Math Syllabi for the Berrien County Math & Science Center

Parent Checklist: We would appreciate your attention to the following checklist:
  1. Periodically check your child's notebook and folders for completed, neat assignments. The textbook should be home every evening, because there is an assignment every day. Learning is a team effort.
  2. Encourage development of good study skills, especially organization of time (more than one class item may be active at once) and materials. A visual calendar is suggested.
  3. Create a positive study environment at home for your child.
  4. Review your child's schedule to be sure they are getting adequate sleep and regular meals. Even good students fail to understand the long-term benefit of such when faced with short-term deadlines.
  5. Ask your child if [s]he needs extra help. Addressed concerns rarely become problems.
  6. Attend, whenever possible, Math & Science Center functions and conferences.
  7. Remember: Math & Science activities need extra practice time just like sports, dance, and music.
  8. I have read this course syllabus and will support the teacher in educating my child:

Parent's Signature:  __________________________       Date:  ___/___/2005

Disclaimer: This syllabus is subject to change should unanticipated events merit it.
Please also see rules and expectations in an alternate presentation.

Communication, Help Sessions

If the student needs extra help or is feeling frustrated, please make the teacher aware of the situation as soon as possible, so it does not turn into a major problem. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings 7—9 p.m. starting after Labor Day are scheduled as help sessions with a teacher or assistant in an ISD mathematics classroom (SH100/102). This is not a replacement for work which should be done during classtime nor is it "playtime." Help will be provided on an equitable basis. If any student requires additional assistance, alternate arrangements must be made. Be prepared to ask questions in class. Do your share to ensure understanding.


The textbooks remain the property of the Math & Science Center and are expected to be treated with respect. They are not notebooks and more than ten extra sheets within their covers constitutes willful destruction of property. Said sheets may be shredded immediately at the teacher's discretion. Topic workbooks for Numbers, Statistics Intro, Geometry, and Probability & Distributions will be developed early and should be retained until graduation. Replacement is at cost with a minimum charge of $5 per booklet.

General Information
2005–2006 School Year (August 29, 2005–June 2, 2006)
Class period:
Dr. Keith G. Calkins Ms. Shirleen Luttrell
M–F 8:00–8:50: Grade 9
Geometry, SH100 Accel. Students, SH102
M–Th 9:40–10:30: Grade 10
(-5TT; 8:55-9:40 F)
Algebra II, SH100 Accel. Students, SH102
MW 12:25–2:10; F 12:25–1:15 Precalculus, SH100 
TTh 12:25–2:10; F 1:25–2:10 AP Calculus BC, SH100 AP Calculus AB, SH102
Office/work phone:SH106, 471-6629SH105, 471-6646
Classroom phone:SH100, 471-6646 SH102, 471-6646
Home phone:473-2572473-3489
Office hours by appointment and: M–Th 8:55–9:45, 10:40–12:20 MWF 9:30–10:30, TTh 8:00–12:20
AU Math Office phone: 471-3423     HYH math hallway:471-2038
Assistants:Lisa Thompson, Irena Nesterova, etc.?
Bosses: Don Rhoads, Math Department Chair471-3424
Tonya Snyder, MSC Coordinator471-7725
Bill Richardson, Dean, College of Arts & Science471-3411

Standards—Method of TeachingCourse Goals

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has Professional Standards which guide our teaching. It is also our goal to make mathematics fun and interesting. We plan to return papers and correct mistakes as promptly as possible, maintain the integrity of the classroom, and otherwise create a positive, flexible, fair, and creative environment for all students. We are keenly aware, that most of our students have yet to develop good study habits. We also want our students to develop traits which will be sought after in the job market (such as punctuality and integrity).
  1. We will promote classrooms as mathematical communities.
  2. We seek logic and mathematical evidence as verification.
  3. Help develop self-confidence in ability to derive correct answers.
  4. Promote conjecturing, inventing and problem-solving instead of merely finding the correct answers.
  5. Develop a positive attitude toward mathematics and statistics.
  6. Confidently use problem-solving approaches to investigate and understand mathematical content.
  7. Recognize and formulate problems from inside and outside mathematics.
  8. Clarify thinking about mathematical ideas and relationships.
  9. Formulate mathematical definitions and discover generalizations.
  10. Express mathematical ideas orally, symbolically, and in writing.
  11. Read mathematics with understanding.
  12. Ask clarifying and extending questions related to mathematics.
  13. Utilize and value connections among mathematical topics and between mathematics and other disciplines especially by modelling real-world situations.
  14. Appreciate the similarities of seemingly different mathematical systems.
  15. Represent situations involving variable quantities with matrices, expressions, equations/inequalities.
  16. Understand concepts of probability distributions, regressions, estimates, testing, inferences, and statistics and their uses.
  17. Effectively use tables and graphs to interpret expressions, equations, and inequalities.
  18. Develop the necessary background for further mathematics.

