Grade 8


Grade 8 examines art as an important component of life. Students work to solve open-ended problems involved in the creation of original works of art. Lessons are devoted to big projects extending over a number of weeks, requiring learned skills and imagination. Students use a variety of media to communicate meaning and intent. They develop and apply criteria to assess and critique works of art.


In Grade 8 English, students build confidence and skill in understanding and responding to literature during thorough, deliberate discussion. Students develop mastery of a range of writing forms and styles and literary criticism. Particular emphasis is placed on refining the five-paragraph essay. Critical thinking skills are honed throughout the year as students examine literature related to the course theme: developing one’s moral compass. Explicit grammar and vocabulary instruction is integrated into the material and taught on a weekly basis.


Grade 8 mathematics makes use of three different sections to offer a range of curricula from pre-algebra to honors. Students are placed based on their retention of math concepts from previous years as demonstrated on several measures. The goals of all Santa Catalina Middle School math classes are to build skills, confidence, and habits to enable success in high school math no matter the level. Students work toward mastery and retention of concepts in the following courses:

  • Geometry Honors
  • Algebra 1
  • Pre-algebra


Grade 8 music provides a variety of musical opportunities and experiences twice per week. Students develop their music fundamentals such as rhythm, melody, form, tempo, dynamics, and harmony. They incorporate these fundamentals through exploration of vocal technique and Orff instruments, ear training and sight singing, music theory, stage presence, and general musicianship. All students participate in two musical concerts a year.

Physical Education

Grade 8 takes part in physical education classes four times per week. Swimming is offered in the spring. Students sharpen their skills in traditional sports like volleyball, basketball, and tennis. Those who play on school teams have their practices during class time. Students who do not play on a school team have the additional option of attending dance class.


Grade 8 religion focuses on the dignity of each human being and the relationship between developing good character and finding meaning and joy in life. Students are introduced to an understanding of ethics and moral dilemmas. They examine personal beliefs and values, ethical behavior, and the influence of current issues in modern society. Students gain competence in their ability to act in an ethical, Christian manner consistent with Church teachings, respecting the value and dignity of themselves and all people. These same concepts are expanded upon in the Human Values and Sexuality unit, which emphasizes developing healthy relationships.


Grade 8 science meets four times a week and uses the Cambridge Physics Outlet (CPO) program to study physical science and how the universe works. Topics include physics and chemistry. While working on these subjects, students develop skills necessary to be successful in science. Students participate in hands-on labs, activities, and direct instruction.

Social Studies

Using the Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI) program, students study American history from 1600 to the end of the 19th century. Students take part in an in-depth study of the Constitution and government. They have the opportunity to learn more about this time with hands-on activities involving fiction, historical documents, art, and drama. Students build skills in studying and analyzing historical information, academic writing, and critical thinking.


Grade 8 Spanish is offered in two separate sections to offer grade-level and accelerated paths for students. Students are placed based on past Spanish experience and a placement test. Both paths work to develop student listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in an immersion classroom where Spanish is spoken most of the time. The goal of the Middle School Spanish program is to produce students with the study skills, vocabulary, and grammar needed for placement in Spanish 2 or above at the high school level.


Grade 8 technology emphasizes app development and entrepreneurship with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) objectives. Maker, Entrepreneurial, and Design Thinking models are incorporated with intermediate level office, coding, and graphics programs. Students become equally comfortable using both technology and Boiler Room tools and materials.