main content starts here

Guide to 8th Grade course descriptions, 2018-19

This is designed to assist students and parents in understanding the course offerings in eighth grade.  All eighth grade subjects are described.

Table of Contents

English


Literature and Writing 8E

The Literature and Writing 8E program is designed to meet the needs of the most capable students within the area of language arts while addressing the same instructional objectives as Literature and Writing 8.  Emphasis is on reading and writing skills with enrichment provided through individual and group extension projects in these components of the curriculum.  Special units of study may include research, drama, poetry, and the novel.

Students in the enriched program are expected to work with a minimum of compulsion by the classroom teacher.  In order to be considered for participation in the 8E program and to continue in the program for the entire eighth grade year, students must meet and maintain the following minimum criteria:

  • In order to be considered for this course, the student must have demonstrated exceptional ability in the language arts program the previous year. This ability would be demonstrated by exceeding grade level expectations in reading comprehension and writing.  It is assumed that the student has maintained an A- in achievement throughout the year and at least a B+ on the mid-year exam.
  • Students must have demonstrated that they are motivated to excel beyond standard expectations.
  • The student has demonstrated an ability to analyze literature and think critically.
  • Teacher recommendations, standardized measures, demonstrated student motivation and organizational skills are considered in making recommendations for placement.
  • The above criteria must be maintained throughout the eighth grade year for the student’s continuation in this program.

Students will be prepared to successfully complete the NYS Eighth Grade English/Language Arts assessment.  Recommendations for ninth grade will be based upon a student’s success in meeting these requirements.

Literature and Writing 8

The eighth grade program is designed to provide students with a strong background in English language arts skills.  The development of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills is stressed within the language arts classroom.  Students will be required to read several class taught novels as well as independently chosen titles.  Students are expected to demonstrate their ability to appreciate and to respond to quality literature through discussion and independent writing assignments.  Spelling and vocabulary requirements are drawn from literature and other teacher resources.  This course stresses the need for effective written expression with an emphasis placed on the writing process and the mechanics of language.  Students will be prepared to successfully complete the NYS grade eight English/Language Arts assessment.

English 8 Basic

The English 8 basic class is taught by a certified English teacher.  This course is designed to fulfill the students English Language Arts requirement with a major focus on both core content areas of English 8   and intensive reading and language arts skills for those students who require a reading program to address significant skill deficits through a modified curriculum.  The English basic class will be limited to no more than 15 students.

Reading – Special Class

A self-contained reading class based upon an alternate curriculum that focuses on the instruction of basic functional literacy in conjunction with a life skills program.  The curriculum is highly differentiated based upon each student’s literacy abilities and their Individual Education Plan (IEP) goals. 

ELA – Special Class

A self-contained English class based upon an alternate curriculum that focuses on the instruction of basic functional literacy in conjunction with a life skills program. The curriculum is highly differentiated based upon students’ literacy abilities and IEP goals.

Fundamental ELA

Fundamental ELA is an Academic Intervention Service (AIS) for 8th graders who need extra assistance in language arts.  Students included generally are at risk of scoring at Level I or II on a NYS ELA assessment or are recommended for inclusion by their 7th or 8th grade English teacher.  Students enrolled in Fundamental ELA meet every other day for 20 minutes in lieu of silent reading.

Literacy Lab

A course in reading/writing is required for students whose scores on standardized tests and/or other local measures indicate a need for intensive instruction in these areas.  Reading comprehension, vocabulary, and other literacy skills are developed as students read and write about a variety of literary genres.  Literacy Lab is taught in small classes either every day or every other day throughout the year.  Parents of students being scheduled for Literacy Lab will be notified, which will be scheduled in lieu of a daily study hall.

