Eighth Grade

Curriculum Update :: January, 2014

Debate & Public Speaking

We have a lot to accomplish in the weeks that remain. This week, students will explore the official topics used this year and in previous years by middle school debate teams. This process will yield a student- driven selection of 10 – 12 topics that require research; students will debate in two person teams on these topics. We finish off the quarter with our debate tournament using topics suggested by Upper School teachers that are either relevant to their teaching area of expertise and/or a subject they are interested in. The tournament will be organized in such a way that the debate to determine tournament champion will take place during Upper School assembly.

Design Studio

Design Studio students are wrapping up their work in industrial and furniture design and are now looking in on the world of advertising. After becoming more familiar with the work of world renowned designer Milton Glaser and logo design students will choose which area of advertising they are going to focus on and create a multi medium design. Before our elective ends we will dive into the the world of fashion., use technology to create creatures for sci-fi film and present our designs to various "clients".


In January, eighth grade English students will use their in-depth exploration of Elie Wiesel’s Night as a jumping off point for further exploration of the time period surrounding World War II and the Holocaust. Early in the month, students will tackle their first formal in-class critical essay, a thesis-driven close reading of selections from Wiesel’s memoir. Next, readers will break into book clubs to explore characters, storylines, and writing styles of their preference. Among others, selections include Annexed, a retelling of the events that occurred in Anne Frank’s Secret Annex from the perspective of Peter van Pels, the young man in hiding with her; The Berlin Boxing Club, which explores the connection between the fictional character of Karl Stern, a young Jewish boy, and his hero, real life boxer Max Schmeling; Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys’s novel based on the true stories of survivors of Lithuania’s invasion by the Soviet Union; and Markus Zusak’s acclaimed novel The Book Thief, the story of how Liesel Meminger’s love of books defines her survival of Nazi Germany. In addition to our work with literature and writing, vocabulary study is ongoing, and grammar topics for the month include subordinate clauses as nouns and modifiers.


This month the 8th grade Latin students will put the finishing touches on Lesson 16, completing our study of 2nd declension neuter nouns. This will include our first mini-project of the year, illustrating an original composition featuring neuter nouns in context. We will then transition to Lesson 17, in which students will master the future and perfect tenses of sum, an irregular linking verb. We will also explore a variety of ways to use the infinitive form of a Latin verb. Students will learn how to identify infinitives that are being used as subjects, complements, and direct objects.


In December, each student surveyed at least five people, collectively surveying about 150 people. With the data now inputted in excel, students will create graphs, analyze data and make predictions about the sample. We will also be working on solving linear systems by graphing, substitution and elimination. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the scenario. Students will determine when it is best to utilize each method and apply their understanding of linear systems by designing a presentation on which is the better buy based on the consumer.

Math app of the month: Sector 33

Become an air traffic controller and as the planes merge into the same traffic stream, you have to adjust the speeds of the planes and routes to make sure the planes are spaced appropriately from each other and land on time. Each minute one plane is late all of the other planes flying behind it are also affected. Logic and reasoning are used to play this and the best part is, the app is free!


In Upper School PE we will continue to develop our physical fitness and work on muscular strength with a focus on core. PE continues with our basketball unit, as students will participate in a 3 on 3 basketball tournament. Each student was placed on a team based on skill level and teams will compete against the other teams in the class, standings will be kept as well as playoffs and a championship game. We will also begin to focus on jump rope in class as we prepare for the 3rd annual Jump Rope for Heart event in February.


Eighth graders go to outer space during January with their study of Astronomy/Space Science. Students will create scale models of systems to understand the enormity of space and Earth’s place in our solar system, galaxy, and universe. Ultimately, each student will “adopt” a constellation and celestial object for which they will give a presentation during a “star party."

Social Studies

Our study of the Holocaust and World War II will continue through January. Topics include Kristallnacht as a turning point in Nazi policies towards Jews as well as the world's response the plight of refugees throughout Europe. We will look at the Evian Conference, the Voyage of the St. Louis, and the Roger-Wagners bill as examples of America's knowledge of and action taken regarding the situation abroad. Hitler's blitzkrieg into Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, and finally France will be discussed, as well as his decision to invade the USSR. A DBQ assessment about Hitler's rise to power and the causes of the war is scheduled for Thursday 1/16. We will study life at war in Europe, the attack on Pearl Harbor and US entry into the war, and Jewish resistance including partisans and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

In addition, we will begin our research paper unit. Each student will be guided in selecting a topic and formulating a question related to the Holocaust or World War II. A series of mini-lessons will provide them with directions and modeling as to how to tackle researching a weighty historical topic: developing questions, locating valid primary and secondary sources, reassessing questions, formulating draft theses, assembling outlines, drafting, citing, revising, and publishing. An email to 8th grade parents regarding this project will be sent out within the next week or two.


8th grade Spanish students continued to improve the use of the conditional tense in various contexts. They will view and read the transcription from a video from Spain. The video presents a narrator describing the trip of his dreams; the audio and visual description will assist student’s understanding and application of this tense. Utilizing graphic organizers, students will brainstorm and record ideas of places and things they would like to do. They will organize their ideas, write and present orally, El viaje de sus sueños (the trip of their dreams).

Theater Design

Happy New Year! Students in theatre design did a great job with their sewing projects and we have moved on to painting! I am having a wonderful time with them.