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What's New in Eighth Grade?

Eighth grade is the culminating year for a Wyndcroft student.  The eighth grade curriculum provides numerous opportunities for eighth graders to demonstrate both their maturity and their readiness for continued academic study after graduation.  Eighth graders read and debate Romeo and Juliet, both in Language Arts and in Music class.  They compute algebraic equations and reflect on the causes and consequences of the Civil War.  A specific highlight of the year is a four day trip to Boston to explore the history and cultural aspects of the city and surrounding areas. Eighth graders also have the choice of continuing in both French and Latin, or taking only one foreign language with additional math and language arts support.

Eighth graders at Wyndcroft are considered true school leaders, and they show their leadership throughout the school.  They assist at the school store, record lunch orders for the kindergarteners, and read morning announcements.  They manage and captain our athletic teams as well as mentor and encourage our younger athletes.  One of their most significant achievements is the creation of the school’s yearbook, a 100+ page professionally published hardbound book entitled The Wyndward.  Eighth graders are responsible for all aspects of the yearbook, including layouts, articles, graphics, and photographs.  Through all of these ways, eighth graders forge connections throughout the entire school and build a sense of community. 

The following is a typical eighth grade weekly schedule at Wyndcroft:

7 periods of Language Arts (two double periods each week)
6 periods of Mathematics (one double period each week)
5 periods of Social Studies and Science
5 periods of Athletics / Team Sports practices (during and after school)
4 periods each of French and/or Latin
4 periods of rotating specials (Art, Computer, Health, Music)
2 periods of Yearbook
2 periods of Workshops (L.A., Math) and Study Halls (if only one foreign language is taken)
1 period each of Chapel, Group Advisory, Study Hall, and optional Chorus

Language Arts

This course focuses on further development of and polishing of the students’ basic skills of spelling / vocabulary, grammar, writing, and literature appreciation. The year begins with a discussion of and testing of the required, summer reading novel; furthermore, the students hand in written book reports from books of their choosing. The students begin work in the Sadlier-Oxford vocabulary book. Lessons on vocabulary words, synonyms, antonyms, analogies, completing the sentence, choosing the right word, word families, and enrichment of reading skills such as restatement, context clues, contrast clues, and cause and effect clues are presented. Grammar is taught through editing and proof-reading assignments, through assigned writing, and as weaknesses are observed in the students’ work. Exercises from the text strengthen the students’ skills. More intense work with parts of speech and with grammar is assigned. Writing is taught through a variety of lessons: weekly assignments in vocabulary, formal paragraph construction, readers’ response, creative writing tasks, and essay tests. These skills are expanded upon; more is expected from eighth grade writers. More formal writing is expected from eighth grade writers as they prepare essays for secondary school applications and for numerous class assignments. Working with the literature textbook and other resources, students are exposed to fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, and essays. The students study Romeo and Juliet and the life and times of William Shakespeare; they also read and study Of Mice and Men.   In the spring, students spend time writing and illustrating a children’s book. Following a formula that includes various literary terms and grammar requirements, the students develop their books and then present them to Lower School students. The eighth grade class produces and publishes the Wyndcroft School’s yearbook The Wyndward, in a dedicated weekly year-book lesson. Time is spent writing copy, creating layouts, taking pictures, writing captions, and learning all aspects of publishing.

 

Mathematics

The eighth grade students begin the year with a comprehensive review of factoring polynomials, solving equations by factoring and working with algebraic fractions.  Students will then continue with ratios, proportions, and percent problems along with negative exponents and scientific notation.  Study of linear equations include: graphing ordered pairs, graphs of linear equations, slope, and solving systems of linear equations. Solving inequalities and problems using inequalities are explored along with absolute value in open sentences.  Students will study properties of rational and irrational numbers, Pythagorean Theorem, and simplifying radical expressions.  Students will study quadratic functions using several methods to solve, including completing the square and using the quadratic formula.  Students will graph quadratic equations and use the quadratic formula to solve word problems.  At the end of the eyar students may be introduced to plane geometry.

