Humanities 8 is an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary course, combining English Language Arts and Social Studies, built around the theme of what it means to belong to a global community, from ancient to contemporary times. Various aspects of community are explored in units that have focused on: utopian and dystopian societies; the mythology and civics of Ancient Greece; the politics of US nationhood and racialized slavery; the ethics of totalitarianism, rise of the Nazi party and Holocaust, among others. Although students are not grouped by ability, texts are tailored to meet differing reading levels and learning needs.
Algebra 1 introduces students in Grade 8 to the core skill of expressing mathematical ideas in the language of algebra. It provides them with the bridge between earlier arithmetic classes and abstract thinking. Cooperative learning opportunities strengthen their communication skills and make them better problem solvers. As they become more confident in their mathematical abilities, they apply algebra to everyday life and use their skills directly in their Science course.
Science 8 students apply the scientific method regularly in this laboratory-based course, focusing on the scientific skills they will need to succeed in high school. Throughout the year the girls explore an integrated course of astronomy, physics and engineering. The girls choose the astronomy topics which most interest them, which guides the course’s overarching themes. Each unit is either introduced or concluded with an investigation. During their investigations, students learn how to properly design, implement, and report on their lab activities. When writing their lab reports, the girls learn to include accurate metric measurements, data that has been analyzed and explained, research citations in MLA format, and tables and graphs of their own creation. This class allows both cooperative and individual lab experience varying from week to week. It integrates mathematical skills and thinking into each topic, as well as technology (iPads) used as tools for measurement, research, recording data, calculating information, and reading material (their textbook). This course is also supplemented by local field trips to the Smith College Observatory and a class trip to Washington, DC, where we explore related topics at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
In Grade 8 Art and Identity, students contemplate their identities, which are formed from many different components including nationality, gender, interests, culture, race, values, and our life experiences. This class will explore ways our identities can be expressed through artwork. Sample projects include illuminated letters, and comic book heroes. As in Grade 7, different media are introduced and the basic elements and principles of art are reinforced.
Theatre 8 integrates the study of theatre and the study of individual expression with collaborative study and personal growth. Students demonstrate the vocal and physical attributes necessary to communicate characters different from themselves. They also cooperate in an ensemble to rehearse and present a short play.