I have Eighth Grade planning well under way and am very happy to share some ideas with my readers who are also planning this grade. Eighth Grade seemed a bit more overwhelming to look at than other past grades simply because the recommendations for blocks seemed to differ from Waldorf teacher to Waldorf teacher and what was included in each block also seemed to differ. For example, what to include, in physics? The recommendations vary. What to include in history – how much modern history, for example? The recommendations vary. You get the idea!
I looked at the Eighth Grade section of the Waldorf Inspirations website, which was helpful to me to try to grasp what I was doing. I looked at the AWNSA chart; I looked at the Christopherus Eighth Grade Rough Guide. I looked at the Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore recommendations for Eighth Grade. I talked to a few other mothers also gearing up to plan Eighth Grade.
But most of all, I looked at the child in front of me and what we have built so far. What connections did we carry through the grades? What connections can I make in this grade from everything we have covered so far as a culmination to this beautiful curriculum in grades one through eight? What foundation do we need to lay going forward? What passions did she have?
I know an Eighth Grade project can be traditional in some Waldorf Schools, but I decided it was not a right fit for us in the home environment. I felt like it would be one big stressful experience, to be frank, and our daughter has already had some experience in putting together presentations for 4-H, so I felt as if she working to develop those skills in other arenas.
Also, because we plan to homeschool in high school, I was not feeling as if we needed to have this big “wrap up”. Our life together will go into ninth grade.
What I decided instead was to devote our last block of the year to something our daughter was really interested in. She had not identified a lot of different passions up to this point, and I really wanted to give her a chance to explore that and to think about any areas that seemed appealing. To my surprise, she said she was very interested in epidemics/pandemics – such as the spread of the plague and other diseases.
So, I have decided to design a Medical Geography block to intersect epidemiology and geography and focus on a few well-chosen historical events – the plague, the yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia in the 1700s, perhaps small pox, the influenza epidemic of 1918, possibly AIDS/HIV or Ebola. I haven’t totally planned it yet; it is just in the beginning seeds of germination. I hope she will find it interesting, and as the Centers for Disease Control is in our backyard, I also hope we can plan a few field trips. I hope this will be a satisfying experience as a springboard into a high school career full of a Waldorf approach but with life experiences also built upon her interests and passions. I think the teenaged years are the most natural and developmentally appropriate time to explore that.
If you are interested as to some of the other ideas I have been collecting for Eighth Grade, including some of my own “topic twists” within the traditional and archetypal Waldorf blocks for this grade, please see my Eighth Grade Pinterest board.
Would love to hear your plans,
This is my third time through 8th grade and I continue to echo what I said in our grade 7 guide – these kids are just different! We have to find ways to meet the curriculum AND them. I LOVE that we have so many opportunities to do that at home. Ellie did a study in code breaking for her 8th grade paper and it was a lot of fun for us both, it was something I didn’t know a ton about so we learned together. She also wanted to do a deeper study of all the states so that has been a fun daily addition to her studies.
I found 8th grade a great time for us to catch up on this that maybe we didn’t get as much time on last year. I am excited for high school! So is she.
We have a new course on writing your own curriculum and for the prep I have been digging deeply into exactly what Steiner said for each grade, it is so interesting to me how he just KNEW these kids…. he got them in a way that it was obvious some of the other teachers working at the early schools didn’t. They would be doing one thing and he would step in and tell them how to bring the subject in a better way. He just KNEW it. I try to drink in as much of his understanding as I can. All ages can be tricky to navigate but these big kids are a whole other ball game.
Thank you so much for your perspective, Melisa!
I remember reading “Pox Americana: The Great Small Pox Epidemic of 1775-82” by Elizabeth Fenn in my American Environmentalism class in college at USC. I read it about 12 years ago so I cannot remember if it would be suitable for an eighth grader, but I do remember finding it an extremely interesting read so you may want to look into it.
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