8th Grade Non-Core Course Descriptions

 
Art
Have fun learning about and making art in a studio-type classroom.  Students will learn how to improve their drawing skills and will create projects using materials such as chalk-pastels and paint.  Students will also enjoy learning how to make sculptures of famous people by using wire and plaster.  Students will not only produce works of art, but will look at art, talk about art and develop an appreciation of it.
 
Communications
This class is designed to assist students in the early stages of public speaking.  Students will learn and practice techniques such as role playing, verbal and non-verbal communication, pantomimes, impromptu speaking and note card/outline development.
 
Consumer Education/Literacy
This class is designed to help students learn and practice using the economics required in everyday life. Topics include budgeting, balancing checkbooks, stock market, and economic and business problem solving. 
 
Creative Writing
Created for students who enjoy writing, the writing workshop format is designed to foster creativity and self-expression in a supportive environment.  Expressing personal voice, peer conferencing and collaborating and multi-genre writing will be some of the areas developed. 
 
Current Events
This class will focus on issues in the news today.   We will examine a wide range of topics, from local, state, national and world events.  Students will also focus on issues that have relevance in our global community - everything from the economy to the environment and how they relate to us in Grandville.
 
iTalk
In this combined 7th/8th grade critical thinking and civil discourse communication class, students will explore social issues by viewing selected age-appropriate documentaries.  Writing about and discussing the issues presented in the film will be the priority in small and whole group settings.  Students will practice social communication rules and norms as well as how to discuss difficult issues face-to-face in a civilized manner. 
 
Documentaries to be shown for the 2021-2022 school year include:
 
"On the way to School" (G):  four teenagers from other countries - Kenya, Morocco, Argentina, and India -- are filmed traveling tremendous lengths over difficult terrain to attend school.
"I am 11" (NR):  this film follows 11-year olds from around the world as they share their thoughts, triumphs and challenges.
"Kindness is Contagious" (NR):  is a film about being nice and the benefits of being nice. The film profiles cutting-edge scientists and best-selling authors as well as people from all walks of life; illustrating their incredible discovery - NICE GUYS FINISH FIRST!
"Urban Farms" (NR):   is a feature documentary that profiles operating farms in New York City and their relationships to the communities they serve. The film explores the importance of supporting local agriculture and those working to protect it by keeping local food sources near urban areas.
"Urban Roots" (NR):  is a documentary film, which follows the urban farming phenomenon in Detroit. Urban Roots is a timely, moving and inspiring film that speaks to a nation grappling with collapsed industrial towns and the need to forge a sustainable and prosperous future.
"If You Build It" (NR):  follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives.
"The Elephant in the Living Room" (PG):  This film portrays both sides of the issue of keeping exotic  (and predatory) animals as pets and the consequences it can pose on the owners and community.
 
(There will be a parent letter sent home the first day of class with dates that each movie is being shown for parents who would like to attend and view with our class.  List will also include where films can be viewed online.  Many can be found for free through KDL Hoopla.)
 
LINKS   
Do you enjoy helping others? Sign up for the LINKS elective! This class is part of Grandville’s awesome LINKS program, a program that provides students (LINKS) opportunities to mentor and build friendships with students who have disabilities, such as Autism or a Cognitive Impairment. Students taking this elective will learn about different disabilities, understand others’ challenges, and appreciate the differences that make us each unique and special! As a LINK, you will participate in class with a student who needs extra support. Your role is to guide, model and be a friend to the student you are supporting while in class with them. You are graded on being a LINK, not fulfilling the requirements of the class in which you’re supporting your friend. This LINKS elective may be taken one, two or all three trimesters.  If you are interested in being a friend and making a difference in someone else’s life, sign up for this class. Your life will change too!  
Note to Parents/Guardians:  The LINKS Program is considered peer-mediated instruction, which research has proven to improve social skills, behaviors and communication skills in students with disabilities, especially those with Autism.  Students who sign up for this class will be expected to sign a confidentiality form and complete an informal training.  Parents/Guardians will also be asked to give permission for their child to be a LINK by signing a letter that will be sent later this spring.
 
Literature Exploration
This course is for students who love reading!  Students will be reading both independent choices as well as more advanced whole class novels with a focus on reflections, discussion and higher order thinking.
 
Physical Education Fitness/Conditioning – Co-ed
This course focuses on lifetime fitness and conditioning.  This elective can be taken in addition to our required PE class.
 
Science Challenger 8
Science Challenger is designed as a competitive environment where students are given specific challenges with specific rules requiring students to use their skills and imagination to outperform their classmates.  Household materials will be given in limited supply while students are asked to accomplish a task that will test their use of those materials.  Students may be asked to build a structure over a sink.  Weight will be added until that structure collapses.  Students will be ranked by how much weight their structure holds compared to the others in the class.  Challenges will increase in difficulty throughout the trimester.
 
STEM 8
8th Grade STEM: Applied Construction & the Science of Speed
Description:  This course is a 1-trimester class designed for students to engage in fun, hands-on, activities and projects that apply Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics skills. 
The 8th grade STEM course is broken into two units that students will complete during the 12 weeks:
1. Basic Building and Construction Techniques
GROUP PROJECT:
Students will be learning how to plan and construct one of the projects below:
 Adirondack Chairs        Hammock Stands
Picnic Table            Raised Garden Beds
Park Bench            Cornhole Game Boards
 
The project constructed will depend on time of school year and public demand.
This portion of the course will include lessons on how to read a construction plan, how to safely use building tools, basic construction principles such as estimation, measurement, and design.
 
