Grade 8 Curriculum
In grade eight, the students adjust to early adolescence. The young person seems more robust than in the previous year. The world of ideas begins to take on meaning for the 14 year old, and the critical faculties are noticeably sharper. At the same time, the elements of reasoning and self-reflection are steadily emerging. A search begins for new authority figures and social forms and school subjects nurture the students’ development during this pivotal year.
- Solidify their grammar skills and understanding of adjective, adverb, and noun clauses, participle, gerund, and infinitive phrases; work with simile, metaphor, analogy in writing exercises in mood and varied perspective using short stories, fiction, non-fiction, and current events
- Majority of written work composed by students; journal writing may be explored
- Research skills developed further, applied to subjects from the curriculum or biographies
- Speaking skills include presentations on main lesson themes, reports on current events, formal debates, and speech portion of grade 8 project
- Class recitation often focuses on historical texts
- Reading includes social themes from quality literature from the 19th and 20th century, using excerpts or complete works, and passages from non-fiction works; weekly track class focuses on the study of different literary forms, e.g. novels, A Shakespeare play and short stories
- Fractions, Squares and roots, Equations, Practical problems
- The commutative, associative and distributive laws in algebra. The factors of the difference between the squares and the applications of this to practical problems.
- Terms and polynomials
- Simultaneous linear equations and problems
- The dissolution of complex brackets in algebraic expressions
- Number systems. Binary arithmetic.
- Graphs of complex curves. Solution of simultaneous equations by graphs
- Geometry including: volumes of rectangles, pyramids, prisms, cylinders, cones; density and weight of solid objects, locus of line and plane, enlargements, rotations, reflections of shapes, angles, properties of circle (angles in same circle, intersecting chords), construction of 5 regular Platonic solids, discussion of general triangle sides and altitude formulae as part of investigation of the Pythagorean theorem, surface area of solids, emergence of ellipse, parabola, hyperbola
In Grade 8 the subject of physics continues by requiring a subtler understanding of the complexities of the phenomena presented in Grade 6 & 7 of acoustic, optics, thermal physics, and electricity, but now electricity and magnetism are connected via electromagnetism. The development of the motor and dynamo are studied and students build their own simple motor. Hydraulics is also brought to the Grade 8 students.
In chemistry, the students learn about photosynthesis and the plants ability to make its own food. The students perform tests for starch and carbohydrates, fats and proteins, all part of the plants makeup and structure. These substances are also related to what is happening in the student’s own metabolism, and to practical applications such as soap and paper making and to kitchen chemistry.
The physiology introduced in Grade 8 now focuses on the reproduction system, the nervous, muscular and skeletal systems. The study of meteorology also comes in Grade 8 and includes cloud formation and types, weather fronts and patterns and barometric pressure.
Beginning with the Revolution in France espousing the ideals of Fraternite, Egalite and Liberte for the common people, the American Civil Revolution and Civil War, students learn that the rights of the individual in society have changed. This change is followed by the Industrial Revolution which caused the Western world to shift from an agrarian based to an industrial and urban economy. Through the study of historical facts, literary texts, music, arts and biography, the students begin to get an understanding of the modern mindset. World Wars One and Two are also studied.
In grade eight, teachers choose to study Asia or World geography which can include Australia, the South Pacific, Russia etc. Some teachers have chosen to study these regions through the cultural, economic and political implications of food such as chocolate, vanilla, sugar, coffee, tea and spices in the hopes that the students will gain a larger picture of the world and to encourage a continued interest in the world they inhabit.
In Grade 6 the students step into more structured learning of language. We introduce grammatical rules to grammatical phenomena many of which they often have experienced in the earlier years. The students also develop a vocabulary book, an indication of a significant change in their learning style: no longer do they mainly work out of imitation, but need the support of analysis and conscious practice. Students enjoy and gain confidence to read longer texts and to engage in rather comprehensive dialogues. Students talk about themselves, their family, classroom activities and activities in the outside world. They study legends, stories and poems that are connected to different themes.
Grade 8 students continue working on their recorder playing and sight-reading during class and recorder ensemble. They develop more sophisticated ability to face challenging pieces. They join Grade seven in senior choir.
The students participate in one double movement period per week. During September, October, May and June we utilize the school field. In the winter term, Grades 5-8 come together to participate in four afternoons of downhill skiing/snowboarding at a local ski hill. Otherwise the students are transported to a rented Gym facility where conventional sports are taught. The students are now able to appreciate and be guided by rules. As the students become independent more emphasis is placed on skills development, technique and self-discipline.
In Grades 6, 7, and 8 the students are exposed to as many forms of movement as possible. The lesson begins with running or skipping for cardiovascular stamina and muscle strength. Spatial dynamics exercises are continued for coordination, flexibility and grace. Ball work becomes specialized and techniques improve with annual repetition. The complexity of rules increases with the developing students each year. In addition, team work is nurtured; the Grade 7 and 8 classes come together to compete in an annual Basketball Tournament. Grade 7s and 8s are challenged with swimming and spring board diving during the Spring term. Activities that work against the effect of gravity such as these allow for the development of courage and achievement.
Practical Arts: Handwork
Machine sewing; explore how machines impact work (corresponds to the study of the Industrial Revolution); learn to read, follow and understand patterns; go from basic project (pajama bottoms) to more complicated (book bag); learn how to create own pattern complete with pockets and lining; encourages students to become more self-sufficient; develops good listening, organizational skills and problem solving.
Practical Arts: Woodworking
Canoe paddles; requires understanding of symmetry, balance, proper proportion; healthy challenge to form paddle so that it is both light weight and strong where it needs to be; appreciation for the paddle as a tool, part of Canadian history and connection to natural world; encourages outdoor activity; hones observation and problem solving skills.
- Wet-on-wet painting comes to an end. This technique may be used once or twice in grade 8 for seasonal paintings and history
- Coloured chalk pastels are used extensively for portraiture, meteorology, geography, history and Industrial Revolution pictures
- Clay modeling (platonic solids and Barlach sculptures)
- Pointillism is used for anatomical drawings and gift cards
- Charcoal (anatomy and Industrial Revolution)
- Veil painting specifically used for adolescents to ground and centre them
- Chinese brush painting is introduced during world geography at the end of the grade 8 year
- Upside down copying is a positive mental exercise
- The final major project for grade 8 is the reproduction of a contemporary artist’s work using acrylic paint or mixed media
There are many trips that correspond to the grade 8 curriculum. A trip to the Toyota factory, the steam museum, Redpath sugar factory are some options. Teachers are free to choose when the class will have their big trip to Northwaters for their final camping/canoe trip.
Other Special Features of the Grade 8 Year are:
- Social work for, or in, the community
- Grade 8 Project which focuses on a topic of the students’ choice which they research and present to the audience of the school (see the spring 2016 projects)
- Week long wilderness trip
- Class play
- Being introduced to a buddy in the grade one class and helping them throughout the year with various activities