Grade 8

In the Grade 7 & 8 program, we build upon the solid foundation developed in our Grade 5 & 6 classes, with an intentional shift of responsibility from the teacher to the student. As our students enter adolescence, faculty members work closely with them to develop skills which will be crucial for success in high school including: organizational and study skills, academic goal setting, guided and independent problem solving and the ability to make ethical decisions. Our teachers exude enthusiasm and competence that inspire students to excel. Curricular and co-curricular programs encourage students to shift the focus from themselves to the world around them as globally-minded learners who are adept with technology and are flexible, creative and articulate citizens.

The Grade 8 English program emphasizes fluency in reading, writing and speaking. Students respond critically to short stories, novels and dramatic works such as Romeo and Juliet, The Maestro, Voices of the Holocaust and A Wizard of Earthsea, paying close attention to themes, narrative structures, character development and conflict. Through close reading of poems, students explore the expressive capabilities of language. Throughout the Grade 8 English curriculum, students grapple with issues of critical importance to any civilized society, such as morality, justice, citizenship and tolerance. Some themes in English are integrated with other subjects, particularly visual art, music and social studies.

This is a continuation of the Grade 7 course. It is designed for students with some previous instruction in French. Some review of major grammatical structures is undertaken early in the year. Grammar topics include a continued focus on irregular verbs, object pronouns and passé composé of regular and irregular verbs. The main emphasis, however, is on developing a useful vocabulary base and on applying speaking and writing skills, still with the use of the AIM program. This goal is accomplished through an interactive program which includes a major play, readings, daily conversation, role-playing and other activities. Students also enhance their listening skills through the use of diverse forms of technology such as websites and DVDs.

This course prepares students for more complex mathematics by expanding the basic notions already encountered in earlier grades, and by extending them into logical thinking and problem solving. Students increase their confidence throughout the year by using a balanced combination of theory, practical applications, manipulatives and computer activities. The course strives to develop an independent and collaborative work ethic that prepares students for the study of mathematics and science at higher levels. Areas of study include data management (collecting, interpreting and representing data); algebra (expressions, equations and problem solving); geometry (2D- and 3D-measurement, transformations, Pythagorean theorem and constructions); calculations of area of various figures, surface area and volume of solids; and number sense (BEDMAS, integers, fractions, decimals and exponents).

Students continue to refine their playing skills on band instruments through class instruction, individual practice and selected advanced repertoire. Music theory and history are studied in increasing depth using class and online instructional resources, and students are expected to maintain a regular practice routine. In addition to attending live concerts, students are also encouraged to participate in the co-curricular band program, which offers them multiple performance opportunities.

Students in Grade 8 are introduced to a variety of physical activities and health topics. Physical education stresses an appreciation of a healthy lifestyle and active participation. The foundations of correct stretching, body awareness and skill development are key objectives, and the course also focuses on organized games that require leadership, cooperation and teamwork. Health topics covered include nutrition and eating disorders, self-esteem, human sexuality and contraceptive methods, substance abuse and personal safety. The aim of the health component is to provide students with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to make responsible decisions about their health and well-being.

This course’s multidisciplinary perspective exposes students to different aspects of physical science, biological science and technology. Students learn a number of skills, which range from choosing experimental variables to writing a formal lab report; from note-taking to presenting; and from microscope work to dissection. The class explores five principal units: the scientific method (emphasized throughout the course), water systems, fluids, cell biology, and mechanical systems in action. This last unit introduces an engineering-based activity. The students use computer technology for their written laboratory reports and data analysis.

Grade 8 social studies includes both history and geography. In the history component, students focus on the development of Canada from the 1860s to 1914, with a focus on Canadian Confederation, the opening of Western Canada, and the changing nature of Canadian society as forces such as industrialization and urbanization came into play. Geography explores human patterns – the interaction between people and their environment, with an emphasis on global themes such as migration and sustainability. Skill development focuses on writing, speaking, debating and the ability to synthesize information and think critically. Specific reading and study strategies are taught, as are research and technology skills. Program highlights include integration with other subjects as we design websites, create board games and create history games such as “Confederation Ball” in physical education.

In Grade 8, drawing serves as the primary means of visual thinking, and provides a foundation for studio projects which include mask making, print making and painting. Students compare works of art and learn to appreciate their aesthetic qualities. The study of art history reinforces the dynamic relationship between art and culture. Students in Grade 8 begin to apply the vocabulary of art criticism. Teachers often link visual art projects thematically with English, music or social studies curricula, by creating Shakespearean masks and poetry ties which explore themes of tolerance and injustice.