In the 8th grade, emphasis is put on leadership and finding one’s strengths as an individual and a group leader. Students do yearly performances that highlight their experiences in drama throughout Middle School. Leadership opportunities are a highlight of the year: 8th graders direct the Student Council for the Middle School program. In addition, based on the activities in their fall leadership plans, students build on their strengths as the leaders of the Middle School.
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The focus of language arts in the 8th grade is on the development of reading, writing, and thinking skills. Reading and writing workshops give students both choice and structure. The workshops give students the freedom to choose what they want to read and write about, fostering a genuine interest in becoming a literate adult. In addition, teacher-selected readings and assigned writings, both expository and narrative, sharpen language skills. Writing problems are addressed using models and mini-lessons. Goals for writing include construction of clear, organized, detailed, error-free pieces. Reading focuses on ferreting out main ideas and supporting details while analyzing patterns within the writing.
Topics include the exploration and search for self. In addition, throughout the year students participate in small-group literature circles. Students select books to read and discuss by looking at passages, vocabulary, connections, and questions.
Regular writing workshops are held throughout 8th grade, providing a structured setting for students to learn and polish their writing skills. Grammar is taught within context of writing and through sentence-combining exercises.
Each student will research, write, and present a speech on a topic of their choice to the Middle School during a special assembly period.
Regular writing workshops are held throughout 8th grade, providing a structured setting for students to learn and polish writing skills. Grammar is taught within context of writing and through sentence combining exercises. Each student researches and writes a speech on a topic of their choice. These speeches are given to the Middle School during a special-assembly period.
Eighth-grade science focuses on the Earth, its historical changes, and its place in the universe. Students demonstrate awareness of how the Earth’s systems and processes interact in the geosphere, resulting in the habitability of the Earth. This includes understanding the properties and the interconnected nature of the Earth’s systems, as well as processes that shape the Earth and its history. Students demonstrate an understanding of how the concepts and principles of energy, matter, motion, and forces interact within the Earth’s systems. In addition, students explore issues regarding the Earth that have important and lasting effects on science and society.
Students continue to develop scientific reasoning skills as they use the processes of scientific inquiry to ask valid questions and to gather and analyze information.
Algebra I is designed to enhance problem-solving skills and to further develop mathematical reasoning. It also provides a solid foundation for upper-level mathematics courses. Students will be asked to apply concepts and to analyze, interpret, and create original problems.
A basic text and a variety of supplementary materials afford maximum exposure to and practice with the different concepts. The course builds on the skills presented in Pre-Algebra and extends them into higher levels of mathematical sophistication.
- Expressions and equations (linear and quadratic)
- Operations with integers
- Algebraic properties
- Graphing and solving systems of equations
This course covers the inquiry, data exploration, and technology to study new and advanced-algebra topics. Problem-solving, investigations, projects, writing, discussion, and cooperative learning are emphasized. Activities encourage students to make sense of numbers, variables, expressions, equations, and algebraic "laws" in contextual situations. The development of both skills and reasoning prepare students for the advanced-level courses they will encounter in the Upper School.
- Introduction to the calculator
- Recursion, sequences and series
- Methods of summarizing and representing data
- Linear regression
- Rational and irrational expressions and equations
- Topics in discrete math
The Foreign Language Department offers a dynamic program in French and Spanish in grades 6-8.
The ultimate goals of the Foreign Language Department, as stated below, strongly reflect Lake Ridge Academy’s Mission Statement: “[To] send into a changing world confident young people of integrity who think critically and creatively, while embracing the joy of lifelong learning.” The department adheres to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ (ACTFL) five goals in their National Standards for Foreign Language Education: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Furthermore, the Department has collaborated to create additional outcome-based curriculum standards of achievement.
It is widely accepted that the study of foreign languages promotes international peace, human understanding, and business opportunity. However, the advantages to be derived from learning a second language go far beyond this.
Research has shown that students exposed to a second language perform far better with their work in English than those who have not had such an opportunity. Exposure to a foreign language tends to broaden vocabulary and it advances reading and analytical skills in one’s primary language. In addition, foreign language study improves memory, logical reasoning, self-discipline, and it enhances verbal and problem-solving skills. Students can also gain greater insight into their own society and themselves by learning about foreign cultures. Furthermore, the in-depth study of a foreign language fosters various aspects of creativity.
The Department sincerely believes that the study of a foreign language allows one to see and experience the world in a new way, and that it enriches and adds breadth to one’s life. Having benefited from exposure to other languages within and outside the classroom, students will emerge as more enlightened citizens, comfortable and prepared, as they enter a globalized society.
It is with this vision in mind that the Department has developed a series of courses, programs, and special events in which all students participate.
