Biology

Chat times for 2017-2018
Monday-Thursday-Friday 9am-10:30 ET/6am-7:30am PT

Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy


Course Materials Under Revision for 2017-2018

Parents' Guide

A guide to:

Many common concerns are also addressed on the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page for this course, so be sure to read it also!


PARENTS: PLEASE READ THROUGH THIS GUIDE!

Scholars Online courses are a cooperative effort between the teachers, the students, and their parents. Like the proverbial three-legged stool, if one leg is broken or missing, the stool will topple over. You are a necessary and important part of this course, and your student will need your guidance to develop the study skills and self-discipline needed to survive the class.

Biology Website Organizaton

There are three websites for this course: fear not, however. Most pages in all three sites will be organized by links in the Moodle to course homework pages, and links from the homework assignment pages to all other website pages required for a given assignment.

  • The Scholars Online Moodle contains the primary links for student work: students will upload assignments, lab reports, semester reports to the Moodle and take quizzes on the Moodle. Grades are reported to your student in the Moodle environment. Your student will receive instructions from Scholars Online to log in and verify access to the Moodle pages for all courses as part of the enrollment process.
  • Biology Materials Site: Web lectures ("content"), lab instructions, and homework assignment webpages are actually located in a separate "biology course content" site external to the Moodle. The Site Map for this course (click on the This Site link on each page) describes the web-based materials of the course. Be sure to familiarize yourself with all the parts of the course, especially if you have a student who is new to this kind of instruction. There will be links in the Moodle back to this site; when in doubt, log into the Moodle and follow the Moodle course links to the Biology Weblecture, Homework, and Lab materials in the Biology content site. There will also be a summary page of all important links to homework and online reading in the Master Schedule, which you should bookmark and refer to whenever you have questions about holiday or exam dates. Access to this content site is limited to students currently enrolled in the course and their parents; it is password-protected. You'll receive the site password a few weeks before the beginning of the course.

    Page Layout: Most Biology site pages have a logo at the top that identifies the course, meeting times, and the page topic. Links on the left allow students to navigate to different parts of the course site. Links at the bottom of the page helpt the student navigate to the Scholars Online site and Moodle/Chat login pages.

Expectations of Student Performance

We use a college textbook, and I will try to discuss the material in as much depth as possible. Quizzes and examinations are thorough, to prepare students for college-level science courses and the SAT II Biology examinations. However, since this is still a high school course, I do not require college-level performance to pass the course. Students who maintain a 50% average on the quizzes and achieve at least 50% on each of the two semester exams will pass the course.

Please do not equate exam percentages with the standard 70% = C, 80% = B, 90% = A performance ratings used by many high schools. I use a different scale to help you predict your student's likely performance on the SATs and APs as well as his or her "high school level" performance. The scale below is a rough guide of performance mapped to traditional grades for a sophomore level student; juniors and seniors would need to secure higher levels of performance for the same grade.

  • 50% C-B high school level performance for sophomore (2nd year high school student). Student would certainly pass regular high school biology.
  • 60% B high school level performance for sophomores. Student would perform well in high school biology and should receive 500 or better score on SAT II exam.
  • 70% B-A high school level performance. Student would perform very well in high school biology; should receive 600 or better on SAT II exam.
  • 80% A high school level performance; passing in AP high school class. Student should receive 700 or better on SAT II exam.
  • 90% A+ Student is excelling at the high school level; should receive 3 or better on AP exam, 700 or better on SAT II exam.

Evaluations sent to students contain the raw scores for you to interpret using the scale above. Scores sent as part of official transcripts from Scholars Online are scaled to provide a more accurate comparison for students taking biology at the high school level.

AP expectations: AP Course expectations changed in 2006, as the College Board began certifying each syllabus before allowing teachers to describe classes as "AP". In order to award AP status to the course, students must complete specific labs. Please consult the formal course syllabus for a summary of how this course meets or exceeds requirements.

Helping your Student Meet Expectations

Assignments: To get to the assignment for a given day,

  • go to the student's own Moodle home page and check the Biology Course page for the session that meets on that date. If I've posted the materials, the links for student assignments will be visible.
  • OR go to the Master Schedule (Lecture, Holiday, and Exam Schedule) for the school year, and check the homework link for the chat date.

    Please note that not all materials will be posted prior to the start of the course in September, since I am currently revising many of them, based on experiences over the last two years with our new format. Links for each set of assignments will generally be active at least one week in advance.

Chats: To get to the chat for the day, use the Scholars Online chat login (available from any page at www.scholarsonline.org).

The Procedures page has some specific guidelines for how students might schedule completing all the tasks for each week's work. You should go over these suggestions and modify them to suit your student's learning style and outside commitments. Most Biology students are at least freshman or sophomores who have some self-discipline, but they still need help setting their goals and disciplining themselves to get work done in a timely fashion. You will have to decide how much help your student needs, but at the very least, you should meet with him once a week to go over the checklist and make sure that he is completing preparation reading and homework on time.

Students sometimes find the study guide exercises a bore, and since I do not collect homework for these (copying them into email is more an exercise in typing than fruitful study of biology), they may lack motivation to actually do the work involved. Encourage your student to complete as many of the exercises as possible, especially during the first eight units. which cover material unfamiliar to most students. Go over the answers with the student, or at least perform spot checks each week on the study guide. All exercises have the answers in the back of the book, even the essay questions.

