Curriculum
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8th Grade

Rodeph Sholom Middle School offers a unique middle school environment where learning is prized, teachers are specialists in both their subject disciplines and the developmental needs of adolescents, and Reform Jewish values form the foundation of learning in and outside of the classroom. The division is comprised of 5th through 8th Grade..

The stimulating curriculum recognizes that middle school is a transformative time of intellectual, emotional and spiritual development. The Jewish ethos of our community provides a firm grounding in the ethics and values which are essential traits of active and responsible citizens. Over the course of their Middle School years, students encounter a myriad of authentic leadership opportunities. At its core, the Middle School is designed to provide students with the tools necessary to learn how to evaluate themselves and the world around them.

The heart of the Middle School experience is the advisory program. Beginning in 6th Grade, advisors move up with their advisees through graduation in their 8th Grade year. Over the course of three years and daily meetings, a deep and enduring relationship forms between advisor and advisee. This relationship transcends the usual teacher student relationship and often forms a bond that continues past a student’s graduation. The 8th Grade year is heavily dedicated to the high school process, the culminating trip to Israel, and the reflective Capstone project.
  • 8th Grade Art

    In 8th Grade, students are given the opportunity to choose two out of five arts electives for the year. Two of those electives are studio art classes, and in each of those courses, they create pieces using a variety of mediums. While the classes cover specific topics, the students are given the freedom to create with fewer restrictions on materials than they have had in the past. They choose their mediums and work through their ideas one-on-one with their teachers. In previous years, classes have used recyclable material and created personal history sculptures and paintings with old or broken articles collected from home and at school. Classes have also delved into puppetry and crafts from around the world. These year-long courses culminate with presentations of student work at the all-school arts festival in May.
  • 8th Grade Digital Art

    In this year-long 8th Grade Digital Arts class, students begin advancing their skills in three-dimensional design. They are introduced to computer modeling and graphic design, and encouraged to use collaborative, and creative skills. During the first trimester, students begin to use Tinkercad, a web-based design program that allows users to create 3D designs that can be 3D printed or used in computer modeling. The students learn how to create a twenty-sided die with specific dimensions to familiarize themselves with the tools. Then, as their primary project, students are asked to recreate an iconic building from a city skyline, to illustrate their understanding of the tools and core design concepts.
  • 8th Grade English

    In the English department at RSS we create a safe and supportive environment for students to explore and practice reading and writing strategies within novel-based units of study. Novels are chosen for their text complexity and themes present, while allowing for a diversity of voices and stories. Varied opportunities are provided for students to grasp a strong comprehension of the class texts, followed by diverse written and spoken forums where students can express their theories and ideas about what they are reading. Both reading and writing are explored as a process. As students make their way through the steps of learning a specific reading or writing skill, teachers structure lessons around the gradual release of responsibility; first introducing a skill with teacher-led support, then moving students towards trying that same skill with the support of a peer, and finally encouraging students as they work to master the skill independently. Grammar is taught within the editing stage of the writing process and its instruction is based on the individualized needs of each group of students. Finally, a space is created within each unit for project based learning, offering differentiated opportunities for all types of learners to interact with the curriculum in creative and complex ways.

    8th Grade students read a variety of both contemporary and classic literature. Texts include Lord of the Flies, The Crucible, From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, and Night. This year's theme, Justice and the Appropriateness of Taking Action, closely parallels the Judaic concept of tikkun olam, repair of the world through social action. Throughout each novel, students debate and discuss concepts including the power of fear and conformity within society, human nature vs. nurture, the loss of innocence, and the individual vs.society. Students' work builds to the final unit using Night to explore The Holocaust. This unit integrates the disciplines of English, History and Judaic Studies, and serves as part of the preparation for the 8th Grade trip to Israel.

    Students have a variety of opportunities to practice their writing in several different formats including: analytical essay writing, rhetorical analysis, literature responses, personal responses, creative writing, blog posts, and through the use of visual storytelling apps. Assignments emphasize the development of a coherent argument, significant analysis, and use of textual evidence.
    Students also work to hone their academic discussion protocols, participating and eventually leading several socratic seminars. Learning is differentiated as project-based activities, interactive games, and various resources are woven into the fabric of the 8th Grade curriculum. 

