriculum offers great opportunities to study Western, Asian, African, and Oceanic art. A major focus in eighth grade is photography, with emphasis on compositional skills and the process of taking and developing black and white photos. Photography allows students to utilize the skills of self-reflection and group critique as ways to grow as an artist. Projects may include:  
    • B/W photography
    • Figure drawing
    • Acrylic painting
    • Batik
    • Film
    • Self-directed independent projects.

    Physical Education

    Students participate in physical education classes three day a week. The program concentrates on a student’s physical fitness level with an emphasis on improvement. There is a focus on the continued development of affective and psycho-motor skills learned through competitive and cooperative games. Students will revisit skills learned in sixth and seventh grade and will begin to develop team strategies for success. The students will wear pedometers as a fun way to monitor distance moved throughout the year. Activities include:
    • Bowling
    • Bocce
    • Cageball
    • Basketball

    Study Support

    This class provides a structured approach to learning and using effective strategies for success in the middle grades, leading students toward the practice of self-advocacy to become independent learners. Students will find and use resources, set and measure both short and long term goals, and effectively use the skills they obtain to break wholes into parts to make learning easier. The 
    middle school Study Support class assists students with:
    • Organization/time management
    • Effective note taking
    • Reading comprehension strategies
    • Test preparation- how to study for a variety of tests
    • Study techniques & memory strategies
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