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Monday, April 28, 2014

Student Expectations

think that the word "studying" is now synonymous with the term "reading my notes."   At this point in the year I am reviewing students for EOCs and AP exams and I am working hard ... and I think I am the only one.  This is not new, this is not surprising, and instead of complaining I am trying to figure out how to teach students to study and how to take responsibility for their own learning ... and how to implement this from the beginning of the year next year.  I am going to focus on AP Biology first and write about Biology EOC later.  

It starts with expectations, right?  So, what are my expectations?

I expect my students to pre-read before class. Pre-reading for AP Biology includes skimming assigned sections of the book with special emphasis on terminology and figures. The students need a base to add to during lectures, discussions and activities.  Pre-readings are also required before watching and taking notes from flipped videos.  There will be random reading pop-quizzes.

I expect my students to watch all assigned videos.  Our flipped videos have several purposes.  With video lecture students can take notes at their own pace, return to video throughout the year if they need to watch it again, and students are able to keep up with material when they are absent. 

I expect my students to take notes.  When students are assigned videos (my video or “guest-speaker” video), or during in-class lectures, activities and labs students are expected to take notes.  These notes serve as a reference of the most important information covered and as a reminder of the applications of that material. Copying another student’s notes from a video is not acceptable … watch the video.

I expect my students to have questions and to ask questions.  The ultimate goal is understanding (not just memorizing) the material.  When students have question they should write those questions down.  Questions can be asked before school, after school, via twitter or facebook, or in class when appropriate.  Once questions have been answered, the answer should be written down as well.  If no one asks questions I do not know what needs clarification.
I expect my students to complete all work assigned to them.  When assignments require internet access (videos or MasteringBiology assignments) I will assign them as early as possible to allow students to use the computers at school if needed.  Students are welcome to come in before or after school to use the computer in my room or my iPad; the school library and computer lab are also sometimes available. School policy is that any work not completed when assigned can be turned in the next day for up to a 70.  Any work not completed past that will receive a zero.  Students who have an excused absence have 1 day per day missed to make up work for full credit. (EX: If you are absent on Monday, any work that was due Monday is due Tuesday, and any work assigned on Monday and due Tuesday will be due on Wednesday.)

I expect my students to obtain and utilize a study guide.  This can be the study guide provided by the school, or one of the various study guides available for purchase (Half-Price Books online or Amazon would provide cheapest options if an additional resource is desired).  These resources provide students alternate explanations of material, practice multiple-choice questions, and practice essay questions. 

I expect my students to study an hour a day.  An hour everyday is more effective for preparing for unit tests and the AP exam than several hours a day or two before.  Sometimes this could be on review assignments, tutorials, activities, videos, animations or working on their B.I.L.L..  I cannot pass the class or the AP exam for the students, I cannot want it for them. 

I expect my students to do their own work.  There are very few group assignments in AP Biology.  If it is a group assignment that will be made clear and be written in the description of the assignment.  Giving another student answers does not help that student.  Any form of cheating (“working together,” copy & paste, editing someone else’s work and calling it your own, “googling” the answers, looking on someone else’s answers, sharing pictures of assignments or answers, etc.) will result in a zero for all parties involved.

I expect my students to prepare for their AP exam.  The time in class is unfortunately not enough to be adequately prepared for the AP exam.  Students are expected to put forth the necessary effort to make themselves successful.

I expect my students to be willing to work together.  I know that sometimes students in an AP class are competitive with one another.  I value competition, it is a great motivator, but we learn better together.  It is us against everyone else taking this test.  We will be working in groups to perform labs and to learn and discuss material.  Students will sometimes choose their groups and sometimes groups will be drawn at random.  Students are encouraged to form a study group to discuss material, but only if students have the integrity need to refrain from cheating.

I expect my students to experiment with learning.  Students will be required to utilize many learning techniques, including discussions, B.I.L.L., labs, creating lessons and teaching peers, using technology, and more.  Everyone learns differently, and next year students will be expected to teach themselves, so we are will do a variety of different activities so that the students are armed with a variety of tools for their college career.

I am not even sure this is a complete list, but my brain hurts.  Leave me comments about your expectations, or anything you think I should add.  

Come back for my AP Links and Resources!


  1. Abigail, Great Question! BILL is a Biology Interactive Learning Log - a clever name that should be credited to Lee Ferguson at Allen ISD. I have replaced my BILL with a student-created review book. I will try to do a post soon showing what they create, what it looks like as an ever changing document. Thanks for reading!!

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