    Teachers expect students to apply previously learned grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage rules. New topics include vague pronouns, perfect and progressive tenses, and predicate nouns and adjectives. Vocabulary drawn from the class readings emphasize words students will be exposed to in High School as well.

    Major topics:
    • Writing: Writing an in-depth, specific, and succinct thesis, developing and elaborating upon an argument, citing textual evidence, writing insightful conclusions
    • Literary terms: polysyndeton and asyndeton, bildungsroman, meter, diction, syntax, subtext, anaphora, connotation, logical fallacies, rhetoric
    • Grammar: verbals, perfect and progressive tense, vague pronouns, predicate nouns and adjectives
    • Reading: Close reading, reading through historical, psychoanalytical, gender, cultural and race lenses, annotation, whole class texts and independent reading both required
  • 8th Grade French

    Romance Language classes at RSS give middle school students the opportunity to develop new ways of expressing themselves and understanding their world through a multicultural lens. French and Spanish classes are taught with an immersive approach, allowing students to read, write, listen, speak, and think in another language. Teachers model authentic and comprehensible language with the aid of props, storytelling, images, songs, games and other tools. Instruction is designed around communicative tasks about topics students can relate to and are excited about. These goal-oriented activities require students to interact with each other in the target language. Through meaningful exchanges with their peers and strategic and engaging repetition by their instructors, students naturally and more easily acquire language structures, accurate pronunciation, vocabulary terms, and common expressions. Daily lessons incorporate opportunities for both guided and independent practice. Students also demonstrate progress through creative and fun projects.

    In 8th Grade French, class activities emphasize speaking, vocabulary, listening comprehension, reading, writing, and cultural study. 8th graders use their language skills as they work with authentic materials like magazines, music and internet resources. The students explore different types of media through oral presentations, planning trips to foreign countries and expanded writing activities.

    Students begin to study the past tense and learn to distinguish between the present, future, and past tenses. They frequently practice telling stories and relating series of events.

    Major topics:
    • Narrating a story
    • Describing objects
    • Discussing social issues
    • Asking and giving opinions and explanations
    • Expressing commands, obligations and interdictions
    • Double object pronouns
    • Possessive pronouns
    • Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns
    • Qualitative adjectives
    • Regular and irregular future tense
    • Preterit and imperfect past tense
  • 8th Grade Hebrew

    Our Middle School Hebrew program uses a whole language approach emphasizing all four components of developing language skills- listening, speaking, reading and writing. While the pace and volume of the curriculum can vary from class to class, we use a variety of methods including dialogue, games, reading, writing, conversation, and an online program called “Ulpan Or.” The program is designed to increase students’ appreciation for the Hebrew language and their heritage. We provide students with the ability to communicate in Hebrew in a variety of situations and expose students to the life experiences of Hebrew speaking students in Israel. Students are exposed to Hebrew slang and gain a deeper understanding of Israeli culture. Throughout the program we reinforce and review grammatical sentence structures and conjugation of verbs in the present and past tenses.

    The Hebrew language curriculum for the 8th Grade is based on the following skills: reading, writing, listening, and conversation. These proficiencies are taught through dialogues, stories, writing assignments, songs, games, and visual aids. At the beginning of the year, we open a discussion on the topic “New Beginning,” which enables the students to reflect upon their personal experiences. We also read the story “If Not Higher,” by I.L. Peretz. By examining this folktale, students have the opportunity to see the importance of going beyond Tefillah (prayer) and doing Tzedakah – helping people in need. Topics of study include "In the Family - The Israeli Family” and "Food". Students learn new vocabulary words, a new group of verb conjugations in the present tense (Binyan Hitpael and Binyan Hitpael), Hebrew phrases and slang. Through our content, we expand our knowledge of Israeli culture. Students explore the theme of Bayamim haheim Bazman ha’zeh - “Then and Now” - by making laser-cut wood stencils containing verses from the Hanukkah liturgy in the Creation Lab. Eighth grades continue using the new Hebrew program “Ulpan Or: Hebrew at the Speed of Light.” This program is innovative, interactive and research-based, developed using 21st-century technology from Israel. The program includes short video clips, audio clips, built-in structured exercises, virtual flashcards, Israeli songs and much more. The ultimate goal of each unit is for the students to be able to act out in Hebrew a dialogue given to them in English. 

