Many parents are very concerned when their student begins high school. There is a long adjustment period for many students (almost a full semester) before they get into the groove of the organization, rigor (demands) and different teacher expectations for classes.
I have included here some helps that may assist you with your student in my class and in other classes. Keep in mind that each teacher may have his/her own way for wanting things done, but if there is no existing plan, your student will benefit from having one.
Organization: Having the necessary supplies every day is paramount. The binder is the most critical part. I require that the student bring his/her binder daily so that new papers/notes/diagrams can be put into the notebook in numerical order (page # in the upper rt. hand corner). We create a Table of Contents, reference pages, and use dividers (with pockets are preferable) to keep organized and be able to use the binder as a study tool for the content and math tests for the Physical Science course. Pocket folders somewhere in the binders can be used to hold tests and quizzes for each chapter. One of my favorite organization tools are page protectors. These are great for holding tests, quizzes, flash cards, and foldables (These are cool study tools I introduce here and there as I try to get students to use their learning style to their advantage!)
Calendar Page: In October I usually hand out a Calendar page. You can print one out from online. Usually by October, if not sooner, I am on a regular quizzing/testing schedule. It is like clockwork. I like to create a routine that students can count on, so that it is easier to remember what to expect in class. There is so much to remember every day at school, that by the end of the week something is bound to be forgotten. An agenda is handy for those daily assignments, etc, however, having those consistent quiz and test dates will be easier to keep track of. Vocab quizzes will be the Friday after a new chapter has been started, then the following Thursday will be the chapter content test, followed by the chapter math test.
Flipping the Classroom: This is a format works well when students use their weekend to read the new chapter and take notes/vocab. Research has proven that Cornell Note format works best, but if your student has a preferred style, they may use it after the first Quarter. I have also found that there is a lot of advantage to supplying videos that support the content/math being taught. I view them as tools, like the textbook, resources that give the student exposure to the course in an auditory/visual format. These tutorials allow the student to get familiar with the content before we discuss it in the classroom. Your student should be writing down questions while viewing, so that he/she can begin engaging me with questions as I talk about the content they have read/viewed. If the video upload did not do the trick, by all means, have your student find one that is more appropriate for him/her and then have them share so I can post others. (Education is NOT a one size fits ALL) It is proven that if a student comes into contact with a concept/word at least 40 times, he/she will retain it. This is why I give lots of practice. I never consider my assignments busy work. I post critical thinking activities on my Brain Pocket hanger. This helps keep the student sharp, even when they have completed all their work.
Workload: Here is where I try to keep my practice homework in check. I do not check all classwork/homework (what is not completed in class becomes homework), but in order for your student to be prepared for the quizzes and tests, practice needs to happen. I have a previous year’s Table of Contents posted and I will do my best to update the current TOC daily. Each day’s work on the current TOC is in a different color. This way students know when they are absent how many papers they might have missed. I have a make-up bin in my classroom that has extra copies of worksheets. These extra copies are for students who were absent, or students who have misplaced their paper. When we are going over the work, I require every student have their paper out while we are going over it. If it has been lost there is no reason that a student should not have gone over to the bin to get the missing paper to fill in answers while we are going over the assignment. This way the student can still participate and show some effort and can learn the material despite the unfortunate loss of a paper. If for some reason your student has numerous other projects due at the same time, I need your student to convey to me a week in advance of the conflict in due dates so I can adjust when his/her assignment might be due. Most of the time teachers are aware of ongoing projects and we try not to have due dates coincide, but occasionally it does happen. Please, encourage your student to advocate for him/herself in that department. Students advocating for themselves fosters responsibility and independence that we hope is instilled in them in preparation for their future endeavors.
Time Management: Along with education your student is probably involved in other activities in or outside of school. Students are often engaged in school sports or clubs. There are outside organizations, church and out of school sports. Most importantly is that quality family time. Whatever the case, please, keep in mind that time management is another critical piece when it comes to juggling school work, home life and extracurricular activities. Stress is one of those things that can be easy not to realize, especially if your student was able to do it ALL in middle school. High school is totally different. The adjustment period may not be as quick as hoped by student or parent. Please, help your student begin his/her high school career integrating one activity at a time. Being overwhelmed is daunting for a student. As adults, we have more coping skills than our young students. Share some of your coping skills with your students. You are your child’s best teacher.
Grades: As a parent/coach/teacher I bring a lot of my experience with students of ALL ages into the classroom. I will not downplay the course, Physical Science is a difficult. The physics portion is very abstract and hard for 9th grade minds to always grasp. The more questions your student asks, the better off your student will be. Again, preparation will be key. Coming out of the starting gate into high school with all the adjustments going on, a 70% in my class is a good (my opinion) grade for the first quarter. Remember, this is an Honors course, the level of difficulty is higher than a middle school honors course and your student is still adjusting. Improvement can be expected as the quarters continue. With a little more application of hard work, studying, getting help at power hour (I have a few study groups that meet during my B session Power Hour…these are my “A” student tutors and they are always willing to help students who are serious about learning the material) students can eventually bring up their grade to a “B”. Getting an “A” in class comes with more Algebra background, because by the time we switch over to chemistry second semester, it is a totally different type of math required. I promise to prepare your student for the option of choosing to go into chemistry or physics later in their high school career. If your student is part of the Engineering Academy, many of the lab knowledge done in Physical Science carries over to that program as well.
Good luck this school year! If you have questions that I have not addressed here, please, don’t hesitate to contact me via email. I would love to hear from you.