Mathematics


Algebra I

This is the same Algebra I as is offered in ninth grade.  It is available to eighth grade students who demonstrate a strong ability and interest in mathematics and who plan on pursuing a five-year mathematics sequence.  It is also a prerequisite for further study in mathematics and science at the Honors level.  While much of this course is focused on algebra with some geometry, other areas, such as probability and statistics, transformational geometry, and trigonometric functions are also introduced.  The final exam for this course is the Integrated Algebra Regents exam; students will also be required to complete the NYS eighth grade math assessment.  Students successfully completing the course will receive one high school Regents credit.  Students will be evaluated at the end of the school year and recommended to pursue either the Regents or Honors math program in ninth grade based upon the quality of completed work.  In general, a student is expected to meet the following criteria to be placed in this advanced class:

  1. The student must have demonstrated high achievement in the math 7E program; specifically a final GPA of at least 3.25 and a minimum final exam grade of B+.
  2. The student should be recommended by his/her current math teacher for placement into the program.

Math 8

Math 8 is appropriate for students who plan to pursue a Regents math sequence at Shaker High School.  Students successfully completing this course will be enrolled in Algebra I in ninth grade and will be on track to complete the Integrated Algebra Regents exam at the end of their 9th grade year.  This course will cover the first half of the algebra curriculum, including the real number system and related properties, linear and nonlinear functions, monomials and polynomials, factoring, quadratics, solving equations and inequalities, and other selected topics.  

Math 8 Basic

Math 8 basic is a course designed for students who have struggled with mathematics in their previous school years.  The classes will focus upon the core content areas of regular math 8 and will prepare students to be successful in their math class, on the New York State Grade 8 Math Assessment and on future Regents exams.  Students who complete math 8 basic will be on track to earn a Regents Diploma.  The Math 8 Basic classes will be limited to no more than 15 students in each class.

Math – Special Class

Math-Special Class is a self-contained math class based upon an alternate curriculum that focuses on the instruction of basic mathematical skills for activities of daily living in conjunction with a life skills program.  The curriculum is highly differentiated based upon each student’s math concept abilities and their Individual Education Plan (IEP) goals. 

Fundamental Math 8

Fundamental Math 8 is an Academic Intervention Service (AIS) for eighth graders who need extra assistance in mathematics.  This program is for students who scored at Level I or II on the 7th grade NYS math assessment or were recommended for inclusion by their 7th grade math teacher.  Students enrolled in Fundamental Math 8 meet with their regular math classroom teacher for 20 minutes in lieu of silent reading every other day.

Science


Earth Science (Physical Environment)

This course is the same NYS Regents course as is offered in high school and is available to eighth grade students who demonstrate a strong ability and interest in science.  Students who begin high school science in eighth grade should plan on pursuing a five-year science sequence. The teaching methods and approaches to laboratory investigations are designed to challenge our most able eighth grade science students. 

Each student will be expected to complete laboratory classes, a mid-year test, and the NYS Earth Science Regents examination in June.  Topics included in the study of earth science are energy and change, properties of earth material, thermal and radiant energy, moisture and energy budgets, erosional processes, formation of rocks, interpreting geologic events and astronomy.  Successful completion of this course provides students with one high school Regents credit.

Students will be scheduled for and must attend one laboratory class each week.  These labs may be scheduled after school, and are in addition to regular Earth Science classes.  An Earth Science student who also enrolls in Studio Art, DDE or two performing groups will have their lab one day a week after school.

In general, a student is expected to meet the following criteria to be placed in this advanced class:

  1. All students entering must have achieved an A average in science 7E.
  2. No individual effort and conduct grade may be less than G in science 7E.
  3. Each student should be recommended by his/her science 7E instructor for placement in this program.

Biology (Living Environment)

This course is the same NYS Regents course as is offered in high school and is available to eighth grade students who demonstrate a strong ability and interest in science.  Students who begin high school science in eighth grade should plan on pursuing a five-year science sequence. The teaching methods and approaches to laboratory investigations are designed to challenge our most able eighth grade science students. 

Each student will be required to complete laboratory classes, a mid-year exam, and the NYS Biology Regents examination in June.  This course applies scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the living environment.  Major topics include cellular structures and processes, genetics, human body systems, ecology, and evolution. 

Successful completion of this course provides students with one high school Regents credit.  Only two sections of Biology will be offered; if more than 52 students request Biology, a random drawing will be conducted to select 52 students.

Students will be scheduled for and must attend one laboratory class each week.  These labs may be scheduled after school, and are in addition to regular Biology classes.  A biology student who also enrolls in Studio Art, DDE or two performing groups will have their lab one day a week after school.

