To keep parents/guardians up to date on what is going on in their kids science class.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First week of school!

First Week Objective:
Students will be able to distinquish between an observation, inference, and prediction and be able to use these skills within an experiment.

Lab Safety
The first week of school is always a struggle because I just want to jump straight in to talking about science and doing labs but that would be a train wreck without layind down some ground rules. So on Monday we spent a majority of the class time talking about Lab Safety. Students were sent home a Lab Safety contract that needs to be SIGNED by a parent in order for them to participate in labs. Our very first lab is going to be on Thursday so they must have it in by then. If they do not then they will not be able to participate in the lab. If you have not seen this from your child CLICK HERE to print it out.

Observation, Inference, & Prediction
Starting on Wednesday we will be discussing what obervations, inferences, and predictions are. These are important skills to have when experiencing science. Many labs we will do this year will require these skills.

Observation: Using one or more senses to gather information.
Inference: Explanation of your observation based on reasoning from prior knowledge.
Prediction: Making a forecast of what will happen in the future based on past experience or evidence

Next Weeks Objective:
Students will be able to identify the steps of the scientific method and how to use all the steps to perform a quality experiment.

What's going on in the world of science?
Thought I would share this interesting video taken from the International Space station as it flew over Hurricane Irene. It is currently located in the southwestern Atlantic Ocean about 55 miles northeast of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and 70 miles southeast of Grand Turk Island. This position is also approximately 705 miles east-southeast of Miami, Florida. Irene intensified into a Category 2 hurricane Monday evening and now has maximum sustained winds near 100 mph.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A different approach to Grades.

Worried about how this years grades are being determined differently?

At open house I'm sure many parents were slightly concerned with how their students grades were going to be determined this year. A new district initiative has been put in place to make grades weighted primarily on assessments. The 7 minutes I was able to discuss this with you during open house may have left some questions unanswered. Hopefully this will help.

In my science class 70% of the students grade will come from assessments while the other 30% will come from labs & classwork. I know when I first changed to this it made me anxious, as I'm sure it has to many of you. I now believe this will more accurately portray the students mastery of the science content.

Will my student still get homework?
Even though homework is not going to count for a grade it will still be an expectation to complete a homework assignment when given. These assignments will be given when a topic has been taught and we are now practicing how well we know it. This will be a gauge on if the student has any questions over the topic or needs clarification on something. We will check for accuracy the next day on these assignments. It will be very important that these assignments still get completed to help them prepare for the upcoming tests.   

What if my student doesn't do well on a test?
For many reasons a student might not perform to his liking on a test. It happens. There will be opportunities for retakes for full points within a 4 week window after the test. BUT for a student to retake the test they must have a conference with me before that retake. In this conference we will review his science notebook and discuss what they can do to get a better grade next time. We will also review if they have completed all of their homework assignments in that unit and be asked to complete the ones they did not finish. They might be asked to complete a study guide and/or stay for tutoring if needed. 

What about the other 30%?
The other 30% comes from Labs and Classwork. In science lab skills are very important and will reflect on their grade. There are many labs that we will do this year and they will be graded based on their execution of that lab as well as thorough evaluation of the results to make an accurate conclusion. Classwork could be a variety of activities that we do in class but will always be things they only do in class and not have to take home.

I know this is a change to grades so if you have any questions now or anytime throughout the year please let me know and I'll be happy to discuss any issues with you.

I look forward to a great year!