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Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade Science student at table doing work

English

The English curriculum for Grade 8 focuses on sharpening critical reading and writing skills. Literature selections are mostly from the 19th and 20th centuries, highlighting such literary and artistic movements as romanticism and realism. Students also explore the conventions and metonymies in Gothic literature, and they analyze the themes and symbols sprinkled throughout science fiction. Students also fulfill independent reading requirements each trimester, including oral presentations in which they must discuss their chosen independent reading book, making sure to identify and explain literary concepts and devices, as well as convey the work’s overall theme.

Writing makes up a large part of this course. Students learn to become comfortable with themselves as writers and to express their ideas fully. Having mastered composition and structural forms of writing in Grade 7, the Grade 8 students concentrate on content and use of textual citations in their responses to literature. Along with the literary analysis, students practice other types of essays, including argumentative, cause and effect, compare and contrast, descriptive, expository, persuasive, and reflective. Students immerse themselves in the writing process for each assignment, often engaging in it during class time. In addition, one-on-one writing conferences with the teacher throughout the year help each student focus on those areas of his or her writing that need attention. During writing workshop sessions, students correct their own mistakes while also practicing constructive criticism through peer editing.

Grammar lessons often coincide with material students are learning in French, Latin, and Spanish classes. Students complete grammar exercise worksheets and activities for homework to reinforce what they have been learning in class.

Texts and Literature:
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare
An annually rotating Gothic novel
Selected poems and short stories by Edgar Allan Poe
Other selected short stories have included:

“A Telephone Call” by Dorothy Parker
"Bernice Bobs Her Hair" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Hills like White Elephants” by Ernest Hemingway
“Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl
“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
“There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury
Vocabulary selected from literature and SSAT preparatory materials

World Languages

TPS offers students the unique opportunity to master one modern language (French or Spanish) or study its ancestor, Latin. The department helps students to make intra- and inter-connections among these languages and the rest of their curriculum, particularly between English and history, and also between math and science. On graduation from ninth grade, students are prepared for either the third or fourth year high school level course. While at TPS, students learn vocabulary and grammar in order to read original texts and to communicate with fluency. In modern language, students develop their conversational and written skills and an appreciation for the cultures of those who speak the language through regular practice, role-plays, telling and reading stories, songs, videos, literature, and studying authentic materials.

French

In eighth grade, students continue with the French II course begun in seventh grade. Mastery of targeted vocabulary and grammatical structures is achieved through weekly readings, regular conversations, and continued use of the target language at all times. Students expand their explicit understanding of grammar, linguistics, ways of studying language, and how language is acquired. Using these skills, students build a foundation for lifelong learning of languages. Lively classes take place in French, and students express themselves in French at all times in class.

Throughout the year, students review and master the present and past tenses, reflexive verbs, direct and indirect object pronouns, noun-adjective agreement, and comparisons. Students also learn the future and conditional tenses. While each unit focuses on a specific skill set, grammatical structure, and list of thematic vocabulary, everything students learn in one unit is consistently reviewed and reinforced in subsequent units throughout the year. Repetition is key to language acquisition. Students constantly see the same patterns and are encouraged to make connections between and among units, and to think of language as a whole rather than broken up into parts.

To supplement the text, students explore and create a variety of media (newspaper and magazine articles, poems, songs, films, short stories, and websites), which are then used in discussions, presentations, debates, and writing assignments. Interdisciplinary connections are made each year with other eighth grade curricula, including science, English, and art. Teachers encourage student to think critically, formulate opinions, and use their knowledge of French to deepen their understanding of other subjects as well.

Text:
Bon Voyage Level 2 Textbook & Workbook, McGraw Hill

Latin

The successful First Year Latin student continues on to Second Year Latin to expand his or her knowledge of the grammatical, syntactical, and semantic underpinnings of Latin, while continuing to explore ancient Roman culture. The year starts with a brief grammatical review of First Year Latin before delving into new material. After revisiting previously learned grammar points, Second Year Latin picks up precisely where First Year Latin ended in Unit 2; the class moves on from Pompeii to Roman-colonized Britain. As the students continue to follow one of the lone survivors of the Caecilius family through Britain and even into Egypt, they not only learn more advanced Latin grammar and vocabulary, but also about slavery, holidays, and festivals.

Unit 2 is divided into eight stages with significantly longer stories than those of Unit 1. In Second Year Latin, students learn to read increasingly complex Latin while digesting an extensive amount of new vocabulary to begin to prepare them to read original Latin authors. However, since the students are exposed to the grammar points and vocabulary so often in the stories, they are required to do little rote memorization to grasp the material compared to other methods of Latin instruction.

