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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.

Download the full 8th Grade booklet here.

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 the middle school years focus on theatrical knowledge and skills, elements of theatrical practice, as well as a more intermediate level of involvement with technical and creative processes.  This ensures a solid foundation for more advanced theatrical studies in high school and beyond. In each grade level, students research and perform various theatre techniques and theatrical genres (scripted as well as improvised works), examine character and setting scenarios, determine how to develop basic ideas as a playwright or director, describe personal preferences for dramatic and theatrical works, while respectfully critiquing individual, personal, and peer performances.  Students in the middle school years are also asked to make connections to self, their communities, and the world through developing their own creative processes, while participating in the dramatic and theatre arts.

Expectations for 8th Grade Students:

  • Create (Create) Refine: Use a variety of movement and vocal techniques, incorporating a character's background and situation, to develop roles or characters; adapt issue-specific themes found in history, culture, dramatic literature, and personal experience to improvise, write, and create scenes and scripts; make and justify choices on design selection and elements (scenery, lights, costumes, props, sounds, makeup, special effects, media, publicity) to support scripted and unscripted material.
  • Perform (Perform/Present): Integrate the components of the character development process (analyzing physical, social qualities of character), with confidence and clarity of focus, and contribute as a collaborative and responsible member of an ensemble; demonstrate an understanding of the relationships among the technical theatre elements and acting roles, and incorporate production elements (props and costumes) creatively in a performance situation,while demonstrating a strong understanding of theatre text.
  • Critically Respond (Know/Comprehend and Critique/Evaluate/Refine/Reflect): Evaluate the nature of different dramatic forms and performance styles and recognize societal and cultural themes within a dramatic text; identify and discuss artistic challenges and successful outcomes encountered during the creative and rehearsal processes; research the contribution of various historical and contemporary drama and theatre practitioners and groups.

Throughout 8th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Analyzing characters and roles, and performing them using the voice, body, and ingenuity; exploring the styles, skills, and techniques of theatre.
  • Describing the varieties of drama/theatre forms such as plays, puppetry, musicals; developing the imagination through a variety of theatre technologies.
  • Demonstrating a character's motivation by using multiple techniques.
  • Justifying the necessary historical or relevant data to produce technical elements for a scripted or non-scripted play.
  • Explaining the ways dramatic and theatrical works have reflected or brought about social change; receiving and acting upon coaching, feedback, and constructive criticism as an actor, designer or technician.

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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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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 2018)

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.

Expectations for 8th Grade Students:

  • History: Examine and interpret a variety of primary and secondary sources, from different perspectives, to formulate a hypothesis and construct a written historical argument about a topic in American history (origins of the American Revolution through Reconstruction).
  • Geography: Use different geographic tools and data such as maps, globes, diagrams, charts such as population pyramids and climate graphs, geospatial technologies (geographic information systems, Google Earth, global positioning systems) to analyze human and physical systems; explain both conflict and cooperation over space and resources in the United States from the origins of the American Revolution through Reconstruction.
  • Economics: Provide examples of how economic freedom and free trade are important for economic growth; explain why it is important to manage personal credit and debt. Personal Financial Literacy: Examine the role of consumer decisions and taxes within the marker economies of early American history.
  • Civics: Analyze the elements of continuity and change in the United States’ constitutional system; summarize the role of law and the rights, roles, and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.

Throughout 8th Grade You May Find Students:

