In eighth grade, students begin to use the textbooks created by the Phillips Exeter Academy, starting with Math 1. Using Math 1 and the TI-84 Plus graphing calculator, students discover typical Algebra 1 topics such as proportional reasoning, linear modeling, inequalities, absolute value, exponent rules, quadratic equations, and many others, by working through rich problems and discussing their various solutions and strategies. The concepts presented spiral through the text with increasing complexity. By encouraging students to solve real problems in authentic contexts, we strive to foster independence, creativity, flexibility and self- confidence in our students and in their approach to solving mathematical problems. Pre-Algebra is also offered as an option when appropriate.
Our science program is an integrated program for a whole year. We use themes to create a framework for understanding the connections between science disciplines. In this way, students learn that seemingly different processes, structures, or systems can be shown to have underlying similarities. Students are asked to learn science by engaging their hands and their minds. By doing science activities and analyzing their results, students learn the whys and the hows, not just the whats and whens. Ultimately they learn to see science as a system for making sense of the world. At all times, concepts and skill development are emphasized over memorization of facts.
- Objects Move and Collide
- Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena
- Evolution Explains Life’s Unity and Diversity
- Sustaining Local and Global Diversity
The eighth grade curriculum is designed to foster a student’s growth and confidence with her reading, writing and critical thinking skills. Using fiction and non-fiction as well as classic and modern literature, students work on reading comprehension, saliency determination and inferencing skills. Students discuss and write about their insights to hone expressive language abilities, both creatively and analytically. As students explore the relationship between societal expectations and personal responsibility, each student is encouraged to express her individual voice. Vocabulary words are derived from class readings, which helps to increase comprehension. Grammar instruction is an integral part of the year with a focus on sentence structure so that students can write correct and varied sentences.
Human Rights, Social Justice and You
When students study privilege and the historically unequal distribution of power they are given the opportunity to rethink the traditional narratives of history. In doing so they will build empathy and an understanding of how the past impacts the present. Topics in this course will include, but are not limited to, Holocaust and other Genocides, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Reconstruction and Jim Crow, Activists and Reform Movements, the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights movement. Women and other marginalized peoples will be lifted up as powerful examples of resilience, activism and artistry. Along the way students will build the skills of a historian such as note-taking and primary source analysis, racial literacy and media literacy, critical reading and writing skills, and research best practices.
The study of world language is a key component of the Middle School curriculum. three languages are offered to Middle School students: French, Spanish, and Chinese. All students can continue studying the world language they began in Lower School or begin the language designated as the entry-level class in 6th grade (French in odd years, Spanish in even years). In addition, all eighth grade students may elect to take an exploratory class in Latin while continuing their study of Spanish, French or Chinese. New students entering RPCS during Middle School are placed in world language according to their experience, ability and interest. For students new to RPCS without prior experience studying a modern language, preparation includes summer study or work with a tutor followed by a placement test. New 8th graders entering RPCS without prior modern language instruction may opt to audit an 8th grade class in Chinese, French, or Spanish to prepare to take the level 1 class in Upper School.
French, Grades 6 – 8:
For students who began the study of French prior to entering Middle School, French 6B (sixth grade), 7B (seventh grade), and 8B (eighth grade) continue the presentation of the fundamentals of the French language in a highly structured program. Students new to French in 6th grade follow a sequence of French 6A, 7A, and 8A and will complete the level 1 curriculum in Middle School. French vocabulary and idioms are presented with emphasis on developing conversational skills. The goal is to for students to be able to function comfortably in a French-speaking environment. Students will also learn how to write strong, grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs. These courses also seek to broaden the students’ cultural awareness of French-speaking nations around the world by using multiple forms of technology. Upon successful completion of the 6B, 7B, 8B Middle School sequence, students may advance to French III at the start of ninth grade. Upon successful completion of the 6A, 7A, 8A Middle School sequence, students may advance to French II at the start of ninth grade.
Spanish, Grades 6 – 8:
For students who began the study of Spanish prior to entering Middle School, Spanish 6B (sixth grade), 7B (seventh grade), and 8B (eighth grade) continue the presentation of the fundamentals of the Spanish language in a highly structured program. Students new to Spanish in 6th grade follow a sequence of Spanish 6A, 7A, and 8A and will complete the level 1 curriculum in Middle School. Spanish vocabulary and idioms are presented with emphasis on developing conversational skills. The goal is to for students to be able to function comfortably in a Spanish-speaking environment. Students will also learn how to write strong, grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs. These courses also seek to broaden the students’ cultural awareness of Spanish-speaking nations around the world by using multiple forms of technology. Upon successful completion of the 6B, 7B, 8B Middle School sequence, students may advance to Spanish III at the start of ninth grade. Upon successful completion of the 6A, 7A, 8A Middle School sequence, students may advance to Spanish II at the start of ninth grade.
Chinese, Grades 6 – 8:
For students who began their study of Chinese prior to entering Middle School, Chinese 6 (sixth grade), Chinese 7 (seventh grade) and Chinese 8 (eighth grade) continue the fundamentals of the Chinese language in a highly structured program. Students will learn the structures and vocabulary necessary to communicate in Mandarin Chinese about aspects of daily life. Students will also study the customs, life and historical geography of China. It is possible for new students entering in 6th grade without previous study of Chinese to join the Chinese program at the 6 level with some summer work required. Students who successfully complete three years of Chinese in the Middle School may be eligible to enter Chinese III in the Upper School.