Grade 8 Overview

Eighth Grade Curriculum Overview

The middle school years represent the biggest growth period in a child's life, other than birth to two. It is a period of many "firsts", including having more than one teacher, changing classes, and assuming more responsibility for learning and additional homework.

In order to provide for a smooth transition from grade to grade during this time, teachers, administrators, and support personnel are invested in providing a safe and healthy school environment which is imperative for the growth and development of each child. Our middle schools are staffed with teachers who are experts at teaching young adolescents. They use instructional methods that prepare all students to achieve high standards and a variety of assessment methods for students to demonstrate what they know and understand. By working in partnership with each student and his/her parents, every child is involved in rich and successful learning experiences that support student learning, healthy development and the Mission Statement of the Newington Public Schools.

The following information about the middle school curriculum describes the student's journey through the middle school years, grades 5 through 8. Based on State and National Standards, the middle school curriculum provides a comprehensive, diverse and challenging curriculum to meet the learning needs of all students.

This curriculum overview articulates by content area and grade level what students will know and understand (concepts) and what they will be able to do (skills) as a result of what they know and understand. As you view this middle school curriculum brochure, read it "looking through the eyes of the learner" to frame a picture of the blend of high expectations and exciting learning experiences.

Language Arts
Students will know and understand that:

  • good readers develop skills, strategies, and habits of mind to construct meaning

  • oral and written responses to reading require support from background knowledge and/or text

  • rules governing standard English lead to effective written and spoken communication

  • literary devices enhance an author's message

  • vocabulary is expanded by actively reading a variety of genres

  • effective writing requires various strategies to communicate ideas clearly

  • there are various components to research

  • utilization of specific strategies can lead to more effective research

As a result of what students know and understand, they will be able to:

  • interpret, analyze and evaluate text in order to enhance comprehension

  • recognize text structures

  • identify and analyze literary devices

  • employ a variety of strategies to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words

  • make use of a rich oral and written vocabulary

  • effectively use genre-specific techniques to communicate ideas

  • complete a research project

  • speak, write and present effectively

  • utilize audience-appropriate language

  • acknowledge opposing viewpoints while communicating ideas

Using a variety of tools, strategies and technology, students will know and understand that:

  • real-life problems can be analyzed, represented and solved using tables, graphs and equations

  • rational numbers are used to solve ratio, proportion and percent problems

  • two and three-dimensional shapes can be visualized, measured and analyzed to derive relationships which then help us to communicate ideas and solve problems

  • probability and statistics enable us to analyze data and make reasonable predictions and informed decisions

As a result of what students know and understand, and by working with real-world problems through an inquiry-based approach, they will be able to:

  • estimate and compute with decimals, fractions and integers

  • solve real-world applications involving percents such as tip, discount, sale price, tax and rates of change

  • identify plane and solid figures

  • calculate area, perimeter, surface area and volume

  • determine outcomes for simple and compound events

  • organize and interpret data using a variety of tables and graphs

  • solve one- and two-step equations

  • use the graphing calculator to explore mathematical relationships

Students will know and understand that:

  • forces are constantly acting on objects and affecting their motion

  • the movement of waves through various materials depends on the wavelength, frequency, and amplitude of the wave and the nature of the material through which it is passing

  • the position and movement (rotation and revolution) cause several phenomena including day and night, seasons, tides, phases of the Moon, and eclipses

  • genetic variation allows species to adapt to environmental changes and survive

  • living things continue to change over time due to adaptation and natural selection

As a result of what students know and understand, they will be able to:

  • ask questions and define problems

  • develop and use models

  • plan and carry out investigations  

  • analyze and interpret data

  • use mathematics and computational thinking

  • construct explanations and design solutions

  • engage in argument from evidence

  • obtain, evaluate, and communicate information

Social Studies
Students will know and understand that:

  • while revolutions can solve problems, they often create new ones

  • citizens in a democracy design their government to support their values and strive to balance the rights of individuals with the needs of the greater society

  • societies resolve conflicts through legal procedures, force, and/or compromise

  • decisions in the past influence the present

  • migration and expansion are influenced by geography and economic opportunity and lead to conflict between settlers and native inhabitants

  • invention and innovation can be beneficial to some and detrimental to may

  • growing differences within the United States created a division between Northern states and Southern states

  • laws do not guarantee freedom, equality, and justice

As a result of what students know and understand, they will be able to:

  • determine the kinds of sources helpful in answering questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view

  • develop claims and counterclaims while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both

  • analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts

  • analyze multiple factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras

  • explain multiple causes and effects of events and developments in the past

  • analyze the purposes, implementation, and consequences of public policies in multiple settings

  • explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society

  • explain how changes in transportation and communication technology influence the spatial connections among human settlements and affect the diffusion of ideas and cultural practices

  • write arguments focused on discipline-specific content

  • engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly


Students will know and understand that:

  • cultural contexts, norms, and rules help us make connections and form relationships with others

  • the location of cities and countries impacts the weather and times of those places

  • the definition of family differs from culture to culture

  • a person’s family, culture, celebrations, and personal likes and dislikes help form their personal identity

  • students around the world share similar schooling experiences although differences exist due to geography, resources, and culture

  • a society’s values and natural resources influence norms at mealtime

  • the development of healthy habits begins early and requires daily decision-making and reflection

  • etiquette is highly valued in all cultures and rules of etiquette vary from culture

  • where and how we live influence who we are and how we relate to one another

As a result of what students know and understand, they will:

  • respond to greetings/farewells

  • use appropriate gestures, when necessary, to make their messages comprehensible

  • ask introductory questions and respond accordingly

  • exchange basic information related to birthdays, days of the week, months of the year, time, and seasons, their families, meal preferences, their school, their home life, and personal events both past and present

  • express likes and dislikes regarding various people, objects, categories and events present in their everyday environments

  • express agreement and disagreement

  • compare/contrast families and personal likes/dislikes

  • compare and contrast school schedules

  • describe foods, beverages, and mealtimes

  • describe favorite healthy activities

  • identify places in the community

  • express activities to be completed in the future

  • acquire goods/and or services through basic negotiations

  • identify household items and rooms in a house


Students will know and understand that: In order to be well rounded, it is essential to engage in learning experiences in the areas of art, STEM, music, wellness, and instructional technology.

As a result of what students know and understand, they will be able to: Demonstrate their learning through projects, activities, discussions, and performances in the Encore classes.


S.T.E.M. education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise enabling the development of STEM literacy and with it the ability to compete in the new economy.

In Grade Eight, students will study robotics using the LEGO LabView for MINDSTORMS. Using this programming language, students will be able to program the NXT using a graphical programming environment. LabVIEW for LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, by Michael Gasperi, illustrates through many detailed examples how to write programs that execute entirely on the NXT and that directly control the NXT using programs that run on a computer.

The sixth-eighth grade art curriculum provides opportunities for students to broaden special art interests and continue the process of transforming personal experiences into art forms.

Eighth grade activities include:

  • drawing

  • ceramic sculpture design

  • printmaking

  • art criticism

The opening of the Town-wide Art Show is held the last week of April on the third floor of Town Hall. Student work remains on display through May. The Permanent Art collection showcases one selection of student work from each of Newington's seven schools. This artwork is hung permanently on the third floor of the Town Hall.

A healthy body and mind maximize children's ability to learn. The Wellness experience centers on the development and wellness of the child. During all four years, students prepare for and participate in the State Physical Fitness tests. Throwing and catching, kicking, striking, movement, and team building concepts are taught through team sports. These include volleyball, badminton, basketball, hockey, and team handball. Additional activities are educational gymnastics, archery, dance, lifetime activities and cooperative games. The Wellness program also empowers students with the knowledge to make responsible decisions about their behaviors. This is done through the discussion of a variety of issues facing adolescents such as communicable diseases and substance abuse.  Students will learn to keep a strong mind and healthy body through coping skills and suicide prevention, assessing personal risk and respecting self, and substance abuse prevention.


All students participate in General Music each year. All students in grades 5-8 have the opportunity to participate in performing groups including chorus, band, and orchestra. Students in grade 8 who choose to participate in chorus, band, or orchestra meet one or two times per week during activity period. Small group instrumental lessons are available to students for ½ hour per week. Concerts throughout the year showcase the accomplishments of each ensemble.

The General Music curriculum seeks to develop within students a medium for self-expression and a life-long love of music.

Areas of study in eighth grade include:

  • music theory and sight-reading skills

  • performance skills in guitar and keyboard

  • history of American popular music

Educational Technology

Eighth graders will have one 26-day cycle of educational technology. Students will continue to explore video production, however with a focus on the filming aspect. Along with the editing skills they acquired from seventh grade, students will utilize tripods, camera angles, lighting, and microphones to collaborate on a short film as their final project. Eighth grade students will have the opportunity to take part in the Young Producers program allowing them to showcase their productions.