    Major Topics:
    • “On the plane”
    • “In the Family”
    • Food
    • Israeli Family
    • Binyan Hif’il
    • Binyan Hitpa’el
    • Introduction to future tense
    • Past Tense
  • 8th Grade History

    In middle school, history students access a range of historical time periods, ideas, and themes. Each unit closely focuses on a particular era or geographic part of the world. Units are spiraled from one to the next and students frequently make content connections to prior units of study, both within a particular year and from grade to grade. RSS honors the different voices that shape history. History classes include the narratives of those who have often been marginalized in the past. Students learn to differentiate primary and secondary sources and learn to corroborate and read into the bias, nuance, and subtext, of primary sources. Students learn to engage with a variety of primary sources – including speeches, letters, poetry, artwork and images, architecture, and legal codes. Each grade level looks at the relationship between cause and effect to glean historical significance as well as change over time. Writing is an essential part of the history curriculum and is spiraled across the four grades.. Students begin middle school by learning to write with supporting historical evidence, and by the time they graduate they are able to articulate arguments about the past that are supported by numerous sources. By the time students graduate, they are not only expected to be able to incorporate pieces of historical evidence and quotes from primary source documents, but are also expected to show the importance of that evidence as it connects back to their argument. Geography is woven into each unit of study across all grade levels as students learn the importance of physical and geographic features as well as its relationship to historical events. Furthermore, lessons and assessments utilize different modalities of learning, allowing for a range of learners to access the material.

    8th Grade History studies the emergence of the United States as a world power. Students begin the year examining the development, causes, and effects of American imperialism. In particular they examine how American imperialism in the Pacific and Latin America affected the indigenous peoples of these territories. Students then study European imperialism of Africa of the late 19th/early 20th century to explore and describe the conditions and dynamics - namely nationalism - that led to World War I. Students then examine the causes of World War I, conditions of the battlefield, and US involvement both during the war and in securing a lasting peace. The year continues as students investigate how the failure of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations coupled with a worldwide depression allowed for the rise of totalitarianism and the onset of World War II. The course concludes with a unit on World War II and the United States’ role in it, including an examination of Japanese Internment and the dropping of the atomic bomb.

    8th Grade History is designed to be a challenging and collaborative experience. Students work with primary sources, maps, charts, graphs, political cartoons, newspaper articles, and statistics and hone their critical thinking skills. The course is project-centric and provides students with several different modalities to both learn and demonstrate their knowledge and skills. In collaborative groups, students advance and debate their interpretations in light of historical evidence. Students also incorporate 21st century work skills and present their ideas using technology. Whole class activities include systems of alliance and Treaty of Versailles simulations and are designed to help students synthesize the material they have learned in engaging ways.

    Add Major Topics:
    • American Imperialism
    • The Scramble for Africa
    • World War I
    • World War II
  • 8th Grade Jewish Studies

    In Middle School Jewish Studies, students are asked to read, think, and write critically about Jewish texts, particularly the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). Whether through the study of Jewish holidays, theology, or the historical experience of the Jewish people, students sharpen and employ general academic skills - close reading, primary source analysis, and public speaking among others - as they navigate a structured, spiraled curriculum that challenges them intellectually, spiritually, and ethically. In addition, students learn skills specific to Jewish Studies, whether Tanakh and Siddur navigation, the rabbinic style of commentary, or, guided by the core Reform Jewish value of “informed choice,” how we might derive contemporary meaning from ancient texts, customs and ideas.

    The 8th Grade Jewish Studies curriculum is integrally connected to the 8th Grade history course. Both cover the late 1880s until the mid-1940s, and students examine significant moments in modern history. In Jewish Studies, students focus on the image and role of the Jew in modern times by chronicling the emergence of the major denominations of Judaism, anti-Semitism in 19th century Europe and Jewish life in Eastern Europe, the emergence of modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature, and Zionism. 8th Grade students continue to learn about Jewish holidays, though in greater depth and complexity than previous years, and they continue to engage in careful textual study of Biblical and rabbinical sources.

    The course concludes with material that is closely tied to their trip to Israel. By examining in depth both the varieties of Zionist thought, and the promise and peril of life in the Diaspora, students are prepared to take full advantage of the amazing Israel trip, the culmination of their learning in 8th Grade Jewish Studies and the capstone of their many years at RSS. The students forge a profound bond with the land, people, and state of Israel as they contemplate how they will continue to nurture their Jewish identity after graduating from RSS.

