7th Grade Science 2019 - 2020

Foothill Middle School

2019 – 2020 Academic School Year

7th Grade Science - Room B-7

Dear Parents and/or Guardians:

My name is Randy Monroe. I am a California State University East Bay alumni with a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, a Science Authorization, an Earth and Planetary Science Single Subject Teaching Credential and a Masters of Science in Technology Leadership. My Masters thesis was titled: "To Trip or Not to Trip" showing the value of informal (outside classroom) with formal (classroom) education.

This is my 20th year teaching - 1st year, Intermediate 4/5 Special Education in Antioch USD and the past 18 years in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District teaching my passion, science. I spent 5 years at Title-One site Glenbrook Middle teaching all levels, languages and abilities (mainstream & Structured English Immersion and GATE) in Earth, Life, Physical sciences and was the GATE Coordinator. I was also a district facilitator in the former "Talents to Go" GATE Summer School Program through my early tenure at Foothill Middle School. This is my 14th year at FMS. I have taught all grade levels and this 2019 - 2020 I will be teaching only 7th grade science. As we continue the transition to the Next Generation Science Standards, I am excited to teach the full breadth of Earth, Life & Physical sciences with a renewed emphasis on project-based learning and inquiry at FMS; particularly in embedding both earth & environmental sciences.

I am an Education Fellow on the NASA & Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab: New Horizons mission to Pluto. My father Jim Christy discovered Pluto’s binary companion Charon in 1978; naming it after my mother Charlene. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the discovery- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkAWfomqC7E . I was at the launch, the “Close Approach” to the Pluto/Charon System and recently for Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014MU69; aka Ultima Thule.

The New Horizons probe was launched in January of 2006. I and my family were VIPs at Cape Canaveral for the launch on a Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket; the fastest ship to ever leave Earth. It completed its primary objective of the Pluto system July 2015; of which we were present for "Close Approach" at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Maryland. Its mission was extended to visit the first Kuiper Belt Object - KBO 2014 MU69 or “Ultima Thule” and arrived January 1, 2019. Your students will be learning about the New Horizons mission. http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/index.php ; as well as other NASA endeavors.

I was also an Educator for the NASA & Lawrence Berkeley Space Sciences Lab: MAVEN mission - the Mars Atmosphere Volatile EvolutioN- which launched in November 2013 also on a Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/maven/main/index.html#.UhvaH9LihAJ

I have worked through Industrial Initiatives for Science and Math Educators (IISME) at Lockheed Martin Space Company in Sunnyvale in the area of missile defense; particularly infrared (IR) technologies, which I embed in the classroom curricula when we study climate and green-house gases. I have also worked with the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) in the Microbial Ecology Department studying extremophiles (extreme- living bacteria). I participated in cutting-edge genomic research and was sent to Yellowstone on a sampling mission to find these novel bacteria; also found at hydrothermal vents deep in the oceans discovered by famed oceanographer and explorer Dr Robert Ballard. I have been developing curricula in the areas of astro-biology and cryo-volcanism, particularly for the icy bodies of Jupiter’s moon Europa, Saturn’s moon Enceladus and the amazing Pluto/Charon system; as I am friendly with Europa Clipper Mission Principal Investigator Dr. Robert Papplardo

While in Yellowstone through DOE JGI, I met and began collaborations with Dr. Douglas Smith and Rick McIntyre lead biologists for the 1995 Wolf Reintroduction; whose work I've followed since the early 1990s. I viewed wolf packs from both far and fortunately very near; a few feet. Students will participate in a number of online WISE units including one that I designed called North American Wolf Ecology. I collaborate with a variety of leading environmental organizations to provide flora & fauna and ecosystems stronger protections. I am an advocate to see the gray wolf and our state’s iconic Grizzly bear back in the wild of California. Hence, the MSES logo.

I work with Chris Miller from Contra Costa County Vector Control and Mosquito Abatement rearing and raising many species of threatened native fish in the B-7 classroom. Through California Fish & Wildlife, I house a number of native ectotherms or cold-blooded animals in my home classroom; approximately 20 "class" species representatives - reptiles (turtles, snakes & lizards), amphibians (frogs, toads & salamanders), tarantula & wolf spiders (arthropods), crustaceans, Sacramento Perch & Rainbow Trout (fish). I also have many specimens of macro and benthic invertebrates.

