Ms. McPhee's Class Policies and Procedures

Welcome to our class! I am very excited to be guiding your journey through math and/or physics, and I am looking forward to a successful year for all of us. Please read the following classroom policies to help the year go more smoothly. I realize it's a giant wall of text, but it's all important information. You should also check out my tips for success in math and physics.

Class Expectations

I expect you to behave in a professional manner in class. Please come to class on time and prepared to work. You will need your binder, paper, textbook, pens or pencils, scientific calculator, ruler, and completed assignments. If you know that you will be absent from class one day, let me know in advance. The use of cell phones and other non-calculator electronic devices are, for the most part, not allowed in class; they must be turned off and stowed in your bag unless we are using them for an investigation. NOTE: You are not allowed to use the calculator on your phone.

As soon as you enter class, you will be given some Bell Work (BW), either a sheet to pick up on your way in or a question on the board. This work is usually based on the previous class's topic. I expect you to start working as soon as you arrive. Sometimes there will be a quiz instead. Quizzes will be taken up and marked by the class immediately.

In order to succeed in class, do all your homework and complete all the assignments. Due dates will be negotiated well in advance, but once they are set they are fixed. If you you are having difficulty with an assignment, please come speak with me before the due date. Aside from test corrections, there are no bonus assignments that will bring your mark up. If you are in danger of failing, it's probably because you haven't done your work. In that case, I will ask you to come in during Find It Fix It (FIFI) to complete any missing assignments. See the FIFI section below for futher information.

Homework and Assignments

I expect you to do homework every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, even if only for 15 minutes. Homework is not punishment; it is designed to help you learn the material. In the same way that you will only learn to play the piano by practicing, so too with math and physics. Homework will reinforce the day's learning and prepare for the next day's. I will be assessing your homework via the BW and frequent online homework quizzes. If you find you are having difficulty finishing the homework, please see me as soon as possible. Deal with problems when they are young; don't wait until they grow up and are hard to handle.

Take-home assignments are due at the beginning of class. Now, sometimes mistakes happen and you forget or your printer was broken or you had three other tests that day. No problem. I will allow you to hand in no more than 2 assignments late without penalty. You must hand in either the assignment or submit the Late Assignment Form on the due date. If neither is received, a mark of zero will be assigned. Late assignments are due the next school day, even if we don't have a class, unless we have previously discussed it. If I am away that day, you must hand the assignment to the supply teacher. Consistently handing in late assignments (3 or more) will result in alternate consequences and penalties.

Some assessments, such as presentations or summative projects, must be ready to go by the due date. I will make it clear when I assign the project when you may not submit a late assignment form.

Please see the section below on computers and smartphones if there are accessibility issues.

There will be two kinds of quizzes: in-class and homework (online). In-class quizzes are usually announced with a day's notice (but I reserve the right to give you pop-quiz at any time). You will be have 10-15 minutes to answer 1 - 3 questions (if worked problems; up to 10 multiple choice questions); and quizzes happen frequently. They are worth 10% of the weight of a test. I will never quiz you on material you have just learned the previous class. We take the quizzes up immediately with the class marking the quiz.

Homework quizzes will be online and will have 2 or 3 fairly easy questions based on your homework. They happen frequently; you will have several days' notice before they are due.

Test Corrections

Once a test has been written, I will mark it but won't return it right away. Instead, I will give you a blank copy of the test with some or all questions circled. You will have about a week to hand in a perfect test correction. The circled question may mean you did not answer that question perfectly -- maybe you didn't answer it at all, or maybe you only lost a 1/2 mark. Or maybe you answered it correctly, but I want you to extend your answer or try a different method. Even if you got perfect on the test, you will be asked to redo part of it. I mark the test corrections much more harshly than the test itself, so I'll ask you to go deeper. If you are having difficulties with a question, come see me and I will talk you through it. If you lose your sheet, I will give you a new one, but then I will expect you to answer all the questions.

If you submit a perfect set of corrections by the deadline (usually by 3:10 a week after I give you the blank test), you will receive a bonus "perfect assignment" mark. Assignments are worth 20% of a test. This mark does not replace the test mark. After that, I will post the test solutions online.

Note that I will not help you with corrections the day they are due, so you need to start working on them as soon as you get it and have me check it well before the due date. Experience has shown that if you submit a test correction without having me check it first, you probably won't get a perfect mark. I mark the redo much more harshly than the actual test, so don't chance it. The more circles on your test, the more a perfect test correction helps your overall mark.

Further note that I will not accept late test corrections.

Absences and Punctuality

You need to be in your seat when class starts, or you will be marked late. NO exceptions. Don't put your stuff down, leave, and expect me to mark you present if you are not in class on time. Your stuff is not earning the mark! Similarly, even slightly late is late. When you are late, you fill out a new section on your sheet in the late book. Occasional lates are not a problem. Consistent lateness or failure to fill out the form properly will incur consequences (phone calls home, referral to the office, detention, etc.).

Students who are absent must bring a note signed by your parent or guardian to the school office and then show me the admit slip the next class. When you return to class, do not ask me what you missed. Before you return to class, ask one of your colleagues to show you their notes; pick up any missed handouts from the tray and copy any notes so you are ready to continue learning. Don't wait for me to update the website; I only do so every few weeks, and that is too long to wait.

