"The purpose of life is a life of purpose." --Robert Byrne
Welcome to a new year of school and to your new grade level. This year, you will not only be expected to know more information about writing and literature, but you will also be expected to act in a more mature fashion. To help you start the year successfully, I have put together some information that might come in handy. It includes my expectations for you, as well as what you can expect from me. Please read everything, complete the online acknowledgement form, and submit for student credit.
Google/Office 365 Requirement
Students will need to use either their own Google account (it’s free, and students already have one!) or their own Microsoft 365 account. These resources may be necessary to complete and submit assignments such as essays and other writing assignments.
Virtually everything discussed (lectures, notes, mini lessons, discipline-specific content) and/or assigned has been converted to an electronic format. Additionally, students have access, both in class and at home, to the PowerSchool Learning Management System. Students will be shown how to complete work, submit work, access graded work, and access all ancillary materials for the course during the first few weeks of school. Our classroom comes equipped with a Chromebook cart with enough devices for each student to use during class time.
Because each student has the means to complete work electronically and engage with content via Chromebooks, NO CELL PHONES WILL EVER BE ALLOWED IN CLASS. To ensure the learning environment is optimal for all students, cell phones must be powered off or silenced and stored in backpacks or in the pouch at the front of the room (The Cell Hotel). If a student chooses not to comply with this directive, the device will be confiscated and must be retrieved after school. Parents concerned about relaying messages to their students will find it is highly effective to do so through our front office staff.
Although I do not expect to encounter any problems in the coming year, it is important you understand how I will respond if they should arise. Here are my expectations for your behavior while in my classroom:
1. Be in your seat when the bell rings; remain seated until dismissed by me (bell does not dismiss you)
2. Come to class prepared (i.e. paper, pencil or pen, homework, etc.) and turn in work on time
3. CELL PHONE USE IS ABSOLUTELY NOT ALLOWED DURING CLASS
4. Raise your hand if you have a comment or question
5. Stay in your seat unless you have permission to do otherwise
6. Keep your hands and feet to yourself
7. Respect your classmates, teacher, and substitutes
8. Follow the school rules as well as classroom rules (gum is a huge no-no)
9. Do not disrupt the learning environment (pass notes, throw objects, etc.)
10. Do not use the work of others as your own—be honest
Typically, students are expected to have pencils sharpened and required materials in hand by the time the bell rings. Restroom breaks are allowed only in emergencies or for medical reasons. Water breaks are as needed, as the classroom is equipped with a drinking fountain. Homework should be placed in the appropriate period basket (on back table) before class begins, but will not be considered late if it magically appears sometime during the day (i.e. during lunch or after school.)
I have discovered that I am an extremely fair teacher—be honest with me, and you will more than likely get the benefit of the doubt. When dealing with behavior problems that disrupt my classroom and the learning environment, I will usually do one or more of the following:
1. Warning (either verbal or gesture)
2. Temporary removal from classroom—quick discussion
3. Temporary removal from classroom—time out in alternate classroom
4. Detention assigned/Parent Contact
5. Parent Conference or administrative referral
Please understand that the discipline I use is entirely dependent upon the situation. In other words, I will use my best judgment to determine which intervention is in the best interest of the class and/or the offender. For example: one of the biggest problems I have encountered involves tardiness, and my approaches to rectify this problem have ranged from holding a student in class for a minute past the bell (usually after the third tardy) to parent contact and/or detentions (for chronic tardiness.)
I am very strict when it comes to doing quality homework and turning it in on time. I will not assign homework every night because I feel homework should support what is going on in class; it should not be done arbitrarily or as busy work. However, there may be instances when homework is assigned several times during the week. Please be organized and allow yourself time each evening to complete any assignments. Homework due dates will be determined by me and will always be posted in the classroom and on my website. You are allowed to turn homework in one day late; no excuses are necessary. If it is late beyond this grace period, 25% of the assignment point total will be deducted. Homework will not be accepted beyond two days late—it is important for you to understand that the real world has deadlines! If you are absent for a legitimate reason, you will be allowed to either make up the work or will be given extra time to complete the assignment(s) (I usually give you as many days as you were absent.) If you miss a test due to an absence, you have one week after you return to make up the test. Initial make-up tests will only be given during lunch on my computer, so you must make arrangements with me to do so. If a test is not taken within a week, it becomes a failing grade in my grade book. Once you have made up the test, l will allow another week for a re-take (please see more details regarding testing below.)
Extra credit assignments are available on occasion, but are “in addition to” the work you should have already completed. Please take advantage of extra credit when it is made available to you—it does not come often, and it never comes as a means by which you can save your grade. I will never, no matter how much you or your parents plead, give extra credit work or allow you to make-up missed assignments to save your grade. Life does not operate in this manner and neither will I.
Advanced Designation (Embedded Projects)
Although there are no Advanced Language Arts courses offered this year, advanced unit projects are being developed to allow students the choice to engage in a more rigorous experience. Should a student commit to and successfully complete the advanced coursework within the required timeframe, transcript documentation will be provided to reflect the completion.
This year, all students will be using the newly adopted text from Pearson. This curriculum may involve students engaging with the curriculum in both paper and digital form, so the district has provided our class with laptops to be used in class. Students may occasionally need to complete work online for homework; however, students who do not have online access at home will be provided paper versions of the assignments. Please be patient for the first few months of school as your student and I engage with the publisher’s content and learn how to easily submit work electronically. While it will take some time to master these technology skills, they will only allow your students to prepare for high school, college, and beyond.
While most materials will be provided to your student for this class, it is expected every student should maintain one section for Language Arts in his or her school binder (see gowsms.com for a list of materials needed for the school binder). In addition, students should have at least 2 to 3 pencils and 2 to 3 pens for written work during this course. In addition, it is highly recommended students purchase their own earbuds for audio experiences during class and online.
Writing assignments will be graded with a scoring rubric, so students will always know what is expected before the assignment is given. Various in-class assignments, tests, and homework will be given point values according to the following scale:
Below 60 F
Grades will be posted according to Student Identification Number in the classroom several times each month, so students will be able to monitor their progress year-round. In addition, I will be e-mailing progress reports to you (provided you have given the school or myself a valid e-mail address) every other week to keep you informed. Also, various class reminders and announcements will go out through Aeries this year. Finally, grades can be checked on the AeriesNet website: https://aeriesnet.murrieta.k12.ca.us/parent
Throughout the year, students will complete four major online unit tests, several web-based quizzes to check for understanding, several performance tasks (essays or projects), web-based assessments based on independent readings (time spent reading will be logged,) and classroom activities designed to enhance or reinforce learning. Your student’s progress will be measured by the following weighted categories:
Writing/Performance Tasks 20%
All graded student work will be stored in the classroom until a test study guide is released; however, a student may choose to take items home at any time (at their own risk!) Once the study guide has been made public, students will be allowed to gather the work necessary to help them study for the test (I may offer extra credit for those who have all the required items in their packet.) This system works very well for those who are organizationally challenged! Of course, this will all be explained prior to the first test.
This year, unit exams will be completed entirely online, and retakes may be taken up to one week after the initial exam. The PowerSchool Learning Management System (LMS) will be implemented, and students will find it both convenient and challenging as they complete exams. Please note that only one re-take will be allowed, students may use their notes and resources on the re-take, and the two test scores will be averaged. I would recommend, then, that students diligently study for the initial test to ensure a higher averaged score.
Please acknowledge that you understand and agree to my classroom policies by clicking here.