Grade Eight

Grade Eight has a special quality as a culmination of the grade school years.

Many students have spent eight or more years together and see this year as the pinnacle of their school experience to date.
History lessons focus on Revolutions (French, American, and Industrial), mirroring the turmoil and yearning for independence students are experiencing as they enter adolescence.

The Grade Eight Project, a year-long independent study on a topic of the student’s choice, reflects the students’ status. Students are given a clearly-defined process to conduct research and present it in correct academic form. They also present a model or visual presentation of the theme, make an oral presentation to the parents and other classes, and answer questions posed by classmates, teachers, and parents.

“Waldorf graduates are taught to question, not to accept ideas and conventions based solely on authority, but to think for themselves.”

From Learning to Learn
Interviews with Waldorf graduates

The Grade Eight Class Play challenges the students in their speech, acting, and teamwork and is another key marker of this year. The production is enjoyed by other students, teachers, parents, and community members. Recent Grade Eight Plays include “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Lark.”

The Grade Eight Class Trip is a key event. Many destinations involve nature activities, some with accompanying cultural experiences.

The final event of the year is the Grade Eight Graduation. Students, teachers, parents and board members present a program; the teacher presents diplomas with a word about each student. The graduation is attended by many family and friends and other community members.

Pedagogical Overview
The Grade Eight student is well into the heart of adolescence. Ideas about the world are becoming more meaningful as adolescents continue to find their own voices and make practical connections between their actions in everyday life and their learning. They learn that forming appropriate judgments is connected to and leads to asking additional questions. With these sharper critical senses, young adolescents question and challenge the accepted framework around them. As a counterbalance, the faculty of reasoning is further developed during this time.

The feeling life of the adolescent is fraught with emotional turbulence as the individualized, inner life of thinking, feeling, and intention is born. The adolescent seeks alternative role models and authority figures. The students need support for and recognition of the state of crisis that accompanies this developmental phase.

The aim of the Grade Eight curriculum is to bring together meaningfully all that the students have learned into a significant world picture, with the human being as a central and striving ethical being.

Two special projects accompany the students through the year:
The Hero Project:
Based on Joseph Campbell’s definition of a hero as “…. someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself,” students choose a hero and explore their biography through the lens of the stages of the “hero’s journey”.

The Grade Eight project:
The eighth grade project provides an opportunity for each student to use the skills, capacities and talents they have developed during their years of Waldorf education. Each student is asked to explore a topic of personal interest and choose a theme that expands their horizons, deepens their understanding of the world, inspires them, or helps them to learn something that would facilitate inner growth or change in the community in which they live.

Morning Exercises
Our mornings continue to begin with a number of activities designed to create a rhythm of breathing and moving together – reciting poetry, singing, playing the recorder ( four-part music) or ukulele, and rhythmic activities like body percussion or ball-bouncing. In fall and spring, we also include morning runs. The morning also provides a space for math practice and journaling activities. These activities help to establish a common focus, a context for cooperation, and an opportunity for working on perseverance in the face of very specific challenges.
Social Studies
Studies in history venture up to the present time and emphasize how human life (especially the experience of the individual) has been affected by a rapidly changing world. Our focus is on descriptions of key events, personalities, inventions, conditions, cause-and-effect relationships, and consequences that have transformed the world.

History I : Colonization and Revolutions in the Americas and Europe
By the end of the Renaissance, many areas of the world were undergoing rapid change. Colonization on one hand and the period of Enlightenment on the other led to revolutions in the realm of science and technology as well as political movements of revolution. The students will examine the major causes and effects of revolutions: the Industrial Revolution and the social consequences of great inventions, factory work, and child labour; and revolutionary movements of liberation or nation building, e.g. in the Americas and Europe.

History II: Glimpses into Canadian History
We will examine the fur trade and its role in the French and later British colonization of Indigenous lands and cultures; the ensuing settler colonization and the dynamics of conflict (Seven Year War, the War of 1812, and the Red River Resistance); the expulsion of the Acadians, slavery and its abolition; confederacy, expansion, and consequences for First Nations (treaty rights, the Indian Act, and indigenous displacement and survivance); Chinese workers and the building of railroads; and challenges to the federal government.

