Grade 8 Curriculum
Grade 8 students are expected to read and write with significant depth of thought and purpose. Seminar discussions become an increasingly large component of classes as students learn to actively listen and respond. They become more comfortable taking intellectual risks in their written work, and each student is encouraged to develop a confident voice. Students utilize punctuation, varied sentence structure, and vocabulary to affect meaning and clarity in their creative, journal, and formal writing. Works studied may include: American Born Chinese, Maus, Night, Things Fall Apart, and Catcher in the Rye.
Using primary and secondary sources, extensive research and writing, creative projects, and seminar-style class discussions, students resume a study of major eras in American history. The year begins with a study of current events in the United States. Do we live in a just society? How do we create a just society? The roots of current issues are traced back to slavery, the Industrial Revolution, the Civil War, Reconstruction and the Jim Crow Era, and the Civil Rights Movement. Students also nurture a semester-long relationship with students at Newcomers High School in Astoria, Queens. The culminating focus of the curriculum is the legacy that students will leave on their communities, which they build through a social justice project at the end of the year.
All students learn to prepare for the rigors of high school math. The honors Algebra I course allows students to complete a study of quadratic equations as well as radical expressions and equations. The Algebra I course is a basic study of algebraic topics and does not involve the study of quadratics. In both courses, visual, verbal, and symbolic interpretations of problems are studied so that students have many ways to interpret the abstract language of algebra. All Grade 8 students also participate in a stock market project which requires them to apply mathematical and evaluative reasoning skills. Students continue to work with the Math's Mate program, and they will once again partake in the nationally administered American Math Competition.
The Basic Chemistry unit includes the following topics: 1) mass, volume and density; 2) matter and its properties; 3) the classification of matter; 4) atoms; 5) the periodic table; 6) chemical bonding; 7) electron configuration; 8) chemical reactions; 9) acid and base chemistry; and 10) introduction to organic chemistry.
Within the section on mass, volume and density, students are introduced to the identification of matter, the measurement of matter, the testing of matter, and the concepts of mass, weight, and density. In matter and its properties, the concepts covered include phases and phase changes, mixtures, solutions, elements and atoms, chemical symbols and compounds and molecules.
The sub-topics within the atoms section include Dalton’s theory, J.J Thompson’s experiment and model, Rutherford’s experiment and model, Bohr’s model, modern atomic theory, subatomic particles, isotopes, mass number and average atomic mass.
The sub-topics within the periodic table section include the history of the periodic table, Mendeleev’s contribution to the modern periodic table, the modern periodic table, and properties and uses of groups and families.
The sub-topics within chemical bonding include and, covalent bonds, ionic bonds, metallic bonds, Lewis electron dot diagrams and polyatomic ions.
In chemical reactions, the concepts covered include naming inorganic compounds, classifications of chemical reactions, balancing chemical equations, and exothermic and endothermic reactions.
The sub-topics within acid base chemistry and organic chemistry include properties of acids, properties of bases, pH, classification of carbohydrates, structure of proteins, and properties of lipids and fats.
The Physical Science unit includes the following topics: 1) force and energy; 2) motion; 3) light and sound; 4) magnetism and electricity.
Students also complete a research project called “Adopt An Element” where they research an element's history, chemical properties and its uses in their everyday lives and orally present it to the class.
In fourth-year modern language, students hone speaking skills through oral activities. Reading skills are expanded through short texts such as magazine articles and the use of graded readers. These tasks help students experience the target language as a living language. During this year, they learn to express themselves using a wide variety of tenses and paragraph-writing skills are developed.
An emphasis in Grade 8 art is the use of light and shadow. Students learn techniques for making shadows and light with pencil, pen and ink, tracing paper collage, charcoal, and stencils. Students also make glazed ceramic pieces using the slab method and sculpt items out of recycled papier mache mash. During the course of the year, Grade 8 students draw and paint using direct observation and photographs.
Band members continue or begin to sharpen instrumental music skills. Students play from ear as well as notated music. Basic music theory is taught for reading key signatures and understanding the rhythmic meter. Attention is placed on articulation and breath support as well as the fundamental skills of producing a good tone. Chorus members continue to sing in unison and more complex harmonies while expanding their vocal range and technique. Students are taught healthy singing habits in the various registers of the voice and traditional choral styles to reinforce healthy singing. Students explore pop songs, foreign language pieces, jazz, and classical repertoire, and they adapt their technique to suit the specific musical style. Chorus students develop sight-singing skills using solfege.
