Eighth Grade Curriculum
Students in eighth-grade English work with greater independence as readers and writers. They read daily as part of a yearlong independent project on a topic of their choice, as well as reading Shakespeare and modern novels as a class. They also write daily in all genres, revising often and revisiting the idea of the paragraph. There are multiple collaborations with various other subjects as well, including an exploration of the topic of identity in multimedia projects in Studio Art, and Current Event speech writing in cooperation with Public Speaking.
In collaboration with Studio Art, students explore the topic of Identity in multimedia projects.
In eighth-grade United States history, students will focus on four major historical themes: slavery and the history of racism, civil rights and enfranchisement, the Constitution and civics, and immigration and foreign policy. An exploration of these themes is designed to present major events, historical figures, and important social and cultural movements from the late sixteenth-century to the modern era. In addition, the eighth graders travel to the Deep South to study civil rights in late September.
Students are given assignments that enhance and further develop their command of analytical prose, critical reading, public speaking, and rhetoric. These include a regular analysis of age-appropriate primary source material, a constant linkage between past and current events through in-class presentations, and carefully guided group discussions and debate forums. Students are encouraged to recognize both similarities and differences between past and present events, and to be able to adopt a broad variety of perspectives on cultural and social issues. History in the eighth grade combines an emphasis on heritage with a mind to give students the tools they will need to become effective and politically active citizens.
There are two sections of eighth-grade math: Algebra 1 and Geometry. Appropriate placement for these classes will be decided upon review of the student’s academic performance in previous math courses.
Algebra 1 introduces topics including properties of real-number arithmetic; linear and absolute-value equations and inequalities; quadratic, rational, and radical equations; the Pythagorean Theorem; and graphing on the coordinate plane. Students learn to use functions to model real-world mathematical relationships; they also learn to solve word problems involving rates, projectile motion, and weighted averages. Experiential projects include interactive computer games and simulations as well as outdoor activities involving measurement, motion, and graphing.
Geometry introduces students to the use of inductive reasoning for developing conjectures about the properties of geometric figures. After their explorations, the students use deductive reasoning in formal proof to confirm the conjectures as theorems. Students study topics including the basic elements of geometry; properties of triangles, quadrilaterals and circles; area and volume; and the Pythagorean Theorem and properties of right triangles. Experiential projects include online tools such as Desmos and Geogebra, geometric constructions, and advanced problem solving.
Science and Engineering & Design
Eighth-grade students split their year between the science lab and the design and engineering center.
Chemistry is the primary area of study in eighth-grade science. Twelve lab experiments make up the core of this program. Students learn to conduct each of the labs, develop requisite lab techniques, and write formal follow-up reports, all of which are critical skills for successful experiences in high school science courses. Students are introduced to the periodic table, examine energy content, study endothermic and exothermic chemical reactions, survey the characteristics of metals, use titration techniques, and examine synthesis and electrolysis, among other topics.
Eighth-grade engineering iterates safety and tool use in the design & engineering center. Students are introduced to 2D and 3D computer-based design, which will be used in projects on the laser cutter and 3D printers. The engineering design process is used in a group project to design, craft and improve a small device with a purpose. This process is then revisited in a larger team project to design and fabricate an interactive game. Students are introduced to technical drawing for industrial design that includes delineating plans, and elevations of objects as well as demonstrating linear and isometric perspective. Electronics and programming are reviewed and a capstone project is introduced which incorporates the engineering design process, electronics, fabrication, and programming.
Students continue to build their typing skills, while also learning to utilize digital formats for organization and how to apply strategies for identifying and solving routine hardware and software problems. In collaboration with other classes, students utilize the Internet for research, citations, and communication. Applications widely used include iMovie, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Google applications that include Drive, Calendar, and Sheets. Students utilize Photoshop to create half-page yearbook pages that represent themselves. Digital citizenship and responsible use lessons that focus on scams and schemes are covered, and laptop maintenance best practices including updates, anti-virus software, and operating systems are reviewed.
Students develop theatre arts skills, as well as explore their musical and vocal abilities. Students will utilize their skills during in-class performances that include scene work, monologue work, mock audition technique, dance, band, and singer-song writer work. In addition, students participate in improvisational performance, study character development, explore blocking techniques, create design for costumes and sets, as well as develop and deliver constructive performance critique. Students are also encouraged to participate in the Music Hour, the Upper School Musical, and Vibes (marimba & percussion musical club) as well as join the year-round Technical Theater Crew. Tech Theater is a great opportunity for students to learn about the behind-the-scenes world of theater as they help run daily assemblies as well as several full-scale productions for the Lower and Upper School students.
