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Provo City School District

Dixon Middle School

Last modified: January 26, 2022

8th Grade Syllabus

Course Intro

Students will spend the year exploring science through the use of what has been termed the three dimensions (3Ds) of science education. These three dimensions are science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Using the SEEd standards as established by the state of Utah in conjunction with the 3Ds, together we will explore topics in physics, geology, and life science with minor tie-ins to other subjects such as chemistry. Students will subsequently learn to identify patterns in nature and explain how both matter and energy cycle throughout various systems.

Rather than viewing each content area as a single entity, we will explore how they build upon each other and have helped to make our world and the life it sustains the wonder it is today. By the end of this course, students will be able to think more critically and objectively as they observe, interact with, and seek to understand the many natural phenomena that abound in our universe. Throughout the year, emphasis will be placed on conceptual understanding and practice rather than rote memorization of facts. As such, it is expected that all students will be active participants in our classroom community becoming not just learners, but teachers as well.

I am looking forward to a wonderful year with all of my students full of questioning, exploring, and scientific enlightenment. Welcome to our class!


All curricula at Dixon has been divided into several intended learning outcomes termed “I Cans.” In our class, those I Cans are as follows:

#0 I can explain the nature of science.

#1 I can describe the structure of matter by comparing and contrasting atoms and molecules.

#2 I can describe how heat energy affects density and the motion of particles in solids, liquids, and gases.

#3 I can show that mass is conserved in a chemical reaction.

#4 I can identify observable evidence of physical and chemical changes.

#5 I can trace the conversion of energy from one form to another, including potential and kinetic energy.

#6 I can describe the structure of waves and how they transfer energy through different mediums.

#7 I can trace the cycling of matter and flow of energy in an ecosystem.

#8 I can identify factors that contribute to changes in global temperatures and how they affect regional climate.

#9 I can analyze and interpret data on natural hazards to forecast future catastrophic events.

#10 I can explain how geological processes cause uneven distribution of resources.

Each I Can is further divided into daily learning targets which will be clearly posted in the classroom for students and visitors to see. These learning targets and their  pertinent I Can will serve to guide students in terms of what they can expect and are expected to learn.



All students begin class with a grade of 100%. It will be their responsibility to maintain this grade.

Grades themselves will be based on Dixon policy as follows:

A 93% and above

A- 90- 92%

B+ 87- 89%

B 83- 86%

B- 80- 82%

C+ 77- 79%

C 73- 76%

C- 70- 72%

D+ 67- 69%

D 63- 66%

D- 60- 62%

I 59% and below

According to School Board Policy A, B, C, & D are passing grades.

A = Above Proficient

B = Proficient

C = Basic competency

D = Minimal competency

I = Insufficient effort / no credit.

Grades will be recorded in Canvas and synced over to PowerSchool where they will be weighted. Due to the weighting, there will be a slight discrepancy in grades between Canvas and PowerSchool. Use Canvas to check for missing assignments and keep up with classwork. Use PowerSchool to check actual grades as it is what will ultimately be recorded for report cards. Progress reports and report cards will be generated and distributed according to Dixon policy.

Each term’s grade will be based on the following:

Term 1: I Can statements 0, 1, and 2

Term 2: I Can statements 3, 4, and 5

Term 3: I Can statements 6, 7, and 8

Term 4: I Can statements 9 and 10

Grades will be broken down into and based on the following categories:

I Can Quizzes 70%

I Can quizzes will be given at the end of each I Can statement. These quizzes will give students an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of each I Can.

Interactive Notebooks 15%

Students are expected to maintain a neat and orderly notebook of material covered in class as well as labs. Students will have the option of either maintaining a digital notebook or a hard copy. I will not be allowing students to leave their notebooks in my classroom this year on account of the Coronavirus and possible unexpected school closures. Ideally, students will complete all work for my class using their Chromebook.

Assignments 10%

Various assignments, labs, etc will be done throughout the year. Students are expected to complete this work to the best of their ability Part of this work will be short mastery checks administered through Canvas. These will be similar to short quizzes that will give students a chance to check their understanding and me the opportunity to review material with them that they may have struggled with.

Bell Work 5%

Most class periods will begin with short bell work assignments designed to either review and reinforce the lessons of previous days or to stimulate thought and introduce the current day’s lesson. Students are expected to complete all bell work, even if they are not present in class, to the best of their ability. Bell work will be given through Canvas, allowing those not in class a chance to do it at home.

Class Supplies


Attendance: Student are expected to make every effort possible to be to class on time EVERY day. That said, I understand that life happens and will no penalize students with valid excuses for missing school. Special allowances will also be made for COVID related issues. With regards to COVID, when in doubt PLEASE ERROR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION.. We all want to do everything possible to ensure that schools stay open and masks remain optional. Regarding masks, it is a student’s right to wear or not to wear them. Please respect this decision.

