Grade 8

This year, eighth graders will be taking courses in four nine-week terms, called quarters or "minimesters." Students will rotate through their core courses and electives each quarter, taking half of their courses for the full year at any given time. This approach will allow students to be able to focus more deeply on three to four courses at a time during this time of distance learning, while still completing the full roster of courses for the school year. Below are overviews of what you can expect students will be learning in each of their core courses, as well as links to further details for each. Click here for more detailed plans by grade and content area.

English Language Arts

Given the unique context of the 2020-2021 school year, secondary English Language Arts teachers will be focusing on the 11 highest priority standards for student learning we have identified. This priority instructional content selected represents the standards most foundational to ELA instruction:

  • Close Reading of Complex Texts, and

  • Volume of Reading to Build Knowledge

The 11 priority content standards are:


  • Students read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  • Students determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

  • Students interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

  • Students analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

  • Students read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.


  • Students write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

  • Students draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Speaking and Listening

  • Students prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


  • Students demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

  • Students demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

  • Students acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

Though these standards are common across all secondary grade levels, instruction will be aligned to the corresponding grade-specific level of performance articulated in the common core standards.

Eighth graders will be developing their knowledge and skills in these areas in part through their work with two of the following core texts:

A more detailed overview of the priority content your eighth grader will be learning, along with sample units illustrating the kinds of activities they will engage in may be viewed here.


In eighth grade, students are continuing to develop their math content knowledge with a problem-based approach. Each day's lesson is organized around a larger theme for the unit, and eighth graders will have five units for the year. These units are:

  • Dilations, Similarity, and Introducing Slope

  • Linear Relationships

  • Linear Equations and Linear Systems

  • Exponents and Scientific Notation

  • Pythagorean Theorem and Irrational Numbers

A description of each unit, along with week-by-week learning targets can be viewed here.


In eighth grade, students are continuing to developing their knowledge of the natural world through our FOSS curriculum. Each day's lesson is organized around a larger theme for the unit, and eighth graders will have two units in science for the year, one each quarter. These themed units are:

  • Heredity and Adaptation

  • Electromagnetic Force

A year-at-a-glance calendar for eighth grade science, with links to week-by-week learning targets and daily science lessons can be viewed here.

History - Social Studies

In history, students will be continuing to develop their skills for engaging in evidence-based historical inquiry. In eighth grade, students are focusing on United States history and their teachers will be prioritizing adapted lessons from among the following units:

  • Connecting with Past Learnings- Native Americans prior to colonization

  • The Revolutionary Era (1750-1783)

  • A Constitution for the United States (1776-Present)

  • The Early Republic (1789-1825)

  • The Age of Jackson and Westward Expansion (1824-1860)

  • Society and Culture Before the Civil War (1820-1860)

  • Sectionalism and Civil War (1820-1865)

  • The Reconstruction Era (1865-1877)

  • Industrial and Economic Growth (1865-1914)

  • The Progressive Era (1865-1920)

You can read more about the details of each unit, such as the overarching questions that frame each, as well as highlighted projects and performance tasks here.