All students take eighth grade Physical Education, Health/Family Life. This course is provided in an every day, full-year program. Most students will take English Literature 8 and English Writing 8. This course is provided in an every day, full-year program. There is one exception. Students enrolled in Advanced English 8 will have an open period during which they will take an elective. The following full-year eighth grade electives are available:


Emphasizes the development of full-band performance skills in preparation for concerts and competitions. This advanced-level band class includes the elements of more complex music theory and interpretation and a higher level of technical playing proficiency through exposure to sophisticated band literature.


Emphasizes the development of music reading skills and interpretation as well as attaining proficiency in solo, ensemble, and full-orchestra performances. Numerous student performances are arranged during the year.

French I

Emphasizes communicating in French. Students become involved immediately in using the language to simulate daily life situations. Activities include speaking, listening, writing, reading, and the study of French culture. This is a high school credit course (0.5 credits per semester).

German I

German 1 is a year-long course that introduces the German language through conversations and readings relating to common, everyday vocabulary. Some of the topics covered include school, chores, leisure-time activities, foods, weather, travel, parties, and shopping. Students are introduced to basic grammar concepts and cultural information. Authentic audio-visual aids reinforce hearing and speaking skills while lending authentic German cultural insights. This is a high school credit course (0.5 credits per semester.)

Spanish I

Focuses on language as a means of active communication. A reasonable proficiency in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing Spanish is the primary goal. This is a high school credit course (0.5 credits per semester).

Applied Environmental Engineering

Applied environmental engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to improve the natural environment (air, water, and/or land resources). Students will study issues on how to:

  1. Provide healthy water
  2. Provide clean air
  3. To ensure land for human habitation (house or home) and for other organisms are healthy for living (including methods to remediate polluted sites). It involves waste water management and air pollution control, recycling, and public health issues as well as a knowledge of environmental engineering law. It also includes studies on the environmental impact of proposed construction projects.

    These studies will include practical exercises and testing on methods to clean, recycle, reuse, and repurpose what we currently have.


The following semester eighth grade electives are scheduled based on interest:


Stresses design and art composition in two and three dimensional forms through the media of drawing, painting, lettering, and sculpturing. Experiences in ceramics and crafts are also included in this course.

Drama 8

Introduces students to theater history, with emphasis on Greek, Elizabethan, and American drama. Knowledge of the different aspects of theater production is applied by presenting a one-act play. Radio and television broadcasting are also covered, and students will utilize the school’s television studio to create and present a commercial.

Technology Applications

Involves students in interactive modules which present the concepts of electricity, flight, architectural engineering, computer applications, and physics through hands-on activities.

Technical Drawing

This CAD course is designed to provide a learning experience to expose students to careers in computer aided drafting. Students will have the opportunity to become familiar with drafting technology, terminology, and a hands-on experience with the Auto CAD software.

Earth Zone 8

Students will explore the marine and herpetology centers, learn about the organisms, research and learn about native Virginia species of reptiles and amphibians, and learn about the marine ecosystem. At the same time, students will explore ecology and how humans have impacted the world around us. Students will have opportunities for hands on experiences with our animals in both the marine and herpetology centers. The overall focus of this class is to foster knowledge and appreciation for the environment and the animals living in it.

Sample Eighth Grade Schedules for P. L. Dunbar Middle School for Innovation

Please note that these schedules are only intended to illustrate some of the possible combinations of courses that meet the requirements in eighth grade. Periods at which courses are scheduled will vary.

  Student 1 Student 2 StUdent 3 Student 4
Period 1 English Literature Math 8 Block English Literature World Language
Period 2 English Writing Math 8 Block English Writing Orchestra/PE 8
Period 3 Elective Earth Science (Advanced) Advanced
Algebra I
Algebra I
Period 4 Principals of Science Civics and Econ (Advanced) Principals of Science Earth Science (Advanced)
Period 5 Civics and Econ World Language Civics and Econ Civics and Econ (Advanced)
Period 6 PE & H/FL PE & H/FL PE & H/FL Elective
Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
Period 7 Math 8 Block English (Advanced) Band 8 English (Advanced)
Period 8 Math 8 Block College Prep College Prep College Prep