In eighth-grade science, students delve into the world of physical science. Topics include chemistry, force and motion, Newtonian mechanics, simple machines, and energy. Eighth graders review the Scientific Method and expand their measurement skills to include density and temperature.
In eighth-grade Spanish, instruction is 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 create multimedia presentations. Generally, most students are ready for high school Spanish 2 when they graduate from Redwood Day.
Middle School art provides students space to continue practicing, experimenting and reflecting on their creative expression both technically and conceptually. Students are introduced to and reacquainted with a variety of mediums as well as a diverse group of artists. They are asked to think about the impact of art on society as they become more aware of their own impacts on their communities. In eighth grade, students focus on sculpture and learn how to translate their 2-D skills to a 3-D format while expanding their own limits of art making. Projects include designing and painting a classroom stool to visually represent the legacy they want to leave behind as they move on to high school, creating a paper mache sculpture exploring proportion, designing and sculpting a polymer clay series showcasing technical hand skills, and engaging in a culminating altered book project.
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. In April, the eighth-grade class goes to Catalina Island, where students learn about biodiversity, the interconnectedness of nature, and environmental conservation. During their week away, students participate in various 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.
As students begin to think about what lies beyond middle school at Redwood Day, eighth graders, in English, explore the themes of individual versus group identity, identity formation, and 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 eighth-grade English curriculum.
In eighth-grade Mandarin, students continue to develop a solid foundation in all essential areas of Mandarin language learning that includes an increasing knowledge of tones, character strokes, radical parts, and the structure of Chinese characters. Students engage in conversations using various sentence structures to express themselves with greater confidence, and they enhance their comprehension skills by reading various articles and texts and learning about Chinese idioms. Students also build their understanding of cultural topics while developing their presentational skills through a presentation project. Throughout their years of learning Mandarin at Redwood Day, students acquire the skills to prepare them for an advanced or intermediate level of high school Mandarin.
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.
Eighth graders continue in the same advising groups from sixth and seventh grades. Advisers have daily touch points with their students during Homeroom every morning and afternoon before dismissal and an advisory period twice an eight-day cycle. 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 Native societies before Columbus through the Reconstruction. 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. Big projects include an essay on religious intolerance in colonial America, debates about Constitutional issues, and design projects that commemorate a part of the antebellum period.
In eighth-grade music, students learn how to harmonize ukulele melodies and write melodies over ukulele chords and compose pieces using these skills. Students are introduced to the "Production through Performance" curriculum, in which they learn how to compose music using a digital audio workstation (DAW). Eighth graders learn how to create different drum grooves, write bass lines over one chord, and write over multiple chords. They learn how to write chordal keyboard/piano parts, riffs, and melodies. In the end, students gain an understanding of how different instruments function in a popular music context, learn harmonic concepts, and develop the skills to create music using them. In the fall, students choose a song democratically, rehearse it as a class, and perform it at Generations Day and the Winter Concert.
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.
Eighth-grade drama and public speaking has an overall focus on scriptwriting, allowing students to develop and create their own theatrical material across different genres and styles. Students have frequent opportunities to share their work with their peers via staged readings and in-class performances. A key performance unit engages students in studying, writing, and performing different types of monologues, as part of the major cross-curricular collaboration with the Wax Museum project in English class. In a primary public speaking unit, students research and present on influential historical figures from American History.
In eighth grade Algebra 1, students learn through various pedagogic approaches via small group, whole group, and differentiated instruction. Students apply their thinking in various ways, including to real-world problems and scenarios. In 8th grade Algebra 1, students expand on their algebraic understanding and learn linear functions, systems of linear equations, properties of exponents and exponential growth and decay, operations with polynomials, radicals and radical equations, and quadratic functions. Students graduate from 8th grade with the necessary knowledge to begin their high school learning in higher-level math courses.
