8th Grade

The objective of the 8th grade English course is for students to learn to communicate the written and spoken word with clarity, coherence, and thoughtfulness. Scaffolded skill sequences and common themes inform the reading, and relevant films, trips, articles, and poems supplement the reading selections. Exploration of other academic disciplines, other cultures, and ethical issues accompany the literary study. Writing focuses increasingly on formal essays of literary analysis, though students also have opportunities for creative expression and personal response. Collaborative multimedia projects and performances strengthen both digital and personal presentation skills.

The 8th grade history course, The Making of the Modern World, considers the stories of issues the world faces today. The goal of this course is to give students a better understanding of what characterizes the modern world and how the world they live in came to be. Themes include but are not limited to urbanization, technological advancement, government, globalization, and use of resources.
Emphasis is placed on developing academic skills necessary to be a successful student of history as well as an informed citizen of the world. Particular attention is paid to:
  • Gathering information from a variety of sources
  • Critically examining, analyzing, and interpreting information
  • Presenting ideas and information in a variety of ways and situations
  • Working independently and in groups to identify, think critically about, and find solutions to problems
  • Managing time, tasks, and resources (organization, note taking, test taking, map making, etc.).
The 8th Grade Algebra I course includes:
  • Using variables to write mathematical expressions and equations
  • Using the set of real numbers
  • Solving equations with variables on one and two sides
  • An introduction to functions (linear and quadratic)
  • Graphing
  • Using the TI-84 Graphing calculator
  • Solving a system of equations containing two or three variables
  • Inequalities
  • Operations with polynomials (including factoring)
  • Operations with algebraic fractions
  • Rational and irrational numbers
  • Solving quadratic equations

The goal of 8th grade science is to have students appreciate the nature of scientific exploration while nurturing a deep fascination for the world around them and improving their science process skills. Topics and concepts include:
  • Science Basics – Measurement, the Scientific Method, Safety
  • Food and Sustainability
  • The Human Body
  • Particles and Matter
  • Astronomy
  • The Cell and Heredity
  • Weather and Climate
The three year study of Latin is critical during the middle school years. Learning Latin strengthens basic English skills in vocabulary and reading comprehension, focuses on grammar which leads to improved English writing and communication, increases cultural awareness and makes cultural connections, encourages critical thinking and comparative analysis, and introduces students to a rich source of mythology, literature, and history. This course presents continuing Latin students with increasingly complex grammatical concepts, an ever-expanding vocabulary, and cultural discussions suitable for 8th graders. Our goal is to cultivate those skills required to translate unedited Latin. Emphasis is on the institutions and great political personalities of the late Roman Republic—Caesar, Cicero, Mark Antony, Cleopatra, and Augustus. Students are presented with many aspects of Roman culture in cartoons and lively stories in Latin as seen through the eyes of the poet Horace. Latin vocabulary and English derivatives are an important area of study.
World Languages

These courses, in French, Spanish, or Mandarin Chinese, are continuations of the 7th grade courses and are taught in an immersion enviroment emphasizing the skills of language acquisition, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing, so that students master a body of vocabulary and grammar while expanding their ability to express themselves in French, Spanish or Mandarin. Additionally, through a variety of activities and projects, students learn about the culture and civilization of the French, Spanish, or Mandarin-speaking worlds.

Our art program helps students to enhance their creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities, as well as to learn to think “outside of the box.” The 8th grade art program brings students to a point where they can respond with confidence to technical challenges and apply their accumulated skills with increased independence. Tonal and imaginative drawing are reinforced and strengthened; graphic design and painting projects reach new levels of challenge and sophistication. As a significant and culminating part of their studio work, near the end of the school year, students utilize all of their acquired artistic skills to work in groups on a interdisciplinary architectural monument project that is conceptualized in history class and executed in the art room. This project pushes the students to use both sides of the brain, working together to complete the final product of a model and accompanying presentation.   
Music Ensembles & Drama

The performing arts choices in seventh and eighth grade build on the skills developed in sixth grade. Students prepare and perform selections that are more advanced and begin to explore a greater variety of styles (jazz, pop, classical, etc.) and performance topics. The choices for these grade levels are choir, handbells/percussion, drama, strings*, and band*.

* Students are required to have two years of demonstrable experience on the instrument of choice.
Eighth Grade STEAM is designed to be a culmination of students progress in the MakerSpace from 6th grade on. In addition to a continued curriculum based on digital citizenship, our studies take us on a logical step from 7th grade as we continue to learn about code and circuitry but with the added element of robotics. In the first half of the year, students will work with VEX Robots to learn about simple machines, robotic mechanisms, sensors, and autonomy while designing robots to conquer a range of different challenges. Students will also spend some time on photo editing and manipulation as they create their very own yearbook pages to cap off their final year in the Middle School. In a test of their abilities, the year ends with open MakerSpace time in which students The year ends with students choosing a STEAM discipline (i.e., robotics, architecture, web design, photo editing, etc.) to focus on and complete projects and challenges within that discipline to work towards mastery. 


At Shipley we believe that each student should have a time in his or her program to explore talents, passions, and interests. Our mini-courses are designed to meet that goal. Because they are offered as electives, there is usually a mixture of students from all three Middle School grade levels in each course. Recent mini-course titles have included: Stock and Chess Club, Indoor Wiffle Ball, Backgammon, Reading Olympics, Movie Club, Science Olympiad, Pickle Ball, and Meditation, to name just a few.

Each 8th grade student participates in a team sport each season. Choices include:
  • Fall: Soccer, Field Hockey, Basketball (intramural), Tennis, Squash (intramural), Conditioning
  • Winter: Basketball, Squash, Swimming, Volleyball, Conditioning
  • Spring: Lacrosse, Softball, Baseball, Tennis, Conditioning
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.