Several Science Grades on the Way

Dear Moms and Dads,

Just a quick heads up: Over the next few days, there will be several science grades added to your children’s average. Many of those grades are great — your students have been doing some nice work on their recent lab. Some of those grades, however, are not so great — there are lots of kids who didn’t turn in their paper towel labs, so they will have zeros in their average!

I’ve been putting the squeeze on students here at school, so hopefully that will correct itself. But if you see zeros in your child’s average, please know that I will generally accept all work late without penalty as long as it isn’t a recurring problem for a student.

A few other grading details:

Students can raise grades in my room by doing extra credit: There are two standing extra credit opportunities in my room — answering daily wonder questions and filling out proof boxes on unit overview sheets. If students do this work, they can turn it in to me to raise grades that they are unhappy with. There will be a third standing opportunity introduced soon that is connected to Brainpop — an online tutorial service. I just haven’t given kids usernames and passwords for that yet.

There are two types of grades in my room. The first are called Practice Tasks. They are assignments that students do during the course of instruction. They might include handouts and viewing guides. They might include practice quizzes taken in class. Practice tasks are only worth 10 percent of a child’s average. The second are called Summative tasks. They are assignments that we have spent a long time working on and practicing for. They include formal quizzes and tests. They also include lab work done over the course of several days in class. They count as 90 percent of a child’s average.

When a student is absent, they may not make up an assignment: There are times when students miss tasks in class that just can’t be made up. For example, if we do a demonstration in class and there is a grade connected to that demonstration, I rarely have students make up that work because it is difficult to get all the materials back out again and to find time to repeat the demonstration for just one or two students. In those cases, students will have a blank in the gradebook. Blanks don’t count against a student’s average. I will help your students to figure out which assignments have to be made up and which don’t.

Students will often do group work — but they don’t have to get a group grade: When we are working on labs in class, it is essential that kids work in groups. Not only does that mimic the process of science in practicing labs, it’s a practicality. We just don’t have enough materials for every student to work individually. As for the written part of lab work, though, students can choose whether they want to turn in one assignment and earn a grade as a group or whether they want to turn their work in as individuals. All students know that if they want to, they can tell their group that they are working on the written part of a task alone. That’s a choice I leave up to the students.

Hope this helps,

Bill Ferriter