- Heatherwood Middle School
- Ms. Lanigan's Science Policies and Procedures
Ms. Lanigan's 6th-Grade Science HandbookPosted by Billie Lanigan on 9/20/2021
Ms. Lanigan's Science Class Policies & ProceduresPosted by Billie Lanigan on 9/20/2021
For easy access, you can save Ms. Lanigan's 6th-Grade Science Handbook, or you can read all the information in this post. This post will stay here all year in case you have questions about my procedures and policies.
Congratulations! You made it to the most important blog post of the school year!
Here you will find information about class procedures, grading, and what to expect in 6th-grade science. It's a long post, but very thorough. You will be able to access it all year. This post should answer all of your questions about my class. For the letter that I normally send home on the first day, click here: Introductory Letter. I will only be sending hard copies of that letter home if students/parents aren’t using the survey in Canvas. There is also the Classroom Procedure Handbook for my class. It is set up with a table of contents so that navigating it is easier than searching this blog post.
The first thing to do, when you have time, after reading all the information you’ve been given from ALL your 6th-grade teachers:
You will need to fill out the information in Canvas about yourself (parents AND students) in the Information About 6th-Grade Science Module. Students will know how to navigate this after the first day of school, so be sure to ask them how to get there. Students will not be permitted to participate in labs in science until this is complete.
This blog is the go-to place for all the information you need. Not only is this post here with important details, but also I post daily with a reflection of what we did in class. I will include links to readings, videos, lab sheets, and notes we took in class. I will describe the labs and their purpose. I explain the work students are doing and what the end goal should be. I will provide links to Quizlet the day we start a chapter for students to use at home to familiarize themselves with the vocabulary and concepts we will be covering. This should also be used to supplement the study guides given before each test and quiz. If you’ve never experienced Quizlet, check out this one: Ms. Lanigan’s Inconsequential Quizlet. I will also include pictures and videos of students performing labs and experiments.
Although we will be using paper and pencil (gasp!) for most of the labs and other work, there are some assignments that will be submitted in Canvas. We will practice logging in and finding important information there. Parents should be sure they can access their child’s Canvas account. If you need help, reach out to any teacher so we can help you.
To be successful you must be organized. We will spend a lot of time in the first few weeks learning procedures to keep class running smoothly. Not only lab procedures and clean up, but where to keep binders, how to submit work, and how to keep binders in order. You will need a 1 ½ inch three-ring binder which is just for science and kept in my classroom. You should also have plenty of pencils and loose-leaf paper.
WHY BINDERS INSTEAD OF COMPOSITION NOTEBOOKS?
Composition notebooks cause a lot of problems for me. They become unwieldy as the year progresses. Papers come unglued and fall out, the notebooks start bulging because of the papers taped or glued in, lab sheets are often shrunk down to make them fit making it hard for students to fill in because they have to write so small and making it difficult for me to read when I grade them. Also, because I have over 170 students, grading means having to deal with 170 composition notebooks to take home! Binders are much easier to deal with as I only have to take home one paper from each student at a time. We keep the binders organized by chapter. At the end of a chapter, before a test or quiz, students can take those pages, staple them together as a packet, and take just a few papers home instead of the whole binder. In fact, the binder should never leave the classroom. Students will get full sized lab sheets that they can place in their binders after they have been graded. We will take notes on full-sized loose-leaf paper and put those into the binder.
SETTING UP THE BINDERS
In the first few weeks of school, I will be doing binder checks. I keep my own binder so students can use it to see how theirs should be set up. We start with the table of contents for each chapter followed by the pages of the chapter in chronological order. We number each page, so page two goes after page one. Simple? Not for the majority of 6th graders in the first few weeks of school. Students are required to have their binders in the correct order before participating in the first few labs. This will be graded, but not worth any points. It will be graded as “S” (satisfactory) or “U” (unsatisfactory). Don’t worry if you see a “U” in the first couple weeks when you check the online grades. Most students catch on quickly. Students must get three “S” checks in a row before they are excused from having to have their binders checked. If they continue to get a “U” after the first five binder checks I will contact parents and get them involved in helping students succeed. There is a direct correlation between organization and grades in most cases.
This is the part you will love. Ready? No homework. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t assign homework. Once in a while, I will give an assignment where I ask students to survey a friend or family member or to perform a simple task, but it's purely voluntary. Students might make their own homework by either not finishing work or being absent. See the information that follows about what to do if you don’t finish an assignment or project and what to do if you are absent.
