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Course Syllabus

The following information may be found in this section of the website.
Course Information
Mission
Code of Conduct
Text
Attendance
Homework Policy
Tutoring
Methods of Grading Student Performance
Expectations of the Parents and Communication
Parent Communication and Conferences
Grade Printout Dates
(at the bottom) The Science 7 Course Content Standards
 
Instructor: Brian Finley
Room: 254
Phone Number: (858) 549-8840 x1254
Email Address: bfinley@sandi.net
Homework Hotline: (858) 693-8345 x 2254
School Fax: (858) 549-4910
 
Course Description
Science 7 - Computers and Technology is a technology-oriented, hands-on lab course in general science, driven by the California State Science Standards for the 7th grade. Science content and skills will be taught through various methods that will prepare students for high school science and beyond. Computer software programs such as Microsoft® Word™, Excel™, and PowerPoint™ will be taught and used as tools to communicate ideas and better understand the science content. Although the primary focus of the course is on the biological sciences, earth and physical science will be explored with the emphasis being on their relationship to life science.
The introductory Nature of Science unit will emphasize how science is used to solve problems and answer questions. It will cover the investigative skills that students will use the remainder of the year, including how to measure using the metric system, as well as practicing the basic steps of the scientific method. Students will later explore the processes common to all organisms, the basic chemistry of life, cell organelles and their function, cellular respiration, mitosis, meiosis, genetics, evolution, anatomy, physiology, and interacting body systems. Characteristics of light, photosynthesis, and the structures of the human eye (how they receive emitted or scattered light from objects) will be studied. Students will also investigate the earth’s rocks while exploring geologic evidence of our past. At the end of the class, students will better understand the relationship between structure and function, have enhanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and hopefully view science as an interesting and pertinent discipline. Overall, this is a fun, challenging, hands-on course of discovery.

Course Goals:
The following goals will be achieved through the delivery of a sound, standards-based curriculum in a safe, well-managed classroom. The overall goals of this course include the following, and go beyond enhancing student understanding of science:
• To enhance each student's understanding of the mandated science standards surrounding the topics of Cell Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Genetics,Geology (Fossils, The Rock Cycle, Tectonics), Evolution, and Light.
• To develop each students' appreciation for science, especially for the complexity and beauty of our planet and the unique and unusual physical, chemical, and functional characteristics that guide it. The course focus is to explore the relationship between structure and function as well as understanding science as a discipline of change.
• To enhance each student's appreciation for science as a tool for understanding the world around them. Each student will increase his or her proficiency in solving everyday challenges by using scientific reasoning skills (critical thinking, inquiry, inference, and investigation), hands-on manipulation, observation, literacy skills, resource gathering, research, organization, groupwork skills, and technology (computer word-processing, research, spreadsheet, database, and multimedia).
• To enhance each student's ability to clearly communicate concepts and discoveries with peers, both in an oral and written style.
• To augment each student's esteem through his or her involvement in the class as a well-rounded, cooperative, disciplined team player who takes pride and responsibility in his or her work, turning it in neatly and in a timely manner.
 
Code of Conduct: Rules of Respect and Responsibility
Students, follow the Code of Conduct and you will earn high citizenship and academic marks. In a nutshell, never lie, cheat, nor steal, do not affect other students’ ability to learn by disturbing the class, follow directions, and turn every assignment in on time.
Code of Conduct:
1. Respect the quiet learning environment and work in a way that is not disruptive to the teacher nor distractive to other students, always raising your hand for permission to speak or to leave your seat and demonstrating body language that indicates that you are listening and staying on task.
2. Be responsible for your work by turning every assignment in on time; accept responsibility for your grade and never make up excuses.
3. Use the class period to learn and focus on science; never do work from another class nor take care of personal matters during the period.
4. Enter the classroom quietly and be seated before the tardy bell rings.
5. Always be prepared with your own pencil/pen, lined paper, planner, and homework.
6. Respect others’ property and space by not touching their belongings.
7. Do not take or damage any property (including no graffiti on books, desks, nor any other school property). Anything with stylized writing will be confiscated, including student notebooks.
8. Follow instructions the first time they are given.
9. Title every assignment with the proper class heading format.
10. Maintain your daily planner/homework agenda book.
11. Keep your area and your classroom clean by not bringing food or drinks (other than water), and by putting away all items that you have used during the period.
12. Deliver all grade printouts/letters to your parents the day they are given to you, and always have your parents sign them.
13. In the event of an absence, obtain the assignments via the webpage or by calling me or another student directly. Make-up work is permitted for excused absences only and must be completed within the same number of days that the student has been absent. (ie. 2 days absent=2 days to hand in make-up work, at no penalty). ‘Unexcused’ late work will be accepted for a maximum of half credit (an ‘F’).
14. Always do your personal best, behaviorally and academically.
15. Tell the truth at all times; never make false complaints.
16. Accept responsibility when you err; apologize and rectify the situation on your own accord, without prompting.
17. Always do your own work. Cheating, forgery of a parent’s signature, and plagiarism are very serious academic offenses and will absolutely not be tolerated. Cheating in any manner, forgery, and verbatimly copying another source will result the student receiving a permanent zero on the assignment, a lowering of citizenship grade to a “U” for that grading period, and a referral (which becomes a permanent part of a student’s discipline record).
Overall, be attentive, hard-working, responsible, honest, and courteous. Failure to follow these guidelines harms your ability to learn, distracts the teacher and other students, and may lead to extra homework to make up for lost learning time, a lowering of citizenship grade, a call or conference with your parents, and/or any other approved schoolwide discipline procedure.
Attendance:
Attendance is especially crucial for success, and students must be seated quietly in their seat before the tardy bell rings. Tardies to school are recorded on the roll sheet and are counted in the office and by the classroom teacher. Perfect attendance includes no tardies on the student's record. Any student who is tardy to school must report to the office for a pass to class. The tardy policy is as follows:
First Tardy: Deduction of citizenship point and five minutes of lunch detention.
Second Tardy and beyond: Deduction of citizenship points and one hour of
after school detention; possible referral and call home.
 
