Written Vestions of this Syllabus are here (pdf) or here (ms word)

MR W’s 9th Grade Lab Sciene 2013-2014 Course Syllabus

Course Overview: Science is process best learned by active engagement and problem solving. Understanding how to solve a problem in science is much more important than memorizing an answer and repeating that back on a test. Therefore, the primary emphasis of 9th Grade Lab Science is on discovering rather than on memorizing and we teach more by questioning than by telling. 

This course will help establish a sound foundation of scientific literacy which includes an understanding of the role of science in society. Students will understand that what they learn in science courses is vital to the way they view, interpret and relate to the world around them. 

Classroom Rules: There are 3 basic classroom rules (I try to keep it simple):

1) Show respect – Students are expected and required to show respect to all other students, faculty and staff. Also, all faculty and staff are expect and required to show respect to each and every student.

2) Make good decisions -- We will help our students with these. We realize the transition to high school can be difficult at times but we expect and require our students to Make Good Decisions nonetheless.

3) Solve the problem -- This can be difficult for some students. For the last 8 or 9 years, many students were taught that learning involves memorizing certain facts and figures and then reciting them back on exams. We emphasize problem solving in 9th Grade Lab Science. That means that I expect students to work through problems posed in class.

Late/Make-up Work: The very best thing to do when you miss one of my classes is to check the web site. My lesson plans are right there on the calendar and I teach from them every day. Please review the work that you missed *and then* come see me with questions, comments or concerns. I will gladly take assignments late as long as I haven’t graded the assignment in question and returned to the class. To assure fairness, I typically require a student with very late work to come in and complete that work, in my classroom, after school or complete a related assignment.

Office Hours: I am not a morning person so I am usually not available before school. However, I am available almost every day after school and my regular office hours are 2:00 – 3:00 although I'm often there later.   Please do make an appointment if you can so I can add you to my schedule and check for conflicts with school meetings and such.

Tests, Quizes & Such:  The 9th grade science team designs tests so that most students will complete the exam comfortably in 40 to 45 minutes. That means some students will finish sooner and some students will take a bit more time. Please note that I do not typically give extra time to complete tests after class or at the end of the day. That is simply unfair to the other 134 students that I have in all of my classes. I am happy to make exceptions if I have written instructions from your counselor allowing for more time.

Formative Assessments: This type of assessment is for practice and learning only. Formative assessments allow both students and instructors to gauge how well a particular unit or learning target is progressing. Formative assessments *may* be included in the grade book but are not counted towards the student's grade. If formative assessments are present in the grade book, they are there to provide parents and students with a guide to how well a student is performing at a particular time.


Summative AssessmentsThese types of assessments are those that “sum” or measure student learning. All summative assessments are assigned points and entered into the grade book and count towards the final semester grade.

Labs and other Written Assignments: Labs and other written work are assigned periodically. All written work is to be typed. Papers are graded and scores are entered in the grade book and count towards the final semester grade. Please note that I encourage group work and group collaboration. Please also note that copying, pasting, duplicating or otherwise submitting work that is not entirely written in your own words is NOT acceptable at any time. I take plagiarism very, very seriously.

Rubrics: Scoring/grading standard rubrics are provided for written work and summative assessments. All rubrics are published on Mr. W’s web site and are reviewed with students throughout the unit.

Homework: The 9th grade science team doesn’t assign homework for the sake of homework, so most of the coursework will be done in class. However, we do have various written assignments and occasional work that needs to be completed at home. Also, we strongly encourage both parents and students to set aside at least 30 minutes twice a week to review ongoing coursework and written assignments.

Materials Needed: Bring yourself and something to write with. A scientific calculator will be very helpful, but I have basic calculators to use in class. Also, a science notebook will be *very* helpful for organizing your materials in class. I will provide a space for you to keep your notebooks in class.

Grading: Grades is based on mastery of Washington State Standards, see especially pages 85 – 101.  I grade based on how well my students demonstrate learning in science. That means I do not give extra-credit, ever, for any reason. That also means I don't grade on a curve and I do grade using the scale dictated by Peninsula School District grading policies. That also means I don't assign group work and I don't grade group work (That includes lab reports).

I will always provide multiple opportunities to retake tests and quizzes (not the same test, however, each retake will involve a new test). I may allow students to resubmit written works on a case by case basis.

Also, I'm certainly aware that not every one of my students performs at their best on each and every assignment. Towards that end, I utilize a feature in the grade book that discards each students' lowest performing test or assignment before submitting grades at the end of the semester. (Please Note: That is a feature of the grading software that I have no control over which means I can't pick and choose grades to delete)

Also, although we do lots and lots of work in groups I do not give group grades for any reason at any time. That also means that I don't accept group work at all, at any time, for any reason. I expect my students to work together on labs, but I expect those labs to be written individually by each student.   Please note: I won't try to determine who originated plagiarized work-- Any student submitting a lab or other written work that is the same or too similar to another student's lab will fail that assignment. I will also report the student to the school authorities for disciplinary action.

Finally, please note that the lowest grade on the district scale is an "F" or anything below 60%. I don't give any score below an F which means that if a student fails a test or fails to turn in a required assignment I enter 50% of the possible score in the grade book. That can be confusing to some folks. Please note that a student with a 50% grade has not earned anything other than an F (The only exception to this policy concerns plagiarism and I may give zeroes to students who copy or allow another student to copy from their work).

Click HERE to see more of Mr W's teaching philosophy which includes a much more lengthy discussion of "The F-Bomb"


Click HERE to see a list of units that we will cover this year.


Click HERE to see the calendar -- click on individual days to see the lesson plan for that day

Written Vestions of this Syllabus are here (pdf) or here (ms word)