I can not live without books.

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1 Handbook1 Richland Academy School of Excellence Middle School Parent Handbook School Year I can not live without books. - Thomas Jefferson

2 Handbook2 Language Arts Reading We will work on reading benchmarks that include acquisition of vocabulary, the reading process, and reading applications (both informational and literary texts). We will accomplish our reading goals using an exciting selection of texts from all genres. I encourage students to think about how and why they choose reading materials and invite suggestions for inclusion in our classroom library. Our reading experiences will include both independent and collaborative work. The literature circle framework will be in place as a means of encouraging discussion, comprehension skills, and new inference strategies. Writing, grammar and spelling will be taught in connection with reading. Some of the literature that the students read will be read for enjoyment and discussion, and not to be graded academically. We will read the following books: Tangerine, The Year of the Hangman, Leviathan, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Hunger Games, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Hoot, Seedfolks, Soldier s Heart, and An Acquaintance with Darkness. If you would like your child to have their own copy of the above mention books, you may purchase them at any local bookstore. We will have a copy of most of the books for each student that will be reading them. If your child would benefit from a book on tape, I would suggest using the library or you can download an audio book on itunes. Throughout the year I will be challenging students to look deeper than the words on the page. I want them to look at literature as not merely a story, but as a means of deeper communication. Though many books are geared towards younger children, they often have a message geared towards a more educated audience as well. So throughout the year, we will be diving deeper into literature than some ever thought possible. Writing We will embrace writing to learn strategies in our classroom, so that writing becomes a part of every content area and is perceived as a learning

3 Handbook3 tool. Writer s workshop will reinforce the steps of the writing process: pre-writing, writing/first draft, self-edit/revision, peer conferencing, teacher conferencing, publishing, and sharing. Students will keep writer s notebooks, where they will have the opportunity to respond to prompts or questions as well as to record ideas for future writing. Students will fine tune their writing skills as they compose creative and expository texts and poetry. We will have dedicated time for vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. Middle School Social Studies Throughout this school year we will be learning about the reality of history. Often history is taught in a manner in which students have a hard time connecting with it. This year the students will experience history for themselves. We will be having demonstrations, active involvement in simulated historical situations, possible construction of historical structures, and the occasional visitor from the past. My goal is to bring history alive for the students. I want them to be engaged in the lessons in a way that enables them to take ownership of the lesson. We will have numerous research projects. We will overlap the history course work with that of the English/ Language Arts curriculum. In order for students to go from a mere student to historian, the students need to experience what all is involved in the process. Research plays a huge role in history. Many times there are differing opinions about what actually took place during history (was it a conspiracy or not?), the names of particular battles, motives behind the super powers, etc. Thus the importance of research is evident. Mathematics Our middle school mathematics program is closely aligned with Ohio Department of Education Academic Common Core and will also be complemented by our interdisciplinary units. Our middle school students will experience a variety of instructional strategies to broaden their perspectives and to accommodate their individual strengths and learning

4 Handbook4 styles. Our emphasis will be on problem-solving skills and connections to real world issues. Our math classes meet daily. Students should plan to have homework assignments following each class meeting. The purpose of all homework assignments will be to practice and extend the mathematical concepts being addressed. Homework is never meant to be excessive or without a definite purpose - every effort will be made to ensure that all homework assignments are constructive and appropriate. Homework will be checked daily and collected for a grade on occasion (randomly and unannounced, of course!). Results of the homework check will help me in assessing the progress students are making as well as reinforcing the critical organizational skills and personal responsibility for learning that is such a big part of the Richland Academy School of Excellence philosophy. I will make every effort to make myself available to students to address any questions they may have in connection with homework assignments as well as any other questions or difficulties they may encounter. In addition, our excellent new math textbook series includes additional support resources as well as online support. As noted in the Richland Academy School of Excellence Handbook, homework is a critical component of the learning process, as well as an important part of our students development of organizational skills and personal responsibility. The middle school team counts on the support of our students and their parents in developing these life skills. Failure to turn in an assignment is not an option at Richland Academy School of Excellence. We will begin intervention with the first missed assignment to help improve in these study skills areas as necessary. Science Science class at Richland Academy School of Excellence is a combination of reading, writing, art, and hands-on activities to teach science concepts and build science literacy. Middle school science is broken into three main topics: Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Physical Science. In these topics students will also learn and apply scientific understanding as well as build inquiry skills.

