Eighth Grade is a year of rumbling revolution and the earnest seeking of independence; it is a year of incredible change and incredible growth. As the eighth-grade adolescent makes his or her journey through this oft-times turbulent year, s/he is met by a curriculum that offers up pictures of historical individuals who have sought for the same freedom and independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal! In these unforgettable words, it is plain that Jefferson’s unwavering passion for freedom is undeniable, but his perception of the human condition and his eloquence in his communication made all the difference in the character of the independence that followed. History in the eighth grade follows the lives of individuals who helped shape, or were shaped by, the revolutions going on around them. The Industrial, American, French Revolutions are visited. The American Civil War and the American Civil Rights Movement are also visited.
Students are divided into two streams. Algebra focuses on linear equations and applications in one and two variables including systems of equations. They apply graphical and algebraic methods to find solutions to many relevant problems. Pre-Algebra focuses on solving one-step, two-step, and multi-step linear equations and inequalities. Khan Academy is used as an online tool to help practice and master these topics.
Literature read includes short stories, poetry, and Shakespearean drama. In the language arts there is an increasing emphasis on nuances of style and grammar in the student’s expository and creative writing. Students read and study modern literature and works from across the curriculum, and produce a class play.
Physiology, Physics and Chemistry are all continued from 7th Science. The students will study the structure and function of the human skeleton, the eye and the ear, while touching on muscles, tendons, ligaments and the brain. The Physics studied covers motion, forces, pressure, density, buoyancy and leads directly to the study of Meteorology. Finally the students will study the Chemistry of living things, with a focus on carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins.
Students continue to develop their ability to play violin, viola, cello, bass, and alto recorder in an orchestra. They are taught more advanced music reading concepts and more advanced playing techniques. They will also continue to develop their ability to play soprano, alto, tenor, and bass recorder in an ensemble and they will continue to develop their choral singing skills. Students will learn to identify stylistic characteristics of music periods and composers and learn the key periods and dates of music history. The 8th grade music class will perform in two string orchestra concerts.
In addition to the scientific drawings done throughout the year, the students learn how to draw and paint the human being. Realism in proportion, light and shadow is emphasized. The students also design, construct and hand-decorate the five platonic solids.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE (Spanish)
Emphasis is placed on the reinforcement and acquisition of grammar and other vocabulary study that will prepare students for high school-level Spanish. Students continue to formally study various aspects of grammar, including, for example, deeper work into a range of regular and irregular verbs and tenses, possessive adjectives and superlatives. Students apply their burgeoning fluency in Spanish to reading two short novels, short stories, and passages in Spanish.
HISTORY and SOCIAL STUDIES
The forward-looking impulse is best addressed in the main lesson, and in particular, the history curriculum. Whereas the seventh grade took as its theme the intellectual and aesthetic flowering of the Renaissance, the eighth grade is fully present in modern times. Its aim is to bring the accumulated image of world civilization up to the present day. Nothing characterizes the modern period better than the great revolutions—the industrial, political, and scientific revolutions that pulled down the old monarchical orders, and in turn, gave rise to the struggles for individual freedoms and human rights. All these have had far-reaching cultural consequences, and it is important that students consciously realize and appreciate this as they themselves are carried into the turmoil of adolescence.
Students continue to use computers and the computer lab to write essays and other Main Lesson content. The students use teacherweb to communicate with their teachers, gather details of assignments and find copies of Main Lesson chalkboard drawings. Students also build keynote presentations for their 8th grade (year-long) projects. This combines designing/writing content slides, photos, videos and music. Finally digital literacy will be introduced to prepare the students to understand how to do research online, and how to find reliable sites; digital footprints, plagiarism.
Students have generally mastered all developmental motor skills. Games this year provide practice for fun, fitness and continued growth. Games become a vehicle for communication. Each movement class begins and ends in a circle. Each member of the circle will have an active role in a game. Roles will frequently change throughout the year. We discuss democratic process within the group. Group and individual goals are spoken keeping in mind that mistakes made in a game are also lessons. Cooperative games require planning within the group and critical thought. Students work together with clear concise communication. These games have the added benefit of working through self-esteem and instilling leadership qualities. We play games with basketballs, bouncy balls, Frisbees, tennis balls, and a variety of other equipment. Sport games are played with a slight variation to target group cooperation. For example four corners basketball requires the ball to be passed to each member of the team before a basket can be attempted. The ultimate goal is that students will leave Novato Charter School with a life love of games and play.