Grade 8

Social Studies


Eighth Grade Modern U.S. History


Essential Questions:

  • What are the rights and responsibilities of citizens of the United States?
  • What are the challenges to those rights and responsibilities?
  • What events, individuals, or ideas impacted Americans’ideas about rights and responsibilities?

During the 8th grade year, students study the events, themes, political trends, influential people, social movements, and legislative acts that shaped our country from the Reconstruction era through the civil rights movement of the mid-20thcentury. Our course emphasizes central documents and primary sources in American history, including original texts of Supreme Court decisions, photographs, speeches, laws and declarations, correspondence, political cartoons, newspaper and magazine articles from historical events, and Constitutional amendments. The history comes alive and real through case studies of central events or people who exemplify the themes of each time period. Students also read and analyze the works of accomplished historians, whose writing offers models for linguistic style, organization of topics, presentation of opinions, and use of evidence to support ideas. Research and writing projects throughout the year offer opportunities for students to practice these techniques on their own and in groups.. At the end of the year they investigate and prepare their own case study related to rights and responsibilities.



The IPS (Introductory Physical Science) course emphasizes the development of basic laboratory skills, the process of controlled experimentation, and an understanding of the principles of physical science, especially matter and its properties. Through a sequence of experiments, students learn appropriate ways to measure, describe and categorize matter. Specifically, the course covers the conservation of mass, characteristic properties (including density, melting and boiling points, solubility, crystal shape and spectra) atomic structure and the periodic chart. While students work on all labs as part of a team, each student keeps a lab notebook and writes lab reports. The analysis of class data is an important element of each investigation; graphing of data is often required and the use of computer software encouraged. Empirical evidence and concepts are then used to build a model of the atom as the basic unit of matter. The course includes a number of laboratory challenge assessments and culminates with each lab team devising and executing a multi-step procedure to identify the components of an unknown mixture.



The Eighth and Ninth Grade classes delve more deeply into algebraic and linear functions, complex operations, and applications of mathematical thinking. Our program emphasizes Algebra I in eighth grade, either as the first half of a two-year course, as a one-year Algebra I class, or in combination with Geometry for students who began Algebra I in seventh grade. Students at these upper grades also learn and practice higher-level thinking in analytical reasoning and logical deduction, and apply these skills to mathematical proofs. Ninth grade students have the opportunity to engage in more complex and sophisticated mathematical reasoning. Some students complete the two-year Algebra I program; others are enrolled in Geometry. An Algebra II course is also offered when appropriate.


This course introduces students to the vocabulary of literature and sharpens their skills as readers, interpreters, writers, speakers, and listeners. The year is loosely divided into units of study that examine the short story, the play, nonfiction (essay and argument), poetry, and the novel.  In each unit students read and analyze works by a variety of writers to uncover their meanings and to use as models for writing strategies. In written reading responses and through class discussions, students engage in a dialogue with the literature and their classmates. The course subscribes to the beliefs that we develop our best ideas through writing and that writers get feedback before publication; the writing practice focuses on conferencing and revision. Students do exercises in vocabulary and syntax. Through our reading and writing, we ask--and hope to answer--personal and national questions of identity:  “Who are we?” “What do we believe?” “What shapes our lives?” “What do we hope for?” “What is the role of writing and art in our world?”

In past years, literature selections have included The House on Mango StreetAnne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, Lord of the FliesRaisin in the Sun,MausOf Mice and MenNight, selected short stories (Ray Bradbury, Sherman Alexie, Edgar Allen Poe, Gina Berriault, Shirley Jackson, Roald Dahl, Toni Cade Bambara, and Gary Soto), contemporary American poetry, speeches, memoirs, essays, and op-ed pieces.


Fine Arts


In Middle School, drama classes include improvisation, playwriting, and many opportunities for performance. Students explore ethical dilemmas, dramatic plots, and methods for conveying complicated ideas. Monologues, dramatic literature, critique, and the technical components of theater are also included in the curriculum. The use of the stage--entrances, exits, sets, and production techniques are all incorporated into a variety of performances. In seventh and eighth grade, students have the opportunity to participate as actors or members of the stage crew for a major production that is performed in our black box theater in December. Ninth graders all take part their own play, which is prepared through the fall and winter and performed in March. 

Visual Art

In our middle school visual arts classes, students explore global and historical themes. Eighth graders spend their year in art with explorations of three-dimensional techniques. Clay, metal, wire, plaster, wood, cardboard, and stone are all incorporated into the curriculum, which ends with the experience of carving a soapstone sculpture using hammer and chisel. 


In the Middle School, students choose from a variety of musical electives, with options to pursue instruments such as guitar, hand bells, and steel drums. The Pop Colloquium and Opera programs in 7th grade include vocabulary useful for any genre of music, encourage deep listening, respect for differing opinions, and help students discuss a range of musical styles using accepted musical terminology and analysis. Our middle school chorus provides another opportunity for continued participation in vocal performance.

