Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Final Five Weeks of the Semester


Good afternoon parents,

We have approximately five weeks remaining in the semester, which means several important events are coming up in your child’s Magnet Biology class. At this point in the semester, students in some cases have a tendency to relax their study and class preparation habits, reasoning that they have already demonstrated all that is required and that their grade will not change much in the final days of the course. This tendency needs to be avoided! These are actually the most critical days of the class. Take a look at what is coming up:

  • Research Project: Students should either be finished completely with their experiments or nearly finished, and ready to begin focusing on compiling data, creating graphs, and discussing results. In the coming weeks we will devote some class time to discussing the expectations for the final portions of the project, including how to prepare an excellent display board and class presentation. Most of the effort in this area will need to be made outside the classroom, however. Detailed instructions and rubrics will be provided to students in a timely manner, including via their Google Classroom account. Your child should be ready to submit results, including at least one graph, by Wednesday, May 2.
  • Units Remaining: We just completed a unit on various patterns of genetic inheritance and mutations. A test over this unit was given on Wednesday, April 11. A unit on biological evolution has now begun, with a test to be given Monday, April 30. We will conclude the semester with some lessons and activities on ecology, and students will take a unit test over those concepts on their final day in class.
  • End Of Course Assessment: This state-mandated test will be comprehensive and will account for 20% of each student’s final grade for the course. The test will be given over two consecutive class days, May 7 and 8. In the week leading up to the test, we will spend time in class reviewing key concepts and students will be provided with study guides, practice test questions, and other assistance as needed.

As I have stated before, students should be spending at least 30 minutes most evenings doing biology homework and/or review. Most days there is not a specific individual assignment (though sometimes there is), but between test preparation and textbook readings and the research project, there should always be something for students to do.

Regular updates for parents about major due dates and test dates are posted at http://magnetbiology.blogspot.com.

As the semester draws to a close, feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns that may be able to be addressed before final grades are posted at the end of May.

Thank you,
Grant

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Unit Test Wednesday, April 11

This will be our 5th unit test of the semester. Students have been provided with a study guide, and should be reviewing their class notes, other papers, and textbook chapters 10 & 11 as they study. Please feel free to contact me with any questions: Grant.McDurmon@cobbk12.org

Friday, March 16, 2018

Unit Test Thursday, March 22

On this test students will be asked to recall, explain and evaluate topics relating to molecular genetics. They have been provided with a study guide and other resources and should be spending some time at home preparing. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Unit Test Wednesday, March 7

This will be our 3rd unit test of the semester. Students have been provided access to a study guide, and should be preparing over the next several days. As always please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Unit Test Monday, February 12

This is our 2nd unit test of the semester. Students have been provided with a study guide via their Google Classroom account, as well as other resources in class. Please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Research Project Timetable

Just this week students have begun the process of planning, conducting, and reporting the results of a semester-long research project. They will be working independently, and a great deal of their time will be spent outside of the classroom. Many graded assignments throughout the semester will enter into the "Research Project" category of their course grade. The first such assignment was due this past Tuesday. On that day, students simply submitted a short paragraph telling me what topic they plan to study, what their initial hypothesis is, and what they plan to measure (or how they plan to collect data) during their experiment.

Next week (February 9th), students will be required to submit a far more detailed Research Plan, in which they clarify for me exactly where and how the will conduct their experiment, and why their rationale for choosing the topic they have chosen.

Detailed instructions have already been provided in class for the Research Plan. I have strongly encouraged students on multiple occasions to make sure their plans are approved by you, their parents. If for any reason you have concerns about the experiment your child is planning to do, please contact me and share those concerns!

Below I am providing you with the same timeline I will soon provide to my students. It is a preview of upcoming activities and assignments relating to the research project. Note: The due dates may change, and if there are any changes I will announce these in class in advance.

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MAGNET BIOLOGY RESEARCH PROJECT TIMETABLE – SPRING 2018
  
January 30 – TOPIC MUST BE SELECTED. Turn in your idea for an experiment involving living things. This should include a title, hypothesis, and at least some information about HOW you plan to do the experiment. One paragraph is expected.

