8th Grade Course Catalog


South Lake Middle School 8th Grade Course Catalog 2019-2020

Core Courses

English 8:

In 8th grade English, students continue to reflect on their prior knowledge and skills as a way to develop a deeper understanding of the elements that constitute meaningful reading and writing. By making a personal connection to what we are learning, students expand their social and academic experiences, thus making learning more significant and fulfilling. Students will do a close reading of short stories, real world documents, and engage in novel studies to increase their skills in informative/explanatory, argumentative, and narrative writing. Students will also be challenged to hone their proficiency in grammar conventions and spelling and to further develop their listening and speaking skills through classroom discussions, group work and oral presentations.


U.S. History 8:

The U.S. History 8 curriculum focuses on the writing and telling of historical events through analyzing primary and secondary sources to better understand multiple perspectives.  Throughout the year, all students will develop historical thinking skills through reading, writing, and speaking. Students will study the ideas, issues, and events from the colonization of the Americas through Industrialism. 


Honors English 8 and Honors U.S. History 8:

Honors English and History–Social Science are rigorous courses designed to challenge our most capable students. These courses cover depth, complexity, novelty, and acceleration as strategies to meet the unique needs of high achieving students. Students will explore the curriculum described above in English 8 and U.S. History 8 in greater depth and will be expected to demonstrate a higher level of mastery in their application of the skills and knowledge acquired in their course of studies. Teacher recommendation is required for placement. Visit South Lake website for Honors criteria.


Math 8:

Instructional time in this course focuses on:

  • Knowing that there are numbers that are not rational, and approximating using rational numbers.
  • Simplifying radical expressions.
  • Working with integer exponents and scientific notation.
  • Understanding the connections between proportional relationships, lines, and linear equations.
  • Analyzing and solving linear equations and pairs of simultaneous linear equations.
  • Defining, evaluating, and comparing functions.
  • Using functions to model relationships between quantities.
  • Understanding congruence and similarity using physical models, transparencies, or geometry software.
  • Understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem.
  • Solving real-world and mathematical problems involving volume of cylinders, cones and spheres.
  • Investigating patterns of association in bivariate data


Enhanced Math I:

In Enhanced Math I, students complete the second half of Math 8 and the entire Math I curriculum. Placement in this class is based on multiple measures including Enh Math 7/8 or Bridge class. In Enhanced Math I, students will:

  • Learn function notation and develop the concepts of domain and range.
  • Explore many examples of functions, including sequences.
  • Interpret functions represented graphically, numerically, symbolically, and verbally, translate between representations, and understand the limitations of various representations.
  • Work with functions given by graphs and tables, keeping in mind that, depending upon the context these representations are likely to be approximate and incomplete.
  • Understanding of integer exponents to consider exponential functions.
  • Compare and contrast linear and exponential functions, distinguishing between additive and multiplicative change.
  • Interpret arithmetic sequences as linear functions and geometric sequences as exponential functions.
  • Develop more formal means of assessing how a model fits data.
  • Use regression techniques to describe approximately linear relationships between quantities.
  • Use graphical representations and knowledge of the context to make judgments about the appropriateness of linear models. With linear models, they look at residuals to analyze the goodness of fit.
  • Establish triangle congruence criteria, based on analyses of rigid motions and formal constructions.
  • Solve problems about triangles, quadrilaterals, and other polygons.
  • Apply reasoning to complete geometric constructions and explain why they work.
  • Build on their work with the Pythagorean Theorem.


Science 8:

The 8th Grade science curriculum is an integrated approach to the four main disciplines in science. This year, students will be learning about the interconnectedness of science by studying the fields of Life science, Earth and Space science, Physical science, as well as Engineering and Technology. Building upon lab process skills from seventh grade, students run independent, laboratory experiments and investigations while applying concepts learned throughout the year. Reading strategies that enhance comprehension of science texts are emphasized, as well as scientific writing skills, critical thinking skills, and implementation of technology. Students will develop and communicate their understanding of how scientific phenomena work through Science and Engineering Practices [1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering), 2. Developing and using models, 3. Planning and carrying out investigations, 4. Analyzing and interpreting data, 5. Using mathematics and computational thinking, 6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering), 7. Engaging in argument from evidence, 8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information)]. Throughout the year, students have the opportunity to participate in science enrichment opportunities, such as Science Fair and Astounding Inventions.


