Welcome to the Eighth Grade!

This document is intended to outline the academic goals for the eighth grade, identify some of the primary resources that are used to instruct your child, the duration and frequency of instruction, and the outcomes that are targeted to be developed by the end of the year.

We recognize that students learn at different paces and occasionally in developmental “spurts”. With this in mind we focus on each child’s individual progress. This progress is monitored through periodic skills assessments, teacher observations and classroom assessments (an inventory of these assessments is available if you are interested). Instruction is regularly augmented by the classroom teacher, differentiation teachers and, if necessary Special Education teachers, for students that would benefit from additional instruction.

We hope that this document adequately introduces you to what you can expect over the next 10 months, but does not replace the opportunity to discuss with you directly the specific questions you might have in greater detail and specificity.

Eighth grade follows the Math Thematics series, which promotes student success and engages students in learning by using a thematic approach that connects mathematical concepts to real-world applications and students’ interests. Students engage in active learning as they explore, model, and communicate mathematical ideas using a variety of tools with partners and small groups. We meet five times per week: four times for 50 minutes and once for 90 minutes. The essential skills for eighth grade are based on the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) focal points.Our goal is that students exiting eighth grade be able to:
  • Classify and compare numbers
  • Work with plots and graphs to analyze data
  • Draw a fitted line to identify and work with trends
  • Add, subtract, multiply, and divide positive and negative fractions and mixed numbers
  • Solve percent problems including percent of change
  • Use proportions while working with similar figures
  • Understand and demonstrate the relationship between tables, equations/formulas, graphs, and slope
  • Understand and use formulas to calculate volume, area, and surface area of polygons, circles, and three dimensional objects
  • Understand angle relationships of polygons and intersecting lines
  • Apply logical thinking to interpret statements with and, or, and not

The essential skills of eighth grade mathematics are:

  • Analyzing and representing linear functions and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations.
  • Analyzing two-and three-dimensional space and figures by using distance and angle.
  • Analyzing and summarizing data sets

Algebra in Lyme is a high school level class. Students must meet several requirements to qualify for this class, including teacher recommendation, a passing score on the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test, organizational skills, and the desire to work above and beyond the eighth grade curriculum. Although high school credit is not awarded, any student passing this class may be eligible for the next math class in his/her high school’s mathematics sequence. This would likely be Geometry or Algebra 2. The text for this course is Algebra, published by the Wright Group. Additionally, there will be extensions on a regular basis that require write-ups using the four steps to problem solving. The class meets four days a week for 50 minutes and one day for 90 minutes. Homework is typically assigned on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and is recorded as complete or incomplete. Assignments are approximately 30 minutes or less. Notebooks are collected weekly and some homework assignments are graded.

Class typically begins with a teacher presentation, with time then allowed for individual or group work. Students who are unable to maintain a B average will meet with the teacher and parents to reexamine appropriate placement. It is the school’s philosophy that this important foundational course be manageable and enjoyable so that students will be excited and prepared for future courses in the areas of math and science.

Our goal is that students exiting the course will be able to:

  • Identify a variable for the purpose of formulating algebraic expressions/equations
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of Real numbers
  • Write and solve algebraic equations/inequalities
  • Use algebraic properties to solve equations
  • Graph algebraic relationships on the coordinate plane
  • Demonstrate ability to solve percent problems with both an algebraic sentence and a proportion
  • Solve problems involving probability, combinatorics
  • Understand the relationship between rate of change, slope, finding an equation for a line
  • Use algebra to describe patterns of change
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the property of powers
  • Solve quadratic equations by factoring, quadratic formula
  • Solve linear systems of equations

Essential skills covered in algebra:

  • Compute with basic arithmetic skills
  • Speak the language of math
  • Identify best strategies for solving problems
  • Make connections between knowledge learned in class and the real world
  • Observe and analyze patterns
  • Organize and manage daily assignments
  • Operate a graphing calculator

Eighth grade Humanities is an integrated exploration and study of language arts and social studies. Class meets five days a week for 90-minute sessions. Throughout the year, students use multiple print and online resources including, but not limited to World Book Online, Britannica Online, and the textbook series A History of Us. Students also explore literature and its relationship to world history, diverse cultures, and society. As part of their studies, students read and analyze Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Eli Wiesel’s Night.

In addition, students gain an understanding of the importance of reading and writing in their individual lives and develop skills in the areas of spelling, vocabulary, mechanics, and grammar. Students also have the opportunity to engage in asynchronous discussions in an online forum, where topics related to whole class readings, lessons, or ongoing units are posted intermittently throughout the marking period. This is a fun and engaging way for students and their teacher to academically interact, ponder, hypothesize, communicate, and draw opinions and conclusions about important topics from their studies.

