Dear 8th Grade Language Art Parents,


Hafa adai and welcome to School Year 2012-2013!


This is your child’s course description packet.  In addition to discussing course expectations, you’ll find detailed explanations regarding classroom behavior.  (“I have thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that discipline [obedience] is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love, too, enters the mind of the child.”~Anne Sullivan, Teacher of Helen Keller)  Please be patient that this course description is lengthy.  The format is required.  My intentions are to make clear the environment your child will spend his/her time and such time will be respected.  I hope that you’ll find that your child will be supported through his/her endeavors in learning by classroom structure.


If you’d simply like to refer to the bulk of this description at a later time, the short cut is to please read the highlighted sections, then initial off on the sign-off sheet your child will provide to you.  You will have 6 sections to initial.  At the end of the course description, you’ll find my Grading Benefits.  This explains elements of grading built into my classes to place my students at the advantage without compromising the integrity of their learning.  Please read The Grading Benefits and sign off on the sign off sheet as well


May I ask the favor that should you find any typographical or grammatical errors on any of my documents that you inform me so that I may correct.  I’ve read over these papers so many times that I can’t detect errors any longer.  A fresh eye will help. J



With much respect and best wishes for the school year,

/S/Mrs. Nel Mercado

AMS 8th Grade Language Arts










DoDEA Andersen Middle School

8th Grade Language Arts Course Description 2012-2013

Academic and Behavior Expectations


Course Name and Number:  Language Arts 8; LAE201

Course Description: (H:\COURSE TITLE Language Arts 8.mht­-DoDEA Website)

Click on Hyperlink:

·         COURSE TITLE: Language Arts 8

Major Concepts/Content: The Language Arts 8 course is designed to strengthen students’ skills in listening, speaking, writing, literature, and language.


Text:  The Language Of Literature,  McDougal Littell, Publisher & Elements of Writing by Kinneavy & Warriner


Teacher Name:   Mrs. Nelia Grace F. Mercado


Contact Information: e-mail:

School Phone: 366-3880/5973


Location: Room 212


 Philosophy:  “If you treat an individual as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” –Goethe


Materials: 1 1.5 Inch Binder, loose leaf paper, pen (black or blue ink only) and pencil (to be kept in class), a set of colored high lighters (optional: dividers and white out)


Academic Expectations

Daily Class process:

  1. Before coming into class, students must read the “anticipatory board” to see how to prepare for class that day.  The students prepare themselves accordingly ending with being seated in front of the white board, before roll is called.  Not being seated by roll call will result in lost participation points, and a tardy referral.
  2. Overview of the day’s lesson plans including goals and assignments.
  3. Mini-lesson on an aspect of Language Arts being covered (Literature Reading, Writing, Presentations).
  4. Application of the Mini-Lesson (through reading, group think and discussion, and cooperative work).
  5. Evaluation of the application (through journals, essays, short speeches).          


Grading Policy: Students will be graded based on the level they have achieved the DoDEA Language Arts 8 Course Standards

Please click hyperlink: English Language Arts: Grade 8 · PDF file

DoDEA Grading Scale:

90-100=A     80-89=B          70-79=C          60-69=D          59& below =F



Major course Requirements:

Writing Workshop:

  1. Over the course of the year, 8 formal essays (report, response to literature, narrative, persuasive, to start)
  2. A binder used to keep essay writing work.*

Reading Workshop:

  1. Students will read fictional novels at their grade level.  Only biographies or autobiographies can be read for non-fiction choices.
  2. Students will do 2 reading journals a week.
  3. Students will collect vocabulary at the rate of 6 vocabulary words a week.
  4. Students will keep reading journals and vocabulary collection in a binder.*

*The same binder.

Minor Course Requirements:

Daily exercises in mechanics of writing

Daily short exercises on reading comprehension

Notes on discussion or and reaction to videos viewed and songs listened to in class

Notes on class lectures


Due dates are announced during the first week of each quarter.  Thus, “I wasn’t here” or “I didn’t know” are not acceptable excuses.


Grading Standards:

Students will be graded based on the skill level required of a given project.  If the project is an essay, students will be graded on organization, clarity, and grammar.  If the project is a presentation, students will be graded on organization, voice and articulation, and thoroughness.  Grading standards are high for final papers and projects.  Thus, students should take advantage of easily earned grades and/or extra credit points such as participation points and drafts turned in for credit only.

The only way to get an “F” in this class is if you really want that “F.”