If you are absent for a test, you must complete the Missed Test Form and bring a note from your parent or guardian stating they are aware that you missed the evaluation -- this is in addition to any note brought or phone call made to the office. You must write the test before the next class. If I do not receive the note, you will receive a zero for that evaluation.

Note that if you miss a group test, you will be assigned a solo test of equivalent difficulty.

Quizzes are always held at the beginning of class and will be taken up & marked immediately. There are no make-up quizzes. If you miss a quiz because you are late for class, it will be entered as "missing," which has a 0 value. You will be excused from the quiz if you miss a quiz for valid reasons. This means the quiz won't count for you, but you should certainly attempt the questions on your own.

If you are away when I hand something back, I'll put it in the tray. Make sure to check it when you come back to class.

Textbooks

In most courses, you will be assigned a text. Make a note of the number, because this is the one you are responsible for. Use it well and take care of it. You need to bring it to every class. You will need to return the text either before or on the day of the exam or you will not be allowed to write the exam.

Handouts

I only make as many copies of the handouts as there are students. If you lose your copy, don't take the extras from the tray. Those are for students who were away. And if you were away, don't wait too long to collect your missing handouts or you may find they've been taken. If you've lost your copy (or we've run out), you'll have to download and print it from the website.

Study Groups, Plagiarism, and Cheating

You may find that working with a study group on a consistent basis will help you clarify concepts and get over difficulties with problem solving. The best way to learn a subject is to teach it to someone else. However, all work that you submit must be your own original work. Even if you work togther on a problem (say, for test corrections or a lab), you should write it up in your own words. Copying from a friend, book, or internet source, or handing in identical work even if you worked on it together is plagiarism. The school policy is that any student who cheats or plagiarises will receive a mark of zero for that assignment. Note that if someone copies your work, you are also cheating and you will also receive zero.

Computers and Smartphones

I will ask you to submit several assignments at home via computer; in particuar the frequent homework quizzes. If home access is difficult, you can use the computers in the Jarvis library or in the physics room (248). In addition, you can reserve computers at many Toronto Public Library branches. In addition, a lot of the videos can be watched and webforms (in particular the Late Assignment Form) can be completed on a smartphone with wifi.

Email

I do not reply to student emails, so only send me emails that do not require a response. If you need a reply, you must see me in person. Examples of good emails: you will be away for a few days and would like to pick up the work in advance; you missed a test due to illness and won't be able to make it up before the next class -- which you will still need to talk to me about in person, but I appreciate being kept in the loop; you keep getting a 404 page on the website. Examples of emails that want but won't get replies: you're having problems with an assignment and need an extension; there is an error with your marks (fill out the Marks Adjustment request); you would like me to write a reference and you haven't spoken to me in person first. I definitely do not give extra help via email.

Similarly, I won't reply directly to your Tweets or follow you back. I may, however, subtweet an answer to a question asked on Twitter. Twitter is a good way to ask a quick question and get a quick, reasonably timely response. (BTW, you don't have to join Twitter to read my tweets.)

Extra Help

I will be available for extra help every day after school, at lunch by appointment on days 1 & 4, and Wednesday mornings on FIFI days. Also, look at some of my how-to videos and try some of the websites listed in the Help! section. The Drill Sheets page contains some sheets with (lots) of basic practice questions; come see me if you want more. Check the Videos and Drill Sheets pages often, because I am constantly adding to them.

A comment about Find It, Fix It and Marks

FIFI is an opportunity for students who are failing or close to failing to rescue their credit by doing the work they failed to do in the first place. Often students want to use it to raise their marks by doing some kind of magical marks-giving quick bonus assignment. Think about this for a second: how does this make sense? How big an assignment would you need to do to raise your overall mark by 1%? 5%? (Hint: Do the math. It's a lot bigger than you might think.) Is it likely you would be able to do this big an assignment in 75 minutes, without preparation? (Spoiler alert: no.)

The best way to get the mark you want in class is to start getting the mark you want on assignments and tests. This might mean you come live in the classroom after school for a few days while I help you out. Remember, at the end of the year I look at your most recent, most consistent marks as a guide, so a few not-so-great assignment or test marks won't pull you down too much. The next best way to bring your mark up is to do all the test corrections. While they don't replace test marks, if you do them all (and get perfect on them all, which means I have checked them all BEFORE the due date) by the end of the year you will have the equivalent of an extra perfect test! Plus? You will have learned the material better and will be better-prepared for the final exam. Win-win.

By the way, the more work you have to do to fix the test, the more it will help your grade.

A final comment about this website, Twitter, and communication

All relevant course information (due dates, handouts, etc.) will always be given in class first. I am using this website as a way to provide back-up information, it should not be your first source. While I will do my best to keep everything updated, we live in an imperfect world. Twitter may go down, AW may be offline, there may be a power outage, or something may come up and I'll just get behind. It happens, and it's no excuse for not knowing when an assignment is due. I will always tell you in class. Always.

In the rare case where an online assignment is affected by a technical glitch of some kind, I might extend the deadline. But remember this corrolary of Murphy's law: the longer you wait to to complete an online assignment, the more likely the technology will fail on you.

That being said... get out your thinking caps, bring your best attitudes, and letís do some Math/Physics/Science!