Syllabus for Honors Biology

Mr. David Smashey, teacher
Willard High School
Fall Semester 2010, Spring Semester 2011
Email: dsmashey@willard.k12.mo.us
blog with class info: https://smashey.wordpress.com/tag/honors-biology/
school phone: 417.742.3524
Room 161

Happy is he who gets to know the reasons for things.
Virgil (70-19 BCE), Roman poet.

Welcome to Honors Biology! I am excited to be beginning a new year. I am extremely fortunate to work with outstanding colleagues and teach interesting and able students.

Biology is a subject that I enjoy teaching. I love knowing how things work and why things are the way they are. My intentions are that every student will be challenged and that every student will succeed.

My goal is that each student will learn what an educated person needs to know about biology in order that they may thrive in this increasingly complicated and scientifically sophisticated world.

Honors Biology will require a consistent effort and a mature approach to learning. I respect the skills and commitment that honors students bring to the class and look forward to working with you.

Why we study Biology

You are a biological being.

Everything we are going to learn is actually going on either inside your own body or it involves how you as an individual fit in with the living world around you.

Many of the major decisions and/or events in your life will be affected by your knowledge of biology.

• reproduction
• disease and death
• your effect on the world around you
• the effect the environment has on you
• evaluation and interpretation of scientific or pseudoscientific claims

Our Textbook

We will use the “Dragonfly Book,” Biology. Miller and Levine. 2006. Pearson Education/Prentice Hall as our text.

You will be issued a copy of this text. It is worth $75.00. You are responsible for returning the same copy of the text that you are issued in the same condition in which it was issued.

If you lose or damage the textbook you will be responsible for paying a replacement or damage fee.

Leaving (hiding) your book in my classroom does not make me responsible for it. Somebody will steal it.

Competencies addressed:

1. Students will be able to identify the relationships and interactions of organisms and their environment.
2. Students will recognize that heredity/genetic information is contained in molecules of DNA.
3. Students will recognize that cells are the fundamental structural and functional units of all living organisms.
4. Students will have knowledge of scientific inquiry, processes involved and tools used.
5. Students will be able to classify organisms into groups based on similarities and differences.


You will receive points for a wide variety of assignments and assessments. These will include homework, quizzes, labs, projects, a comprehensive notebook, readings, free writing and exams. Your fall semester final exam will constitute approximately 15% of your final grade. In the second semester (spring), the end of course exam and the final exam will each be worth 10% of your semester grade.

The approximate breakdown of points in the class is as follows:
25% exams (Midterm and Final)
50% weekly Friday quizzes
25% classwork, labs, projects, notebook, writing and miscellaneous assignments

Your grade will be based on your percent of the total possible points. This is calculated by dividing your total number of points earned by the total number of points possible in the class.

Three percent (3%) of your semester grade is based on my evaluation of your participation as a member of the class. The expectations include but are not limited to: coming to class prepared, having appropriate materials, taking notes, not disrupting the class, answering questions and working cooperatively in lab groups.

Every point in the class counts the same, whether it is from a homework assignment, lab or exam. You should not count on extra-credit assignments to bail yourself out at the end of grading periods.

We will use the Willard High School grading scale to determine how your percentage translates into a grade.

A ≥96%
A- 90-95%
B+ 87-89%
B 84-86%
B- 80-83%
C+ 77-79%
C 74-76%
C- 70-73%
D+ 67-69%
D 64-66%
D- 60-63%
F <60%

Late and Makeup Work

Late work will be accepted at the instructor’s discretion. It must be completed before the end of the current unit in order to receive any credit. For example, I will not accept homework from the photosynthesis unit when we are studying ecology. The fraction of the original points possible that late work is worth will vary depending on whether the lateness is an isolated or habitual event.

Makeup work will be handled as described in the Student Handbook (within 3 days following the absence). You are responsible for finding out what you missed.

All makeup work must have the date of the original assignment at the top of the first page.

You will not be able to make up any work missed due to excessive absences (greater than 7 per semester) as stipulated in the Student Handbook.

No additional time will be given to students who miss class due to official school trips (field trips, athletics, performances, organizations, etc.).