For the final grade to be representative of overall work and for improved work to influence the final grade, students do not receive points below 56% of the over all points of a particular assignment.  However, the assignment must be complete and effort must be evident.  Thus, the final GPA for the class is evenly maintained. Exception: Zeros given only if ‘NO’ assignments are turned in.



Homework is limited in this class to the outside novel readings and vocabulary collection.  Students are given most of class time to complete major assignments.  Thus, the only reason any major assignments are done at home is if the student didn’t complete the work in class.

Late Work Policy:

  • Unexcused late work: Mrs. Mercado accepts unexcused late work as a courtesy to students.  As per the DoDEA policy, work which is late due to unexcused absences may lose credit.  Unexcused late work must be complete when turned in.  Otherwise, such work will not be accepted.
    • Late 1 Day: Not more than 85% earned
    • Late 2 Days: Not more than 70% earned
    • Late 3-7 Days: Not more than 56%
  • Work isn’t accepted beyond 7 days from the unexcused absence.Excused late work: As per the DoDEA policy, excused late work must be completed DURING the excused absence.  However, as a courtesy, Mrs. Mercado will accept excused late work.  Excused late work must be complete when turned in. 
    • Late 2 Days:  Full Credit
    • Late 3 Days: Not more than 85% earned
    • Late 4 Days: Not more than 70% earned
    • Late 5 to 7 Days: Not more than 56%
    • Excused late work isn’t accepted beyond 7 days regardless of the length of the excused absence. 



*Students are responsible for approaching classmates or the teacher with regard to make-up work or late work.  Late work must also be requested at the end of class.



Tutoring/ Extra Help: Can be arranged during advisory or after school with Mrs. Mercado.


Classroom Management/ Behavioral Expectations


All rules of Andersen Middle School apply to the classroom.


To learn, students must participate completely: be involved in class discussion and other class exercises. Without participation, students are not eligible to earn grades or their participation points (described later).


Participation also includes student behavior conducive to the learning of all students in the class. Uncivilized, demeaning, disrespectful, crass behavior toward other students and the teacher will not be tolerated. This behavior diminishes the learning environment and takes the teacher away from teaching other participating students, students who, along with their parents, expect them to be learning. To represent parental expectations, the teacher reserves the right to protect the learning of students in class and will take necessary action to that effect.


Philosophies of Behavior:


Question: what is the highest way a teacher can show respect? Reply: To push me to be the best I can be. ~ Said by a GHS student.

Absolute respect is shown to students in this classroom by providing an environment in which the best of their abilities is expected and nurtured in order for them to succeed in this class. Students’ time will not be wasted by doing menial busy work. All work is designed for the students’ minds to process information and use information immediately. This is the teaching and learning environment in this class.


The classroom is a professional work place.

If an employee displays behavior not conducive to the goals of a work place, that employee will be demoted or fired. As such, professionalism is chief expectation in this classroom.  Students are expected to be at their best both in behavior and quality of work.


“You reap what you sow.”

If a student plants seeds of respect with the teacher and classmates, it is precisely that respect which will be reaped by that student.


The 3 great NO’S.

No whining! No anger! No ingratitude!


Not allowed: “I don’t know,” as a way of giving up.


No one is important enough to be “picked on by the teacher.”

Everyone is important enough to be helped and emboldened.



“If you treat an individual as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” –Goethe

Because the teacher believes in the potential and individual abilities of each student, each student will be treated with expectations from such beliefs. Students are expected to believe the best of themselves and use that to become more of who they are. The teacher will hold them to this standard.


Class Business Protocols:

  1. Do not approach Mrs. Mercado for personal requests and/or questions at the start of class.  Questions pertaining to personally to students personally and advisory passes will be addressed after class.  *This includes requests to go to the restroom right before class starts.
  2. No food, drinks, or gum allowed in class. 
  3. Read the Smartboard for the class activity to be covered.
  4. No one else speaks when the teacher or a student has the floor.
  5. Listen to instructions regarding class activity.
  6. Raise your hand and be recognized before you speak.
  7. Practice courtesy; say “please,” “excuse me,” and “thank you” at all applicable times.
  8. Restroom passes are given after the first 30 minutes.
  9. A clean up check will be conducted before class is dismissed.
  10. Only the teacher dismisses the class – not the clock, not the students. A minute of silence is expected before class dismissal as to gather one’s self, hear dismissal, and safely exit the class.

Should any of these protocols not be followed, points will be deducted from the participation points described below at 20, 40, 60 point intervals.  At the 3rd infraction, detention will be assigned.  Point deductions will come in form of citation.

