Frequently Asked Questions
Table of Contents
- How can I help my student earn better grades?
- What are standards?
- What do I do if I have to take my student out of school for a while?
- You took my student's (insert). How do they get it back?
- We had a crisis and my student could not finish his/her assignment.
- How can I find out about my student’s progress?
- Can I observe my student’s class?
- How should I handle it if I disagree with one of your assignments?
- You require a lot of work involving computers, but we don’t have one, what should we do?
- You require a lot of writing and my student is not doing well, what should I do?
- What is stamped work?
- What is the difference between an academic and a survey course?
I get this question a lot and I fully sympathize with the anguish that can be caused by your student struggling in school. It is the primary reason for designing this web site. I wanted to give you as much information as possible to help you help your student. Although I would like to, it is impossible for me to give the 160 students I see each day the individual attention that only a parent can give. However, in general for students that I see struggling there are two major areas of concern: not doing their work, or lacking motivation.
As for not doing their work, you can best help them by using my website to keep track of what they are supposed to be doing each night, when things are due, and helping them with it if needed. When students need help it is often due to struggling with material because of poor reading and comprehension skills. This can be the result of learning disabilities, but more often it has to due with the fact that they don’t read very much on their own. Studies have shown that students’ whose parents encourage them to read for pleasure generally do much better in school. Reading increases a student’s vocabulary, comprehension, and writing abilities. In this way they are less likely to get frustrated when trying to comprehend information in a history text. A great way to encourage a child to read is for the parent to model this behavior. One way is for the parent to find a book that they can both read at the same time and discuss it.
The second area of difficulty is in motivation. I try to vary the curriculum as much as possible to make it interesting and provide student choice; however, this is not always enough. Students need to learn to become self motivated learners if they are to succeed in academics and later on in life. There are numerous strategies for motivating a student, but the most effective strategy is setting high standards and consistently encouraging the student to meet them. I have provided several resources on my links page to parenting and child psychology sites. They are a good place to start for more specific suggestions on strategies for motivating your student. Good luck!
Standards are the new direction of education today and are aimed at correcting what is widely considered a lack of accountability in education. The concept is that there should be a set body of knowledge that students should learn and then in turn be held accountable. There are two types of standards, a content standard, which determines what a student should know, and a performance standard, which determines how complex a student’s knowledge of a certain set of contents. For example; a content standard might be, "a student must learn how to jump in the third grade", while a performance stand would say, "a student in the third grade must be able to jump to a height of one foot."
What should I do if I have to take my child out of school for a while?
Generally if an absence is going to be for more than a few days you should contact the attendance office to sign your student up for independent study. You should do this at least a week before leaving so that I can come up with work for the student to do. Since a lot of my class requires participation, your student may not be able to make up what is actually done in class. However, the work that I assign will cover your student's grades for any in class assignments missed and prevent them from getting behind. However, this is very difficult to do if a student asks me for work they day before they leave.
Generally, I only confiscate a student’s possession after repeated warnings. The first few offenses I will give it back to them at the end of class, the end of the day, or the end of the week. However, if those reminders didn't work and you would like the student to have their item back after I confiscated it for the last time, then you must make an appointment with me. We then all sit down and discuss the issue after which I will give the item to you with the understanding that it doesn't come into my classroom again. Certain items such as weapons, drug paraphernalia, etc. are turned directly over to the principal.
Things do happen and that is why I offer fifty points of extra credit each semester to make up for the unexpected (Please refer to my extra credit policy). On a major assignment I would have to have a direct contact from you explaining the situation. I give very little leeway on major assignments. In general students have several weeks to work on them. I will generally not accept it if the student was absent the day it was due, because I allow for students to email me their project up until 11:59pm, mail it to me with a postmark of that day, or call me that day to make other arrangements. It may seem tough, but you wouldn't believe the list of excuses that I get. Deadlines are a major part of our life and it is important for students to learn this before they get into the world of work where it really hurts them; i.e. Tax Day, job applications, college applications, getting that card to you on or before Mother’s/Father’s Day.
