Grade eight is the culmination of the Middle school experience.
As more independent learners and thinkers, eighth grade students are given more responsibility as leaders of the Middle School. They are expected to exemplify the habits of heart and mind that we value both inside and outside of the classroom. They are encouraged to lead and participate in weekly chapel, on sports fields, in performance halls, and in community service activities. Eighth grade continues to prepare students for the transition to the ninth grade, as academic requirements reflect the vigor and expectations of our Upper School. While grade eight looks forward, it is also a time of reflection. At the end of the school year, grade eight students participate in Exhibitions at which time they write and speak to their parents, teachers, and classmates about the Middle School experiences that have molded and guided them in becoming productive and responsible members of the school and greater community.
Grade 8 Course Descriptions
Grade eight English introduces students to a variety of modern literature by way of close readings of the texts, which teach students how to identify with and consider textual themes and conflicts that resonate in their own daily lives. Literary analysis and writing also are major components of this course. Students will come to understand the crucial role that writing plays in developing their thoughts. Grammar and vocabulary are studied as a means of improving reading, writing, and speaking skills. Independent reading time is built into the weekly schedule with an eye toward reinforcing reading as a positive lifelong habit. Course literature includes Animal Farm, George Orwell; Lord of the Flies, William Golding; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald; Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes, A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, Valerie Zenatti; Little Worlds: A Collection of Short Stories for the Middle School, Peter Guthrie, Mary Page (supplemented by other short fiction); and selected Shakespearean sonnets supplemented by modern poetry. Read More >
Grade seven U.S. History takes students into the early years of the twentieth century and grade eight history is the natural continuation of that course. Rather than being a chronological survey, History 8 is a seminar-based class with a heavy emphasis on independent research projects that examine several main periods of United States history from various perspectives: from that of African-Americans, from other countries and cultures, and from varying socio-economic conditions. It is a fresh approach to the study of twentieth century American history. Read More >
Eighth grade students will be placed in one of the following courses:
The Pre-Algebra curriculum is designed to bridge the gap from arithmetic to algebra, providing students with a solid background in pre-algebra skills, and introducing them to a wide variety of first year algebra concepts. The introductory algebra program reviews basic operations with integers and rational numbers, and introduces multi-step linear equations and inequalities, operations of exponents, properties of rational numbers, ratios, proportions, percents, square roots, and solid geometry. Students learn to solve multi-step word problems by writing equations and they learn to graph linear equations, systems of equations, and inequalities. These concepts are reinforced through many different types of word problems and are applied to the real world through a variety of projects. These projects range from ring pop analysis (scatter plots and linear regression) to writing comic strip style collision and pursuit problems. While the graphing calculator is used by students to explore concepts and solve problems with realistic data, the majority of the program is grounded in non-calculator problem solving.
Algebra 1 provides the primary preparation for all Upper School math courses. In this course, students deepen their understanding of linear functions and inequalities, systems of equations and inequalities, and their graphs. Students are introduced to quadratic equations, factoring, polynomials, radical equations and operations of rational expressions. These concepts are reinforced through many different types of word problems and are applied to the real world through a variety of projects. These projects range from ring pop analysis (scatter plots and linear regression) to designing and creating a blueprint for a perfect school (scale and proportions). Throughout hands-on projects and daily work, students use graphing calculators as tools to explore concepts, analyze data, and solve more complex problems with realistic data.
