English

Grade 8Eighth grade English involves an extensive examination of underlying themes in literature.  Throughout the year students are encouraged to discover connections between the written word, society, and their own lives.  A wide scope of literature and activities is used to aid in the understanding of the concepts of justice, tolerance, and moral decision making.  Students read fiction, non-fiction, and plays, as well as discuss current events.  Essays are written in association with the various units.  In the spring, eighth graders prepare and deliver a demonstration speech in which they teach the class a skill.  Throughout the year, grammar is covered both through direct discussion and within the context of student writing assignments.

History and Social Sciences: Topics in United States History

This is a survey of the history of North and South America from the mid-18th  century to the early 20th century (approximately 1763 – 1900).  We study key social, economic and political events that shaped and defined the vast diversity of populations in the Americas, while simultaneously working on essential skill development.  Students analyze primary and secondary source documents, utilize a variety of educational technology to present information and collaborate with classmates, improve their research and composition skills, as well as their geographical literacy, time management and study skills.  In doing so, students refine key proficiencies critical to success in high school and beyond, as well as develop an understanding of cause and effect and change over time across the American continent in the early modern period.

Mathematics: Honors and Regular Algebra I

In preparation for continued studies in mathematics, students in these courses will be expected to build on all the basic concepts learned in the previous course, Introductory Algebra.  Students will continue to expand their understanding of integer operations, algebraic operations, foiling, factoring, rational and irrational algebraic expressions, and solving many forms of equations and inequalities.  Students will focus on thinking abstractly, developing organizational skills in mathematics, and using their accumulated knowledge in realistic application problems. Students taking this course at the honors level will develop  much deeper understanding of the concepts of algebra by solving complex problems in each area.  There is greater focus on solving realistic application problems, and students are expected to make connections, throughout the year, with concepts learned in their sixth, seventh, and eighth grade math courses.

Science

This course is the first year of a two year sequence in general biology.  With a focus on human body systems the course begins with an exploration of cells under the microscope. Body systems – circulatory, respiratory, digestive, skeletal, nervous, reproductive and immune – are studied by model building (anatomy) and simulations of function (physiology).  Students also learn about the path of energy conversion from nutrient intake to muscular activity.  

World Languages (Level Ib)

Students begin the equivalent of high school level Chinese, French, or Spanish in seventh grade (Level Ia) and continue through eighth grade (Level Ib) with a progression of skill building activities.  The program in all three languages utilizes text and audiovisual materials to emphasize situational vocabulary and to develop strong communication skills.  Language skills evolve with increased emphasis on character writing, spelling, and grammar.  Through films, singing and listening to music, and reading newspapers and magazines that reflect the way of life in Latin America, Spain, the Francophone world, or Asia, students are exposed to the cultures of those countries.  The World Language program in Middle School encourages not only a proficiency in the language but also an open-minded attitude about other cultures. Students in eighth grade (Level Ib) must earn a year-end grade of C or above to be eligible to take level II in Upper School.  If a student does not successfully fulfill this requirement, he or she will be required to take Spanish I in grade 9.  To be considered for the honors program in Upper School, students completing eighth grade must receive a year-end grade of A- or better and a B+ or better on the final exam.  In addition, a teacher recommendation is required.  Students who receive a year-end grade of C- or below are strongly encouraged to complete summer work.

2D Studio Art

Eighth grade focuses on learning observation, patience and control through observational drawing, anatomical drawing, and portraiture.  Art History units encompass a concise period in Modern painting through slide shows, discussions, and, often, a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to view works studied in class.  Genres studied are as follows:  Dadaism, Marcel Duchamp, Surrealism, and Salvador Dali.

3D Design and Woodworking

As a culmination to the middle school curriculum, eighth grade 3D Design and Woodworking students design and build small pieces of furniture.

