Greetings and welcome to 8th grade integrated science at Silverton Middle School!
I love what I do and am really excited to begin a new school year! I have been teaching middle school science since 1997 in a variety of locations, and have been at Mark Twain/ Silverton Middle School since 2011. I have a BA in biology from Illinois Wesleyan University and a MA in Curriculum and Instruction from Chapman University.
I believe that students and teachers discover information by walking the road together. When we explore nuanced topics like the use of GMOs and the pros and cons of pesticides, after discussion students will form their own justified opinions.
I believe in providing as much student choice as possible in daily assignments and assessment opportunities.
I believe all students come to the classroom with their own set of gifts and areas of growth, and that the combined diversity is a benefit for the community. I regularly try new things, so I also make many mistakes. The class will discover that I will own my errors and together we will learn from them as well.
GRADING and FOCUS of the CLASS:
1) EVERYTHING you need to know about homework/ current class topics and projects/ field trips – is updated regularly on this web site. This includes information on current homework assignments, upcoming projects, and what to do if you are absent from the class.
2) The theme for the first semester is the PRACTICES of SCIENCE. Topics that we will use to teach these practices can include energy, matter, and plate tectonics. In January we will be working on individual projects of interest in a new program (for this class) called “Genius Hour.” Many of those students will then participate in the regional Northwest Science Expo at the University of Oregon in early March. There will be a lot more information about this exciting project and opportunity coming soon!
The theme for the second semester is FOOD. I have taken the state content and skill standards that I am charged to teach and spiraled them around this theme. Here is a brief list of topics that could be instructed around the concept of food: Genetics and evolution as they relate to GMOs, thermodynamics and the food energy pyramid, waste, water, and packaging cycles, climate change issues related to food miles, and interdependence concepts based on how our choices do affect the entire planet.
The semester will end with an exciting community student feast in late May or early June. Students will apply their learning and their own value system and design an ideal meal to share. “Ideal” will be defined by them as they consider approximately ten different criteria. They will justify to the community their choices.
3) ADD or ADHD like students? In order to better access the special gifts of this student type, I am again offering an opportunity to enroll in the Hunter program. Details of this program are available on my web site under the HUNTER STUDENT tab. To enroll your student, please just e-mail or write me a note. This is only year two of the program, so I greatly appreciate your feedback as the semester unfolds.
4) Grades. Silver Falls School District has decided at the middle school level that science grades will be based 50% on state content standards, such as adaptation, cycles, and human impacts on the planet, and 50% based on skill based standards such as summarizing information and forming a persuasive argument. ONLY your highest grade will be considered for any skill based assessment. If a student performs poorly, they can demonstrate at a later date the mastery of a topic, but the knowledge of the content generally fades as we continue onto new topics.
It is expected that science grades will be low at the beginning of the semester as students attempt to master new and challenging skills. You should see those grades slowly rise as the semester progresses with the hope of quality grades (and thus LEARNING) by the end of the semester.
FINAL WORD: If you need to remember one thing from this page, it is that most of your questions about the class can be answered by visiting THIS WEB SITE.
Planned Highlights for the year:
Adopt-a-Farmer Field trip to Victor Point Farms tentatively planned for late Fall
Genius Hour personal projects of passion – to be worked on throughout the first semester.
Regional Science fair, U of O, Sat, March 3, 2017/ State Science Fair finals, PSU, Friday, April 13rd, 2017
End of the Year Learning Feast: Students will prepare a meal and a whole lot more and share with the Silverton Middle School parent community in May, 2017. This will be a delicious celebration of learning and hopefully will be quite illuminating for all of us!
Possible Productivity Field Trips: – (earned by completing homework, staying on task in class, and starting each class strong). These and other earned educational and social opportunities are being developed this month. Details TBA.
Homework assignments will always be listed on my web page after they are assigned. Click on the HOMEWORK link on this web page for the latest.
If students miss a day, they can visit the blog at www.mrjamsa.com for the latest on how their work and/or learning can be completed. If students do not have internet access at home, they can do this during AG and will be granted additional time to complete work.
Thanks! I am looking forward to an amazing year with your students! – Daniel Jamsa