Physical Education:

The South Lake Middle School Physical Education Staff is dedicated to implementing a physical education curriculum that enables all students to make connections between physical health, wellness, and exercise. Students at South Lake Middle School will have physical education every day of the week. The physical education curriculum is aligned to California State Standards. Each of our sports units integrates instruction in health, nutrition, conditioning, and injury prevention. Each unit of instruction will be developmentally appropriate and designed to meet the needs of every student from the physically gifted to the physically challenged. Instruction will emphasize building social skills, confidence, self-esteem, and guiding students toward appropriate decision-making. Class activities will be created to emphasize the importance of self-improvement, active participation, and cooperation.

See the E.D.P.E. Registration Forms for information about enrollment in the course. Students in E.D.P.E. must be enrolled in a year-long music, art, support elective, Directed Studies or Spanish 1 elective.


Trimester-Long Elective Courses


Art 1:

In this course, students will be exploring a variety of media and techniques while learning the elements and principles of art. Activities may include drawing, painting, printmaking, graphics, sculpture, design, lettering, photography, art history, and art appreciation. This is a great class for all skill levels. Suggested donation of $10/trimester.



In this course students will learn the basics of working with clay such as construction, firing, and glazing as well as art history. They will learn hand- building techniques such as slab construction, coil, and pinch pots. Projects may include clay monsters, mini food displays, and coil bowls. This class is great for all skill levels. Suggested donation of $15/trimester.


Introduction to Digital Media:

This course will introduce students to art elements and principles of design through photography, photo editing, and video production in three equal parts. Students will learn proper usage and care of a digital camera, composition, and file management for creation of digital and print products. They will explore and apply fundamental design concepts using programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. The unit on video production will also introduce students to common film shots and professional filming equipment. As a whole, the Digital Media Arts course encourages students to critically explore the role and function of imagery, language, and presentation using digital media.



This course is designed so that students will become more comfortable and confident while performing in front of an audience. Students will engage in building their acting skills through improvisations, dramatic readings and theater exercises. A main goal of this elective is for all students to have fun and to participate in the culminating end of the trimester performance which is carefully selected and appropriate for middle school students and audiences.


Introduction to Spanish:

This course is designed to familiarize students with Spanish and prepare them for Spanish 1. Every week students will learn a set of thematic vocabulary, which they will be able to use in Spanish 1. Students practice the weekly vocabulary, as well as expressions to use with the vocabulary in class with multimedia presentations, speaking activities, games, worksheets, and art projects. The students become familiar with the geography and culture of all twenty-one Spanish-speaking countries through online research, informational multimedia presentations and by producing arts and crafts typical of these countries.


Media Literacy:

Mass media is enmeshed in our daily lives. It is nearly impossible to imagine a day without seeing a TV show, magazine, newspaper, listening to the radio, playing a video game, or using the internet. Yet, how often do we stop to think about who creates the visual and audio material that we consume? What are the purposes and goals of the information and advertisements that we are exposed to on a daily basis? What affect does the mass media have on individuals, society and the creation of culture? These are the very issues we will explore in Media Literacy. In addition, students will have creative opportunities to produce various forms of media related content.


Public Speaking/Debate:

This course will provide opportunities for students to feel more comfortable and gain confidence in public speaking. Students will develop an understanding of the purpose and definition of debate, as well as the importance of persuasive arguments and supporting evidence.


Study Skills:

The purpose of this course is to help the students develop study skills that will allow them to be successful, not only in middle school, but also in high school. In addition, students will participate in class activities that will help them to develop basic organization skills. Periodic grade checks will be conducted to ensure that students are keeping current with assignments and grades in their core curricular classes. There is limited space available in this elective.


Exploratory Engineering:

No prerequisites required. This course is offered to all students who want to be exposed to the basics of 3D design/printing, coding, and cybersecurity. Students will start with a simple computer-aided design (CAD) software called Tinkercad 3D to design products. Students will have the opportunity to compete in the ocMakerChallenge that focuses on the five stages of Design Thinking: empathize, define (the problem), ideate, prototype, and test. For coding, the two main platforms students will be learning are Code.org and Scratch.mit.edu. For fast learners, you will also have an opportunity to combine coding skills with simple circuits using the Makey-Makey and Arduino. Students will also learn the basics of cybersecurity to be able to join the CyberPatriot competition as an option. Sign up and join the fun!


