Curricular Highlights: Eighth Grade


Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65 utilizes a balanced literacy approach. A balanced approach uses a variety of reading, writing and word work instruction, and practice opportunities for students in order to expose them to the rich world of literacy. An essential component of balanced literacy is called “workshop”. Our understanding and implementation of workshop, in District 65, is grounded in the research and practices of Lucy Calkins and her colleagues from the Teachers College, Reading and Writing Project who have developed the Units of Study in both Reading and Writing to guide us.

Reading and Writing Workshops are conducted daily to allow for students to receive personalized learning by engaging with and producing high volumes of both fiction and nonfiction texts of their choosing. Because all lessons begin with explicit, direct teaching points, workshop prioritizes time for students to be immersed in independent reading and writing work, while teachers provide focused, differentiated instruction in smaller groups. As a result, workshop challenges students to develop the habits and dispositions of lifelong readers and writers. Additionally, mentor texts and student writing will be used to teach grammar in context. Many of our grammar lessons will be embedded in Writing Workshop, striking a balance between encouraging creative freedom and promoting correct conventions.

8th Grade Reading
  • Maintaining an Independent Reading Life: This unit launches the work of reading workshop in eighth grade while carrying forward the work started in seventh grade. It supports students in understanding their reading identity while getting readers excited about reading and encourages the selection if engaging text and high volumes of reading.
  • Historical Fiction Book Clubs: As students progress through this unit, they will read stories from history that will expose them to hard truths about the world. They will cry out, “That’s not fair!” again and again, and the teacher will respond with “You’re right!” and then ask, “What kind of world do we want to live in? How do we get there?”
  • Approaching the Classics through Close Reading, Drama and Performance: This unit aims to introduce students to reading classics that are valued as cultural literacy. Through the text of A Christmas Carol, students will learn more about themes, archetypes, and literary tradition. Students will have a copy of the text that they will annotate in order to engage more authentically and practice close reading strategies.
  • Shared Novel Experience: Students may engage in whole-class novel experiences in order to model active reading strategies, build a community of readers, and support students to interpret themes and analyze craft with a common text. An integration of the workshop model will allow students the opportunity to integrate reading skills through mini-lessons and conferences.
8th Grade Writing
  • MemoirWriting to Reflect on Experiences and Suggest Thematic Connections: This unit encourages students to engage with their lives and each other, build a cohesive community of writers, and hone the skill of developing reflective, purposeful, and disciplined writing. This unit blends the craft of narrative writing and the structure of expository writing, to create a hybrid that expects writers to skillfully move between storytelling and idea-based writing.
  • The Literary Essay: Analyzing Craft and Theme: This unit returns students to literary essays, writing arguments and counterarguments about themes in texts, supporting their positions with details of plot, character, and author’s craft.
  • Position Papers: Research and Argument: This unit encourages students to compose principled arguments by drawing on evidence, contextualizing their positions, and addressing multiple perspectives


Mathematics instruction in District 65 provides the opportunity for all students to have a rigorous, engaging, and accessible curriculum which focuses on developing students’ deep understanding of mathematics concepts. In order to achieve this, students engage in a high level of discourse and are exposed to multiple strategies in order to solve complex problems. The backbone of this instruction comes from College Preparatory Math (CPM). CPM has developed a program whose goal is to engage all students in learning mathematics through problem solving, reasoning, and communication.

“CPM teaching strategies focus on how students best learn and retain mathematics. Teaching strategies rely on the recommendations of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and are based solidly on the methodological research in teaching mathematics. The research-based principles that guide the course are:

  • Students should engage in problem-based lessons structured around a core idea.
  • Guided by a knowledgeable teacher, students should interact in groups to foster mathematical discourse.
  • Practice with concepts and procedures should be spaced over time; that is, mastery comes over time.”

Math 3

Math 3 Parent Guide (.pdf opens in a new window)
Upon completion of the Math 3 course, students should be able to:
  • Represent a linear function with a graph, table, rule, and context and create any representation when provided one of the others.
  • Solve systems of equations by using tables and graphs.
  • Symbolically manipulate expressions to solve problems including those with fractional coefficients.
  • Solve contextual word problems using multiple strategies, including making tables, looking for patterns, drawing diagrams, and creating a table of guesses to assist with writing and solving a variable equation.
  • Describe various geometric transformations on a coordinate grid.
  • Represent data using scatterplots and describe associations.
  • Collect and analyze data and make predictions based on the trend of the data.
  • Compare ratios and calculate unit rates and slope ratios.
  • Analyze the slope of a line graphically, numerically, and contextually.
  • Recognize and solve problems involving proportional relationships.
  • Graph and analyze non-linear functions.
  • Recognize and use the properties of similar figures to solve problems.
  • Use the Pythagorean Theorem and its converse to solve problems in two and three dimensions.
  • Use square roots and cube roots.
  • Represent and simplify expressions using positive and negative exponents.
  • Represent and compare large and small numbers using standard and scientific notation.
  • Perform operations with numbers represented in scientific notation.Use the relationships between angles created by parallel lines with transversals and the Triangle Angle Sum Theorem to solve problems.
  • Compute the volume of a variety of solids.