 

 

 

 
Science

This year-long course focuses on a variety of topics.  The topics can be broken into five major areas: botany, chemistry, cartography, geology, and meteorology.  The year begins with an introduction to different branches of science.  A plant unit that builds on the biology from seventh grade follows.  In the chemistry section, the students are introduced to the following topics: atoms, the periodic table, chemical bonding, chemical compounds, chemical reactions,  acids and bases, and the pH scale.  Hands-on activities are done to emphasize the chemistry that is taught.  In the cartography section, the students gain an understanding of the history and importance of map-making.  The student is also introduced to a number of different map projections.  In the geology section, the student is introduced to the basic mineral types, the rock cycle, energy resources, the fossil record, and plate tectonics.  In the meteorology section, the atmosphere and a basic understanding of weather are emphasized.   Throughout the year, lab work and projects are done to reinforce the topics.  Students also learn how to interpret graphs and figures related to the topics covered.

 

Social Studies

The course focuses on American history from 1820 to 1945.  Specific historical themes which are examined include the rise of sectionalism prior to the Civil War, industrialization and the rise of corporations, the growth of the United States as a world power in the late 1890s, the ongoing tension in foreign policy between isolationism and global activism, the causes and results of the Great Depression both nationally and internationally, and the causes of World War II.

 

Foreign Languages

All eighth grade students are required to complete a five course core curriculum of math, language arts, science, social studies, and foreign language (French or Latin).  Based on the student’s overall academic progress and success with language study in seventh grade, the school will recommend that a student entering eighth grade follow one of the following schedules:

  • Study the core curriculum of five courses, with two study halls and one period each of math and language arts workshops
  • Study the five course core curriculum with an elective second language

The eighth grade French course focuses on speaking, writing, and understanding French at an advanced level.  Eighth graders expand their grammar knowledge with the use of direct/indirect object pronouns of the past, imperfect, conditional, and future verb tenses.  The mastery of passé composé enables students to expand on verbal and written expression.  There is more student initiated dialogue at this stage.  Student speaking is enhanced with student-led verb conjugations, class participation using repetition, games, and recollection, and compare and contrast dialogues. Writing is evaluated with writing assignments, text book assignments, free writing, and quizzes/tests.  Student translation is focused on internal translation as well as written.  Eighth grade completes a short story in French with illustrations, spends the second quarter studying the country of France and the monde francophone, as well as units on geography, language, history, the arts, and current events.  Students read Le Petit Prince and Le Vol de la Joconde.  Supplementary authentic reading material is provided for student pleasure. 

 

Eighth grade Latin is the culmination of the Latin program.  Students explore an intense sequence of grammatical forms and functions.  The focus of translation is independence.  Students translate short adapted Latin stories based on Homer’s Odyssey.  Class review of a story translation is student directed, with emphasis on discovering variations in meaning rather than agreeing upon a uniform translation of words.  As a final project of the year, eighth graders scan, read, and memorize small sections of authentic Latin poetry.  As with other grades, students select a cultural topic of their choice to research for presentation in the Latin Day festival.

Specials:

Art

Eighth graders examine the world of art in these areas:

Space:  perspective, design recognition, negative and positive
Light:  monochromatic, triad, split complements
Texture:  contrast

Computer

This course begins with a brief review of skills previously met.  The primary focus of this course is the development of a multimedia presentation of individual work. Students use a variety of input devices and peripherals as well as editing tools to create unique multimedia projects covering a variety of topics.  Individuals learn to utilize the variety of multimedia formats to present their work to the teacher and their peers.  There is an emphasis on project management and individual ownership of all work.

 

Health

 

These classes deal with individual healthy choices as students approach young adulthood.  Healthy and appropriate relationships, respect, and communication are stressed.  There are lessons on human reproduction, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV/AIDS.  This course stresses that only abstinence can fully prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and that abstinence is the only acceptable behavior for students at this age.  (N.B. Parent permission is required for students to attend classes covering human sexuality.  Students not given parent permission to attend will be given self-study packets to complete during the time of the assigned health class.)

 

 

 

Music

The course begins with the study of West Side Story and how it compares to Romeo and Juliet (which is studied in English class at the same time). There is also the opportunity to participate in chorus and select chorus.

Study Skills

This course focuses on the contents of the teenage guide book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.

this time may also be spent on review for the SSAT/ISEE testing.

Physical Education / Team Sports

Students in grades six through eight take part in team sports and athletic activities. Students may choose to participate in team sports each season or participate in an alternative athletic option. These options may include fitness, yoga, racquet sports, dance, or karate. The fall team sport options are boys’ soccer, girls’ field hockey, and co-ed cross-country. In the winter, students may choose the team sport of basketball and the spring team sport option is lacrosse (both for boys and girls). 


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