Eighth Grade Curriculum Overview
Stevens graduates leave Middle School abundantly prepared for the next phase of their academic journeys, as they remain highly engaged in in their pursuit of knowledge and the world around them. Eighth grade is a time of exciting transition as our students take on the role of leaders in our community, which tasks them with leading all-school assemblies, among other duties. They also take two major field trips: a service-learning trip in partnership with NOBIS Project and a cultural exchange trip with students from Mexico City.
Explore what your child will learn in each of the following subject areas:
- Social-Emotional Learning
- Specials Classes
- Homework and Assessments
Eighth graders are exposed to a wide array of texts including essays, poetry, novels, memoirs, primary documents and more. Students also continue to participate in literature circles and Read Alouds. Literature circle discussions take place as a whole class format and in small groups, include studies of both classic and contemporary works of fiction and nonfiction.
Students write with increasing sophistication in 8th grade. The depth and scope of the humanities program requires students to focus on expository writing, while creative writing is emphasized through narratives, journals and poetry. Particular attention is paid to annotating and note-taking skills, essay structure, research skills, conventions of writing, organization and thesis development. An overarching exploration of self and society provides opportunities for students to develop their voice through writing.
- Analyze text, cite textual evidence; determine an author's point of view, bias, or purpose in a text, identify and use literary elements with understanding
- Write range of texts for specific purpose and audience; develop a thesis, cite evidence, demonstrate writer's craft following conventions of grammar, spelling and MLA format
- Warriors Don’t Cry
- The House on Mango Street
- Lord of the Flies
- Animal Farm
- Red Scarf Girl
- Poet X
- Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass
- American Voices: 19th century short stories and poetry
- Alienation & Rebellion: 20th century short stories, film, and poetry
- The Warmth of Other Suns
At Stevens, we have a rigorous, accelerated 8th grade mathematics program blending Singapore Math (Math in Focus) Course 3 with Algebra I, which emphasizes computational fluency, advanced numeracy, geometry and algebra. The flow of the course empowers all students to develop critical-thinking skills, conceptual mastery, and the level of confidence needed to set the stage for long-term math achievement.
Our 8th grade scholars graduate with Algebra I credits and advanced mathematics experiences that emphasize student exploration, metacognition, classroom discussion and small-group instruction.
Students continue to work on solving multi-step rational equations, a family of lines, and advanced geometry concepts such as similarity and congruence, transformations and the Pythagorean theorem.
Units of Study
- Scientific Notation
- Algebraic Linear Equations
- Lines and Linear Equations
- Systems of Linear Equations
- Pythagorean Theorem
- Geometric Transformations
- Congruence and Similarity
- Surface Area and Volume
Additional Algebra I
- Roots and Radicals
- Rational Functions
- Quadratic Functions and Their Algebra
- Exponential Functions
In 8th grade humanities, students learn to explore our world by making connections between history and the modern day. Students are encouraged to use a wide variety of sources and hone key media literacy skills, such as triangulating sources to become critical consumers of news. Students produce advanced culminating papers and multimedia presentations as they grapple with increasingly complex topics, analyze and compare information, conduct field interviews, use sophisticated language and create engaging visual presentations. Through their studies, students are inspired to take action in their communities and make a difference in our shared world.
- To what extent does our identity influence the choices we make?
- What are the consequences of dividing people by race?
- How do the choices people make, individually and collectively, shape a society?
- Demonstrate understanding of key concepts, causal relationships and historical timelines
- Compare, contrast and analyze a variety of texts, primary and secondary sources
- Analysis and Research Skills: interpret and synthesize primary and secondary sources
- Research and present topic of choice using notes and a variety of credible sources to make citations; correctly format a Works Cited page
- U.S. Government: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
- Paradigms of settlement
- American character
- Crisis, war, & reconstruction
- Civil Rights movement
- Current events
With inquiry at its core, the 8th grade science curriculum aims to guide students to collaboratively and independently investigate issues through observation, research and experimentation. Stevens employs an integrated, spiraling approach to science education that builds on life, mechanical and environmental sciences throughout each year. The curriculum is aimed at developing student fluency with scientific skills and concepts through hands-on projects and experimentation. This develops facility with the scientific process, which is demonstrated through students’ individual science projects. As students investigate real examples of science applications, they discover the dependencies and tensions between ethics, culture, economics and environment.
In their final year of the Science Expo, 8th grade scientists specialize in a topic of their choosing and conduct their research, experiments, data analysis and defend their conclusions before a panel of our visiting scientists.
- Understand and explains scientific concepts
- Use structured processes to solve problems, gather information, and draw conclusions
- Record observations and thought processes, measure with accuracy and communicates with relevance, meaning and insight
- Electricity, Waves and Information Transfer
- Cells and Reproduction
The Classroom Advisory Program (CAP) builds upon community building lessons that take place in the lower grades. Our middle school CAP program focuses on identity, health and wellness, communication and interpersonal relationships . CAP provides students with a spiraling curriculum that allows for a deeper dive into character education, social-emotional learning and citizenship as students progress through the grades.
Eighth grade topics include:
- Making decisions
- Coping with anxiety and anger
- Time management
- Managing stress in healthy ways
- Social skills and interpersonal relationships
- Confronting bullying, bias, and discrimination
- Upstander vs bystander
- Effective communication
- Responsibility and accountability
- Resolving conflict
- Study skills
- Peer pressure
- Conflict resolution
- Mental health awareness
- Puberty, alcohol and drug addiction. safety, consent, sexual safety and contraception
Eighth graders have the option of joining our choir as an alternative or addition to their instrumental studies.
