We Help Eighth Graders Choose the Right Course2022-12-30T00:48:51+00:00

We Help Eighth Graders Choose the Right Course …
with The First Rung Curriculum

We help eighth grade students ‘choose the right course’ with The First Rung Curriculum, our unique, custom, electronic learning modules. The First Rung (curriculum and activities) is provided at minimal cost to middle schools. Eighth graders learn basic material that helps catalyze their interest in learning the material they will need in middle school that will help them succeed in high school … and beyond. 

Intervention with eighth grade students is critical because few have enough workforce information/real world experience to select a career and develop a plan to achieve that goal. Nor should they, given most of them lack the maturity to ensure success. But if they make uninformed decisions with course selections as they enter high school, they may never achieve the job or career they might really want.

Few budding teens wind up with career planning skills early enough to help define and achieve career goals unless someone teaches them the process. They will need to know how to develop and follow at least a rudimentary plan when the time is right, and that time is not that far away.

However, most teachers are too busy delivering academic material to include workforce readiness content, and most overworked guidance counselors have to focus on juniors and seniors who are just a short of immediate college/career selections to give any time to younger teens. That is unfortunate, because the early teen years are exactly the right time to begin a slow, steady flow of information about preparation for post-secondary education and workforce readiness in a way that does not disrupt teens’ busy lives.


We help students start to think critically about how their academic decisions, and many of the personal choices they make in social contexts, will impact their futures. We ensure they consider these decisions as early as possible. We help eighth graders understand how high the stakes really are and what kinds of decisions will generate positive life impact.

But we also mean that phrase [Choose the Right Course] literally. Students also need to choose the right academic courses as they move into ninth grade and beyond. The courses they choose and their performance in those high school courses are key to their future success. And it’s not just academic choice and performance that will change the trajectory of their lives. Many of their personal/behavioral choices — good or bad — will also impact their futures, often equally or more so than their academic decisions.

That’s why we developed our customized electronic curriculum, which emphasizes the need for students to focus on academic achievement (the basis for the ‘hard skills’ they will need to get a job) and attend to the behaviors they need to cultivate the ‘soft skills’ they will need to keep a job.

We use widely referenced statistics and studies on top-notch websites to help steer our participating students into a mindset that will help them know how to make academic and career decisions. We tell them where they can get up-to-date information that will help them make some of the most important decisions of their lives — and for the rest of their lives.

Uniquely, we also help all our participants understand how they can use ALL of their activities (academic and behavioral) in middle and early high school to get a job — even years after they leave their eighth grade classrooms. And yes, that is more than possible!

To help middle school students get their workforce readiness up to speed, we have developed two dynamic and effective tools: a customized curriculum and a set of programs activities. Together,

  • The First Rung Curriculum informs eighth graders about what they need to learn, and
  • The First Rung Activities provides an opportunity for eight graders to practice and apply what they have learned.

Click on the links below to learn more about The First Rung Program Learning Modules and Activities and how they fit in with the sequence of our programs across grade levels.

Information about The First Rung curriculum and activities can be found in the bulleted lists at the bottom of this page. FIRUNGFIRUNG

Don’t Miss This Additional Information:

The First Rung Helps Eighth Graders Climb Higher with Our Program Activities.

See How The First Rung Fits in Our Sequence of Programs Across Grade Levels.

Links to Other Relevant Material:

Check Out Our Rainmakers Program for High School Juniors and Seniors.

We Give Students the Opportunity to Get What Colleges Want.

What We Know About What Employers Want.

Click on Each of the Black Boxes Below for More Details:

Brain Science Rules2020-04-04T20:12:16+00:00

Demanding Course Work Builds Brains

The agonies of math? The challenges of a new language? Even harder challenges of a new language that uses a different alphabet? The focus on details demanded by computer programming?

The research is unequivocal. The more you study, learn, and practice hard academic material, the more you get smarter.

Yes, you do!


Propel Yourself into Your Future2020-04-01T06:17:36+00:00

Dual Duty

Most importantly, The First Rung presentations show students how they can not only build their academic portfolio with hard work in challenging academic subjects, they can ‘convert’ their hard work into language that will impress college admissions officials and businesses alike.

Yes, that’s right. Even eighth grade students will be able to not only impress their teachers, but they will learn how to compile, evaluate, and present their performance in middle school in a way that will impress college admissions officials and employers alike!

