Grade Eight

Grade eight aims to prepare boys for their first year as high school students. Latin, which lays a foundation for future language or scientific learning, is added as a core course, and boys may choose two special-interest elective classes. The final year of Middle School leaves the boys well-prepared for their freshman year.

In Grade Eight, Your son will study:

Language Arts

Eighth grade Language Arts experience focuses on furthering key skills in literature, grammar, vocabulary, and writing as the boys prepare for the Upper School English coursework. Each student should comprehend and dissect appropriate literature of various genres, examine sentence structures as well as functions of words, phrases, and clauses, memorize and correctly use new vocabulary, and create a strongly organized and edited expository five‐paragraph essay of literary analysis as well as assorted creative compositions. Complementary skills in research, note‐taking, and oratory presentation are also thoroughly developed. This rigorous course renders boys prepared for high school English.


In this course, students take a formal look at Algebra I. Students solve and graph linear equations, inequalities, and systems of equations. Graphing calculators are used pedagogically. Next, they explore the new set of polynomials ‐ operating, factoring, and solving equations. Then they translate those skills to rational algebraic expressions. The course concludes with a look at still another new set ‐ irrational numbers. An enriched class is also available.

Ancient History

This course provokes each student's interest in the origins of western civilization and explores the legacy of Greek and Roman civilization for our own American experience. The ancient history curriculum complements that of the language arts, Latin, and fine arts departments to explore coordinated curriculum opportunities. Examination of Greek and Roman culture, warfare, and government expose students to the themes and ideas representative of life in the ancient Mediterranean world.

Introduction to Physical Science

Eighth grade physical science is a laboratory‐based class that investigates the development of the atomic theory of matter. Students work in partnership with another student to prepare, carry out and analyze the results of each lab activity. Students learn about the three states of matter, discussing solids, liquids and gasses and how to measure the amount of each. Throughout the year, students take substances apart using many methods such as: heat, solubility, boiling point, freezing and melting point, fractional distillation and fractional crystallization. Through this lab work students gain knowledge of the characteristic properties of matter used to identify and tell materials apart.

French or Spanish

Students continue to expand and refine their proficiency in the four language skills. After a thorough review of grammar, the past and imperfect tenses of both regular and irregular verbs are introduced, together with interrogative and demonstrative constructions. Previous concepts, such as the negative, adjective agreement, commands and question formation are further examined. A variety of cultural themes are incorporated into the grammatical content of the course. Students explore monumental cities, modes of transportation and travel know‐how. Complementing these themes, teachers may also design units of literature, history, art, music, science, or math. In using the target language to teach other disciplines, students employ French or Spanish in real circumstances, thereby promoting their language proficiency.

Talk III

Talk III addresses some of the issues that adolescents face as they travel their final year in the middle school. The course is designed to challenge 8th graders to assume their role as leaders and role models in the middle school with the attitudes they take, the decisions they make and the ways that they relate to peers, faculty, parents and younger students. Students will learn to distinguish between a "right vs. wrong" decision and a "right vs. right" decision ‐ i.e. a true ethical dilemma. Dilemma analysis and dilemma resolution are explored using real‐life situations the boys are likely to encounter. Issues of transition, both into their role as eighth graders as well as the challenges of transitioning into the high school are also be a significant part of the course.


Eighth grade Latin is an introductory course that familiarizes students with the basic grammar, vocabulary, and translation skills of the Latin language. Students learn the principal forms of verbs, nouns, and other parts of speech, and then put these forms into practice by translating from Latin into English. Over the course of the year, they amass a vocabulary of more than 350 of the most frequently used Latin words. They also become familiar with reading progressively longer passages adapted from Roman authors. The course is designed in such a way that Latin reinforces the material which students are learning in other subjects.

Interscholastic or Intramural Athletics

Eighth graders participate in three trimester‐length sports programs. The students choose one sport, depending upon season, from tackle or flag football, soccer, tennis, cross country*, water polo*, basketball, wrestling*, swimming*, Polar Bears+, squash, lacrosse, baseball, track and field*, and tennis*+. They receive daily instruction and game competition as a member of an interscholastic team. Gilman is a member of the Middle School league of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (M.I.A.A.). We offer the opportunity for eighth graders to experience interscholastic contests with our league competitors and occasionally against competitors outside of the league. Eighth graders not participating on an interscholastic teams may play the same sport as part of the intramural program.

*Interscholastic squad may include seventh graders
+Intramural only

Each Grade Eight Student chooses two (2) electives:


This practicum introduces students to the styles of journalistic writing (news, feature, op‐ed) and publishing design; in addition, the class will work together to write, edit, and publish the Gilman Middle School newspaper, The Blue and the Gray. Students write articles of many modes and gain a working knowledge of print journalism through experience and analysis of actual newspapers and news writers. In addition, students become proficient at Adobe’s InDesign and Photoshop Elements.

Design & Woodworking

Students construct a Shaker-style hallway table. Emphasis is placed on group work and fine tool use. Students learn how to develop a scale drawing that they will use to build their tables and the classic mortise and tennon technique to join wood without using nails or screws. Students learn how to operate a wide variety of tools like the table saw, power miter saw, router, hand saw, planer, mortise press and palm sander and finishing techniques.


This elective introduces students to film production as a medium for creative expression. Students acquire basic camera skills and begin production on a short film which introduces the anatomy of film making from story boarding through post‐production editing. Students will produce a music video which calls upon them to refine their film making skills and to apply them along creative lines.

Songwriting and Composition

This course focuses on songwriting and composition and strengthens the understanding of the elements of music. Students actively participate in music appreciation as well as music‐making through the study of drums and keyboards. Students explore concepts such as dynamics, timbre, texture, and style through classroom instruction, singing, playing, listening, as well as group work.

Instrumental Music

Eighth graders participate in the instrumental program during the academic day. All eighth graders have had previous experience with their instrument. The goal is to raise their level reading and technical proficiency through individual and group practice. Students are expected to perform more difficult music and to take on leadership roles within the seventh and eighth grade band.


Students create art that is the result of careful observations of the world that surrounds them, including investigations of the human face and figure, landscapes, everyday objects, and color. Some of these projects are thematic‐based and revolve around identity and social issues. Students work in a variety of media, and are required to keep a sketchbook for ideas, class notes, and homework assignments.

Solar Car Design & Construction (S.T.E.M.)

Students work in teams to study, design, test, and then build a solar powered car. Using the program, Green Car 2.0, students learn the science behind solar energy and the engineering necessary to create a fuel‐efficient car, such as gear ratios, aerodynamic designs, and battery chemistry. The class culminates with students competing either virtually on‐line or in person with teams from other schools.