Grade 8 Curriculum

Mathematics
ALGEBRA: Students (in grades seven or eight) taking algebra use linear functions, linear equations, and systems of linear equations to represent, analyze, and solve a variety of problems. They also use fundamental facts about distance and angles to describe and analyze figures. And they understand that the slope (m) of a line is a constant rate of change and can apply the Pythagorean theorem to problems involving distance between points and analysis of polygons.

Students at this level translate among verbal, tabular, graphical, and algebraic representations of functions. Secure in these translation skills, they become facile in analyzing situations and can discern how to solve problems regardless of the manner in which they are presented. Students apply their understanding about linear relationships and their various forms, including absolute values, factoring polynomials and inequalities to the study of quadratic equations, and exponential relationships. Eighth graders continue to use exponents and scientific notation to describe very large and very small numbers; they use square roots when applying the Pythagorean theorem; and they use theoretical probability and proportions to make predictions. They also use descriptive statistics, including mean, median, and range, to analyze and summarize data sets in order to organize and display data in meaningful ways.

GEOMETRY: Geometry is offered to eighth graders on an as-needed basis for qualified students. Eighth-grade students taking geometry continue to develop and strengthen their skills in algebra throughout the year as they begin their study of geometry. In geometry, students develop spatial sense and logical thinking skills through the study of shapes and their relationships. Students begin with a review of algebraic fundamentals that are essential to understanding higher mathematics. They study topics in geometry including: geometric definitions and reasoning, angles, parallel lines, triangles and congruence, right angle trigonometry, triangle inequalities and square roots, and quadrilaterals. They also study surface areas and volumes (polygons, circles, prisms), proportions and similar polygons, and the writing of proofs.
Course Text: Discovering Geometry: An Inductive Approach

Science: Physical Science
One of the objectives of science in the eighth grade is to investigate and integrate the way in which students develop scientific thinking. Students acknowledge and appreciate science not only in the school via formal instruction, but also in what they themselves directly sense of their world and what the rest of the world communicates to them. To that end, students are expected to extend their scientific literacy to include the comprehension and application of fundamental concepts in the physical sciences and develop a conceptual framework within which experimental observations can be placed and examined.

They are also expected to learn competent laboratory skills through hands-on exploration of important topics in physical science as well as build verbal skills, including a sound scientific vocabulary, and recording techniques that enable clear articulation and presentation of personal observations and of abstract concepts. In addition, they will demonstrate, experience, and appreciate the roles of creativity, objectivity, and perseverance in problem solving.

The broad objective of IPS is to develop laboratory, reasoning, and communication skills in the context of science so that they may apply their knowledge to new situations, while they gain an understanding of the foundations of physical science. The central theme is the study of matter, leading to the development of the atomic model.
Course Texts: Chemical Building Blocks, Practice Hall Science Explorer Series
IPS (Integrated Physical Science) , Science Curriculum Inc., Colorado
Motion, Forces, and Energy, Prentice Hall Science Series

English
The eighth-grade English course fosters a love of writing and literature in our eighth graders and strengthens their abilities to read and write effectively. The major aim of the course is to encourage students to develop and advance their reading, writing, thinking, listening, speaking, and research skills. Other important goals are to support them in developing a deeper understanding of the nature, structure, and power of language and to advance critical thinking skills. In addition, they will expand the ways in which they read, understand, and respond to literature, look more intently at what is around us and analyze how writing and literature reveal an understanding of other people and ourselves. The course will also encourage students to explore and communicate values and feelings and to become more sensitive to what we and others write, read, say and do. They will also comprehend how knowledge is interconnected and sharpen the skills needed to become independent, lifelong learners.

In reading, students preview, predict, infer, and summarize as they distinguish between the main idea and specific details in more complex texts. They interpret literary and poetic devices, identifying the tone and mood of a literary selection, and they will read a minimum of eight to ten individual books per year. While reading, students are asked to consider essential thematic questions, such as:

  • What does literature and writing reveal about your character?
  • About the character of others?

Students write every day and produce longer pieces each week. They generate ideas for writing through reading and making connections across the curriculum and with current events and develop those ideas through the writing process. Students publish a minimum of eight to ten works over the course of the school year and engage in different types of writing and study vocabulary on a weekly basis. They write in a variety of genres, expanding their knowledge of form, structure, and author’s voice genres, such as memoirs, soliloquies, epistles, poems, and essays. Students also write expository essays that synthesize information from a variety of sources and manipulate sentence structure and style to build variation, precision, and complexity in their writing. In addition to examining stylistic and grammatical issues in their writing, students study sentence diagramming, phrases and clauses, sentence structures and variations, sentence styles, sentence combining, punctuation, and usage.

Eighth-grade students also use a variety of reference materials to revise their work. They apply grammatical understanding of phrases and clauses, know high-frequency and lesson- and content-specific words, infer word meanings from roots, prefixes, and suffixes, and edit for subject-verb agreement. They will also develop and refine an extended vocabulary through listening and exposure to a variety of texts and independent reading. They identify incorrect usage and form problems and spell all high-frequency and spelling words with accuracy.