Homework Policy:

1. It is the student's responsibility to get all homework assignments. In the event of an absence, it is the responsibility of the student to obtain the assignments via the webpage, homework hotline (or calling me directly), another student, or the homework calendar posted in the classroom.
2. Students are required to turn in all assignments on time.
3. Students must put the title of your assignment in the proper heading format (see sample 'Heading' board in the classroom).
4. 'Unexcused' late work will be accepted for a maximum of half credit (an 'F') and the assignment must be fully completed and a short, legible note and signature from the parent must be written at the top front page of the assignment. The 'one sentence note' acknowledges that the parent is aware that the assignment is being turned in 'late'.
5. Make-up work is permitted for excused absences only and must be completed within the same number of days that the student has been absent. (ie. 2 days absent=2 days to hand in make-up work, at no penalty). In the event of an absence, it is the responsibility of the student to obtain the assignments via the webpage, homework hotline, another student, or the homework calendar posted in the classroom.
6. Students must always do their own work. Cheating, forgery of a parent's signature, and plagiarism are very serious academic offenses and will absolutely not be tolerated. Cheating in any manner, forgery, and verbatimly copying another source will result the student receiving a permanent zero on the assignment, a lowering of citizenship grade to a "U" for that grading period, and a referral (which becomes a permanent part of a student's discipline record).
 
Text:
The latest district science adoptionis the Holt Life Science text and Science and Life Issues book. The Holt book may be issued in CD-ROM format, should a student want it. There is a class set of each text in the classroom, and students will be allowed to check out these books, as desired, after school. These 'checked out' materials must be returned the following school day before school. The Holt text will also be available online at a future date, but can be unreliable.
 
Tutoring:
Although Thursday is Mr. Finley’s official schoolwide tutoring day, extra help is available from the teacher on a daily basis. Mr. Finley is willing to meet with students before school, during lunch, or after school almost any day. Please verify the availability, beforehand, of the teacher as prior engagements (school related conferences/meetings/club obligations) do come up.
 
Methods of Grading Student Performance:
The final grade will be determined by the student's accumulation of points during the semester. A student should expect to do well in my class if they just follow all directions and turn in all assignments on time (remember, unexcused late work will receive a maximum of 1/2 credit!). Grades will be divided into three categories:
1. Bonus Points (extra credit reports/tasks that may raise a student's grade a maximum of 10 percentage points for the semester),
2. Science Assignments (which include daily assignments, labs, quizzes, and other standards-centered tasks).
3. Culminating Standards Assessments (which include tests, culminating projects, and other items that relate to specific standards).
A computer printout of each student's grades will be made approximately every three Fridays, beginning September 20, and must be signed by a parent for points. Failure to return the parent-signed grade printout on time will result in a lowering of citizenship grade. Also, forging a parent's signature will result in severe consequences, including an automatic 'U' in citizenship, referral, parent phone call, and detention. The grading scale is as follows (percent scale):
A=90%-100% B=80%-89% C=70%-79% D=60-69% F=Below 60%
 
Expectations of the Parents and Communication
Please support your child’s learning by doing the following:
1. Provide a quiet place for them to do their homework.
2. Review and sign their grade printout on the last Friday of each month (Fridays which fall on a school day, not a vacation day).
3. Contact me if you ever have any questions, comments, or feedback that will help me to better teach your child. Especially try to communicate with me ASAP if your child tells you anything that sounds ‘fishy’ or ‘not quite right’. I make every effort to always be respectful, honest, and fair towards all of my students, and, on very rare occasions, I don’t see the same behavior demonstrated by every student towards me. Honesty is essential when it comes to any student-parent-teacher relationship, so, again, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you question anything from your child that sounds like I am being ‘unfair’ towards them. I’ve seen and heard ‘it all’!