Talk about communications!

To ensure that students have learned and understood the content in this module, there is an online debriefing exercise for each.

Mysteries of Histories2020-04-01T06:18:22+00:00

An Energetic View of History

The last of our five classroom learning modules targets History class and presents a completely different take on the progress human beings have made since the end of the Ice Age.

The module also emphasizes how the rate of change in technological advances has increased and how that rate of change will impact students’ futures.

To ensure that students have learned and understood the content in this module, there is an online debriefing exercise for each.


Multiple Languages = $$2020-04-08T15:34:10+00:00

So Many Languages

We offer two electronic Classroom Learning Modules in which we detail the importance of language. These presentations help students understand why learning English is key, how learning specific foreign languages can help them snag great jobs that pay more money but not all languages are created equal.

We define the impact that appropriate and skilled use of language (both the spoken and written word) makes on decision-making individuals, such as employers and college officials. Adding appropriate body language can morph an interview into a job offer.

Adding a computer language to one’s repertoire makes a job candidate almost unbeatable.

To ensure that students have learned and understood the content in this module, there is an online debriefing exercise for each.

Exercise Your Mind2020-04-01T06:59:33+00:00

Take a Bath in Hard Math

We have two electronic Classroom Learning Modules targeting Mathematics Class that showcase widely accepted research and emphasize that hard work in hard courses (especially in Mathematics) is the best way to build the mind for the next level of learning.

That counts for all future options, whether a student’s goal is to attend a two-year college, a four-year college, an industry training program, join the military, or go directly to work.

The mind is like a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, a lot of the strength you could have you won’t have.

These electronic presentations clearly connect learning to earning by emphasizing the relationship between school, work, and life — and how earning the resources required to have a healthy and enjoyable life starts in grade eight.

Website Activities2020-03-29T05:22:03+00:00

Readings, Quizzes, and More

We often post ‘The First Rung’ ancillary activities on our website, such as a new informative story and reinforcing online quiz, so we can continue to be the soft but persistent voice for education and workforce readiness. As appropriate, we ask school leadership to communicate these opportunities to their students in a variety of ways (morning announcements, emails to students/parents, website notifications).

Occasionally, we distribute small prizes to students who have taken advantage of these learning opportunities.

Getting Our Message to Students2020-04-05T04:28:10+00:00

Our G.R.I.T. Curriculum
Step Up to The First Rung

To ensure that eighth graders ‘get’ our message, we have developed proprietary curriculum that helps students understand what employers will expect from them and how knowing about those demands now can ensure that students can be really ready and have a much longer time to get ready.

‘The First Rung’ curriculum emphasizes what students need to do — and should not do — in preparation for high school and the rest of their lives.

We need only five classroom periods to get our message across to the students — modules target different academic classes. Each is 45 minutes long and aimed at Mathematics class (2), English class (2), and History (1).

Competitive Team Event2020-03-29T05:04:14+00:00

Now Is Not Too Early Video Commercial

To ensure that the critical messages delivered in our The First Rung curriculum are reinforced and repeated as often as possible, we encourage our participating grade eight students to work in small teams to produce and film a ‘commercial’ that summarizes the important points that all students need to embed in their approach to all things necessary for success.

Students plan, develop, and film a three-minute video commercial and the best commercials (as designated by teacher-driven processes) are submitted to a panel of judges (volunteer business people) who will select the best videos. The top three will be featured in a student assembly during which the producers of the videos will receive small prizes.

Focus on Your Résumé2020-03-29T04:35:13+00:00

Strengthen Your Core | And So It Begins

We show eighth graders how they can strengthen their core — their core competencies, that is. We show them how they can take the hard work they do to maintain or improve their knowledge of key subject matter and turn that work into a statement of accomplishments that will impress both college admissions officials and employers alike.

Most English teachers review résumé writing techniques near the end of high school. However, to have impressive content for that résumé, students in grade eight need to develop and implement a plan that will begin to build those accomplishments throughout their high school years. That content needs to showcase his or her academic (hard skills) knowledge base and the soft (interpersonal) skills employers look for in their hiring processes.

Whether that content is showcased in a one-page document, through a series of essay questions in an online application, or during a personal interview matters not. What matters is that those skills need to be showcased appropriately with measurable improvement over time.

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