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FAQ

Is this a hard class?  

Well, that's the million-dollar question, I guess...and it's honestly one only you can answer. But since this is the FAQ page, I'll do what I can to answer it. This is a college prep class, and that's a title I take seriously. In other words, my task is not simply to teach the course material, but also to prepare you for college. Obviously, I am aware that some of you don't intend to pursue an education beyond your high school years, and for you I've tried to make the class fun and accessible, and not too challenging. Challenging, yes, but not so much so that you just get frustrated. For those of you going to college, it is my sincere hope that this course will prepare you for the lecture and discussion-based style as well as for the academic rigors you'll encounter in college, all while encouraging you to THINK - creatively, critically, analytically, and independently. For those of you who intend to bypass college altogether and simply take over the world, well, passing this class should be a breeze. The short answer, then, is simply this: this is not a ridiculously easy class, neither is it a hopelessly impossible one. Where you end up in between those two extremes will depend on how much effort you put into the course.


Do we get bathroom passes in this class?  

Yes, indeed. Each student will receive a bathroom sign-out sheet providing ten trips out of the classroom [for a reasonable amount of time, of course]. Please note that you must have the sign-out sheet to leave the classroom; if you don't, then you don't leave the classroom, so don't ask me to leave if you've forgotten the sheet or have used up your ten passes.


Is food or drink allowed in the class?  

I do allow drinks in the class provided they are bottled and consistent with the wellness policy. As for food, I would prefer that you didn't bring any into the class, but I understand that breakfast and lunch may not quite be enough to keep your stomach happy. So, if you really are desperate for sustenance, bring in something that is in one piece. Yes, that rules out popcorn, chips, Skittles [no matter how much you enjoy tasting the rainbow] and anything else that will make a huge mess. The janitorial staff here work hard enough, and shouldn't have to track down stray M & M's.


Will the notes for this class be made available to the students?  

Indeed they will, but only if all students are visibly involved and taking notes; otherwise, no notes will be posted online.


Will we have a seating chart?  

Yes, you will. Apologies if you don't like the idea of a seating chart, but it makes taking roll much easier.


How often will we have homework?  

As infrequently as possible. I make every effort to give you time in class to complete assignments, or at least make a great deal of headway on a particular assignment. It is up to you to use that time appropriately; and I'd imagine that you've got a lot of other things you're obligated to do or are more inclined to do when away from school, so why not use the time I give you rather than taking away from your time to do those things you'd rather be doing?


When is homework due?  

At the beginning of class the day after the homework is given, unless otherwise instructed. When the tardy bell rings, you should be passing your work to the front of your row, not desperately scribbling down answers.


Do you accept late homework?  

No, I don't, so please don't ask me to do so. Seriously. Please note that this does not apply to those who are absent from class the day an assignment is given or collected. However, if you do miss class [and why would you ever want to do that?], it is your responsibility to obtain any and all materials that you missed. That means that simply saying "Hey, I missed yesterday." is not enough, but please don't interrupt me while I'm teaching to get whatever assignments and/or handouts you may have missed. Instead, wait until the end of the class period.


What is the grading system for this class?  

In a sense, there are two grades for this class, the first being the grade for the class itself and the second being your grade on the all-important EOC exam. Obviously, the second is really part of the first, but since the EOC is 25 percent of your final grade, it's a pretty huge chunk of the whole. With respect to the grade for the class [excluding the EOC], there are four parts:

Quizzes and Exams [40% of your grade]

Note, each unit has a unit exam, and they are of significant point value, so prepare for them! Also, I do occasionally give pop quizzes to ensure that you're keeping up with the assigned readings. Honestly, I don't like pop quizzes, but there's not much of a better way to determine periodically that you're keeping up with the reading you're supposed to be doing. The assigned reading is indicated on the class's daily progress chart [please remember that the reading that is assigned for each day needs to be read for (i.e. before) that day's class session!].