    Major Topics:
    • Haskalah and the emergence of modern Jewish denominations
    • Anti-Semitism in 19 and 20th century Europe and the United States
    • Secular Hebrew and Yiddish culture in Eastern Europe
    • Zionism and the idea of a Jewish State
    • The Holocaust
  • 8th Grade Math

    The RSS Middle School Math program is designed to help students develop as mathematicians and emerge from 8th Grade ready to take on High School level Geometry, Algebra 2, and higher level courses. Throughout the curriculum, lessons are designed for students to further develop their vital mathematical processes including problem solving, reasoning and proving, communication, making connections and representation. In 6th-8th Grade, there is one honors sections of math, allowing students to be appropriately challenged as necessary. While students continue to study an overview of mathematics including number sense, geometry, statistics, and probability, there is a particular emphasis on preparing students for Algebra in 8th Grade. Beginning in 5th Grade, students explore ratios, proportional relationships and algebraic expressions through contextual problems and stories. The Math department constantly evaluates the best curriculum resources to use, pulling from researched based curricular including Prentice Hall, Connected Math, Structure and Method, and Blitzer textbooks. Using a combination of curricula allows students to make relevant connections to their everyday life and model the math around them. Teachers emphasize the use of multiple strategies to solve problems and guide students to find the most efficient solution. Throughout the middle school years, there are certain components of the curriculum that “spiral,” purposefully repeating, allowing students to explore concepts and topics with increasing complexity, and to reinforce previously learned information. In addition, students are supported at their individual level while improving their note taking, organization, and collaboration skills. As appropriate, lessons and sometimes class sections are further differentiated to allow for advanced or extended study of mathematical concepts. All students have the opportunity to participate in more challenging independent study through “Problems of the Week” or “Anchoring Activities.” In addition, students may join the Mathletes club to compete in Math Olympiad contests.

    In 8th Grade, students study algebra with the strong foundation from studying pre-algebra in 7th Grade. They learn to express relationships in algebraic terms and to recognize algebraic expressions as denoting specific mathematical relationships. They can translate math vocabulary into algebraic equations from real world contexts including uniform motion and area problems. From there students move onto factoring polynomials and working with algebraic and complex fractions. Midway through the year, students review linear functions and how graphs change as the variables change. Students learn to distinguish between linear and nonlinear functions. Students learn about domain and range and think about how to apply their new understandings of linear functions to practical problems. Students also learn how to graph inequalities before moving on to study systems of equations. Students are asked to organize and communicate their reasoning clearly. While studying functions, students explore the history and context of the book and film, “Hidden Figures.” Students discuss intersectionality, the “single story,” women in STEM, wage gap, segregation, and more. After watching the film, students participate in a simulation of communications between mission control and an astronaut to describe the route of linear and nonlinear functions using their vocabulary and skills from recent units of study. The year concludes with a study of quadratic functions. They learn how to graph quadratic equations and develop several tools, including the quadratic formula, for solving such equations. They discover real life examples of quadratic functions and how they can use their new skills to solve problems. Students continue their work with the Bootstrap Coding curriculum through which they translate algebraic concepts into the Racket coding language. For their year-long Bootstrap project, students create and code a “Video game” that they present to their peers in May.
     
    Major topics:

    •Solving equations and inequalities
    •Polynomials and factoring
    •Fractions and applications
    •Linear and nonlinear functions
    •Systems of Equations
    •Rational and irrational numbers
    •Quadratics
    •Bootstrap Algebra Coding Program
    •Trigonometry (honors math)
  • 8th Grade Music

    The Arts program at Rodeph Sholom provides our students opportunities to experiment and produce work in a safe and nurturing environment where they are encouraged to be curious, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. Through process and creation, RSS students develop the skills to be creative thinkers, capable of reflection and solving problems. Students work individually as well as collaboratively in an artistic medium which includes studio and digital art, drama, and music. Our goal is to instill love and appreciation of artistic expression as well as curiosity and personal growth. To provide middle school students with a broad variety of art classes, they cycle through a different art discipline each trimester. By the time students reach 8th Grade, they have a breadth of experience and are able to select two, year-long arts electives that allow them to concentrate on a specific art. In addition to the regular curriculum, students may elect to join an art or music club, participate in the middle school musical and play, as well as be a part of advanced band. Additionally, after school instrumental lessons, taught by professionals from the symphonic and Broadway community, complement our program as do a variety of instrumental ensembles. RSS student work and performances are highlighted at the end of school year annual Arts Festival.

