8th Grade Course Descriptions

  • West Chester Area School District 2020-2021 Middle School Course Description Guide

    Language Arts - English (8th Grade)

    All English classes include the study of a variety of texts: novels, poetry, short stories, drama, and nonfiction, which includes speeches, biographies, autobiographies and editorials. Integrating reading, speaking, listening, writing, and viewing skills encourages critical thinking and effective communication. Students also study grammar, spelling and vocabulary according to a grade level scope and sequence.
    The specific data points that middle school principals will consider for placement into eighth grade reading and English courses are as follows: teacher recommendation, historical and current PSSA performance in reading and writing, PVAAS projections, and seventh grade reading and English report card grades. Principals may also consider additional data points that may be available for individual students.

    English 8 Accelerated Honors

    This course is recommended for avid readers, advanced writers, critical thinkers and those who have a passion for Language Arts. This class teaches students to analyze, explain and evaluate elements of literature and write at an accelerated pace.

    English 8 Honors

    This class teaches students to analyze, explain, and evaluate elements of literature and writing at a challenging pace.

    English 8 Grade Level

    This class teaches students to explain, evaluate, and analyze elements of literature and writing at a continuous pace.

    Language Arts - Reading (8th Grade)

    Reading and Writing for Life Grade Level

    This course is an elective designed for students who wish to explore reading and writing in the areas of short stories, non-fiction, journalism, living on your own, the law, and script writing.

    Reading Plus

    This course replaces World Language and Reading and Writing for Life.

    Reading Plus is designed to provide intense, formal reading intervention by a reading specialist. Students who are required to take this course will be selected based on need as determined by multiple criteria.

    Mathematics (8th Grade)

    The specific data points that middle school principals will consider for placement into eighth grade mathematics courses are as follows: teacher recommendation, historical and current PSSA performance in math, PVAAS projections, and seventh grade math grades. Principals may also consider additional data points that may be available for individual students.
    Students who are non-proficient on the PSSA may receive math support through an additional math class or support within their regular math class.

    Geometry 8

    This course explores Geometry in great depth. Content includes a rigorous study of reasoning and proof, perpendicular and parallel lines, congruent triangles, properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, transformations, similarity, right triangles and trigonometry, circles, area, surface area, and volume.
    Prerequisite: Successful completion of Algebra 1.

    Algebra 1 - Grade 8

    Algebra 1 requires abstract thinking for the study of higher-order problem solving. The content includes algebraic properties, linear equations and functions, inequalities, systems of equations and inequalities, exponents, exponential functions, quadratic equations and functions, polynomials and factoring, rational equations and functions, radicals, measurement and data and probability.
    Prerequisite: Successful completion of Mathematics 7.

    Pre-Algebra 8

    Pre-Algebra requires a focus on abstract thinking as an intro-duction to algebraic concepts. The content includes exponents, scientific notation, linear equations and systems of equations, functions, Pythagorean theorem, geometric transformations, congruence & similarity, and statistics & probability.

    Math Plus - 8

    This course replaces a 2 day Unified Arts class

    Math Plus is designed to provide intense, formal math remediation. Students who are required to participate will be selected based on need as determined by multiple data. Math Plus is in addition to a student’s core math class.

    Science (8th Grade)

    Science 8 Honors

    This science curriculum emphasizes earth and environmental sciences and is based on the Pennsylvania State Science Standards and Assessment Anchors. Topics covered in this course include water, weather, climate and ecology. The eighth grade curriculum provides a vertical articulation with middle level and high school science and is designed to prepare students for the science PSSA standardized test given in the spring.

    Science 8 Grade Level

    This course emphasizes reading strategies along with study and organizational skills and is based on the Pennsylvania State Science Standards and Assessment Anchors. The course emphasizes earth and environmental sciences. Topics covered in include water, weather, climate and ecology. The eighth grade curriculum provides a vertical articulation with middle level and high school science and is designed to prepare students for the science PSSA standardized test given in the spring.

    Social Studies (8th Grade)

    U.S. History (1787-1914) Honors

    In accordance with Pennsylvania State Standards, students study the American Nation from the first administration of George Washington through the beginning of the First World War (1787-1914). Included in this study are the United States Constitution, Growth of America, Civil War and Reconstruction, Industrial Revolution, and the Progressive Era. Students are expected to be active learners who creatively engage with our nation’s history to become more thoughtful citizens. Students are also expected to participate, analyze and draw conclusions from primary source documents. This course is reading and writing intensive. Students should be reading and writing above grade level.

    U.S. History (1787-1914) Grade Level

    In accordance with Pennsylvania State Standards, students study the American Nation from the first administration of George Washington through the beginning of the First World War (1787-1914). Included in this study are the United States Constitution, Growth of America, Civil War and Reconstruction, Industrial Revolution, and the Progressive Era. Students are expected to be active learners who creatively engage with our nation’s history to become more thoughtful citizens. Students are also expected to participate, analyze, and draw conclusions from primary source documents.