I was instrumental in the MDUSD's last middle school adoption a dozen years ago; Pearson/Prentice-Hall Focus On Science. I studied Wildlife Biology and Environmental Science initially at the University of Arizona in the mid-80s; which was 1 of only 2 schools in America offering the programs at the time. Then, when I became a science teacher in 2001, I went back and re-took all sciences (Physical & Historical Geology, Biology, Oceanography, Physics) lower division coursework to align our middle school curricula with lower division coursework in college.

In 2016, I served on the Editing Team for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing for their Credentialing Subject Examination Test (CSET) for prospective Earth & Planetary Science Teachers and I am also on the MDUSD's NGSS Middle School Leadership Team. That's in-part how I came to be a team member for the newly adopted Earth & Planetary Sciences CSET for prospective science teachers in California that is overseen by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and Pearson.

I am a member of the American Geophysics Union (AGU), Northern California Geologic Society (NCGS), National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA), National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and California Science Teachers Association (CSTA).

Throughout my tenure, I have specialized in numerous standards-based science field study trips that now take place on holiday breaks through Monroe Science Educational Services (MSES). Field/study trips are open to ALL middle school students "on a first come, first served basis and chaperones are always FREE.

• Monterey Bay Aquarium & Marine Mammal Watching on Monday 11/11/19 (Veterans Day) - $130/student. Trip details are available at www.MonroeScienceEd.com

• Camp Monroe, 3 day/2 night trip to the Lassen Volcanic National Park area - Wednesday – Friday June 4 - 6, 2020 - $430/student (Summer Recess)

FYI: I moonlight as the singer & manager of the rock tribute “HOT FOR TEACHER” www.HFTROCKS.com I will be headlining the Walnut Fest on Fri 9/20/19

Procedures and General Philosophy

I believe that a child’s image and imagination should be nurtured in a positive environment. I will work with your child to develop a strong understanding of science, critical thinking and inquiry. I provide the structure; trust, consistency and earned praise/reward, so that your child will know when s/he has done their very best and knows that mistakes are an essential part of the learning process and the scientific method.

An orderly classroom environment is essential for learning. The following classroom rules will be observed:

  • Students will be in their seats ready to go when the bell rings. No gum in class or at FMS.
  • Students will bring the required materials on a daily basis (i.e. assignments, binder/lab manual, unit packet, pencils, colored pencils, etc.).
  • Students will respect the rights and feelings of others by neither interfering with instruction nor disrupting learning.

Discipline: I treat all students with courtesy and respect, and I expect them to treat me in the same manner. I make every effort to create and promote a healthy, safe environment for your children. With a large class size, it is often difficult to provide discipline in the classroom without taking away from the other students. I need your help in this area. Please respond to notes, emails and/or telephone calls as soon as possible, and I will do the same.

You are welcome to contact me via e-mail at FMS monroer@mdusd.org or by phone at (925)939-8600 x5727 and after hours at Randy@MonroeScienceEd.com.

Extra Support 7th Grade Lunch Bunch

"Lunch Bunch" is my open room, working lunch policy that is open to ALL 7th grade students; providing an academic opportunity for those students who want to work on assignments, homework or get extra help in my classroom B-7. Along with Lunch Bunch, I am also available for extra help almost anytime before or after school.

Grading Policy

As we shift from the Standard Grading Scale to the Mastery Scale, I grade with a blended version of both. Students accrue points for some assignments and for others will demonstrate their mastery of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS ) through the performance expectations (PE's) from classwork & homework, labs & projects and assessments; done independently, with a partner and with small group practice. Many assignments are graded using a basic grading rubric (scoring guide). Students are already familiar with this from 6th grade science. Most high performing students score "3s" or "proficient"; only the most advanced students that go above and beyond expectations receive "4s"; maybe one or two per class. Grading is categorized and in terms of your student's rubric grade in Homelink, this approximately equates to:

Catagory Standard Grade Mastery (Rubric) Scale

A+ = 100%+ Advanced 4 = 95% - 100%+; advanced understanding

Classwork & Homework 40% A = 90 - 100% Proficient 3 = 85% - 95% ; shown mastery

Labs & Projects 40% B = 80 - 89.99% Almost Proficient 2.5 = 75% - 85% ; shown mastery

Quizzes/Tests 20% C = 70 - 79.99% Developing 2 = 65% - 75%; approaching mastery

Extra Credit * D = 60 - 69.99% Emerging/Incomplete 1 = 50% - 65%; does not meet criteria

F = 0.0 - 59.99% No Effort - 0 = 0% - 50%; unrelated

Late work is accepted for the 1st semester (1st & 2nd quarters) up to a week late for full credit.

