To Parents and Guardians of 8th grade students enrolled in Mark Twain’s Integrated Science Class
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 degree in biology from Illinois Wesleyan University and a MA degree 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 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) Advanced Science Student? If your student loves science and hopes to enter into Advanced Physical science their freshman year, they should consider the advanced track. The class curriculum will be the same. The primary difference is that for the skill based themes of the semester advanced students will have their final grade be a MEAN of all of the skill opportunities given, whereas the regular class, only the HIGHEST grade for those skill standards will be considered. If they are advanced students, I do not see this adding much in the way of time requirements at home. It will add some challenge to the class and accountability that once they show skills for a standard that they cannot coast the next time that skill is assessed. In return, they will be given special consideration for advanced physicals science and I will be looking for another way to symbolize their efforts at the end of the year.
This is the first run for this advanced track. I especially appreciate your feedback on this plan and/or how it unfolds during the semester.
4) ADD or ADHD like students? In order to better access the special gifts of this student type, I am also piloting the Hunter program. Details of this program are available on my web site under the HUNTER STUDENT tab. To opt your student in, please just e-mail or write me a note. At any time, you can opt your student out. As a pilot program again, I greatly appreciate your feedback on the proposed Hunter plan and for the reality of the program as the semester unfolds.
5) 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. Unless you are in the advanced student track, ONLY your highest grade will be considered for any skill or content based standard at the end of the semester. This means that you can retake a skill standard that was weak when we cover a new subject, and the final grade will not suffer. Generally only one assessment will be given for content standards, so that grade will be what will affect the semester grade. 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.
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 spring semester:
Adopt-a-Farmer Field trip to Victor Point Farms tentatively planned for March
Regional Science fair, U of O, Saturday, March 11th
State Science Fair finals, PSU, Monday, May 1st
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.
We will need parent help to make this year successful in science. Help includes supporting your charge with keeping their homework and projects moving forward and turned in on time, chaperoning field trips, and volunteering other skills that you might have. If you have a skill that you are willing to share or you are willing to be on a chaperone list, please e-mail Mr. Jamsa at email@example.com
Thanks! I am looking forward to an amazing semester with your students!