Pre-K through Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Academics
Upper School

Grade Eight

Grade Eight Overview

Both eighth grade boarding students and day students benefit from challenging courses that enhance essential skills in reading, writing, quantitative reasoning, scientific thought, and world language. The curricula in English, history, and science are standard for all students, while courses in mathematics and world languages require placement tests. By eighth grade, students have internalized fundamental skills and habits such as organization and time management, and they are refining their thinking, speaking, reading, writing, and listening abilities throughout the year in all classes. Students are also focusing on problem solving and design in our Innovation Lab, with our Creator's Class. Courses in visual and performing arts and a developmentally appropriate wellness class round out students’ schedules. The work of eighth grade allows students to demonstrate academic and personal independence as they prepare for each day. Throughout the year, life skills such as discernment, adaptability, and collaboration help students establish a solid foundation for the coming year.

List of 10 items.

  • English 8

    Eighth grade English emphasizes an understanding of literature, grammar, writing, and vocabulary. Students read major literary works, including the Holocaust novel MAUS I by Art Spiegelman, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Through discussion and reflection, students participate in a close examination of the literature and reflect on each book or play with an analytical essay. Students focus on using grammar as a tool for good writing, and they practice incorporating more complex sentence structures, including verbal phrases and subordinate clauses.
     
    Writing assignments are frequent, and students learn to move from the free writing stage, through the process of revision, to final drafts of five-paragraph (or longer) essays. The emphasis in class discussions and in student essays is on a more abstract examination of the work rather than on plot description, and students learn to identify themes and literary devices as well as specific details in the reading. Students study vocabulary in order to develop a more sophisticated written and spoken command of the English language.
     
    By the end of the year, eighth grade students should be able to:
    • Identify figurative language in literature (metaphors, similes, personification, symbols)
    • Vary sentence structure by delaying the subject and beginning with verbals (gerund, infinitive, and participial phrases), subordinate clauses, and prepositional phrases
    • Incorporate new vocabulary in their writing
    • Write more comfortably in analytical and personal writing, expanding beyond the standard five-paragraph model
    • Contribute actively and helpfully to class discussions
    • Prepare for and take a cumulative exam in the spring that requires them to review all the literature covered in class, write about the themes of each selection, and demonstrate knowledge of the vocabulary and grammar skills introduced
  • Mathematics

    In seventh grade, most students are placed into either Pre-Algebra or Pre-Algebra Advanced. After Pre-Algebra, students take Algebra I Part 1, Algebra I, or Extended Topics in Algebra (ETA). Following coursework in algebra, students take Geometry or Geometry Advanced, which is then followed by Algebra II, depending on prior mathematics coursework, standardized testing, and/or teacher recommendation.
     
    We recognize that students at this age develop at different rates and appreciate that there is more than one path through the math curriculum; for that reason we conduct careful student placement in the spring of each year to ensure that each student is appropriately challenged. Click here to see detailed descriptions for all Upper School math course offerings.
  • Ancient History

    In Ancient History eighth graders explore the development and evolution of democratic theory and institutions from their origins in Greece to their demise in the Roman Republic. Students develop an understanding of how socio-economic and political factors created change within various societies and influenced the behavior of these societies as related to the themes of imperialism, slavery, and republicanism.
     
    In this course, students develop their historical thinking skills, learning how to use primary and expert secondary source materials. Specifically, students learn to interpret and analyze these sources using the historical thinking concepts, such as significance, context, perspective, cause and effect, agency, and continuity and change. To demonstrate understanding, students engage in active daily discussion and also participate in a rigorous research and writing process that stresses critical thinking and reflection.
  • Physical Science 8

    In Physical Science, students explore content primarily grounded in the foundations of physics and chemistry. The root of this course aligns with the description of Physical Science as found in the Next Generation Science Standards: “An overarching goal for learning in the physical sciences… is to help students see that there are mechanisms of cause and effect in all systems and processes that can be understood through a common set of physical and chemical principles.” This lab-based course prepares students for their transition into a secondary-level science course.
     
    The year includes three units: electricity, motion and forces, and chemistry. Students design circuits to measure voltage, resistance, and current across both series and parallel circuits. Students explore magnetism, electromagnets, and electric motors.
     
