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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 2017-2018

Art I
Art students will work on two-dimensional projects in drawing and painting using pencil, pastel, color pencil, pen and ink, tempera paints and more. Students will be evaluated according to effort and attitude.

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! Learn to paint, draw and animate using software that digital artists and graphic designers use. Students will use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop to create their own works of art, make art mashups and edit photographs. Students will also have a unit of digital photography and will use their own photographs in class projects.

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. Students will work with partners as well as complete independent projects.

Drama I
So, you want to act. Welcome to OIS Drama! This class is a highly charged “human laboratory” in which students learn the essential elements of drama and how to use a range of acting tools, such as voice, face and body expression, movement, and use of space. Drama games, improvisation, pantomime, and scripted dramatic sketches will be used to develop skills in acting, speaking, and directing. Course goals are to maximize students' creativity and dramatic potential, develop confidence, and foster an appreciation of the dramatic arts.

Drama II
Prerequisite: Drama I
Unleash your imagination and build on the skills that were introduced in Drama I. Drama II will extend your range and technique by focusing more on scene work and character development. In Drama II, you will learn to analyze a scene and work with texts, which include both serious drama and comedy. Other units include melodrama, commercials, open scenes, monologues, improvisation, and more.

KOIS is Orinda Intermediate School's broadcast class. Each morning students air a live five minute program during home room. This program includes all of our school's communication, including school activities, sports, weather, special events and interviews. To round out our broadcast, we include entertaining theme weeks. Students will appear on air and also learn to use all the equipment necessary to complete the broadcast. Please note: After signing up for this class online, students must also sign up with Mrs. Boomgaarden in room 42 before school or at brunch.

Students will have an opportunity to refine their leadership skills while planning and implementing a variety of meaningful student body projects and activities: Others First, Green Team, OIS Bulldog Spirit Days, school dances, character education initiatives and philanthropic events. 8th grade students in this class make a great impact on the social climate of our school. 

Makers Space

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. 

Peer Mentor
Peer mentors support students with special needs by providing assistance with basic reading, writing, or math, and by playing interactive learning games that reinforce both academic and social skills. Peer mentors often accompany students to their PE classes and electives. Our peer mentor program provides students with excellent opportunities to build empathy, develop their interpersonal skills, and create meaningful, supportive relationships.

Public Speaking & Debate
Welcome to OIS’s very own Forensics Department! Public Speaking is an introductory course that provides better understanding and appreciation of effective communication. Critical thinking and dynamic delivery skills are the foundations of all communication assignments. You will also learn about audience analysis and psychology as you prepare speeches in various formats that include informative, narrative, persuasive, and special occasion. In Debate, you will gain confidence through the art of argument. You will learn to set aside biases and emotionalism that undermine effective argument as you learn how to examine issues systematically, and identify the merits of respective positions. You will shape cogent cases on controversial topics and compete against opposing positions using MSPDP parliamentary format. The "language of democracy is the language of debate."


This inquiry-based and hands-on course introduces students to the field of robotics using an integration of computer science and engineering. Using skills learned in math, science, and through observation, students work in teams to build machines and to complete a variety of challenges. Students will also gain skills in project management, time management, resource sharing, teamwork, problem-solving, systems analysis, and communication.


Students will explore clay techniques and art expression through a series of introductory clay hand-building projects. The class will also work with paper maché and be introduced to pottery. Students will be evaluated according to effort and attitude. Students may repeat this course and will receive new, advanced projects.

Video Production
This beginning video class explores today’s vast media scene with an emphasis on doing. Students will learn camera and television operations. Postproduction will be introduced including computer editing. The students will work alone and in groups for scripting, performance, and criticism. Basic television acting will be introduced with awareness of the unique qualities of TV as a medium for drama. Access to a video camera is helpful.

Web Design
Web design elective class for the 7th and 8th graders is an immersion into the exciting world of computers. The students will learn how to effectively create websites. Each student will learn skills to assist in researching topics, writing, editing, and graphic design. A major emphasis will be placed on learning HTML, and special web design software that will culminate into creating two special interest web pages. Students will also learn some basic graphic drawing skills as well as digital photography to enhance their web pages.

Students will learn the 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.

Full-Year Courses 2017-2018

Seventh and eighth grade chorus will focus on advancing choral singing, music theory, solo singing, and sight-reading skills. Students who have studied piano and various instruments may have the opportunity to accompany the choir. Advanced Chorus will perform a variety of repertoire at OIS concerts as well as at performances in the community. The Advanced Chorus will participate in the CMEA competition and Six Flags Music in the Park. 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

So you like arguing? Did you ever think you could actually get a trophy for it? By taking this class, you will be part of the OIS Debate Team. Coursework includes effective argumentation, refutation, logical fallacy, debate flowing, research, and brief writing. (Aren’t you curious what all those words mean?) We do lots of in-class debating using the Middle School Public Debate Program (MSPDP) parliamentary format, which includes a dash of civil heckling for fun. This year's debate topics ranged from Citizens United and the Nuclear Deal to de-extinction and tackle football. As a member of the East Bay Debate League (EBDL) and the OIS team, you will be expected to attend all of the tournaments (typically six or seven), which take place on Saturdays at various schools. Public speaking is not a prerequisite, but confident speaking skills help since we move quickly into debate structure and strategy.

Please note: Parents are asked to support the program, either by judging at competitions, volunteering for the OIS-hosted tournament, or helping with team organization. 

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 
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 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
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. 

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.