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Family and Community Guide for 8th Grade

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Working Together: To support families, communities, and teachers in realizing the goals of the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), this guide provides an overview of the learning expectations for 8th Grade. This guide offers some learning experiences students may engage in at school that may also be supported at home.

Why Standards? Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. The standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century.

See all of the Family and Community Guides here.

Where can I learn more?

  • As always, the best place to learn about what your child is learning is from your child's teacher and school. The Colorado Academic Standards describe goals, but how those goals are met is a local decision.
  • The Colorado Academic Standards were written for an audience of professional educators, but parents and community members looking to dig deeper may want to read them for themselves. Visit the Standards and Instructional Support homepage for several options for reviewing the Colorado Academic Standards.
  • If you have further questions, please contact the content specialists in the Office of Standards and Instructional Support.

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Comprehensive Health (adopted 2018)

The comprehensive health standards in grades six through eight focus on enhancing and strengthening skills in the areas of physical, social, and emotional wellness and using those individual skills in family, school, and community environments. In each grade, the standards ask students to deepen their understanding of ways to set and maintain healthy relationships and continue to investigate healthy eating/living habits, positive communication strategies, effective decision making, and ways to ensure personal and community safety.

Expectations for 8th Grade Students:

  • Physical and Personal Wellness: Demonstrate the ability to make healthy food choices; promote and enhance health through disease prevention; explain the physical, emotional, mental and social benefits of sexual abstinence and develop strategies to resist pressures to become sexually active; explain the signs and symptoms of HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unintended pregnancy, and how certain behaviors place a person at greater risk.
  • Social and Emotional Wellness: Analyze the factors that influence mental and emotional health; access valid school and community resources to help with mental and emotional health concerns.
  • Prevention and Risk Management: Analyze influences that impact an individual’s use or non-use of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs and violence; access valid sources and information, and demonstrate decision-making skills to be drug-free; advocate for a positive, respectful school and community environment that support pro-social behaviors.

Throughout 8th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Demonstrating the ability to make healthy food choices in a variety of settings.
  • Analyzing how certain behaviors place one at greater risk for HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy.
  • Demonstrating verbal and nonverbal refusal skills in high-pressure situations.
  • Analyzing the internal and external influences that impact one’s social and emotional health and the decision to seek help when needed.
  • Explaining when it is necessary and where to seek appropriate help for mental and emotional health problems.
  • Applying decision-making skills to avoid using marijuana, illegal drugs, abuse of prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
  • Examining messages perpetuated through the media and culture and their possible effects on behavior.
  • Analyzing the factors that influence violent and nonviolent behavior.
  • Demonstrating ways to advocate for a positive, respectful school and community environment that supports pro-social behavior.

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Computer Science (adopted 2018)

Computer science may be taught at all levels preschool through high school, but the State of Colorado only has standards for computer science in high school.

Read the high school computer science family and community guide.

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Dance (adopted 2022)

Instead of being organized by grade level, the dance standards are organized into ranges that describe the progression of learning a student should experience as they grow from novice learners to an exemplary learner. 

Read the dance family and community guide for secondary (middle school and high school) here.

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Drama and Theatre Arts (adopted 2022)

The drama and theatre arts standards in middle school focus on an intermediate level of theatrical knowledge and skill. In each grade level, students research and perform various acting techniques in plays and improvisational scenes, experiment with character development and scene work, picture basic ideas for playwrighting and/or directing, discuss their individual opinions about different performances. Students in middle school are also asked to make connections to themselves, their communities, and the greater world through their own creative process and the art of theatre. 

In 8th Grade, students:

  • Create: Use different movements and vocal techniques that show a character's background and situation. Use details from history, different cultures, or dramatic plays to create scenes and scripts. Make choices when designing scenery, lights, costumes, props, sound, makeup, special effects, and publicity.
  • Perform: Act out a character with confidence. Understand how technical theatre elements and acting roles go together in a performance situation. 
  • Critically Respond: Understand the different types of plays and performance styles while understanding how culture and historical details influenced performances. Discuss challenges and successes during the rehearsal process. 

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Mathematics (adopted 2018)

The mathematics standards in middle school build on students' understanding of number and quantity. Students apply more formal statistics, probability, and algebra to model phenomena in the world around them. Students gain a deeper understanding of geometry and its application. Students also persevere in solving problems as they use strategies to apply their new tools and techniques.

