Jesse Wade Robinson
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Biology Syllabus

Jesse Wade Robinson



Welcome to Biology!
Over the course of the semester we will examine various concepts in biology such as the cell, genetics, evolution, and biotechnology. This course will also emphasize scientific inquiry, engaging in scientific communication, pleasure in learning, and learning strategies. We are very fortunate to be working with the art teacher, Jeff Robin, and the math teacher, Amy Callahan, on our main projects. The projects that we will be working on will benefit two groups of local scientists, researching skin cancer and heart disease. We think we are going to make a big impact with these projects and have a lot of fun!

One of the first questions that you may ask is: “What will I be doing in your class this year?” The answer is: “a variety of things.” If you want to read an overview of what you will be doing for the semester, click “course outline” on my DP.  I recommend that you add my calendar to your Google Calendar, so you can keep abreast on your daily assignments. Often, you will be given time in class to work on these assignments. Assignments that are not completed in class are usually homework for the evening. Here is a quick overview of typical assignments:

The first project that we will work on will be to create art for a local biotech company, Dermtech, which has created a new skin cancer diagnosis tool. Their technology will help doctors detect the deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma. The art that we create will help the company explain the science and technology that they use to identify the melanoma. It will also be permanently displayed on the walls of the company office and laboratory in La Jolla.

The second project that we will work on will be conducting longevity studies on mutant fruit flies, Drosophila melangaster, to help out with research on heart disease for two scientists at UCSD, Dr. Adam Engler and Gaurav Kaushik.

A requirement for the projects and for successful completion of the 11th grade is to participate in the two Exhibition Nights. The two tentative dates are December 12th and December 19th, 2013.

You will be reading biology texts and science articles often. Most reading assignments will be in the form of a weekly reader. It is your responsibility to budget your time wisely and decide how much you will read every day (translation-do not procrastinate). I suggest that you break up the text into sections and read a little each day, leaving one to two days to review the text and complete any Prepare for Discussion Papers (PDs). For all reading assignments, I will expect that you annotate the text. 

Prepare for Discussion Papers (PD):
You will have several PD assignments throughout the year. PDs are a way to think more about the reading and be prepared for class discussions. In your PD you will write about ideas that you consider significant and questions that you have. PD papers must be typed, single spaced and a page long. Your papers should be proofread and printed out before class. In class you will share your PD paper with a few of your classmates in a small group, so be ready to share your work. Your PD papers will serve as a basis for your small group discussion. Later your group will share with the whole class any interesting questions or ideas that you discussed. 

Labs and Lab Reports: 
In this class you will do several labs. You will record all labs in your lab notebooks. Lab notebooks are important because they serve as a record of exactly what, when, and how you do your laboratory experiments. You will receive detailed instructions on how to document your labs in your lab notebook. In addition to the lab notebooks you will write an extended lab reports this year. This is a typed professional and polished version of the data that you collected in your lab notebook. 

Yes, you will have tests and final exams. We will spend a lot of time this year working on study strategies. 

Digital Portfolio:
Many of the assignments for your projects will be on your digital portfolio. You will be expected to keep your DP updated, polished and professional throughout the semester. Depending on your current format of your DP, you may have to give your DP an overhaul at the beginning of the year.

Internship Preparation:
We will begin the internship preparation process this semester. In order to pass the fall semester of the 11th grade, you must have an approved resume and cover letter.

The honors requirements are designed to challenge students and help prepare them for a science major or career in science. While students do receive an extra grade point for completing honors, incomplete or missing honors work will adversely affect student’s final grades. Honors work will account for 12% of a student’s final grade. Honors is a semester long commitment and students may not add or drop Honors after the add/drop deadline on Friday, September 13th. 

The honors option for this class is to either prepare for the Biology SAT Subject Test, or do science fair. A copy of the Honors Biology Assignments, which fully outlines the requirements for each option is provided. If you are interested in earning honors credit for biology, please carefully read the Honors contract, sign it and return it to me. 