Progress reports are sent out three times each semester. The first one is half way through the first quarter, the second one comes at the quarter, and the third comes halfway through the second quarter. The same process is followed in the second semester. Remember that the only grade that goes on the transcripts is the semester grade. I average the score of the first and second quarter to compute the semester grade. At a parent’s request I can email a detailed list of all the assignments, which displays the student’s performance on each assignment. In order for me to do this first email me with your request, then I will send you the progress report. I only do this on a per request basis. One thing to note is that grades can fluctuate based upon the assignments, tests, projects, etc. A request every two to three weeks would be the most accurate assessment.
Absolutely, I enjoy having student’s parents come observe and as a matter of fact it is your right as a parent as well. If you ever wish to observe one of my classes, just let me know ahead of time when you will be coming. As an observer (or participant if you wish), I do ask that you follow the same rules to which I hold both my students and myself accountable. You will have the same right to challenge me on any content related assertion that I make in class. However, on matters related to discipline or classroom management, I ask that you speak to me privately after the class.
I always appreciate parental input on my assignments and I am willing to consider any concerns that you might have regarding what is taught. You should be aware that my entire curriculum is based upon the standards set out by the State of California and the Santa Rosa City Schools District. I am aware that some of the material can be controversial. I promise that I will do my best to introduce those topics with as much balance as possible. However, I will introduce controversial material that is grade level appropriate and accurate. I would not be doing my job as an educator if I did not prepare students for these issues as citizens of a democracy. As a parent you have the right to exempt your student from controversial assignments to be replaced with an alternate assignment. If you can provide a reasonable argument that an assignment is inappropriate or unfair I will take that into consideration and may modify it. We may not agree, but I think it is extremely important for us to communicate and for you to feel comfortable expressing your concerns to me.
I incorporate a lot of technology into my instruction, because studies have shown that in today’s job market, people without computer skills are at a disadvantage. Students who go on to college are expected to have these skills already and are at a severe disadvantage if they do not. I currently have seven computers in my classroom for students to use; priority is given to those students who do not have access to computer at home. However, I do recommend that if you don’t have one, and can afford it, to buy one. Prices have come down dramatically in the last couple of years and you can find deals just about everywhere. I am currently working on a computer repair class at SRHS to recycle computers to be given to disadvantaged families. In the meantime, students who do not have access at home will have to make use of the facilities at school.
You have very high writing standards for your academic classes and my student is not doing well, are your standards appropriate for this grade level?
I do get this question quite often so you are not alone. Yes my standards for writing are high, but they are based upon the District English Standards for 9th grade. Please keep in mind that this course is a 10th grade level course and is based upon them having met the English standards. If they are having difficulty achieving at this level then you will need to take action. You can either provide them with additional tutoring, consider a level change to a survey history class, or if they are a 9th grader, waiting until the next year for them to take this class. Our school is committed to implementing the writing standards across the curriculum and preparing students for both the State Exit exams and the SAT, which both have a writing component. Failure to pass either of these tests will adversely affect your student’s chances of going to college. I understand that other schools or classes may not have adequately prepared your student to meet these standards, but if they are to be successful in high school and college, strong writing abilities are a prerequisite.
Stamped work is daily assignments or homework assignments that receive a stamp if they are completed. Normally, I will assign some book work and will stamp it only if all the questions are attempted. I then go over the questions in class and encourage the students to correct anything they got wrong. Students keep track of their stamped work using the stamped work log, which I hand out and can also be downloaded from this site. Stamped work is collected as a packet at the end of each unit and students receive 10 points per stamped assignment, no stamp, no credit.
Santa Rosa High School separates course into levels to better serve the differing needs of students. The academic courses meet the rigorous standards for acceptance to the University of California system. These courses are specifically designed for students who wish to attend a four year college or university directly after high school. The survey courses are designed for students who wish to meet their high school graduation requirements, without the rigorous academic challenges. However, taking a survey course does not preclude a student from going to a junior college and then later transferring to four year institution if desired.