Eighth Grade Curriculum

With a strong foundation underfoot, Fifth Formers set out to interact with the world around them.
They become immersed in ideas by discussing and debating them, and then they try them out under expert guidance— fully entrenched in a learning environment that engages the mind through action. By now, Fifth Formers aren’t simply following instruction; this year is dedicated to sparking curiosity, giving boys the green light to set the agenda, pose questions, and seek answers. Along the way, they begin to develop the critical-thinking skills and problem-solving prowess that will lead to success in ninth grade and in secondary school.

Select a Department

Fifth Form Core Courses

List of 6 items.

  • English - Fifth Form

    Fifth Form English focuses on literature, through the reading and analysis of novels, plays, poetry, and short stories. Students make connections to common themes and discover the voice within writing, and students will learn to use criticism and analysis through textual evidence in discussions. Through literature based words, Sadlier program, or Wordly Wise program, students develop vocabulary through contextual use and practice. The development of students’ writing focuses on a well-developed, detailed, and structured paragraph, and students work toward the five-paragraph essay. Students are also exposed to creative writing techniques. There is a focus on grammar, conventions, mechanics, and sentence variation through writing and book exercises.
    Sample of texts used in the Fifth Form
    A Raisin in The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
    The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
    The Hound of The Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
    The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
    All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
    The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Health - Fifth Form

    Health is a required trimester course that emphasizes the importance of understanding the foundations of the health triangle: mental health, physical health, and social health. The course covers a comprehensive range of topics including: alcohol and drugs, exercise and fitness, gender identity, general hygiene, healthy relationships, media literacy, nutrition, public health, sexual health, stress management, and wellness. Through discussions and lessons, students learn how the three parts of the health triangle are intertwined and how they can affect one another. Teachers balance the amount of time dedicated to the three aspects of health through the trimester. Teachers also incorporate relevant topics in the news as well as student generated topics. An overarching question that frames the class is “Why is health important?” Throughout the class, students learn about the importance of decision making and how decisions affect their individual health. 
  • History - Fifth Form

    In the Fifth Form, history courses are U.S. history based. Some classes will directly connect to and grow from the Fourth Form Colonial History curriculum while other classes are less connected to this earlier work. The goal is to allow Fifth Form students to be able to continue to study an area of U.S. History they have enjoyed or would like to explore. At the same time, the courses are designed so that an incoming Fifth Former does not need the background material covered in Fourth Form and is also exposed to an area of post-American Revolution history.

    American Frontiers
    To better understand the profound impact that the development of the American West had on the United States, students will examine short historical essays, films, and novels. Coupled with frequent writing assignments, students probe what, if anything, makes the frontier experience unique, and they will set out to debunk the myths presented by Hollywood and other institutions.

    Civil War Era
    The American Civil War was the deadliest conflict the United States ever fought. The Civil War Era class examines the origins of the war, the battles and leaders, and the results. Students debate the issues, read excerpts from Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Autobiography of Frederick Douglass, and short biographies of famous men and women of the period.

    Contemporary American History: 1920 to the present
    The goal of this course is to study the history, motivation, and domestic politics that have shaped U.S. action throughout the world. Starting with World War I and continuing to the present day, students will gain an understanding of how the United States develops, carries out, and enforces policy. By studying U.S. actions during this time period, students will gain an understanding of how the United States has developed and how this evolution impacts the world.  

    Race and American Culture
    Race and American Culture is a course that focuses on understanding the underlying issue of race throughout the history of the United States. Topics explored include Native American experiences with Europeans, American slavery and emancipation, Native American relocation, the post-emancipation African-American experience, Japanese internment, and the civil rights movement.
    U.S. Government
    This course begins with a study of the foundational documents of the country, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, including an in-depth examination of the Bill of Rights. An exploration of the structure and function of the government will follow. Students will study the three branches of the federal government as well as the role of state governments, paying particular attention to the process of passing legislation, the Electoral College, and historic Supreme Court decisions. The course will finish with a study of American politics today, as students will learn about the two major parties and explore some of the key issues in the national conscience from both political perspectives.
    U.S. Reconstruction to 1930
    With the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the United States began a rebuilding process that allowed it to become a significant world power. This course is an examination of the people, places, and events that shaped the time period from Reconstruction to World War I. It will include studying the topics of expansionism, industrialization, and immigration. In addition, the class will seek to understand how American history relates to a broader global context.
  • Mathematics by Level

    Middle School Mathematics
    This course has a focus on arithmetic skills and how they support algebraic and geometric concepts. There is also exploration of basic statistics and probability. The goal is to prepare students for the rigors of Algebra.  

    The emphasis in this course is on developing a firm foundation in the building blocks for Algebra I. Students are introduced to abstract concepts by using variable expressions and equations. Major topics studied include the coordinate planes, graphing linear functions, writing linear functions, and linear systems. While teaching the skills of mathematics, teachers also focus on organization and time management.
    Algebra I
    This course completes the Algebra I curriculum. Solving linear systems is the starting point before the class continues with studying quadratic functions, exponents, polynomials, and rational and radical expressions and equations. Basic geometric concepts are integrated into this course: the Pythagorean theorem, parallel lines, surface area and volume, and some geometric formulas. Successful completion of this course prepares students to take Geometry.

