This page is currently in development (July 2019).
Whether you are in Grade 6, Grade 7, or Grade 8, the most commonly used assignments types in Dr. Merritt’s middle school science classes are presented below. They are ordered according the percentage to which they contribute to a student’s overall science grade, from highest (most impactful) to lowest (least impactful).
Approximately 10 times per semester, students are asked to use scientific elaboration practices to expand the definitions of material objects provided by the teacher. Typically, this activity occurs on Mondays. Each weeLAB™ culminates in a 1-page (2-sided) written report. weeLABs™ are meant to serve as ‘springboard’ assignments for Formal Investigations (see below). You can learn more about weeLabs™ here.
- In Veracross, weeLABs™ are identified as “Lab” assignments.
FORMAL INVESTIGATIONS (20%)
Approximately 3 times during the school year, students are asked to use established research methods to design and carry out a scientific investigation on a topic of their choice. Each of the 3 formal investigations culminate in a multi-page report (or poster) that resembles aspects of real scientific publications in purpose, form, and content. Each of three investigations focuses a different research method: descriptive, comparative, experimental. You can learn more about Formal Investigations here.
- In Veracross, FORMAL INVESTIGATIONS are identified as “Project” assignments.
LAB NOTEBOOK (10%)
Text…could actually be called “Lab/Field Notebook.”
- In Veracross, LAB NOTEBOOK assignments are identified as “Journal” assignments.
Tests provide students with opportunities to recall factual information and/or demonstrate knowledge, understanding, and/or particular skills. In this sense, tests are like quizzes. However, unlike quizzes, which typically require less time, most tests require more than 30 minutes to complete.
- In Veracross, TESTS are identified as “Test” assignments.
Quizzes provide students with opportunities to recall factual information and/or demonstrate knowledge, understanding, and/or particular skills. In this sense, quizzes are like tests. Unlike tests, however, quizzes typically require less time. Most quizzes are meant to be completed in 20 minutes or less.
Quizzes are typically given on Fridays in Dr. Merritt’s science classes and usually require between 5-30 minutes to complete. They include questions and/or tasks related only to the material presented in class during that particular week (Monday-Friday). The types of questions used on quizzes are of a mixed variety, but most of the questions require short answers in sentence form. Typically, there are 1-3 multiple choice questions, but very few (if any) fill-in-the-blank or True/False questions.
- In Veracross, QUIZZES are identified as “Quiz” assignments.
Typical homework assignments require 5-20 minutes of uninterrupted, independently guided work outside of class and are unusually due at the beginning of class one day after having been assigned.
- In Veracross, HOMEWORK is identified as “Homework” assignments.
- In Veracross, CLASSWORK is identified as “Classwork” assignments.
CHECKS & CARE (5%)
Known simply as “Checks & Care,” there are three types of assignments constituting this grading category: Equipment Checks, Equipment Care, and Assignment Care.
Equipment Checks can be announced or unannounced. Typically, they occur at the beginning of a lesson. During an Equipment Check, the teacher typically asks students to produce between 1-4 of the 12 required science class supplies. Students who do not produce all of the requested items during an Equipment Check receive partial credit based on the number of items they do produce.
Equipment Care can be announced or unannounced. It is typically assessed by the teacher either during and/or at the end of an activity or lesson. During both laboratory and field investigations, students are required to provide appropriate types (and levels) of care to–as well as showing respect for–both living subjects (e.g., plants, animals, teachers, fellow students) and non-living objects (e.g., glass beakers, test tubes, lab tables, chairs). An inability to adequately care for–and show respect to–the living subjects and non-living objects involved during an investigation or other activity will result in a lower Equipment Care grade.
Assignment Care can be announced or unannounced. It is typically assessed by the teacher soon after students submit any type of written assignment. At its core, Assignment Care is about meeting the Assignment Care “Rules & Guidelines,” which are set by Dr. Merritt. Caring for your assignment is about consistently doing the ‘little’ administrative things. For example, it’s about including useful, basic information such as your Student Number (e.g., 01F, 05G, or 12H) and the date (e.g., 01/09/2019 or 01.09.2019). It’s also about putting this information in the right place–top, right corner. Furthermore, it’s about giving your papers a brief, but informative, Title, and about not submitting papers that look like they’ve been 1) used as a tissue or napkin, 2) kept in your pocket, 3) been through the washing machine, and/or 4) stored in the very bottom of your backpack (under the rest of your books and folders). In conclusion, it’s about demonstrating care.
- In Veracross, CHECKS & CARE assignments are identified as “Daily” assignments.
CLASSROOM SCIENCE BINDER (0%)
- In Veracross, although never graded, CLASSROOM SCIENCE BINDER work is identified as “Binder.”