Honors Algebra 1
Honors Algebra 1 is for students with a particularly strong mathematical background. Students are selected for this course based on previous performance and teacher recommendation. In this course students deepen their understanding of linear functions and inequalities, systems of equations and inequalities and their graphs. They complete an in-depth study of quadratic equations, factoring, polynomials, radical equations and operations of rational expressions. Additional topics include matrices and statistics. These concepts are reinforced through many different types of word problems and are applied to the real world through a variety of projects. These projects range from ring pop analysis (scatter plots and linear regression) to designing and creating a blueprint for a perfect school (scale and proportions). Throughout hands-on projects and daily work, the students use graphing calculators as tools to explore concepts, analyze data and solve more complex problems with realistic data. Read More >
Eighth grade science starts off with a bang as we study the beginning of the universe and learn about the extremely large numbers that it takes to visualize the distances and time scales involved in studying such big picture science. Our trip through time and space takes us through the histories of the cosmos, our galaxy, our sun, our planet, our planet’s life, our own species, and the history of the scientific endeavor. During the second trimester, we sharpen our analytical skills as we delve into studying the scientific process and how we determine fact from fiction. Students also hone their creative engineering skills a by designing, building , and testing models to answer several open-ended STEM challenges. Third trimester focuses on human anatomy and adolescent health. Students are given the opportunity to dissect chicken wings, cow eyes, and sheep brains, in addition to using state of the-art multimedia to view the spectacular internal workings of the human body in both macro and microscopic detail. Read More >
- World Language
Open only to those students who have successfully completed French 1-7 or its equivalent, this course completes the first year of French and is equal to French 1 in the Upper School. Upon completion of the course in grade 8, students may enroll in French II in grade 9. Students complete the second part of the text Bon Voyage, published by Glencoe-McGraw Hill. The four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are stressed equally.
Open only to those students who have successfully completed Spanish 1-7 or its equivalent, this course completes the first year of Spanish study and it equals to Spanish 1 in the Upper School. The curriculum for Spanish 1 is based on the iBuen Viaje textbook published by Glencoe-McGraw Hill, and is supplemented by cultural lessons and the reading of a short novel entirely in Spanish. Upon completion of the course in grade 8, students may enroll in Spanish II in the Upper School.
Middle School Latin 7 and 8 offers a comprehensive introduction to the language of the ancient Romans while emphasizing the usefulness of Latin for understanding English vocabulary and grammar. The text follows the life of Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the poet known in English as Horace. The graded readings depict his life from his childhood in southern Italy through his education in Rome and Athens to his unfortunate experiences with Brutus’ army and his ultimate acceptance as court poet to Emperor Augustus. In this way, language study is integrated with the culture and history of the first century BCE. The course sequence develops skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking Latin. Regular derivative lessons teach word attack skills and identification of Latin elements in English words. Latin grammar instruction in English helps students transfer their understanding of Latin structure to English effectively. Cultural units include: Greco-Roman mythology; Roman houses; life in the Roman army; gladiatorial shows; daily life of women and slaves; Roman cities; the structure of the Roman Republic and its relationship to American democracy; and imperialism. All students participate yearly in the National Latin Examination. Latin 7 and 8 covers the equivalent of one year of high school Latin. Students who complete these courses may enter Latin 2 or Latin 2 Honors in ninth grade. Read More >
- Fine and Performing Arts
The Arts program in the seventh and eighth grades provides an opportunity for students to focus on one area of the arts more exclusively. Students may choose to excel in the string orchestra or choral performance groups, study theater arts, or concentrate on specific visual arts media. Some course offerings are yearlong, while others are trimester length.
Visual Arts and Creative Writing
The following trimester-long courses are available to students in Grades 7 and 8:
- 7/8 Clay 1: Students use hand-building processes to review basic techniques and then the wheel to consider the idea that form follows function.
- 7/8 Clay 2: Students reinforce skills from Clay 1 while creating more technically challenging and precise ceramic forms using a combination of hand-building and throwing techniques.
- 7/8 Drawing and Painting 1: Students learn to see and communicate visually while acquiring a variety of techniques in drawing and painting. They further develop their artistic skills.
- 7/8 Drawing and Painting 2: Students learn to pursue the artistic voice, developing and expressing intent and character while honing skills and developing techniques.
- 7/8 Mixed Media: Students develop their artistic skills while learning to work with alternative mediums such as metal, wire, found objects, and paper.
