655 Willowside Rd
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Eighth Grade

Curriculum Overview

Class Eight, like the final note of the octave, comes around again to the beginning of the scale -  yet transformed.  The overarching theme, this year, is that students find their connection to the whole world and, through that process, come to know themselves.  Students are encouraged to take greater responsibility for their learning and given the opportunity for self-discovery through an independent 'eighth grade project'.  Teachers strive to awaken the light of thinking as students cross the threshold from childhood to young adulthood.

HISTORY: Mirroring the development of the adolescent, topics in history include studies of the American, French, and Industrial Revolutions, as well as the U. S. Civil War.  Students are introduced to the development of the United States as the world's first free democracy and travel in changing consciousness to modern times.

LANGUAGE ARTS: Working from the rich literature available to this age group, students read novels relating to main lesson work, biographies, short stories, poetry, plays, and begin work with factual writings.  Writing styles and moods are examined and, in poetry, the emphasis is on dramatic and lyric styles, ballads, simile, metaphor, and the use of adjectives.  We continue working with speech, recitation, and drama, which culminates in the production of the class play - usually taken from Shakespeare.  Grammar, punctuation, parts of speech, and paragraph writing is reviewed, and essay writing introduced.  Writing styles are expanded to include the formal independent research report with the eighth grade project.  Public speaking and presentation is polished as each student formally shares their discoveries and artistic endeavors from this project with the school community.

MATHEMATICS AND GEOMETRY: Expanding upon the mathematics and algebra introduced in seventh grade, students are challenged in signed numbers, working in different number bases, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing binomials.  Solving equations, simplifying and evaluating expressions, and practical applications to algebra are practiced.  Quadratic equations are brought, along with the distributive property, factoring, rules of exponents, and square roots.  In geometry, students discover the theories behind the five Platonic Solids and then construct them in paper and clay.  They work with three- dimensional figures to find perimeter, area, and volume.

GEOGRAPHY: Looking at the world as a whole, students find their place upon the earth through learning about the oceans, continents, and diversity of human culture.  Through becoming familiar with the physical, cultural and economic aspects of the countries of Asia and Africa, in particular, students round off their geographic studies and come face to face with the challenges of the modern world.

ORGANIC CHEMISTRY: Through a phenomenological approach, students discover the qualities, origins, and chemistry of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids (fats and oils), with a focus on their significance in human nutrition.

PHYSICS: In continuation of 6th and 7th grade studies in acoustics, optics, heat, electricity and magnetism, eighth graders work phenomenologically with hydrodynamics and aerodynamics.  The subjects of electricity and magnetism are combined in the creation of electric motors.

METEOROLOGY: Global and local climate and weather is studied.  Students name clouds, observe weather changes, fronts, wind, humidity, pressure, and storms in the earth's atmosphere as they navigate their own inner mood or "internal weather."  Students review the dynamics of heating and cooling as they expand these concepts to understand the sun as the power behind earth's climate and water cycle.  Students finish the study with an understanding of the global impact of weather upon the economy and inhabitability of the continents of the world.

ANATOMY: As the adolescent senses the gravity in his/her lengthening, hardening bones and the budding power h/she carries to change the earth, our curriculum brings an in-depth study of the bones and muscles of the human being.  The brain and nervous system are presented through the study of the eye and ear.

CLAY:  After a brief review and practice of relief, the students are led into transforming a sphere into the five platonic solids.  Students go outside to dig clay and proceed through all the steps it takes to make this rough material usable.  Anatomical studies are sometimes preceded by careful observations and drawings, leading to the sculpting of life-sized bones. In preparation to the very large coiled pots that will be made in ninth grade, the students will be introduced to small and medium coiled pots and some slab work.

BASKETRY:  Eighth Graders learn the basic parts of a basket – ribs, frame, and handle – in order to skillfully and artistically make a small simple basket.  They are introduced to a number of materials, both store-bought and gathered from nature, to learn to shape their basket through the weaving of these various materials.  Once a basket is completed, the students can expand to different styles, shapes, forms and patterns, using more natural materials, which are harder to control. 

CARPENTRY:  The class makes a three-legged stool. Students choose dimensions to suit the intended purpose, such as a bedside table, a chair for a young child, or a seat for an adult.  The seat is cut roughly to shape, and then it is carved with a mallet and a gouge. Knowing the direction of the grain and learning to understand when grain must be cut with, against, or diagonal to the grain is explored.  The mortise is cut with a drill and bit. Green logs are split to form rough billets, shaped with a froe and hammer, refined with a drawknife, and smoothed with a scraper and sandpaper. The tenons are cut with a special bit, split with a saw, and fitted with a wooden wedge. The parts are assembled and marked so that the position of each leg provides the greatest balance and support for the joint; the angle of each leg must support the aesthetic balance of the whole. The parts are glued, and the stool is sanded and waxed.  

HANDWORK:  Textiles in the Eighth Grade is the culmination of 8 years of handwork instruction begun in First Grade. It distinguishes itself from previous years by utilizing the sewing machine as an important tool.  This complements their study of the Industrial Revolution in the history block. Up until this time, the students have used their own hands as their primary tools during handwork periods.  In preparation for a larger project, the students learn all the features of the machine, as well as how to sew a basic straight stitch.  The principal 8th grade project for this class is the making of a pair of simple drawstring or elastic waist pajama-type pants using a commercial pattern, altered if necessary, to correspond to their physical measurements.  They discover that the sewing machine is one of many useful tools, part of a more complex process drawing on many aspects of the entire handwork curriculum.

MAIN LESSON BLOCKS IN THE 8TH GRADE: Modern history; Industrial Revolution, French Revolution, American Revolution; physiology (human skeleton, muscles); physics; algebra; geometry (platonic solids); elementary chemistry; meteorology; epic and dramatic poetry.

Special Subjects

Spanish: Reading, completion of Curriculum for Spanish I, Contemporary Hispanic Poetry

7th & 8th Girls Choir/ Boys Recorder, 7th & 8th Boys Choir/Girls Recorder

Values and Virtues:
  Social Issues, Body Issues, Ethical and Conscious Decision-Making

Practical Arts:
Textile, Stone Carving, Wood Carving, Copper Work, Drawing,

Veil Painting, Farming:
Lunch Program- Service, Food Preparation and Nutrition

Instrumental Music, mixed 6th, 7th and 8th Grades:
Orchestra, Flute Choir or Instrumental Ensemble (Woodwinds, Brass, Flute, Violin, Viola, Bass, Cello)

Language and Literature:
Composition, Grammar, Short Story, Poetry

Skills Practice

Teams: Soccer, Basketball, Vollyball

10th Grade