Eighth Grade Humanities

Eighth-grade Humanities builds upon the knowledge students have acquired in their sixth and seventh grade Humanities courses, seeking to integrate world history through an examination of contemporary life and literature. The primary thematic lens that we use to focus our study of the present is identity, in all the ways we define it. We read a wide range of primary sources and literature, and we write on a daily basis in a multitude of forms, from poetry and short fiction, to longer essays and responses to literature.

Unit One: Abuse of Power and Human Behavior
Essential Questions: Who decides what is considered right and wrong? Why do individuals become bystanders and what are the consequences? How do certain individuals stand up to the abuse of power? How does a person’s identity shape their experience of an event?
Primary Texts: Night by Elie Weisel, primary and secondary sources, and an independent reading book with a theme of the Holocaust
Key Project: Compare & contrast assertion essay on Night and related independent reading book
Unit Two: Immigrant Identities
Essential Questions: How do family history and traditions contribute to a person’s identity? How do differences in identity impact relationships?
Primary Texts: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, excerpts from other authors including Firoozeh Dumas and Jhumpa Lahiri, primary and secondary sources
Key Project: Research and creation of dramatic dialogues exploring character voices
Unit Three: Colonialism in the Caribbean
Essential Questions: How is a person’s identity shaped by others, society, or self? How does power, the desire for it or the loss of it, affect one’s experience of an event? How does “othering” an individual or group of individuals affect their identity?
Major Text: The Tempest by William Shakespeare, primary and secondary sources, current articles
Key Project: All the World’s a Stage independent projects, research presentations on colonialism in the Caribbean, theatrical performance of a scene, DJ or Designer humors essay (literary analysis)
Unit Four: Revolution
Essential Questions: What is the relationship between individual and group identities? What can you do when society does not value your voice or culture? What impact does society in crisis have on individuals?
Primary Text: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, primary and secondary sources, current articles
Key Project: Creating a graphic “next chapter” for Persepolis
Writer’s Workshop ~ Yearlong 
Overview: Writer’s workshop is a yearlong exploration of students as writers in which students generate short pieces of any genre, give and receive feedback on drafts with their peers, and revise each piece. This gives students the opportunity to grow as a writer, develop stamina, practice giving clear and constructive feedback, and produce a portfolio of revised pieces to reflect upon by the year’s end.
Primary Text: Students’ work, short teaching excerpts from various authors