    Algebra Applications
    Algebra Applications is designed for ninth graders who have not completed a full year of Algebra I content. The course begins with a review of the first half of a typical Algebra I course and then proceeds to complete the year of content for Algebra I. After successful completion, students would move onto a geometry course in 10th grade.

    This course covers plane geometry and includes constructions, proofs, congruence, area, volume, similarity, circles, special triangles, and right triangle trigonometry. Technology is integrated into the curriculum and used primarily as a tool for exploration.
    Algebra 2
    This course covers the fundamentals of Algebra 2. Emphasis is placed on the manipulation of systems of equations, quadratics, polynomials: logarithmic, exponential, rational and radical expressions, and solving equations and inequalities involving these expressions. Trigonometry is explored and studied on the spring term. The prerequisite for this course is the completion of Algebra 1 and geometry,with approval from the department.

    Functions, Statistics, and Pre-Calculus
    Functions, Statistics and Pre‐Calculus (FSP) is a course designed for middle school students who have successfully completed both geometry and Algebra 2 with Trigonometry at a high level. This course covers the fundamentals of trigonometry, conic sections, statistical distributions and summaries, and the unit circle. Technology is integrated into the curriculum and used primarily as a tool for exploration. FSP is to serve as a bridge between these prerequisites and higher level high school mathematics. In no way is this course used to replace a course in pre‐calculus. FSP exposes advanced students to topics that they will study in more depth in high school.
  • Science - Fifth Form

    Fifth Form Earth Science
    This course covers varied subjects under the umbrella of earth sciences such as astronomy, geology, paleontology, geochemistry, oceanography, and meteorology.  Students investigate these topics in the classroom and laboratory in order to establish a foundation of skills necessary for a full laboratory course in biology during the Sixth Form year.  An emphasis is placed on scientific writing, measuring and recording data, and detailed analysis while also developing the students’ foundation of knowledge and vocabulary necessary for moving forward within the sciences.  Since earth science is such a broad group of sciences, individual classes have the opportunity to pursue material that they find particularly interesting without sacrificing their pursuit of core scientific skills. Through this differentiation of topics covered, we seek to instill in students a genuine and lasting interest and enthusiasm for science.

    Text: McGraw Hill Earth Science, ISBN#: 007677497X

    Fifth Form Human Anatomy and Physiology
    Human Anatomy and Physiology is limited to Fifth Form students who have already successfully completed a full year of earth science. This course starts by examining the animal cell and the basic structure and function of the human body. The rest of the year is spent studying specific body systems with a particular focus on disease and injury. Each student completes several dissections and labs that highlight the structure and function of each body system.
  • World Languages

    French Beginning
    The topics we introduce in this course are: greetings, introductions, and leave-taking, getting acquainted. We expect students to be able to describe possessions, express likes and dislikes, describe oneself and family members, ask and give directions, tell time, dates and seasons, explain sports, locations  and to understand as well as use basic sentence structures.

    French Novice
    In this course, we ask students to describe their daily routine, recount events in the past, make comparisons, give commands, ask questions, discuss travel options and leisure activities, write  paragraphs and develop the ability to read authentic texts.

    French Intermediate
    Students are expected to increase detailed narrative proficiency in the past tenses and the future tense, use of personal pronouns, addition of clauses, longer reading selections, research presentations, and literature from the Francophone world.

    French Seminar
    This course is designed for the accomplished level language learner.  Study of advanced grammar, composition, and literature, including Camus, Jules Verne, La Fontaine.  French is used exclusively in the classroom and at times outside its environment.     
    Third Form Latin
    This course, required for all Third Form students, provides a structured introduction to grammar, vocabulary, and reading via the Latin language. Students are expected to read and translate sentences and simple stories in the language, using the first book of the Cambridge Latin Course as a basis. They are introduced to crucial grammatical concepts such as parts of speech, case, and tense. Students also learn about classical myths, deities, and the history and cultural practices of the Roman world.
    Latin Beginning
    Intended for students in the Fourth through Sixth Forms, Beginning Latin provides a strong foundation to the Latin language. Recognizing that learning styles vary and students seek different outcomes from classical language study, teaching methods are varied, from the traditional translating and grammar method, to active spoken input. By the end of the year, students are expected to comprehend simple sentences and conversational phrases, as well as read and translate stories of up to two pages in length (using the first book of the Cambridge Latin Course as a basis). In addition, students also complete periodic research projects on Roman culture and classical mythology.
    Latin Novice
    Students in Latin Novice continue to build upon the foundation developed in either Third Form Latin or Latin Beginning. More advanced grammatical topics are covered and longer stories, with more complex syntax, are read. The primary text is the second book of the Cambridge Latin Course, with occasional supplementation from other texts, such as Fabulae Faciles. Students are expected to respond in Latin to spoken prompts, do basic creative composition in the language, and comprehend more complex spoken input for longer durations of time (i.e. classes may be conducted primarily in the language, or students may take walks across campus, guided by the teacher entirely in Latin). Research projects require a deeper dive into cultural understanding of the Roman world, and may include topics related to architecture and lesser-known classical myths.