History III: Themes in Modern History – Global Conflicts and Social Justice Movements
Students will examine global conflicts ( i.e. the causes and effects of World War I and II, the Cold War, and peace keeping missions) and explore a variety of social justice movements which address discrimination (e.g. the fight for civil rights, women’s rights, etc.)
World Geography I: Geography of Australia, Asia, and Europe (or Africa)

In Grade Eight, we continue with an overview of the physical and cultural geography of the continents, including political boundaries. Specific countries will be studied through individual projects. A review and discussion of different map projections will bring awareness to the role of different map projections in shaping our perception of the world.

World Geography II: Resources and Sustainability
Students explore how we, as human beings, have changed the natural world that we live in through economic and cultural activity. We look at renewable and non-renewable natural resources, their use and sustainability, and the role of a changing climate.

Meteorology & Climatology
Studies include: cloud formations; high- and low-pressure weather fronts, and storms; the carbon dioxide cycle and global warming; the water cycle and global water shortages; seasons, climate, and winds; forecasting the weather; focusing on climate change and conservation. These topics may be studied as part of the world geography block, the physics block, or a short stand-alone block.

Global Studies
As the students make the transition this year from wanting to do to wanting to reason, we explore global phenomena or events, providing opportunities to analyze, to see patterns, and to make connections. We focus on concrete events that bring into play cultural, historical, and environmental elements, as well as the potential for and influence of individual choices. This leads us to study events that have galvanized individuals or politicians into action.
Cyber Civics
Cyber Civics is a comprehensive middle-school digital literacy program that addresses an urgent and growing need to teach students how to become ethical, safe, and productive “digital citizens.” Research shows that while young people seem incredibly tech-savvy, most know little about the core concepts of “information literacy” (how to find, retrieve, analyze, and use online information). Throughout the year, information literacy skills are brought in a way that makes sense to middle school students. Students experience hands-on activities that emphasize ethical and critical thinking through discussion and role-playing games.

Lessons in Physics continue to be based on the experience of observed phenomena. Topics include aspects of illumination, warming, fluid mechanics, aeromechanics, and electricity. The study of these phenomena strengthens the students’ human capacities, such as a sense of wonder, appreciation of the human being and nature, flexibility in thinking, problem-solving, and intellectual rigour.
Food chemistry focuses on organic substances and how they are used in the home and in industry. The block includes: chemistry of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oil. The chemistry of cooking is emphasized, with the class undertaking several recipes to investigate sugar, starch, protein, and oil in action.
Anatomy and Physiology
We continue to explore the structure and functions of the human body. Studies in Anatomy focus attention on the skeleton in an artistic and practical way. The relationship of the gesture of individual bones to the entire architecture of the skeleton is examined through the beautiful symmetry in the human body. We also study the muscular system and more specific systems, such as the eye, the ear, and the brain. We explore the reproductive system and discuss topics of human sexuality. We conclude with an examination of addictive substances (alcohol, tobacco, illicid drugs, prescription medicines) and their effects on the body.
In eighth grade, students work to consolidate their skills in math processes and find the objective nature of this subject to be reassuring. Further work with calculating the area and volume of shapes continues.

Complex Platonic Solid nets are crafted. Further discussion, development, and investigation of Pythagoras’s Theorem complete this area of study.

This year we continue evaluating mathematical expressions; distributive property; one-, two-, multi-step equations; and proportion, percent, and ratio problems. Algebraic word problems on distance-rate-time and mixture are further practiced. We graph lines of given number pairs and solve equations by graphing and build the foundations for analytic geometry.

Number sense: place value, expanded and scientific notation, integers, rounding and estimating, multiplication and division by powers of 10, word problems, lowest common multiple, greatest common factor, divisibility rules, prime and composite numbers, order of operations, naming and modelling fractions, comparing and ordering fractions, mixed numbers, and improper fractions
Data Management: bar graphs, stem-and-leaf plots, broken line graphs, reading and predicting graphs, continuous line graphs, choosing and interpreting graphs
Measurement: estimating and measuring length, metric system, perimeter and mass calculations
Geometry: angles—identifying, measuring and constructing angles in polygons, triangles, congruence, trapezoids and parallelograms, symmetry, quadrilaterals
Patterning and Algebra: patterns, rules, tables of values, variables, order of operation, integers, working with integers, plotting number sets

Language Arts
Language Arts Skills
Speech (recitation of poetry, drama, project presentations), debate
Vocabulary, spelling;
Reading and reading comprehension (non-fiction texts, novels)
Review of grammar and morphology proofreading
Compositions: narrative and expository writing
Letter writing
Essay writing (paragraph structure)
Report writing (projects, lab reports)
Note-taking and outlining;
Research skills

Novel Study
In Novel studies, the students learn to study novels through the lens of certain topics: hope, courage, perseverance, truth, and identity. Plenty of time is given for the varying perspectives and interpretations to enhance the way we understand the novels.