Students will also learn to present information orally in an organized, clear, and logical manner, developing speaking techniques, including voice modulation, inflection, tempo, enunciation, and eye contact, for effective presentations. They recognize and analyze persuasive techniques in oral communication and critique information heard or viewed by paraphrasing and initiating discussions that build on the information presented and they will support a position while acknowledging opposing views. They interpret a speaker’s verbal and non-verbal messages, purposes, and perspectives and identify and use a variety of questions, including literal, inferential, and evaluative.
Sample Course Texts: We study a variety of classic and contemporary works in all genres of literature. Our reading lists are dynamic, changing according to student composites, theme relevance, and new interdisciplinary connections.
Classical Roots, Book B
English Workshop, Book 3
Rules of the Game Grammar, Book 3
Frenchtown Summer by Robert Cormier
Night by Elie Wiesel
Going Where I’m Coming From ed. by Anne Mazer
America Street ed. by Anne Mazer
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Macbeth by Shakespeare
Boy by Roald Dahl
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Students also read a diverse array of small group and self-selected texts from a wide variety genres, such as nonfiction and fantasy. We also study a wide selection of short stories, poems, and articles.

History: World History
The eighth-grade course introduces students to the foundations of worldwide struggles and triumphs. We attempt to connect history with current events and trends whenever possible, thus making history come alive for our students. Independent learning skills are emphasized through various activities and assessments, culminating with the final exposition project. In trimester one, students study democracy in our world (past and present), Greek and Roman art history, the foundations of Medieval Europe and the height of the Medieval civilization, the building of national monarchies, and the Golden Ages outside Western Europe. In trimester two, eighth-grade students study Europe in transition— the Renaissance and Reformation, an age of revolution, the dawn of the Industrial Age and age of science, and the triumph of Nationalism. In trimester three, students study recent challenges for the United States, focusing on current events and preparing for the Learning Exposition, a ten-week independent study on a self-selected topic.
Course Text: World History: The Human Journey

Information Literacy and Technology
The overall goal of the seventh-grade course is to enable students to acquire and hone the skills necessary to harness the vast flow of information and to be agile lifelong learners, using technology and media as two powerful tools. The sub-goals of this course require upper schoolers at this level to use technology and media to collaborate and communicate as well as to access and evaluate information.

We have adapted national and international technology and media standards as part of our performance expectations. Students bolster their skills to use technology and media enhance the following skills:


  • Creativity and innovation
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Research and information fluency
  • Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
  • Digital citizenship
  • Technology operations and concepts

Moreover, technology skills are also integrated with subject areas, as students use many different software programs and platforms to complete research, class work, and projects. In upper school, there is increased focus on using digital media and environments to communicate, to work collaboratively, to support individual learning, and to contribute to the learning of others. In addition, students focus on ethical digital citizenship, working to demonstrate mature responsibility for handling technology and for respecting individual and group work within shared networks.

World Languages: Chinese (Mandarin), Spanish, French, Latin
Goals of the of the eighth-grade Chinese course are to enable the students to develop basic communicative skills in listening and speaking on age-appropriate topics; to enable them to recognize and write more new Chinese characters; and to increase their awareness and understanding of the Chinese Pinyin pronunciation system and Chinese culture. Students consistently matriculate into high school Chinese 2 courses.
Course Texts: Easy Steps to Chinese Volumes 2 & 3

In the eighth grade, the level-two Spanish course begins at Far Hills Country Day School. The goal of the course is to enable each student to reach his/her highest level of competency in the five areas of language instruction: listening, reading, writing, speaking, and culture. The course content is based on chapters 1-5 of the course text book. Along with the student text and workbook, the course is supplemented with videos, CDs and a CD-ROM program.
Course Text: ¡Exprésate! Level 2

For eighth graders, French 8 comprises the second half of the level-one course. The goal of the course is to enable each student to reach their highest level of competency in the five areas of language instruction: listening, reading, writing, speaking, and culture. The course content is based on the course text book. Along with the student text and workbook, the course is supplemented with videos, CDs and Internet projects.
Course Text: Allez, viens by Holt Rinehart Winston

The eighth-grade course serves as a continuation of the seventh-grade Latin course. The course is offered two days per week. After two years of study in the seventh and eighth grades, between 3/4 and one year of high school Latin is achieved. Through readings in Latin about Pompeii and the Roman civilization, students gain a feel for the language and the culture. An emphasis is placed on grammar and on the connection between Latin and the English language.
Course Text: The Cambridge Latin Course, Unit 1

The Art: Selectives
Selectives in the arts include the following: acting/scenes, artistic challenge, musical theater scenes, altered books, enviro-art, enameling, set design, 3-D multimedia sculpture, pottery, Pop art, portraits, musical theater preparation, I-movie film, improvisation, Stomp, masters painting, fabric arts, graphic design/marketing, and experimental painting.

Test Preparation
In preparation for standardized tests, especially the SSAT, eighth-grade students participate in a dedicated test preparation program throughout the year. Students have the opportunity to hone numerous academic skills, including vocabulary, critical reading and thinking, and problem solving.