MISSING WORK (AKA HOMEWORK)
Missing work can only happen to students who have been absent and haven't handed in the work they missed while they were away. All assignments, complete or not, must be handed in at the end of class or on the day assigned for longer projects. (See HANDING IN WORK below for more details about this.) If a student is absent they have one week to turn in the work they missed before it becomes a zero in the grade book. Once the assignment is handed in I will change it to the earned grade. I do not take points off for it being "late" but it must be turned in before the end of the semester when report card grades are due. So, an M in the grade book means the student was absent and still needs to turn in their work.
All work must be handed in when it is due regardless of whether it is complete or not. This is difficult for some students because they might be used to being able to take things home to complete and submitting it the next day. There are two reasons I don’t let students take home incomplete work. First, many times it leaves my classroom and never returns. Second, if it is submitted incomplete I can grade it, give feedback and return it so there is a grade in the grade book and not a zero. But, don’t freak out! Once an assignment is graded and handed back, if you’re not happy with your grade, it can then be taken home, completed, and turned in again to be regarded. No points will be deducted. Incomplete work can be submitted anytime before report card grades are due at the end of each semester.
Never put completed work on my desk. I do not have an “in-basket” or a box to hand things in. All work must be put into my hand. If it isn’t handed directly to me I cannot be held responsible for it being missing.
Grades will be based on test scores. The letter grades correspond to the following scores:
- A = 90-100%
- B = 80-89%
- C = 70-79%
- D = 60-69%
- F = 50-59%
- M = missing (because of an absence)
Only test and quiz scores count toward the overall grade, but other work is graded.
Grades are updated regularly online and can be accessed through the Heatherwood Website (https://lms.everettsd.org/secure/HomePage.aspx). This web page will be available in mid-September.
TESTS AND QUIZZES
At the end of each chapter within a unit, there will be a test (100 points) or a quiz (50 points). These will include the concepts covered in the chapter. These are the only summative grades. This means that only test and quiz scores will count toward the report card grades.
Any test with a score below 75% may be retaken on request. Students need to make corrections on their original tests by explaining why they got the questions wrong. Then we will schedule a time to retake the test. Tests can only be retaken a week or more after the original test is graded and returned. This is to give students ample time to study and prepare for the retake. All tests may be retaken up until report card grades are due (mid to late-January, and mid-June). The highest grade will be the grade that is kept.
Practice quizzes often cause panic attacks in students and parents until they get used to them. A practice quiz is a pop quiz that doesn’t count. Most of the questions on the practice quizzes are taken directly from the upcoming test. We make corrections on the practice quizzes when it is handed back and it becomes an important study guide. If you do well on a practice quiz it means you understand the concepts and vocabulary. If you don’t do well it means you need to spend some extra time studying before the test. When looking at the online grades, parents can track those practice quizzes. If they notice a low score they should encourage their child to use Quizlet at home and start reviewing for the test early.
Warm-ups are done in the interactive notebooks (found in Canvas) when students first come into class and get settled before the bell rings. We go over the answers to all warm-ups unless it’s a question asking for your opinion or personal experience and doesn’t necessarily have a correct answer. Warm-ups are IMPORTANT and not just time wasters. Many of the warm-up questions are directly from the upcoming test or quiz. These are important to use as a study guide.
PROJECTS AND GROUP WORK
Ample time is given to complete projects in class. No projects will be done at home. This gives every student the same resources, time, and materials. If a student wants to bring something from home for a project they must ask me for permission first. This is to keep it a level playing field. I also don’t allow students to do projects at home because I want to know what they can do without help from their parents. Don't worry if you're not very neat and creative - you will not be graded on artistic ability and creativity.
Students will be told when projects are due when they start them and must hand them in when they are due. If they are incomplete they will be able to take them home to finish only after they have been turned in and graded. No points will be taken off for handing them in the second time.
For group labs, you must hand in your own lab sheet. You will not get credit for adding your name to someone else’s lab sheet. Science labs are designed for group exploration and discovery. You are expected to help and support each other; however, when answering questions, each individual is expected to provide his or her own original responses. Basically, we work together in pairs and groups often, but there is no “group project” grade.
Labs are intended to make discoveries about something we might not have covered in class yet, or they reinforce concepts we have taken notes on but not seen occurring in real life. They are fun and collaborative. They cultivate curiosity and allow students to explore and take chances. We are fortunate that the sixth-grade curriculum allows us many opportunities for hands-on labs and activities. In order for this to work, we need strict rules and procedures. You will find the Science Lab Safety Rules in Canvas. Students and their grown-ups need to read over and acknowledge their understanding of the rules and procedures. Students will spend time in class reviewing these rules before each lab and practicing safety. No Student will be able to participate in a lab experiment until both the student and their grown-up have acknowledged their understanding of the rules and procedures..