    Drama

    This advanced course offers students an in-depth study of acting. Students focus on character analysis, monologue, and scene study incorporating the physical and vocal techniques taught in previous courses. In addition, the class seeks to enhance the student’s enjoyment and understanding of the theatrical experience as students examine the components of theatre, as well as its history and how audiences view theater today. Activities include warm-ups, games, exercises, solo and partner performances, improvisation, written work, and media.

    Digital Arts: 3D Modeling and Graphic Design

    In this year-long 8th Grade Digital Arts class, students begin advancing their skills in three-dimensional design. They are introduced to computer modeling and graphic design, and encouraged to use collaborative, and creative skills. During the first trimester, students begin to use Tinkercad, a web-based design program that allows users to create 3D designs that can be 3D printed or used in computer modeling. The students learn how to create a twenty-sided die with specific dimensions to familiarize themselves with the tools. Then, as their primary project, students are asked to recreate an iconic building from a city skyline, to illustrate their understanding of the tools and core design concepts.

    Music

    8th Grade music focuses on voice. Students are tasked with completing a number of projects that grow in complexity through the school year. They begin the class by recording their voices, separating each word, and forming a word collage that explores the various effects and mixing tools offered in Garageband. Then, they are given a choice of three contemporary pop songs, which they put into GarageBand, chop up, loop, and add their own elements to in order to produce an original piece of music. We call this the "Find the Loop" project, and once students  find their loop, they combine the songs into one composite song and create a music video for their peers to enjoy during the talent show 

    Studio Art

    In 8th Grade, students are given the opportunity to choose two out of five arts electives for the year. Two of those electives are studio art classes, and in each of those courses, they create pieces using a variety of mediums. While the classes cover specific topics, the students are given the freedom to create with fewer restrictions on materials than they have had in the past. They choose their mediums and work through their ideas one-on-one with their teachers. In previous years, classes have used recyclable material and created personal history sculptures and paintings with old or broken articles collected from home and at school. Classes have also delved into puppetry and crafts from around the world. These year-long courses culminate with presentations of student work at the all school arts festival in May.
  • 8th Grade Physical Education

    The RSS Physical Education Department seeks to empower all students to sustain regular, lifelong physical activity as a foundation for a healthy, productive, and fulfilling life.

    The PE curriculum is based on physical activities and an introduction to a variety of sports in an active, caring, and supportive atmosphere in which every student is challenged and successful. RSS provides all students with a variety of activities and challenges that contribute to the development of their physical, cognitive, and emotional well being.

    RSS PE program focuses on the following:
     
    • Outdoor education 
    • Skill development 
    • Competitive play 
    • Collaborative skills and fair play
    • Cultural movement activities 
    • Fitness
    • Electives 
    • Parks & off campus locations

    In the RSS Middle School, students engage in a year long course of study that utilizes local parks and other off-campus locations as its classroom. The middle school Physical Education curriculum is designed to meet the physical, social, and emotional needs and interests of the individual student. Students participate in individual and team sports in each grade, where the faculty emphasize skill development, fair play, and healthy competition. To encourage lifelong fitness skills to maintain a healthy lifestyle, different fitness components of cardiovascular exercises and muscle strengthening are embedded into each PE unit.

    As part of a diversified curriculum, 5th-7th graders participate in one of three cultural projects, with each unit culminating with a performance for the full middle school student body. 8th Grade students choose electives that are unconventional team sports and fitness offerings. This allows for the students to learn in small groups and an opportunity for students to explore their interests. Some past offerings included indoor and outdoor rock-climbing, yoga, rugby and long-distance running. 

    In the warmer months, RSS utilizes Riverside Park for Physical Education classes. In an effort to maximize ‘active minutes,’ students safely walk to the park as a group before using the fields, trails, and courts for class. Beyond the normal team sports (soccer, football, frisbee, etc.), students participate in different types of outdoor activities such as bouldering, trail-runs, and trust walks. 

