In English/Language Arts 6, students read to enhance their understanding of different genres and to enhance their own writing. Students practice the writing process in each part of the course as they plan, organize, compose, and edit four projects: a brief narrative essay about a personal hero; a piece of creative fiction; an essay analyzing a poem; and a research project. As they read the coming-of-age novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor, students focus on the elements of fiction and examine elements of the author’s craft. In a tour of folktales, students embark on a journey to South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and even ancient Greece and Rome. Students are introduced to several types of poetry, learn to recognize poetic devices, evaluate the effectiveness of a poet’s message, and, ultimately, compose their own poetry. As they explore nonfiction and informational texts, students build on concepts they learned in the elementary grades to develop higher-level critical thinking skills. A study of advertising and persuasive techniques helps students become more informed consumers. Students strengthen speaking and listening skills through predicting, questioning, summarizing, clarifying, and synthesizing. Students learn to work collaboratively, incorporate multimedia in their presentations, and present their findings in unique, effective ways.
In English/Language Arts 7, students read and analyze literature from poetry to novels and folklore to myth, using what they learn to enhance their own writing. The course begins with the steps of the writing process, which includes identifying parts of speech and using them correctly and effectively. A study of writing style focuses on slang, sentence variety, and transitions. Students learn how characters, setting, and plot contribute to literary fiction as they identify and explain these components and use them creatively in their own narrative essays. Reading poetry allows students to focus on figurative and descriptive language, which they apply to writing descriptive essays. Students also learn about the themes and characteristics of myth and folklore. A study of nonfiction focuses on research and organization as students produce objective informational essays. Students learn active reading and research skills that enable them to recognize bias and the techniques of persuasion in different genres, including biographical writing, then write persuasive essays based on their own beliefs or opinions.
In English/Language Arts 8, students continue their exploration of various genres, using active reading techniques such as note-taking and drawing conclusions from texts. Students review the steps of the writing process, making connections between each stage of writing, the genre they are studying, and a well-formed final product. To prepare students for writing narrative essays, lessons focus on plot, theme, and historical setting. Writing reflective and persuasive essays based on their own thoughts and ideas allows students to demonstrate their individuality. Solid research and understanding of organizational methods and visual features provide the foundation for writing informational essays. After improving their ability to recognize biased language, students write persuasive essays to express their own opinions. Students then look at the unique characteristics of poetry, myth, and folklore, and discover the conventions of playwriting and how drama employs the elements of fiction.
In Math 6, each skill provides a stepping stone to the next. Students learn how to find the prime factors of composite numbers, then use this ability to work with fractions. They use ratios and rates in a number of applications, including converting between English and metric measurements, determining unit rates, and finding unit prices. To build a foundation for learning algebra, students study the properties of addition and multiplication and the order of operations. Students then use these concepts as they write, evaluate, and factor algebraic expressions. After they learn to solve single-variable one- and two-step equations and inequalities, students extend their knowledge by graphing the solutions on number lines and the coordinate plane. The exploration of two dimensions continues as students work with plane polygons, classify shapes, and solve for shapes’ perimeters and areas. Students learn to transform two-dimensional figures by translating, rotating, and reflecting both figures and graphs of equations, then move on to solid figures. Finally, students delve into statistics as they identify, interpret, and construct various data; solve for and interpret measures of center including mean, median, and mode; and use those measures to analyze data and construct appropriate data displays, which they can apply to a wide range of situations in other subject areas.
Math 7 teaches skills essential to adult life and lays the groundwork for future mathematics classes. Students learn to apply their work with rational numbers and integers to everyday situations. Students convert words to expressions and vice versa, using equations and inequalities as problem-solving tools. They compute tax, percentage of error, commission, and interest using rates, ratios, and proportions; graph ordered pairs; and graph and write linear equations. Their work with simple figures—triangles, angles, circles, quadrilaterals, and polygons—focuses on finding areas and perimeters. Students then move on to scale drawings and composite figures composed of simple figures, and compute the volumes and surface areas of solids including prisms, cylinders, pyramids, cones, and spheres. Students collect data and use graphs, charts, and diagrams to read, interpret, and display the data—and they also learn how graphs can be misleading. Students apply the study of sampling and populations to applications involving probability, likely and unlikely outcomes, permutations, combinations, and compound events. Students learn to represent these concepts using Venn diagrams and charts, tools they will encounter in other courses.
Math 8 helps students see the power of mathematics in everyday life. The course begins with a review of percentages and proportions, applying these concepts to conversion factors and emphasizing English and metric measurement. Work with linear equations includes computing rates of change, finding intercepts, graphing linear functions, and describing the action of a line. Number patterns and sequences foster a study of arithmetic and geometric means as students learn to find missing terms in sequences. An investigation of the Cartesian plane teaches students how to work with scale drawings, dilations, and graphs. Students learn about the properties of triangles, the Pythagorean Theorem, and the properties of parallel lines cut by a transversal. With pie charts, bar graphs, histograms, scatter plots and other linear models, students explore probability and make predictions and correlations. Students apply the concepts of independent and dependent events, odds, combinations, permutations, and factorials to situations from playing cards to determining how many different outfits they have in their closets.
