7th and 8th Grade – Curriculum

Saint Dominic Academy Course of Studies for Grades Seven and Eight



The seventh grade religion program provides students with an overview of the teachings of the Catholic Faith based on the Catechism of the Catholic Faith and the Catechetical Curriculum Guide from the Archdiocese of Newark. This religion course will encourage student catechetical formation in the basic precepts of the Church as taught in the Apostles’ Creed. Students will come to know Jesus through the Trinity, the Sacraments, and the Scripture of the Catholic Church. In the Catholic Morality section of the course, an emphasis will be placed on the Ten Commandments and The Beatitudes. Students will have the opportunity to accept the challenge to love Jesus through prayer, Days of Reflection, Service Projects and the Sacraments.

In the Human Life component of the religion program, seventh graders will come to understand that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Due to God’s presence within them, they are called to respect their bodies by following the Catholic Church’s doctrine on love and sexuality as taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Faith.


This eighth grade religion program introduces students to the Marks of the Church, Modern Ecumenical Councils, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the Liturgy. Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Faith and the Catechetical Curriculum Guide from the Archdiocese of Newark, this program identifies the moral struggle of a New Age and a call to Catholic Social Justice as preached in the Gospel of the life of Jesus. Students are led to understand the works of the Holy Spirit, the Prayer of the Church, and Salvation History. Eighth grade students will have the opportunity to accept the challenge to love Jesus through a deeper prayer life, Days of Reflection, Vocation Assemblies, Service Projects and the Sacraments.

In the Human Life component of the program, eighth graders will come to the realization that God has placed in their hearts the natural desire for happiness. Students will be guided in their understanding of informed conscience and free will which allow them to follow the right path and make correct choices in keeping with the teachings of Jesus and the Catholic Church.



In grade seven students will read selections representing various literary genres including short stories, poetry, and drama. Students will also be expected to select readings outside the program that are of interest to them. A goal of the program is to develop independent readers who are familiar with a variety of reading materials. Throughout the 7th and 8th program an emphasis will be placed on developing writing skills based on MLA format and mastering the mechanics that identify students as excellent writers. Since it is important for students to be comfortable with making oral presentations, another component of the program will include a variety of presentation formats in which students will employ forensics skills necessary to public speaking.


The English course of study for eighth grade students will continue to emphasize an appreciation for a variety of literary genres. Additionally, the program will enhance writing and forensics skills introduced in grade seven. Students will expand their ability to integrate knowledge and ideas by reading the works of both fiction and nonfiction authors. Specific stories included in the program are The Ransom of Red Chief, Pandora’s Box, The Lady, or the Tiger?, The Diary of Anne Frank., and The Monkey’s Paw.



The seventh grade course of study begins with the colonization era and the events which lead to the birth of the United States. Emphasis will be placed on an understanding of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. As the year progresses, students will gain an understanding of the conflicts that led to our nation’s Civil War and the challenges of Reconstruction. The year will conclude with the expansion of the United States as a result of the Spanish-American war and our growing foreign interests. Students will be expected to apply the skills learned in English class to all written assignments and research projects.


Eighth grade students will continue to explore the development of the United States as it enters the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The focus will be on the rise of the United States to world power status, its involvement in foreign conflicts, and its attempts to secure world peace. . Students will be expected to write various papers and do research based on criteria presented in English class.




The course is intended for students who have no previous knowledge of algebra and is designed to give the student a solid foundation of basic algebra skills. The course begins with a review of

basic arithmetic with a strong emphasis on factoring whole numbers, relative magnitudes of numbers and mental math. The course then proceeds into a study of preliminary algebra topics. These would include integer operations, order of operations, using variables, properties of real numbers, solving linear equations and inequalities, solving formulas, ratios and proportions, and graphing linear equations in the coordinate plane. The course includes applications such as percents, percent change, distance- rate-time, and weighted average word problems.



This course is intended to give students a thorough understanding of algebra I and its applications. The course begins with a review of preliminary algebra skills and then continues with finding and graphing linear equations, solving systems of equations graphically and algebraically, properties of exponents, factoring quadratic and other polynomial expressions, solving quadratic equations and graphing quadratic functions. Students practice writing systems of linear equations to model and solve problems. The students are also taught to set up and solve maximization and minimization problems using quadratic models. Use of the graphing calculator is integrated throughout the curriculum.