Homework [30% of your grade]

Please make sure that you do all the assigned work in this class. I do give partial credit, so in case you don't complete your work, don't just avoid turning it in because you didn't finish it. Of course, I'd rather give you full credit for an assignment, but in case you don't complete your work accurately, some credit is better than none.

Class Participation [20% of your grade]

Everyone starts off with 150 points in this department - ¦they are yours to keep or to lose. My suggestion is that you keep them, because they generally boost grades fairly significantly. You may be wondering how you lose points here, so I'll tell you: for each time you lay your head down, you lose ten points. I'm not going to have an argument with you about whether or not you were sleeping, so I've made things simple; each time you lay your head down, you lose ten points. I don't doubt that there are things going on outside of school that may keep you from getting as much sleep as you'd like - I assure you that I understand that - nevertheless, it is your responsibility to be as involved in the class as you can be, so asking simply that you remain awake, alert, and involved in taking notes is not an unrealistic expectation. Additionally, each time you fail to turn in an assignment, you lose five class participation points in addition to earning a grade of zero for the assignment, so it's a bit of a double whammy. Avoid the whammy.

Notebook [10% of your grade]

You will have two notebook grades in the class; that's it. The first will be simply for having purchased a three-ring binder at the beginning of the semester [simple, right?], and the second will be for having five randomly chosen papers given to you throughout the course of the semester [this could be homework assignments, study guides, handouts, or anything else I give you during the semester] so don't throw away anything that I give you during the semester - you could be throwing away a bunch of points, so don't do that!


What if I miss a quiz or exam? Can I make it up later?  

Of course, and I would hope you'd do so as soon after missing the quiz or exam as you can! I have a make-up "contract" that you will fill out in duplicate, letting me know what you're making up [and when] and also reminding you of that obligation. Bear in mind, however, that if you sign up to make up a quiz or exam and miss it, you'll be given a zero for that grade, even if it's a big one. If you must miss a make-up assignment after you've signed up for it, then let me know prior to the agreed-upon date of the make-up. Obviously, if something comes up, I'll understand and you can rearrange another date to make-up your work, but it is your responsibility to let me know if you're unable to make it up as well as to arrange for another make-up date. There is one other thing, however, and that's the fact that if you do not take a unit exam when it is originally given to the class, you will not have the "curve" for that exam added to your grade whenever you do take the exam. Sorry if that seems unfair, but it would be more unfair for someone to benefit from the "curve" in addition to having extra time to prepare for the exam.


Will we get study guides for the exams?  

Yes, you will, so please go over them! I always will provide study guides for unit exams at least a week [if not more] before the exam is given, so you'll have ample time to go over the terms and concepts. If you don't go over the study guides, well, I'll simply go with the old saw: failing to prepare is preparing to fail. So please do yourself a favor and review your study guide thoroughly. All I can do is to present the material in as meaningful, memorable, and engaging a way as possible; please do me the favor of meeting me halfway and keeping up with your notes and reviewing the material and study guides.


Is there the possibility to earn extra credit in this class?  

Absolutely. In the second nine-weeks period, I will give you a few options, of which you can choose one, that you can consider should you feel like taking on extra work to what you've already got in the class. The extra credit will be due at a time to be decided, but a rough estimate is that it will be due about a week after the EOC. That should indicate to you that the EOC is, for better or worse, the primary focus in the class.


Are you psychic?  

No, and that means that it's YOUR responsibility to ask a question if you have one. Don't be afraid to ask if you've got a question that's relevant to the course material!


Do you really use big words?  

Evidently, I do. It isn't some pretentious exercise, but rather the result of being raised by parents who had a rather large vocabulary... and, upon asking what a word meant, being told to look it up [and actually doing just that]. Certainly, I do not use "big words" in an attempt to confuse you or keep you from absorbing the material.


Are you as sarcastic as people say?  

Maybe... I guess it depends on your sense of humor. Either way, I don't use sarcasm to demean or belittle; I recognize that you guys face enough problems in your lives that having a particularly cynical and mean-spirited instructor isn't something that's worth adding to the list. Nevertheless, I do have a tendency to be a bit sarcastic, so be aware.