Middle School Science at St. John School
Dear middle school students and families:
Welcome to the 2018-2019 school year! I’m very happy to be working with all of you, and pray that all students and their families will have a happy, productive year, full of personal and academic growth.
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:||7th Grade:||8th Grade:|
|Science/Engineering Practices||Science/Engineering Practices (Review)||Science/Engineering Practices (Review)|
|Microorganisms||Classical physics||Structure of Matter|
|Geologic processes/Plate Tectonics||Engineering Design Process||Wave Energy|
|Environmental Science||Astronomy||Cell Biology/Heredity|
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.
Students will be given a list of performance expectations and a study guide at the beginning of each unit; these documents should be placed in students’ binders (in the science section) and kept until the end of the school year. The standards are organized into units in a section in the side bar of my teacher page. In addition, students should hold on to all of their old quizzes and summative assessments.
- Be respectful towards others;
- Follow classroom norms for group work and classroom discussions;
- Complete all assigned work and submit it on time;
- Keep the classroom and your personal space clean and tidy.
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;
- Use your “inside voices”;
- Clean up your area when your task is complete or the class has come to an end.
I do not think that any students will have a hard time meeting these expectations, but if students make a poor choice, I am willing to help them choose a wiser path. Refer to the Behavior Policy guidelines (which you and your parents will need to read and sign) for more specific information.
Grades are based on the number of points students earn divided by the total possible points:
Daily homework or classroom assignments: 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)
You can turn in your assignments in any of three ways:
- Handwritten or typed papers that you personally place in my inbox;
- Email attachment (I prefer that you send any attachments, as a Word Document or PDF, to firstname.lastname@example.org);
- Microsoft 365 shared document.
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. Work that is late without good reason will be accepted, with a reduced score, for up to one week after the due date.
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);
- It must be neatly written, in complete sentences in pencil, blue, or black pen, or written on a laptop or tablet.
- 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.
Most (but not all) 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 usually something 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, and your grades will be considerably better, than if you don’t do it.
You will have a 5-point checkpoint quiz at the end of every full week of school. 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. 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, you will be asked to attend an out-of-class study period to fix whatever went wrong.
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.
Science Inquiry Projects:
All 7th and 8th graders are expected to submit a science or engineering project to me by the middle of April. 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 science fair project, only you’ll be making a presentation to the class instead of attending a fair.) Work on this very important project will begin in early October; you will received more detailed information at that time.
In addition, students are encouraged to participate in the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair, which will take place on March 29-30, 2019, in Bremerton, WA:
- Be persistent and strive for accuracy. It’s not always going to be easy, but you’ll be successful if you try.
- 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 bring your binder, your notebook, a pen or pencil, and your science workbook.
Again, I look forward to working with you this year, and hope you have a nice time in my class.