As the student matures, he may not need to do all the study guide exercises. Help the student to identify the types of exercise or questions which give him difficulties. Does he have problems with remembering facts or what terms mean? Then drill work is probably in order; making flash cards or using a flash card program like the ones at Quizlet may help with this aspect of study. Much of the study of biology involves learning the names of things, and sometimes this just takes a lot of memorization work.

If he has problems applying concepts to real situations, then he should be asking more questions in class and looking at the exercise and essay questions that present experimental methods or data and require their evaluation.

My experience has been that students regularly complete most of the study guide exercises, drill themselves on the multiple choice questions in the study gude, and take the online Moodle quizzes have little to fear from the SAT II examinations and do very well.

Written work: Moodle Uploads

Most work is uploaded or entered into the Moodle. Please note when uploading assignments to the Moodle:

  • Documents must be in one of the listed formats (Microsoft Word ".doc" (NOT ".docx"), .rtf, .txt, .pdf, or .pages output. I cannot read .odc documents or products from other word processers. When in doubt, save the file as .rtf (Rich Text Format). This usually preserves most of your formatting while still making the document accessible by most word processors.
  • There are limites to the file size allowed for each upload. If you include graphic images in an assignement (especilly in labs), use your computer's photo application to save the file as low resolution (several dozen to a hundred KB) ".jpg" format. These general have a high enough resolution for computer display or website viewing. You will not be able to upload large graphics (over 2MB).

Web readings: I often post optional website readings. While I check the sites to determine their suitability for Scholars Online students prior to posting my web pages, I do not follow all the links from every outside site, nor can I guarantee that such a site will remain unchanged between the time I select it and the time that you view it. If you have questions about the suitability of these sites, I encourage you to check them before letting your student view them, and to let me know if you have concerns about specific sites.

Chat Class Sessions

Class sessions: Our class sessions are discussion sessions. I try to present all lecture material ahead of time on my web pages, so that we can use the chat periods for student input and homework review. As a result, chats can seem somewhat chaotic, and "start and stop" as students try to type in their questions, answers, and comments. To make chats as useful as possible, follow these guidelines:

  • Go over the rules of behavior in chat sessions with your student and be sure that he understands them. We will reemphasize particular rules as necessary from time to time.
  • Unacceptable behavior (inappropriate language, rudeness, and constant digression from the material) will not be tolerated; I can and will kick a student out of class for such behavior and require parents to call and discuss the situation before readmitting the student to class.
  • I often "poll students" for answers to a question, so that each student who raises his hand can contribute. Teach your student to "raise his hand" by typing an exclamation mark "!" into the chat window, then to start typing an answer into a simple text editor window if he is not the first one called. When called on, he can cut and paste his answer into the chat window.
  • Make sure the student has read the assigned material and made notes of any questions, before chat starts. Also, check that any homework assignments due for the class discussion are completed and posted to the Moodle forums.
  • We automatically log all chat sessions: these are available after the chat has met from the same window you use to log into chat. If your student misses a chat, please have him review the log as soon as possible. Have your student make notes on any questions the chat discussion raises and encourage him to raise questions at the beginning of the next session. I almost always start sessions by making sure there are no outstanding issues with previous work before tackling a new topic.

Weekly Work Checklist

In order for you to keep track of whether your student is completing the work, you might want to set up your own checklist. Each chat session requires the student to complete items 1-5. Each chapter requires the student to complete 6-8. All students must complete lab work, but due dates vary depending on the length of the lab.

  1. read my biology web lecture
  2. read a section of Biology: Concepts and Connections
  3. complete study guide exercises
  4. review the multiple choice questions in the study guide (highly recommended)
  5. take the online quiz
  6. do the lab
  7. do any analysis of lab data
  8. write the lab report

Moodle quizzes are open during the week following completion of the unit they cover, then closed except for a brief "makeup-and-review" period prior to the semester exam. During the open period, students may take the quiz more than once; high score counts. Be sure that your students take the quiz early enough in the open period to study and retake the quiz if there are significant problems. Students are able to review answers for each Moodle online quiz once they submit it. My questions may differe somewhat from the study guide terminology to give the students some experience with typical SAT and AP types of questions. If either you or they are still confused about the answers, please e-mail me.

OnLine Parent Help

You should refer to this guide, to the FAQs page, and to the Procedures page frequently. These pages contain material that was developed in answer to questions other parents have asked me, so many of your questions may be answered already in one of these pages.

Contacting the Teacher

E-mail:

You should also feel free to e-mail me with specific questions at any time, and especially with corrections to the web materials (misspellings, missing links, possible quiz key errors).

I ask that you use plain text formats to avoid problems with format differences between different mail handlers. Please be sure that you have your email program installed properly and that you and your student use it to e-mail homework assignments. It should go without saying that you also have the appropriate spam filter designations set so that your student can receive email directly from your teachers and the scholarsonline.org domain, which the Moodle uses for public and class messages. Be sure that you have a working virus filter in place as well.

Here are a couple of other guidelines for e-mail:

  • Use plain text or HTML. Avoid formatted text, since not all fonts or special characters may exist on your recipient's machine.
  • In general, do not send attachments. These can easily contain viruses; even if they are safe, attachments of MS Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or photos can take up inordinate amounts of space.
  • Identify the course and yourself in your email. If you have a specific question, identify the homework assignment by name, chapter, or date, and the quiz by unit names. The more specific and detailed you are, the faster we can locate and resolve any issues in website instructions or operations.

I will also schedule at least one evening session per month when I will be "in my office", that is, online in my chat classroom, and available to parents for questions and help. Please watch your mail for announcements of these times. If this is not a convenient time for you. let me know and we can arrange to meet at another time.