Science 8

This course in physical science covers the main areas of physics and chemistry.  The following topics are addressed during the year:  force and work, moving objects, the laws of motion, electricity and magnetism, heat, light and sound, atoms, elements, compound, mixtures, and chemical reactions.  Laboratory and science class skills such as safety, graphing, measurement in the metric system, use of the computer, laboratory procedure, and working with laboratory equipment are stressed.  The course is based on the NYS Education Department syllabus in science.  Students will be prepared to successfully complete the NYS eighth grade science assessment at the end of the year.

Science – Special Class

A self-contained alternate curriculum class that focuses on functional life and physical science concepts and the application of technology in conjunction with a life skills program.  The focus includes but is not limited to such topics as the Earth, Solar System, Living Systems (food chain), basic scientific principles of discovery, the use of technology in applying science to students’ daily lives and current events. 

Social Studies


American History II

The exploration of history in eighth grade concludes a two-year study of American History.   The course begins with the post-Civil War Era and continues to the present including the following units:  “An Industrial Society”, “The United States in an Interdependent World”, “The United States Between the Wars”, “Worldwide Responsibilities”, and “World War II to the Present.”  The course aligns with and covers the breadth and scope of the NYS Framework for Social Studies Instruction.  Students are involved in the study of historical, social, geographic, political, and economic themes as they relate to the people and events of this time period.  In June of eighth grade, students will take a school developed assessment, which serves as the final exam for American History II.

The teaching of specialized social studies skills continues in eighth grade and will include the following:

  1. reading maps, charts, and graphs
  2. interpreting political cartoons
  3. reading, speaking, and listening skills 
  4. essay writing
  5. research skills
  6. computer / technology skills
  7. study skills
  8. analyzing primary source documents
  9. analyzing current events
  10. studying a given historical period or theme through an interdisciplinary lens

American History II E

American History IIE offers an enrichment opportunity for students to explore the NYS grade eight Framework for Social Studies education in greater depth.  Students cover the same chronological scope as American History II, but with greater depth and with increased student expectations in and out of the classroom setting.

Students in the enriched program are expected to work with a minimum of compulsion by the classroom teacher.  In order to be considered for participation in the IIE program and to continue in the program for the entire eighth grade year, students must meet and maintain the following minimum criteria:

  • The student must have demonstrated exceptional ability in social studies (American History I) the previous year.  It is assumed that the student has maintained consistently high academic achievement throughout the year.
  • Students considered for this program must have effort and conduct grades of E or G.  Students must have demonstrated that they are motivated to excel beyond standard expectations.
  • The student has demonstrated the ability to analyze primary source documents and have demonstrated the ability to write formal essays, journals, narratives and/or editorials.
  • Teacher recommendations, demonstrated student motivation, critical thinking and organizational skills are considered in making recommendations for placement.
  • The above criteria must be maintained throughout the eighth grade year for the student’s continuation in this program.

Students recommended for the enriched program should demonstrate the ability to analyze, formulate and substantiate opinion, write critically and work independently in and out of the classroom setting.  Students should also have demonstrated, as evidenced by teacher recommendation, the ability to participate consistently in classroom discourse. At the conclusion of the American History II E course, students will take a school-developed assessment which serves as their final exam.

Social Studies – Special Class

A self-contained alternate curriculum class that focuses on the instruction of functional concepts to enable students with a life skills curriculum to make informed choices as citizens of a community, state and country.  The focus includes but is not limited to such topics as basic geography, key topics in United States history, some World History, and current events. 

Foreign Language


The NYS graduation requirements mandate that all students (except those exempted by the Committee on Special Education) study two years of a foreign language and pass the examination that is aligned to the checkpoint A learning standards for Languages Other Than English (LOTE) by the end of eighth grade.  If a student fails to pass the exam he/she will have to pass a high school Regents level foreign language course at the end of ninth grade. 

The eighth grade program is the second year of study in a rigorous junior high school program.  The course continues to stress the four basic skill areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in a foreign language while highlighting the target culture.  Upon successful completion of the course and demonstrated proficiency, students receive one high school credit for Level 1.  Please note that since this course earns a high school credit, the attendance policy in effect at the high school applies to this course as well.  In effect, a student may be denied course credit based on poor attendance.  Please refer to the junior high school handbook for an explanation of the policy.

