Middle School Science at St. John School
Dear middle school students and families:
Welcome back! I’m hopeful that this coming school year will be a little more “normal” that is has been the last 18 months, but, as we all know by now, we may need to be flexible. Here are some things you should know before we get started:
All science instruction at St. John School is based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the national science standards for grades k-12, which were adopted by the state of Washington. (You can find an explanation of the NGSS, along with a detailed list of all of the individual standards in grades k-12, here.)
Like the NGSS, the science curriculum at St. John is organized around three major strands:
- Science and engineering practices (processes and procedures used by scientists)
- Crosscutting concepts (ideas or habits of mind that are useful across all subject areas)
- Disciplinary core ideas (content: life science, physical science, etc.)
The science/engineering practices and the crosscutting concepts are included in all science instruction throughout the year, while the disciplinary core ideas are divided into these units:
|6th Grade (with Mrs. Mansfield):||7th Grade (with Mr. Tice):||8th Grade (with Mr. Tice):|
|Science and Engineering Practices||Science and Engineering Practices||Science and Engineering Practices|
|Environmental Science||Evolution||Cell Biology|
|Weather and Climate||Engineering Design Process|
Each unit will take between 4-10 weeks to complete, and will include many shorter formative assessments along the way, followed by one or two summative assessments at the end of the unit.
Performance and learning expectations, along with the NGSS standards, are provided in a link on the sidebar to the left.
- Be respectful towards others;
- Follow classroom norms for group work and classroom discussions;
- Complete all assigned work and submit it on time;
- Keep your workspace clean and organized;
- During whole group discussions, keep yourself muted unless you need to address me or the class;
- Your camera should be turned on during all class sessions;
- Keep chat on topic, and don’t distract others with emojis.
Here are the norms for classroom discussions:
- Only one person speaks at any one time;
- Every student (and teacher) carefully listens to every speaker;
- Respect others’ ideas and feelings;
- Provide evidence for your ideas;
- Be prepared to ask and to answer questions;
- Stay on topic.
Here are the norms for small-group work:
- Everyone participates;
- Everyone stays on task until the assignment/project is complete;
- Respect others’ ideas and feelings;
- Remain with your group at all times during the activity, unless you need to leave the channel to retrieve a document;
- Use “inside voices”;
- If you’ve been absent and need to make up work, either see me upon your return or look up what you’ve missed in Teams.
Grades are based on the number of points students earn divided by the total possible points:
Daily classroom assignments: 0.5 points
Class attendance: 0.5 points
Weekly checkpoint quizzes: 5 points
Longer quizzes (not common): 20 points
End-of-unit assessments: 100 points
Summative projects: varies depending on the project (20-300 points)
Families and students, please note: while it’s important to strive for good grades, it’s more important to keep them in perspective. Anything above 79% on any task is evidence of success. In the context of a student’s entire academic career, no one is going to remember or care what your grades were in middle school. It’s far more important, and much less stressful, if students and families focus on learning the skills and content, and developing good study habits.
All assignments can be turned in via Microsoft Teams or old-fashioned hardcopies.
You are expected to turn in all work on time. I will give you more time with no penalty if you’ve been absent from school due to illness or family emergency. Late work will be accepted, but will make me grumpy. Work that has not been turned in more than two weeks beyond the due date will not be accepted. If you submit late work, please email me and let me know, or post a notice on Teams.
Work must be of consistently high quality:
- It must include a complete heading which includes the assignment, the learning outcome (LO) and the School-wide Learning Expectation (SLE);
- Work should be typed if possible, preferably as Word document. If this isn’t practical, you may hand write your work, scan it, and send it to me as a PDF. Please, do not take photos of your work.
- Your written work must provide evidence of deep thought where needed. (i.e., nearly all the time.)
- Work that involves quantitative reasoning (i.e., math) must include a neat description of how you solved the problem.
If your work does not meet grade-level standards, I will return it to you and ask you to do it again. When it is re-submitted to me, and it meets standards, you will receive full credit.
Scores/grades for the work you turn in to me will be posted on PowerSchool. I strongly suggest that both you and your parents check PowerSchool at least once a week.
Much of the work that you do outside of class will involve reading/watching content information, taking notes, or completing reflections in your science workbooks. This work is not always a product that you will need to physically turn in to me. However, I fully expect you to do it; if you do, you will learn much more than if you don’t.
You will have a 5-point checkpoint quiz at the end of most full weeks of school, usually on Fridays. These quizzes help me to see how much you’ve actually learned that week, and whether or not I need to revisit a particular idea or concept with the entire class. If you score a 4/5 or better on a given quiz, I will conclude that you’ve mastered the ideas we discussed that week. If you score below 4/5, it’s your responsibility to find out what went wrong and address that problem. If you need help with this matter, I will be very happy to assist you!
The vast majority of your grade for a trimester will be determined by your performance on summative assessments (unit exams and projects). This is where you show me what you’ve learned by the end of a unit. If you stumble on a unit exam, you will have an opportunity to re-take the exam, after you’ve developed and carried out an action plan. Other types of summative assessments, like projects or essays, are not re-doable.
Science Inquiry Projects:
All 7th and 8th graders are expected to submit a science or engineering project to me by the end of April/beginning of May. In addition to designing a line of inquiry and carrying out the project, students will need to complete a background research paper, a complete, detailed lab report, and present their findings to me and their classmates. (This is similar to a book talk, only a little more involved.) Work on this very important project will begin in early October; you will received more detailed information at that time.
If students need help from me, or would like to discuss academic or other concerns, I’m usually available at these times:
Every day at lunch recess (let me know ahead of time that you’ll be coming; otherwise I may just leave and eat lunch or something).
If you would like to talk with me outside of office hours, please contact me ahead of time and we’ll make an appointment.
- Be persistent and strive for accuracy. It’s not always going to be easy, but you’ll be successful if you try.
- It’s OK to stumble and/or fail. We all do it sometimes. Failing at something doesn’t mean you’re a failure; it just means you have to get back on your feet and try again. (In other words, cultivate a growth mindset.)
- Communicate with me frequently, even if you know things are going well. If you need help, do not be afraid to ask. (I live for that sort of thing.)
- All of us will have a much better year if we always remember to be respectful towards everyone.
- Please, never show up for class materially unprepared. Always have your binder, your notebook, a pen or pencil, and a laptop or tablet.
Have a great school year,