    During the winter months, RSS is fortunate to have access to the JCC and Police Athletic League Duncan Center as indoor sites. Our curriculum concentrates on indoor sports, such as basketball, floor hockey, team handball, and volleyball.
  • 8th Grade Recess

    As physical activity and play is an essential part of child development, we make every effort to give students an opportunity to participate in physical activity regularly.. Additionally, the Skydeck is open for recess three times a week during morning break. There is a choice recess period twice a week during advisory where students can choose between study hall, recess, gardening, arts, or other activities.
  • 8th Grade Science

    The RSS Middle School Science Program expands students knowledge of the world around them by understanding the principles of science. Students explore phenomena through testing, exploration, and observations. This is completed through in-class demonstrations, individual and group work, projects, and lab work. Students are encouraged to try out new ideas, make mistakes, and then learn from those mistakes. One of the core principles in exploring science is to be a resilient and reflective thinker, and that is the main goal of the RSS science program. As students enter middle school, the focus is on process and standards of scientific inquiry, slowly building from concrete to more abstract concepts. We move from simply showing how things work, to applying knowledge to new and different contexts. Each year students have a final project that they present at the annual STEM Expo. The projects are student driven and allow students to explore their individual interests. At the completion of 8th Grade, students leave Rodeph Sholom with a solid foundation for further study in science and yearning to learn more.

    The 8th Grade curriculum focuses on chemistry and biology. The chemistry unit begins with the principles of chemical bonding, then moves on to chemical reactions as they relate to energy and chemical stability. The chemistry unit concludes with the study of acids, bases, and solutions.
     
    The biology unit builds upon the principles learned in the chemical unit by starting to explore carbon chemistry, the chemistry of life. Students study the chemical structure of lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates and examine how they are synthesized and broken down. Cellular processes and structures including DNA, RNA, transcription, translation, protein synthesis and energy production are also studied . The circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems are the primary focus  of human body study, as they relate to the energy used and harnessed by the body.
     
    In the final unit students choose from a grab bag of current and relevant issues in biology. They read articles from scientific journals and periodicals about the most current research related to the topics of their choice. Research topics can vary in topic and have included genetic engineering, RNA interference, stem cell research, evolution, virology, and immunology. This project allows students to go well beyond what is taught in the scope of middle school science and become an expert on a topic of interest to them.

    The class is structured to lay the foundation for the study in biology and chemistry in high school. Most topics include hands on activities and inquiry based learning. Concepts are modeled by the teacher and explored using virtual models. Students continue to do much of their work collaboratively. Group work and projects challenge them to understand difficult concepts that are built upon knowledge gained in previous years. Math components include interpreting information in solubility graphs, pH scales, balancing chemical equations, and molarity.
     
    Major Topics and Projects:
    • Chemical Reactions Unit
    • Biochemistry and Body Systems Unit
    • STEM Expo Presentation
    • Genes and Evolution Unit
  • 8th Grade Spanish

    Romance Language classes at RSS give middle school students the opportunity to develop new ways of expressing themselves and understanding their world through a multicultural lens. French and Spanish classes are taught with an immersive approach, allowing students to read, write, listen, speak, and think in another language. Teachers model authentic and comprehensible language with the aid of props, storytelling, images, songs, games and other tools. Instruction is designed around communicative tasks about topics students can relate to and are excited about. These goal-oriented activities require students to interact with each other in the target language. Through meaningful exchanges with their peers and strategic and engaging repetition by their instructors, students naturally and more easily acquire language structures, accurate pronunciation, vocabulary terms, and common expressions. Daily lessons incorporate opportunities for both guided and independent practice. Students also demonstrate progress through creative and fun projects.

    In 8th Grade Spanish students review important vocabulary and grammatical structures, and study more advanced grammar topics. A faster pace and more complex constructions compliment a consistent emphasis on oral proficiency. 

    Class activities emphasize speaking, vocabulary, listening comprehension, reading, writing, and cultural study. 8th graders use their language skills as they work with authentic materials like magazines, music, and internet resources. The students explore different types of media through oral presentations, planning trips to foreign countries and expanded writing activities.

    Students begin to study the past tense and distinguish between the present, future, and past tenses. They frequently practice telling stories and relating series of events.

