Last Thursday, the Prep School English department held its annual Summer Reading Symposium for 11th and 12th grade students.
CGPS is unique in that the eighth grade is the youngest grade in the Prep School, where students are welcomed into a structured environment that helps prepare students for the rigors of high school.
Their class groupings are as carefully considered and selected as they are in the Middle School. Eighth grade students enjoy continuous guidance and supervision by our faculty, including a weekly meeting in small groups with their Dean, who will remain with the class through graduation. Unlike grades 9-12, they have no free periods in their day, and their lunch period is scheduled. At the same time, they are afforded more autonomy than they had in the Middle School, allowing them avenues of exploration and self-sufficiency. They begin to explore their affinities through participation in clubs during the school day and extracurricular activities, including sports teams and music and theater productions. Eighth grade allows students to have a taste of high school life at CGPS, introducing them to the Prep School faculty and facilities. Eighth grade is also the first time students are introduced to the academic system of high school, with their first end-of-year final exams and the same choices in World Language as the high school.
- English 8
- History 8
- Algebra I/Honors Algebra I
- Physical Education 8
- Earth Science
- World Languages 8
- Art 8
- Music 8
- Theater & Dance 8
- Technology 8
Eighth grade is an exciting beginning to the Prep School English program. Students read literature from diverse perspectives and with themes and conflicts that resonate with young adolescents, such as friendship, social justice, kindness, peer pressure and human rights. To encourage engagement with reading, students are asked to evaluate characters’ choices and make connections to their own lives. To encourage engaging discussion, students listen to and learn from each other even as they voice their own opinions. Eighth graders also work extensively on becoming more reflective and organized writers. They practice developing paragraphs and short responses before progressing to longer essay forms, and they are given many opportunities to express themselves personally and creatively. Eighth grade also includes Shakespeare performances in which students work with professional actors and bring characters to life as they direct and act their scenes. These performances, and other presentations and creative projects, offer alternative paths for students to connect with the reading. In addition to plenty of poetry and short stories, recent readings have included Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Spiegelman’s Maus, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
Eighth grade global history students study the societies and cultures that flourished throughout the world from approximately 700 CE to 1700 CE, focusing on the empires and states that developed during this period and their cultural legacies. Students learn about the major shift in world dominance from East to West, looking at how and why the course of history shifted from an Asian-centered world economy to an Atlantic-centered world economy. Along the way, students explore the role of cultural diffusion and the ways in which societies of this period interacted through trade, war, exploration and cultural exchange.
The Algebra I course was designed by the Prep School Math Department and the sequence of content more or less follows the Art of Problem Solving: Introduction to Algebra textbook. Hundreds of problems are curated through Google docs and accessed by students through the School’s Schoology system. In working though these problem sets, students learn to see structure in algebraic expressions, perform arithmetic on polynomial and rational functions, generate and solve equations that describe numerical and geometrical relationships, and create and analyze graphs of these equations. Students use both the online graphing calculator Desmos and the mathematical computation program Mathematica to enhance and inform their exploration of these topics.
General PE is modeled after the Fitness For Life curriculum. The course enables students to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and maintain a health-enhancing level of fitness and to increase physical competence, self esteem and the motivation to pursue lifelong physical activity. Students gain an understanding of the components of health-related fitness, training principles and the benefits of being physically active. They participate in activities that increase physical fitness levels and develop health practices that value physical activity and its contribution to lifelong fitness.
In the eighth grade curriculum, students learn about Earth Science to develop an understanding of how all aspects of the Earth are interconnected and ever changing, as well as gain an appreciation for how Earth's natural resources are relevant to their lives. We accomplish this through lecture, experiments, inquiry investigations, decision-making activities, research projects, student-made multimedia presentations, formal debate, data/graph analysis and group discussions. The course takes students on an exploration of the dynamic atmosphere, with a focus on energy transfer as a phenomenon fundamental to the creation of climate and weather. Students learn to model some of the tools and instruments employed by scientists in these fields and how to analyze results obtained from them. In addition, eighth graders are introduced to the study of astronomy. They focus on the solar system, and then look beyond it to gain an understanding of distant galaxies and celestial bodies. All in all, the scope of the course shifts from local to global to universal over the span of the school year, giving the students a well-rounded introduction to the cyclical and independent nature of planet Earth.