Course Requirements

Daily homework, quizzes, tests, and supplemental enrichment exercises (worksheets?) will be assigned. Small group activities will enrich the discovery process of mathematics as well as small group and/or individual projects. An interdisciplinary (EXPO/ISEF) project for freshmen and perhaps others is also scheduled. In the spring semester, this leads into Arts and Science Expo usually judged under the rules of the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Evaluation Procedures (Grades)

Nine-week letter grades will be based on tests, quizzes, homework, worksheets, chapter reviews, notebooks, citizenship, attendance, class participation, preparation, and group/individual projects. Semester grades will be based on nine-week percentages, the semester exam, and, as applicable, the interdisciplinary project. The usual procedure in Berrien County of weighting each nine-week grade 40% and the semester exam 20% will be taken into account. However, the final Calculus test may serve as both a 9-week test and as a semester test, thus accounting for more than 33% of the semester grade. A (Excellent) and B (Good achievement, meeting all course requirements) level work is expected, otherwise progress reports will be issued as time permits, and parental contact initiated. In general, the following minimum percentages will guide grade assignment. Please note that especially the A+ grade is not based on percentage alone.
100% A+ 80% B+ 65% C+ 50% D+
90% A 75% B 60% C 45% D
85% A- 70% B- 55% C- 40% D-
Plus (+) and minus (-) grades will be specified (see handbook), even though several school systems ignore them. Note that the handbook lists the grade of C as acceptable, but only "minimally meeting requirements of course" and any grade of D as unsatisfactory and not acceptable. The County-generated grade report, however, may indicate a different standard.

Homework, Quizzes, Worksheets, Chapter Reviews, Notebook, and Projects

Homework, chapter reviews, quizzes, worksheets, a notebook, projects, class participation and preparation, citizenship, attendance, etc. are 50% of your 9-week grade. The exact breakdown is at the discretion of your teacher. Mathematics is learned by doing and thinking. Students will be encouraged to work together as much as practical, but homework and chapter reviews should reflect the students own work and understanding. Pure copying/cheating may result in no credit for that educational instrument and subject the student to further disciplinary actions (see handbook).

There is about 45 minutes (varies substantially with the student) of reading/homework to be done every school day. Often, a portion of the homework may be completed in class. Assignments are thus frequent, but of moderate length. Work must be shown for each problem to receive credit. Homework must be done neatly, presented in order, on standard-sized, white, 3-hole punched paper, with no ragged edges i.e. not torn out of a non-perforated spiral notebook). Use of pencil (not pen) and eraser (not scribbles) encourages neatness and is also required. A vertical problem solving format must also be followed. Work not meeting these standards, especially if done in crayon, reddish, or glittery tones will be refused. All homework is due at the start of class unless specified otherwise. Webassign, a computerized homework grading system, is expected to be used in Precalculus this year. Please do not staple dissimilar items together (homework from different assignments, or scratch paper to MML contests) or start the next homework on the same sheet of paper. Staples must be within 1/8" to 3/8" from each edge in the upper left hand corner (i.e. 45° angle and 1/4" optimal). Be prepared to present your homework to the class. Quiz and test questions often come from the textbooks, or even directly from the homework. Some homework may be graded on a mastery (redo/all or nothing) basis, with incorrect problems being sent back for correction until they are done correctly. Such redos should be dated and done in a timely manner (within one week).

Late homework loses value every day the Center is open. After one week, late work is only of remedial value. After two weeks, late work must be accompanied by a parental note clearly detailing the extenuating circumstances. However, after the scheduled start of the sectional test, late work, especially chapter reviews, will not be accepted. If absences intervene, please bring a parental note indicating excuse, preferably beforehand. Absences and timely written indication of excuses will be taken into consideration in determining the value of late work.

