As our student begin to think about what lies beyond middle school at Redwood Day, our eighth grade English explores the themes of individual versus group identity, identity formation, social justice. Students read a combination of self-selected and assigned novels and hone their literary analysis skills through group discussions and essay writing. Monologue writing, various activities and projects, vocabulary, and grammar round out the curriculum.
In eighth grade Spanish, the teacher speaks in the target language at least 95% of the time. Students study vocabulary, present and past tenses, and practice written and oral communication. They also prepare multimedia presentations. Generally, most students are ready for high school Spanish 2 when the graduate from Redwood Day.
In health class, students learn more about sexuality and relationships. Topics include responsible decision making (and how personal values plays into that), contraception, and sexual abuse. Students also do a deeper dive into internet safety from video game addiction, social media, and sexting. In the last few weeks of the term, students discuss sexual orientation and gender identity. Guest speakers and films are also wonderful resources for our students.
All seventh graders continue in the same advising groups from sixth and seventh grades. Advisers have daily touch points with their students during Homeroom every afternoon before dismissal, two study halls, and an advisory period every six-days. Grade-level deans lead advising teams to prepare curriculum that supports social emotional learning and helps students navigate through the years of middle school. The eighth grade advisory curriculum focuses on high school readiness (self-advocacy, personal responsibility, resilience, personal and academic preparation) and the application/transition process, legacy projects, and ongoing community building and support as students prepare to move on from Redwood Day
Eighth grade history centers on U.S. history from colonization through the Vietnam War. Students study government, politics, and the human experience as they engage in an exploration of current events and issues of social justice that make history real and relevant to them; this includes a culminating project in which students interview family members as part of a class audio quilt.
Eighth graders learn more notes and chords on ukulele, and play more folk songs (chord and melody). They continue ear training using solfege syllables and hand signs, and learn harmonic relationships of chords and notes. In class, students develop the ability to harmonize melodies with appropriate chords and write melodies over chords. They also write original compositions and complete a final group composition project that incorporates all skills.
Physical education focuses on refining techniques, introducing tactical and strategic practices, and having students apply these ideas in both group and team-based settings. Students have the opportunity to exercise their leadership skills and are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone. They learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle through individual and collaborative fitness components throughout the program. Class content and social emotional development is geared to help students prepare for high school and beyond.
The focus of drama in eighth grade is playwriting. Students develop and crate their own theatrical material and have daily opportunities to share their work with the peers via staged readings and in-class performances. They study different styles and genres. If the trimester alignment coincides with Halloween, students’ final project involves creating scenes within the horror genre.
Eighth graders study algebraic expressions, linear equations, polynomials, exponential growth and decay, systems, algebraic word problems, and quadratic equations. This is equivalent to an Algebra 1 course.
Building from the previous two years, eighth graders develop programmable circuits using the Arduino development environment. Students learn to design and build devices that take user input and produce meaningful output. Projects might include mood reactive lighting, simple robotics, or even simple instruments.
Eighth grade service learning centers on poverty and food justice. The essential questions students explore are: What is food justice? How does it relate locally, and what is/can be done? Past service work trip sites included Phat Beet Farm and Acta Non Verba Farm. Students have also connected with Mandela Marketplace - Healthy Retail Program, People’s Grocery, and planted and harvested our own produce at Redwood Day for donation to local communities.
In art, eighth graders continue to explore and delve into a variety of artistic genres and mediums, including: animation cels, ½ and ½ illustrations, block painting, graph drawings, clay sculptures (shoes), foam carving, 2-point perspective, floor plan design, 3D foam house structures, and designing board games. As part of art history, students study Claude Monet’s work, and complete a project inspired by his style.
Outdoor Education takes students outside of the familiarity of the classroom, encourages them to stretch, try something new, support their classmates and connect to learning beyond school walls. Eighth grade goes to Catalina Island where students learn about biodiversity, that everything runs on energy, there is no waste in nature, and everything is connected. During their week away, they participate in a variety of group and individual challenge activities including: kayaking, snorkeling, high ropes courses, team-building, hiking, and science activities. The trip is led by C.E.L.P. (Catalina Environmental Leadership Program) and chaperoned by the eighth grade advisory team.