A Note of Caution:

German 1R and Russian 1R (Regents) are offered in grade eight only.  Therefore, a student failing either of these two courses in eighth grade will be required to begin study of a different language in ninth grade in order to fulfill the foreign language graduation requirements.  In the other foreign languages, French and Spanish, students have the option of repeating the Level 1 course in ninth grade if necessary.

Physical Education 8


Physical education is scheduled for all students on an every other day basis for the full school year.  Students with physically disabling conditions, either permanent or temporary, are provided an adapted program designed for the individual student. 

Health


Health 8

Health is scheduled for all students on an every other day basis for one semester.  This course includes the study of personal wellness, decision-making, stress management and mental health, substance abuse prevention, HIV/AIDS and relationship management.  The goal of the course is to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to live a healthy life.

Health – Special Class

A self-contained alternate curriculum in conjunction with a life skills class that exposes students to a variety of health and safety related topics.  This class fulfills the requirement for participation in a health curriculum by providing an alternative program to expose students to simplified health concepts such as smoking, personal hygiene, and nutrition. 

Art


Art 8

The eighth grade art program builds on a foundation of skills exploring creative problem solving using the elements and principles of art and design.  Two and three-dimensional concepts are taught through a variety of materials ranging from drawing & painting to sculpture and digital art, among others.  Units covered in grade 8 art include:  Observational Drawing, Illusion of Depth & Perspective, and 3D Design.  Connections to art history and contemporary art support the eighth grade curriculum.  Sketchbook assignments further enhance students’ visual problem solving skills.  Art is provided on an everyday basis for a 10-week period.

Accelerated Studio Art

Studio Art & Design, a high school foundation level course, incorporates a wide variety of art disciplines, including drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and digital media.  Exposure to art history and art criticism enhance the program.  Studio Art & Design is required of all students planning a high school art sequence, and it meets the fine arts high school graduation requirement.  When taken in eighth grade, admission is based on a teacher recommendation, and invitation of the department supervisor.  Students are notified of the recommendation for Studio Art in writing before the end of June.  An art sequence commitment is expected for high school, including Drawing & Painting, which will be scheduled freshman yearPlease note that since this course earns a high school credit, the attendance policy in effect at the high school applies to this course. Important to note, Studio Art is taken in addition to the 10 week section of grade 8 Art.

Family & Consumer Sciences – FACS


The 8th grade Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) program builds upon the life skills learned in 7th grade.

The Nutrition unit will engage students in culinary labs, which will reinforce material taught in class.  Students will learn about healthy lifestyle choices that combine both fitness and nutrition.  The six nutrient groups are introduced as students analyze their personal eating and exercise habits. They will learn how to read and analyze nutrition facts labels while paying attention to proper portion sizes. Students will also learn how to substitute ingredients in order to make a recipe healthier.

The Career unit will focus on the steps one should take when seeking a job.  Students will be introduced to the world of work as we fill out job applications from local businesses, write detailed resumes and cover letters, and conduct mock interviews with classmates.  An electronic career research project will be developed using www.careercruising.com where students research a career of their choice.

The financial unit will focus on helping students learn to budget their finances. Hands on activities will help them understand the various aspects of banking The pros and cons of credit, debit, and ATM cards will be discussed, as will the details of check writing and managing a bank account.

Eighth grade students will attend FACS class every day for one quarter of the school year.

Technology


Technology 8

Technology 8 is the second half of the one unit NYS “Introduction to Technology” curriculum.  This course meets every day for twenty weeks or one half year.  

Technology 8 introduces students to more resources, and technological processes that can be used to solve technological problems.  The course is taught though a number of hands on activities and design challenges.  Students will use their knowledge of materials, machines and available resources to solve technical problems.  These activities develop critical thinking and decision-making skills vital to employment success in the twenty-first century.

