Grade 8

The eighth grade is the culmination of a Tower School education. While we continue to teach essential academic skills, we encourage independence and provide a supportive environment for students to find their voices. We provide and encourage opportunities for leadership growth through academic, athletic, social, and community-service opportunities. We prepare the students to present themselves in the best possible light, focusing on social skills, self-confidence, and positive group dynamics. Through classroom projects and extracurricular activities, we provide our students with opportunities to succeed through teamwork. Tower graduates are prepared for the challenges of secondary school because they are able to delve beneath the surface of material and understand the connections between topics.

Grade 8 Curriculum

Mathematics

●Extensive work with linear functions: graphing, intercepts, and solving systems

●Explore all operations with polynomials and extensive work with factoring

●Explore rational expressions

●Extensive work with quadratic functions: graphing, zeros, quadratic formula

●Integrate ideas from algebra and geometry with graphic representation

●Continue to focus on developing logical reasoning skills

English

●Read literature of various genres, for pleasure as well as critical insight, and always with an appreciation for the time and cultural context in which it was written

●Develop ideas thoughtfully and logically, supporting them with a body of specific evidence and using precise, vivid language

●Know basic literary and poetic terms and concepts and apply them accurately to specific works of literature

●Write cogently, concisely, and vividly in a range of contexts, both expository and imaginative

●Observe rules of grammar, principles of accurate and well-varied sentence structure, and conventions of punctuation and spelling

Science

●Evaluate the validity of scientific work and create scientifically accurate experiments.

●Engage students in actions to take responsibility for the natural environment.

●Believe that scientific inquiry is a dynamic, enjoyable process and appreciate the importance of being curious in everyday life.

●Model kinematics and dynamics in physical systems to measure the force, mass and acceleration in metric units.

●Conceptualize work, power and potential and kinetic energy within a Rube-Goldberg contraption and accurately describe the changes in energy.

●Demonstrate understanding of chemistry through a PIP (Personal Interest Project) student-centered research project culminating in research paper written in scientific format, and formal oral presentation.

●Using the Periodic Table of Elements in modeling atomic structure and influencing bonding within molecules.

History

●US history covering Reconstruction through to JFK and the Space Program

●21st century skills are the primary focus in the study of history

●Heightened and expanded expectations in 8th grade teach and encourage the student to focus on independent thinking, independent study skills and autonomous expression of their perspective

●Reading critically: discern information that is significant to the line of study - multiple exposures beyond the textbook

●Research and documentation: writing and projects

●Expanded exposure to analytical writing: focus on ability to support analysis through research and the ability to understand multiple perspectives on an issue

●Note-taking skills expanded: variety of note-taking forms explored - students take ownership of tools best suited for their learning style

●Study, organization and time-management skills are discussed and implemented - - students take ownership of tools best suited for their learning style

●Presentation skills are honed to develop the student’s confidence, professionalism and skills as a public speaker

●Debate skills are expanded: become more precise through assertions, reasoning and evidence - culminating in the execution of live debate

●Projects and activities focus on both individual and collaborative skills

●Class discussions: ability to voice a perspective, hear others’ perspectives and consistently develop essential questions to propel the level of discussion/inquiry

●Assessments: variety of forms are designed to allow students to express their understanding in multiple formats

●Precision of expression in the critical thinking process: apply this understanding both verbally and in written form

Languages

Students may select Spanish, Latin or Coding as their Language option.