  • Gathering and analyzing primary and secondary sources (art, documents, photos, letters, diaries, propaganda, artifacts) from multiple perspectives to develop and defend an historical thesis; constructing a written argument either for or against an ideal expressed or action taken by the United States during the period of time from the Revolution to Reconstruction; analyzing the causes and effects of major historical events such as the American Revolution, slavery, abolition, and states’ rights.
  • Using different types of maps and other geographic tools to explain and interpret significant events in U.S history from the American Revolution through Reconstruction (Westward Expansion, Gold Rush, population growth); addressing issues of land ownership and security from a geographic perspective; making inferences about how the location of and access to resources may lead to cooperation or conflict.
  • Discussing the economic policies of the U.S. between the Revolution and Reconstruction; analyzing how policies, tariffs, taxation, and availability of resources affected the growth of the nation; analyzing the benefits and costs of credit and debt.
  • Analyzing foundational documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights); discussing how the U.S. constitutional system of government evolved between the American Revolution and Reconstruction, paying particular attention to the changing definition and rights of citizens; examining the changes to the U.S. Constitution and the tensions between individual rights, state law, and national law; explaining the rule of law and the role of judicial review in the U.S. judicial system.

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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. 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 and examine the role of design and technology in making, documenting, and presenting works of art. Students create, discuss, reflect on, and compare works of art across historical periods and cultures using materials, processes, tools, and vocabulary 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.

The Colorado Academic Standards in Visual Arts are organized by elements of the creative process taught in a cyclical, interconnected manner the way artists learn, connect, think, come up with ideas, experiment, plan, work, refine, share, and reflect in repetitive, spiraling ways.

Expectations for Middle School Level 1:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Use art specific art vocabulary (elements, materials, media, process, tools, and technology) to talk about and compare how and why art is created by artists across cultures and time periods including today.
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect: Practice academically talking about (critiquing) works of recognizing multiple points of view and incorporating gained knowledge.
  • Invent and Discover to Create: Make multiple plans and experiment with using art materials in new and unusual ways; use technology to document and talk about art work and the art making process.
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer: Explain the importance of art in everyday life for people from various communities or cultures; describe how art can make a statement about an important issue.

Throughout Middle School Level 1, you may find students:

  • Analyzing and interpreting works of art and art concepts using specific technical vocabulary (such as but not limited to symbolism, two dimensional, three dimensional, texture, hues).
  • Using and connecting ideas, themes and issues in art to other subjects such as literature, history, science, mathematics and social studies .
  • Using various approaches for planning, including technology, to make art.
  • Experimenting to use materials in new and unusual ways; considering new and multiple approaches to planning.
  • Examining and explaining the importance and purposes of art across time and culture; and using this knowledge to inform art making.

Expectations for Middle School Level 2:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Think, respond and write 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 art vocabulary to interpret and explain meaning.
  • Invent and Discover to Create: Create multiple plans and approaches to develop and 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 (interpret, compare and contrast, analyze, generate ideas) to other aspects of life; use art to bring awareness of important issues identified by a community.

Throughout Middle School Level 2, you may find students:

  • Planning, and then analyzing, their ideas in multiple ways to create works of art and solve design problems.
  • Referencing art from many cultures, both historical and contemporary, to inform art making.
  • Employing a range of technology to plan and create works of art.
  • Documenting the art making process.
  • “Reading” images from multiple sources to determine intent and purpose.
  • Creating and interpreting art to explore ideas and issues grounded in other disciples.
  • Identifying how graphic images/works of art can be used as documents to inform viewers about a particular time and culture.
  • Using critical thinking skills to study personal works of art, as well as the art work of others.

Expectations for Middle School Level 3:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend: Consider sources for and of inspiration; use historical and contemporary art from a variety of cultures to inform and support ideas and plans to create art.
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect: Investigate and talk about the meaning of works of art considering multiple points of view; 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 the relationship between art and design in everyday life including art careers; discuss the impact art can have on the way we understand and function in the world.

Throughout Middle School Level 3, you may find students:

  • Describing and defending the intent and purpose of art using appropriate art vocabulary (the composition of stark contrasting colors represents the artist’s intent to share a strong emotion).
  • Investigating and debating quality in art and design.
  • Explaining the reasons for creating a work of art; recognizing the influence of culture on artistic decisions.
  • Describing and debating persuasive techniques used in print and electronic media to influence an audience.
  • Creating innovative works of art that depict personal, social, cultural, and/or political viewpoints as well as other interests.
  • Researching and describing real-world applications of art.

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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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