Recommended Supplies:
The Constitution of the State of California requires that we provide a public education to you free of charge. Subject to certain exceptions, your right to a free public education means that we cannot require you or your family to purchase materials, supplies, equipment or uniforms for any school activity. Many families have been asking what supplies their child may need for biology class. Below, I have a recommended list of supplies that your child may bring to school. Please note that if your child does not bring the recommended supplies, the school will provide the supplies for him/her. If you have any questions/comments about this, please contact me.

  • A large 3 ring binder (2.5 inches or bigger) with paper or a college ruled notebook
  • Blue or black pens
  • Pencils
  • Highlighters

Class Supplies:
We use the following items a lot in the lab. If you can help with any of the following supplies, we would appreciate it. Your donations mean that more of our budget will go to lab equipment and reagents.

  • Paper towels
  • Disposable gloves (latex or vinyl)

Grading Policy:
Grades in biology will be based on how well you do in each assignment category. The percentage of your grade that each category is worth is listed below:

Percentage of the Grade:
Biology Content 45%
Work Ethic 30%
Collaboration 10%
Process of Science 10%
Scientific Communication/Presentation 5%

Grading Scale:
90-100% (A)
80-89% (B)
70-79% (C)
60-69% (D)
< 60% (F)

As indicated in the new student handbook, you will only be able to make up two semesters of core classes. If you fail more than two semesters of any core class you will repeat the entire 11th grade year.

A software program called Powerschool will be utilized for these classes. This program allows students and parents to access assignments and grades from home. To access Powerschool, log on to:

Late Work:
It is expected that students will submit all assignments on time. NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED. In the case of an excused absence, students will have the number of days they were absent to make up their missed assignments. It is assumed that students will communicate with each of their instructors regarding missed work, missed honors assignments, and missed exams via email while absent and/or on the day that they return from the absence . It is the student’s responsibility to identify the work they have missed and to make-up the work within the allotted time.

The tardy policy is that students’ grades will be impacted by excessive tardiness and/or absences. Starting with the fourth tardy, students will be docked one percentage point on their final grade for every subsequent tardy. Starting with the seventh absence, students will be docked three percentage points for every subsequent absence. This attendance policy does not apply to students on academic contract. Students with excessive absences or tardies will be required to have a meeting with me, the parents, and the dean.

Computers & Printers:
Laptop computers must stay in the classroom, and must be returned and plugged in after use. LAPTOP COMPUTERS ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE GREATROOM. Students are expected to treat the computers with respect and to immediately report any damage.

Printing hours are before school from 8:00 am-8:40 am, and no printing will be allowed after 8:40 am without teacher permission. If assignments are not printed by the beginning of class, they are late and will not be accepted. Please plan ahead.

In order to reduce the amount of paper we use as a team, I encourage students to print on two sides of their paper whenever possible and to turn in assignments printed on the back of used paper. Used paper is located in the wire bins next to Treekiller and Chainsaw (our printers).

Rules and Expectations:
Show respect at all times during the year. We will create a respectful classroom environment by having certain class expectations. Students are expected to be in their seat ready to learn when class begins. Students are also expected to check the board and/or teacher DP for any warm-up activities. When class finishes, it is the responsibility of the students to clean up the class before leaving. Trash will be thrown away and chairs will be arranged properly. In order to create the best learning environment possible, I ask that you help out with a daily chore. 
The following rules were set in order to ensure a safe learning environment for everyone:

-Cell phones must be used responsibly. The ringers should be off and texting should not occur during class. Cell phones should be put away unless being used for classroom activities.
-No i-Pods in biology class.
-Computers are only to be used for class work.

All school rules will be enforced including dress code and academic honesty policy. 

Getting Help:
Please feel free to ask for help during class. If you would like help outside of class, we will have regular office hours on Wednesday at lunch and by appointment. Students with appointments scheduled in advance will be given priority. Student and parent phone calls are always welcome.

The Final Word:
ADVOCATE for yourself. Ask questions, ask for help, and communicate with me. Use your resources wisely--Don’t just ask me. Ask your peers. Ask your advisor. Seek help in the Resource Room before and after school. Look questions up in a book or online.

Please note: While I do not expect changes to the syllabus or policies outlined, we do realize that every situation is unique, and may necessitate deviation or modification of the syllabus.

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