In eighth-grade DBi, the themes are Purpose (aligning one’s story, strengths, skills, and stance with one’s world) and Play (taking part in an activity with/for enjoyment), which serve as contexts for learning for eighth graders to apply deeper design/build craft in relationship with what matters to them in their world. Students practice the 7th Generation Principle to ensure their designs positively impact those seven generations in the future, they practice Liberatory Design to ensure their designs enact equity and are inclusive of those most impacted by harmful design, practice Social Entrepreneurship, and build sustainable relationships, partnerships, objects, processes, and systems.
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 eighth grade, Equity and Inclusion groups are centered around race and gender identity. In addition to schoolwide assemblies, students engage in intentional, facilitated discussions for 6-8 sessions throughout the school year. Working towards the goal of creating a safe, inclusive school for people of all identities, students will:
Examine their own racial and gender identities
Understand how their identities may impact their experiences
Gain empathy for people with different identities
Learn how to be allies around issues of race and gender
Controversial Classics What makes a book controversial or even banned? Over decades and generations, what justifies a book being characterized as a “classic” and why might these “classic” books become banned? With a contemporary lens, the Controversial Classics Advanced Topics course will explore some of the traditional, well-known novels that were once the staple of the middle and high school English curriculum. Students will read and discuss what makes them controversial in contemporary society. They will also rewrite chapters of the books to make them more contemporary and relevant to the community students are part of at Redwood Day.
Introduction to Journalism The Introduction to Journalism Advanced Topics course is for those who enjoy seeking out news stories, interviewing people, and telling true stories through the lens of a journalist. Building on narrative and information writing skills from sixth and seventh grade, this course is where students will research and write an investigative article and use multimedia to publish their work in a newsletter distributed to the middle school. This is a great introductory course for anyone considering joining a newspaper staff in high school.
Perspectives in Painting Do you enjoy painting and want to expand your skills and knowledge of this important art medium? Do you want to go beyond the typical artists we often see and learn about diverse and unique approaches to painting? While rooted in traditional painting media and techniques, this course explores less traditional and more expanded modes and ideas of painting. We will explore watercolor and acrylic, collage painting, monotype prints, yarn painting, paper marbling, clay painting, and digital painting. We will also investigate the principles of design and fundamentals of color theory and will look closely at the work of historical and contemporary artists, with an emphasis on women artists and artists of color. This course will culminate with a large-scale, student-led mural project.
Another Lens: Learning More than the Single Story In the past five years, the United States has come to a reckoning of its history. Protests happened. Statues came down. Counter-protests happened. Starting with a popular notion of America's founding, this class aims to find out how the widespread commemoration of Christopher Columbus came to be. The initial focus then broadens to how Native Americans have fought to be recognized in history classrooms and the nation. We see how events like the Black Lives Matter movement have brought about a seismic change in how towns and cities tell their stories. We close by peeling the layers of Oakland's history to determine how it should be told.
History Through Art We can learn a lot about people from the art they create. In this introduction to art history, students will examine and analyze art from societies of the past and present. Remember discussing the Seated Lady of Çatal Hüyük in sixth grade? Or perhaps you recall making inferences about the Maya murals of Bonampak in seventh grade? This Advanced Topics course will build on those skills. In addition to discussing and writing about art, students can expect to watch films, create art of their own, and leave campus to view art in person.
Get Your Maker On Are you itching to spend more time in our Design, Build + Innovate Lab (DBiL)? Do you want to have hands-on time with the tools in the lab to design, prototype, and build your own projects? If so, then this Advanced Topics DBi class is for you. During the first semester of this course, students will participate in guided learning of the machines in our makerspace and the software required to operate them. This may include 3D printers, laser cutters, hand tools, sewing machines, the jewelry kiln, bookbinding tools, leather tools, etc. In the second semester, students will have an opportunity to pursue a teacher-approved, self-guided, project that piques their curiosity using the lab tools. With guidance, students will look for and submit work to design competitions that match individual curiosities and interests.