Design & Drawing for Engineering – DDE

Entrance into this course is by Recommendation only.  DDE is the first course of the New York State Approved “Pre-Engineering Program” at Shaker High School.  The approved program is a five-unit sequence with a NOCTI (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute) exam at the end of the senior year.  Students who complete the required coursework and pass the exam will receive a “Pre-Engineering” endorsement on their high school diploma.  This course meets every day all year.  

DDE at SJHS is for high achieving Math, Science and Technology (MST) students.  The Math, Science and Technology grades of students will be used to determine who will be recommended.  Students who take DDE in grade 8 will be eligible to take “Manufacturing Processes for Engineering” in the ninth grade.

*Parents and Students please note:

Students who are enrolled in DDE will not be able to take Studio Art or a Performing Group at SJHS in eighth grade.  Students who enroll in Earth Science will have their Lab scheduled after school.  Passing DDE does fulfill the one unit Art / Music requirement for high school graduation.

Music


Music 8

Eighth-grade students are scheduled for one semester (twenty weeks) of General Music, which is divided into three units: Guitar, Keyboard and Rock-n-Roll.  In the two instrument units, students will review the skills they learned in seventh grade and learn new skills that will allow them to perform on the instruments (electric keyboard and acoustic guitar) at a more advanced level.  Students will learn these skills while performing individually, in small groups, and as a class.  Students will play a mixed repertoire of folk and rock music on each instrument.

The goal of the Rock-n-Roll unit is to develop an understanding and appreciation of the elements and history of this musical genre.  In this unit, students will learn the history of Rock-n-Roll music and will make connections to historical events.  They will learn how to identify different styles and performers through listening exercises, completing various projects, and by using the technology equipment available in the music classroom, computer labs, and the library.

Music Performing Groups

In the junior high school, Band, Chorus, and Orchestra rehearse every other day during the school day.  On the opposite day, students in a performing group would have a study hall.  Band, Chorus, and Orchestra perform in two school concerts per year and may have other performance opportunities.  In addition, students in these performing groups are the only ones eligible to audition for Jazz Ensemble, Select Band, Treble Makers (for Soprano and Alto voices), Select Chorus, Syncopella (for Tenor and Baritone voices), and Scherzo.  Students are encouraged to be in both a choral and instrumental group, since the two musical experiences complement each other.

Students in Band and Orchestra will also have a required small-group lesson once each week.  This is a class that students must attend.  In lessons, students learn technique and work to improve their individual skills.  Private lessons, while encouraged, are not substituted for school lessons at the junior high level.  A rotating schedule of lesson times is planned so that no student should be excused from the same class more than once in each four weeks of school. 

Students who wish to participate in a performing group must indicate their decision on the eighth grade Course Selection Form distributed from the junior high school.  A student must already play an instrument to play in an instrumental group.  When selecting a performing group, students are committing to participate for an entire year, to attend their school lesson, and to perform in all scheduled concerts.  The decision to drop a performing group will only be made under seriously extenuating circumstances by the guidance counselor, administrator, and director. 

Accelerated Credit in Music

Students can earn ½-unit of high school credit in music while enrolled at the junior high. Those who seek to apply for this accelerated credit in music must successfully complete two years in the Shaker Junior High School band, chorus, or orchestra. They also must perform a solo on a band or orchestra instrument, piano or voice at a level 3 or higher as ranked by NYSSMA, and have achieved at least a score of Excellent (21 or higher) on that solo by the end of eighth grade. If the student has met the necessary requirement, he/she will turn in a completed application form to the music teacher by early June of the eighth grade year. If it has been signed by the parent and approved by the teacher and principal, the student wild receive ½-unit of high school credit.

Functional Life Skills – Special Class


A self-contained alternate curriculum that focuses on functional daily living skills.  The focus includes meal planning and preparation, home/environment maintenance, self-care skills, and community environment orientation.  This class is graded on a pass/fail basis.

English as a New Language (ENL)  


ENL services are delivered through a co-taught Literature and Writing 7 class and/or standalone ENL classes depending on individual students’ needs based upon the NYSITELL assessment.  The co-taught ELA class is taught by an English teacher and an ENL teacher.  The class includes both identified English Language Learners and non-English Language Learners. The curriculum mirrors the curriculum of the Literature and Writing 7 class.