Chat times for 2012/2013
Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 not only all the work for the base Biology course, but additional work as part of the AP option, including specific labs. Please consult the formal course syllabus for a summary of how this course meets or exceeds requirements.
Assignments: To get to the assignment for a given day,
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.
The companion activities on the textbook website do take time, but they are well worth the investment, especially those animations and simulations that present processes dynmically or interactively—something no textbook or discussion can imitate.
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; the textbook companion website has a good flash-card program to 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 companion website, and take the online Moodle quizzes have little to fear from the SAT II examinations and do very well.
Most work is uploaded or entered into the Moodle. Please note when uploading assignments to the Moodle:
Web readings: I often post optional website readings; I may request students to use the textbook's companion site as well. 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.
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:
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. Only students taking the lab credit option are required to complet the lab.
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 textbook companion website 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.
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.
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:
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.
© 2012,2013 This course is offered through Scholars Online, a non-profit organization supporting classical Christian education through Internet-based courses. Permission to copy course content (lessons and labs) for personal study is granted to students currently or formerly enrolled in the course through Scholars Online. Reproduction for any other purpose, without the express written consent of the author, is prohibited.