8th Grade Class Syllabus

 Grade 8 Social Studies

 Course Syllabus 2019-2020



Dear Students and Parents/Guardians:


Welcome to 8th Grade Social Studies.  I am looking forward to getting to know you and having a wonderful experience this year.  Below is a class overview. 


Social Studies Course Description: 

Topics of study will include U.S. History from the Revolutionary War through the mid-19th Century.  We will also examine American Civics through the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the three branches of government.  Other topics during the year will include the history of slavery and the American Civil War, reconstruction and immigration.  Our first social studies unit will be the Road Trip project, which includes the study of the North American continent and U.S. geography. Later in the year, students will research and debate on a Bill of Rights topic of their choice as part of their Classroom Based Assessment.


Students will be reading and writing on a regular basis both in class and at home. Throughout the year students will improve their researching and writing skills, reading strategies, and critical thinking as they read both fiction and nonfiction texts.


Course Outline

September - October

November – December

January – February

March – June

U.S. Geography

U.S. Road Trip Project

Research Writing

U.S. Civics

Place-Based Learning Project-Civics in Action

CBA, Revolutionary & Civil War,

Heroes in U.S. History

Place-Based Learning Project-Kilisut Harbor Restoration Project

Key Standards

Social Studies-Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs)

SS 1.1 Understands key ideals and principles of the United States, including those in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and other fundamental documents

SS 1.2 Understands the purposes, organization, and function of governments, laws, and political systems.

SS 1.4 Understands civic involvement

SS 2.2. Understands how economic systems function.

SS 2.4 Understands the economic issues and problems that all societies face

SS 3.1.2 Understands and analyzes physical and cultural characteristics of places and regions in the United States from the past or in the present

SS 3.2.3 Understands and analyzes migration as a catalyst for growth of the United States in the past or present

SS 4.1 Understands historical chronology

SS 4.2 Understands and analyzes the causal factors that have shaped major events in history

Reading Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

ELA RL/I 1: Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text

ELA RL/I 2. Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

ELA RI 8. Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.

ELA Writing - Common Core State Standards(CCSS)

ELA W1. Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

ELA W2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

ELA W4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1&2 above.)

ELA W10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and shorter time frames

ELA Speaking and Listening - Common Core State Standards(CCSS)

SL 1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


Textbook-The American Nation  Publisher-Prentice Hall

Place-Based Learning Project: Civics in Action

Essential Question: Why is it important to be engaged citizens?

Project Overview: Students will research current state legislative bills that affect their community, determine their position on a specific bill, and write a letter to one of their legislators, using evidence and elaboration to support their position. They will apply their understanding of state government as they travel to Olympia to tour the Capitol to see where laws are make that affect them and their community. They will participate in a mock trial and experience the judicial system first hand, and meet with their legislators to advocate for researched bills and issues that are important to them.

Community Partners: Washington State Senator Kevin Van DeWege, Washington State Representatives Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger

Time Frame: Jan-Feb

Place-Based Learning Project: Kilisut Harbor Restoration Project/Oak Bay Clamming Survey

Essential Question: Why is it important to be good stewards of the environment in which you live?

Project Overview: Students will engage in water quality testing and data collection at the Kilisut/Oak Bay Restoration Site, including pH testing to monitor ocean acidification, a beach seine to collect data on fish present before and after restoration, and a clam survey to learn about how limits for shellfish collection are established for tribes and the general public. 


Community Partners: United States Geological Survey (USGS) with partner National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S Navy (NAVMAG Indian Island base), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)/Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and North Olympic Salmon Coalition (NOSC)

Time Frame: May-June

Expectations for Success:

Students will continue to develop their organizational and interpersonal skills while working independently and in small groups.  Every student is encouraged to enthusiastically contribute to the classroom activities and discussions.  Part of the grade a student earns in Social Studies is based on their participation and willing cooperation.


Self-Discipline: Disruptions in the classroom hinder the learning process.  I have classroom expectations, based on respect, responsibility, and cooperation that I believe are fair and will help the students learn.  “Think Time” and other school disciplinary procedures will be used when necessary.  I believe that hard work and integrity are the keys to success in the classroom. 