Extra credit for completing and turning in chapter reviews early will be rewarded. The bonuses are as follows: 10% for the first Center school day, 15% for two Center school days, 17.5% for three Center school days, 18.75% for four Center school days, up to a maximum of 20% in the limiting case. In general, quizzes may not be made up and may be "attendance" in nature (i.e. recorded as a zero not a Do Not Record). The interdisciplinary project will be included in your grade when required (see science class) or accounted as extra credit when not required. Participation as judges (for elementary school entries) by upperclassmen will also be rewarded with similar extra credit.

Quests, Tests, and Examinations

Tests are 50% of the 9-week grade. Marking period tests (called by some "midterms") and semester examinations are comprehensive in nature. One 3"x5" notecard per chapter will be allowed for each and every Geometry and Algebra II test, except those semester final exams where one 8.5"x11" sheet will be allowed. No magnification devices are allowed. Test notes must be handwritten in the student's own handwriting. Calculator "notes" are discouraged and even considered dishonest for some AP tests (statistics)! Make-up tests might be administered orally, without notes, or even as essays. Care will be taken to ensure test equivalency. Traditionally, students leaving (but not those graduating) at the semester have been allowed their entire notebook as notes for that test. Retakes on tests are discouraged and only granted under extenuating circumstances upon the teacher's discretion. In general, tests have a review section with the material least mastered from previous tests. A separate score for this section might be used if a retake is indicated. Generally, when tests are returned, selected problems are discussed and often redone in a mastery mode. Possibly unannounced quests (big quiz/little test) may occur about a week after a test over similar material. Tests and associated test keys are returned and distributed for the personal use of the tested student only and are not intended to be shared except with concurrent students in the same grade and course. Violation of this expectation may result in a grade reduction.

Required/Recommended Materials, Retention

It is important to be organized when working mathematics. You should have a small 3-ringed notebook with sections for: your parent-signed syllabus, tests and keys, vocabulary, new discoveries/conjectures, proofs, daily notes, and homework. You should study your notebook regularly. Current materials brought to class should be an inch or less. Our intent is to never keep notebooks after class, so organizing it with other subjects is an option. Notebooks will be graded periodically (especially during tests, quizzes, etc). Geometry and Algebra II homework will often be graded without being turned in. In addition to the notebook described above, other necessary materials are as follows: paper, folders, pencils, graph paper, and a graphing calculator. Geometry students need to also have compass, straight-edge (ruler), and protractor. A positive attitude and a smile are also good assets.

Just like good writing is based on learning the alphabet, how to read, good grammer, literature, etc., good mathematics builds on the basics of numbers, expressions, functions, symbols, concepts, and vocabulary. With this in mind the following suggested minimal retention schedule has been developed to help answer the question as to how long various class documents should be retained: 1) homework should be kept until the end of the semester; 2) quizzes and review exercises should be kept all school year; 3) tests, exams, contests, and booklets should be retained until graduation. Of course, it isn't practical to bring everything all the time so some optimization of notebook content is expected. Half an inch, if optimized should suffice.

Absenteeism Policy

"Responsibility for making up work for an excused absence rests with the student (no exceptions). Make up work must be submitted to instructional staff within the equal number of days absent, plus one. Assignments made prior to absences are not considered make up.'' ( Student Handbook, pg. 7). Note: 99% of the homework assignments were given in the first week of school! Before any excused absence, students are expected to provide, written details regarding their absence (school function/family outing/etc., duration, plans to make up missed work, etc.). Before or after an absence, students should make a point of checking for handouts, lecture notes, etc. Any parental/doctor/school notes received (not just shown) will be relayed to the attendance officer (currently the Center Secretary, Barb Abbott) for processing. Please bring such parental notes indicating excuse, preferably beforehand. Homework is due upon return to class, unless otherwise arranged. Make-up tests will occur the day of return to school, unless otherwise prearranged. Students who were absent are expected to participate in the grading of homework they may not yet have completed. Grading time is learning time. For freshmen and sophomores, much of the lecture may be blended into the grading. To maintain a consistently fast pace, tests are generally returned the next class period and students who were absent will either be taking the test or possibly go over the test. Otherwise, these students will lose yet another day of exposure to the material. Each unexcused absence will potentially reduce the student's marking period grade by 4%. Each absence above three in any 9-week period will potentially reduce the student's marking period grade by 1% each.

