They’ve finally made it. The students have achieved the ultimate goal of all these years of study. They are the eighth graders, the oldest, the smartest, the leaders of the school. As their reward for having achieved this high status, they get to work harder than they have ever worked before, learn more than they ever thought they could, and go on two incredibly fun trips!
While the bike trip starts the year in a special way, the camping trip to YMCA Camp ends it emotionally. The faculty likes to refer to the Mass that is celebrated on the last night of the three-day trip as the students’ own graduation. It is their chance to share those special experiences with God and each other before moving on to high school. Of course, splashing in the lake, having tacos over the campfire, hiking around the island, and telling stories over late night camp fires all rank up there pretty high too. From start to finish, eighth grade is truly a special year.
In addition to the regular subject matter taught in various classes, the seventh and eighth grade faculty is committed to helping students learn to be moral people, to take pride in their work, to manage their time effectively on long-term projects, and to take responsibility for their actions and learning. The students expand ways to use their iPads as a learning tool.
Eighth grade religion centers on the study of Church history. Important topics include the five major world religions, the early Church, the Renaissance, Martin Luther and the Reformation, and Pope John XXIII and Vatican II. There are large projects designed around the rise of monasteries and Protestant denominations. Other units in the spring are Catholic Social Teaching, drugs and alcohol, and family life education. Students leave this class really understanding what it means to be a Catholic.
In eighth grade English, students learn to be thoughtful writers. They engage in creative and formal writing activities, are encouraged to experiment with writing styles unique to themselves, and learn to critique their own work and that of their peers. Their projects include a large research paper, a mystery story, philosophical papers, a movie review, and response papers to a Holocaust unit. Eighth grade English also offers a thorough review of grammar and spelling rules, debates, and presentation skills.
Literature in the eighth grade emphasizes the study of plot, character, setting, theme, imagery, foreshadowing, and symbol in short stories. Some important authors studied are Edward Everett Hale, Truman Capote, Jack London, Daniel Keyes, Jack Schaefer, and James Ramsey Ullman, in addition to nonfiction writers. There are also units on Greek mythology, heroes, poetry, and the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. This is all truly great literature.
The eighth grade mathematics offers a strong foundation for future courses in Algebra and Geometry. The pre-algebra class, using McDougal Littell Pre-Algebra, focuses on algebraic and geometric concepts and reasoning. Students write, simplify, evaluate algebraic expressions and formulas, graph equations, apply the rules of exponents, and use the Pythagorean Theorem. They develop an understanding of geometry, apply properties of geometric shapes, and find perimeter, area, circumference, surface area, and volume of shapes. The algebra class covers algebraic concepts such as connections to algebra, properties of real numbers, solving, writing, and graphing linear equations and inequalities, as well as solving systems of linear equations and exponential functions. Using the McDougal Littel Algebra 1 curriculum, students continue with quadratic equations and functions, polynomials, radicals, and various connections to geometry. Another important emphasis of eighth grade math is to create and use different representations to organize, record, and communicate mathematical ideas. This is accomplished by using a variety of graphical tools, drawings, charts, graphs, and symbols to help students communicate their thinking. The McDougal Littell curriculum offers eEdition, an electronic version of the textbook and a variety of online resources including problems correlated directly to the lessons, tutorials of key skills, self-quizzes, and other engaging student activities. Differentiating practice is found with assignments and assessments tiered for basic, average, and advanced students.
Science in eighth grade moves into Earth processes, ending with space exploration. The students will be exploring the concepts through many hands on lab activities. The curriculum follows the standards in science set by the state of Minnesota.
History Alive! brings learning alive in the eighth grade Social Studies class. Students view, touch, interpret, and bring to life American History. Students use the skill of working together in small groups to complete short and long term projects and activities. Assessments encourage students to use their various intelligences to demonstrate their understanding of key historical concepts, from colonial times to contemporary America.
As the grand finale to an outstanding learning experience, eighth grade truly does give the students an opportunity to showcase their knowledge and creativity in a variety of ways and methods. Whether it is leading a fundraiser for the camping trip, publishing the yearbook, or mastering presentation skills, the students constantly impress us with their resourcefulness and responsibility. We are all truly as proud as their parents when we attend their graduation in June.
Highlights for Subject Areas
Mythology, short stories, novel
Extensive practice in various algebraic concepts. Some of these concepts include; graphing and writing functions, solving equations, probability, proportions, and variable expressions.
Apply algebraic concepts to real-world situations through problem solving. The entire year includes preparation for high school as well as college Math courses.
Students develop a wide range of vocabulary and knowledge of science as it relates to our earth.
Lessons contain an interactive classroom activity that taps students’ multiple intelligences and helps history come alive.
Learning about Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Protestantism, and the many similarities that they share with our own Catholic traditions and beliefs.