Welcome to Algebra! This document is designed to help you be successful in our class. Please read it carefully and don’t hesitate to ask questions if there’s anything you don’t understand.

Contact Information
Cell Phone: 720-ToFisch (720.863.4724) - use it wisely.
Twitter: karlfisch
Skype: karlfisch
Diigo: karlfisch

Office Hours
I probably have at least one unscheduled hour that you do

Fall semester I teach Per 1 MWF, Per 2 M-F, and our class, Per 3 MTWF. 

Due to my other responsibilities, however, you can't just assume I'll be there, so my office hours are by appointment (but you are always welcome to drop by to see if I’m available even if you don't have an appointment, my office is in the library).

Supplies
Charged laptop computer, earbuds, paper, graph paper, writing utensils, perhaps a dedicated calculator.

Course Goals
  • Content Goal: Learn the Algebra skills.
  • Habits of Mind Goal: Become better problem solvers by getting better at asking good questions, thinking mathematically and reasoning mathematically.
  • Collaborative Goal: Become better at working together to achieve a common objective.
  • Metacognitive Goal: Learn more about yourself as a learner and use that to become a better learner.
  • Mindset Goal: Work on developing our Growth Mindsets.

Openers
Most days class will start with openers, a few short questions as soon as you enter class to get your mathematical thinking started. Be prepared to share with the class.


Homework

Most nights you will have an optional homework assignment. It's totally up to you whether you choose to do some of it, all of it, or none of it, depending on how much additional practice you think you need to master the concept. The value to you in the future of any particular Algebra skill is hard to predict, but knowing when you know something and when you need additional practice will be invaluable.

Typically you will have one required homework assignment each week. Often you will need to explain your thinking on that homework via a short screencast. We'll go over in class how to do this. Homework is your opportunity to explore, to learn more, and to practice; you don't need to show mastery. Your "grade" for these is based on "sincere completion." Sincere completion means that you don't get graded on whether they are right or wrong, but on whether you completed them and sincerely attempted to do them well.

Standards Assessment
You will be assessed over the essential standards in Algebra I. These short (typically 5-15 minute) assessments will occur in-class and will happen approximately every two weeks (although that will vary). These assessments are designed to give both you and me an idea of how well you understand the particular material and an opportunity to revisit the material if we both don’t feel good about that level of knowledge. 

Each assessment will be “graded” using the following scale: 

PR = Proficient: Demonstrates a thorough understanding of the standard 
DE = Developing: Demonstrates a developing understanding of the standard, but with some misconceptions or errors 
NY = Not Yet: Demonstrates a minimal understanding of the standard, with significant misconceptions and errors 

The feedback you seek and receive will be more important than the grade that goes in the grade book

Because Algebra is both concept and skill-based, it is essential that you master the concepts and skills as we go along and not get behind, otherwise you will quickly find it difficult to master new concepts and skills. Therefore, if you did not score proficient (PR) on the standard, you will have multiple opportunities to get help from various sources and then reassess over that standard, and your improved score will replace your previous score in the grade book. You may reassess as often as once per day, by appointment, for the next five school days (for a possible total of up to five reassessments). If after 5 days you are still not at least developing (DE), we will meet and discuss what we should do to help you. I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is that you master these standards along the way - the expectation is that you will take full advantage of this opportunity to not only improve your grade, but more importantly to improve your understanding. I expect you to continue reassessing until you've mastered the standard. 

We will also have a summative assessment (“final exam”) at the end of each semester, where you will have the opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of (or progress toward mastery of) all the standards. 

Grades
I believe that there is a difference between assessment and grading. Assessment is less about assigning a grade and more about getting better at what we can do. I believe in stressing assessment for learning as opposed to assessment of learning, which is why the feedback you seek and receive is so important. The most important assessment of your work is your own self-assessment

Therefore your “grade” in this class is going to be a bit different. Everything will all be recorded in the online grade book in categories with a “zero” weight. This means that all of us (you, me, your parents, your counselors and administrators) will be able to see and track how you are doing on each “assignment”, but those will not be assigned points and averaged to come up with an overall grade.

Instead, there will be one category titled “Current Assessment of Overall Progress” which will contain your current overall grade for the course. That category will be informed by all the “assignments” recorded in the other categories, but will not be a simple average. Instead, it will be a more holistic view of your overall progress. It will rely on my professional judgment, in concert with dialogue with you, and will change over the course of the semester as your level of understanding changes. If at any time you disagree with what that current assessment of overall progress says, you can come in and we will discuss it and I will happily change it if we agree that it should be changed.

Because of the needs of the online grade book software, the grade you receive in this category will be the typical A-F (along with pluses and minuses to try to give you some additional indication of your strength within each grade), with somewhat arbitrary percentages attached:

 A+  98%
 A    95%
   A-   92%   

 Thorough understanding
 B+  88%
 B    85%
 B-   82%

 Developing understanding, but with some misconceptions and errors
 C+  78%
 C    75%
 C-   72%

 Partial understanding, with more misconceptions and errors
 D+  68%
 D    65%
 D-  62%
 F   59%

 Minimal understanding, with many misconceptions and errors



Classroom Policies
Here’s the one rule you need to remember:

Do the right thing.

Seriously, that’s pretty much all you have to remember. Of course you have to follow all the rules in the LPS Student Code of Conduct, as well as all AHS policies as listed in your student calendar but, in the end, it pretty much boils down to do the right thing. While I think that at least 98% of the time you know what the right thing is, if you’re ever unsure, ask.

If you really want a longer list, here you go:
  • You may engage in any behavior that does not create a problem for you or anyone else.
  • If you find yourself with a problem, you may solve it by any means that does not cause a problem for you or anyone else.
  • You may engage in any behavior that does not jeopardize the safety or learning of yourself or others. Unkind words and actions will not be tolerated.

Attendance and Tardies
This is pretty simple as well. All district and AHS policies apply, including the rules regarding make-up work. But, in general:

  • It's very important to attend class every day. There’s a high positive correlation between attendance and success in school. Obviously if you are very sick, coming to school is a bad idea but, otherwise, you should be here. If you are absent, you are expected to check online to see what you’ve missed before coming back to school (and to begin working on it). This will provide you the best opportunity to be successful.

  • If at all possible, don’t be tardy. Being late under normal circumstances is disrespectful to your classmates, your teacher, and yourself, and it makes it more difficult for you to be successful in our class, so please don’t be late. You should also arrive with all the supplies you need each day, including a charged laptop computer. We do have outlets at the tables in our classrooms if you need to plug in to boost your charge.

In the unlikely event that attendance or tardies become an issue, then we will have a conversation and an appropriate plan will be developed to fix the problem.


Questions?
If you have any questions, please contact me. Once you feel like you completely understand these expectations, please fill out this form to indicate your understanding. Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully consider these expectations, and I’m looking forward to our time together in Algebra I.

Karl Fisch
August 2017