5 Handbook5 This year students will use interactive science notebooks to take notes, do lab activities, and consider the Big IDEAS of science. Students will look forward to five minute fundamentals which reinforce the scientific method in daily five minute hands-on activities. Science class will also integrate many skills and strategies found in other content areas to be able to use 21 st Century Skills in every subject area. Integrated units across the curriculum will also help students develop read, writing, math, social studies, and science skills all within a single topic. These units will emphasize the real-world issues that students will continue to face as they learn about the world and society. Behavior and Missed Assignment Policies My classroom behavior policy is based on expectations reflecting appropriate behaviors that are clearly explained and consistently reinforced. Classroom behavior expectations revolve around respect, safety, and responsibility; for ourselves, for others, and for property. We believe that individual behavior involves choices and consequences, rather than rules and punishment. Our goal is for our students to understand that how they conduct themselves is their choice, and that poor choices result in consequences. Students who fail to complete assignments when due will be expected to complete and submit the assignment late. An assignment not completed and turned in when due will receive a maximum of half credit. An assignment is considered due at the beginning of the class period (unless specified otherwise by the teacher). Choosing not to turn in an assignment and accept a 0 is not an option at R.A.S.E. In cases of missing homework or other assignments, the student will stay in during their lunch period to work on the missing assignment and/or they will be asked to stay after school during homework central to complete missing work. They will eat their lunch during this time, and the assignment will be submitted at the end of the lunch period or during the after school session (whichever has been scheduled).

6 Handbook6 Middle School Grading Scale: Grades, Homework & Assessments A+ 100 A A- 90 B+ 89 B B- 80 C+ 79 C C- 70 D+ 69 D D- 60 F below 59 Homework: Middle school homework should not exceed one to one and one half hours per night. Whenever possible, students will have some class time to begin assignments. Some assignments will be turned in for a completion grade, while others will be graded for accuracy. This information will be explained to students on the first day of school and as assignments are added to our calendar. Assessments: Middle school assessments will include projects, journals, written tests, oral tests, quizzes, portfolios, self-evaluations, and participation. We will use formative assessments to drive instruction, so that students experience their learning successes in incremental steps. Cumulative assessments will be the larger projects that inspire creativity, planning, and critical thinking skills. Technology: We also expect to incorporate technology skills expectations into our daily instruction and assessments. Middle school students will use the school s mobile Tech Lab at times and will be expected to respect the equipment and follow internet safety and credibility rules. In addition, middle school students will have the opportunity to use the school s notebook

7 Handbook7 computers extensively. Please be aware that the use of all school technology tools is a privilege and not a right the privilege to use computers and other technology tools may be suspended for individual students who fail to follow the rules and expectations. Use and Care of School Resources and Materials: Students will be issued textbooks in each content area as well as various novels and other materials throughout the course of the year. Students are expected to treat all school property with respect. We ask that students put book covers on all textbooks. This does not apply to paperback novels and similar short-term books, just hardcover textbooks. Portfolios: Middle School students will compile work in portfolios this year. We will explain the criteria for selecting portfolio pieces during the first week of school. The portfolios will help drive the parent-teacher conferences. We are excited to initiate this process in our Middle School! Absences: Students who are absent from school will be given the same number of days they were absent to complete any missed assignments. All assignments can be picked up at the end of the day, if requested that morning. Otherwise, students are responsible for checking the board and completing what they missed. (We will discuss this policy the first day of school). Communication Communication between home and school has always been an important part of the Richland Academy School of Excellence philosophy. To that end, we will make every attempt to make ourselves available to parents and caregivers to discuss any issues or concerns that may exist. We can be reached by during and outside of school hours. We can also be reached by phone after school (3:15 pm - 4:00 pm). As in past years, middle school students will also be issued student planners, which can provide another convenient way for parents and caregivers to communicate back and forth with teachers. In instances where it is necessary for us to contact parents or caregivers concerning your student, we will rely primarily on and phone calls as communication tools. In addition to the Richland Academy School of Excellence Newsletter, the Middle School will publish a newsletter at least once a month.

8 Handbook8

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