Like all Middle School students, eighth graders are issued an iPad to use throughout the school day. Students change classrooms at each period for study with teachers who are focused in a single area of study. Reading, language arts and social studies combine in the Middle School to form an integrated Humanities block. This allows teachers to explore subjects in more depth through a cross-curricular platform, expanding concept understanding and mastery. Latin instruction is offered four times per week.
Eighth graders participate in the eighth grade play each spring, prepare to receive the sacrament of confirmation, and benefit from coaching and additional classroom practice to ensure they are well equipped for high school entrance exams and the increasingly rigorous curriculum of the coming years.
All eighth graders take a full year of Algebra 1, using the McDougal Littell Algebra 1 textbook. Fundamentals continue to be enforced while students learn to solve and graph linear equations and inequalities; to solve absolute value equations and inequalities; polynomials and factoring; exponents and exponential functions; and rational equations and functions. Students are taught how to study for the math placement exams for various high schools. A field trip to the Board of Trade and the Federal Reserve Bank is used in discussing careers involving mathematics. Seventh and eighth grade students who demonstrate a gift in the area of mathematics may apply for the Loyola Academy math program. Students enrolled in this program begin each day with math instruction on Loyola’s campus, returning to SFX for the remainder of the school day.
We believe that the key to academic success is found in extensive reading. With this in mind, eighth grade students are challenged to read 50 independent reading books during the school year, in addition to our in-class study of literature and academic texts. The core of our literature study is our daily study of poetry, supplemented by critical analysis of short stories and contemporary novels. Students also participate in performance-based units of a Shakespeare comedy and participate in an annual field trip to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater (the 2012 Production was The Taming of the Shrew). Weekly non-fiction reading during social studies includes articles on a variety of topics from The New York Times Upfront and online resources.
HUMANITIES: LANGUAGE ARTS/WRITING
Writing curriculum is also performance-based, using the workshop approach of Nancie Atwell and the National Writing Project. Eighth grade students study and produce poetry (tritinas, sestinas, pantoums, villanelles, sonnets, and odes), essays, fiction (both short and long form), and literary criticism. Students also practice timed writing in anticipation of high school entrance and placement exams. Both grammar and conventions are taught via the writing workshop; in addition, students complete daily editing exercises and practice new sentence forms by imitating the more complex grammar used in published literature.
HUMANITIES: SOCIAL STUDIES
The historical focus of eighth grade curriculum is on the United States from the Civil War to the present, including the Civil War and Reconstruction, World War I and the Great
Depression, World War II and the Cold War, and the Modern Era. The final quarter culminates in a multimedia presentation about the forces that shape America today, and their historical roots. Regular class time is devoted to current events and a discussion of world issues. Students also complete their study of the Illinois Constitution.
Every Middle School grade meets twice per week with a dedicated specialist as part of our English review program. Grammar, usage, and conventions are reinforced, complementing the work undertaken through the Humanities block. St. Francis Xavier feels that a a review of these elements is essential to high school language success. Test taking and organizational strategies are also incorporated, teaching important skills that benefit students across all subject areas.
All Middle School students receive science instruction in the school’s dedicated science lab, which was refurbished in 2010. As part of our science curriculum, sixth through eighth grade students are required to participate in our annual science fair. Students research, design an experiment, and write a report in one of several scientific disciplines, which is judged by a panel of community members, teachers, and school parents. Students learn to hypothesize, manipulate variables, interpret data, and identify findings with the use of iWork’s Keynote and Numbers, both on their laptops and using the lab’s SMART Board. “Winning” presentations are eligible for participation on the Regional and State level in March and early May. Specific areas of study through Middle School include the foundations of science and experimentation, a full year of Earth Science and Biology, and a full semester of physics and chemistry, respectively. Students are introduced to each discipline with support from the Glencoe 2011 online text.
Curriculum continues to build a strong linguistic and analytical foundation for eighth grade students as they prepare for high school foreign language study. The primary goal of eighth grade Latin is reading Latin. To accomplish this goal of fluent Latin reading, students will read selected passages from classical authors along with textbook readings.
In addition to acquiring another corpus of vocabulary, students also learn the perfect tense system, principal parts of verbs, and all six verb tenses of indicative mood. Noun topics include the dative case, the fourth and fifth declensions. Students undertake individual studies of Roman historical or literary figures, culminating in a newsletter project and artistic presentation. Other cultural topics include the Roman Republic, legendary heroes of the Republic, Roman roads and travel, the citizen army, Rome and Northern Europe, Rome and North Africa (Punic Wars), aqueducts, and the Circus Maximus. The textbook and workbook used are Lawall, Gilbert. Ecce Romani IB (Pearson), 4th ed., 2009.
Eighth graders prepare for their Confirmation through discussion and review of the marks of the Church and lives of the Saints and holy people. Personal reflection and group discussion on the precepts of the Church allow students to explore and identify the roles they will hold as Catholics in today’s society. Weekly classes led by the Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish allow students to engage in topics and questions relevant to their lives. Every K-8 grade at SFX School plans and leads several all-school liturgies each year. Students attend mass every Tuesday morning in the church.
All Middle School students are issued an iPad for their personal use throughout the school day, and for homework tasks at home. As in all K-8 grades at SFX, Middle School students also benefit from a SMART Board in every classroom, and check out other tools for targeted academic applications. Online resources are incorporated into all areas of curriculum.
“ALL SCHOOL” PROGRAMS AND RESOURCES
Please refer to our All School tab to learn more about eighth grade curriculum in the areas of Technology, Music, Art, Library, Physical Education, the resources of our Learning Support Team, and our Crusader Communities.