- 7/8 2-D Visual Arts: Students develop more advanced drawing and painting skills while learning about composition and color theory through the study of different arts and periods of art.
- 7/8 3-D Visual Arts: Students develop additive and subtractive sculptural skills while working with a variety of mediums while simultaneously studying different arts and periods of art.
- 7/8 Digital Photography: Students develop basic photography skills while working with a digital camera (provided by the school).
- Creative Writing: This course is conducted in a casual but focused atmosphere. Students have ample opportunity to learn how to recognize, access, and develop their most creative ideas and to learn to place them purposefully and naturally in selected generic forms: The Short Story and the Screenplay. Writing workshop is also an integral part of the course. Here, students develop critical and analytical thinking skills, as well as patience and tolerance, as they read closely and critique one another’s written work.
Theatre Arts is offered as an elective trimester course for seventh and eighth graders. Students participate in skill-building activities at an elevated intermediate level. These activities are designed to increase kinetic awareness, refine vocal techniques, and enhance imagination, analytical thinking, and improvisational skills. Seventh and eighth grade students may elect to take one or both of two annually rotating courses offered at these grade levels: “What a Character” in which students explore the process of character development, and “Improve with Improv” in which students participate in improvisational thinking and performance, learning the guidelines for effective and successful improvisation. Seventh and eighth grade students may audition for the Upper School musical production, as well as for the spring Middle School production.
The Mozart Orchestra is the seventh and eighth grade string orchestra open to any student who has played an instrument for at least one school year. Students study beginning through intermediate level repertoire including solo, ensemble, and chamber music in classes that meet three times per week. The Mozart Orchestra participates in four school concerts, a music festival trip in the spring, the bi-annual STABFAB Pops Concert, and occasional chapel services or off campus events.
The Stravinsky Strings course is for advancing Middle School level performers in the orchestra wishing to pursue their music at a higher level of commitment and accomplishment. Participation requires permission of the instructor. The focus of the course is on solo performance of traditional classical, chamber, and orchestral music. The Stravinsky Strings members rehearse during Exploratory and outside of the regular orchestra class period. Members perform regularly throughout the school year for Middle and Upper school concerts, chapel services, and music festivals. The Stravinsky Strings players also perform as part of the symphonic Philharmonic Orchestra and may also audition for honors orchestras throughout the region.
The 7th and 8th grade choir curriculum is designed to start each student on the path to becoming an independent choral musician. To achieve this goal, students begin to work independently and in sections to read and learn music through the use of solfege. Students continue to expand their knowledge of music vocabulary and vocal technique with a continued focus on breathing and singing with good tone. Students also develop their aural skills by learning to recognize certain melodic patterns and intervals. The 7th and 8th grade choir performs choral repertoire in a variety of styles and languages and typically sings in three or four parts. The choir performs in all of the Middle School music concerts. Read More >
- Health and Athletics
St. Anne's-Belfield is committed to helping each student learn to take responsibility for his or her actions in the classroom, on the stage, and on the playing field. In keeping with this philosophy of educating the whole child, a comprehensive, age-appropriate health curriculum, competitive athletic program, and physical education is offered throughout each student’s Middle School years. The year is divided into three separate athletic seasons. Students may choose between playing a competitive sport or they may participate in a non-competitive athletic option. Our competitive athletic program involves practice four days a week and interscholastic competitions after school hours. Our non-competitive athletic options involve seasonal, recreational units based on racquet sports, indoor soccer, and golf.
Our 7th and 8th grade Health Curriculum is called Life Skills. These courses are designed to help students assume responsibility for their own decision making as it applies to their health and wellness. Students are asked to apply their knowledge and abilities to their daily life. Topics include Media Literacy, Appropriate and Safe Use of Technology, Cyberbullying, Harassment, Social Networking, Identifying and Managing Stress and Depression, Identifying Substance and Alcohol Abuse, Social Norms, Nutrition, and Managing Peer Pressure and Relationships. Read More >