Junior High School Overview

With adherence to the guidelines of the Diocese of Wilmington, our faculty‘s goal is to nurture Holy Cross students spiritually, intellectually emotionally, and socially as children of God. We encourage them to think deeply and critically about the world in which they live, to connect and apply the lessons they learn to improve their lives and the lives of others, to apply the gifts they have been given wisely, and to understand the importance of their education. We recognize and respect the unique qualities of our students. As such, academic instruction, skill practice, skill application, and assessment of knowledge and skills are conducted using students’ multiple intelligences. Tutorial assistance is available fo those students in need of additional instruction, practice, and application.

Literature/Vocabulary

To prepare students for the transition to high school literature classes, this course is one of close reading and regular reflection of that reading. Students are expected to build upon their experience and knowledge from the seventh grade course. As such, the eighth grade course of study follows the seventh grade course quite closely.

However, different elements are given more emphasis than they received in seventh grade. One example of this is the novel study. Both grades read classroom titles, dictated by individual reading ability and performance. Seventh graders are introduced to the elements of the novel, and their focused study concerns the story’s plot and theme. Having accomplished this as seventh graders, the eighth graders build on their knowledge of the novel by focusing on characterization and by writing a formal character analysis at the conclusion of the unit.

Testing also follows the variety and scope employed for the seventh grade. Both grades are given end-of-year tests to assess gains in reading and vocabulary.

Writing

Increases in complexity, purpose, and length from seventh grade. Through a team approach, students will:
  • Explore a variety of self-generated topics that they develop into working drafts.
  • Identify and utilize writing formats that best communicate their messages to the intended audiences.
  • Continue to use the 6+1 Writing Traits vocabulary and writing process to facilitate group discussion and to provide corrective practices among group members.
  • Provide peers with supportive and immediate feedback during the writing process.
  • Write their own pieces using the genres they have identified as problematic in order to become more successful.
  • Complete a full research paper.
  • Create a storybook gift, which they craft and illustrate themselves.
Assessment is an ongoing process. It includes students’ participation, process work, and final products. Rubrics are used to identify individuals’ strengths as well as areas needing improvement.

Science

The LabLearner curriculum, based on state and national standards, is used. An integrated curriculum, with an emphasis on Physical Science, is taught. Topics covered include:
  • Heat and Heat Transfer
  • Sound Waves and Pressure
  • Light
  • Ecosystems
  • Photosynthesis
  • Friction
  • Watersheds
  • Electricity and Magnetism
Students participate in hands-on laboratory experimentation in a fully equipped lab.

A variety of assessment tools are used to accommodate learning differences.

English

Continuation of instruction from seventh grade, incorporated through writing circles.
  • Grammar, usage, and mechanics identified in context.
  • Grammar instruction is incorporated into daily writing circles’ work in the form of mini-lessons.
  • Direct instruction and practice provided to improve listening and speaking skills.
Assessment occurs within the writing process and its products.

Social Studies

  • Content begins with the Civil War and continues to the present time.
  • Study includes historical, political, economic, and social aspects of the period.
  • Much of the learning is project-based and/or experiential. (The Gettysburg field trip is an example.)
  • Students prepare a weekly current events report. They choose from two teacher-selected topics or from “This Day in History,” then research the topic and write a brief summary.

Assessment is conducted formally and informally on a weekly basis.

Religion

Focuses on Church history, understanding God, and our Catholic faith.
  • Students acquire familiarity with the history of the Catholic Church.
  • Students are expected to understand the structure and functions of the church community.
  • Students also learn about the roles they perform within their church communities.
  • Students are paired with pre-kindergarten students through an established “Prayer Buddy” program. They participate in a variety of religious and social activities throughout the school year.
Assessment is used as needed to determine comprehension and application of knowledge.

Mathematics

Eighth grade math students have two, placement options—Pre-Algebra and Algebra I.  Students are grouped homogeneously, allowing each to grow in mathematics at a pace conducive to their level and learning style. The following is used to determine placement:
  • Standardized test results.
  • Diagnostic Star Math test results.
  • The student's work ethic and classroom performance.

Pre-Algebra (8th grade) Curriculum
  • Real Numbers, Exponents, and Scientific Notation
  • Proportional and Non-proportional Relationships and Functions
  • Solving Equations and Systems of Equations
  • Transformational Geometry
  • Measurement Geometry
  • Statistics
Algebra I Curriculum
  • Operations with Real Numbers
  • Solving Equations
  • Applying Equations to Problem Solving
  • Inequalities and Absolute Value
  • Powers and Polynomials
  • Factoring Polynomials
  • Rational Expressions, solving and application
  • Relations, Functions, and Variations
  • Analytic Geometry
  • Systems of Linear Equations
  • Radicals
  • Quadratic Equations and Functions
  • Basic Trigonometry