Grade VIII Central Subject: Democracy and Immigration in the United States
Naturally embedded in any academic curriculum are human themes. In keeping with Shady Hill School’s traditions, we aim to integrate within all subjects themes regarding character, values, respect for self and others, and the responsibility children have as members of the community.
The Grade VIII course in Central Subject examines events in American history from multiple perspectives, especially those of immigrants and migrants. Throughout the course, students put themselves into the shoes of others, looking for ways to connect the past with the present and to connect the people they are studying with themselves. Students learn to develop thoughtful opinions that are supported and illustrated with evidence from our texts, as well as expressed with clarity and insight.
Central Subject: Democracy and Immigration in the United States
- How has the “We” in “We the People” changed over time?
- Why do people move? Why do people stay? What do they take? What do they leave behind?
- How do we balance being individuals with being members of group?
- What is your universe of obligation? (How) do you choose to participate?
- Whose story is being told? Who’s telling it? How else could it be told? Who tells America’s story?
Students begin the year with a study of the U.S. Constitution as a blueprint for a utopian society. At the same time, they read Lord of the Flies
as an example of a dystopia asking: What are the needs of a nation? What makes a good leader? Does a society need rules? What is it like to be an outsider? With an understanding of the United States as a new nation, students examine U.S. expansion and its impact on the identities of Native Mexicans and Native Americans. While they explore the impact of borders on nations and individuals, The House on Mango Street
provides students with an opportunity to reflect on their own identities as they read about a girl who comes to understand her relationship to her community. Students use this historical study of rights and rules, borders and identities to connect to current issues of immigration and the Constitution in the news.
Science In Grade VIII
(Five periods/250 minutes per cycle)
Grade VIII students choose from three science courses: Discovery Lab: Physics by Design; Discovery Lab: Earth & Stars; and Discovery Lab: Chemistry.
Visual & Performing Arts In Grade VIII
Electives: Two periods/160 minutes per cycle
The Arts are presented in Seventh and Eighth Grade as a three-term program taught by Shady Hill School music, studio, and shop teachers, other Middle School faculty, and several professional artists and musicians from outside the school community. Students are expected to enroll in a variety of courses in both Visual and Performing Arts before leaving Shady Hill. In 2016-2017, courses offered include: Comedy, Jazz Band, Rock Band, Intro to Guitar, Pottery, Photography, Drawing, Animation, Design, Woodshop, Jewelry, Oil Painting, Hip-Hop Dance, Filmmaking, Knitting, and Hip-Hop Songwriting.
Ensembles: One period/45-60 minutes per cycle
Gold Chorus and Gold Orchestra meet during one academic block per cycle. These ensembles perform several times during the school year at school assemblies, evening concerts, and some off-campus venues. Students in grades VII and VIII who are a part of the school ensemble program may audition for the MMEA Eastern Division Junior District honors Band, Chorus, or Orchestra in January. Gold Jazz Band, for experienced seventh and eighth grade musicians, meets once weekly for rehearsal after dismissal for one hour. These students also perform several times during the school year at school assemblies, evening concerts, and some off-campus venues.
Three Eighth Grade Highlight Performance Experiences provide opportunities for eighth graders to connect as a community while challenging their abilities as performers and communicators. These include a Play, Musical, and a Film Project. Students in the casts of the Play and Musical will rehearse occasionally on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, and on some Saturdays throughout the term. All participating eighth graders will be required to be at some after-school rehearsals in the two weeks immediately prior to performances.
Mathematics In Grade VIII: Algebra
(Five periods/250 minutes per cycle)
The Middle School mathematics program at Shady Hill guides students in constructing new mathematical knowledge built upon deep understanding and prior learning. The program provides students with meaningful learning experiences through discovery and exploration, complemented by the formalization of requisite algorithms and skill work. Students work both independently and collaboratively in class. They develop skills in problem–solving and they further their ability to communicate and justify their reasoning. They are encouraged to represent their thinking in both oral and written forms. Students make connections to mathematical ideas and to real-world experiences. The use of manipulatives and technology allows students to move from concrete to abstract thinking in the ongoing development of mathematical ideas.
The Grade VIII math curriculum consists of a full year of algebraic study. Graphing and word problems are woven into every unit. Topics include evaluation and simplification of polynomials, solution of linear equations with one and two variables, solution of quadratic equations, algebraic fractions, absolute value, inequalities, radicals, and coordinate geometry. Throughout the year, students are asked to apply these skills and concepts to solve problems in real-world situations. Graphing calculator software is used to model practical applications of algebraic concepts.
In the Grade VIII students are placed in one of three math courses. Two prepare students to take either Geometry or Algebra II during their ninth grade year, with the enriched section demanding more independent study. The Essentials Class covers fundamentally the same material as the regular class and streamlines instruction to focus on the essential skills and concepts of each topic within the Algebra I curriculum.
Library In Grade VIII
(One 50-minute period per cycle)
In scheduled classes, students meet with a librarian for book sharing, book discussion or research instruction, or use the period for Quiet Reading, an independent reading program supported by the librarians but overseen by the gradehead teacher. Students also meet with a librarian on a flexible basis for book recommendations, research support, and instruction using both print and online resources.
Middle School Community
One 50-minute Assembly per cycle
Assembly is a regular time designated for Middle School students, faculty and staff to build and maintain community. A variety of activities are scheduled during this time, from large group games and icebreakers, to classroom sharing and performances by visiting artists and outside speakers. Each assembly is punctuated by community singing.
Morning Meetings, Tuesday & Thursday, 8:10-8:20 AM
Weekly meetings of Grades V-VIII, led by Grade VIII students, provide opportunities for school and division related announcements, class sharing and brief performances. This informal blend of news, information and entertainment builds community spirit and Middle School unity. In addition, these meetings feature eighth grade “declamations” of original written compositions.
Sports In Grade VIII
(Three 90-minute periods per week, plus games)
Students in Grades VII and VIII have opportunities to compete in a full interscholastic athletic program. Shady Hill offers nine interscholastic sports (cross country, field hockey, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse, tennis, track and field, and ultimate frisbee), fielding approximately 24 teams. Seventh and eighth grade students are required to participate in an activity each season, with physical education and intramural tennis offered as alternatives to the interscholastic offerings. Each student must participate on at least one Shady Hill interscholastic team per year. Students who participate seriously in physical activities not offered by the school may apply for athletic exemptions. We believe strongly that the natural progression provides our students with a rich athletic experience. In all parts of the program, there is a three-pronged emphasis: the pursuit of fitness, cognitive understanding of concepts, and the development of self-confidence. The ultimate goal is team and personal success while modeling Shady Hill’s core values.
World Languages In Grade VIII
(Five periods/250 minutes per cycle)
After choosing a language to study in Grade VII, students continue their work in French, Mandarin, or Spanish in Grade VIII.
Technology In Grade VIII
Today’s technology is well suited to support Shady Hill’s emphasis on creative, student-centered, project-based learning. Using the shared laptop cart, class sets of iPads and campus-wide wireless network, Eighth Grade students employ a range of software and internet-based programs that enable collaboration, research, data collection, digital storytelling, and mastery of skills. Examples of the types of software that students will use over the course of the year include: Inspiration, iMovie, Garage Band, Comic Life, Keynote, Google Earth and Google SketchUp; as well as Internet-based programs such as Voicethread, Quizlet, Google Docs, and Sheppard Software. By integrating technology into the classroom and the existing curriculum, as opposed to teaching it as a stand-alone course, students are able to learn new ways to demonstrate their knowledge while gaining an understanding of the practical application of the tools themselves.