Participation Points (PP):

Students receive 10 points a day EXTRA CREDIT for being in class, being involved in class, behaving civilly, maturely, and respectfully, following all class rules and expectations. As per class policy, these points are added to their grade at the END of the quarter.  These participation points are a privilege and may be revoked.  As such, they cannot be argued over.  Participation points may not be made up. (This totals to 220 points at the end of the semester. Points from extra credit work is be included to this total.)  All major requirements must be met in order to receive these complementary points.  If a student receives any zeros work major assignments and/or three zeros on minor assignments, students will not be eligible for these points.

Attendance Policy:

  1. Students must be prepared with materials , doing as instructed on the Anticipatory Board when roll is called. (Not according to whether s/he made it in within the first few minutes of class.)  Otherwise, students are marked tardy.
  2.   Unexcused tardiness will NOT BE TOLERATED.  *
  • 5 Unexcused tardies will result in a parent meeting and a Student Success Team meeting.
  • 5 Unexcused tardies will result in ineligibility for participation points.
  1. 5 Absences (excused or unexcused) will result in a parent meeting and a Student Success Team meeting.*
  2. All absences and tardies will be reported to parents.

(*DoDEA Attendance Policy)

The 1st tardy = minus 50 participation points; the 2nd tardy = minus 100 participation points; the 3rd tardy = minus 300 points, and so on.

Infractions and Consequences:

“The position of choice is the position of power. Being in the consequence of that choice is loss of power.”

Students are always in control of the consequences by utilizing their position of power at the point of choice. Should they utilize their position of power to choose to give the best of themselves in all learning situations, the natural consequence of that choice is the accomplishment of their learning and a healthy learning environment. Should they utilize their position of power and choose otherwise, the natural consequence of that is as follows:

         Consequences for behavioral infractions first result in lost participation points. Infractions with severity will result in the inability to earn participation points and extra credit. Infractions with extreme severity will cause a disciplinary referral to take effect.

         If a student is found to behave egregiously toward any of the philosophies/ behavioral expectations above, as to disrespect peers and the teacher, and most importantly diminish the classroom environment and therefore, diminish learning, that student will lose all his/her participation points (described above) and will be subject to immediate disciplinary action.


Content Outline:

Same order as Major Requirements



Please click this link:


Open Door Policy

Parents may do pop-in visits.  Though it is required of parents to check in at the school’s front office, at which time front office staff will inform me of a parent’s wish to see the class, parents are welcome to observe their child(ren) in my class at their leisure.









Keeping in mind that in the beginning of student development, the student may not yet have the necessary skills to score well, Mrs. Mercado provides grading benefits.  These benefits not only make-up for low scores at the beginning of development, but also take into consideration effort and participation.  In the end, should a student show sincere effort, low scores have little impact on the final grade.




1.  Potential of 220 extra credit points added to the semester grade

                These are participation points that students earn daily in class.  These points are deducted from as penalization for behavioral infractions.  These points, if protected, can potentially cover up/make-up for low scores and can potentially increase a quarter grade to one level.  HOWEVER, students are not eligible to have these points added if s/he has missed a major assignment or missed three minor assignments.

2.  56% Credit on scores of 25%

                If a student earns at least a 25% on any given assignment, s/he will be given 56% of the assignments total points.  However, the work must be complete and the effort is evident.

3.  Dropped low scores at the end of the semester

                If the last two scores in either the student’s major or minor assignment listings are A’s, Mrs. Mercado will drop 1 of the lowest scores from both listings at the end of the quarter.

4.  Late work acceptance

                Mrs. Mercado will accept unexcused late work within the parameters set forth in the course description.  However, it must be complete and up to standard.  A grade of 56% will be assigned to that late work keeping up the student’s class GPA.

5.  Extra Credit

                Mrs. Mercado will accept extra credit proposed by a student.  However, that student must have turned in all major requirements at the point of request.

6.  Completion Grade AND Standards Grade

For every major assignment and minor assignment, students will get 2 grades: a complementary grade for having completed the assignment on time (a.k.a. the easy grade) & turned in on time, as well as, a “standards” grade.  This latter grade expresses the quality of the work as to whether it met the standards of the assignment.  This boosts the class grade GPA. For writing, students also review a grade for reviewing their writing with Mrs. Mercado.  However, the writing assignment must be complete.




These assignments are built into class requirements as to push up GPA and keep up GPA.  They help minimize the impact of grades on more difficult assignments which may be low and heavily weigh against the GPA.  Students should easily score As on these assignments: vocabulary collection and learning logs.