    Major topics:

    ● Narrating a story
    ● Asking and giving opinions and explanations
    ● Vacation activities
    ● Activities around town
    ● Regular and irregular future tense
    ● Preterit and imperfect past tense
    ● Double object pronouns
    ● Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns
    ● Formal command form
  • 8th Grade Study Hall

    Students are assigned to study hall periodically throughout the week. This is a time for students to work independently, with the support of a teacher if needed. During study hall, students can arrange to meet with a teacher, work with other students in the Action Center, study, or get ahead on assignments.
  • Action Center

    The Action Center is located in the Middle School Library, is a drop in space for academic support, with a focus on curriculum and organization. Students go to the Action Center for help with their assignments, need help getting started or to better understand a concept learned in class. The AC is staffed by Middle School faculty who are able to guide students in any subject. Students choose to go to the AC during their study hall periods, if they prefer to receive extra help instead of working independently. The Action Center encourages students to take responsibility for their learning, and independently advocate for their academic needs.
  • Advanced Drama

    Advanced Drama
     
    This advanced course offers students an in-depth study of acting. Students focus on character analysis, monologue, and scene study incorporating the physical and vocal techniques taught in previous courses. In addition, the class seeks to enhance the student’s enjoyment and understanding of the theatrical experience as students examine the components of theatre, as well as its history and how audiences view theater today. Activities include warm-ups, games, exercises, solo and partner performances, improvisation, written work, and media.
  • Israel Trip

    The Israel class covers Israeli history, innovation, and culture in order to prepare students for their successful capstone trip to Israel.

    Students examine the history and diversity of the State of Israel from the early 20th century to today. This course dovetails the 8th Grade Jewish Studies curriculum by building on their knowledge of late 19th and early 20th-century Jewish history as it relates to Zionism and the creation of the State of Israel. In this class, students build on the foundation of the historic connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. They begin by examining the impact of the different waves of immigration, the tensions that existed during the Mandatory Period, and the proposed Partition Plans. 

    Students also learn about the diversity that comprises the fabric of Israeli society including the various Jewish and non-Jewish groups. Students learn about some of the different ethnic and religious minorities who live in Israel, especially those which students will encounter on the Israel trip. Students examine samples of Israeli culture, including film, music, and writings to become familiar with some of the social complexities that exist. 

    Additionally, students gain background knowledge that enhances their experiences at various sites in Israel. For example, students study the development of ‘drip irrigation’ and try to create a simple drip irrigation model in preparation for visiting a hands-on agricultural museum in the Negev Desert that employs this technology. 

    Students participate in a variety of learning activities to engage a range of learners. Students use primary sources to access and analyze historical events, take part in simulations, and create activities for the Israel trip. Additionally, 8th graders are given the exceptional opportunity to help lead a particular site on the trip, and those who volunteer are provided guidance and support.
  • Learning Center

    In middle school, some students attend the Learning Center (LC) instead of a Study Hall, typically once a week. The LC functions as a guided study hall where students receive curricular support on assignments and are encouraged to work on aspects of learning that are more challenging for them. With the guidance of the learning specialists, study skills and effective strategies are embedded into the academic work, and students use this time to sharpen their understanding of personal strengths and areas for improvement. Every period in the Learning Center looks different: students might work one on one or in small groups with a learning specialist; they may work on the same assignment as their peers or focus on different school subjects. The role of the learning specialists is to gently and consistently support students’ curricular challenges. Through our work in the Learning Center, we aim for students to internalize the strategies that they are learning and practicing, and to apply them independently in their work both at home and at school. We believe that teaching children how to be students is just as important as what they are studying, and so we help to build these important lifelong student skills. Learning specialists regularly communicate with subject matter teachers, advisors and department heads to understand the curricular expectations and the students as they grow. This collaboration is key in supporting students and helping them to meet the curricular standards, enhance their confidence, and build their independence.
  • Wellness

    The Rodeph Sholom Middle School Wellness program for 5th through 8th graders delivers accurate, age-appropriate information and emphasizes healthy relationship skills and development of self control. Using a social emotional learning approach, our curriculum incorporates many activities including role plays and discussions. We incorporate opportunities for students to learn and practice communication and relationship skills so that they can make responsible decisions and maintain healthy connections with others. Our goal is to give students accurate information, help them to develop healthy communication skills, and promote family communication.