— Grade 8
8th Grade Curriculum Overview
Texts: Literature: California Treasures, Course 3 by Glencoe, Vocabulary for Achievement by Great Source, Prentice Hall Writing and Grammar by Pearson, Sitton Spelling, select novels/literature
This year, we will focus heavily on mastering the Common Core literacy standards. We will use various forms of literature to apply the skills necessary to master those standards. The readings will consist of fiction, nonfiction, novels, short stories, and poetry.
Writing will also focus on the Common Core standards. The focus will be on analytical writing, which will enable students to write coherent, five paragraph essays that are well-documented and supported with evidence. This will prepare students for writing in high school.
Grammar is also taught since proper grammar is an essential component of good writing. It is essential for students to know key terms and to be able to detect and correct errors in writing.
Some of the topics we’ll cover are:
- subject/verb agreement
- pronoun agreement
- adjective/adverb agreement
- lie vs. lay
- its vs. it’s
- between vs. among
- altogether vs. all together
We will also cover important grammar terms like gerunds, participles, and infinitives. To do this, we will go over sentence diagramming.
For spelling, we will use the Sitton Spelling program.
Texts: Mathematics, Course 3 by Prentice Hall, Common Core Progress Mathematics by Sadlier School, and California Algebra I by Prentice Hall
Students will understand, compute, and solve problems with real numbers including percents, powers, roots, and absolute value. They will apply proportional reasoning to solve numerical and geometrical problems. They will strengthen their ability to use fractions, decimals, and percents and will be proficient at changing from one to another. Students will know how to compute the surface area and volume of basic three-dimensional objects. They will know and use the Pythagorean Theorem. Students will accurately express their ideas and strategies through both verbal and symbolic work.
Texts: Blest Are We and Family Life by RCL Benziger
This year, students will learn about the history of the Church, beginning with the resurrection, continuing with the middle ages, and ending with a discussion of the effects of the Second Vatican Council. Students will analyze how the Church is the Body of Christ on Earth and how they can learn to be active members.
We will also work from the Grade 8 Family Life book. This year, our focus will be on accepting yourself as you are and the value of life. We will use these topics as a means of discussing Catholic morality and using the Church’s teachings to help live fuller lives.
Junior High Service Learning Program
6th, 7th, and 8th grade will take part in the Service Learning Program. Rubrics and paperwork for each grade will be posted on School Speak. Service grades will be a part of the student’s final religion grade for each trimester.
Text: California Focus on Physical Science by Prentice Hall
The approach to our program is hands-on and activity-oriented. Students get a solid foundation in science investigation skills including observation, measurement and data collection, analysis, prediction, experiment design, research source evaluation, and communication. When possible, the curriculum includes differentiated lessons so a student can proceed at a pace that is comfortable, yet challenging.
Each student creates a PowerPoint presentation. Eighth graders choose a science-related topic, research the topic thoroughly, develop a thesis, design a presentation, and then present it to the class.
Units chosen are based on the Content Standards from the California Department of Education. Eighth grade focuses and physical science and utilizes the textbook California Focus on Physical Science by Prentice Hall. Curricular units include matter, Periodic Table, chemical reactions, forces, motion, gravity, buoyancy, and astronomy.
In addition to daily labs and activities, students design and test boats, spool cars, and bottle rockets.
Note: California is an active participant in creating the Next Generation Science Standards which are based on the Framework for Science Education. Both documents are in the initial implementation stages at present.
What this will mean statewide is a greater focus on engineering and doing, rather than just learning concepts. Key practices include asking questions, designing experiments, analyzing information, communicating information, etc. The number of core ideas will be limited, allowing more in-depth study and experimentation. When the state implements the new standards, the curriculum at St. Justin School will also be revised. However, our current curriculum already emphasizes most, if not all, of the new practices and standards. While we cannot be a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) school due to very specific facility/personnel/structure demands required to earn that designation, the Junior High curriculum does provide many of the same opportunities.
Text: Discovering our Past: The American Journey by Glencoe
The students will build a solid foundation in U.S. History from the initial colonization through the beginning of the 20th Century. We will focus on colonization and the reasons for the differences in the individual colonies. Students will then investigate the formation of the Constitution and how it gives shape and meaning to our national character. We will then move into the establishment of the nation and the development of its various regions. Students will then investigate the causes of the Civil War, the Civil War itself, and its aftermath. We will finish the year with a look at America’s transformation into a world power as she emerges into the 20th Century. Each unit will include an investigation into the important geographic features of our country and the role these geographical features played in the formation of the nation. We will investigate the treatment of Native Americans, African Americans, and immigrants throughout the course of American history.
Students will take notes from their textbook and class lecture. We will normally have homework, guided reading packets, tests, and other related activities with each chapter studied. There will be long-term projects based on the material. Occasional map tests will be given as additional support of the geographical areas covered in our textbook. The students will select, write about, and share with the class current events taken from their local newspaper or online source. Students will engage in Socratic Circles, where they discuss readings from their textbook using student-driven discussion. This subject will require the strengthening and development of higher-level thinking skills, and students will have to read the text and connect it to other ideas and aspects of life. The class will require more than a skimming or cursory reading.
Text: ¡Exprésate! by Holt/Rinehart/Winston
The 8th grade Spanish curriculum implements prior knowledge and skill developed in the previous year and continues the development of the second language acquisition. The curriculum is based on the “five C’s” of the Common Core National Standards: Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. The students are introduced to the cultural awareness of the Spanish-speaking world and its people with a special focus on young people. In addition, the course will give students an appreciation for the differences and similarities within the Spanish-speaking culture and between the Spanish and American cultures in the hopes they will gain a greater appreciation to their own lives and become more compassionate, caring individuals.
A pragmatic approach to teaching using a variety of pedagogical techniques is emphasized and adapted to the needs of the students such as:
- oral drills
- group activities
- creative writing
The following themes are used to develop student knowledge and skills:
- verbs (present/future/past)
- pronouns/subject pronouns/direct objects/indirect objects
- hobbies and everyday activities
- commands (affirmative/negative)