Expectations for 8th Grade Students:

  • Number and Quantity: Calculate using radicals (√2, ∛27) and exponents (7^2, 5^6); explain the difference between rational and irrational numbers and locate each on a number line.
  • Algebra and Functions: Use scientific notation to write very large or small numbers (6.02 x 10^23); fluently solve linear equations and systems of linear equations; explain the meaning of a function in mathematics; distinguish between functions whose graphs are linear (make a straight line) and those which are not linear; use tables, graphs, and equations to show linear relationships; describe the meaning of the slope (steepness) and y-intercept of a linear relationship; identify if two variables have a relationship by informally examining graphs and tables.
  • Data, Statistics, and Probability: Apply statistical techniques to compare how the change in one set of numbers relates to changes in a second set of numbers.
  • Geometry: Calculate distances and areas using the Pythagorean Theorem; calculate the volume of cones, cylinders, and spheres; describe how rotating, stretching, shrinking, reflecting or sliding a shape impacts its shape and size; understand the difference between congruence and similarity; explain the concept of similarity and make connections between slope and similar triangles.

Throughout 8th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Measuring classmates’ height and arm-span, and making a graph to show how height and arm-span are related.
  • Solving a variety of algebra equations for “x” such as 3x + 28 = 8x – 34.
  • Using graphs and tables of data to determine if the relationship between the height of a plant and the amount it is watered each day is a function.
  • Renting a truck with a flat rate of $20 and a $0.70 per mile and identifying the y-intercept as the flat fee and slope as the per-mile charge.
  • Proving why the sum of the angles in a triangle is always 180 degrees.
  • Comparing the steepness of stairs and ramps for a variety of buildings (rise to run).
  • Calculating the height of a kite using 150 feet of string that is directly above a pool 60 feet away from where you are standing.
  • Computing the shortest distance between two points.
  • Finding the height of a flag pole using shadows and similar triangles.
  • Comparing when the cost of a cell phone data plan is greater than, equal to, or less than the cost of another cell phone data plan.
  • Explaining why 1/7 is rational but √2 is irrational.

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Colorado Academic Standards: Music

Music (adopted 2022)

Instead of being organized by grade level, the music standards are organized into ranges that describe the progression of learning a student should experience as they grow from novice learners to an accomplished learners. 

Read the music family and community guide for secondary (middle school and high school) here.

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Physical Education (adopted 2018)

The physical education standards in the middle school years focus on enhancing health-related and skill-related components of fitness and demonstrating knowledge and applying fitness principles and movement skills and strategies in a variety of physical activities. In each grade, the standards ask students to refine various movement concepts, strategies, and skills, analyze performance and provide feedback to peers, set and assess fitness goals, recognize diversity in skills of others, collaborate with students with varying abilities, and utilize safety procedures during physical activities.

Expectations for 8th Grade Students:

  • Movement Competence and Understanding: Demonstrate competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns; understand and apply game strategies to physical activities and sports.
  • Physical and Personal Wellness: Identify areas for growth and design personal goals utilizing assessment and program planning concepts; identify preferences for lifetime physical activity.
  • Emotional and Social Wellness: Recognize diverse skill performance in self and in others and how diversity affects activities, games, and sport participation.
  • Prevention and Risk Management: Apply rules, procedures, and safe practices to create a safe school environment with no reinforcement.

Throughout 8th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Analyzing motor skills and movement patterns through a variety of skill assessments.
  • Diagramming, explaining, and justifying offensive and defensive strategies in net/wall, target, invasion, and fielding/run-scoring games.
  • Planning and implementing an extended personal physical fitness plan in collaboration with an instructor utilizing assessment data.
  • Matching personal preferences in physical activities with each of the five components of health-related physical fitness.
  • Participating with others in all types of physical activity, regardless of their race or ethnicity, gender, or culture.
  • Identifying and demonstrating best practices for safe participation in all physical activities.

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Reading, Writing, and Communicating (adopted 2018)

The reading, writing, and communicating standards in the middle school grades ask students to be critical readers of complex literary and informational texts. The standards require that students develop the writing skills necessary to convey their experience in the world, to produce thoughtful analyses of academic and real-world topics, and to develop well-reasoned arguments on relevant topics in their lives. The standards foster opportunities for students to work collaboratively with others as they develop the literacy skills to be academically successful and prepared for life after high school.

Expectations for 8th Grade Students:

  • Oral Expression and Listening: Speak and use multimedia to clarify information, strengthen claims, and add interest while emphasizing significant points in a focused and clear manner; use relevant evidence, sound reasoning, and well-chosen details; analyze a speaker’s purpose as it relates to the information provided; identify when irrelevant evidence is introduced; collaborate in discussions, listen actively to group members’ contributions, and pose relevant and thoughtful questions.
  • Reading for All Purposes: Read a variety of literary and nonfiction texts; summarize, analyze, and evaluate themes and the relationship between characters, plot, and setting in literature; analyze key ideas, people, events, and claims in nonfiction; analyze the impact of word choice on meaning and tone; explain how authors use different points of view to create mystery, humor, or conflict and use different structures to organize texts; recognize the extent to which filmed, staged, or multimedia versions stay true to an original text; cite evidence to strongly support an analysis.
  • Writing and Composition: Use technology to shape, produce, and publish grammatically correct writing that makes an argument or analyzes a topic; craft writing that introduces what is to follow, provides information that is meaningfully organized, and offers a concluding statement that logically follows from the information presented; write narratives of real or imagined experiences by establishing a setting/context, a point of view, and by using narrative techniques such as dialogue, imagery, pacing for effect.
  • Research and Reasoning: Conduct short research projects to answer a question and generate additional focus questions; gather information from several sources; use search terms effectively; assess the credibility of sources; follow a standard format for citation; evaluate the soundness of reasoning and the relevance/sufficiency of evidence.

