FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Page for Mr Macy:

These questions are written as if Mr Macy were talking ot the parental unit of a student.  But, the information applies to all!

How do scores work in your class?

Pretty easy.  All of the daily work accounts for 40% of the grade.  Tests and Quizzes are 40%. FFA Participation and the Agriculture Project (aka: science fair project) are 10% each.  The best part about this is, If your student does all of the daily work, gets all of their FFA points, and does their science fair project; then they are guaranteed to not have an F.  40+10+10=60.

For the daily work, the vast majority of this is done in the notebook.  Each semester, your student is provided with a notebook to keep that semesters work in.  The pages are numbered and all students do the same assignments on the same pages.  If there is a worksheet given out, it is glued onto a specific page, etc.    Each page is worth 1 point. They either met the minimums, or they did not.  At the end of the week, we count up how many pages were done, and how many were done for each student to give everyone a weekly score.

Agriculture Projects can be a multitude of things.  They could raise an animal, run an egg production entrepreneurship, build and tend to a productive garden, work for an agriculture company, etc.  For my classes, all of my students will participate in the Norco Agriscience fair.  I use this project to teach proper science reports, and since the student does their experimentation outside of classtime and relate it to agriculture, it also counts for this requirement.  Which, just like FFA Participation, is legally required to be part of every high school agriculture course.

FFA Participation is required in the California EdCode for all agriculture classes, but is the most fun part of our courses and what sets an ag science course above the rest.  These points help to cultivate our students' potential outside of the classrooms. Meetings, activities, conferences, competitions, community service...the list goes on.

How many FFA points does my child need?

8 per semester!  This semester (Fall 2015) there are over 40 potential points for our members to take part in.  Of course, some of those require certain grade levels/involvement in a particular team/etc.  But every member easy has access to over 25 of those points. 

How does my child get ffa points?

Sign up and get involved! Or for many activities like monthly meetings, just show up! But...

Don't be late! Many of the events we do are time sensitive.  Just like showing up for work is time sensitive.  If a meeting or activity starts at a certain time, there is no excuse for being anything other than early.  This is not something that exceptions are made for since there are plenty of opportunities!

What is the deal with interactive notebooks?

Interactive notebooks are the greatest thing ever.  They accomplish these things for Mr Macy and the students:

  1. Keep work organized
  2. Make it easy for parents to follow along
  3. Make it easy for students to find out from any other student what they missed at any time
  4. Allow for easy record keeping of assignments
  5. Allow for students and parents to keep track of work accomplished without the internet
  6. Also a bunch of other stuff, but those are the highlights.

Most of the time, we will take Cornell-Style notes on a right side page, and have some sort of activity to accompany those notes on the left page.  Occasionally we do something different, but when that happens, it is made very clear.

Cornell notes are great for helping young students to revisit and repeat knowledge for better retention as well as teaching organizational skills, and still allowing for freedom to take notes however it works best for a student.  There are these elements to Cornell notes

  1. Date
    • this helps a student to find notes easier, especially when it is something from long ago on a test.  Other teachers might also have you put a name here, but since these notes never leave the notebook, I don't require it.
  2. Title
    • Freakishly easy and Important but often shrugged off.  If your child does not have titles on every one of their pages, please know that they are definitely not on task for the first few minutes of an assignment.  
    • Titles also help students to identify notes from the past
  3. Essential question
    • Immediately under the title is question that is usually posed by me that somewhat sums up what will happen that day and theoretically helps to put a students mind on the right track
  4. Questioning line
    • going down from below the essential question to the bottom of the page should be a line about a thumbs width to the right of the vertical red line.  This separates the notes on the right from the questions on the left
  5. Notes zone
    • Done in class, notes over here could include definition, pictures, facts, diagrams, etc.  Basically, anything I say NEEDS to be int he notes, and whatever else fits the students learning style.
    • Minimum Requirements: Something. Anything. (and definitely what I say they NEED to write down)
  6. Questions
    • Done after class and before they come back to class. Questions should be one of two things:
      • Questions they actually have about the notes. Or if they already totally understand everything...
      • Questions they think might actually be on the test.
    • Minimum Requirements: More than 1 question, and none of the questions can be cookie cutter questions. Meaning, if you can take out the key word of the question and put in another key word (For example - "What is data"...That question shows me that you put no thought into it, so you might as well have not done it.  Therefore, if you might as well have not done it then why get credit for it... Fortunately! I have a quick 2 step process to solve this every time:
      • Take the cookie cutter question and answer it. "Data is the information generated from observations"
      • Now make a question about the answer. "Is information generated from someone else's observations still data to me?"
  7. Marking up the notes
    • Done after class and before they come back to class. Marking shows me that the student looked at their notes sometime in the 23 hours after they wrote them because they will have used a highlighter or their pen or pencil to circle, underline, star, box, add, cross out, etc.
    • Minimum Requirements: Do it.
  8. Summary
    • 1-2 sentence summary of what was done in the notes. Done at the very bottom of the page
    • Minimum Requirements: Do it.