    World Language (8th Grade)

    Middle schools will recommend reading or world language for students based on multiple criteria including, but not limited to, standardized assessments and grades. Students enrolled in Direct Instruction Reading or Reading Plus are not eligible for world language.

    French 1

    Students develop the skills of listening, understanding, speaking, reading and writing French at a beginner’s level. The course includes vocabulary building, development of basic structural patterns, listening comprehension exercises, instructional games, role playing, and exploration of French culture. Listening and speaking skills are combined with written work for evaluation.

    French 2

    Students continue their study of listening, understanding, speaking, reading, and writing, and explore certain aspects of French culture. The course includes vocabulary building through dialogues, readings and role playing, extension of grammatical structures, and cultural materials. Oral skills are emphasized and evaluated.
    Prerequisite: Successful completion of French 1.

    German 1

    Students develop the skills of listening, understanding, speaking, reading and writing German at a beginner’s level. The course includes vocabulary building, development of basic structural patterns, listening comprehension exercises, instructional games, role playing, and exploration of German culture. Listening and speaking skills are combined with written work for evaluation.

    Italian 1

    Students develop the skills of listening, understanding, speaking, reading and writing Italian at a beginner’s level. The course includes vocabulary building, development of basic structural patterns, listening comprehension exercises, instructional games, role playing, and exploration of Italian culture. Listening and speaking skills are combined with written work for evaluation.

    Latin 1

    Students read about a first century A.D. prosperous Roman family and learn basic Latin grammatical forms, syntax and vocabulary. The course heightens the student’s awareness of the effect of Latin on our own English language and civilization.

    Spanish 1

    Students develop the skills of listening, understanding, speaking, reading and writing Spanish at a beginner’s level. The course includes vocabulary building, development of basic structural patterns, listening comprehension exercises, instructional games, role playing, and exploration of Spanish culture. Listening and speaking skills are combined with written work for evaluation.

    Spanish 2

    Students continue their study of listening, understanding, speaking, reading, and writing, and explore aspects of Spanish culture. The course includes vocabulary building through dialogues, readings and role playing, extension of grammatical structures, and cultural materials. Oral skills are emphasized and evaluated.
    Prerequisite: Successful completion of Spanish 1.

    Unified Arts Courses (8th Grade)

    Students are required to select two Arts and Humanities (AH) classes.

    Art in Two Dimensions (AH Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    Students explore the creative and imaginative world of two-dimensional design using a variety of materials for personal expression. This elective builds on students’ prior art knowledge and develops new techniques using computer applications and other media. Emphasis is on individual skill development. The vocabulary and critiquing techniques demonstrated by students are used to evaluate their work. This class should be considered a studio class for the developing art student.

    Art in Three Dimensions (AH Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    Students explore a variety of media to both create and learn about three-dimensional art. Architecture, sculpture and other dimensional forms have height, width and depth. Students use design considerations in the art production process. Varied materials such as clay, textiles, plaster, cardboard, wood and found objects are used to develop three-dimensional projects.

    Family, Food, Finance (AH Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    This course is designed to explore family, nutrition, and community through real life situations. With an emphasis on practical reasoning and problem solving, students will engage in activities related to the development and needs of children, budget conscious meal planning and preparation, as well as nutritional requirements throughout life.

    Guitar (AH Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    This is an introductory class intended for students of all musical backgrounds. Students in the WCASD will have the opportunity to explore their love of music through guitar. Objectives include exploring the fundamentals of guitar performance, reading traditional notation, tablature and chord charts, playing individually as well as in groups, understanding the musical concepts of melody, harmony, rhythm, and form and to develop a deeper appreciation for all styles of music. Students without a performing music (band, chorus, or orchestra) will take this course.

    Popular Music (AH Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    It provides an overview of the musical roots and trends which have influenced today’s popular music styles. Critical listening and group activities help students explore many popular music styles, including hip hop, rap, jazz, blues, reggae, musical theatre, punk, funk, heavy metal, and much more. The use of technology in music is also a topic of study. Students achieve a greater understanding of music fundamentals and stylistic influences that make up the music they enjoy.

    Students are required to select two Technology (T) courses.

    Culture, Cuisine, Connections (T Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    A comprehensive foods course with a focus on the factors that affect dietary choices including multicultural cuisine, food trends, food science, and individual health & wellness. Within a cooperative learning environment students will engage in a variety of interactive activities, including meal planning, food preparation, and recipe evaluation. 

    Innovative Coding (T Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    In this course, students will utilize coding to build and design games, animations, and other digital media. Students will be utilizing a variety of coding languages to create their games and digital media. During this process, students will be able to tailor their digital designs to reflect their own unique and personal interests.

    Junior Entrepreneur (T Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    Students will engage in an experience similar to Shark Tank where they will design and promote a product. This includes creating a brand name,interactive website, social media account and video commercial to highlight their product. The course will conclude with a presentation of their product where students will have the chance to promote their product and entice investors.