Language Option - Latin

●Become familiar with the system of Latin noun and verb endings

●Learn the nominative, genitive, dative accusative, ablative, and vocative cases of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth declension nouns

●Learn the present, imperfect, perfect and future tenses of verbs in all four conjugations in the active voice

●Learn the infinitive form of Latin verbs

●Learn the imperative mood

●Learn the present, imperfect, perfect and future tenses of six irregular verbs: velle, esse, posse, ferre, nolle and ire

●Learn other grammatical points covered in the first two books of Ecce Romani

●Develop logical skills by studying a complex language that requires scrupulous attention to detail

●Gain confidence and enjoyment that come with the ability to read Latin stories fluently


Language Option - Spanish

●Class is taught mostly in Spanish; students are encouraged to always speak Spanish

●Grammar concepts covered in eighth grade include, among others:

○Review of present tense stem-changing verbs

○Saber and Conocer

○Reflexive verbs

○Learn regular preterite

○Irregular preterite verbs

○Preterite of stem-changing verbs, including –ir verbs

○Reciprocal actions

○Indirect object pronouns

○Imperfect tense, forms, and uses

○Preterite and imperfect, differences between the two

●Extensive oral practice through class discussion, group work, and pair interaction

●Further develop writing abilities through more lengthy writing assignments

●Explore cultural elements of the language; study Spanish and Hispanic culture

●Expand students’ vocabulary


Language Option - Coding

The fundamental tools for creating content and managing information on the Internet originate from programming languages. Three of the most common, widely used web development languages are HTML, CSS(Cascading Style Sheets), and Javascript. In the first and second trimesters, students will focus on web design and development and will study these three languages.

By the end of the second trimester students will work on a comprehensive website using the skills that they learned and with attention to: appearance, content, functionality, and usability. Students should continue to develop their website throughout the third trimester. This website will be presented as part of their final project. Project benchmarks will be due throughout the trimester to help students manage the development of their websites.

The programming language Python has become the language of choice for many programmers for a wide variety of projects ranging from creating video games to automating tasks to powering sites like YouTube, Google, Yahoo Maps and many others. During the third trimester, students will create games, apps, and dynamic graphics while learning Python.

As part of their final project, students will create their own product (application, game, etc.) using Python, which they will then incorporate into their websites. These websites will be due by and presented during their final exam time slot at the end of the year. Grading of this final project will be based on a rubric that will be available to students when they start to build their websites.

Students in this class may work at their own pace to complete a series of lessons which will be posted online and accessible to the student on any computer with an Internet connection. The lessons will be largely project-based and will challenge the students to solve problems independently and think analytically. During significant benchmarks throughout the course, students will take tests to demonstrate their knowledge of the specific topic/s that they are learning.

Integrated Technology

Upper School students’ use of information technology increases as part of their normal growth and development. Students have routine access to computer labs, laptops, and other associated resources to support their learning. Additionally, US students are expected to:

●Follow safe practices when using e-mail or other communications

●Develop appropriate skills with available software and hardware to meet academic goals

●Understand and follow ethical use of information technology, especially regarding original work

●Understand and develop personal limits regarding technology use

Chorus

All Upper School students sing in the chorus. Students focus on part singing and engage in standard choral repertoire, multi-cultural music and folk songs.

Additionally, students may participate in the a cappella Towerettes and Boys Band.

Arts Blocks

Tower’s Arts Block program provides upper school students with opportunities in technology, visual arts and musical arts classes. Recent Arts Block trimester offerings include: handbells, photography, woodworking, oil painting, technology, jazz band, marimbas, clay, sculpture, video, chorus, part singing, unaccompanied voice work, multi-cultural works, a cappella and folk groups.

Athletics

●Learn and enjoy the benefits of physical activity

●Develop a high level of sportsmanship and school spirit

●Develop leadership skills and an appreciation for the value of teamwork

●Seek personal levels of excellence

●Experience playing on a competitive team

●Identify the correlation between hard work and improvement

●Develop relevant skills connected with the sport played

Drama

The Upper School Drama program offers the opportunity for burgeoning actors and techies to spread their theatrical wings. Under the guidance of the drama directors, the students are responsible for all aspects of the production; acting, singing, dancing, costume design, set design, stage tech, and booth tech. Our goal is for the students to develop confidence in themselves, while challenging themselves to reach in new directions. Our productions are designed to highlight our upper school student’s talents in order to create a show that our entire school community can enjoy.


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