Do the students get their grades before the parents do?
Students have access to their grades on-line at the same time that parents do. At midterm and at the end of the quarter we review how their grades are computed and what the grades mean. We talk about what they can do if they feel their grade is in error or if they feel they need help in a particular area. We also talk about what they should do if the grade (either midterm or end of quarter) is too low to be acceptable to their family.
Can a student stay after school or come in early for help?
I am available in the morning and from 3:15 - 4:00 in the afternoon pretty much any day of the week. Occasionally there are meetings that will change this but a student can always make an appointment.
Can students use tape recorders in your classes?
Students may tape any of my classes provided that the tape recording is not disruptive. However, taping is not magic - the student must still listen to the tape and figure out how to retain the information on it. Students tend to believe that taping is less work - it is, in reality, more work for the student. The tape may not be played back during quizzes. Only written notes may be used on quizzes.
What advance notice is given on tests?
In 6th grade Social Studies the students receive the test terms and essay questions at least one week in advance of the test. In the 7th grade, they know about tests about a week in advance but they do not receive test terms or essay questions. In 8th grade they know the test date at the beginning of the unit in American History. In Math a week's warning is usually given. Quizzes by their very nature are surprises - that's the bad news. The good news is that notes are allowed during quizzes. Notes are not xeroxed and highlighted text pages - notes are not previously completed homework assignments - notes are student written.
Can special arrangements be made to take tests orally?
In Social Studies any test may be taken orally but the student must make the arrangements. They may take the test the day before (after school), the day of the test (after school) or the day after (after school). When the student takes the test is determined both by my after-school schedule and the student's. Occasionally a student will have to take the test in parts, ie; the student will have to come after school more than one day. A student who takes the test orally is given exactly the same amount of time as a student who takes it during class. Some students become so nervous taking the test with the rest of their classmates that they come after school to take the test even though they take the written version.
Are you a hard grader?
Yes. It is not uncommon for students to have a difficult time when they move from elementary to middle school. So much more is dependent on the student's ability to make academic decisions - when to study, what to study, what system works best. I require a lot of work. I require students to communicate what they know. Middle school is hard work - students must be serious about their performance to do well. The good news is that it is easier to make this kind of adjustment in Middle School than in High School.
What should a student do with the test terms and essay questions they receive?
Some students think that the terms must be defined as a homework assignment or that the essays must be handed in before the test. Some students think that just knowing the questions means that they will do better on the test. Some students think it's magic - sleep with the questions under your pillow and no matter what you will pass the test. Actually, I give these items to the students to help them make decisions about what they need to study. The terms are those terms they will need to know in order to do well on the test. If they find a term that they know nothing about they should probably look it up and make sure they know what it means. The essay questions are a bit more problematic. They may not write out an answer and bring it with them to the test. They can tell from the questions whether they know enough to answer the question in some detail.
What is the best way to study for the test?
In Social Studies I think the best way to study for the test is to review your notes, homework and review packets. This means that the student must take the time to recorrect questions that were wrong on homework and in review packets. Notes should be reviewed regularly not just the night before the test. In math, I think the best way to study is to do the Progress Self-Test, correct it and then do more problems in the areas that presented difficulty. How the student studies is less important than the study itself. There will be some students who do not do their best following the above plan. They will need to experiment to see what works best for them. Some students will do better if they study alone, some like their parents to quiz them, some prefer to work in study groups. Middle School is the time to find out what works.
What about cell phones?
What about cell phones? Students should not have cell phones during school. Students who need to use the phone during school simply need to report to the office and use the phone there. If it's a question of after school practice, the office phone is available at that time too. If you bring a cell phone to school, it should be turned in to the office each morning and picked up each afternoon before you go home. You are not permitted to use your cell phone while at school. If you choose to use your phone while at school, you face the possibility that your phone will be confiscated.
Can parents keep regular track of their children's academic progress?
In addition to the quarterly report card, each student receives a midterm progress report in each quarter. These reports are emailed to the parent but you can request a printed copy from the office. In addition, RenWeb allows both the parent and the student to keep up with daily progress.