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Eighth Grade English consists of a study of grammar, vocabulary, interpretive reading, and analytical writing. Literary analysis includes a focused examination of image, symbol, theme, metaphor, and literary allusion. Students read and study Romeo and Juliet, The Odyssey, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and Poet X. Vocabulary units, combined with required vocabulary writing assignments, ensure correct usage and increase students' expressive capabilities. Through IXL Online Grammar, students study the parts of speech and syntax, with special emphasis on usage, mechanics, and sentence structure. Students apply language study to expository and creative writing assignments, both in and out of class.
Debate (Year-long Elective)
Students enrolled in Speech and Debate are members of The Altamont Speech and Debate Team and are required to compete in at least 3 tournaments during the course of the year. Students will join the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) and have the opportunity to compete in the areas of Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas Debate and in the following individual Speech events: dramatic interpretation, humorous interpretation, program oral interpretation, and extemporaneous speaking. The Speech and Debate course functions as a workshop for practice and preparation, wherein students conduct research, write cases, and select pieces for performance. Generally, the workshops divide into a seventh and eighth grade elective and an upper school elective, though students will travel to and compete in tournaments as one Altamont Speech and Debate Team. Students may take the course throughout 7-12 grades.
Creative writing at Altamont functions as a series of workshops. Generally, the workshops divide into a fifth and sixth grade quarter long rotation, a seventh and eighth grade elective that meets twice per week all year, and an upper school elective (grades 9-12) that meets twice per week all year. As a part of this course, students produce works of creative non-fiction, short stories, poetry, and drama. The students enter local and national writing contests and frequently win awards. Whenever possible, teachers welcome local writers into the classroom to encourage and inspire our budding artists. Student work is occasionally presented to small groups for peer editing. Finished products are kept on file, forming each student's portfolio and the basis of The Dragon's Tooth and The Dragon's Toe, Altamont's creative writing publications.
7th/8th Grade Art (Yearlong, twice a week)
In this yearlong class, 7/8th grade students explore a variety of media as they continue to build their skills in drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed media design, and sculpture. Theory is introduced to further elaborate upon ideas about color, perspective, proportion, and design. Teachers discuss artists, artwork, and provide technique demonstrations to develop the four strands of art education: art appreciation, art history, art production, and art criticism. There is an emphasis on encouraging creative problem-solving and enhancing critical thinking skills.
7th/8th Grade Photography (Yearlong, twice a week)
Prerequisite: An inexpensive digital camera labeled with a strap and memory card.
This yearlong course is for students who want a taste of excitement as they explore the different areas of photography. Whether you like sports, food, light painting, nature or portraits, this course will let you experiment with the different areas and subjects that photography offers. Students can design the area of interest that they want to focus on and projects that go with that help them have a more meaningful and interesting in-depth experience.
7th/8th Grade Beginner Band (Meets every other day all year)
Did you know that students who play music perform better on standardized tests? In this course, students will learn how to play Brass, Woodwind, and Percussion instruments. Learning music takes practice, but it is really fun, especially when learning with friends! Students will learn how to read music and develop technical playing skills. Students get to play in the Pep Band and will perform in the Winter and Spring concerts. No prior musical experience required.
7th/8th Grade Jazz Band (Meets every other day all year)
This course is meant for intermediate-level Brass, Woodwind, Guitar, Bass, Piano, and Drum Set musicians. Students will learn the fundamentals of the Jazz, Blues, Latin, and Funk style from a technical and musical perspective. A big part of this course is learning and experimenting with improvisation and creativity! Students should be able to read basic music notation and have a good foundation of playing ability. If you’re interested in the Jazz Band but aren’t sure about reading music, contact Mr. Rogan. This ensemble plays in the Winter and Spring Concerts.
7th/8th Orchestra (Meets every other day all year)
This course is meant for intermediate-level String, Brass, Woodwind, and Percussion students who are interested in playing everything from Beethoven to John Williams. Students will begin to develop and hone technical abilities, music reading skills, and musical sensibilities. This ensemble performs with the Upper School Orchestra in the Winter and Spring Concerts, the elementary school tour, and the Spring trip!
7th/8th Grade Drama (Yearlong, twice a week)
This yearlong course provides students with the fundamentals of theatre through a study of its history, literature, and design. Basic acting techniques are taught that feature oral interpretation of scripts, voice and diction, physical presentation, and improvisational theatre. An overview of the technical aspects of theatre introduces students to set, makeup, costume, lighting, and properties design, as well as stage management, direction, and publicity. Reading and analysis of play scripts during the academic year and attendance at school productions are required.