How do I know if my student got credit for their assignment?

As long as they did the steps above and made the Minimum Requirements, then they ill get their credit.  I put a stamp on all the pages that were done and ready to go in one lap around the room whenever I collect assignments.  If it has a stamp. It has credit. 1 out of 1 point.  Nothing fancy, and no difficult math to do. 

My student got a zero on an assignment and I disagree! 

Cool.  I probably do too then.  However, I don't leave blank scores and I don't give excused or Incompletes when I expect that work to be turned in later.  Giving a zero encourages that assignment to be rectified immediately.  Otherwise, many students don't realize how significantly their score will drop, and might procrastinate/never end up turning it in.  This is a pretty nasty surprise to get on a final report card just before the holidays.....

My student was absent on the day you collected it for (insert any reason here), can they still get credit.

Yup! It doesn't matter if the reason is an excused absence, car accident, sickness, slept in too late, or did it, but didn't meet the minimum requirements the first time, etc... 
To make things easy, the same process applies to all students, excused or unexcused.  Simply bring your completed work to me before class or after class when I don't have something more pressing to do (which happens, but is rare).  If I am doing something more pressing, bummer...just come back tomorrow!

That being said, two things:

  1. Late work should be PERRRRFECT. No mater how you look at it, a student turning something in late has had more time to turn it in that any student turning something in on time.  That, and because I wont be hustling around the room trying to go over EVERYONE'S work, means that late work will likely meet higher scrutiny than work turned in on time.  
  2. Procrastination is a student's enemy.  If a student waits until the grade deadlines to turn stuff in, those are times when a teacher often has very pressing things to attend to making it very inconvenient for a student to turn in late work.

My student got credit for an assignment, but you didnt give them credit on Q...

Page Zero! This page has a weekly record of what pages were counted in a week.  How many of those pages were done as counted by the student. And a place for another student to also count and confirm that count with their signature.  The only time I put grades into Q is when I am sitting at my computer and a student shows me this page.  If a makeup stamp is given, that student needs to find the week that page belongs to, edit the score for that week, have the new score signed off and then show me page zero when I am at my computer after that.  Frequently this happens almost immediately after I sign it, but sometimes due to a student being in a hurry to get elsewhere, it can happen sometime after a makeup stamp is given.

What can my child do to get their grade up?

Their late work! It is very easy to see what work a student needs to make up.  Lets say Q shows your student has a 2/3 on week 9.  That means they are missing an assignment on one of those pages.  Go to page zero to see which pages were counted that week.  As you look at those pages, see which pages are not stamped yet, and get the work on that page done. Maybe it just needs to be finished - if so, easy peasy. If it is totally blank, your student needs to check my master table of contents on the wall, or get the work from a neighboring student.  If there is a handout, I keep them in a file separated by the week that we did that handout.  

Most tests I let my students use their notebooks on the test.  Because of that, I don't do retakes.  If a student is doing their work and doing it on time, then there would be no need for makeups.  Also remember, that tests alone can not fail a student. (see first FAQ)

Can my child do something more to get their grade up?

Nah, just do the original work assigned!