The World Languages Department develops effective communicators with a critical understanding of language and a deep appreciation for culture. The goal of the World Languages Department is for our students to achieve proficiency and to encourage them to be open-minded, life-long learners, eager to apply new patterns and adapt to new social norms. Learning a world language fosters kindness, confidence, motivation, resilience and empathy.
An introductory course offered to students in the eighth grade. Students are introduced to the basics of Chinese (Mandarin), including gaining facility in the four basic tones, learning to read and write elementary characters, and learning basic grammar. Character etymology and radical use are discussed. Vocabulary and grammar patterns are introduced through theme-based lessons. Culture is an integral part of the course and is introduced through the use of media, adapted readings and class discussions. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition of four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The class incorporates the use of audio files and streaming video to develop students’ ability to understand the spoken language. Students are introduced to programs to record and assess their spoken Chinese.
An introductory course offered to students in the eighth grade. Vocabulary and grammar patterns are introduced through theme-based lessons. Culture is an integral part of the course and is introduced through the use of media, adapted readings and class discussions. Emphasis is on the acquisition of four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The class incorporates the use of audio mp3 files and streaming video to develop students’ ability to understand the spoken language. Students are introduced to programs to record and assess their spoken French.
An introductory course offered to students in the eighth grade. This course emphasizes the memorization of the Japanese "hiragana" and "katakana" alphabets, around 30 kanji characters, as well as basic vocabulary that is used in theme based grammar patterns. Listening, speaking, translation and essay writing will also be emphasized. The class incorporates the use of audio mp3 files and streaming video to develop students’ ability to understand the spoken language. Students are introduced to programs to record and assess their spoken Japanese.
An introductory course offered to students in the eighth grade. Latin I introduces students to the basic principles of Latin morphology and grammar. Students learn how to decline nouns and adjectives in the first and second declensions; how to conjugate first conjugation verbs in the indicative and imperative moods; and how to read and translate from both Latin to English and English to Latin. Students also learn basic facts about the life and times of the Ancient Romans and begin to read a prose adaptation of Virgil’s Aeneid.
An introductory course offered to students in the eighth grade. Vocabulary and grammar patterns are introduced through theme-based lessons. Culture is an integral part of the course and is introduced through the use of media, adapted readings and class discussions. Emphasis is on the acquisition of four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
A more comprehensive arts rotation serves as a bridge between the Middle and Prep School programs. Each studio art class gives students the opportunity to participate in a hands-on experience in a new discipline, using a range of materials, methods, subjects and techniques. Elements of art history and theory are incorporated into all classes in a developmentally appropriate way. Possible classes include: Painting and Drawing, Ceramics, Digital Art, Mixed Media Sculpture, Intro to Film and Video, Drama, and, in the eighth grade, Black & White Photography.
The Theater & Dance Department believes that knowledge is best created through the transformation of experience. It offers project-based experiences to expand the students' minds, bodies and hearts. The program’s goals are to develop effective communication skills through collaborative problem-solving, to impart value to the process of creating as much as to the achievement of success, to build a safe place for personal growth and creative risks and to promote convergent and divergent thinking. Using theoretical investigation and practical application, students explore classical and contemporary concepts. In classes and in performance, students take risks, learn strategies for overcoming failure, and develop resilience by giving and receiving regular feedback. Students are challenged to reach a level of mastery in one or more skills sets and, as they respond and connect to one another, they become agents of change.
The technology curriculum empowers students to become independent and active learners. Technology classes assist students in building strong computer skills, while also focusing on peer collaboration and creative problem solving to reinforce the importance of working together in the classroom. Teachers emphasize the importance of being responsible, aware and ethical on the internet and on social media. Students learn vigilance by identifying scams and viruses. By becoming proficient in word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, students are prepared for future academic assignments. Students learn essential computer terminology, enhance their problem-solving and logical reasoning skills and explore more advanced computing through formal coding skills, web page design, Adobe Photoshop, iMovie and 3D model printing.