In their last year of middle school, 8th graders immerse themselves in preparation for high school by practicing and strengthening skills they learned in earlier years of middle school while also learning new (and often more complex) skills. In many ways, 8th grade is a year of transition, as students are expected to have mastered the ways of middle school and begin becoming “high-schoolers.” Specifically, 8thgraders are expected to be independent thinkers and workers analyzing and explaining what they learn in both their writing and orally. 8th grade is also a time of celebration and excitement for many students as they anticipate high school.
8th Grade Reading
In 8th grade, students continue to practice many of the skills they learned in earlier grades, specifically paying attention to details like text evidence, language, and cross-text comparisons in different genres of text. However, 8th graders push their analyses of texts further as they examine the details and writing structure and assess how those elements affect the text.
In order to build reading skills, your 8th grader:
- Evaluates the evidence in texts to determine the strongest supports of an idea and analysis.
- Determines the main idea or theme of a text using evidence from the text to support it.
- Provides an objective summary of a text.
- Understands, summarizes, and tracks the progress of the main idea of a text, using evidence from the text.
- Analyzes how elements such as specific dialogue, events, or word usage impact the characters, the decisions they make, and other events and actions in the text.
- Understands the use of language in a text, including figurative language, analogies, and allusions to other texts.
- Compares and contrasts the different structures of texts including the structures of paragraphs and sentences.
- Analyzes the difference between characters’ points of view and how these differences affect the text.
- Analyzes the pros and cons of using different forms of text and media to present a topic or idea.
- Compares a text to a film or play version of a text, paying specific attention to the way in which the film or play veers from the text.
- Analyzes how a modern text builds on or uses themes from other historical or older texts such as myths or the Bible.
- Analyzes texts that include conflicting information on the same topic and decipher when those are due to conflicting facts or interpretations.
8th Grade Writing
In the 8th grade, students continue to practice and refine many of the writing skills they learned in 7th grade while also learning some additional complex writing skills. Given that refining one’s writing can take time and practice, students are not expected to cover a great deal of new skills. However, they do learn some new techniques and skills that enhance their writing and enable them to become better writers.
In order to build writing skills, your 8th grader:
- Writes arguments that present clear reasons and relevant evidence and include:
- Acknowledgements of opposing claims
- Logical and orderly presentation of reasons and evidence
- Graphics, special formatting, and multimedia, when appropriate
- Support of the claims through the use of evidence from credible sources
- A concluding sentence or paragraph that supports the argument made
- A formal tone and style.
- Writes structured and well-organized opinion, research, and informative pieces that:
- Use supporting claims and evidence based on credible texts and resources
- Provide an introduction that includes an explanation of what follows
- Develop topics through the use of facts, details, quotations, examples, and subject-specific terms and definitions
- Include transitions that connect concepts, events, and paragraphs
- Include a conclusion that supports the presented idea(s)
- Maintain a formal “essay type” style
- Integrate other forms of media and formats such as graphs, charts, headings, audio, or video when appropriate.
- Writes well-structured narratives (both true and fiction) that include:
- A narrator, characters, and a point of view
- Descriptive detail and sensory language to describe characters, settings, and experiences
- Dialogue, pacing, reflection, and details and descriptions of characters, setting, and experiences
- Thought-out word choice
- A clear structure with a logical order and flow, as shown through the use of transition words and phrases and a logical sequence
- A conclusion that is connected to and builds on the narrative.
- Plans, revises, and edits writing, specifically with guidance from teachers and peers, focusing specifically on trying new approaches and making sure the writing has a purpose and appeals to its audience.
- Uses technology and the Internet to produce and publish writing, work with others, and cite sources.
- Works on multiple short research projects that answer specific questions and cite multiple sources, while gathering additional questions for later research.
- Uses both print and digital resources to conduct research, focusing on using appropriate search terms and reliable sources.
- Uses quotes and a standard format for citation.
- Uses research to analyze and make inferences.
8th Grade Math
In 8th grade, students are introduced to and focus on several new mathematical concepts including: linear equations, functions, the Pythagorean Theorem, and volume, all of which are further described and defined below. In particular, students solve equations as applied in real-world ways to equip them with skills that may be practically useful and to understand the importance of math in their own lives.
In order to build math skills, your 8th grader:
- Solves linear equations, which are equations that make a straight line when graphed and are expressed as y = mx + b.
- Uses linear expressions to compare data that has two variables.
- Compares the lines graphed by two linear expressions and determines whether they are parallel, intersecting, or the same.
- Understands that there are rational and irrational numbers.