The eighth-grade physical education program aims to prepare each student with the knowledge and skills to participate in game-time situations within a variety of sports. They will achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical fitness while demonstrating responsible personal and social behavior in the physical activity setting. This includes understanding and respect for differences among people in a game setting. Through participation they will understand that physical activity provides opportunities for enjoyment, challenge, self-expression, and social interaction. Students will understand strategies of game play in soccer, volleyball, basketball, flag football, and understand rules of play in ultimate frisbee, track and field, speed mitten, lacrosse, softball, and hockey.
Public Speaking & Presentations
Public speaking is an integral part of the English curriculum at all levels. In eighth grade the program culminates with a speech delivered during all-school Assembly and followed by a Q&A session. Students explore all elements of building and performing a speech, including research and citation, writing and revision, illustration, rehearsal and audience awareness, and reflection. Depending on scheduling and class size, in some years eighth graders also have an extra Public Speaking class period.
Seminar: Leadership Training
As the eldest students at Crane, eighth graders focus on leadership training in Seminar classes. Students will learn how to identify leadership traits and prepare for their roles as leaders at the school the first few weeks of the year. Then, students will learn to navigate the high school selection process that may include campus visits, admission tests, interviews, letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Eighth graders will also study sex education, including physical relationships, male and female reproductive systems, pregnancy and childbirth, birth control, and sexually transmitted diseases. Finally, students will end the year celebrating the end of middle school and looking ahead to high school.
Eighth graders build on their seventh-grade service learning experience by taking on larger scale semester-long service projects. Working in teams, students identify community needs they are interested in addressing and find local organizations to collaborate with. They develop a plan, present it to the class, and work both on and off campus to carry out their projects.
The goals of the Spanish program are to provide opportunities to listen, read, write, and speak in the target language and to foster an appreciation of Spanish-speaking communities, locally and globally. We use the Five C’s of the National Standards for Foreign Language Education as guiding principles at all levels of the program: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities. In eighth grade students study the imperfect tense, comparatives and superlatives, and commands. Signature experiences include a Latin American and Spanish art project and field trip, an exploration of Guatemalan and Mayan culture, and a Spanish-language music presentation. Though the pace of foreign language acquisition is unique to each individual student, we expect graduates of our program to master a beginner to intermediate level of Spanish.
Studio Art & i@pp
The eighth-grade year is framed by the question, “What is Identity?” and collaborates with English extensively developing this theme. In the first semester, students create a series of self-portraits using a variety of media and concepts that move from the abstract to highly representational. As a culmination of their art career at Crane, students learn how to write a grant proposal and then create a focused body of work in the art studio. This project is known as the i@pp or independent art project and presentation. Students choose media, subject, and course of action. Emphasis is placed on the artist’s process, time management, problem solving, and perseverance as well as their final presentation and exhibition
Student Council consists of five eighth-grade students who run for election at the end of their seventh-grade year. Chosen by the input of all Upper School students, these student leaders are responsible for being the voice of the Upper School student body. The group addresses student-life issues, plans social events, coordinates fundraising efforts for student activities, and participates in community decision-making. The officers are also responsible for leading announcements each morning during Assembly.
Student ambassadors work closely with the admission office throughout their eighth-grade year. Responsibilities include greeting all student visitors in the front office and checking in on the visitors during recess and lunch; answering questions for prospective students and visitor buddies; writing up notes on student visitors; attending occasional meetings to discuss the program. Ambassadors are valued for their input in making visit days positive and memorable for all student guests. At the beginning of each school year, the admission office requests applications from eighth graders interested in participating in the ambassador program.
Crane Family Leaders
As leaders of the school, eighth graders are “parents” in the Families program at Crane. During the once-monthly lunches, eighth graders escort the youngest students—kindergartners and first graders—to their designated Families room, and they lead projects, games, and discussions during those lunches.
As a perk of being an eighth grader, students are permitted to order pizza on Wednesdays. Students are responsible for placing orders during morning recess and for covering the cost of any pizza ordered.