Frequently Asked Questions: This page contains answers to common questions of
students and parents.
- What are the classroom rules?
- How can I get a good grade in this class?
- How do projects and project worksheets work?
- What is the Portfolio?
- What is the Lab Module Report?
- What are the rules about food in the classroom?
- Using expendable materials:
- What is The Block?
- What is The Chair?
- May I go in the storage room?
- Where should I sit?
- Odd computer questions and answers:
- Differences between Seventh and Eighth Grade STEM Education:
- Who's in charge:
What are the classroom rules?
There are only four classroom rules and they are listed below:
1) Be in your seat and ready to work when the bell rings.
2) Appropriate and safe attire will be worn at all times.
3) Vulgar or coarse language is not permitted.
4) A respectful attitude must be maintained between you, your peers, the
instructor, and the staff.
Here are examples of the rules in action:
Walking in the door or sliding into your seat as the bell is ringing does not
fulfill the requirements of rule number one, no matter how much you complain
Being ready to work means having all your assignments or projects ready to
turn in or to work on each day, as well as having all appropriate school
supplies with you (planner, pencils,
pens, and paper qualify as school supplies).
You know you will be wearing appropriate attire if you read the
Richardson Middle School student handbook and follow its guidelines. Exposed
underwear of any type might be ok for your
bedroom but not for school or the classroom. Having to pull up (or down) your
trousers, top, (dress, shorts, shirt, etc.) is a distraction for you and may
get you hurt around the classroom
machinery. For classroom and ordinary school purposes, it is generally
unacceptable to show yourself off or create a fashion commotion that attracts
attention to yourself, distracts others, or degrades the classroom learning
environment. Save it for the beach or your own home.
The purpose behind all four of the above rules is to create an orderly and
safe classroom. Anything about your actions or appearance which distracts or
interferes with classroom order and safety, or which destroys or distracts the
learning environment for other students or the teacher is unacceptable. No
student is permitted to destroy or degrade the learning opportunities of other
students or distract the teacher from delivering instruction to students.
How can I get a good grade in this class?
There are two types of grades you can earn in this classroom: (remember
the word earn; the grade you receive on a report card or progress report is
the grade you have worked for and have earned, and not something that was
pulled out of the either or something that reflects how much the instructor
likes you; you will receive what you deserve) Those who work well and
demonstrate that they have learned will earn a good grade. Those who do little
work and make little attempt to learn will receive a poor grade.
1) Some project grades are based on completing the project- following
directions, doing the steps, showing your finished work, etc. will demonstrate
that you have completed the project and you
will have earned full credit for that project.
2) Some project grades are based on a points scale, with a total posted for a
Students will be told before beginning each project which type of grading
system will be used for any particular project.
Students who have the most difficulty in this class are those with little
self-motivation. Students who need to be told what to do and when to do it and
how to do whatever it is to be done will need to put in more effort in order
to achieve well.
Attitude toward learning is everything: Students who walk in the door and
make a certain set of negative assumptions about the classroom environment,
the instructor, the other students, the
subjects to be learned, etc. will have great difficulty in overcoming those
prejudices and become successful.
A general sense of honesty and truthfulness is a struggle for a very few
students. Because of the classroom dynamic of extraordinary freedom of
movement and the self-paced learning
environment, a few students find it difficult to resist stealing from other
students or feeling entitled to take classroom materials, tools, or other
supplies. If this describes you, resist
the temptation and do what is right. It is usually very obvious to all who the
For many different reasons, the teacher can often be a polarizing figure
due to forces outside of his or her control. Some students base their feelings
of like or dislike for a
particular class or subject on whether or not they like or dislike the
teacher. On another level, some teachers are unlucky enough to remind students
of someone else they dislike or someone else who has hurt or mistreated them,
and then associate the teacher with that hurtful person.
Resist this temptation and allow each person to demonstrate who and what
they are without setting them up to fail.
How do projects and project worksheets work?
Project details and notebooks:
The learning to be done in this classroom is focused around a project
based environment where students work at their own pace and with their own
inherent abilities to follow the directions and invest the effort to learn the
topic, subject, skill set, etc. that the project requires. The instructor will
teach, demonstrate, and help the student whenever difficulties are
student will need to ask for help though rather than wait to be discovered.
