Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I help my student earn better grades?
- What are standards?
- What should happen if my student has a confirmed case of COVID, an exposure, or showing symptoms?
- 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?
- 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?
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, my YouTube channel with a variety of videos on the areas we cover, as well as several How Tos related to assignments. 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. They primarily look at Google Classroom where assignments are listed and they turn in assignments. If you signed up with an email through Aries, you should be receiving class summaries emails letting you know what is due and if they turned them in.
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 student is to have them explain to you what they read to check for understanding.
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."
If you any of these things happen, please contact the school to let them know. We are trying our best to minimize the spread of Covid 19. All students are required to wear masks at all times in my class and I have setup my classroom to ensure good ventilation. The following chart explains what our school will do if an exposure or infection occurs.
Due to our experience with distance learning, I have structure most assignments with the ability to find out what they are, when they are due, and to turn them in remotely. They are all listed in the unit plan linked on this site and posted in Google Classroom. If a student needs to be out for a while, they can still keep up with their assignments.
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.
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. The semester grade is a running total and not an average of the two quarters. Students grades can be accessed through Aries online. I require students to look at their grade online before they come to ask me about it. One thing to note is that grades can fluctuate based upon the assignments, tests, projects, etc.
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.
Our school is committed to ensuring one to one on personal learning devices. If you student doesn't have one, they can contact the library to check out a chromebook.
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 California State Standards and the requirements of A-G for social studies to make my classes college prep. Our school board voted that all students must meet the rigorous standards for college prep with no exceptions. If they are having difficulty achieving at this level then you will need to take action. You can either provide them with additional tutoring or petition the school board to change this policy to offer alternatives. Our school is committed to implementing the writing standards across the curriculum and preparing students for 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.