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8th Grade Electives

Eighth grade students are given the opportunity to enroll in two elective courses per semester. Some of our electives are full-year courses and others are semester-long courses. Students who enroll in a full-year elective are committed to that elective for the duration of the school year.

Semester Courses

Advanced Computer Graphics
Prerequisite: Computer Graphics
This class is designed for students who have taken computer graphics and would like to do more! Students will continue to create original digital art with painting and drawing tools, but will build upon the basics learned in Photoshop and Illustrator in the previous. We will also explore animation and create unique animated works.There will be a unit on drawing on the IPAD using Procreate. This all takes place in our beautiful 9th generation retina I-MAC computer lab and students are given access to the Adobe suite of tools.

Art I
Students will work on two-dimensional projects using pencil, pastel, charcoal,  and pen and ink. Students will also study color theory and may use some color pencils, pastel and watercolor. (6/7/8)
Art II

Prerequisite: Art I
Students will use skills and techniques learned in Art I to create another level of artwork. Emphasis will be on content, composition, balance, and execution, with a focus on portrait drawing and mural painting. Students will explore different mediums including pencil, charcoal, prismacolor, pastel, acrylics and more.

Computer Graphics
It's art on the computer! 6th, 7th, and 8th graders will learn to paint, draw, and create using software that digital artists and professional graphic designers use. Students will use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to create their own works of art, make art mashups, and edit photographs. Graphic design principles while creating interesting and personalized works of art! This all takes place in our beautiful 9th generation retina I-MAC computer lab and students are given access to the Adobe suite of tools. (6/7/8)

Computer Programming
Are you a whiz at computers or do you want to be? Computer science is a huge part of our society today and will continue to play a huge role in the future. In this class students will learn the basics of computer science and about how these machines really work. Students will become versed in the fundamental principles of computer programming. Students will learn basic coding through simple game design. A variety of platforms will be used such as Scratch and which both focus on Javascript.

Drama I
So you want to act. Welcome to OIS Drama! This class is a highly-charged “human laboratory” in which you learn the basic elements of drama and how to use a range of acting tools, including voice, face and body expression, movement, and use of space. You will build confidence and stage presence with drama games, structured improvisation, and pantomime. You will study the art of theatrical combat and produce your own exciting scene using the techniques you learn. We will then put our acting and directing skills to use in scripted scenes that we perform in class. The course culminates in performance of student monologues. Course goals are to maximize creativity, develop confidence, and foster an appreciation of the dramatic arts.
Drama II
Prerequisite: Drama I 
Unleash your imagination and build on the skills you developed in Drama I. Drama II will extend your range and technique by focusing more on scene work and character development. In Drama II, actors and directors alike will learn to analyze scenes and work with texts, which include both dramatic and comedic material.  We will also produce our very own Victorian melodramas, complete with villains, heroes and heroines, and awesome (low-budget) visual spectacles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you will tape a short commercial and produce your own public service announcement. In between the bigger units, we will sharpen our skills with improvisation, short monologues, and character sketches.

All enthusiastic and committed 7th and 8th graders are encouraged to apply to join the KOIS News broadcast team. Outstanding students selected for this elective will learn advanced journalism skills in interviewing, writing, editing, producing, and reporting for a news broadcast that reflects and informs the entire Bulldog community. Bulldog news reporters will explore issues critical to the campus and the Orinda community at large which may require time outside school hours to “get the story.” Students will receive credentials as campus reporters. They will also be given opportunities to learn from guest speakers, visit professional broadcast facilities and attend journalism conventions. 


The Leadership & WEB class is a semester elective for 8th-grade students only. Students will organize and plan school-wide events, spirit days, and community service projects. The WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) program provides opportunities for 8th graders to interact with 6th-grade students in a variety of social activities throughout the year.  The Leadership & WEB class seeks students who are ambitious, responsible, collaborative, and self-motivated.

Musical Theater 
The Musical Theater elective is designed for students who enjoy singing, acting, and dancing. Performers will practice audition skills for solo singing and monologues, along with ensemble choreography and choral singing. Class will also include instruction on the History of Musical Theater. (6/7/8)


This hands-on class fosters innovative thinking by allowing students to tinker and to use their creativity to solve problems. Students engage in a variety of activities, sharing various materials, tools, and resources. Students seek solutions to problems that may arise in making their prototypes, collaborate to improve their plans, and work to complete their projects. (6/7/8)

Peer Mentoring

The goal of Peer Mentoring is to help support students who benefit from inclusion, so they can participate in general education classes to the best of their ability. Students who choose to enroll in this course will help provide opportunities for others to build self-esteem through successful participation in all school activities, both academic and social. Students also assist in providing their mentees with opportunities to develop a sense of responsibility and independence and to build communication skills to develop stronger personal relationships. (7/8)

Public Speaking & Debate
Public Speaking & Debate is an introductory course that develops speaking skills and provides better understanding of what it takes to communicate effectively in front of a group of your peers. You will learn techniques for handling nervousness while building courage through a series of fun impromptu speeches. Focus groups will be conducted to understand audience attitude and knowledge so that messages can be adapted for different settings. You will learn to develop an effective thesis statement, and how to organize main/secondary points, construct arguments, and use evidence in support of that thesis. We will complete as many speaking formats as time permits from among the following: Impromptu; Interview & Introduction; Problem/Solution; Narrative; Expository; Creative Persuasive; and Argumentative. PSD also includes a brief introduction to Parliamentary Debate (format used by OIS Debate Team in competition). Debate—the art of civil argument—teaches you how to structure a case and refute opposing arguments. You will learn to set aside the emotionalism that sabotages discussion in so many areas of life. Participating in a spirited debate is one of the fastest ways to build confidence, as well as tolerance and empathy for other points of view.  