Language study at SDA incorporates the National/N.J. Core Curriculum Standards as well as the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Standards or 5 C’s. Per the CCS, 7.1., “All students will be able to use a world language in addition to English to engage in meaningful conversations, to understand and interpret spoken and written language, and to present information, concepts and ideas, while also gaining an understanding of the perspectives of other cultures. Through language study they will make connections with other content areas, compare the language and culture studied with their own, and participate in home and global communities.” The ACTFL 5 C’s of Communication, Culture, Connections, Comparisons and Communities are incorporated within the Core Curriculum Standards.

Grade 7 study of French, or course 1A and Grade 8 study of French, or course 1B, together will be equivalent to the High School Level I of the language. Thus, the students successfully completing Grade 8’s course, 1B French, will automatically go on to pursue French, level 2 as a freshman/ 9th grader. Successful completion of French II will fulfill the World Language requirement for graduation. Those students wishing to continue in the language will have the opportunity to then complete Levels 3, 4 and 5 (or AP). With the additional years of study in Grades 7 and 8, bringing a 6-year program to SDA, the students will be better prepared to compete in an AP course and communicate and function in the outside world.

In Grades 7 and 8, the curriculum will focus on successful communication through speaking, writing, reading and listening, as well as a thorough grounding in aspects of culture. Course strategies will include vocabulary study, reading, threaded discussion, multi-media presentations, self-checks, numerous practical activities and games, oral and written assignments, projects, quizzes and tests. Besides the textbook, media such as magazines, newspapers and the internet will be used to acquire and expand language skills. A field trip for each level will also be included, such as a trip to a French restaurant, a visit to a museum to see paintings by various French artists, and viewing an age-appropriate film at F.I.A.F/ Alliance Française in NYC.


This year will concentrate on the following topics to build vocabulary: greetings and how to introduce oneself and others, colors and numbers, telling time and dates, talking about family, the calendar and seasons along with weather expressions, clothing, shopping for and ordering foods in a restaurant. Much attention will be spent in developing the student’s ability to pronounce the French language correctly and make oneself understood, as well as be able to understand another who is speaking in French. Structure or grammar will include gender and plurals of words, adjective agreement , possessive adjectives, contractions with à and de, the use of the informal and formal YOU, the partitive, the definite and indefinite articles, the regular ER verbs, and various irregular verbs such as avoir, être, aller, faire, prendre in the present tense. Students will also learn of French culture, geography and history and make connections with Social Studies to show the importance and influence of France in the shaping of America.


This level will be a continuation of Level 1A, with a review of what was learned in the preceding level, and adding to it. Students will learn vocabulary related to clothing and shopping for it (including types of stores), travel (at the airport and the train station), sports (all seasons), vacation / leisure activities, daily routine (introducing reflexive verbs; i.e. se laver = to wash oneself). Structure will include a review of French Level 1A as well as more irregular verbs in the present tense, the comparison of adjectives, IR and RE regular verbs in the present tense, interrogative pronouns (i.e, what, which, why…), the past tense (passé composé using both avoir and être), various irregular verbs in the past tense, reflexive verbs in both tenses, direct and indirect pronouns. Students will continue to learn of French culture, geography and history.




The Physical Science Standards stress an in depth understanding of the nature and structure of matter and the characteristic of energy. The standards place considerable emphasis on the technological application of Physical Science Principles. Major areas covered by the standards include the organization and use of the periodic table, physical and chemical changes, nuclear reactions, temperature and heat, sound, light, electricity and magnetism, and work, force, and motion.

The Physical Science standards continue to build on skills of systematic investigation with a clear focus on variables and repeated trials. Students will plan and conduct research involving both classroom experimentation and literature reviews from written and electronic resources.



Life Science is a survey course in which standards emphasize a more complex understanding of change, cycles, patterns, and relationships in the living world. Students build on basic principles related to these concepts by exploring the cellular organization and the classification of organisms, the dynamic relationships among organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystems; and change as a result of the transmission of genetic information from generation to generation. This scientific view defines the idea that explanations of nature are developed and tested using observation, experimentation, models, evidence, and systematic processes based on logical thinking. Inquiry skills at this level include organization and mathematical analysis of data, manipulation of variables in experiments, and identification of sources of experimental error.

