"What do I do if I was absent?" Or, "I'm going to be absent on {day in the future}. Is there anything I need to do?"

  • Make sure that you are checking the Daily Agenda page to find out everything we did in class. It's your responsibility to find out what you missed. My goal is to make the agenda detailed enough that anyone who was absent should be able to keep up with what we did. If you simply ask me, "what did I miss?"...well, my answer will be: "Check the class website." If you checked the Agenda, but you're still unsure what you need to do, just ask! :)

"How often do we have homework?"

  • Pretty much never! :) I try to structure our class time so that anyone who is using their time wisely should be able to finish our work in class (often with time to spare). Most assignments, even if they are not finished, are due at the end of class after I see we've had enough time to work on it. Some assignments may need multiple class periods before I have you turn it in; other assignments just need one. If you were absent in the middle of a multi-day assignment, you're allowed to finish it for homework even if the rest of the class is turning it in. Otherwise, if you were here the whole time we were doing the assignment, the assignment is due when announced. I will always give advance warning of when it's due, in the hopes that students who perhaps aren't using their time wisely will be encouraged to focus in and get their work done.
  • For LARGE point assignments, like unit projects or major lab reports, I will aim to give around 5 days of class time for the assignment, but I will usually allow everyone more time to work on it at home before it is due.

"Can I work on this at home?"

  • Sure! Even if it's not officially homework, it's always okay to work on something at home (if it's a multi-day assignment). Keep in mind, though, that if I tell the class we're continuing on it tomorrow, you'll still have more class time. If you're using your time wisely, and feel that you can complete it in class, don't bother working on it at home, too. Use that time for your other classes or to relax a little! :) But, if you are worried that you won't have enough time, then certainly, work on it at home.

"How do you grade things?"

  • This is a points-based class. That means, I don't weight any categories like some of your other subjects do. Every point earned in this class counts the same as every other point. So, 5 warm-ups points are mathematically the same as 5 points on a test. Because of this, don't focus on the % grade for smaller assignments (20 points or less). A 17 out of 20 is 85%. 15% off might sound like a lot, but at the end of the day, it's just 3 points. Each semester, we end up with close to 1,000 points of work!! So, 3 points off 1,000 is nothing.
      • Instead of focusing on the %, focus instead on how you can improve your work quality next time. Did you follow directions? Did you provide enough detail? Did you ask questions when something was unclear, or did you just skip it?

"Aeries says something is missing, but I know I turned it in!"

  • If I had a dollar for every time I heard this one! :) If it was a paper assignment, there are a couple things you'll want to do. First, go back through your backpack and notebook. Like, really go back through every paper. You'll be surprised at how many times I have a student do that, even the ones who were the most confident they'd turned it in, and after a minute of searching they get a sheepish grin as they realized that they found the paper. Your other option for a missing paper assignment is that it was a "no-name paper." I get quite the collection of those! No-name papers can be checked before school, after school, or at lunch. They may not be checked during class or passing periods.
  • If it was an online assignment, probably through Google Classroom, log back on and check if you actually submitted it. You'd be surprised how many students forget to hit the "Turn In" button when they have finished an assignment.
  • If none of these solve the mystery, come in and chat with me and let's see if we can figure out what happened.

"Can I turn in late work?"

  • Yes. During a semester, late work is always accepted for a max score of 70%. When the new semester starts, the gradebook starts over (so, Fall late work is worthless once it's Spring semester).

"Why do we do a lot of group work? I work better by myself."

  • Although we will definitely have many opportunities to work independently, I believe that Science is best learned in collaboration. We may observe something that no one else sees; our ideas may sharpen the ideas of others; our ideas may even challenge the ideas of others. From a practical standpoint, we do a lot of labs and hands-on activities, and those are often not do-able as an individual (materials, set-up, etc.). At times I let students choose their own groups, but the majority of the time lab groups are randomly assigned. I do this so that we get the experience of working with a variety of people, including those we might not choose for ourselves. If you have serious concerns about working with a member of the class, please speak with me in private and we can see what the best solution is.

"I don't like the score I got on a group assignment. What if my group was messing around, but I was on task?"

  • Throughout the year we'll be discussing what it means to work well in a group, how to be an effective group member, and how to handle conflict that may arise within a group. My hope is that those conversations will help to reduce troublesome group experiences. That said, I know that we don't always have perfect group experiences. My biggest piece of advice is to talk to me during the activity instead of after the assignment has been done and graded. I want to do everything I can to help a group work efficiently, and the best time for me to help is when the assignment is still in progress.
  • Keep in mind, that most of our group assignments are lower point assignments. So, one or two lower group scores will NOT wreck your grade. I promise that!
  • Larger group projects will most often be graded in a way that is done fairly for each team member rather than one grade for the whole group.
  • Again -- if you have concerns, please see me during the activity.

"Is there extra credit?"

  • At times throughout the semester I may make something available, or there may be extra credit options available in a required assignment. Students who are not in Honors may earn extra credit by participating in the STEAM Fair. More information will be shared about the STEAM Fair during Spring Semester.

"What if I need to go to the bathroom during class?"

  • Each semester each student is issued a "Go Pass." This is your pass to go to the bathroom, water fountain, or locker during class. Basically, if you need to GO somewhere during class, you use your Go Pass. Each student has one time per month to use the pass, plus two emergency times. If you have a medical condition that requires more frequent bathroom use, please talk with me so I can note that.
  • Exceptions: if you get a Call Slip during class, you don't have to use your "Go Pass." Also, I don't send students into other teachers' classes when they have forgotten something; I don't want to disrupt the learning taking place in my colleagues' classrooms. If you left your pencil or notebook in another class, I have plenty of extra materials you can use during class.

"Can I use my phone in class?"

  • There will be PLENTY of times in my class when we use our phones for learning activities, or even perhaps to listen to music during certain independent work times. However, if I haven't given the okay to take out phones, then students must be following Oak's cell phone policy of phones being turned OFF and put away out of sight.