7th/8th Grade Creative Writing
Creative writing at Altamont functions as a series of workshops. Generally, the workshops divide into a fifth and sixth grade rotation, a seventh and eighth grade component, and an upper school elective. These three groups produce creative non-fiction, short stories, poetry, and drama. The students enter local and national writing contests and frequently win awards. Whenever possible, teachers welcome local writers into the classroom to encourage and inspire our budding artists. Most of the workshops are held in the computer labs, where students may easily compose, revise, and archive finished pieces. Student work is occasionally presented to small groups for peer editing. Finished products are kept on file, forming the student's portfolio, and the basis of The Dragon's Tooth and The Dragon's Toe, Altamont's creative writing publications.
Students in seventh and eighth grade are divided into classes by gender and receive instruction in a variety of team and individual sports and activities. Students receive instruction in skills and rules of the sport or activity at the beginning of the unit, often culminating in a class-wide tournament. Current offerings include softball, tennis, volleyball, soccer, badminton, track and field, basketball, floor hockey, mat ball, kickball, pickleball, and table tennis.
Additionally, the Presidential Physical Fitness test is administered to students each year. In the middle school, adolescents identify the purposes for rules and procedures and become involved in decision-making processes to establish the rules and procedures to guide specific activity situations. They participate cooperatively in physical activity with persons of diverse characteristics and backgrounds.
The eighth grade year is devoted to the study of American government and political institutions
as well as the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship. The course begins with a study of the United States Constitution – the philosophy behind the document, the historical events that precipitated its creation, the general structure of the government it created, and the evolution of that government over the past two centuries. More practical issues of American politics, such as the party system, interest groups, elections, state and local government, the American economy and the role of the United States in global affairs are also addressed in considerable detail. Discussion of current events, particularly those of immediate consequence, is a major component of the course. The class is primarily lecture /discussion based but research assignments, films, debates, and cooperative work are also utilized in presenting the material.
Algebra I (Required)
Recommended for eighth grade
Algebra I continues the refinement and extension of methods of mathematical problem-solving approaches to investigate and understand mathematical content. The idea of relations and functions, as well as graphing, is introduced early and used throughout the course. Problem solving includes equations in one variable, two-variable systems, absolute value, quadratic equations, and inequalities of all types previously listed. Students also study properties of exponents, polynomials, factoring, and operations on rational expressions and irrational numbers. The course emphasizes application of these skills to the real world.
Common Denominator I (Half-credit elective)
The math department recognizes that Algebra I is the first real roadblock for many students in the math curriculum. Common Denominator I is an elective course to support students who have trouble grasping mathematics, who have not yet developed the discipline necessary for algebra, or who simply need more time. It is tied directly to the Algebra I course. Students who score 75 or below in Pre-Algebra should take this course if at all possible. Stronger students may sign up for it, although they should realize that it may move more slowly than they would like.
Integrated Physical Science (Required)
Prerequisite: Successful completion of sixth grade science, Integrated Life Science, and Pre-Algebra* This is an introduction to the more advanced courses of chemistry and physics. It develops an awareness of natural principles and technological applications in the everyday world and promotes the realization that the same fundamental principles apply throughout the universe. Students learn how to handle scientific apparatus, perform experiments, take measurements, and to draw valid conclusions. This course draws heavily on mathematic skills and the ability to solve simple algebraic equations.
Exploring Computer Science
Grades: 7 – 8
This introductory computer science focuses on computer science content and developing computational thinking. Assignments and instruction are contextualized to be socially relevant and meaningful for all students. Units utilize a variety of tools and platforms. Each unit will culminate with a final project focused on the following topics: Problem Solving, Web Design, Programming, and Data Analysis. (Half Credit)
Honors French II
Prerequisite: French I and approval of current teacher or Head of Department
This course continues to build upon the foundations laid in French I. Students experience the use of the past and future tenses, reflexive verbs, and object pronouns in context. Storytelling and reading promote long-term vocabulary retention and enhanced speaking skills. By the end of the year, students are expected to achieve an intermediate-low proficiency level in French.
Honors Latin II
Prerequisite: Latin I and approval of current teacher or Head of Department
This course continues the broad grammatical survey begun in Level I. It is complemented by appropriately adapted Latin passages that underscore the particular grammatical points studied within the lesson. History, art, daily life, and additional cultural elements from Byzantium through the Middle Ages will enrich our understanding of the grandeur of Rome.
Honors Mandarin I
This course is designed for beginners and near beginners in Mandarin. Like the Introductory course, students will focus on the four key areas of language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing, with an emphasis on the last two in particular. Students are expected to quickly handle basic conversational tasks related to greeting, self-introduction, numbers, and family. Additional vocabulary themes explored in this course are countries, languages, jobs, school life, vehicles, and sports. Beyond language learning, various games, art crafts, Chinese cartoons and other projects related to Chinese culture are important components of this course.
Honors Spanish II
Prerequisite: Spanish I and approval of current teacher or Head of Department
This course reviews basic grammar structures, expands vocabulary and emphasizes increasingly complex grammatical constructions. Oral, written and reading exercises are integral components of instruction. All simple tenses with the exception of the conditional and imperfect subjunctive are studied. This is a novice-high level course and Spanish is used extensively in the classroom.