- Solves equations with integers that are whole numbers, both positive and negative.
- Solves equations with radicals that are “roots,” such as square roots.
- Understands, compares, and solves equations with functions that are usually expressed as f(n) and represent the relationships between an input and an output.
- Learns the concept of congruence (equal length) and similarity (when two objects have the same angles and are proportionate) through the use of models, transparencies, or software.
- Understands and solves equations using the Pythagorean Theorem: a2 +b2 = c2
- Solves equations about the volume of cylinders, cones, and spheres, specifically as applied in real-world ways.
- Provides the thinking behind and the reasoning for how problems are solved; critiques others’ reasoning.
6th-8th Grade Science
Neither the Common Core nor National Standards breaks down expectations for middle school by grade. Instead, both institutions specify standards for middle school as a whole. Below is a list of skills covered throughout middle school. Consult your child’s teacher for more specifics pertaining to the topics and skills covered in her science class.
In middle school, students continue to deepen their knowledge and skills in the physical, life, earth, and space sciences. There is a specific focus on explaining and understanding real-life events and processes in relation to the concepts and topics learned. 6th-8th graders also focus on applying scientific methods as described below in order to deepen their understanding and work like actual scientists.
In order to build science skills, your 6th-8th grader:
- Plans and conducts investigations and experiments.
- Applies the scientific method in order to practice like a scientist (there are many different ways people present "the scientific method," but here's a basic example):
- Questions, observes, and researches.
- Develops a hypothesis (based on observations and research).
- Make predictions.
- Experiments and follows multi-step processes and instructions in order to conduct experiments.
- Develops a conclusion.
- Compares the results of an experiment to what is written about the topic in a text.
- Analyzes and interprets data.
- Uses measurement and mathematical computations while working with data.
- Develops and presents explanations for processes and practices used and results obtained.
- Determines the main ideas of a scientific text and cites specific evidence to support ideas and claims about scientific texts.
- Learns topic-specific science vocabulary.
- Analyzes relevant charts, diagrams, and graphs about a scientific topic.
6th-8th Grade Social Studies
The Common Core does not address the specific topics to be covered in 6th grade; instead, it specifies the set skills to be covered in middle school. The grades in which these skills are covered and which topics are included vary according to different states’ standards. Consult your child’s school or state standards for further details on the specific material your child will study. The following skills have been set forth as essential for social studies and history in middle school.
In order to build social studies skills, your middle school student:
- Reads primary and secondary sources in order to:
- Analyze the texts using evidence.
- Understand the main ideas of the text.
- Relate the texts to important historical events or concepts.
- Distinguishes between fact and opinion in a text.
- Uses technology and media to better understand concepts taught.
- Compares primary and secondary sources about the same topic.
- Learns about historical events within a context and as related to things such as geography, economy, and social and political factors.
- Learns about topics like ancient and global civilizations to gain a deeper understanding of history and the present global community.
Curricular-Related Activities for Your Family
Listed below are activities you and your middle-schooler can do at home that will reinforce and further the learning done in school.
Shared Reading Experiences: Share and talk about the main ideas of articles with your child that are about material she learns in science, social studies (including current events), or topics she finds relevant or interesting. Share items in articles having to do with data collection and analysis as studied in math. You can even read the same book that your child is reading for English and form a family book club.
Write for Enjoyment: Encourage your child to keep a journal; try keeping one yourself. When you or your child finds a passion topic, write about it in a relevant way. For example, write letters to favorite authors, write letters to publications about articles or even try and submit an article to a local publication or website.
Share and Solve Math in Your Life: When you encounter math in your life, show your child how you solved the relevant math equation or have him assist you in solving it. This may occur in areas such as:
- Changing the measurements in recipes, especially when it involves adding, subtracting, or multiplying mixed fractions.
- Computations having to do with creating and working with a budget.
- Figuring out distances when traveling or sales prices when shopping.
- Data collection or analysis.
Use Technology to Enhance Your Child’s Learning: Since most middle-schoolers are technology fans (and experts), encourage your children to use technology to "show what they know" or further their learning. Of course, as with any use of technology, be sure to monitor your child’s technology use, access, and communication with others. Some ideas to get you started:
- Making short-video book reviews of books being read.
- Making quick videos (or using one of many various apps) for presenting short narrated lessons about topics being learned so that your child can teach you.
- Create photo collages or scrapbooks of work completed and or books read.
- Create a continuous conversation via email or another technological format in which your child sends you quick snippets (pictures and or texts) of something interesting she learned. Follow up with questions or comments on what your child sends.