    Sustainable Design (T Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    A comprehensive course engaging students in collaborative problem solving through engineering and design. This course challenges students to create sustainable solutions to real world problems and analyze the impacts on the environment, economics, and society. Students engage in activities directly related to the selection of sustainable materials and practices for reducing their carbon footprint.

    Transportation Engineering and Design (T Elective)

    This class meets every day 1 quarter

    This is a hands-on course that emphasizes innovation and engineering skills using the engineering design process. Students enrolled in this course are engaged in researching, designing and creating working models of various transportation devices. Students explore the physics of propulsion and aerodynamics. The connections between science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), are used throughout the course.

     

    Health (8th Grade)

    This class meets 2 days per 6-day cycle for the entire school year

    The middle school Health Education Program is designed to motivate and encourage active student  participation in developing life skills for optimal emotional, mental, physical, and social health. The curriculum is aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety & Physical Education and is delivered in a variety of teaching styles to optimize and accommodate student learning. A main goal of the program is for students to apply the knowledge gained to make healthy lifestyle decisions.

    Music (8th Grade)

    Band, Chorus, and String Orchestra all meet 2 days per 6-day cycle for the entire school year.

    Qualified middle school students may register for ONE performing ensemble class (band, chorus, orchestra).

    Band

    Students who play band instruments are provided the opportunity to perform many styles of literature from classical to contemporary. The development of technical skills, musical knowledge and self discipline, as well as learning to work together as a unified organization, are important elements of the band program. Group lessons are scheduled on a rotating basis during the school day. Home practice is essential. Extracurricular activities such as Jazz Band, Honors Band, Pep Band, and small ensembles may be offered as enrichment opportunities for exceptionally motivated students.
    Prerequisites: (1) essential technical skills on a band instrument as prescribed in the district band curriculum; and (2) approval by the band director.

    Chorus

    Each grade level practices and performs varied selections of choral literature while working toward developing tone, intonation, diction, blend, balance, and breathing techniques. Furthermore, students will continue to improve their music literacy, ear-training/audiation skills, and sight-reading abilities. Chorus is designed for students who have a high level of interest in singing and improving their vocal skills. Extracurricular ensembles such as Stetson Singers, Peirce Vocal Ensemble, Fugett Chorale, PMEA Songfest, and District Honors Chorus may be offered as enrichment opportunities for exceptionally motivated students.

    String Orchestra

    Students who play string instruments are given the opportunity to perform many styles of string ensemble/orchestral literature, from baroque to jazz. Students develop their technique and their knowledge of scales and rhythms as well as their sensitivity to style and character of the music. As a community of people, members of the string orchestra learn to work together with self discipline toward a common goal: excellence in performance. Group lessons are scheduled on a rotating basis during the school day. Home practice is essential, and private lessons are encouraged. Extracurricular activities such as Select Strings, Eighth Grade Quartet, Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 12 string festivals for seventh and eighth grades, and other small ensembles may be offered as enrichment opportunities for exceptionally motivated string students.
    Prerequisites: (1) essential technical skills on a violin, viola, cello or double bass and (2) approval by the elementary and middle school string directors.

    Students who do not enroll in Band, Chorus, or Orchestra will complete all of the following courses.

    Design for the Real World

    This class meets 2 days per 6-day cycle for the entire school year

    This is a general technology course that meets on two days of the six-day cycle for one marking period. Students engage in hands-on activities from various areas of technology, including communications, materials, manufacturing and design.

    Digital Media Creator

    This class meets 2 days per 6-day cycle for the entire school year

    In this class, students will explore multiple ways of creating and sharing dynamic, engaging interactive content with an emphasis on the use of video as a means of communication. The process of digital media design will include the planning, creating and editing of the project while utilizing various hardware and software tools to enhance a digital product.

    Intro to Internet and Web Design

    This class meets 2 days per 6-day cycle for the entire school year

    Students will explore tools that enhance the interactive nature of the internet. Students will design and build a website while also focusing on the interface and layout of a website and its various functions. Studies will also include how a network operates as well as a continued focus on digital citizenship. Student projects will highlight their selections in writing and visual components to communicate with an audience.

    Teen Impact

    This class meets 2 days per 6-day cycle for the entire school year

    In this course, students will explore authentic, project-based, and service-oriented learning opportunities intended to develop 21st century skills. Students will actively engage in critical thinking and problem solving processes based on real world needs and concerns. Citizenship, communication, character building, and resource management will provide the foundation for learning opportunities and skill development.

     

    Physical Education (8th Grade)

    This class meets 2 days per 6-day cycle for the entire school year

    The middle school Physical Education Program provides cognitive, affective and psychomotor learning opportunities aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety & Physical Education in order to gain a better appreciation, working knowledge and understanding of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle through physical activity. Students engage in a variety of activities including team sports, cooperative games, personal fitness, lifetime pursuits, team building and indoor rock climbing. Classes are differentiated to meet all levels of ability and students are encouraged to optimize their participation by being prepared with a required uniform.