Daily Assignments and Work Habits:

Sufficient class time will be provided for daily assignments; however, students who miss class or do not use their class time efficiently will need to complete the task as homework. There will be some homework assigned to allow students additional independent practice of skills taught in class and to prepare students for participation in class the next day. Therefore, it is essential that students complete their assignments on time. Students will record assignments in their student planners.  In addition, all assignments with due dates will be on the class white board. When a student is absent from class, it is expected that they will check the class website. When returning from an absence, the student needs to find out what was missed by checking the Absent Student file, consulting with their table group, and checking with me for clarification, if needed. The class website will be updated regularly as a resource for students and parents.


Late Work:

It is expected that assignments will be turned in on time.  However, students will receive partial credit for late work when it is turned in within one week of an assignment’s due date. The highest grade a student can receive on late work, which meets the assignment criteria, is a C. Assignments turned in after an absence will not be counted as late but will be expected to be completed in a timely manner.  



All assignments have value and show evidence of learning. Thus, students need to complete assignments and tests to the best of their ability and submit that work to demonstrate growth. It is critical for students to be present and participate every day. 


In addition, online grades will be available on Skyward, updated every two weeks. Please contact the office, if you need a reminder about your username and password.   


The following standard grading is used for this class:

A   93- 100%         B   83 – 86.9%        C    73 – 76.9%            D    63-66.9%

A-  90 – 92.9%      B-  80 – 82.9%        C-   70 – 72.9%            D-   60-62.9%

B+  87 – 89.9%     C+ 77 – 79.9%        D+  67 – 69.9%            F     below 60%


Grading Categories: 
Assignments, Homework & Projects 70%
Tests & Quizzes 30%


Students will be assessed on meeting the learning targets both during and at the end of a unit. Some assessments will be informal (not graded) and used so that I may adjust my teaching, so all students learn the skill being taught. Other assessments will be in the form of short writing, formal research writing, or class debate/discussion. Quizzes and tests will also be given. If a student does not pass a quiz, he/she may retake the quiz to receive no higher than a C- grade.


Academic Integrity:

The student’s individually-assigned work must be their own. If a student cheats or copies work and claims it as their own work, the student will receive reduced or zero credit on the assignment/test. The student may or may not (teacher discretion) have the opportunity to make up the grade. A parent/guardian will be notified with concerns about questionable academic integrity.  


Required Supplies:

Blue Heron Planner                 One 2-pocket style folder               Reading Novel at all times

Pens and Pencils as needed      One spiral notebook (70 pages)            

3x5 notecards (optional)


I also recommend having a U.S and world atlas, dictionary, and thesaurus available for home use.  These are provided in the classroom, but are not sent home with the students.


Cell Phone Policy:

Phones and electronic devices must be silenced and placed out of view in this class.  Note to Parents: Please contact your child by calling the office and not call or text the student’s cell phone.  The Blue Heron Handbook has complete details on the phone policy.



Talking with your student on a regular basis about what they are learning in Social Studies, checking the class website, and reviewing assignments in your student’s planner are key methods to support your child in this class.  You will receive a Skyward username and password to check your child’s grades online and help them monitor their academic progress in Social Studies. 


It is great to have parent volunteers in class.  Please let me know if you are interested in helping in any way, even as a guest speaker for one of our topics of study. We are especially interested in regular volunteers who provide reading, research, and writing support.  


Before/After School Assistance

I am eager to assist students to succeed academically and am available before school Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:50-8:20 and after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, though students will need to arrange for transportation home after school. Students should sign-up or make an appointment ahead of time to avoid any previously scheduled meetings. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s progress in Social Studies. Email is the most efficient method for us to communicate. 






Leslie Shively

Email address lshively@ptschools.org Email works best!

Classroom 379-4364

Class website www.ptschools.org (Select “BlueHeron”>“BH Staff”> “Teachers”>“Leslie Shively.”




Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2021 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.