Most work will be corrected and entered in the grade book, but not be included in the overall grade. The labs, projects, practice quizzes, warm-ups, and classwork are perfect to use as study guides for the tests. DO THE WORK! The work we do in class is essential to understanding the concepts being covered. Knowing the vocabulary isn’t enough. Students should understand the “how” and “why” of the processes. Sometimes there will be direct references to labs students have done in class and they will need to be able to demonstrate that they understand the results and why they happened. Because some students feel that if it is only a formative grade and “doesn’t count” they don’t need to bother doing it and they consistently don’t complete work they will need to complete missing or incomplete work before the test for the next chapter.
INCORRECT GRADE IN THE GRADE BOOK?
It happens! I’m human and make mistakes. Entering six classes with an average of 30 students per class I sometimes press the wrong keys. This is easily remedied if you KEEP YOUR WORK! This is another reason for keeping your binder organized. If you put each graded assignment in your binder and then notice a grade entered incorrectly, just bring me the graded paper and I will immediately change the grade in the grade book – guaranteed. I will stop whatever I am doing and even show you that I’ve changed it online. But, imagine that you received 100 points on a test. Smiley face, star, scratch-and-sniff sticker on it because I’m so proud of you! But, you always get A’s, so you toss it in the recycle bin. The next day you notice that I entered 10 points instead of 100. I ask you to show me your graded test because I’ve just graded almost 200 tests and didn’t memorize the grade every student received. You don’t have the test? I can’t change your grade.
If you are absent, it is your responsibility to find out what you’ve missed and to make up the work. We have an in-class procedure that we will practice in the first few weeks of school. If you are absent the first thing you should do is check the Table of Contents on the board at the front of the class. If there is something listed for the day you were absent you need to go to the “Absent Folder” and find the page number of the assignment you missed. Take it to your table and ask for someone in your group to explain what they did. If it is a lab and it was handed in, copy the information from another group member after it is handed back and ask Ms. Lanigan if there is anything you don’t understand, then hand it in to be graded. If you missed notes, ask someone at your table group to let you copy theirs, or ask Ms. Lanigan for her notes to copy. If you have any questions about what you missed, ask your table group first. If you still don’t understand, see Ms. Lanigan. Everything we do in class will be posted on my daily blog as well. There will also be links to labs, lab sheets, other assignments, and videos we’ve watched in class.
REVIEW DAYS AND STUDY GUIDES
Each chapter has a Quizlet (if you’re unsure what Quizlet it, click this link: Ms. Lanigan’s Inconsequential Quizlet) Students are encouraged to use this at home to prepare for tests and quizzes. I will post a link to the Quizlet on the first day we start a new chapter. Using it early is tricky since students might not know the vocabulary yet. They should think of it as an introduction rather than a study guide if using it early in the chapter.
Study guides will be handed out a couple of days before tests and quizzes. I encourage students to do them at home but try to give them some time in class to work on them. If they are not complete the day before the test or quiz they will have the entire class period the day before the test to work on them. They are for review and students will not submit them.
We will have at least one full class period for review before each test. On these days students will have time to work on their study guides, using their notes if they need them. Any student who has completed their study guide will use their Chromebook to access Quizlet and Study Stack to play the study games. We spend the second half of class playing Kahoot and Quizlet Live review games. As students complete their study guides they are welcome to join in. I will post videos of Kahoot and Quizlet Live for those who are interested in how they work. They are super fun, interactive games where students compete individually or in teams.
At the end of a review day, I encourage students to staple the current chapter together, remove it from their binder and take it home to help them study. This is the only time they should take anything out of their binders and take them home unless they are taking home incomplete work.
After the first few tests, I will start offering Study Skills Sessions after school to students who are interested. They are open to any student but highly recommended for those struggling with test-taking in any subject area, though I will only be going over science concepts. Study Skills Sessions will be held on specific days about a week before a test or quiz on a Tuesday or Thursday during Student Success Time. There is an activity bus students can take home when the session ends at 4:00. In these sessions, I go over the material that we’ve covered in class so far and help students go through their notes and pick out important information. I will show them how to make and use flashcards, and give ideas for other study techniques, and give them time to work with other students, and ask me questions about anything they find confusing or are struggling with.
Stay in the loop! This is a tool I use to send important information to grown-ups about upcoming events like tests, quizzes, or fun things like labs and videos you can check out on my blog. This app sends you text messages that are very short, like a Tweet. I know everyone doesn’t have time to check my blog every day, so this is a way to let you know what’s happening when it’s important. The school district should send you the information you need to access Remind.com. My classes are automatically populated using the information you’ve provided to the school. If you would like for me to add a different contact, please let me know.