Students will explore clay techniques and art expression through a series of introductory clay hand-building projects.  The class also includes drawing and painting and may delve into other alternative art making techniques and materials. Students will be evaluated according to effort and attitude. Students may repeat this course and will receive new, advanced projects. (6/7/8)

Video Production I
Welcome to the wonderful world of TV and Film!  Fun and learning combine to help beginning video students explore the changing media scene with an emphasis on hands-on work. Students will learn the “language of TV and film” as well as the basics of photography, videography and editing techniques.  This includes an introduction to the professional editing platform, Adobe Premiere Pro.  Students will also work alone and in groups to learn the fundamentals of storyboarding, script writing, performance, and criticism.  Projects include everything from PSAs and news stories to stop-motion and live action movies. Students will be exposed to the elements of visual storytelling, nonfiction writing, public speaking, news gathering, and the tenants of good journalism. (6/7/8)

Video Production II (prerequisite VP I)
Students who have successfully completed Video Production I are invited to sign up for this Advanced Video Production class.  VP II students will have the opportunity to further develop their skills with broadcast technology, journalism, video production, mobile journalism, live productions, short filmmaking, commercials, podcasts, digital storytelling, and media literacy.  More advanced videography and Adobe Premiere Pro editing techniques will be explored.  Being a project-based class, each student will be able to write, produce, direct, and edit their own short film, while crewing on classmates’ productions.  Students can create a short fiction, documentary, or music video project.

Web Design

Web design elective class for the 7th and 8th graders is an immersion into the exciting world of the web! Students will learn how to effectively create web sites. Each student will learn and employ skills that make up the three most important elements of websites: code, content and design. A major emphasis will be placed on learning HTML and CSS. Students will also learn some basic graphic design skills to enhance their web pages. By the end of the course each student will create three published sites.


Students will learn basic principles of woodworking including proper use and care of hand and power tools. Students will also learn shop math, measuring, and reading plans. Students will complete assigned projects designed to introduce various tools and processes. Emphasis is placed on safety, responsibility, and cooperation. (6/7/8)

Full-Year Courses

Advanced Chorus 
Seventh and Eighth Grade chorus will focus on advancing choral singing, solo singing and sight-reading skills for choral competitions including CMEA, and Six Flags. Choristers will perform a variety of concerts including a Winter Concert, Pop Concert, tours to Elementary Schools, performing at Six Flags and  CMEA choral festivals.  The class will sing a variety of styles such as Pop, Broadway, Folk, Spirituals, and Concert Selections. Experience in choral singing is preferred. 
Competitive Debate
The Competitive Debate elective makes you part of the OIS Debate Team. OIS has been an award-winning team since we formed the East Bay Debate League (EBDL) with other Bay Area schools, and became a member of the national Middle School Public Debate Program. As a member of the EBDL, our OIS team competes against other middle schools in a number of high-energy tournaments, using a parliamentary format developed by Claremont McKenna College. Topics this year have included Net Neutrality, Catalonia independence, police body cameras, state lotteries, voter ID laws, college internships, and more. Subjects range from simple to rigorous. The Debate Team requires commitment, just like any other competitive sport. As a member of the OIS Debate Team, you are expected to attend all of the tournaments, which take place on Saturdays at various schools. Parents are asked to support us, either by judging at tournaments, volunteering at the OIS-hosted tournament, or helping with team organization. Public Speaking is not a prerequisite, but confident speaking and strong reading skills are important because we move quickly into debate structure and strategy. Coursework includes argumentation, refutation, impacts, logical fallacy, debate flowing, research, and brief-writing. You will learn to set aside bias and emotionalism while you identify the merits of different positions. Debaters must be prepared to argue either side of an issue and weigh the relative importance of opposing arguments. 
Concert Band 
The OIS Concert Band is an intermediate/advanced level band open to grades 7/8 that performs a wide variety of music at assemblies, concerts, and community events. Concert Band is best suited for students who have achieved proficiency in music reading, rhythmic, and ensemble skills. Band members are eligible to audition for the OIS Jazz Band which meets before school.

French 1B (Prerequisite: French 1A)

This course is a continuation of French 1A, stressing speaking, writing and reading. The class is predominantly conducted in French. Increased vocabulary study and more complex speaking patterns and grammar are taught. Students are expected to write short compositions in French, read short stories, and perform dialogues with classmates. French students will continue to communicate with pen-pals on pre-assigned topics which correspond to the material covered in class.

Note: Eighth grade students who maintain a B- average or higher will be recommended for French 2 in high school.

Spanish 1B (Prerequisite: Spanish 1A)

This course is a continuation of Spanish 1A, stressing speaking, writing, and reading. The class is predominantly conducted in Spanish. Increased vocabulary study and more complex speaking patterns and grammar are taught. Students are expected to write short compositions in Spanish, read short stories, and perform dialogues with classmates.

Note: Eighth grade students who maintain a B- average or higher will be recommended for Spanish 2 in high school.


The String Orchestra is open to violin, viola, cello, and bass students in grades 6/7/8. This course is best suited for students who have at least one year of study experience and can read music. This performance-oriented ensemble performs a wide variety of music at assemblies, concerts, community events. (6/7/8)
Leadership/WEB (Where Everybody Belongs)
Leadership is an essential component of our school, with responsibilities ranging from organizing dances, spirit days and community service projects to representing the students of OIS and ensuring that decisions made support student growth. Students are required to submit an application of interest in the spring.

Students in this class will be responsible for producing the annual yearbook from start to finish. They will learn graphic design, photography, desktop publishing and will have the chance to sharpen their writing and organizational skills.

Note: Elective courses are offered based upon student interest and sign-ups.