Food, Vending, Litter, Dress, Citizenship, etc.

The university Food Service maintains vending machines in Smith Hall and elsewhere on campus. The Center exercises little control over content, pricing, and vending errors. Food Service is located in the Campus Center, a building the handbook expressly designates as off-limits. Thus student and parent communications should be directed via telephone to them at 471-3161. For juniors and seniors, if allowed to drive/ride with another student, various fast food options in the area may provide more nutritious options.

Gum is not allowed in the math classrooms due to problems with the all too common improper disposal of the hazardous waste product. Food and beverages have been a dilemma because science classes meet in labs where OSHA rules forbid such and computer classes meet in computer labs where these items are also forbidden. Math has been extremely tolerant over the years, especially regarding afternoon students whose schedules do not provide a lunch period. Freshmen and sophomores often arrive hungry (partly that's just being a teenager!). Students are expected to be responsible (avoid and promptly clean up spills), don't let food interfere with either your own or other's school work, etc. Litter, especially from spiral notebooks, food, or drinks will not be tolerated. PLEASE DO NOT DISPOSE OF LIQUID-FILLED CONTAINERS, PARTIALLY OR OTHERWISE, (unless well sealed) IN THE TRASH CAN. Citizenship, including being responsible for your own mess, can factor significantly into a student's grade if warranted. Citizenship includes, but is not limited to, attendance and respect for others and their property. Horseplay, teasing, and other such actions are generally disruptive and outside the expected decorum of Center students. Students generally should expect not to be touched by other students and public display of affection (holding hands, kissing, etc.) should not be observed. All our classes are honors classes and corresponding behavior is expected from all our students, including: neatness, orderliness, and cleanliness. Please push your chairs in before you leave and return your area to it's original, pristine condition. Vulgar or offensive language, cursing, or offensive behavior/gestures are unacceptable and accordingly will subject one to disciplinary action.

"Dress or grooming that attracts undue or negative attention is not acceptable. Short shorts and bare midriffs are examples of inappropriate dress." For the entire Smith Hall area this page 8 handbook statement shall be interpretted as follows: 1) short shorts/skirts (defined as exposing more than one hand (4" maximum) above the top of the kneecap when standing); 2) cleavage exposure: pectoral or gluteal (typically caused by low/loose necklines or waistlines); 3) undergarment exposure (sit/stand/bend properly and/or use adequate coverage); 4) tight-fitting clothes (such as outline pudenda or nipples); are all unacceptable. If dress is deemed inadequate, it will be called to the attention of the Center Coordinator and additional coverage even for sleeveless/spaghetti strap tops, in the form of a tee shirt, for example, may be provided. An August 4, 2005 USA Today article reports on a Tulane University study which shows women who emphasize their sexuality while at work by the way they dress, speak, and act got fewer promotions and raises than those who did not!

The bulletin board (and associated push pins), computers, TV's, overhead projector, black and white boards, chalk, markers, pointers, printer, VCR, posters, reference books, answer keys, etc. are not toys and are to be left alone unless instructed otherwise. You are expected to study in such a manner as to not disrupt your fellow students. ("Four foot or indoor voices'' must be used when discussion is indicated.)

Allowed areas, Electronic Devices, etc.

Students not in a Center or elective class are expected to remain in the Smith Hall lobby area. When research or other needs take them elsewhere on campus, word should be left with a contact person should the need for contact arise. The Handbook (page 10) now specifically lists the Bookstore and Campus Center as off limits during the school day.

The Handbook (page 10) now specifically bans the use of personal electronic devices, such as cell phones, MP3/DVD players, recorders, etc. during class. The occasional need for emergency contact via vibrate instead of any obnoxious ring tones is understandable but must not be abused.

Computers, Office, etc.

The computers in the classroom are generally not available to freshmen and sophomores—they have computer class where such are provided. Any student use granted is with the intent that it not be disruptive to other students. Further use will be immediately denied if this ceases to be the case. Some teachers maintain a working office area within the classroom which is strictly off limits to Center students. Storage cabinets and drawers should not be accessed without explicit permission. Local phone calls may be made on the lobby telephone provided. Students should have prepaid phone cards for any long-distance calls placed on a regular basis. Other equipment (pencil sharpener, tape, stapler, pencils, paper, etc.) is provided and reasonable APPROPRIATE use is expected. Wasting of these resources is intolerable.