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Eighth Grade

Each Expedition is approximately 6 - 8 weeks in length and challenges students to learn new skills and apply them in a way that makes learning fun.  When learing is fun, students absorb and retain more.


Expedition #1: Finding Home: Refugees

In this module, students will develop their ability to read and understand complex text as they consider the challenges of fictional and real refugees.  Students will read Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai, analyzing how critical incidents reveal the dynamic nature of the main character, Ha, a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl whose family is deciding whether to flee during the fall of Saigon.


At the end of this module, students will work in research groups to study the experiences of refugees from one of several cultures. Students will use this knowledge to write two, free verse narrative poems that capture the universal refugee experience. Students will reread poems from the novel as mentor texts.

Evacuees during Operation Frequent Wind


Expedition #2: Taking a Stand

Students will develop their ability to closely read text while studying the theme of taking a stand. Students will read speeches reflecting examples of real people taking a stand.  Students will read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and study the theme of taking a stand as it is revealed in the novel. Students will engage in a character study of Atticus by analyzing his actions and words, and what others say about him, to better understand him as a character. 


Once students finish the novel, they will return to key quotes from the novel that relate to the themes of the Golden Rule and Taking a Stand. Students will form groups to create a Readers Theater montage in which they select one key quote; they will then select scenes from the novel that reveal the message of the quote. Students will recreate these scenes in a Readers Theater structure and provide commentary on how their script remains true and veers from the original text.


Expedition #3:  Japanese-American Relations during World War II

In this module, students will study Japanese-American relations during World War II. They will consider the question “How does war affect individuals and societies?” as they read case studies about the plight of Japanese-Americans interned on American soil and American prisoners of war held captive in Japan during World War II. The central texts are Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and a short biography of Miné Okubo, a Japanese-American interned during the war.

Students will research Miné Okubo’s life after internment; and for their final performance task, the will write a narrative in which they tell the story of how she went from being made “invisible” during internment to becoming “visible” post-internment


Expedition #4:  Sustainability of the US Food Supply Chain

In this module, students analyze arguments and the evidence used to support arguments to determine whether sufficient evidence has been used and whether the evidence is relevant in support of the claim an author or speaker is making. They then research to gather evidence to make their own spoken and written arguments. Students will read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a literary non-fiction text about where food comes from and about making decisions about what food to buy and eat.

Students finish the module by writing a position paper explaining which of Michael Pollan’s food chain they would choose to feed the US and why, and creating a poster stating their position. 



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