Scientists make exciting observations and learn amazing facts about the world. Harnessing students’ natural curiosity and ability to observe, Science 6 surveys the physical and life sciences through engaging, interactive activities and media-rich content. Students begin by surveying the branches of science, noting important milestones in the development of scientific study, and discovering the contributions of some influential scientists. They examine the matter that makes up the world, the laws that govern the movement of matter, and how matter is affected by contact and noncontact forces. Students investigate energy, its sources, and methods of energy generation and transfer. As they examine the structure of Earth, students learn about natural resources and the impact of human populations on the balance of nature. Students also study weather, wind, storm formation, and ways data is used to predict the weather. Students begin learning about life science through the discoveries Robert Hooke made using his microscope. The vital relationship between structure and function is examined as students learn about the components of cells and the organ systems of the human body. The study of living things continues as students learn about the major groups of organisms and scientists who contributed to current knowledge about each group. The relationships among these groups, called kingdoms, and among living and nonliving things are revealed as students learn about biogeochemical cycles. The ecology section completing the course discusses water quality, conservation efforts, and recycling.
Science 7 brings together some of the most fascinating sciences—general, physical, earth, and life sciences—essential for investigating the world around us. After learning common measurement systems and the essentials of lab safety, students are ready to apply the scientific method to everyday situations such as a broken lamp or a hungry dog. Students learn about matter and energy, and about electromagnetic waves and the electromagnetic spectrum, focusing on the properties of visible light. Earth itself becomes the focus as students study the different geologic eras in Earth’s history, the parts of the planet, and phenomena including earthquakes and volcanoes. Delving into Earth’s past, students examine the fossil record and discover the clues it provides about the histories of numerous species and how they adapted to their environment. Students learn how species change over time through mutation and natural selection. Finally, students explore food webs, the roles of different organisms in an ecosystem, and why preserving Earth’s limited natural resources through conservation efforts is imperative.
Science 8 focuses on the smallest structures—the atoms that make up our world and the cells that make up our bodies—and the largest systems—the cycles of the natural world, the interaction of energy and matter, classical mechanics, and the bodies that make up the universe. Beginning with classification systems, students learn about the elements and the structure of atoms. Students apply what they learn about temperature scales, the difference between temperature and heat, and chemical reactions to the study of energy and ways matter can change. This understanding of chemistry helps students in their next phase of study: cell function, the life-giving functions of photosynthesis and respiration, the biology of their own bodies, and the genetics that make each living being unique. The focus widens again as students explore classical mechanics: Newton’s Three Laws of Motion and the Law of Universal Gravitation. Students then apply classical mechanics to planetary motion, the effects of the Moon, travel beyond our planet, and the most up-to-date discoveries about the universe.
Making sense of the unique and fascinating places in the world requires a broad range of knowledge and skills. Students explore how Earth’s geography has affected human life and culture as they learn about the development of early civilizations in Asia and the Mediterranean. Students examine the great religious traditions born during this time, witness the growth of dynasties in Far Eastern Asia, and learn about the ideas that spawned the Renaissance. As the world became caught up in the excitement of the Age of Exploration, the Americas were “discovered,” though vibrant and thriving civilizations had existed there for thousands of years. Students learn about the struggles of these native civilizations, the slaves who were brought to build a new nation, and independence movements in the western world. The issues addressing modern nations include trade, migration, urbanization, and human rights. In an exploration of recent history, students learn about dictators and witness revolutions in Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. In the final section of the course, students study the impact of globalization and the technology driving it.
History, government, economics, sociology, geography, and anthropology all come together to show how modern culture arose from ancient and classical civilizations. Beginning with the New Kingdom of Egypt, students witness how ancient civilizations grew into classical empires that gave rise to medieval Europe. They discover how feudal Europe moved toward the Renaissance, and how its ideals of humanism and constitutional government ignited the scientific revolution and the Protestant Reformation. Students study the development of spirituality in the Middle East, the growth of dynasties in the Far East, and the formation of Mesoamerican civilization. As students learn about the development of modern nations and their quest for overseas colonies, they see how the competition for colonies and extreme nationalism led to international conflicts, including the Seven Years War and the Cold War. Students discover how our political identity has evolved through developments including the Industrial Revolution, the labor and progressive movements, the struggle for civil rights, the economics of a modern society, and the dawn of the Information Age.
In Grade 8 Social Studies, students focus on the history of North America and, in particular, the history of the United States. Before Europeans knew that North America existed, indigenous civilizations thrived throughout the continent. Students learn how colonial life led to first attempts at self-government and how European influence continues to this day. As they witness the expansion of US borders, students discover how the desire for land and resources led to the removal of native populations, wars with neighbors, and annexations. Students see the impact of civil war and witness the struggle of slavery and America’s emergence as an industrial powerhouse. In their study of the twentieth century, students trace the reasons for and outcomes of the civil rights movement and consider the role of the United States as a world power.