Sport activities continue to develop proper sports etiquette and teamwork as well as cooperative and decision-making skills. Students will learn to identify their individual fitness level and to set realistic goals for maintaining and improving their level of fitness while gaining an appreciation of being physically fit. The climbing wall presents opportunities that allow students to take responsible risks and attempt personal challenges that enhance confidence and self-esteem.
Students in Grade 8 use the library for independent study, research, and reading. Students have access to a wealth of databases and other electronic resources.
Grade 8 students work on two major assignments throughout the year. They are responsible for designing and creating a yearbook. In the second trimester, Grade 8 students begin to work on a film project. They write a script and film their creation throughout the spring. Editing is done during the month of May. Both projects are presented to the school community at the end of the year.
Grade 8 Life Awareness is grounded in teaching students to openly and honestly communicate with peers, parents, and teachers. The year begins with an in-depth unit on anxiety and depression. Subsequently, students study drugs and alcohol with a particular emphasis on peer pressure. They also develop definitions of physical and emotional abuse and devise strategies for avoiding abusive situations and communicating concerns regarded abuse. The year culminates by students forming into gender specific book groups in which they discuss sexuality, a person’s rights in a relationship, and pressures associated with sex; the class then meets as a full group in order to share their questions, insights, and concerns.
Students continue a two-year course of study that explores America’s contemporary religious pluralism. The course uses Diana Eck’s On Common Ground, a CD-ROM developed by the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. The first part of the Grade 8 course explores Judaism and Christianity, with a particular focus on ways in which the American experience has shaped the variety of Christian and Jewish experience, practices, and beliefs in the United States. In the second semester, students explore Native American and Afro-Caribbean religious traditions. Biography, research, film, and guest speakers help students to better understand the differences both within and between each of these American religious communities. The students explore what it means to be a spiritual person, how people make decisions about their lives in the context of faith, and the ways in which people/communities are transformed by their beliefs and practices. Social and political issues confronting each religious community are incorporated into discussions. Learning to engage conflicting views respectfully; to discern and articulate their own views; and to listen to, acknowledge, and understand views and practices different from their own are major goals of the course.
Students spend two days at a rural retreat center with their teachers where they engage in planned activities to encourage self-reflection, exploration and discovery, personal growth, and community building.
The Book of Common Prayer provides the base of Chapel services. The aim is to affirm and nurture all students in their spiritual life, and to strengthen their connection to their own religious tradition. Thursday Eucharist includes non-sectarian prayers and birthday blessings in the context of Episcopal ritual. In all, the Episcopal concept of “common prayer” celebrates the diversity of religious tradition and experiences among faculty, students, and staff. Students in Grade 8 have regular leadership roles during Wednesday and Thursday Chapel.
Convocation takes place each Friday morning. Led by Upper School class representatives, Convocation is a time for students and teachers to share talents and interests, perform for one another, present curriculum projects, and share community announcements.
At St. Luke’s School our service to school, neighborhood, and world is based on direct participation and active involvement. Students choose from a variety of venues to complete their community service outside of the classroom. These may include volunteering at a food pantry or working as a tutor for young children.
Grade 8 students have a wide array of extracurricular activities to choose from.
- Fall Sports: Coed volleyball, coed soccer
- Winter Sports: Grades 7 and 8 girls' and boys' varsity basketball
- Spring Sports: Coed softball
- Literary Magazine: Libellus
- Packer Model Congress
- Student Council: Participation as a class representative rotates among class members. Students meet each week with the Upper School Head to discuss issues; they are responsible for running weekly Convocation.
- Canteen: Students are invited to return to school on a Friday evening for a social evening of a light dinner and play in the gym, supervised by faculty members.
- DISC Dance: Students are invited to attend a supervised dance organized by the Downtown Independent Schools Consortium (DISC) that includes Grace Church School, Village Community School, Little Red and Elisabeth Irwin, Friends Seminary, City and Country, and St. Luke’s School.