World Language


Chinese will expand to 8th grade during the 2016-2017 school year.



Students continue their formal study of French with a thorough review of all the grammar introduced in seventh grade. New grammar such as relative and object pronouns, negation, adverbs, and the comparison of adjectives, reflexive verbs, and more verb tenses such as passé composé, regular and irregular verbs and future proche are taught within the specific context of French daily life and culture. Reading skills are increased, vocabulary expanded, and a greater emphasis is placed on writing. Viewing of several original French films is an important component of the program. Students are required to memorize several poems during the year and participate in the COLT Poetry Contest and will read an elementary reader in French. Additional special projects may include the creation of a short, videotaped play. Students are grouped by ability.


Students expand their knowledge of the Latin language and the world in which it was spoken, completing the Ecce Romani IB textbook by the end of the year. In addition to studying more uses of cases and vocabulary, the students practice noun-adjective agreement, the future, perfect, pluperfect and future perfect tenses, the fourth and fifth declensions, the dative case, demonstrative adjectives and pronouns, and personal and reflexive pronouns. Upon completion of the standard curriculum, the students often proceed to learn the relative pronouns and the passive voice of verbs using the Ecce Romani II textbook. Historical and cultural topics explored include the Roman Republic, travel, the city of Rome, chariot racing, and Roman elections. The study of English derivatives, Latin sayings and our inheritance from the Roman world continues. Special projects may include poetry recitation, creative presentations of the story of a mythological monster, topography and monuments of the city of Rome, and the use of calligraphy in the transmission of manuscripts. A unit on rhetoric includes the study of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, as well as composition of their own speeches complete with use of rhetorical devices for a mock Roman trial.


The program builds on the established foundation, introducing more complex grammatical structures and expanding cultural themes. New material may include irregular verbs in the preterite tense; the imperfect tense;a comparison of the preterite vs. imperfect tenses; and more. Grammar and vocabulary are introduced and practiced with native speakers on DVDs, audio CDs, and online support. For any given grammar point, activities begin with guided practice and move progressively toward freer self-expression, with numerous opportunities for both written and oral expression. Special projects may include writing and illustrating a children’s story, an oral presentation using photographs to describe one’s childhood, a researched cooking project, the creation of a filmed short play, a fashion show, creation of a marketplace, and participation in the COLT Poetry Contest. Students may read and analyze various literary selections in Spanish. They may also take a trip off campus to eat at an authentic Hispanic restaurant. Students may be grouped by ability.



Physical Education

At Foote, we believe in nurturing our students’ physical health and growth as well as their academic progress. With that philosophy as a guiding force, our physical education program is designed to support students’ self-image, build sportsmanship, and provide a basis for a healthy lifelong attitude toward fitness. Our curriculum is carefully sequenced to match the stages of physical, social, and emotional development from year to year. In addition to athletic skills, our program encourages creative expression, builds social concepts such as sportsmanship, cooperation, and fair play, offers opportunities for leadership, encourages children to take risks, and fosters a sense of well-being in a non-competitive setting.

All children at Foote School are members of either the Maroon or Grey sports teams. Spirit is high on our annual Field Day, when students participate in a variety of fun and competitive events between the Maroon and the Grey. Kindergarteners take part only in the morning, competing in a fun run, a scoop  relay, and a shuttle relay. All the other students participate in a full day of events, culminating in an all-school relay race around the entire field, featuring the day’s winners of the 60-yard dash from each grade.

Sixth through Ninth Physical Education

In middle school, our physical education program is designed to provide appropriately strenuous exercise, develop athletic skills, and promote team cooperation. Specific skills in a wide variety of games are incorporated into the curriculum, including all of the sports offered through the athletics program as well as Frisbee, juggling, football, floor hockey, volleyball, gymnastics, badminton, and distance running. In eighth grade, students participate in a double period of outdoor education each cycle in addition to their regular twice-per-cycle PE class. 

Sports Teams

All students in grades 7-9 are encouraged to take part in the after-school sports program. Sixth graders are invited to participate in team sports if there are spaces available. Team sports are an extension of the physical education program. Our interscholastic athletics program shares many of the goals as our PE program. The sports program at Foote provides an opportunity for all students in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades to participate voluntarily in a number of seasonal sports. Foote is a member of the New England Preparatory Schools Athletic Council.

Fall sports: Boys’ Soccer, Girls’ Soccer, Field Hockey, Co-Ed Cross-Country
Winter sports: Boys’ Basketball, Girls’ Basketball, Co-ed Swimming, Co-Ed Squash
Spring sports: Boys’ Lacrosse, Girls’ Lacrosse, Baseball, Softball, Co-ed Tennis