*Also to note, students will not receive lab credit for missed labs. When a student misses a lab, I can usually provide them a day or two to make up the lab during Lunch Bunch or after school, but I DO NOT GUARANTEE IT. In a majority of academic settings when a student misses a lab for whatever reason, most teachers will not allow them to make it up. We all have varying schedules and sometimes a student will miss a class for a variety of reasons such as an untimely illness, doctor's appointment, vacation or family event, it is always a good idea for the student to cushion the grade with other learning opportunities; see the teacher.

I am looking forward to teaching your students and I will discuss the Foothill Science Program in more detail at Back to School Night on Wednesday, August 21, 2019.

7th Grade Parent Letter/Course Description/Syllabus

Our 7th grade integrated science course is designed to provide the necessary skills for a smooth transition from elementary science curricula to high school science curricula. It is guided by the connections between Earth, Life, and Physical Sciences and their applications in engineering. This is accomplished through learning, investigating, and performing hands-on, group-oriented lab investigations about the world around us.

Students will explore and learn about how macroscopic patterns are related to the nature of microscopic atomic-level structure. To facilitate their investigations, they will rely on instruments and devices used to make quantitative measurements and learn to work in collaborative groups that communicate with the larger scientific community. Students will learn basic chemistry, both facets of physical and historical geology and ecology.

Using the "relevance of science" to students’ lives will help to foster and maintain an interest in science; while also expanding their knowledge to help them make well-informed and evidence-based decisions about their health, behavior and the world around them. Content will follow the California Science Framework and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with the over-arching concept: Natural processes and human activities cause energy to flow and matter to cycle through Earth's systems.

1st Quarter- Review 6th Grade Science (Plant & Animal Cells, Cell Division, Body Systems, Water Cycle), Atoms & Molecules, States of Matter, Chemical & Physical Changes MDUSD - TUPE:Tobaco Use Prevention Education Program

Instructional Segment 1: Organisms and non-living things are made of atoms.

*How does matter in living and non-living things differ?

*How does adding or removing thermal energy affect physical states of matter?

*How do interactions at the atomic level help us understand the observable properties of organisms and non-living matter?

2nd Quarter- Geologic Processes - Earth History & Geologic Time, Topography & Maps, Plate Tectonics, Heat Transfer

Instructional Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows through Organisms and Rocks

*How do rocks and minerals record the flow of energy and cycling of matter in the Earth?

*How do we get energy from our food?

*How are hot objects different than cold objects? What changes when they heat up or cool down?

3rd Quarter- Geologic Processes - Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes, Volcanoes & Igneous Rocks, Minerals, Mining, Weathering & Erosion, Sedimentation, Metamorphosis, Rock Cycle, Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration Ecology

Instructional Segment 3: Natural Processes & Human Activities Shape Earth's Resources and Ecosystems

*How can we use interactions between individual rocks or individual organisms to understand systems as big as the whole geosphere or whole ecosystem?

*How can we use patterns in geosphere interactions to predict the location of resources?

*How can we use patterns in ecosystem interactions to predict how organisms compete and share resources?

4th Quarter - Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration Ecology, Food Webs, Organism & Ecosystem Interactions and Patterns, Biodiversity, Renewable & Nonrenewable Resources,Human Reproduction & Positive Prevention

Instructional Segment 4: Sustaining Biodiversity and Ecosystems Service in a Changing World

*What natural processes and human activities threaten biodiversity and ecosystem services?

*How can people sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services in a changing world?


Randy Monroe - 7th Grade Science Teacher

monroer@mdusd.org (925) 939-8600 x5727 and after hours at Randy@MonroeScienceEd.com