You will find that this is not a very tough course to pass. Just coming and paying attention gets you a long way towards a pass. It is, however, somewhat more challenging to earn an "A" for the term. While it is certainly not impossible, you will have to apply yourself on a regular basis. Your quarter and final semester grades will be based upon a combination of factors, which include the following:
Mid-term exams and quizzes . . . . . . . 25%
Count on several chapter and unit exams during the term. Add 'em all up and they'll be worth 25% of your grade. Expect what you see - I like a wide variety of questions, including multiple choice, hands-on identification/manipulation, diagrams, and short and long answer essay.
Semester Final . . . . . . . 15%
Yes, the semester final will be cumulative. I recommend that you start paying attention somewhere near the beginning of the term, and try to stay with it through to the end.
Semester Presentation . . . . . . . 10%
Everyone is required to research a topic of their choice, prepare a paper on that topic, and give a 10 to 15 minute presentation to the class. I feel this is an extremely important aspect of the course, and it will be pretty tough to get an "A" without putting the appropriate amount of energy into it. Your paper should be roughly two typed pages, and while this is not an English class, I expect you to write, and speak, coherently. The range of acceptable topics is quite liberal and should allow everyone the chance to research something of interest to them.
Labs / Activities . . . . . . . 30%
These can and will consist of a variety of daily events, including labs, activities, participation in demonstrations, worksheets, and other opportunities as may arise throughout the term.
The APE Factor . . . . . . . 20%
Attendance, Participation, and Enthusiasm. I can't stress the importance of this category enough. I expect that we'll cover quite a bit of territory throughout the term, and you will have real trouble keeping up if you don't show up. In addition, I enjoy students who actively participate, and your grade will reflect both your desire to join us, and your ability to tailor your involvement to the good of the group.
Please note that a full 50% of your grade is essentially based upon your ability to be an active and constructive member of the class. Unfortunately, there is a very fine line of distinction between being "constructive" and being "disruptive," which brings us to a discussion of classroom rules. Since I'm a geologist, and geologists need to keep things pretty simple, I've only got one rule:
All Things With Respect
This pretty much covers it for me. I'm sure that we will have ample opportunity to more clearly define what this means as the semester progresses.
Other Course Information
Be in your seat before the echo from the bell dies or you are tardy. End of discussion.
Absences and Make-up Work
When absent, be sure to arrive with your admit slip. You need to get the slip before class begins. If not... see the note concerning Tardies (above). I will accept late/make-up work up to the day before the unit test over whatever we are covering at the time. If you are absent on test day, you will need to make up the test the day you return. If you are routinely absent on test day, you will lose your privilege of making up the exam and will lose the points for that test.
Free Question Coupons
There may be certain times or certain situations when a particular test question just doesn't connect with your available memory. If this were to happen to me, I'm sure that I'd appreciate the opportunity to not have to answer the question (but still get the points, of course). Free Question Coupons do just that - they are worth up to 3 points each, and can be used "in series" to cover questions worth more points. (It is theoretically possible to collect enough of them throughout the term to allow you to completely kiss off the final.) "How do I get 'em?" I hear you cry. Well, they are given as rewards/bribes for a wide variety of things, which we will discuss as the term progresses.
I encourage use of the Internet, and am making every effort to maintain complete Internet support for all of my earth and space science courses. Start at http://jersey.uoregon.edu/~mstrick and you will find an index with links to whichever course materials you wish to access. Materials available include: notes and information I use in presenting information during class, vocabulary sheets to accompany topics we will cover, video study guides, daily lesson plans with links to my class notes and support materials, and a growing compilation of links to related websites. It is my hope that the availability of these materials will help in your understanding of the class, and that the daily calendar will allow you to stay caught up when absent. Give me feedback on how I can improve this - it's for you.
Open Note Policy
I strongly encourage note-taking; both during class discussions and while reading. As a reward for good note-taking, I will allow you to use one (1) page of hand-written notes during exams. Photocopies of any kind are not allowed, and the tests are not open book, nor are they open neighbor. All this means is that if you want to take the time to write it down you can use it during the test. But remember No Photocopies, or you will pay the price. Abuse this privilege and lose it.
You'll need a 3-Ring binder and some paper. Pencil only, please. This is a science class and erasers are important. I know I make a lot of mustakes, and an eraser really helps hide the damage. Additional supplies which would be helpful include: calculator, graph paper, ruler, protractor, and colored pencils.
Not allowed in any of the science rooms, so don't ask. This includes food, drink, candy, gum, and any other substance you put in your mouth.
I'm looking forward to a good term. One of the great things about the earth is that you can never learn it all - I know I'm going to discover many new things this year. Hope you do, too. Come talk if you need to or want to.