In 7th and 8th grade choir, students study vocal technique for solo and ensemble singing. Students develop musical literacy skills in reading traditional music notations, and aural analysis skills for performing music by rote. Eighth graders prepare a repertoire for ensemble performances that are shared within the Stevens community and beyond.
- Computer science & robotics
- Basic programming concepts such as sprites, functions, control structures, variables, user input and randomness
- The design process
- Identifying a social problem, developing solutions, using user centered designs, app prototyping and app creation in App lab to test solutions
- Expressing ideas through graphic design, filming and video editing
- Digital citizenship
- Media balance and well-being
- Privacy and security
- Digital footprint and identity
- Relationships and communication
- Cyberbullying, digital drama and hate speech
- Media literacy
Eighth grade art students reflect deeply on the influences that shaped them as they prepare to go forth to be agents of influence in the world around them. They reflect similarly on the work of 20th Century and contemporary American artists through research essays that explore how these artists responded to the changing American civic and social context. They use their accumulated artistic skills and knowledge to create their culminating self-portrait with confidence and authentic vision. They draw on their experience to solve design problems and craft their art to share ideas and beauty.
Units of Study:
- Graphic design, pairing typography and image
- Artist biographical research paper, including artmaking component with traditional or mixed media
- Self portrait
- Kinetic art, like automata or “crankie” view boxes
- Drawing homework encouraging personal exploration and elaboration of studio work in class
- Mobile based on Alexander Calder
- 6 Word Sign - Woodworking
Beginning in 5th grade, students choose between Spanish or Mandarin as their World Language course. Eighth grade students practice their speaking and listening skills four times per cycle.
Students learn Spanish vocabulary, grammar, culture and history through the lenses of different countries including Spain and Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Eighth grade students practice their speaking and listening skills three times per week.
- Personal and family relationships
- Physical characteristics
- Personality traits
- Personal information
- Emotional states and feelings
- Rooms and furniture in a house
- Household chores
- Electrical appliances
- Buying food
- In the kitchen
- In the restaurant
- Parts of the body
- Personal hygiene
- Symptoms and illnesses
- Healthy habits
- Trips and excursions
- The school
- Free time and entertainment
- The city, locations and directions
- Adjectives and nouns
- Comparisons and superlatives
- Present progressive
- Direct and indirect object pronouns
- The preterite tense of regular -ar, -er , -ir verbs
- The preterite tense of irregular verbs
- The imperfect tense
- The conditional tense
- The future tense
- Past progressive
- Present perfect tense of regular verbs
- Cultural Backdrop: Mexico
- Mexico City cityscape, monuments and important places.
- Frida Kahlo and her influence on Mexican modern culture. Elements from her art that reflect Mexican Identity
- Virgen de Guadalupe Mexico’s patron
- Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl Volcanoes in the valley of Mexico
- Mexico pre-Columbian heritage and Aztec Mythology
- Immigration and immigrants
- The importance of Mexican cuisine in Mexican Identity
- Latin American Identity through the lens of literature
Students continue using new grammar techniques to produce complex sentences. Class speaking exercises such as skits, presentations, tongue twisters, songs, and multimedia work help students improve their conversational skills. Students read fun nonfiction Mandarin short articles about China to further develop their understanding of the culture and the modern society. Character writing continues to play an important element in learning Mandarin, and students use both typing and handwriting for short paragraphs and essays. Students celebrate Chinese holidays based on their knowledge of culturally appropriate choices, such as ordering food in Mandarin from a Chinese restaurant, ordering bubble tea in Mandarin, making hotpot or having a potluck.
- Pinyin, tones, strokes, radicals
- Dates, ages, telephone numbers
- Family members
- Countries and languages
- Integrated Chinese Textbook
- Topics and Contents
- Visiting and hosting someone
- Phone calls and conversation with respectful words
- Making appointments
- School life and languages
- Radicals (bu shou and pian pang)
- Topics and Contents
- Grammar usage
- Adverbs/ sequence adverbs
- Measure words
- Negative verbs
- Question ending word
- Question pronounces
- A not A format
- Modal verb and comparison
- Adjectives as predicates
- Conjunction statements
Beginning in 5th grade, Electives are offered once per week to middle school students in mixed group settings. This is a chance for students to have choice and voice through personal selection and an opportunity to work with peers from other middle school classes. Offerings change from year to year and have included Photography, Creative Writing, Fiber Arts, Tinkering and Makerspace, The Art of Public Speaking, Healthy Habits and Nutrition, Theatre, Coding, Yearbook and Ethics Bowl.
In middle school, students experience more regular and frequent quizzes, tests, essays and projects. Weekly quizzes are used to assess baseline knowledge and ensure that students are maintaining an appropriate pace with the curriculum material. Unit exams are given to assess knowledge of content and basic analyzing skills. Essays, in conjunction with oral defenses, focus on in-depth curricular concepts that assess higher order thinking skills.
Stevens uses authentic observation, testing and ongoing assessment to provide a comprehensive evaluation of each student.
Students take the Terra Nova standardized test in October and the ISEE (Independent School Entrance Exam) in October and December.
In addition to exploring relevant curriculum connections through local day trips to museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, students participate in overnight service-learning trips in partnership with NOBIS Project. Students also travel to Mexico City, where, in partnership with the Kipling School, they apply the skills and knowledge they've gained at Stevens to navigate one of the world's most complex, exhilarating cities.