Student Aide:

This is a non-academic course. Student aides will be responsible for assisting classroom teachers. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to; setting up materials for projects and labs, assisting with organization and filing, photocopying, assisting teacher with classroom duties such as passing out assignments, assisting students and collecting assignments. Physical Education Teaching Assistants will assist with setting up equipment, helping with the daily jog and assisting with the activity.  At the beginning of each Trimester parents will receive a form to sign acknowledging their student is enrolling in a non-academic course (Pass/No Pass grade.) Teacher approval required.


Year-Long Elective Courses

Advanced Art:

This class is for students who show a strong interest in learning more about different media arts pathways such as fine arts, graphic arts, video production, digital photography, etc. This class will expose students to that field and will be a combination of research, project based assignments, collaborative work, field trips, and independent work to develop a personal portfolio for students wanting to pursue one of these pathways at the high school level. It is recommended that students complete at least one of these classes before taking this course: ceramics, art, digital photography, technology. Enrollment in the course is through approval from Mrs. Adoff.



This course is meant for students who have a desire to become strong leaders and are good role models. In this class students will learn how to develop leadership skills, how to work with others, as well as how to plan school events to promote school spirit and to help the surrounding community. This class is a privilege and standards are set at a higher expectation. All students interested in ASB/Leadership must complete an ASB Eligibility Packet and return it to Mrs. Adoff on or before the registration deadline.



This course is open to all students. Students in chorus will perform a wide variety of music including rock, folk, jazz, and pop, with a special focus on Musical Theater. Students will also develop their singing and note-reading skills while focusing on proper tone production, solfeges and ensemble skills. The culminating project in Chorus class is our South Lake Spring Musical.


Concert Band:

This exciting ensemble is open for any brass or woodwind player with previous music reading experience. Students wishing to continue their current instrumental music studies or switch to a new instrument may take this class. (Percussion will be covered in the 2nd and 3rd Trimesters of this course, so students interested in drums should sign up for this class). Students will learn and refine musical skills while performing intermediate music literature. This class covers 7th and 8th grade music standards, and is designed for students with at least two years of music experience


String Orchestra:

The South Lake String Orchestra is for students with previous musical experience. Students will refine their skills and perform a variety of literature, including Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern and Pop. Students will increase their knowledge of intermediate and advanced orchestral string playing techniques, including shifting, vibrato and self-tuning. This class covers 7th and 8th grade music standards, and is designed for students with at least three years of music experience, not necessarily on an orchestral string instrument. Instruments in this class include violin, viola, cello and bass. Piano and guitar by audition with music teacher.


Symphonic Orchestra:

Symphonic Orchestra is a full orchestra of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion players. It covers advanced ensemble performance techniques. Students will refine their musical skills while performing a variety of classical and modern music styles. This class is designed for students with at least three full years of experience on their instrument; therefore participation is by audition with the music instructor. Enrollment in this course is through student audition only.

Please note: Placement into an instrumental music class is made based on the instrumentation needs of the ensemble and approval by the South Lake Music teacher.


Spanish 1:

Spanish 1 is considered a first year, high school honors level course. Students who wish to enroll must have strong Math and English language/grammar skills, excellent work habits, and A/B+ grades. In making this choice, it may be helpful to think about high school graduation and college entrance foreign language requirements. A minimum of two years is generally required for four-year college entrance and three years is highly recommended. To remain in the course for the year and receive a recommendation for Spanish 2 in 9th grade, students must maintain an A/B+ grade Enrollment in the course is through recommendation from 7th Grade English teachers.



Students enrolled in the Photojournalism elective will create, design and produce our school’s yearbook. They will learn skills associated with layout and design, digital imaging, photo composition, journalism, film and video editing, and most importantly, collaboration and cooperation between staff members. Photojournalism participants are expected to spend time outside of school hours completing required assignments. Those students looking for a challenging honors level opportunity should consider the Yearbook class. Enrollment in the course is by recommendation from 7th Grade Language Arts teachers.