2. The Science of Speed
PROJECT: Students will be building their own miniature race car. They are often described as Pinewood Derby® cars on steroids.  The cars will be powered by CO2 and will eventually be raced down a special track.  The students will be applying math concepts to the design of the car.  They will learn about the effects of gravity, momentum, friction, and aerodynamics.  Students will learn to safely use power tools.  They will use computers to aid in the design, testing, and racing of their cars as they explore the best design to maximize speed on the track.
 
Study Skills
This course will help students with organization, note taking and test taking strategies, as well as core content reading comprehension.  

Theater
This introductory theater course is open to all students.  The class focus is on performing arts concentrating on the fundamentals of theatre such as speech, movement and improvisation as well as some of the technical aspects of theater.  
 
World Language 
Spanish I (full year course) 
This course is the High School Level 1 Spanish course and is designed to fulfill one credit of the two-credit Michigan graduation requirement upon successful completion.  Presentation of the language is modeled after the TPRS (Total Proficiency by Reading and Storytelling) method.  Students will learn new vocabulary primarily by listening to stories told with visuals and by reading in the target language.  Emphasis is on language fluency but grammar is taught as needed.  Other classroom activities include student created stories, verbal presentations, written activities, quizzes, tests and exams.  Traditional textbooks are not utilized but students will keep a binder for handouts from the teacher.  Homework is assigned but most of the work is completed in class so attendance and self discipline in listening are vital to success.  
 
French I (full year course)
This course is the High School Level 1 French course and is designed to fulfill one credit of the two-credit Michigan graduation requirement upon successful completion.  Through the use of props, stories, and pictures, students will learn a variety of practical vocabulary topics, such as describing oneself and others, talking about school, family, rooms of the house, clothing, sports, etc.  Students will also learn how to order food in a restaurant, buy groceries, and become familiar with airport and train station terminology.  Along with vocabulary, students will be learning important grammar concepts and exploring cultural comparisons that will help tie the language together. Students will be given homework, quizzes, tests and exams to assess their understanding throughout the year.
 

Required 8th Grade Trimester Courses 

Health
The health curriculum provides students with critical health knowledge (including the ability to later access health information) and skills (including social and decision-making) to maintain healthy lifestyles during school and beyond.  The following units are included in the course of study – Social and Emotional Health, Personal Hygiene, Nutrition and Physical Activity, Tobacco, Drugs (including over the counter) and Alcohol Education, Personal Health and Wellness, Reproductive Health, Eating Disorders, and Internet Safety. 
 
Physical Education 8
All students who participate in this sports and activity experience at GMS will be exposed to a variety of wellness-based activities that will challenge their bodies as well as their minds.  Basic instruction in sports, intramurals, fitness and leisure/fun games provides a foundation to guide students to understand that physical activity is a vital part of lifelong learning.


Music Electives 

Band 8 (full year course)
8th grade band is a continuation of 7th grade band.  In addition to performance, students will be introduced to marching band.  In the fall, 8th grade band members will perform at a home football game with the High School Marching Band.  In the spring they may march in a parade.
Performances include the Holiday Concert, Winter Concert, District Band Festival, and Spring Concert.  Attendance is mandatory for all performances.   Students will also have the opportunity to audition for the Michigan All-State Band and are highly encouraged to participate in Solo and Ensemble Festival, as well as perform at a West Michigan Whitecaps Game.  8th grade band students also have the opportunity to attend the annual 8th grade music trip. Grades are based on class participation, playing evaluations, concerts, and weekly practice reports showing time spent practicing at home.

8th Grade Jazz Band (full year course)
Jazz Band enrollment is by audition/invitation for the more advanced players.  Students must also be enrolled in regular Band for the school year.  Attendance is mandatory for all performances.
Students will continue to learn the different jazz styles and different rhythmic interpretation associated with jazz music.  They will be introduced to various jazz artists and their particular styles, as well as continue to develop improvisational skills.
Students enrolled in Jazz Band will have several performing opportunities throughout the year, including public concerts and jazz festivals.

Choir 8 (full year course)
Students will demonstrate proper vocal technique building on what they learned in 7th grade choir. 7th grade choir is not a prerequisite. This class welcomes singers with a variety of experience or none at all.  Music theory and sight singing will be studied on a daily basis.  Grades are based largely on participation and effort while a portion is derived from assessment and concert attendance.  Attendance is mandatory for all performances.
 
Musical Theater 7/8 (full year course)
This class studies many aspects of stage and drama methods as well as technical areas through the performance of a musical.  Previous drama experience and musical experience is strongly recommended.  Students must audition for the course and participate in band, choir, or orchestra as a co-requisite. Attendance is mandatory for all performances.   
 
Orchestra 8 (full year course)
Orchestra 8 is a continuation of Orchestra 7. The program provides more advanced instrumental instruction on violin, cello, viola or string bass.  Students continue to improve individual skills as well as their performance as a group.  Attendance is mandatory for all performances.
Students in Orchestra 8 typically perform four concerts per year: Fall, Holiday, Winter, and Spring. In addition, these classes participate in MSBOA District 10 Orchestra Festival. Students are also given the opportunity to participate in Solo & Ensemble, Grades are based on a combination of playing skills (concerts, playing tests, rehearsal skills, etc.) and musical knowledge (note names, rhythms, etc.).
 
OrchExtra (1 trimester class)
OrchExtra is open to any student currently enrolled in Orchestra 7 or Orchestra 8. Students in this class will study a variety of topics related to orchestra such as music history, film music, chamber music (duets, trios, quartets), fiddle music, jazz/improv, and rock. There are no evening concerts associated with this class.