Computers, Coding and Technology

Eighth graders may bring a personal tech device to school to use for academic purposes only.  Students sign our Acceptable Use Policy, which allows them the privilege of accessing the MFS WI-FI with their personal devices.  At the end of eighth grade, students are required to take a proficiency test to verify whether they need to take a computer applications class in ninth grade. This course will direct students toward becoming real computer scientists.  They will  learn about data and how it is processed by the computer, including the number systems that represent ASCII codes and RGB color values.  They will also participate in many group projects designed to teach the computational thinking skills necessary for coding and design challenges.  Creativity is encouraged to help students become future technology leaders.

Physical Education & Health

Physical Education consists of a wide variety of activities that focus on physical fitness, furthering sport skills, cognitive development, and lifetime recreational pursuits.  To gain a broad foundation, students are presented with activities that encompass individual sports, traditional team sports, and lifetime recreational activities.  Of equal importance are the development of sportsmanship, cooperation, self-discipline, self-esteem, and a positive attitude towards physical fitness and physical endeavors. The Health curriculum is designed to educate students about a broad range of health topics and issues that are age appropriate and pertinent to their current health interests and needs.  Information presented and discussed enables students to make informed decisions relative to their health, lifestyle, and ultimately to the quality of their life.  A holistic approach to health, viewing the influences and substantial relationships among the physical, mental, and social components of health and their impact on the student’s overall level of well-being, is a primary focus.  Specific topics at this grade level include the following:  Nutrition, diseases.

Theater

This course will offers a comprehensive study of theater with emphasis on the history of the genre, acting, directing, basic production design, Shakespeare, improvisation, establishing a vocabulary associated with theater, and examining what theater is doing in today’s society.

Elective Performing and Visual Arts Activities

Students in Grade 8 have the options to choose between one of these visual and performing arts offerings for one or two of their activity periods.

Studio Arts: These activity units are an opportunity for students to explore independently directed projects based on their interests and acquired skills.  Art activities are themed over the course of the year for more directed instruction and include: ceramics, glasswork, mural painting, pottery, and other options varying by semester.

Middle School Ensemble: The Middle School Ensemble is comprised of brass, wind, percussion, and electronic instruments.  The group tackles a diverse range of repertoire and performs at the winter and spring concerts.  Student commitment is for the entire school year.  Students meet twice in the 6-day rotation, once as the full group, and once by sectional, either brass/percussion/rhythm or winds.

Middle School String Ensemble: The Middle School String Ensemble includes violins, violas, and cellos.  Instruction centers around technique, applied theory, and a wide range of performance pieces from classical to popular music.  The string ensemble performs at the winter and spring concerts.  Student commitment is for the entire school year.  Students meet twice in the 6-day rotation, once as the full group, and once by sectional.

Seventh/Eighth Grade Select Choir:  Select Choir is a group for ambitious and advanced singers seeking multiple performance opportunities and a chance to form the core singers for our middle school.  Special performances for this unique group include an appearance with the US Choir, singing for important school events, and traveling for a theme park concert performance! Students will sing a variety of accompanied and acapella music strengthening their vocal technique and harmonizing skills, as well as audition and perform in the MS musical.  Singers are also featured in 3 major shows, the Winter Concert, Choir Showcase, and Spring Concert, over a year-long course that meets twice a cycle, once as a unified select choir and once with the MS Vocal Arts chorus.

Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Grade MS Vocal Arts:  MS Vocal Arts is offered for all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students wanting the opportunity to enhance their vocal ability, gain performance experience, and sing traditional, popular and musical theatre music.  Students in Sixth Grade Choir and Seventh/Eighth Grade Select Choir will also be a part of this MS chorus.  In the fall semester students will practice blending voices as a full group as well and learning concert pieces.  Throughout the spring semester students will audition for and perform in the MS musical. Singers are also featured in three major shows, the Winter Concert, Choir Showcase, and Spring Concert, over a year-long course that meets once per cycle.

Theater: Eighth graders are eligible to audition for the fall Upper School musical.  Students in grades 6-8 may audition for the Middle School musical in the spring.