The 8th grade United States course places a strong emphasis on the development of key skills while fostering engagement with current issues and an understanding of American history from colonial/revolutionary times through the reconstruction period. Particularly noteworthy aspects of the history curriculum are its emphasis on the Constitution and U.S. government, and its concentration on early American figures and the qualities that enabled them to be effective leaders. The course examines the causes and outcomes of 18th and 19th century North American wars.
Students are encouraged to be inquisitive, to ask questions and be involved in daily discussions. The basis for these conversations often begins with active reading and “dissecting” and “marking up” passages in order to comprehend arguments and recognize the structures inherent in strong paragraphs and essays. Students also review elements of a “focus” paragraph and learn how to write analytical essays. They receive a good deal of coaching, practice and feedback on their writing and they have the numerous opportunities to do research, make presentations and participate in debates. During the 8th grade year students generally make considerable progress in reading with understanding and in communicating more effectively both in their writing and speaking.