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. Throughout the year students study world mythology through World Mythology: An Anthology of Great Myths and Epics; Reading the World; Things Fall Apart; and The Odyssey. Additionally, students read and study Romeo and Juliet; Fahrenheit 451; The Book Thief; and Lord of the Flies. Vocabulary units, combined with required vocabulary writing assignments, ensure correct usage and increase students' expressive capabilities. Through Daily Grammar Practice: Workbook 9, 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.

Speech and 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.

English Curriculum Guide

Fine Arts

Students begin to learn the basic elements of art, using a variety of techniques and media. They gain experience in printmaking, sculpture, painting, and drawing and are exposed to various art history movements and artists.

This course provides choral and vocal instruction to enrolled students. The students learn and perform choral music from all periods providing the students with the means to express themselves through singing. Specialty performances and competition groups are selected by audition from choral music students.

Creative Writing
Students 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.

Jazz Band

Open to woodwind, brass, piano, guitar, bass, and drum set, this course will go through the basics of jazz and blues playing. The focus will be on developing proper style, music reading skills, listening skills, and improvisation. Students will follow a methods book complemented by performance pieces. No prior experience in jazz music is required; however, students must have acquired basic playing skills on their instruments. This ensemble will participate in the orchestra concerts throughout the year. Students are strongly encouraged to sign up for lessons. Due to instrumentation limitations, enrollment will be limited for guitar, bass, and drum set players.

Music Ensemble
Designed for piano, drum set, and string instruments, including violin, guitar, and bass, this course will cover a variety of styles for performance. Students will continue to develop their mastery of music through use of scales, sight-reading, and listening exercises. This ensemble will participate in the orchestra concerts throughout the year. Students are strongly encouraged to sign up for lessons.

Wind Band
This group is for all woodwind, brass, and percussion players. In this class, students will learn how to put together their instrument, take care of it, and play a variety of styles, pieces, and scales. Students will be required to purchase a method book for the class. This ensemble will participate in the orchestra concerts throughout the year. No prior musical experience is required. Students are strongly encouraged to sign up for lessons.

Beginning Photography
Prerequisite: An inexpensive digital camera labeled with a strap and memory card.
This course is for beginners who want a taste of excitement as they explore the many different areas of photography. Whether you like sports, food, light painting or animal portraits, this course will let you experiment with the different areas and subjects that photography offers. There will be a field trip to the Botanical Gardens to explore nature and subjects in their surroundings. No experience is needed in this course and students can participate in a photography show in the Livingston Gallery as they learn to use each person's unique visual voice.

Advanced Photography
Prerequisite: An inexpensive digital camera labeled with a strap and memory card.
For students who have had photography and those who are beginners, this course will focus on more wildly, creative, and interactive projects. Students will have the opportunity to begin the art of food photography in class. They will also have opportunities to enter photography competitions on state, national and international levels. We will take a field trip to the Birmingham Museum of Art to study the world famous photographs in their collection. Students can design the area of interest that they want to focus on this year, and also the projects that go with that focus to help have a more fun and interesting in depth experience.

Video and Theatrical Production
Photography and Theatre converge as students learn Video Production with the art of acting, lighting, backdrops and theatre production. This class for 7th/8th will be an exciting blend of the challenges of both classes learning together. Video productions will happen on and off stage as actors work with photographers for screenwriting and theatre production. This class will meet in the photography classroom at the beginning of the year but will be in the theatre, drama classroom and photo lab as different projects unfold and are presented throughout the busy year. Video cameras are provided and no experience is necessary!

This year-long course provides the student with the fundamentals of theatre through a study
of its history, literature, and design. Basic acting techniques 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 each month during the academic year and attendance at school productions are required.

Fine Arts Curriculum Guide

Health/Physical Education

Physical Education Program
Divided into classes by gender, these students receive instruction in the same team and individual sports and activities as in previous years. Current offerings include basketball, softball, indoor and outdoor soccer, flag football, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and ultimate Frisbee.

Character Education
The course is designed for seventh and eighth grade students and will be taught in a single gender environment. A series called “Film Clips for Character Education” will be used. Various movie clips are used to present topics such as Honor, Respect, Cooperation, and Empathy. Additional exercises, games and activities will be used to completely understand each topic.

Health/Physical Education Curriculum Guide

History/Social Science

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.

History/Social Science Curriculum Guide


Algebra 1
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 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.

Seventh and Eighth Grade Math Team (Year-long Elective)
Classes meet twice per week.
Math Team is a competitive academic activity. It exposes students to a wide variety of advanced problem-solving techniques. Team members learn to work together, helping each other in a relaxed, positive atmosphere. The math team participates in several in school math competitions throughout the year, including Mathcounts, Math Olympiad, the American Mathematics Competition through the eighth grade, and the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi Math League as well as several Saturday offsite invitationals. Students who join Math Team must have a desire to participate in at least one offsite competition.

Common Denominator I (Year-long Elective)

Classes meet twice per week.
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.

Mathematics Curriculum Guide


Integrated Physical Science
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.

7/8 Exploring Computer Science
Prerequisite: None
Recommended for seventh and eighth grade course was developed around a framework of both computer science content and computational practice. Assignments and instruction are contextualized to be socially relevant and meaningful for diverse students. Units utilize a variety of tools/platforms, and culminate with final projects around the following topics: Programming, 3D Design, Problem Solving, Web Design, Computing and Data Analysis, and Robotics.

Advanced Computer Science: Programming
Prerequisite: Completion of 7/8 Exploring Computer Science or Exploring Computer Science and permission of the instructor
Recommended for eighth through twelfth grade
Advanced Computer Science: Programming will dive deeper into the fundamentals of computer science by examining programming in a more focused spectrum. As students learn language specifics for a given programming language, they will create programs, translating human intention into computational artifacts. Students will gain valuable insight and depth into computer science as well as have an impressive knowledgebase ready for success at the college level.

Advanced Computer Science: Data and Information
Prerequisite: Completion of 7/8 Exploring Computer Science or Exploring Computer Science and permission of the instructor
Recommended for eighth through twelfth grade
Advanced Computer Science: Data and Information will focus on managing and interpreting raw data. Students will develop an ability to translate, process, and visualize raw data to create useful information. Students in this course work with data, using a variety of computational tools and techniques, to understand the many ways in which data is transformed into information and knowledge.

Advanced Computer Science: Algorithms
Prerequisite: Completion of 7/8 Exploring Computer Science or Exploring Computer Science and permission of the instructor
Recommended for eighth through twelfth grade
Advanced Computer Science: Algorithms will explore the use of algorithms to create solutions to problems. The development, use, and analysis of algorithms are some of the most fundamental aspects of computing. Students in this course work with algorithms in many ways: they develop and express original algorithms, they implement algorithms in a language, and they analyze algorithms analytically and empirically.

Science Curriculum Guide

World Languages

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.

World Languages Curriculum Guide

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