Curriculum (8th Grade)
The eighth grade curriculum continues the emphasis of immersive learning, authentic problem-solving, and critical and creative thinking. Students are given more responsibility, more leadership opportunities and more class offerings to choose from. By the time students leave middle school, they are ready for the academic rigors that await them in the upper school.
- Social Science
- Speech and Debate
- World Language
- Visual Arts
- Music and Performing Arts
- Physical Education
In eighth-grade English, students will develop proficiency in several areas: literature, composition, grammar and vocabulary. This course builds on the variety of skills learned in sixth- and seventh-grade English and aims to hone and perfect them as we prepare our students for the rigors of the upper school English curriculum. Theme, classic novels, short stories, poems and nonfiction works weave their way into the curriculum to create a comprehensive eighth-grade English learning experience.
From world geography in sixth grade and ancient cultures in seventh grade, students move to focusing on American history in eighth-grade social science. American history is a survey course about the history of our nation from its founding days through the present, examining the growth of our nation by looking at the diversity of the people who settled here, the adversity they faced, our coming of age as a nation, and our role in the world today. Some areas of emphasis include the Spanish-American War, the role of manifest destiny and American imperialism, the Roaring Twenties, the Holocaust, as well as an in-depth look at the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, including exploration of Supreme Court cases and Constitutional issues, and the electoral process.
Speech and debate is offered to eighth-grade students only. Students practice and hone their public speaking skills. They quickly learn how to speak comfortably, concisely, and well. Research and synthesis help students debate more effectively—they learn how to make a claim, support their opinions, and avoid logical fallacies. In addition, this course focuses on three major presentation styles: informative, dispositional, and actuation.
At MVS, we find as many opportunities as possible to differentiate instruction; one of these is through various math courses. In eighth grade, students are placed into pre-algebra, algebra I, linear algebra or quadratic algebra.
In pre-algebra, students are introduced to the language and reasoning of algebra while reinforcing the rational number operations—particularly with decimals and fractions, order of operations, ratios and proportions, percents, number properties, exponents, geometric figures, areas, and volumes. They begin the study of algebra with the following topics:operations with positive and negative numbers, , evaluating and simplification of expressions, multi- step equations, linear equations with coordinate graphing, one and two variable inequalities, and systems of equations. Additional topics include introduction to probability, basic trigonometry, and the introduction to radicals.
Linear algebra, the transition course from pre-algebra, takes students through the exploration of single-variable equations and two-variable equations to systems of equations. Students study how to isolate variables as well as change equations into slope-intercept, standard, and point-slope forms. They will graph equations, inequalities, and systems to discover one solution, no solutions or infinite solutions. Solving systems by substitution and elimination follows. Finally, students work with rational expressions, story/analytical problem solving, and enrichment exercises. Quadratic algebra follows Linear algebra.
Quadratic algebra, the course which follows linear algebra, allows students to explore quadratic functions, radical functions, and statistics. Multiplying and factoring polynomials sets the foundation for quadratic functions. Students first learn to graph quadratic equations using the axis of symmetry, vertex, and a table. Factoring, completing the square, and the quadratic formula methods are examined in-depth as additional options in searching for solutions. Students work simultaneously with story/analytical problem solving and enrichment exercises.
Algebra I is the foundation for all other courses in mathematics. It supplies the language and patterns of reasoning needed for other branches of mathematics. Topics to be studied in depth are the real number system, axioms, equations, inequalities, polynomials, exponents, linear equations with coordinate graphing, systems of linear equalities, rational and radical algebraic expressions, radicals or roots, and quadratic equations.
Students continue the study of science with daily labs and experiments. In eighth grade, they focus on scientific graphic, patterns, the structure and interaction of matter, investigating unknown substances and classifying elements and their properties. Advanced science tools and a real lab setting allows our students to apply the Scientific Method. Project based learning is utilized as students learn about topics in physics and forensics.
In eighth grade, students continue their second year of studying a chosen language: French, Mandarin or Spanish. The seventh and eighth grade language courses is one high school course that is divided into two years: Language 1A (for seventh grade) and Language 1B (for eighth grade). By the time students leave middle school and enter high school, they have completed one full year of a high-school level language course. In addition to speaking, reading, writing and listening in the target language, classes include cultural immersion and activities.
Each middle school visual arts course is a three year, semester long journey, with an emphasis on problem solving through the art making process. Students have the opportunity to explore a wide range of two and three-dimensional media. Artists, art in society, and art history are discussed as they relate to what the students are discovering in their personal work. Students are taught to recognize the elements of design, and through both private and group critiques, learn to communicate their ideas successfully.
Choosing from courses in jazz band, choir, strings, instruments, and pop a cappella, middle school students participate in performing arts year-round. In addition to music electives, students have the option to take an improv comedy class (open to seventh and eighth graders). The improv course focuses on the basics of improvisational theatre and comedic acting. Students learn how to create compelling characters and relationships, work as a team to engage the audience, and listen and react in the moment.
Physical education courses are designed to provide students an opportunity to experience a variety of team sports, team building activities and fitness exercises. The following areas are emphasized: developing skills that improve one’s strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and speed; understanding the rules and regulations that govern each sport through participation in a variety of modified drills and games; understanding basic forms of team play and strategy; exhibiting sportsmanlike behavior; and developing team skills.