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 Uni.
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. This unit will include numerous labs and activities. The topics taught include the nature of energy and matter, Newton’s Laws, forces, gravity, and heat.
The theme for the second semester is FOOD. 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 a satisfying 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) Science Fair The regional science fair will be the first Saturday of March, 2019, at the University of Oregon. Students completing a project will also have the opportunity to present their projects at public venues as well as a parent science fair celebration sometime in the spring.
Science fair is voluntary. Students who do not find a project before the deadline (Thanksgiving Break) will work with other in class in January on another engineering project. Their grade will not be hurt if they do the in-class project as opposed to science fair.
STUDENT INTERESTED in SCIENCE FAIR? Finding the right project is 2/3 of the ball game. A good project should be interesting to the student, important, and do-able. Once students have an idea, they submit a Topic “T” form to Mr. Jamsa for review. Most students have to turn in multiple “T” forms before their project is accepted. FOR MUCH MORE INFORMATION on finding a science fair project, please visit the SCIENCE FAIR link at www.mrjamsa.com
4) Grades. For content based standards (like the nature of matter and Newton’s laws), student will usually have options on how to show mastery of the topic. If they do not score well, there will usually be out-of-class makeup opportunities. Content standards are only assessed once during the regular class.
Skill based standards (like how to write a procedure) are different in that they will be assessed AT LEAST three times in-class each semester. If a student performs poorly, they can demonstrate at a later date the mastery of a topic. Thus, if students can learn from their errors, they can usually do really well over time on these skill-based assessments.
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 www.mrjamsa.com
Planned Highlights for the year:
Adopt-a-Farmer Field trip to Victor Point Farms tentatively planned for late spring, 2019
Science Fair: Topics due by Thanksgiving; out of class work done between Thanksgiving and Winter Break; January 2019 donated to science fair or assigned engineering projects
Regional Science fair, U of O, Sat, March 2, 2019 State Science Fair finals, PSU, Friday, April 12th, 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 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
For credit for your student, please e-mail me with the subject heading “I read the class letter” and include the name of the student. Thank you.