Vermont's Eighth Grade Standards
(Note: By the completion of eighth grade, Vermont students are expected to master the following standards.)
Vermont Academic Content Standards: History and Social Sciences
H&SS7-8:1—Social and Historical Questioning
Students initiate an inquiry by:
- Asking focusing and probing questions that will lead to independent research and incorporate concepts of personal, community, or global relevance (e.g., What are the causes of low voter turnout? What are the most effective ways to improve voter participation?).
Students develop a hypothesis, thesis, or research statement by:
- Predicting results, proposing a choice about a possible action, or exploring relationships between facts and/or concepts.
Students design research by:
- Identifying the quality and quantity of information needed, including primary and secondary sources.
- Identifying tools and procedures needed for collecting, managing, and examining information, including a plan for citing sources (e.g., establishing a time line or schedule for research, identifying places to find possible sources).
- Determining possible ways to present data (e.g., Power-Point, hypercard, report, graph, etc.).
Students conduct research by:
- Referring to and following a detailed plan for an inquiry.
- Locating relevant materials such as print, electronic, and human resources.
- Applying criteria from the plan to analyze the quality and quantity of information gathered (e.g., judging the accuracy of different accounts of the same event).
- Describing evidence and recording observations using notecards, videotape, tape recorders, journals, or databases.
- Revising the research plan and locating additional materials and/or information, as needed.
- Citing sources.
Students develop reasonable explanations that support the research statement by:
- Organizing and displaying information in a manner appropriate to the research statement through tables graphs, maps, dioramas, charts, narratives, posters, timelines, models, simulations, and/or dramatizations.
- Determining the validity and reliability of the document or information.
- Choosing and using appropriate methods for interpreting information, such as comparing and contrasting, summarizing, illustrating, generalizing, sequencing, synthesizing, analyzing, and/or justifying (e.g., analyzing information to determine why two historical accounts of the same event might differ.)
- Revising explanations as necessary based on personal reflection, peer critique, expert opinion, etc.
Students make connections to research by:
- Formulating recommendations and/or making decisions based on evidence.
- Using their research results to support or refute the original research statement.
- Proposing solutions to problems based on their findings, and asking additional questions.
- Identifying problems or flaws with the research plan and suggesting improvements (e.g., identifying additional types of information that could strengthen an investigation).
- Proposing further investigations.
Students communicate their findings by:
- Developing and giving oral, written, or visual presentations for various audiences.
- Soliciting and responding to feedback.
- Pointing out possibilities for continued or further research.
Students connect the past with the present by:
- Explaining differences between historic and present day objects in the United States and/or the world, and evaluating how the use of the object and the object itself changed over time (e.g., comparing modes of transportation used in past and present exploration in order to evaluate impact and the effects of those changes).
- Describing ways that life in the United States and/or the world has both changed and stayed the same over time, and explaining why these changes have occurred (e.g., In what ways would the life of a teenager during the American Revolution be different from the life of a teenager today? What factors have contributed to these differences?).
- Investigating and evaluating how events, people, and ideas (democracy, for example) have shaped the United States and the world, and hypothesizing how different influences could have led to different consequences (e.g., How did the ideals of Greek democracy impact the world? How has European colonialism influenced race relations in Africa?).
Students show understanding of how humans interpret history by:
- Identifying different types of primary and secondary sources (for example, visual, literary, and musical sources), and evaluating the possible biases expressed in them (e.g., analyzing Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre).
- Reading and interpreting historic maps.
- Identifying multiple perspectives in historic and current events (e.g., How might one of Santa Anna’s soldiers describe the events at the Alamo? How might an American soldier describe the same events?).
- Evaluating attitudes, values, and behaviors of people in different historical contexts (e.g., examining how religious values have influenced historic events).
- Identifying how technology can lead to a different interpretation of history (e.g., DNA evidence, forensic analysis of a battle site).
Students show understanding of past, present, and future time by:
- Identifying the beginning, middle, and end of an historical narrative or story.
- Constructing time lines of significant historical developments in the nation and world, designating appropriate equidistant intervals of time and recording events according to the order in which they occurred.
- Interpreting data presented in time lines.
- Measuring and calculating calendar time by days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, and millennia (e.g., How long ago did people first come to North America?).
- Understanding a variety of calendars (e.g., Islamic, Jewish, Chinese) and reasons for their organizational structures (e.g., political, historic, religious).