Please encourage and instill within your child the idea that education is important, and help them to develop skill of organization and the values of effort, and ethical behavior, so that your child will work hard and not lie, cheat, steal, nor forge your signature on paperwork. These skills are necessary in order for your child to be successful and happy in life. If your child is not perfoming as you would like, please review and sign the daily planner, use my website, and incorporate a system of real consequences and rewards to ensure that your child is doing their homework.

Conferences may be requested by a parent as needed, however, I ask that you please call me first to discuss the situation of concern (as I have tutoring/school related meetings nearly daily). Again, do not hesitate to call me should you have any questions or concerns, and please do not pass judgment on any issue until you have spoken with me!

Overall, besides wanting to have every student learn and develop an interest in science, my primary goal for this class is that each child demonstrate that they make good decisions behaviorally and academically. For many students, this is their first time dealing with multiple subjects in multiple classrooms. It is imperative that from this point forward in their educational careers, the students show qualities of respect and responsibility. All children are expected to do their homework and turn the assignments in on time without excuses. Also, students need to respect the learning environment and others around them. Finally, each child needs to fully respect themselves by always doing their best and accepting responsibility for their actions. I hope that you will support me in helping your child to be the most respectful, responsible, and highest-achieving student that they can be.
Remember, self-esteem is enhanced when a child accomplishes something - it is not a given right, but is a quality that is directly tied into ‘hard work’ which is then followed by some kind of reward. The reward must be earned or it is of no value. I have high expectations of my students, and I am sure that you have these same expectations at home. It is a ‘challenging’ world out there, and I want each of my kids prepared for ‘the jungle’.

Finally, poor grades are usually an indication of poor behavior and/or study skills. Your child will succeed in my class if they develop and maintain high standards of self-discipline, responsibility, integrity, and hard work. These are attributes that are necessary for success later in life, and they are characteristics that I and every parent must model and encourage!

Grade Printout Dates:
Every last Friday of the month (that falls on a school day), your child will be given a science grade printout that must be legibly signed by you and returned by them within two school days for points.

If your child is not performing as you would like, please:
• Encourage your child to develop habits of responsibility. I assess primarily on effort, and grades are often a reflection of a student's ability to follow directions (both written and oral) and turn in assignments on time. If your child is doing poorly, it is almost certainly due to deficiency in one or more of these areas.
• Encourage your child to be responsible and turn in all work on time! Late assignments receive a maximum of half credit in this course. In later years, most teachers will most likely enforce a more strict policy, thus, the students need to develop habits of responsibility and organization now.
• Encourage your child to attend class! Some absences are unavoidable, and make-up work is permitted for such excused absences only. Remember, this late work must be completed within the same number of days that the student has been absent. (ie. 2 days absent=2 days to hand in make-up work, at no penalty). In the event of an absence, it is the responsibility of the student to obtain the assignments via the webpage, calling me directly, the homework hotline, another student, or the homework calendar posted in the classroom.
• Check that your child is doing their work! The best ways to monitor your child's science assignments and academic progress are to view the daily planner your child should be maintaining (they merely copy the daily agenda from the white board), as well as review the grade printouts when you sign them. Your signature is an acknowledgment that you have reviewed the assignments and grades to date, and, if needed, will encourage your child to work harder.
Please do not hesitate to call me should you have any questions or concerns. Also, please click on the "Keys to Success" button along the top header of this page.
 
Grade 7 State Science Content Standards:
Course Focus on Life Science:
Cell Biology
1. All living organisms are composed of cells, from just one to many trillions, whose details usually are visible only through a microscope. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students will understand that cells function similarly in all living organisms.
b. Students will understand the characteristics that distinguish plant cells from animal cells, including chloroplasts and cell walls.
c. Students will understand that the nucleus is the repository for genetic information in plant and animal cells.
d. Students will understand that mitochondria liberate energy for the work that cells do and chloroplasts capture sunlight energy for photosynthesis.
e. Students will understand that cells divide to increase their numbers through a process of mitosis, which results in two daughter cells with identical sets of chromosomes.
f. Students will understand that as multicellular organisms develop, their cells differentiate.
 