Throughout 8th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Engaging in inquiry around a big question like: “How can social media both alienate individuals and create community?”; conducting research that generates questions and that gathers information from texts, the Internet, and community members in order to understand that multiple points of view exist on a topic; participating in debates and collaborative discussions to make connections and synthesize information; delivering individual or group research findings to inform or persuade an audience.
  • Reading novels, shorter works of literature (stories, poems, fairy tales, myths, poetry), and informational articles that all addresses the same topic/theme in order to understand how authors of different texts may structure and use language to uniquely explore that topic/theme; using knowledge of different types of texts to create multi-genre pieces (poems, editorials, cartoons, letters) to express their understanding of the topic under study.
  • Using web-based resources to research information and interact with others (both within and beyond their own community) via blogs, wikis, and Skype; publishing writings or multimedia presentations.

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Science (adopted 2018)

The Colorado Academic Standards for middle school science are presented as a single 6-8 band of standards, rather than broken down by grade level. This means that your child's school district and teacher are responsible for organizing the middle school science standards into courses that best suit their needs and resources.

Read the middle school science family guide.

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Social Studies (adopted 2022)

Building on the social studies skills developed in the elementary grades, students in the middle school years begin with a study of people, cultures, and ideas in the Western Hemisphere and move from there to explorations of the Eastern Hemisphere, ending with the early history of the United States. In each grade, students investigate historical events, examine geographic features and resources, consider economic decision-making processes, and understand types of governments and civic responsibility.

In 8th Grade, students:

  • Investigate primary and secondary sources from different perspectives that tell the story of the United States history from the American Revolution through Reconstruction. (History)
  • Formulate a hypothesis and construct a written historical argument supported with evidence. (History)
  • Use different geographic tools and data such as maps, globes, diagrams, and charts to analyze human and physical systems. (Geography)
  • Explain both conflict and cooperation over land resources in the United States from the origins of the American Revolution through Reconstruction. (Geography)
  • Provide examples of how economic freedom and free trade are important for economic growth. (Economics)
  • Examine the role of consumer decisions and taxes within early American history. (Economics)
  • Analyze the United States’ constitutional system. (Civics)
  • Summarize the role of law and the rights, roles, and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy. (Civics)
  • Explain why it is important to manage personal credit and debt. (Personal Financial Literacy)

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Visual Arts (adopted 2022)

Rather than being divided by grade levels, the middle school visual art standards are described by levels of experience with art. The visual arts standards in the middle school years build on the general art knowledge and skills developed at the elementary level. In addition, students explore the role of design and technology in making, documenting, and presenting works of art. Students create, reflect on, and compare works of art across historical periods and cultures in more complex ways. Art careers and art related issues that are important to communities are also examined. At this level, middle school art students extend their artistic vision beyond self and look at their artistic practice as part of a much larger community. 

In Middle School Level 1, students:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Use art vocabulary to talk about how and why art is created by artists across cultures and time periods including today. 
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect:  Practice critiquing works, recognizing multiple points of view and incorporating knowledge. 
  • Invent and Discover to Create: Make plans and experiment using art materials in new and unusual ways; use technology to document artwork and the art making process. 
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer:  Explain the importance of art in everyday life. Describe how art can make a statement about an important issue. 

In Middle School Level 2, students:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Respond critically about the meaning of art. Describe artistic creation in relationship to culture, purpose, and style. 
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect: Use visual evidence and vocabulary to explain meaning.
  • Invent and Discover to Create: Create plans to create a work of art from a single artistic idea. Show evidence of previously learned skills in new artwork. 
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer:  Apply critical thinking skills used in art to other aspects of life. Use art to bring awareness of important issues identified by a community.

In Middle School Level 3, students:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Consider sources of inspiration. Use art from a variety of times and cultures to create art. 
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect: Talk about the meaning of art. Explain how art is personally relevant and of significance to the artist. 
  • Invent and Discover to Create: Develop proficiency in handling art materials, tools, processes, and technologies when planning and creating art.
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer: Explain art and design in everyday life including art careers. Discuss the impact art can have on how we understand and function in the world. 

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World Languages (2018)

Instead of being organized by grade level, the world languages standards are organized into ranges that describe the progression of learning a student should experience as they grow from novice language learners to an advanced user.

Read the world languages family and community guide for middle school here.

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