Eighth Grade

NFS Curriculum Update :: December, 2014

Advanced Handbells

This wonderful group of musicians dove right in! We have highlighted and played through several Christmas pieces. We will be preparing a piece or two to play at the Holiday Meeting for Worship on the 19th and I am hoping to put a short program together to play at Pennswood Village.


Students have filmed their very first shorts. After an introduction and time storyboarding, students formed groups and worked together to film using themselves or objects as subjects. Students are now building simple small pieces using plasticine clay and will work together to practice moving and shooting claymation shorts. This experience will come in handy for our final project. Later this month we will begin to edit, add titles and sound using iMovie.

Debate & Public Speaking

Veteran and new Debate and Public Speaking students are offto a great start! Students were recorded reading the new Newtown Friends School mission statement and given feedback regarding pace, volume, articulation, eye contact, body control, emphasis and gesture. They wrote “I Like” speeches describing a particular passion and again viewed themselves after being recorded. Currently, students are preparing “Please, parent, please” speeches where they argue for a privilege or item they have been denied previously. Debate class capitalizes on teenagers’ natural ability to argue!


As we move into December, eighth grade English students will explore new genres: nonfiction and historical fiction. Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night, will serve as the introduction point to our study of literature related to the Holocaust. This literature unit will complement the study of the same time period in social studies, proving essential context and emotional access through the voices, real and imagined, of people connected to the events. This difficult yet essential literature unit offers us the opportunity to examine our history and our humanity. After we read and discuss Night as a class, students will work in book clubs to explore a related text of their choice. Selections will include both historical fiction, like The Book Thief and Milkweed, and nonfiction offerings like The Diary of Anne Frank. Upon completing their books, the clubs will work together to create a VoiceThread, a collaborative, multimedia presentation about their text.


This month the eighth grade Latin students will wrap up Lesson XVI, which introduces second declension neuter nouns. Students will complete their first mini-project of the year, an illustration of an original composition, as a way to practice using neuter nouns in context. We will then move on to Lesson XVII, which covers the future and perfect tenses of the irregular verb sum. It also presents a variety of ways to use the infinitive verb form. Up to this point, students have been able to identify and translate infinitives independently of context, but in this lesson, students will learn to distinguish between subjective, complementary, and objective infinitives in Latin sentences.


On level

Eighth graders will jump back into solving linear systems and perfect his or her skills on solving using graphing, substitution and elimination. We will continue to interpret given scenarios and transform them into linear systems with two variables. Mixtures, interest, and wind/air speed are all new real-life applications that will be explored. Then, the analysts will choose between comparing cell phone plans, cable plans, or two cars to synthesize which is the better buy based on the group’s consumer’s needs and desires. The cooperative groups will construct scenarios, linear systems, and a conclusive report that will be shared with the class. We will also continue working with Microsoft Excel, learning functions on the graphing calculators, and sharing class notes and resources in Google Classroom.


Eighth grade problem-solvers will start December off determining whether or not the two NASA astronauts have enough oxygen to install solar panels on the International Space Station with regard to oxygen usage. Following analysis of the given scenario, students will work in cooperative groups and create scenarios around a specific topic that involve a three-variable linear system. Within these scenarios, the groups will create the scenario, describe the scenario as a linear system, solve the system, and advise the client based on the results. Toward the end of the month, eighth graders will revisit absolute value functions and perform translations on the Cartesian plane. We will also continue working with Microsoft Excel, learning functions on the graphing calculators, and sharing class notes and resources in Google Classroom.


December is the start of our basketball unit and many of the classes this month will focus on various basketball skills, drills and activities. We will play basketball games called H-O-R-S-E and Twenty One. We will play large group games like BBK and Knockout. We will play full and half court basketball games too. Fitness and skill development remain an important part of our activities, as well as sportsmanship and fair play.


In December, eighth graders will continue their studies in physics. Specifically, we will cover the following topics: force, mass, acceleration, friction, gravity, action, reaction, and forces in fluids. Students will begin to understand the principles involved in flight on Earth and in space. Students will engage in a number of labs and activities that will demonstrate these principles. We will have a paper airplane challenge that will cap this month’s learning.

Service Learning

This month the second batch of Service Learners will lay the groundwork for their service projects. Students will choose an issue in the world that is of concern to them and will research the causes of and remedies for this issue. They will synthesize their findings into an annotated bibliography and present a brief speech to their classmates persuading them of the importance of their issues. After these presentations, students will form groups based on their shared interests, and they will begin to write their project proposals. Groups will revise and edit their proposals to create detailed and easy-to-follow plans for their service projects by the end of the month.

Social Studies

In December the eighth grade social studies students will learn more about America’s involvement in World War II as well as the Holocaust. We will take a field trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. to get a better understanding of the experience of the people involved. We will also meet and hear from a Holocaust survivor. In December we will complete our first Document-Based Question (DBQ) Research Essay. The students have been working hard to find primary sources that demonstrate whether a historical figure’s actions made a difference, whether positive or negative, during World War II. The students are performing admirably and I believe that they will continue to be successful with these skills into high school.


Eighth grade Spanish students will continue to work on research and translation regarding the Inca Empire. Each student was assigned a cultural aspect of the Inca civilization to investigate. He or she will need to prepare their information to be presented in a paper slide video. Students will need to prepare dialogue cards and drawings, practice clear pronunciation, and execute a lively delivery to create an informative and interesting video.