Tardies: Dixon has a new tardy policy this year. It reads as follows:

2 Tardies =  Note to student to notify them that they have 2 tardies and consequences coming if this continues.

4 Tardies = Contact Parent / Meet with students to warn them about detention coming.

6 Tardies =  90 Minute Detention. Contact parents to notify them.

7 Tardies =  Tardy Intervention -Check IN / Check OUT program:

Behavior: The Dixon Way will be followed in my classroom (see handbook). Aside from this, it is expected that the classroom will be a respect S.T.O.P. where students will show respect for self, teacher/faculty, others, and property. Any damages incurred by students may be billed to the student at my discretion. Lab safety is of the utmost importance and a zero-tolerance policy will be in effect for the likes of horseplay and carelessness.

Failure to follow school and/or classroom expectations, rules, policies, procedures, etc. will result in the following:

I reserve the right to escalate the level of punishment depending upon the severity of the offense.

As deemed necessary, positive behavior plans will also be implemented to encourage appropriate student behavior, including special accommodations and/or allowances designed to prevent student-generated disruptions.

Good behavior is also subject to reward through the likes of “Panther Payoffs” and/or deescalation of offense level. These will be given at my discretion. Other rewards for positive behavior by individuals and/or entire class periods include free time, bonus (fun) labs, and even possible class parties.

Online Citizenship: has a great article on this matter. It makes the following six points regarding online citizenship:

Along with this, use the acronym THINK when participating in any online discussions, including those we do for class through Canvas.

T–is it true?
H–is it helpful?
I–is it inspiring?
N–is it necessary?
K–is it kind?

Hall: Students should plan ahead and use the restroom, get drinks, and attend to any other personal needs during between class breaks. Hall passes may be granted at teacher’s discretion in extreme cases. During hall time, students should move quickly and deliberately to their destinations, using the right side of the hall. Due to the Coronavirus, socializing in the halls should also be minimized to nonexistent.

Late Work: Quizzes and other assignments will have due dates to help students stay on pace, but no penalty will be given to late work due to the current state of things. Please try to have all work for each term completed prior to the end of the term itself.

Failure: Mistakes are an integral part of science and may be a very real experience in your academic career. These experiences should not be viewed as defeats, but rather learning opportunities that will foster student growth. If you are willing to put in the effort, you will receive all the help you need to succeed.

Food & Drink: Due to allergies and other liabilities, no food will be allowed in class unless pre-approved or provided by teacher. Students with special medical conditions are exempt from this policy as warranted by their needs. Water is allowed in closed/spill-proof containers. Please no soda or other sticky drinks unless medically warranted.

Gum: Due to students plastering gum wrappers in the classroom and sticking chewed gum under tables and chairs, NO GUM will be allowed in my classroom. If students are concerned about their breath, they may bring the likes of breath mints (no wrappers please).


Term 1: August 18th through October 22nd

Term 2: October 26th through January 15th

Term 3: January 18th through March 19th

Term 4: March 22nd through May 28th

Connecting Home to School

Parents/Guardians can help their students succeed by actively engaging in student learning through the following:

Check your student’s planner. Important dates and other vital information can be found there, including I Cans, Learning Targets, and student progress.

Ask to check your students notebook. As mentioned above, I require my students to keep an interactive notebook, recommending that it be done digitally. Regardless of its form, please take time to review this with your student at least twice a week if not more frequently. Studies have shown that reviewing material at various intervals greatly improves retention.

Student grades and other resources can be checked and monitored through PowerSchool by clicking here and logging in. You can also check your student’s progress by having them show you their Canvas account. Note that Canvas will be set to sync with PowerSchool and that grade weighting will be taken care of through PowerSchool. Given that PowerSchool is set to weight grades as I have determined, that is the grade that will ultimately go on their report card, not that portrayed by Canvas.

Check your email and Canvas often for communications from me.

Feel free to reach out to me as well. I am here to advocate for my students. I can be contacted at the following:


I have been happily married for nine years now and am the proud father of two boys and one girl. I love my family and enjoy exploring the natural world with them. I enjoy spending time outdoors and have fallen madly in love with the Utah desert, particularly that of the Grand Staircase. I enjoy collecting cacti (not from nature, but nurseries) and decorating my room with them. My degree is in Biology Education, but I also have a minor in Earth Science (geology is a huge passion of mine). It’s hard for me to see a landscape and not wonder how it came to be. I look forward to sharing my passions with my students and learning from theirs. Welcome to Dixon and to our class!