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Student instruction is the top priority of this department. I will do everything I reasonably can to help a student succeed. If at any point you have a concern about how a subject is taught in this department, please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any policies. See also: Department Information.
Agricultural Sciences exists to prepare students to become functional, real-world citizens with an ability to use science, technology, and knowledge to solve both personal and social problems. Using real-world problems in an inquiry-based manner, students are pushed to develop solutions individually and as groups. The kinds of situations we encounter rarely have a simple or a straightforward answer, and much like problems in the real world, there may be more than one solution. Because answer-books rarely exist outside of schools, students are asked to prove to themselves how they know they are not wrong.
The ability to work in teams and as groups is vital to working in a professional setting. Because of this, students do much of their work in teams of four. These teams are often intentionally designed and hand-picked to provide every student with the opportunity to grow and mature socially and cognitively. A student who can perform well on tests but cannot use their knowledge or work as a team is not prepared to be a fully functional adult. As such, this is a pivotal part of the department's curriculum.
Weekly laboratory sessions are standard for most classes and are offered whenever possible. Assessment occurs weekly in order to provide students with regular feedback regarding their personal performance and grasp of the material. Students must be in regular attendance and must complete their work and studies in a timely fashion in order to prevent falling behind. Even small amounts of late work can have a noticeable impact on student grades.
Students are, as often as possible, treated like the adults they will soon become. Because of this, the responsiblity for learning is placed largely on the students themselves. Classes are modeled after university courses and often have a college discussion-like atmosphere. Students must demonstrate personal accountability in order to succeed in the department's curriculum.
Students can also have a major impact on how courses are taught. If student requests are presented in a reasonable and professional manner, and if the requests can improve student performance as a whole, they may be implemented (and some are every year).
Most students finish a course in this department with an A or a B. Most of the time, grades lower than this are due to late or missing assignments. As an instructor, I will do everything reasonable I can to help students get a good grade - those willing to work for a good grade almost always get one.
Because of the subjective nature of the hands-on atmosphere, grading is broken into three styles.
When there clearly is a right or wrong answer, points are awarded on a pass/fail basis. For example, on a multiple choice exam, there can only be one right answer.
More often than not, however, an answer can be partially right or wrong. This is especially true for short-answer questions and essays. In this case, grades are assigned on a 5 point basis.
5 points - PERFECT! Could not have been done any better.
The score out of 5 is then multiplied to reflect the weight of the assignment or question. Graded work is returned to a student's mailbox in the Ag Office. Students should check their mailbox regularly as notices, receipts, and updates may also be given here.
Small, routine assignments such as notesheets are graded on a +/✓/- basis. A "+" is given for assignments that do not have any blank answers and are clearly done according to expectations. A "✓" is given to assignments that may be almost, but not completely done according to expectations (e.g. if one question was missed, a ✓ may be given rather than have the student re-do the assignment). A "-" is rarely given; if a student has not done enough on their assignment to merit a + or a ✓, the assignment will be returned to them so that it can be finished according to expectations. A "-" may be given to an assignment that was repeatedly turned in late, to an assignment that must be entered into the gradebook before an impending deadline (such as the end of the semester), or to a student who has turned in repeated incomplete assignments.
By student request, points are now taken off for late work (previously, no points were taken off for late work). Typically, an assignment will be dropped one letter grade if it is not received when the assignment is graded.
Late work will always be accepted so long as it can be (i.e. if the semester has not ended). ***All missing or late assignments should be turned in regardless of if they are late or on time.***
All assignments, missing or late, should be turned in to the Hand-In Drawer in the classroom unless collected personally by the instructor. Assignments turned in to any other location may go missing or lost. To avoid having to re-do an assignment, be sure that it is always turned in to the proper location. (Exception: if you need to turn in an assignment after the room has been closed down, it is ok to slip it under the door if it is already locked).
Copies of late and missing assignments can be found online. Visit This Week's Assignments and Previous Weeks' Assignments to find links to each assignment. Assignments are also typically linked on PowerSchool and can be found by clicking on the grade or title of the assignment. Students without online access should see Mr. Kohn for hard copies of their missing work. Hard copies are typically available in the wooden rack by the main door to the classroom and are labeled by class.
NOTE: work that is turned in without being fully completed or work that does not meet expectations will be returned to the student and marked as "missing". That assignment will be scored as a 0 until the assignment is completed to expectations, at which time the assignment will be graded and recorded with a score that is adjusted for being late. This policy is meant to reflect the demands of most work environments. Just as 90% completion of a heart surgery or 90% completion of a construction site would be unacceptable, 90% completion of an assignment is not acceptable in this department.
If a student is absent from class, they are expected to make up all missed work and quizzes or tests. A student may be given an alternate test if they are absent in order to reduce the likelihood of academic misconduct.
If a student has an excused absence for a day, they will receive an extension of one day on the deadline for projects.
Any behavior that detracts from the ability of other students to learn and perform is not and cannot be tolerated. It is expected that students understand what is acceptable and what is not in almost all cases. If a student cannot conduct themselves properly in the classroom, they will be asked to leave until they can help maintain a productive atmosphere in the classroom. If disturbances happen repeatedly, a student may be referred to the school office and/or receive a detention. If available, a detention may consist of work in the department, such as cleaning, waste removal, or other necessary work. The vast majority of students almost always live up to their potential, and I expect nothing less for their own personal development. Disciplinary action above a one-to-one conversation is rare, a reflection of the professional atmosphere of the department.
Because of the amount of material presented in each class, and because of a mostly no-homework policy, every minute of classroom time is vital. Tardiness not only reduces time available for instruction but also interrupts the momentum of learning and instruction. Because of this, department policies on tardiness are the same as the school policies and are strictly enforced.
1st Tardy - Verbal Warning; date and time of tardy is recorded in writing.
Students with a valid pass are not considered tardy. A student is tardy if they are late without a valid pass but arrive within 10 minutes of the start of class. Students arriving unexcused after 10 minutes past the class start time are considered truant as part of the school policy.
Students who have an excused absence for an appointment, family obligation, etc. will receive an extra day for assigned work and assessments ("if you are gone a day, you get a day"). For example, if a student misses a class because of an excused dentist appointment, they will receive one extra day to complete their assignment if it is needed. Because all work is available on the department website, students are strongly encouraged to complete their work on time if at all possible in order to prevent falling behind (because of the rigor of the material, it can be harder to play catch-up and is often easier to work ahead). Students without an excused absence are expected to complete all work by the stated deadline.
I will always make accomodations for students with special needs. This could be as simple as a seat in front of the class to test modification. I tend to believe that what can help a student with special needs can help the class as a whole and will always seek opportunities to make my classroom successful for all students of any ability regardless of the hurdles they face each day. If a change or accomodation is needed, please see me in person, email, or call me to make arrangments. If you think I have missed a part of a student's IEP or have misinterpreted it, please contact me to discuss.