Who am I? is the essential question that guides eighth grade students throughout the year as they continue to explore and develop their lives as readers and writers. Students continue to expand their skills as readers and writers through practice and discussion of the MCDS Literacy Program Writing Traits and reading comprehension strategies. Students study the qualities of great writing, analyzing stylistic choices authors make and experimenting with these in their own writing. To further develop their writing and vocabulary skills, students study grammar and word stems. Students seek feedback on their writing in writing conferences with the teacher and peers. To facilitate the IB Learner Trait of risk-taking, eighth graders are encouraged to share their work with a larger audience by entering local, state, and national writing contests. As readers, students self-select fiction and non-fiction to read independently while also reading challenging literature as a whole class. Whole class texts may include selected works of Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes, Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Elie Wiesel’s Night, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Analysis and discussion of common texts occurs in a seminar format.


Eighth grade mathematics is a second year algebra course. Students learn about polynomials, linear equations, simultaneous linear equations, lines and their graphs, equations of lines using points and/or slope, quadratic equations, graphical representations of quadratics, functions, probability, progressions, series, and binomial expansions. Students engage in practice via written work and interactive class discussion.


The eighth grade science curriculum continues to take the student on a more focused look at Earth, physical, and life science concepts. The year begins by learning about weather, its driving mechanisms, and how to predict it. With an eye to the sky, students explore celestial movement and the laws that govern this motion. Next, they explore the respiratory, circulatory, and finally, the nervous systems and continue to record lab results in a lab notebook while developing the skills necessary to write a persuasive science research paper.


Language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing continue to be emphasized so that students achieve communicative competence in simple daily-life situations, including traveling, enjoying the outdoors and becoming aware of environmental problems, as well as learning about professions and different careers. Virtual visits to Madrid in Spain, San José in Costa Rica, and Quito in Ecuador enhance the students’ appreciation of Spanish-speaking culture. 

History and Geography

Eighth grade history students study from the time of the Great Depression through the modern era, with a primary focus on the history of the United States. Students read primary sources and complete investigative projects to better their comprehension and make personal connections to the curriculum. The core goals of eighth grade history include an interpretation and analysis of primary sources from the curriculum, a study of the culture, economics, foreign affairs, politics, and religion of the United States and other specific nations from 1920 to 1990, and a continued development of understanding how geography affects historical events.


The Madison Country Day School Music Department strives to provide a comprehensive music education for each child, promoting a balance of discipline, creativity, and aesthetic understanding.

Throughout middle school, students receive  private or semi-private music lessons on their chosen instrument (piano, voice, violin, viola, cello, bass, trumpet, trombone, french horn, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, flute, or percussion). These lessons occur during the school day and are included in tuition. All eighth students participate in a combined seventh and eighth grade ensemble (band, choir, or orchestra) determined by their instrument. These young musicians perform in a Winter and Spring concert and can also participate in two recitals each year. Depending on their ensemble, students have other performance opportunities, both on and off campus. Seventh and eighth grade students receive designated music theory instruction time during their ensembles. Units include major vs. minor tonality, musical form, and simple vs. compound meter. A major highlight is the annual composition unit. MCDS music students grades 5-12 are given an account with Noteflight, a web-based notation software, which they use for composition as well as music assessments. Eighth grade students also have the option to participate in WSMA Solo and Ensemble Festival.


This course consists of studio work, writing prompts, and written reflections. The class uses international contemporary artists, poetry, and art movements throughout history to encourage open-ended thinking and creative problem solving in students’ assignments. Projects from this year include a surface design illustrating a current event/issue in the style of a French toile, visual poetry, performance art and choreography, abstract ceramic sculpture, and font design.

Physical Education

Fitness activities, strength development, and sport related games build proficiency and teach strategy. Units include golf, eclipse ball, floor hockey, lacrosse, archery, pickleball, volleyball, handball, basketball, competitive games, track and field, softball, soccer, ultimate frisbee, and dance. Students develop the confidence and motivation to participate in organized and individual physical activities where they learn leadership, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. Health education is integrated within the physical education curriculum. The program emphasizes lifelong fitness. School-sponsored sports include soccer, girls’ volleyball, basketball, spirit squad, track and field, cross country, tennis, ultimate frisbee, and crew.