The Department works to ensure that students:
- acquire the four language skills - listening, speaking, reading, and writing - at various levels of proficiency (Communication)
- develop the ability to communicate with people of other cultures in the target language (Connections)
- have the opportunity for direct contact with native speakers and the target language, so that they appreciate the contribution that these cultures have made to history, the arts, literature, and their established institutions. By traveling to other countries, students practice their language skills, develop confidence in their abilities, and engage in a model of lifelong learning (Cultures and Communities)
- acquire a better understanding of the English language and the U.S. culture through comparisons with other languages and cultures (Comparisons)
- are curious, imaginative, and motivated to continue the study of languages beyond high school to full proficiency (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities)
In addition, in the Middle School and the Upper School, the Foreign Language Department adheres to these outcome-based curriculum standards in our classes which assure that students are able to:
- Effectively comprehend meaning from oral communication of increasing complexity.
- Effectively comprehend meaning from written text of increasing complexity.
- Engage in oral communication of increasing complexity.
- Create original written work of increasing complexity.
- Demonstrate cultural awareness by showing knowledge of the target language cultures.
When students enter sixth grade, they can continue their study of French or Spanish from the Lower School or choose a new language of study. In the Middle School, grammatical concepts and structures are introduced and play an integral role in developing and advancing students’ overall communication skills. Successful completion of sixth through eighth grade foreign language classes gives them two Upper School credits.
Highly qualified Middle School students also have the unique opportunity to enroll in honors-option coursework in in Level 2 French or Spanish where they are expected to complete additional class work and assignments throughout the school year.
At the end of eighth grade, students have the opportunity to participate in a five-day trip to Quebec City in Canada. Accompanied by their French, Spanish, and other teachers, they stay at a hotel in the city, visit old Québec, and learn aspects of its history and current events.
The primary goal of the Middle School computer program is to involve students in the use of computers and related technology in a manner that hones learning across disciplines. In 8th grade, applications and skills are integrated with other academic areas whenever possible. When it is appropriate and timely, students who demonstrate an acceptable degree of mastery are moved to programs that may work independently from the class.
- Learn to work with the Lake Ridge Academy computer network
- Learn to share and use files from peripheral devices, such as CD-ROMs, a flatbed scanner, and cameras
- Work cross-platform
- Use varied technologies in the context of a single, focused project
- Create, edit, and manipulate databases
- Create and manipulate spreadsheets to track numerical data
Art, Music & Drama
Eighth-grade art continues a hands-on approach and furthers the development of abstract thinking. There is a greater emphasis on direct observation, specifically on the human form, placing the figure in context, and giving it meaning. Students are also taught to see how they work and how that helps them grow in their skills. For example, an analysis of four drawing systems—axis, motion, measured, and grid—are a few of the discrete elements that enable an individual to see other possibilities for their work.
In fact, how students see themselves and how they think the world sees them drives the year-long theme of face and human form. This subject matter is used in drawings, paintings, and sculptures. Students are encouraged to stretch their skills and to be more proactive in creating deeper visual dynamics through analysis and deed. Skills are developed in the framework of time, perception, and respect to individual growth. An individual’s culture and interests are respected and folded into their work when appropriate.
The critical interpretation and evaluation of works of art will also be included. Sketchbooks will be kept and artworks will be displayed and critiqued.
The approach to music in the Middle School is a balance of general-music unit studies and performance-based activities. During this vocally-transitional adolescent period, emphasis is placed on the unique qualities of each individual’s voice and how it can best be used, while grade-level units offer a wide range of areas to be explored. Topics include music history and theory, vocal production and choral technique, music from around the world, and music in daily life.
8th-Grade Strings Program
The 8th-Grade Strings Program is a mixed ensemble of fifth-year advanced players of all instruments. It is primarily a string orchestra. The emphasis is on playing chamber and orchestra literature from many areas of music, including classical, holiday, contemporary, bluegrass, show, jazz, Medieval, and Renaissance. The music chosen is generally challenging. Practice at home is required. Private lessons reinforce and further what is taught in class and are encouraged.
Jazz Band is a new offering this year. This ensemble, which includes both instrumentalists and vocalists, is open to any student who plays an instrument not included in the strings program, including trumpet, trombone, saxophone, clarinet, flute, piano, percussion, guitar, or bass. In addition to rehearsals, the class will take trips to hear and work with other jazz bands, and guest clinicians will be invited to work with the group. The group will also have an exciting opportunity to participate in an artist-in-residence program this year. This will include a week-long residence with a jazz performer who will work with students and participate in the Lake Ridge Academy Jazz Festival in April.
From Middle School on, our students study improv, employ the methodologies of Stanislavski and Viola Spolin, and emulate the moves of great Broadway choreographers and directors like Bob Fosse. They analyze plays, learn to direct full-length productions for different types of theaters and, in the case of one student schooled in stage lighting, became master electrician for an all-Ohio play of Dead Man Walking. Our students also have the ideal venue in which to perfect all of this. Our campus is home to a black box theater and The Bettcher Convocation Center, which houses a proscenium stage and a state-of-the-art sound system.
Students achieve instructional goals by studying scenes and monologues, musical scenes, and improvisation for the theatre.