Weekly assessments of vocabulary, grammar, and translation as well as a test every two to three stages, ensure that the students are keeping up with the material. Highlights of grammar learned in Unit 2 are irregular verbs, comparative and superlative adjectives, and participles. In addition to such important grammatical points, a Second Year Latin student will know well over 1,000 Latin words and will become increasingly able to see connections between Latin and English vocabulary. 

Second Year Latin completes Unit 2 and moves directly on to Unit 3. The Latin in Unit 3 becomes significantly more challenging and begins to resemble the Latin one might find in ancient texts. Students continue a complex and thorough study of participles and delve into the subjunctive mood. 

The Cambridge Latin Course is well known for its atypical, gradual approach to acquiring the Latin language. Students are exposed to small, easily-digestible amounts of material, instead of being forced to memorize entire charts of forms. They gain an appreciation of the ancient Roman culture while reading and understanding Latin at the same time. 

Text:
Cambridge Latin Course, Unit 2 and Unit 3

Spanish

The eighth grade Spanish curriculum maintains continuity with the seventh grade and provides a smooth transition by keeping emphasis on the four key skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. To develop these skills, students engage in projects and presentations. In addition to the textbook, the course also makes use of technology, videos, audio CDs, songs, and stories to supplement the teaching of the language. The goal of the course is to provide students with the ability to understand and work with more complex grammatical structures and syntactical problems.

Students complete the second part of the textbook Realidades II, units 5-9. The content balances grammar, oral and written communication, and vocabulary. It emphasizes communication and stresses interpersonal relationships in meaningful contexts. Technology is integrated into each lesson. The program offers a CD-ROM with video programs and online technology designed to integrate reading, listening, writing, and conversational Spanish. There is an emphasis on daily life themes, and students have ample opportunities to express themselves in Spanish. There is a great deal of emphasis on communication that enables students to function in a technological society and the global marketplace.

The objectives of the course are for students to: 

  • understand and convey information beyond themselves, such as geography, directions, weather, dates, time, food, travel, colors, and numbers; 
  • learn how to best express their needs and wants; 
  • understand and express important ideas and abstractions in some detail; 
  • use and understand expressions indicating emotion; 
  • create simple and original written assignments, using different verb tenses and their proper conjugations;
  • understand important ideas in highly contextualized and authentic text.

Students explore many grammar concepts, including:

  • expressions using tener; 
  • the use of “Que” in exclamations; 
  • preterite of the verbs oir, leer, creer and destruir; 
  • irregular preterites venir, poner, decir, and traer; 
  • other uses of the preterite and the imperfect; 
  • imperfect progressive; 
  • stem changing verbs, reflexive verbs, and verbs that use indirect object pronouns;
  • present perfect;
  • impersonal se, negtative tu commands, usted and ustedes commands;
  • present subjunctive, present subjunctive with impersonal expressions, present subjunctive of stem-changing verbs, present 
  • subjunctive with expressions of doubt; 
  • verbs with spelling changes in the present tense; 
  • simple future tense.

Stories and novels are also a vital part of the curriculum where students have an excellent opportunity to see vocabulary and expressions in context. This literature also helps them with their reading and comprehension skills. For each unit, students have two stories, where they read and complete spoken and written activities. They also read two Spanish novels of Level II.

The course also combines learning the Spanish language with an appreciation for various aspects of the Spanish cultures around the world. Also, every two weeks, students watch a cultural video called Videocultura II, Temas 5-9, which shows cultural traditions and costumes in the Spanish-speaking countries. After watching the video, students engage in speaking and writing activities related to that video which help them learn about other cultures and improve their Spanish.

Text:

Realidades II, Units 5-9, Prentice Hall

Novels:

El viaje perdido 

Viva el toro

Videos:

"En busca de la verdad," episodes 5-10
"Videocultura II," Temas 5-9 
"GramActiva"    
Education Discovery Spanish videos

Mathematics

In the Upper School, students learn and practice each mathematical idea through its application to practical problems, providing many opportunities for the development of skills and an understanding of the importance of mathematics in everyday life. The emphasis on everyday mathematics applications extends to the use of technology. Students use graphing calculators, computer programs, and scientific probes to facilitate their understanding.

Upper School students are encouraged to develop independent habits of reflection. The mathematics program develops skill in knowing how and when to use various algorithms, properties, and mathematical relationships. Students are encouraged to be self-reliant and collaborative in their learning. Cross-grade collaborations deepen the experiences of our students. Homework and daily quizzes provide opportunities for practice and self-analysis.

There are several mathematics courses available to Upper School students. These multiple options allow students to participate in a mathematics program that meets their needs as individual learners. Read the articles below for a description of our mathematics courses.