February 9 – RESEARCH PLAN DUE. Provide a much more detailed written explanation of the project you plan to do. Your explanation should include the following (consult more specific instructions as given in class):

1)    Title
2)    Rationale
3)    Research Question and Hypothesis
4)    Experiment Design, including descriptions of groups and variables
5)    Sources of Materials
6)    Risk and Safety considerations
7)    Other details as appropriate and/or as instructed

***DO NOT START YOUR EXPERIMENT UNTIL ALL FORMS ARE SIGNED!***

February 13 – EXPLORING ONLINE AND PRINT RESOURCES. You do not need to turn in anything on this day. You will spend your class time today exploring how to access sources for your research paper. This information is very important, because your research paper must be written outside of class!

February 27 – LOGBOOK CHECK. BRING YOUR LOGBOOK TO CLASS WITH YOU. I need to see that you have an appropriate logbook. At this point it is ok if there is not much written in it, but you should have some initial notes written about how you are planning your experiment and conducting online research.

February 28 – ALL NECESSARY FORMS MUST BE COMPLETED AND/OR SIGNED. Submit these forms to Mr. McDurmon for review BEFORE beginning work on your experiment.

March 19 – TURN IN YOUR 5-PAGE RESEARCH PAPER. (The 5-page paper will become the Introduction part of your final written report). Refer to the rubric and other instructions discussed in class to make sure you are researching, writing, and formatting this paper correctly.

March 20 – LOGBOOK CHECK AND PHOTOS. By this time you should have a large amount of information written into your logbook, including DATA that you have collected during your experiment. BRING YOUR LOGBOOK TO CLASS WITH YOU. Also, either print or email me at least ONE photo of your experiment.

April 13 – MATERIALS AND METHODS PAPER DUE TODAY. Follow the instructions and/or rubric as discussed in class. ALSO DUE TODAY: Your REVISED 5-page paper (this is optional). Attach the ORIGINAL paper BEHIND the new one.

April 19 – LOGBOOK CHECK – BRING LOGBOOK WITH YOU TO CLASS.

May 2 – TURN IN RESULTS, including charts, graphs, text and statistics as desired and/or required. Follow the rubric/instructions as discussed in class.

May 10 -- DISCUSSION section due today. Follow rubric/instructions as discussed in class.

May 15 – TURN IN YOUR FINAL RESEARCH REPORT. It must be typed, with all corrections and modifications suggested by your teacher. (Title Page, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, and References).

May 16 – TURN IN DISPLAY BOARD, FINAL PRINTED REPORT, COMPLETED LOGBOOK, and ABSTRACT.

May 17ORAL PRESENTATIONS BEGIN.

Friday, January 12, 2018

We're Off To A Good Start!

Dear Parent,

Another school year has begun, and it is my privilege to have your child in my Magnet Biology class this semester at North Cobb High School. It’s hard to believe, but we are already six days into the semester!

So far in class, we have discussed the goals of science and some scientific methods of answering questions. Students have thought critically about the characteristics that all living things share. As the semester progresses, your child will work with other students in our class to investigate important biological concepts such as the chemistry of life, cell structure and function, DNA and the genetic code, the relationship between organisms and their environment, and the relationships between organisms themselves. To do this, we will take advantage of the tremendous resources available to us here at North Cobb.

At this point in the semester, your child may be anxious about the research project we are asking all of our Magnet students to do. Every Magnet Biology student at North Cobb is required to conduct a real scientific investigation over the course of the semester. Students, with my assistance and advice, will select a topic to study, formulate a hypothesis, and carry out a controlled experiment. They will document their procedures in a logbook and report their data at the end of the semester during a class presentation. Also, I will encourage students to submit their work for consideration in the regional Science Fair to be held in February of 2019. This project will require extra effort on the part of your child and a good amount of time at home to prepare and carry out an experiment; however, let me assure you that I will guide your child in this process throughout the semester, and am confident they will find the experience a rewarding one!

My goal is the success of your child. If you ever have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, please feel free to contact me at any time via e-mail. I am also available each week to provide additional assistance to your child, or to sit down for a conference with you if needed. Working together, we can make your child’s semester in Magnet Biology a great one!

Sincerely,

Grant McDurmon

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Welcome Parents!

This site is specifically for parents whose children are in my Magnet Biology course. The site will be updated about once per week with general information, especially pertaining to important project and test dates. The first day of class is Thursday, January 4. Fell free to email me any time with questions, comments and suggestions at Grant.McDurmon@cobbk12.org!