In the last term of Grade Eight, the class prepares for a debate. The process of pondering, researching, and writing debate is pivotal for the eighth grader. From “I think,” to “wait, actually, I wonder,” to “I learned,” to “I know,” is an experience of the ongoing process of becoming, and it is especially poignant in the process of preparing for the debate.

Creative Writing
Students will explore different elements of creative writing, including poems and short stories. They continue to develop as creative writers through analysis of famous stories, as well as their own creative work.

The Eighth Grade Play is a culmination of many years of developing skills, learning to work together, and working with a teacher who encourages the students to go beyond their comfort zone. For a character and, indeed, the whole play to come alive, each child needs to break through many inner barriers. For some, this means singing or dancing on the stage, for others it is the mere process of embodying a complex character. At this age, exploring and sharing real life emotions on stage can be overwhelming, but working through those feelings can lead to powerful transformations. Each of these barriers offers the adolescent a chance for growth–an opportunity to become more than the limited role they may have taken on in their own life.

Secondary Languages
In Grade Eight, the students start each class by answering one or two French questions individually. They work regularly on grammar, conjugation, and vocabulary exercises. They review how to express themselves in past and future tense with passé composé and futur proche. They practice dialogues, answering questions about themselves, ordering food, and expressing opinions. We explore French culture around the world through listening and studying songs. Through the reading of abbreviated versions of two famous French novels (Les Miserables by Victor Hugo and Les trois mousquetaires by Alexandre Dumas), the students practice reading, comprehension, and translation. The students also finish the year with a set of individual written tests to get them ready for Grade Nine French.
Visual Arts
In Grade Eight, art lessons continue to explore the experience and observation of the children’s environment through methods that complement their developmental stage. While the students may dwell in places of uncertainty, the artistic activities based on precise and concrete observation bring order into their thinking process. The class continues to build on the linear perspective drawing from the previous year, and this creates a new relationship between art and science in a conscious way. Mathematical concepts inform the still-life drawings, and the effects of light on objects create three-dimensional perception. In Grade Eight a variety of mediums are used in the mixture of drawing and painting classes. Both wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry dry painting is explored, along with drawing with many different mediums and backgrounds. The expectations of effort and creating successful and beautiful work are a strong focus this year. The techniques, skills, and theory studied in the lower grades provide the children with the tools and confidence to create their art pieces.

Grade Eight handwork projects take the students to the realm where art and craft meet. These projects continue to offer extended opportunities for the application of skills, creativity, problem-solving, and development of the sense of self reliance. Through employing time-tested techniques for making artistic projects, students are encouraged to link their experience with the historical and geographical themes they have been studying in other subjects.Grade eight handwork typically brings the technique of soapstone carving and copper embossing. Alternatively, or in addition, a variety of other techniques may be introduced – e.g. basket making, bookmaking, fabric dyeing with natural materials and advanced sewing projects, or tapestry weaving.

In their work on soapstone carving, the students use for the first time a subtractive technique for creating a new object. In the process, they use skills of precise observation and discernment, together with practising their desire for risk-taking in making their own decisions. Through extending their practical connection to the world of the past, students create an experiential link for their applications for the future in their lives.

In Grade Eight, feelings of the search for truth, loneliness, and growing individuation are met through music–for example, singing together in class in three voices and a cappella. Recorder and ukulele skills continued to be expanded. Songs, composers, and musical eras are studied and connected to their historical context.
Physical Education
In Physical Education, we strive to develop desirable attitudes towards physical activity through team effort and personal achievement. We strive to overcome the limitations and inhibitions brought on by adolescent physical changes. We continue to encourage tolerance, co-operation, and self-discipline and look to see whether the students are able to contribute to team decisions and ideas.

The year begins with working on individual stamina (beep test) and cross-country running; throughout the year, soccer, volleyball, floor hockey, and basketball skills are introduced and practiced.

LWS provides opportunities to participate in larger team sports and individual recreational sports events hosted by the London District Catholic School Board. In September, the students participate in our annual Terry Fox Run, and at the beginning of October, we train students for cross-country running. In the spring, practicing for the annual LDCSB Hans Janssen Track and Field Meet (sprints, long distance and relay runs, long jump, softball, shot put, and accessible events) provides opportunities for the students to test their athletic skills.