Genetics
2. A typical cell of any organism contains genetic instructions that specify its traits. Those traits may be modified by environmental influences. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students will understand the differences between the life cycles and reproduction methods of sexual and asexual organisms.
b. Students will understand that sexual reproduction produces offspring that inherit half their genes from each parent.
c. Students will understand that an inherited trait can be determined by one or more genes.
d. Students will understand that plant and animal cells contain many thousands of different genes and typically have two copies of every gene. The two copies (or alleles) of the gene may or may not be identical, and one may be dominant in determining the phenotype while the other is recessive.
e. Students will understand that DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the genetic material of living organisms and is located in the chromosomes of each cell.
 
Evolution
3. Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students will understand that both genetic variation and environmental factors are causes of evolution and diversity of organisms.
b. Students will understand the reasoning used by Charles Darwin in reaching his conclusion that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution.
c. Students will understand how independent lines of evidence from geology, fossils, and comparative anatomy provide the basis for the theory of evolution.
d. Students will understand how to construct a simple branching diagram to classify living groups of organisms by shared derived characteristics and how to expand the diagram to include fossil organisms.
e. Students will understand that extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and that the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient for its survival.
 
Earth and Life History (Earth Science)
4. Evidence from rocks allows us to understand the evolution of life on Earth. As the basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students will understand that Earth processes today are similar to those that occurred in the past and slow geologic processes have large cumulative effects over long periods of time.
b. Students will understand that the history of life on Earth has been disrupted by major catastrophic events, such as major volcanic eruptions or the impacts of asteroids.
c. Students will understand that the rock cycle includes the formation of new sediment and rocks and that rocks are often found in layers, with the oldest generally on the bottom.
d. Students will understand that evidence from geologic layers and radioactive dating indicates Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old, and that life on this planet has existed for more than 3 billion years.
e. Students will understand that fossils provide evidence of how life and environmental conditions have changed.
f. Students will understand how movements of the Earth's continental and oceanic plates through time, with associated changes in climate and geographical connections, have affected the past and present distribution of organisms.
g. Students will understand how to explain significant developments and extinctions of plant and animal life on the geologic time scale.
 
Structure and Function in Living Systems
5. The anatomy and physiology of plants and animals illustrate the complementary nature of structure and function. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students will understand that plants and animals have levels of organization for structure and function, including cells, tissues, organs, organ systems, and the whole organism.
b. Students will understand that organ systems function because of the contributions of individual organs, tissues, and cells. The failure of any part can effect the entire system.
c. Students will understand how bones and muscles work together to provide a structural framework for movement.
d. Students will understand how the reproductive organs of the human female and male generate eggs and sperm, and how sexual activity may lead to fertilization and pregnancy.
e. Students will understand the function of the umbilicus and placenta during pregnancy.
f. Students will understand the structures and processes by which flowering plants generate pollen and ovules, seeds, and fruit.
g. Students will understand how to relate the structures of the eye and ear to their functions.
 
Physical Principles in Living Systems (Physical Science)
6. Physical principles underlie biological structures and functions. As a basis for understanding this concept:
a. Students will understand that visible light is a small band within a very broad electromagnetic spectrum.
b. Students will understand that for an object to be seen, light emitted by or scattered from it must enter the eye.
c. Students will understand that light travels in straight lines except when the medium it travels through changes.
d. Students will understand how simple lenses are used in a magnifying glass, the eye, camera, telescope, and microscope.
e. Students will understand that white light is a mixture of many wavelengths (colors), and that retinal cells react differently with different wavelengths.
f. Students will understand that light interacts with matter by transmission (including refraction), absorption, or scattering (including reflection).
g. Students will understand that the angle of reflection of a light beam is equal to the angle of incidence.
h. Students will understand how to compare joints in the body (wrist, shoulder, thigh) with structures used in machines and simple devices (hinge, ball-and-socket, and sliding joints).
i. Students will understand how levers confer mechanical advantage and how the application of this principle applies to the musculoskeletal system.
j. Students will understand that contractions of the heart generate blood pressure, and heart valves prevent backflow of blood in the circulatory system.
 
Investigation and Experimentation
7. Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept, and to address the content the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations. Students will:
a. select and use appropriate tools and technology (including calculators, computers, balances, spring scales, microscopes, and binoculars) to perform tests, collect data, and display data.
b. utilize a variety of print and electronic resources (including the World Wide Web) to collect information as evidence as part of a research project.
c. communicate the logical connection among hypothesis, science concepts, tests conducted, data collected, and conclusions drawn from the scientific evidence.
d. construct scale models, maps and appropriately labeled diagrams to communicate scientific will knowledge (e.g., motion of Earth's plates and cell structure).
e. communicate the steps and results from an investigation in written reports and verbal presentations.

 

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