Algebra I

Algebra I Parent Guide (.pdf opens in a new window)

Algebra provides a powerful method for describing interdependence and change--two ideas that are essential to understanding mathematics, often called the language of science. We are using the CPM (College Preparatory Mathematics) program for our Algebra 1 students.
Upon completion of Algebra, students will be able to:
  • Linear equations, applications and graphs
  • quadratic equations, operations of polynomials, applications and graphs
  • radicals: simplifying, operations, applications
  • exponential functions & decay, operations of monomials
  • multiple methods to calculate slope & y-intercept, connections to rate and speed
  • data collection tables, patterns of growth, notation for sequencing
  • two-variable data, correlation coefficients, analyzing residual plots
  • parabola sketches, x-intercept, vertex and use of square root
  • linear & non-linear inequalities, word problems, graphs and analysis
  • speed and accuracy of each above mentioned skill

High School Advanced Algebra Trigonometry Honors

This course is offered to all students who have successfully completed Algebra 1 and wish to have an equivalent experience to the Advanced Algebra Trigonometry Honors course at Lake Forest High School. We use the same course text and work to maintain a similar pace. Successful completion of this course permits students to enroll in Honors Geometry as freshmen. AATH students are expected to develop independent study skills, take their learning to new and more complex levels, and engage in high levels of mathematical discussion. We will focus on challenging topics such as linear programming, conics, logarithms, and trigonometry. Successful completion of this course puts your students on track to take Multivariable Calculus during their senior year at Lake Forest High School. Homework (review & think) problems are designed to apply what students have learned to different situations, prompting questions about the skills to be brought to class the next day. Students should spend no more than 45 minutes completing this work in their class notebooks. At the end of that time, students are expected to write down questions they are having and STOP working. Those questions will be the basis of our discussions the next day as the concepts learned this year will take more than one day for understanding to blossom. Students will engage in groups tasks and use technology such as Desmos and the TI-84 graphing calculator.


Lake Bluff School District has aligned our curriculum to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), adopted by the State of Illinois in the winter of 2015. In an effort to align to NGSS, we utilize the IQWST (Investigating & Questioning our World Through Science & Technology) as our core science program. IQWST is a rigorous, investigation-centered science curriculum designed to challenge and engage middle school students in grades 6 through 8.

In 8th grade, we lean on our core middle school science resource from IQWST, which stands for Investigating and Questioning our World through Science and Technology! The curriculum is based on the very latest research on how people learn, and how students learn science in particular, as it addresses the Next Generation Science Standards. Students will be engaging in many hands-on activities in class, in which they are handling science materials and are experiencing phenomena first-hand. In every lesson, they will be reading about, writing about, talking about, and doing science. Discussion is central to this type of learning. Students will work inpidually, in pairs, in teams, and as a whole class to “make sense” of how things happen in the world around them or why things happen the way they do.

Earth Science

How is the Earth Changing?


Geological processes

Life Science

Why Do Organisms Look the Way They Do?


Heredity and natural selection

Physical Science

How Will It Move?


Force and motion

Introduction to Chemistry

How Does Food Provide My Body with Energy?


Chemical reactions in living things

Social Studies

In eighth grade Social Studies students move from Colonial America, through the inception of the US Constitution to understand what has led us to the present day’s political, cultural, and economic state of affairs.  Students examine current events and draw connections to past events in the United States and around the world.   The focus is on developing mastery in critical thinking, problem solving, analysis, and comprehension through examining primary and secondary sources and a vast array of materials connected to our nation’s history.  The most exciting part of the year is typically the class trip to Washington, DC where students see, firsthand, the monuments and landmarks in our nation’s capital city.

To prepare students for their continuing education students apply their classroom and content experiences to discuss, create, and analyze the historical ideas and inpiduals that shaped our nation’s history.  They examine, not only the well known and prominent figures throughout our time as a young nation, but also the lesser known yet highly influential men and women of all races and ethnicities and backgrounds that make up who we are as a country.  Students are transported to the time and place of history through the eyes and experiences of those who changed and progressed our country to what is known today, while at the same time developing their content literacy through an understanding of the topics in our units of study.  This will aids students in engaging with the skills necessary to succeed in a social studies classroom immediately entering into their high school experiences.

The curriculum is broken down into Units of Study:

Unit 1 - Colonial America and Revolution

Unit 2 - The Constitution

Unit 3 - Early America

Unit 4 - The Civil War and Reconstruction

Unit 5 - The Gilded and Progressive Eras

Unit 6 - WWI to FDR

Unit 7 - WW II and 1950s America

Unit 8 - Civil Rights

Unit 9 - Cold War and Post Cold War America

Final Unit - Citizenship Project