The Hartsbrook School

Eighth Grade

8playWebDevelopmental Picture of the Eighth Grade Student

“In my end is my beginning,” observes T.S. Eliot, “and the end of all exploration will be to return to the beginning and know it for the first time.” Eighth grade marks the end of elementary school as well as the approach of high school. The maturing student, whose capacity for logical thinking and independent judgment is evolving, will be thinking retrospectively well as prospectively. The eighth grader is filled with a new sense of gravitas, as well as an increased burst of creativity. In the classroom, there is a greater community. The presentation shifts from teacher to student. Speaking becomes more thoughtful; listening becomes more attentive. Continued work with teamwork and physically challenging activities meet the maturing student. The year concludes with a class trip in which students celebrate their time together as well exercising their new physical competenceies.

Highlights of the Curriculum

The Language Arts curriculum includes certain universality as students are increasingly oriented to today’s world: students read everything from Shakespeare to the poetry of third world countries to historical novels like The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Eighth graders review business and practical writing, spelling, and vocabulary. They practice writing newspaper articles and editorials, give oral presentations, and write short plays. A research paper is written. The year culminates in the production of a class play, usually by Shakespeare.

In Math, students consider the binary system, which made the development of computers possible. They also move on to principles of solid geometry, constructing the five platonic solids, and studying the spiral, the golden mean, and Euclidean geometry. Finally, the metric system and American system of measurement are compared, particularly the formulae for measuring volume and quadratic equations.

To support the study of solid geometry, students work on exact geometric drawing, solid geometry, and three-dimensional works, theorems, volumes of solids, and laws of loci. A mini-main lesson with a visiting stained glass artist completes this study of geometry.

They begin to draw in black and white with charcoal, also using bamboo and ink brush for landscape painting and calligraphy. Other handwork includes sewing a piece of clothing, making a stool, carved box, or moveable toy from wood, and sculpting the human head in clay.

Once again, history becomes a cornerstone of Main Lesson, starting with the Enlightenment and tracking the American, French, and Russian revolutions with their emerging ideals of human freedom. Students consider how those ideals were both found and lost in each newly formed society. Students debate opposing viewpoints held by the British and American colonists during the American Revolution. They study the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Field trips to Plymouth and Boston support this study. Students further discuss moral questions of slavery and civil rights, and hold, in the context of the 21st century, conversations about technology, free trade, war, and peace.

As in sixth and seventh grades, the study of individual biographies clarifies the ideas and dilemmas of each era. For example, students consider Charles Darwin, who laid the foundation for the modern scientific worldview, as well as world historical figures like Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Mahatma Ghandi, and Martin Luther King.

By the end of the eighth grade, students will have learned about the cultural and physical attributes of the continents of Asia, Africa, and Antarctica. World geography emphasizes the study of maps and their influence on the perception of the world. The philosophies of Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Shintoism are also introduced.

In science, students discover the mechanical principles that contributed directly to the development of our modern technological society. The eighth grader studies hydraulics and pneumatics, electricity and magnetism, aerodynamics and meteorology. In chemistry, laboratory demonstrations and classroom discussions highlight the study of carbohydrates, oils, fats, and proteins. Students analyze organic substances and investigate their role in human nutrition. They also investigate processes by which organic substances are formed (photosynthesis) and transformed (digestion). The eighth grader discovers how the classic substances of fire, air, earth, and water can be understood and observed in weather and ocean currents.

Subjects Studied

Language Arts Research paper is introduced. Studies in creative writing and literature deepen.
Mathematics Study of algebra continues and the binary system and solid geometry are introduced.
World Languages French and German continue 4 times/week in alternating blocks.
Movement Strengthening and conditioning continues and social dance culminate in the eighth grade Viennese Waltz. Soccer, basketball and ultimate Frisbee continue as sports. Students may play on the Varstiy or Junior varsity team depending on ability.
Eurythmy Eurythmy continues in blocks with an emphasis on interpretive work. Often eurythmy is incorporated into the class play.
Handwork Students are introduced to modern handwork by constructing a garment using a commercial pattern and the sewing machine.
Music Students continue in orchestra or band. Chorus is combined with the seventh grade with a spring concert.
Art Students begin to draw in black and white with charcoal, also using bamboo and ink brush for landscape painting and calligraphy. Pastel work and woodwork continue.