- Making predictions and/or decisions based on an understanding of the past and the present (e.g., after analyzing past events, determining what steps can impact the future).
- Identifying important events in the United States and/or world, and describing multiple causes and effects of those events.
- Explaining transitions between eras that occurred over time (e.g. independence of African nations) as well as those that occurred as a result of a pivotal event (e.g., the invention of the automobile and the light bulb).
- Identifying why certain events are considered pivotal and how they cause us to reorder time (e.g., the explosion of the atom bomb and the beginning of the nuclear age; September 11, 2001).
Physical and Cultural Geography
Students interpret geography and solve geographic problems by:
- Identifying characteristics of states, countries, and continents using resources such as landmarks, models, different kinds of maps, photographs, atlases, internet, video, reference materials, GIS and mental mapping.
- Observing, comparing, and analyzing patterns of national, and global land use (e.g., agriculture, forestry, industry) to understand why particular locations are used for certain human activities.
- Locating the physical, political, and cultural regions of the United States and the world (e.g., Sub-Sahara, Middle East, Eurasia).
- Locating and using absolute and relative location, and explaining why selected cities are of historical and current importance (e.g., Palestine; Moscow).
- Using absolute and relative location to identifying major mountain ranges, major rivers, and major climate and vegetation zones and the effects of these on settlement patterns (e.g., Appalachian Mountain’s effect on westward movement; overgrazing; Palestinian/Israeli conflict).
- Interpreting a variety of effective representations of the earth such as maps, globes, and photographs and project future changes (e.g., physical, political, topographic, computer generated, and special purpose maps).
- Identifying and using basic elements of a variety of maps.
- Using grid systems to locate places on maps and globes (e.g., longitude and latitude).
- Comparing and contrasting spatial patterns or landforms using geographic resources (e.g., comparing water usage between nations).
Students show understanding of human interaction with the environment over time by:
- Describing how human activity and technology have changed the environment in the U.S. and world for specific purposes (e.g., development of urban environments, genetic modification of crops, flood control, reforestation).
- Generating information related to the impact of human activities on the physical environment (for example, through field studies, mapping, interviewing, and using scientific instruments) in order to draw conclusions and recommend actions (e.g., damming the Yangtze River).
- Evaluating different viewpoints regarding resource use in the U.S. and world (e.g., debating drilling for oil in a national wildlife refuge).
- Examining multiple factors in the interaction of humans and the environment (e.g., population size, farmland, and food production).
- Recognizing patterns of voluntary and involuntary migration in the U.S. and world.
- Using information to make predictions about future migration.
Students analyze how and why cultures continue and change over time by:
- Identifying and comparing expressions of culture in Vermont, the U.S., and the world through analysis of various modes of expression such as poems, songs, dances, stories, paintings, and photographs (e.g., identifying how the Japanese art of Gyotaku [fish printing] reflects history and culture).
- Describing the contributions of various cultural groups to the world, both past and present.
- Analyzing how location and spatial patterns influence the spread of cultural traits (e.g., comparing clothing, food, religion/values, government, and art across four ancient cultures in relation to location).
- Identifying ways in which culture in the United States and the world has changed and may change in the future (e.g., the spread of Islam).
Civics, Government and Society
Students act as citizens by:
- Comparing the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in another country to those of the U.S (e.g., after reading accounts of elections in news articles, compare voting rights).
- Identifying the various ways people become citizens of the U.S. (e.g., birth, naturalization).
- Giving examples of ways people act as members of a global community (e.g., collecting used textbooks for countries in need).
- Demonstrating positive interaction with group members (e.g., working with a group to design a lesson teaching younger students about rights and responsibilities).
- Identifying problems, proposing solutions, and considering the effects of a course of action in the local community, state, nation, or world.
- Explaining and defending their own point of view on issues that affect themselves and society, using information gained from reputable sources (e.g. communism vs. democracy; war vs. economic sanctions).
- Explaining and critically evaluating views that are not one’s own.
- Giving examples of ways in which political parties, campaigns, and elections provide opportunities for citizens to participate in the political process.
- Illustrating how individuals and groups have brought about change locally, nationally, or internationally (e.g., interview someone involved in civil union legislation).
- Demonstrating how identity stems from beliefs in and allegiance to shared political values and principles, and how these are similar and different to other peoples (e.g. Northern Ireland/Republic; socialism; capitalism).
