Steps For Success

This year has brought a big transition for many 8th grade students, with the change to high school objective Earth Systems Science. While this curriculum can be difficult at times, most often I’ve found that students are not taking the steps the need in order to be successful. My goal is that this guide can help you with some of the tools you need to success this year in my class.

1. Readings

When we first begin to study a topic, I often assign the readings from sections of the book to be done on your own. You should do this in a quiet place in effort to become somewhat familiar with the new topic(s). Pay attention to the checkpoints as you go along and ask these questions to yourself to check for comprehension. You can also use the audio feature which comes with the online textbook. This can help if you struggle with reading or need help pronouncing words. We often won’t cover all the topics in the readings, but they give you a good start before we begin to discuss, examine, or explore the topic(s).

2. Assessments/Worksheets

After the first reading of the section, I typically give some type of “book work” assignment. While doing this, you should be reading the section for the SECOND time. Don’t just try to fill in the blanks or look for the bold words. Many types of these questions ask you to restate, answer, and support. Do your best on these to get to know the new vocabulary and/or main concepts. These are graded based upon quality and completion.

3. Checking Assessments/Worksheets

During class time, we will often go over and check the answers for assignments. Students should bring a red pen to fill in answers they may have incorrect or to add additional details. Incorrect answers do not hurt your grade since we are still practicing with new concepts. Ask questions if you don’t understand an answer.

4. Late Work/Incomplete Work

Even if a student does not have an assignment at the due date, I will accept filled-in red answers or a late assignment for 60% credit. Late work will also be accepted for 60% credit up to one week late. There should be no zeros in your grade report!!

5. Clarification and Explanation: Notes/Videos/Activities/Investigations/Animations/Articles/Labs

Clarification of the Concepts comes in a variety of different methods listed above and more. Sometimes these assignments or lessons are graded right/wrong and sometimes they are just graded for quality and completion. I would not expect any student to be able to be successful without participating in this key component. I will walk students through and teach the details, make connections, etc. to concepts that they’ve seen in the book. Students should make every attempt to follow along and actively participate in what I am asking them to do. This is typically a very active or hands- on part of the class and makes up at least 50% of what we do during class time in any given week. Some topics from the book we explore in more detail, others are not examined at all. Students should start to comprehend even difficult concepts and start to make connections at this point. If a student does not understand material, they should be prepared to ask questions.

6. Quick Writes

These are quick questions done at the beginning of class to either review a concept or a reading from the night before. Students are asked to just simply make an effort to “get started” by thinking or discussing the topic each day. Students can also use this time to write down the day’s agenda, which is always printed on the board or overhead.

7. Binders

Binders are a means for organization and will be checked periodically. I spend time helping you with organization because it is difficult to be successful if you can’t find any papers to turn in or review!

8. Study Guides and Review

I don’t always give study guides, but for big tests or exams, you will get one of these. These can obviously help you study, but if you’ve been keeping up all along, your binder should also have a record of what is important. A good rule of thumb is that if we’ve spent time on it in class, you’ll need to know it. If it was something you ready only once and we didn’t discuss it, you most likely won’t need to know it. I will dedicate class time before a big test/exam for review and I expect that students bring questions with them that they would like to review.

9. Graded Quizzes, Labs, Projects, Tests

These major assignments are all graded and are designed to test comprehension of the topics. These test much more than just bold words and sentences from the book. You may find that you are frustrated because you don’t do well on these, but you “know” all the terms from the book. Students must be able to make connections between complex topics in order to do well on this. Students have an extended amount of time to work on these and ask for help before the due date. A student will likely not be successful on this if they have not done this step well or attempt to do it at the last moment.

10. Post-Test or Major Graded Assignment

If you did not do well on any major assignment, you are welcome to meet with me to talk about ways to improve. At times, I will give you the opportunity to do test corrections and/or re-do a lab if you make the effort to discuss it with me. There is not always a guarantee for a re-do, but if you put some time and effort into it, I will help you out so that you at least know how to improve for next time.