Some of the “essential questions” explored in eighth grade Humanities include:
  • Why do people read?
  • What happens when two cultures or distinct groups of people meet?
  • What can we learn about history from multi-modal analysis, and what can we learn about our own lives by studying and analyzing history?
  • How can people connect what they have read to broader world concepts and issues?
  • Why do we study human actions in the past?
  • How do we glean information and develop hypotheses about history from both primary and secondary sources?
  • What are the causes, effects, processes, and patterns of human behavior throughout history?
  • How do good writers and communicators express themselves?
I: Ancient Civilizations
  • Myths/Legends
  • Narrative Elements and Structure
  • Monologue Writing

II: Creating a Nation/Foundations of Democracy

  • Persuasive Writing and Rhetoric

III: World War II/Holocaust

  • Research writing
  • Poetry

IV: Civil Rights

  • Journalistic writing

V: Yearlong Expository Writing Focus

  • Structure
  • Using Supporting Details
  • Purpose
  • Clarity and Coherence
  • Analysis

Our goal is that students exiting eighth grade be able to:

  • Seek personal understanding of topics and concepts presented within the classroom
  • Use written, oral, and visual expression in a variety of settings
  • Connect experiences/conditions outside of the classroom to knowledge and concepts studied within the classroom
  • Convey their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives
  • Make connections between separate facts, events, or experiences
  • Articulate personal interpretations, relevance, and perspectives
  • Understand that the process of trial and error involves risk taking, multiple approaches, persistence, and reflection
  • Use a breadth of vocabulary and proper grammar to communicate meaning effectively

The eighth grade science program uses the Glencoe Earth Science Text. This is a hands-on program that integrates process skills and problem solving, centered around the topic of Earth Science. Classes meet daily for 50 minutes. Homework is assigned Monday through Thursday nights and occasionally on the weekend. Instruction occurs as an entire class, in small cooperative groups, and in laboratory groups. In the spring, the entire eighth grade participates in the Solar Sprint competition which involves the design, building, and racing of a solar powered car. Grades are based on 30% homework and classwork, 35% labs, and 35% exams. Topics covered include:
  • The scientific method
  • Tools of earth scientists
  • Matter and energy
  • Minerals
  • Rocks
  • Geologic time
  • Plate tectonics
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes
  • Weathering
  • Agents of change
  • Meteorology
  • Oceanography
  • Astronomy
  • Earth resources
  • Solar Powered Cars

Essential skills covered in eighth-grade science:

  • Use of appropriate tools to make scientific measurements
  • Making of accurate observations
  • Design and performance of experiments using the scientific process
  • Evaluation of results of experiments
  • Use of classification methods to identify organisms
  • Analysis and description of systems
  • Working effectively in groups toward a common goal
  • Design and building of a product in class

The eighth-grade French curriculum builds upon the prior two years of middle school French instruction. This course is a high school French I class and upon successful completion of this course, students will proceed to French II in the freshman year of high school. We use the Discovering French Blanc series, which is coordinated with DVD and CD resources. The class meets three days a week for 50 minutes and one day for 45 minutes. Students should expect 20 minutes of homework for each day of class.Our goals are to teach students:
  • When and how to use the following verb tenses: present indicative (le présent); immediate future (le futur proche); immediate past (le passé immédiate); and past (passé composé)
  • Common être expressions
  • Common avoir expressions
  • Common faire expressions
  • How and when to use the partitive
  • Foods and drinks
  • How to order in restaurants

Our goal is that students exiting eighth grade will be able to:

  • Pull from a vast repository of regular and irregular verbs and use these verbs correctly in communicating with French-speaking individuals (Francophiles)
  • Have a vast foundation of household, classroom, food, body part, and transportation nouns in French
  • Understand classroom commands given in French
  • Understand the teacher’s spoken French throughout classroom instruction
  • Engage in French conversation with the teacher and classmates for the duration of each class period
  • Read novellas in French
  • Write one page reports in French

The eighth grade Spanish program is designed to teach students a variety of phrases, vocabulary, and grammar that will be encountered in a Spanish I program at the high school level. Class meets for 50 minutes three days per week, and 45 minutes one day per week. Homework is assigned approximately 3 times per week. Instruction focuses on student participation and interaction, with a variety of games and activities designed to encourage students to use newly acquired language in meaningful ways. Instructional materials are gathered from a variety of sources, including textbook series and internet resources. Our goal is that students exiting the eighth grade Spanish program will have studied
  • Family members
  • Fruits & vegetables
  • Colors
  • Rooms in the house
  • Animals
  • Descriptive adjectives
  • Verbs and simple verb conjugations
  • Sports
  • How to say the date and time
  • Various holidays and celebrations in Spanish-speaking cultures

Our goal is that students exiting the eighth grade Spanish program will be able to:

  • Participate in small discussions in Spanish
  • Have a foundation of Spanish terms in a variety of topics
  • Experience a level of comfort upon entering a Spanish I program in high school

In sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade classroom settings, as appropriate with grade level and developmental expectations, students should be working to develop and/or displaying the ability to:
  • Participate respectfully in class
  • Work independently
  • Complete homework as required
  • Articulate and share their ideas
  • Recognize available resources
  • Develop effective/efficient written communication skills
  • Self advocate
  • Shift focus from product to process
  • Allow group contributions to move from teacher directed to self-directed
  • Experiment with learning styles to develop effective study skills