4832 Highland Ave.

Downers Grove, IL 60515

7:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Monday to Friday

8th Grade

8th Grade

Meet Our Teachers

Ms. Bielwa | Bio
Mrs. Burk | Bio
Mrs. Cramer | Bio
Mr. Laurinaitis | Bio
Mrs. Phelan | Bio
Mrs. Wojtasiak | Bio


Curriculum Highlights

  • Students prepare for the sacrament of Confirmation through daily religion lessons along with a variety of activities including: participation in prayer services such as Shadow Stations of the Cross, class retreats, plan and present class liturgies including  May Crowing.
  • Participation in the annual science fair is a significant project for eighth graders, which incorporates skills from all content area subjects. Students choose a topic and conduct experiments that require them to implement principles of scientific inquiry. They must communicate clear and accurate results in APA format using pictures, tables, graphs, charts, and diagrams. In addition, students continue to develop their understanding of physical and life sciences.
  • In language arts, students read a variety of classic and contemporary literature, continue to demonstrate mastery of the traits of writing, and deliver speeches and other oral presentations.

Middle School Expectations

  • 8th grade students are held to higher expectations of responsibility and accountability for academic performance and Catholic values-based behavior, along with parental and institutional support.
  • Integrated Technology – 8th grade students at St. Joseph participate in an enhanced technology curriculum.  Students receive and use personal Chromebooks for daily classroom instruction. Students and teachers utilize Google classroom throughout the entire curriculum, including content and delivery, collaborative learning, independent research projects, teacher-student communication, assessments, and overall student literacy.
  • In 8th grade, there are many opportunities for students to participate in various academic competitions such as math competitions, Geography Bees, and Scholastic Bowls at local Catholic high schools. St. Joseph School is proud of their exceptional track record at many of these academic competitions.
  • Middle school religious studies require students to participate in an in-depth review of the Ten Commandments with an application to how they affect one’s morality, develop insights as to why all of life is worthy of reverence, explain how God calls us to act in a loving way toward one another using knowledge of the Beatitudes and Catholic Social Teachings, and explore virtues and works of mercy as a method of living the model Jesus gave us.


Text: Finding God by Loyola Press 

Unit 1: The Early Church

  • Session 1: Jesus’ Message
  • Session 2: The Church Grows
  • Session 3: Witness to the Faith
  • Session 4: The Catechumenate in the Early Church
  • Session 5: Celebrating Ordinary Time

Unit 2: We Belong

  • Session 6: We Believe
  • Session 7: Praise God in Worship
  • Session 8: Monasteries and Community
  • Session 9: Sent on a Mission
  • Session 10: Celebrating Advent and Christmas

Unit 3: We Worship

  • Session 11: The First Years
  • Session 12: The Church Grows
  • Session 13: Nourished by the Eucharist
  • Session 14: Serving Physical and Spiritual Needs
  • Session 15: Celebrating Lent

Unit 4: We are Called

  • Session 16: The Protestant Reformation
  • Session 17: Renewal in the Church
  • Session 18: The CHurch Reaches Out
  • Session 19: Faith and Reasons
  • Session 20: Celebrating Holy Week and Easter

Unit 5: We are Sent

  • Session 21: Truth Revealed by God
  • Session 22: Acting on Behalf of Justice
  • Session 23: Called by God
  • Session 24: People for Others
  • Session 25: Celebrating Pentecost

Virtues Program

  • School wide emphasis on a new virtue each month
  • Saint of the month that exemplifies the virtue
  • Activities for students to learn more about the virtute and to apply to their daily lives

Family Life

  • God’s Gift of Family
  • God’s GIft of Self
  • God’s GIft of Life
  • God’s GIft of Love
  • God’s Gift of Community

Confirmation Preparation

  • Mrs. Spiezio, sacrament coordinator
  • Study and research of saints for Confirmation name
  • Learn about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • Complete regular service hours
  • Write letter of Intent

1st Grade Buddies

  • Weekly mass attendance, model appropriate behavior and participation
  • Celebrate holidays together with making cards and other activities

Social Studies

  • American Government
    • Federal Constitution
    • Illinois Constitution
  • American History
    • French and Indian War
    • American Revolution
    • War of 1812
    • Mexican American War
    • Civil War
    • Reconstruction
    • Immigration
    • Imperialism
    • Spanish-American War
    • World War I
    • Depression
    • World War II
    • Cold War
    • Civil Rights
  • Geography
    • States and capitals
    • Bodies of water throughout the world
  • Objectives
    • Make inferences about historical events and eras using historical maps and other historical sources.
    • Identify the differences between historical fact and interpretation.
    • Understand how different groups competed for power within the colonies and how that competition led to the development of political institutions during the early national period.
    • Understand how and why the colonies fought for their independence and how the colonists’ ideas are reflected in the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.
    • Understand ways in which the United States developed as a world political power.
    • Understand economic motivations that attracted Europeans and others to the Americas, 1500-1750.
    • Understand relationships among the American economy and slavery, immigration, industrialization, labor and urbanization, 1700-present.
    • Understand how economic developments and government policies after 1865 affected the country’s economic institutions including corporations, bands and organized labor.
    • Understand the impact of urbanization and suburbanization, 1850-present, on the environment.


  • Life Science
    • Human Biology and Health
    • Healthy Body Systems
    • Bones, Muscle and Skin
    • Digestion
    • Circulation
    • Respiration and Excretion
    • Nervous System
    • Endocrine System and Reproduction
    • Fighting Disease
    • Vertebrate Dissection:  The Frog
  • Physical Science
    • Introduction to Matter
    • Changes in Matter
    • Elements and the Periodic Table
    • Chemical Reactions
    • Atoms and Bonding
    • Acids, Bases, and Solutions
  • Science Practices, Technology & Society
    • Scientific Method, Measurement, and Process Skills
    • Science Fair Project
    • Interactions of Society, Technology and Morality
    • Technological Design
  • Student Evaluation and Assessment
    • Class Participation and Daily Work
    • Homework
    • Quizzes and Tests
    • Individual and Cooperative Group projects
    • Research Projects

Reading & Language Arts

  • Reading/ Language Arts is taught in a block period (two 40 minute periods) with the 8th grade homeroom teacher.
  • Integration of Classic Literature and Writing; work on analysis of literature
  • Units of Study Include: Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Downriver, A Christmas Carol, Across Five Aprils, The Diary of Anne Frank, To Kill a Mockingbird, Romeo & Juliet, short stories, & poetry
  • Continue to refine writing  and research skills, including documenting sources in MLA format
  • Proficiency in the three major types of writing (narrative, expository, and persuasive)
  • Biweekly vocabulary test
  • Annotation of texts to support analysis using textual evidence

Independent Reading/ Book Reports:

Students are expected to always bring an independent reading book with them to class.  Independent reading at home on a regular basis is always homework for this class.  Students are to complete three book reports per trimester using the required book report format. All book reports should be turned in on Google Classroom.


For vocabulary, we use the Sadlier Vocabulary Workshop online edition. Vocabulary work is part of Language Arts class. There will be a new vocabulary unit every two weeks along with week long review units every three units.  Studying the vocabulary words daily is a regular part of the class homework.  All students are encouraged to use Quizlet to help them study.