- Establishing rules and/or policies for a group, school, or community, and defending them (e.g., dress code policies, establishing a skate board park).
Students show understanding of various forms of government by:
- Describing how rules and laws are created (e.g., participating in a simulation about creating a new law).
- Identifying key documents on which U.S. laws are based and where to find them (e.g., Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution).
- Describing how government decisions impact and/or relate to their lives.
- Identifying the basic functions, structures and purposes of governments within the United States.
- Describing the basic principles of American democracy (e.g., right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; responsibility for the common good; equality of opportunity and equal protection of the law; freedom of speech and religion).
- Defining criteria for selecting leaders at the school, community, state, national and international levels.
Students examine how different societies address issues of human interdependence by:
- Analyzing a current or historic issue related to human, rights, and explaining how the values of the time or place influenced the issue (e.g. Kosovo, China, Vietnam).
- Analyzing how shared values and beliefs can maintain a subculture (e.g., political parties, religious groups).
- Describing the purposes and functions of governmental and nongovernmental international organizations (e.g., the United Nations, NATO, International Red Cross, Amnesty International).
- After examining issues from more than one perspective, defining and defending the rights and needs of others in the community, nation, and world (e.g. AIDS in Africa; One Child Policy in China; nuclear waste disposal).
- Analyzing differences and similarities among people that arise from factors such as cultural, ethnic, racial, economic, and religious diversity, and describing their costs and benefits.
- Citing examples, both past and present, of how diversity has led to change. (e.g., immigration of Cubans into Miami).
- Identifying examples of interdependence among states and nations (e.g., transportation systems).
- Analyzing behaviors that foster global cooperation among groups and governments (e.g., lowering trade barriers).
- Explaining conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to tensions and/or conflict within and among individuals, communities, and nations (e.g., investigating the relationship between poverty and conflict).
- Explaining ways in which conflicts can be resolved peacefully (e.g., assimilation /separatism; affirmative action; diplomacy).
Students examine how access to various institutions affects justice, reward, and power by:
- Comparing how different groups gain or have been denied access to various institutions, and describing the impact this has had on these groups in the US and other countries (e.g., Property ownership for voting, ageism, access to education; affirmative action, due process, petition).
- Identifying and describing examples of tensions between belief systems and government policies and laws, and identifying ways these tensions can be reduced (e.g., Gambling on reservations; neutrality of Switzerland; humanitarian aid).
Students show an understanding of the interaction/interdependence between humans, the environment, and the economy by:
- Explaining how goods and services around the world create economic interdependence between people in different places (e.g., writing a persuasive essay about the effects of importing oil, exporting labor, etc.).
- Examining how producers in the U.S. and/or world have used natural, human, and capital resources to produce goods and services, and predicting the long term effects of these uses (e.g., describing how the use of petroleum products will impact the production of hybrid vehicles; examining how the use of human resources in the U.S. has changed over time).
- Drawing conclusions about how choices within an economic system affect the environment in the state, nation, and/or world (e.g., decisions to build “box” stores and new roads).
Students show understanding of the interconnectedness between government and the economy by:
- Identifying goods and services provided by local, state, national, and international governmental and/or nongovernmental organizations (e.g., Red Cross, UN peacekeeping efforts, etc.).
- Evaluating the costs and benefits of government economic programs to both individuals and groups (e.g., debate the pros and cons of welfare programs).
- Explaining the relationship between taxation and governmental goods and services in the U.S. and/or world (e.g., how much of the federal budget is devoted to international aid?).
- Recognizing that governments around the world create their own currency for use as money (e.g., examining foreign currency for cultural and political symbols).
- Recognizing that a change in exchange rates changes the relative price of goods and services between two countries (e.g., track the cost in dollars of ordering a Big Mac in Paris over a three week period).
Students make economic decisions as a consumer, producer, saver, investor, and citizen by:
- Define and apply basic economic concepts such as supply and demand, price, market and/or opportunity cost in an investigation of a regional, national, or international economic question or problem (e.g., In Colombia, what could be an alternative agricultural product to coca?).
- Examining the causes and long-term effects of people’s needs and/or wants exceeding their available resources, and proposing possible solutions (e.g., examining long term effects of population issues in China and India).
- Comparing price, quality, and features of goods and services.
- Analyzing influences on buying and saving (e.g., media, peers).
- Analyzing factors involved in the production of a product or service (e.g., developing a business plan for community fundraising).