Engineering Concepts:

This is a year-long course for students who have a desire to learn more advanced skills in 3D designs, robotics, engineering, and cybersecurity. In this class, students will learn a more industry expert online CAD softwares called Onshape and/or Fusion 360. Students will compete in the ocMakerChallenge with STEM projects that will include sensors from digital devices such as Arduinos or Raspberry Pi. Students will also have opportunities to design, build, and code robots using VEX Robotics or Linkbots which are currently being utilized by the UC Davis C-STEM program. The class will also cover more in depth cybersecurity topics such as Windows 7, Windows 10, Windows Server 2016, and Ubuntu 16. Students will have an option to compete and use VMware in the nationwide CyberPatriot competition. This class is advanced and has rigorous expectations of students. All students interested in this class must complete an Engineering Concepts Eligibility Packet and return it to Mrs. Le on or before the registration deadline.


Students interested in any year-long elective must also select trimester electives or another year-long elective in the event that the classes are full.



Reading Lab:

Reading Lab is an elective that includes instruction aligned with the California Common Core English Language Arts standards, with a strong emphasis in reading intervention and support. Students rotate between instruction focused on active reading strategies, and a research based, computer adaptive, technology program called Read 180 that hones skills in terms of fluency and comprehension. The course components include: emphasis on previewing and working on mastery of content specific vocabulary, building content background knowledge, active reading strategies to help foster comprehension, honing fluency skills with attention to oral reading practice (pacing, expression, intonation), summary and writing skills aligned with reading, and practice and instructions on test-taking strategies.  (Pass/No Pass Grade) **Students are recommended based on teacher feedback, grades, STAR Renaissance reading scores.


Math Lab:

Math Lab is an elective that includes instruction aligned with the California Common Core Math standards, with a strong emphasis on practicing basic skills, error analysis, and building both conceptual and computation skills. The course is highly structured and includes direct instruction, small group rotations, computer-based ST Math, and independent practice. Students discover the fun in math and learn how to advocate for their learning in math. (Pass/No Pass Grade) **Students are recommended based on teacher feedback, grades, STAR Renaissance math scores.


Guided Studies:

Guided Studies is an intervention elective designed for students who are considered "at-risk" either academically, socially, or emotionally (or a combination of any of the three). Small class size combined with a teacher and instructional assistant allows for more direct assistance and instruction. Student progress is closely monitored and the course focus is re-teaching, building executive functioning skills, monitoring student progress, building resiliency, and building study skills. (Pass/No Pass Grade) **Students are recommended based on teacher feedback, grades, STAR Renaissance reading and math scores, and/or Counseling referral.


directed courses

Directed English:

Directed English is a special education class, consisting of specialized academic instruction, focused on the principles of language: reading, writing, listening, speaking and language. Students read novels, short stories, and real world documents to increase their reading comprehension, vocabulary development, and word analysis skills. Students write informative/explanatory, argumentative and narrative compositions to improve their structure, coherence and mechanics. Enrollment in this class is based on a student’s IEP team decision that this class is appropriate. The curricular focus is based on the student’s individual needs (accommodations/modifications and identified goals) agreed to by the IEP team.


Directed Mathematics:

Directed Mathematics is a special education class, consisting of specialized academic instruction, focused on developing both the procedural skills and conceptual understanding leading to the application of mathematical concepts. Course topics include ratios and proportional relationships, the number system (rational and irrational numbers), expressions and equations, statistics and probability and geometry. Students solve real-life problems using a variety of mathematical operations and tools. Enrollment in this class is based on a student’s IEP team decision that this class is appropriate. The curricular focus is based on the student’s individual needs (accommodations/modifications and identified goals) agreed to by the IEP team.


Directed Studies:

Directed Studies is a special education elective, consisting of specialized academic instruction, offered to support general education curriculum. In this class, students review daily assignments, organize and prioritize assignments, clarify directions, study for tests, retake or finish tests, learn study skills and receive assistance with long term projects. This class is designed to support IEP goals in the areas of organization, study skills, homework completion, classwork completion and/or overall executive functioning deficits, as well as support progress on academic and/or behavior IEP goals.

**This elective course is only available for students with an Individualized Education Plan through Special Education Services. Students are eligible to enroll concurrently with an additional elective and Extended Day Physical Education.