A brief introduction to our Grade 8 Science classes with Dr. P. 2016-17 School Year

Grade 8 Science

Next Generation Science Standards for Today’s Students and Tomorrow’s Workforce:  Through a collaborative, state-led process managed by Achieve, new K–12 science standards have been developed that are rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education. The NGSS is based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council. In my grade 8 science classes, the students will explore these standards in a highly project-based program of study requiring the students to prepare themselves for a Global Society incorporating the 4 C’s:

Critical thinking




The California Department of Education adopted the NGSS in the Fall of 2013 and these new standards are slowly being rolled out this year. Although at WMS we are embracing the new standards, it is important to mention that the state will continue to test our students with the previous science standards each spring until a new Framework, and eventually a new system of assessment, is created. Our efforts in class and at home, though, emphasize the NGSS and incorporate the science and engineering practices recommended by the National Research Council. These practices are an integral part of the NGSS and will be promoted throughout the state. These practices are listed below to best give you an overview of this year’s program.

NGSS Best Practices Recommended by the National Research Council

1. Asking Questions and defining problems

2. Developing and using models

3. Planning and carrying out investigations

4. Analyzing and interpreting data

5. Using math and computation thinking

6. Constructing explanations and developing designs

7. Engaging in argument from evidence

8. Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information

In keeping with the NGSS inclusion of engineering practices with the science content and links to the Common Core, the scoring for the students’ work reflects the changes introduced and embraced.


  Please understand that REQUIRED STUDENT WORK INCLUDES:

       • 20 minutes minimum of rewriting class notes AND then teaching those notes to parents or guardians or family members; supervision of this is the responsibility of the parent or guardian. Success on all student work is directly linked to daily student performance. Technology can assist with this in a variety of ways … be creative!

       • Any written assignment must be completed in its entirety and on time, including test corrections and critiques, accompanied by a parent/guardian signature when requested.  All work completed at home is assumed to be supervised by parents/guardians.

       • Work completed early can earn bonus credit, work completed on time earns full credit, work that is not completed when due receives a zero in the grade book and STILL must be completed to avoid citizenship grade drops.

       • Work to be completed at home includes the above mentioned daily review monitored by parents/guardians, as well as communications between the student and parents, and any work not completed in class.

       • Students absent from class are responsible for obtaining missed information from a group member. I am happy to meet with that child on Mondays after school from 3-4 in room 15 to help clarify any items from their team members that are not understood.

   This student work policy is necessary since all work assigned is an important part of the student's learning process and parental communication. Student and parent collaboration with the school is greatly appreciated.

   Grading: In keeping with the intentions of the NGSS, the students’ scoring reflect the importance of the 4 C’s and the cross-cutting concepts and engineering practices included in the standards.

        Final Trimester Grades will be based on the following percentages:

       • Lab investigations, projects, activities and homework are worth a total of

           59% of  the total grade

       • Assessments, which are cumulative, are worth a total of 20% of the total


       • Collaboration with team members is worth a total of 11% of the total grade

       • Excellence, above and beyond, as determined by completion of a variety of

          deliverables, is worth a total of 10% of the final grade.


       • 100-90 = “A” category     • 79 - 70 = “C” category       

       •  89 - 80 = “B” category    • 69% and below is not considered passing (see

                                                        school website)       

Daily Class Reminders:

1- Daily Student work: Please check, at your discretion, that your child is reviewing the work at home by rewriting, re-teaching, for a minimum of 20 minutes.

2- Please remind your child to bring daily the 81/2 by 11 notebook as their SCIENCE NOTEBOOK. Please make sure your child has two sharpened pencils, two blue or black pens, and their agenda, daily.  Additional materials you believe necessary is at your discretion and always welcomed when benefiting your child’s learning.

3- Communication: The easiest way to communicate is through email. If you email me, please type your child’s name in the subject box. The email address is and of course, phone calls are fine, but I can respond to emails in a more expedient fashion.

Suggested Study Habit Ideas/Thoughts for helping your child:

Rewriting any science notes needing review by your child, for a minimum of twenty minutes per evening AND teaching what they rewrite to their parents/guardians or

any family member, including pets, has been shown useful in improving the student learned outcomes!  Depending on your child's needs, more time may be needed.  

   Please consider these suggestions to encourage great study habits with your child:

   1) A quiet place where the student can study on a daily basis.

   2) A specific time when the student studies,(learns!) every day.

   3) Daily review of either the notes or chapter from the day's classes.

   4) Writing the information rather than just reading it over. Students discussing the day's adventures with someone. Students benefit, on a daily basis, when combining rewriting any information needing review AND teaching the information to their parents/guardians or family members the same day.  READING IS NOT STUDYING, SUCCESS IS WHEN LEARNING AND UNDERSTANDING HAPPENS. It has been shown that when a parent/guardian encourages and monitors this, student achievement excels.

    5) A variety of tools such as flash cards or interactive technology can be an effective tool for reviewing/learning concepts and ideas for long-term retention.

   7) Dividing large projects, no matter the class content,  into small tasks. Consider the time given in which to complete the project, divide the tasks accordingly, and ALWAYS leave extra time before the due date to fix any unexpected problem.

   8) At WMS each student IS REQUIRED TO RECORD everything assigned to them, as well as a summary of the day’s work, INTO THEIR AGENDA. Parents/guardians ARE A GREAT SOURCE OF HELP by checking agendas daily.

I look forward to working with the students, their parents/guardians, and the community as we travel this journey of discovery together.


Thank you, Dr. P