The course includes hands-on activities including labs and investigations. For many of the concepts, the students will do a step-by-step lab in which they will gather data. Using that data, students will learn how to design their own investigation in which they will make up their own hypothesis and design a method to carry out the investigation that will hopefully support their hypothesis.


Foundation Units Grade 7

Automation and Robotics (AR)

Students trace the history, development, and influence of automation and robotics. They learn about mechanical systems, energy transfer, machine automation and computer control systems. Students use a robust robotics platform to design, build and program a solution to solve an existing problem.

Design and Modeling (DM)

In this unit, students begin to recognize the value of an engineering notebook to document and capture their ideas. They are introduced to and use the design process to solve problems and understand the influence that creative and innovative design has on their lives. Students use industry standard 3D modeling software to create a virtual image of their designs and produce a portfolio to showcase their creative solution

Future possible 8th Grade Electives

Energy and the Environment (EE)

Students investigate the impact of energy on our lives and the environment. They design and model alternative energy sources and participate in an energy expo to demonstrate energy concepts and innovative ideas. Students evaluate ways to reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency and sustainability.

Flight and Space (FS)

The rich history of aerospace comes alive through hands-on activities, research, and a presentation in the form of a short informational video. Students explore the science behind aeronautics and use their knowledge to design, build and test an airfoil. Custom-built simulation software allows students to experience space travel.

Green Architecture (GA)

In a world of reduced resources and environmental challenges, it is important to present the concept of “being green” to the next generation of designers and builders. In this unit, students are introduced to architectural plans, construction styles, alternative materials and processes, dimensioning, measuring and architectural sustainability. Students use a 3D architectural software program to create an environmentally friendly home using shipping containers.

Magic of Electrons (ME)

Through hands-on projects, students explore the science of electricity, behavior and parts of atoms, and sensing devices. Students acquire knowledge and skills in basic circuitry design and examine the impact of electricity on our lives.

Science of Technology (ST)

How has science affected technology throughout history? To answer this question students apply the concepts in physics, chemistry and nanotechnology to STEM activities and projects.

Medical Detectives (MD)

Medical Detectives (MD) explores the biomedical sciences through hands-on projects and labs that require students to solve a variety of medical mysteries. Students investigate medical careers, vital signs, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, as well as human body systems such as the nervous system. Genetic testing for hereditary diseases and DNA crime scene analysis put the students in the place of real life medical detectives. The unit will be field tested spring 2013 and made available to the network for the 2013-2014 school year.


The 7th and 8th Grade Physical Education curriculum focuses on the physical, emotional, and social needs of each student and is aligned with the NJ CCSS. A wide variety of individual and lifetime fitness activities, as well as, individual and group challenges and cooperative activities will be offered. These may include zumba, kick-boxing routines, fitness stations, resistance training, aerobic conditioning, yoga, dance routines, fitness testing, and cooperative activities


The 7th and 8th Grade Health Education curriculum focuses on current health topics related to the personal growth and development of adolescent females and is aligned with the NJ CCSS. Lessons and assignments will revolve around the following themes: healthy body image; decision-making and goal-setting skills; eating disorders; diseases and health conditions; safety; social and emotional health; interpersonal communication; character development; advocacy and service.


The Music Appreciation curriculum for 7th and 8th graders is designed to broaden the student’s exposure to music from all over the world. YouTube has become an archive of world music and will be used extensively in this course. Students will develop critical listening skills as they listen to many genres of music.

Singing will be a component of the curriculum and students will be encouraged to participate in the school’s award winning Glee Club. Any students who play an instrument or dance will be encouraged to share their talents in special class talent shows.


This class will focus on learning the elements of design (line, shape, color, texture, and space) and the principles of design (unity, focus, balance, rhythm, and pattern) as guides in the production of art works by the students. Media will include pencil, colored pencil, ink, collage, simple printmaking techniques, and mask making and other paper sculpture.

A second feature of the program will include the study of art historical concepts both of the western world and other cultures outside the western tradition. This exploration will be incorporated into projects to reinforce understanding of art through the ages and how it can provide inspiration and focus in student works.

The 7th grade will begin with a sketchbook/research workbook to record their research about art periods, styles, and artists. This book will continue on into the 8th grade and will provide a personal record of each student’s progress and growth. Field trips to the Newark Museum and the Morris Museum and at least one local art show or gallery will allow the students to gain first- hand experience with works of visual art.