    Using a rocket simulation program and LEGO Mindstorm robots, students learn about motion and forces. Students build rockets and collect data over the course of rocket flights to study the relationship between speed and acceleration and calculate the force of gravity. They also learn to use code to manipulate sensors and motors on LEGO Mindstorm robots, programming them to perform tasks and challenges. Students develop computational thinking skills as they learn to program in the RobotC programming language, developed by Carnegie Mellon University. In addition, students have the opportunity to compete on a school robotics team.
     
    Finally, students develop an understanding of matter and its interactions as they learn about the structure and properties of matter and chemical reactions. Students design investigations where they control variables to provide evidence for the law of conservation of mass and energy, while taking into account variables that affect the rates of reactions. By the end of this unit, students have an understanding of what things are made of and why they behave the way they do.
     
    Science Practices
    The Upper School science practices have been adopted from A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2012) and directly build upon the practices from the Lower School. Students who demonstrate success in Physical Science 8 will be able to:

    • Ask questions (for science) and define problems (for engineering)
    • Plan and carry out investigations
    • Analyze and interpret data
    • Use mathematics and computational thinking
    • Develop and use models
    • Construct explanations (for science) and design solutions (for engineering)
    • Engage in argument from evidence
    • Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information
  • World Languages

    Upon entering the Upper School, students select one world language that they will study for the duration of their time at Fay. Students choose from French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Latin. Placement in all levels is based upon the student’s prior experience in the language, teacher recommendations, and a placement test, including a written and oral assessment. Click here to see a detailed list of all Upper School foreign language course offerings.
  • Music

    The music faculty is committed to the concept of "learning by doing" and recognizes the value of performance in every student’s experience. Each year, Upper School students choose a music course from an array of options that include choir, bells, string ensemble, band, and basic musicianship. The courses are designed to extend the theory and performance skills developed in the Lower School, but students new to Fay will also find that they can succeed in a beginning-level ensemble with little or no previous musical experience. Click here to see a complete list of music offerings.
  • Art

    The Upper School visual arts curriculum encourages personal expression and fosters the development of cognitive, motor, and social skills. Interdisciplinary and multicultural projects, art history, and resources within the school and community are integrated through the program.
     
    Students learn basic art skills as well as the elements and principles of design. In all grades, students have regular opportunities to draw from life and imagination; they also work in a range of media that includes paint, collage, ceramics, cut paper, sculpture, printmaking, origami, digital media, and other two- and three-dimensional media. Eighth and ninth graders have the option to participate in art electives that allow them to focus on specific areas of interest. Click here for a complete list of course descriptions.
  • Creators Class

    The Creators Class takes place in Fay's Innovation Lab. The course is designed to build each student's creative confidence and focuses on the following themes:
     
    • Design Thinking, an empathy-based problem solving mindset and process, to help students identify problems and possible solutions
    • Basic Electronics, to do basic programming of circuit boards
    • Digital Fabrication, to design and build 2D and 3D objects using the school's laser cutter, vinyl cutter, and 3D printing technologies
    Our ultimate goal is to give students the ability to isolate a problem they want to solve and to spend the latter part of the year designing and building solution(s).
  • Wellness 8

    Students in our co-educational eighth grade Wellness classes delve more deeply into a range of topics that includes sexual development, nutrition, accepting others’ differences, stereotyping, bullying prevention and response, mindfulness, conflict resolution, boundaries, cyber safety and responsible use of technology, keeping one’s self safe, stress management, and tobacco and alcohol awareness. Students also explore how outside influences such as the media affect decision making. Other topics include resisting peer pressure, dating and relationship violence, practical ways to address temptation to use substances and become involved in premature sexual experimentation, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drug misuse prevention, and the development of leadership skills. The relatively small, mixed-gender classes allow for discussion aimed to help students understand others’ points of view and to prepare students for the social dynamics of high school.
  • Athletics

    The athletics program takes place every day following academic classes. All students in grades seven through nine are required to participate daily in all three terms. Students choose from an array of interscholastic sports and intramural activities (one per term). Students may try out for competitive interscholastic teams or join an intramural team or activity. However, all students are required to participate in at least one interscholastic sports team each year. Click here for the complete list of athletic options.