8TH GRADE: The Williamsburg Academy 8th grade curriculum is designed specifically to help students successfully transition from middle school to high school. Some of the questions we asked as we designed the 8th grade curriculum included, “What are the most difficult things for typical freshman students, and how can we better prepare them to succeed in high school?”; “What is a typical study load at the high school, and how can we prepare students to take on increased academic responsibility and workload?”; “What phase of learning are freshmen in?”; and “What do parents of freshmen say they wish their students had already known upon entering high school?”
As we tackled these questions, common themes developed and a unique take on 8th grade surfaced. Deciding what concepts to teach in 8th grade, and what skills to mentor, model and require became simple: 8th graders need a review, and a preview. They need a review of what they have learned and accomplished educationally up to that point, an educational “capstone” that summarizes and refines everything they have learned so far; and they need a preview and practice period that prepares them to jump into deeper high school waters and feel comfortable and confident swimming with the “bigger fish.” Our curriculum at this level emphasizes more debate, more discussion and more presentation to help students prepare to engage more deeply in the classroom, and in studies offline.
With this in mind, each of the courses we offer in the 8th grade is designed to fulfill those three elements of review, preview and practice. Each course prepares students to engage in higher-level conversation, stricter accountability, increased workload and high-school level assignments. 8th Grade courses are open to students planning to enter high school during the next academic year. The 8th Grade curriculum is specifically designed as a prep year for high school, helping both students and parents transition from middle school and more involved parental help, to high school and independent-level learning.
The core courses we offer in the 8th grades are Leadership, STEM, Math, and Humanities. Each of these courses are comprised of corresponding subjects, such as technology and engineering within the STEM course, and Social Studies and Literature within Humanities. These core classes cover all the key writing targets necessary for this age group, but we strongly encourage students to also take our Writing 8 elective course that offers live instruction and plentiful feedback.