How we will operate as a class

• We will start class when the bell rings. You need to be in your assigned seat and be ready to begin class. If you are not in the classroom when the bell rings, you will be sent to the office to get a tardy slip.

• We will have the materials and resources that we need ready and available. I will have lab materials, handouts, Powerpoints, etc. ready and you will have your book, notebook containing previous work, paper and pen or pencil.

• We will treat each other with respect.

• We will strive for an atmosphere that is both productive and comfortable.

• We will work efficiently and minimize distractions.

• When finished with our work, we will enjoy each other’s company in a civil way.

School Policies

• We will follow the guidelines set out in the Willard High School Student Handbook for student attendance, appearance, behavior and other issues.


• Note that 3% of your semester grade is awarded based on your full and appropriate participation as a member of the class. This can certainly make a difference in your semester letter grades.
• The vast majority of students treat each other, teachers and staff respectfully. Words or actions that are disrespectful or that prevent us from accomplishing our tasks will be dealt with using Assertive Discipline procedures.

• Willard High School uses the Assertive Discipline plan in all classrooms. The steps are as follows:
1. Written warning.
2. Extra work assigned at teacher’s discretion.
3. Parent contact.
4. Removal to Principal’s office. In-school-suspension (ISS) or other formal disciplinary action may result.

 Certain actions, especially those of a dangerous, offensive, or disrespectful nature, will be dealt with immediately (rather than through the Assertive Discipline Plan) and will result in the student being removed to the office.

Mr. Smashey’s Classroom Policies

 No food is allowed in the science classroom at Willard High School. You may not sell candy or other food in the classroom.
 Water (in a sealable container) will be allowed in the front half (desk area) of the classroom unless we are having lab. This is a revocable privilege. No other drinks are allowed at any time.
 You may not have your phone out for any reason (including checking the time).
 You are allowed one brief trip to the restroom per week. Use it wisely.


• Every day you will need to bring the following to class:
pen and/or pencil
notebook for keeping notes, handouts, worksheets, etc.

Special Needs

• If you have special needs, whether they are identified by Special Services or not, please bring these to my attention. I need you to help me know how I can help you.

Success in this Class

• Is not inevitable.
• Has been achieved by many others like you in the past.
• Can be achieved by you.

The Successful Student in Honors Biology will:

• Be in class every day.

• Take pride in his/her work.

• Have a good working relationship with others in the class.

• Be open with the teacher about difficulties you are having learning the material or things in the classroom which are impeding your learning.

• Be consistent in your daily work.

• Keep a complete and organized notebook.

• Prepare carefully for exams.

• Look for things in the subject (Biology) that interest you or connect to your life.

• Be honest. You can be a person of integrity every day.

My responsibility as your teacher is to:

• Know my subject. This does not mean that I know everything. Each year I learn interesting new things because of student questions I didn’t yet know the answer to.

• Value every student. Your GPA, race, religion, or economic conditions do not determine your value as a person or your status in my class.

• Be prepared. I will spend the time and do the work that is necessary to teach you effectively.

• Help you succeed. If you encounter some difficulties along the way you are not alone. Talk with me before things get desperate and we will work together to find solutions.

• Partner with your parents/guardians to help you succeed.

Notes to Parents and Guardians

• I know that you want your child to succeed. I want to give you the information you need to maximize their success.

• The two most important things you can do to help your child succeed are 1) to make sure they are in class every day and 2) to stay aware of and involved in what we are currently working on, studying and preparing for.

• I will email you throughout the year concerning all major exams and projects. I also welcome frequent email contacts concerning the progress of your student. I am able to respond to nearly all email messages within one day.

• If you do not currently have easy access to email, please let me know and I will find other ways of getting you any needed information.

• Meetings are welcome and may be set up by calling me at school.

• You can leave voice mail for me by first calling the high school office.

• Many parents/guardians find the SIS Parent Link to be a useful tool for monitoring their child’s progress.

• Again this year, I will be maintaining a blog (web log) of assignments, upcoming events, suggestions and results of tests. I will maintain this instead of updating the SIS homework module (although you can access the class blog directly from the homework module). The class blog has proven to be a very useful tool for students and parents to access information and documents related to the class.

The URL for the blog is: https://smashey.wordpress.com/tag/honors-biology/

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