    Latin Intermediate
    Advanced grammar topics are introduced at this level. Students are expected to be versed in passive verbs and dependent clauses and their uses, with the third book of the Cambridge Latin Course as a foundation. Other grammatical topics include the passive periphrastic construction, participles, and the subjunctive mood. Students develop their translating skills to an intermediate level, and classes are conducted more and more completely in the target language.
    Latin Seminar
    A Latin seminar is offered when there are students who are ready for advanced levels of study. Topics covered are based on student interest and ability, and may include Roman poetry, rhetoric, literature, history (including foundational myths such as Aeneas and Romulus), and anthropology. Latin readings are pulled from a wide variety of sources, including primary authors such as Martial, Vergil, and Caesar. By the end of the year, students will have largely completed their study of Latin grammar and will be ready for higher levels of secondary school study.
    Beginning Chinese
    In Beginning Chinese, students begin the process of studying Mandarin. Students first build a foundation in Chinese Pinyin, pronunciation and tones, as well as the basic structure of Chinese radicals and Simplified Characters. The topics at this level include self-introduction, family, likes and dislikes, numbers, animals, countries, and sports. We expect students to be able to respond to simple questions and list information about their lives when prompted. By the end of the year students can write a paragraph in Chinese characters, and give a short presentation on their lives.
    Novice Chinese
    In Novice Chinese students grow from an introductory level of proficiency to a solid beginner level. Students focus on the themes of interests and abilities, daily schedule and routines, and school life. Class time is spent utilizing and playing wit the language and vocabulary introduced in stories presented to, or created by students. By the end of the year, a goal of students in Novice Chinese is to be able to type a an essay in Chinese, write roughly 300 characters by hand, deliver a short presentation, and read a long passage and answer questions about it in written Chinese.
    Intermediate Chinese
    In Intermediate Chinese, students move to the advanced beginner or lower intermediate level while continuing to focus on communication. Themes in Intermediate Chinese include planning events and activities with friends, constructing the past, dining and shopping, as well as world travel. Students are able to read longer stories and readers, and converse at length and write in detail about their interests, daily life, and topics they research on their own.
    Chinese Seminar
    The course is designed for individual students who have gained basic communication skills in Chinese and are ready to study advanced grammar, literature, and composition. The class is conducted in Chinese and students are expected to work toward their individual goals through studying textbook materials, participating in class discussions, and presenting research projects on various topics.
    Basic Spanish
    Designed for students with documented language learning challenges, and offered as needed. Emphasis is on conversational competence in routine situations such as ordering in a restaurant, traveling by train, bus, and plane, making purchases, telling time, reading timetables, understanding directions, etc. Units of vocabulary include numbers, colors, prepositions, days, months, clothing, family members, food and other daily items. Cultural values are examined, and a presentation about a Hispanic fiesta is required.
    Beginning Spanish
    The topics we introduce at this level include: greetings, introductions, and leave-taking, getting acquainted, sports, the family, housing, clothes, the body, school, foods. Students engage in basic conversation using the present tense and immediate future. They are expected to describe needs and wants, describe possessions, express likes and dislikes, describe family members, ask and give directions, tell time, day, month, and season, make purchases, and order food in restaurants.
    Novice Spanish
    The topics we introduce at this level include: adjectives, family, house, school, daily activities, sports, shopping, health, free time, food, hobbies and the weather. Students are expected to learn indirect and direct object pronouns, affirmative and negative expressions, how to ask questions, comparisons, and reflexive verbs, and prepositions of place. The advanced novice class (honors) is introduced to the present, preterit, future, conditional and imperfect tenses, and the command form of verbs both in the affirmative and negative conjugations. Students read simple books to improve their reading comprehension and cultural understanding.
    Intermediate Spanish
    We introduce vocabulary of train travel, restaurant, telecommunications, shopping for clothing and food, pastimes, hotel, and air travel. New constructs include the imperfect, the preterit vs. imperfect use, formal commands, impersonal ‘se’, future, present perfect, conditional, future perfect, pluperfect, and present subjunctive. Cultural readings in Spanish provide exposure to Hispanic culture as well as progressive practice.
    Spanish Seminar
    This course offers students opportunities to study Spanish formally in an academic setting. Communication is entirely in the target language. Geography, history and culture, politics, art (music and literature) of Spanish-speaking countries are studied to provide context to the formal study of Spanish. Students are expected to make presentations, write expository essays, critiques, short stories and legends. Authentic materials, such as documentaries, novels, historical texts and newspaper editorials are used to further language and cultural understanding.
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