8th Humanities

Eighth Grade Humanities is a more conventional model of English and History. While components of each are complementary and integrated, the pedagogical approach is traditional. In this way, students learn to be confident writers and enthusiastic historians while preparing for the rigor of a demanding high school program.

Culminating Project

The Culminating Project at Villa is a collaborative project that investigates a single Theme through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching in Religion, the social context of the issue according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Bill of Rights in Social Studies, and individualized, directed scientific connections in Science. The English curriculum focuses on writing for a variety of purposes (aligned with the Common Core State Standards) all surrounding various aspects of the students’ chosen Culminating Project Theme. The research process and writing skills are directed, but there is flexibility in content within the scope of the chosen Theme. Written assessments include a combination of expository essays, compare/contrast essays, nonfiction literature analyses, annotated bibliographies, and persuasive formal letters.


Literature selections for Eighth Grade center around themes of social justice issues, as the books offered provide a window into another person’s world, rather than a mirror of our own experience. This complements the theme of Leadership throughout Eighth Grade by encouraging students to find common ground with, and develop empathy and compassion for, others. Some of the literature selections are offered as whole-class readings, while some are comprised of literature circles surrounding a common small-group text, and others are offered as independent reading. Selections include 20th Century classics, poetry, nonfiction texts, and contemporary novels. The discussions and assignments within literature units are built upon the works of Brene Brown and Rosetta Lee, through which students learn to be empathetic citizens with compassionate hearts and confident minds.

U.S. History

Eighth grade Social Studies provides a well-rounded approach to understanding American history, government structure, and culture. Students read The U.S. History content serves as the vehicle for continued development of critical skills, including risk-taking, public speaking, reading complex texts, researching, summarizing, writing, and problem solving. Students will investigate a variety of sources, including textbooks, maps, photographs, political cartoons, journals, films, and newspapers.

Mock Trial

One major component of Eighth grade United States History is Mock Trial. To apply the study of the United States Constitution in a real-world context, students engage in a mini-trial, during which they learn essential skills and information to successfully participate in due process from investigation to trial. This includes collaboration with community resources, as they learn from legal experts how to conduct legal examinations, criminal investigation and forensics from the Seattle Police Department, and conducting forensic investigations of trial evidence in Science class.

Later, after studying Westward Expansion, students charge President Andrew Jackson with Crimes Against Humanity for his role in the Cherokee Removal Act and the Trail of Tears. Each class section works together to prosecute or defend President Jackson, building their cases from a collection of primary source materials including speeches, letters, art, Congressional acts, military orders, and narratives. They think critically as they analyze both sides of the issue, write witness testimony, and develop complex legal strategies. Students then enact the trial as prosecutors, defenders, and witnesses in front of a federal judge and volunteer jury at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle. The amount of work that goes into this process, without the foresight of a known outcome, is what makes this such a rich and authentic learning experience.

Communication Skills

In both Seventh and Eighth Grade Humanities, writing instruction is individualized according to students’ strengths, weaknesses, and topic focuses through conferences and Google Drive interactions. More general building blocks are provided through Wordly Wise, discrete grammar instruction, and directed tasks aimed at refining sentence, paragraph, and essay structure.

8th Grade Humanities Syllabus

8th Grade Literature Offerings