Algebra 1A

This is the first year of a two-year Algebra I course. This course reinforces previously learned arithmetic skills in the context of multiple applications. Pre-algebra concepts and skills are further developed and integrated into basic algebraic manipulations. Teachers introduce solving linear equations gradually through the use of hands-on activities to ensure that students fully understand the underlying mathematics. This is followed by an introduction to representing linear equations and inequalities graphically. Students learn that writing linear equations is a problem solving strategy that includes the use of proportional reasoning. Students explore connections among arithmetic, algebra, and geometry to ease their intellectual progression to higher level mathematics. 

Text:

Algebra, Holt McDougal

Algebra 1B

This course is the second year of a two-year Algebra I course. It provides students with an opportunity to hone their algebraic skills while applying them in a geometric context. Number operations, solving linear and quadratic equations, solving inequalities, simple rational expressions, and graphing are integrated in this course. Students make connections and appreciate the usefulness of these skills in their everyday lives. Teachers present algebraic concepts and skills visually and concretely using coordinate geometry. This integrated approach, placing an emphasis on coordinate geometry, prepares students for success in geometry by giving them the content prerequisites they need.

Text:

Algebra, Holt McDougal

Advanced Algebra

This is an advanced algebra course that includes a thorough examination of linear functions, inequalities, quadratic equations, and rational expressions. This course highlights the application of this material, as well as other concepts covered in a traditional Algebra I course. In addition, this course introduces students to more advanced concepts and applications, including systems of equations over three variables, matrices, linear programing, and exponential and logarithmic functions. Students become comfortable using graphing calculators to explore problems and apply the concepts that they study.

Texts:

Algebra and Algebra II, Holt McDougal

Algebra II

This course emphasizes facility with algebraic expressions and forms, especially linear and quadratic forms, powers and roots, and functions based on these concepts. Students learn about logarithmic, trigonometric, polynomial and other special functions as tools for modeling real-world situations. The course applies geometric ideas learned in previous years, including transformations and measurement formulas. The use of graphing calculators allows students to explore complex concepts. Work with polynomials and rational expressions is integrated with an emphasis on applications.

Text:

Algebra II, Holt McDougal

History

The eighth grade history course is a survey of America’s modern political, economic, intellectual, and religious development. The course examines the history of the United States of America from the dissolution of the Union to present-day by analyzing the different experiences of Americans’ ethnically, racially, and economically diverse population.

The format of the class consists of readings, lectures, discussions, and film. Lectures, PowerPoint presentations, and texts provide students with conceptual frameworks and facts for understanding modern American history. Students also read and interpret a variety of primary sources, including photographs, political cartoons, speeches, letters, etc. These primary documents are an essential component of the class; interpreting these resources help to teach students to think independently and critically.

The objectives of the course are to help students learn about the history of the United States and to encourage them to think critically about the past, its interpretation, and its influence on current events. Examinations, writing assignments, class discussions, presentations, projects, and notebooks help develop students’ study and analytical skills, as well as their writing and speaking skills.

Texts:
History Alive! The United States Through Modern Times

Science

This is a lab-based class that devotes a part of the year to each of the three basic areas of study in science--Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. It provides a solid foundation for high school work in all required and advanced science study. The course emphasizes scientific method, measurement, and inquiry and discovery through experiments, leading to an understanding of the intricate relationship among matter, forces, and life.

Major topics covered during the first trimester include: 

  • characteristics and properties of matter and energy using the periodic table of elements; 
  • atoms, subatomic particles, molecules and moles; 
  • chemical bonding and equations; 
  • a model of an overview of the structure and substance of organic chemistry. 

During the year, eighth grade students gain greater skill in gathering, interpreting, and presenting scientific data. While some work is done via a high school level text, other work (during class) is devoted to using an advanced text as an independent learner.
The second trimester focuses on topics in physics such as forces of motion, speed, acceleration, gravity, Newtonian physics, free fall, and momentum. Lab activities allow the students to “play” with these principles and come to conclusions independently. 

An introduction to some of the topics in a high school biology class is the focus during the third part of the year. A look at the discoveries made by biologists over the course of history introduces students to the varied topics in biology. This is followed by a brief review of the organic chemistry. Afterwards students move into a study of ecology, examining the biosphere in terms of energy flow and cycles of matter. The important role of climate and how it shapes ecosystems, both terrestrial and aquatic, is the next major topic. The term culminates in a look at the importance of maintaining biodiversity as man wrestles with his insatiable appetite for renewable and non-renewable resources and expansion.

Students build their understanding and fund of knowledge through teacher-led discussion, small group work, and independent interactions. Students work safely in the lab, study texts and various reading materials, view video presentations, and make considerable use of the school's computer technology and the SMARTBoard. Lab work results in students working to develop detailed note-taking skills, observations, lab reports, and presentations. There are regular in-class and homework assignments.

Texts:
Introduction to Chemistry, Interactive Science Series, Pearson 
Introductory Physical Science, Haber-Schaim, et. al.
Conceptual Physics, Hewitt and Suchocki 
Biology, Miller and Levine