Mr. Marks's 8th Grade Page

Back to School Night

Literature and Language Arts

  • Core Literature – Short stories and poems selected by Mr. Marks, and the following possible Core novels:  Stamped, The Giver, Inside Out and Back Again, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Students will do close reading (analyzing, highlighting, and annotating fiction and nonfiction), literary analysis exercises, and finding and using textual evidence to support a point of view.
  • Vocabulary – Vocabulary words come from some of the novels we read. When we read from the novels, vocabulary assignments will be given. Students will be get their vocabulary primarily (but not solely) from online slide decks that contain the vocabulary words with their definitions. A corresponding worksheet will be given for each slide deck.
  • Writing Curriculum – Students will learn specific writing strategies at the sentence and paragraph level to add depth and complexity to their ideas. Additionally, students will learn concise and effective writing in short and long formats. They will be working on short and long pieces over brief and extended time periods. These include writing short, fictional and nonfictional pieces using research-based evidence to support a point of view.

Social Studies

  • History Alive! and Discovering Our Past
  • Unit Packets—Students will use unit packets, which require them to respond to factual and reflective questions. They will learn note taking. They will create maps, charts, and graphs. Some of these are done as class activities. The information learned in each packet is used for completing projects and preparing for quizzes and tests.
  • Every unit packet must have a creative visual cover that can be attached or drawn directly on the first page of each packet. Each cover should depict something from the time period covered in a given packet. 
  • Students will study
    • Colonial America & Revolution
    • The Constitution
    • The Early Republic
    • Jacksonian Democracy & Manifest Destiny
    • The West
    • Slavery & Reform
    • Civil War & Reconstruction
    • Gilded Age & Progressive Era (should time permit)


  • Homework is generally assigned Monday through Thursday. Some assignments are due the next day; others are due days, weeks, or even a month ahead. Students are expected to manage their time. Being able to manage time is an essential skill needed for middle school, high school, and life. Students who have not managed their time wisely may have homework on Fridays or over the weekend.
  • Our district policy is for eighth graders to do no more than 50 minutes of homework a night for social studies and language arts combined. If your child is regularly doing more than 50 minutes of homework, either their time isn’t being managed properly (in the classroom and/or at home), or there is some other problem that needs to be addressed.
  • According to department policy, if a student does not have a homework assignment completed by the due date, the assignment is accepted up to one week after the due date. Department policy states that late work will earn a maximum of 50%. Late projects and other large assignments are accepted up to a week late for no more than 70% credit; after one week, for no more than 50% credit, and after two weeks, projects will not be accepted. A placeholder zero will appear in the gradebook for any assignment not turned in. Teacher discretion applies. Late work will not be accepted during the last week of each grading period
  • Any incomplete work that is turned in will receive a zero. Incomplete work may not be turned in without permission. 
  • Please make sure your child is vigilant in checking their scores in PowerSchool. No changes in scores will be made after I have submitted semester grades.

Thursday Envelopes

  • Thursday Envelopes are sent home with graded student work on Thursday and must be brought back by Friday. Students should take the work home and save their exams, packets, and large writing assignments for future reference. Please ask your child to show you their Thursday Envelope every Thursday if you are curious about their work.


Starting in the fifth week of school, I will begin providing tutorials on Thursdays from 3:10 to 4:00. Please have your child make an appointment with me before coming to tutorials. I will not hold a tutorial session if no student makes an appointment.

When do you read your email?

I read my email during the school day and after school before 3:30 PM. I generally do not read my email after 3:30 PM or on weekends. Do not expect to get a timely reply from me if you email me after 3:30 PM or on the weekends. I will try to get to your email either the next day or Monday after the weekend.


A big part of eighth grade is helping students develop confidence—academic confidence, social-emotional confidence, and the confidence they will need to face and overcome challenges. In the classroom, at least, this means students must learn to advocate for themselves. Self-advocacy is a life skill. It is necessary for success not only in school, but also in life. I will encourage students to come and speak with me if they have a problem or need help. Please encourage your child to see me if they need help academically or otherwise. I’m here to help. Together, we can help your child be confident, successful, and happy.