The nature of classroom operation with the diverse subject matter under
study requires the student to take the initiative and ask for help when he or
she needs help.
Many Beginning Technology projects have worksheets associated with them,
especially those with instructions in notebooks. If your project calls for a
worksheet, you can find it on the shelf in the North West corner of the
classroom- each of them will be in a plastic holder with the name of the
project on the worksheet.
Projects with worksheets will require the instructor or Lab Assistant to
sign off on them periodically. If you need a signature, get one before
proceeding to the next section of your work. Proceeding ahead too quickly has
been known to cause students to miss steps in the project and ruin their work,
or cause them to have to repeat a step.
When you have finished the project and completed the worksheet and your
Lab Module Report, show them to the instructor to get credit for the project.
Do not switch yourself to a new project without the instructor's direction.
Classroom operations demand that there be a balance of students working in
various areas, and you may or may not get your next choice of the project you
prefer. Be patient, and it will come around to you. Do not assign yourself to
a new project.
What is the Portfolio?
Your portfolio is your record of what you have done in this class. There are
several reasons for keeping a portfolio:
1) It is your record of what you have completed, and it helps to have proof
that you have completed a project if the instructor's records show that you
have not. Having a complete set of paperwork
will help you get the grade you deserve in case the instructor has made a
mistake in grading.
2) Many projects overlap in their objectives and topics, and having
information about one project will help you complete another, different
project. A few students have thrown away their work and find out later that
having kept their previous work would have made the current work easier or
more quickly completed.
3) Occasionally, parents will stop in to see what you have done. It's nice to
be able to show them a fat portfolio to brag on yourself.
4) A few projects have several parts that you will do at different times.
Having a record of the previous part will help you remember where you left off
and remind you where to start.
5) Any scraps or shreds of notes you have taken during class may be used on
tests or quizzes. Having a collection of your notes in your portfolio will
most certainly earn you a better grade on tests and quizzes.
What is the Lab Module Report?
The Lab Module Report is for demonstrating what you have learned after
having completed a project for Beginning Technology Education. You may write
it by hand or type it with Text Edit or
MS Word and print it. When your Lab Module Report is complete, bring it to the
instructor with your project worksheet in order to select a new project.
The Lab Module Report Format:
Title of Project or Module
Paragraph One: What I did
Paragraph Two: What I learned
Paragraph Three: How I could have made it better
Paragraph Four: What I think -
(did I like it? [why?]
(did I dislike it? [why?]
(how it could be made better
my chance to say what I think
Proper English Usage:
Grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling
Use Spell Check
Use Word Count
Use Print Preview Before Printing
What are the rules about food in the classroom?
Food and Drink in the Classroom:
Generally, it is not OK to have food and drink in the classroom. (this
includes things like gum, candy and suckers. We do not want drool on the
computer keyboards) This is a very unfortunate circumstance which can be
attributed to those few students who feel entitled to do as they please and
not consider others.
Each classroom operates differently, and the rules for food in our
classroom may not apply to others. Please do not assume otherwise or argue
with other teachers about it.
Chewing gum at any time is never acceptable, as per school rules. Repeated
violation of this rule may get you invited to join the Gum Patrol on Friday
after school, where we beautify the
campus by scraping gum from the pavement.
Using expendable materials:
Materials Usage and Conservation:
As you know, most students and their parents have contributed money for us to
create the projects we make in our Tech Lab. How we use what are called
expendable materials is important so that our materials will last out to the
end of the semester.
Waste in all forms is unwise, in that it is a useless use of whatever is
being used. Once used, it's gone for good, and cannot be easily replaced. We
will recycle and reuse as much as possible.
Before beginning any project, you will be required to have a plan to
demonstrate what you will do and how you will do it.
Many students are familiar with the term conservation, but unfamiliar with
the practical application of the concept behind the word. A few students have
been fortunate to grow up with a great deal of excess in their lives, but have
little or no understanding that something used and then thrown away is many
times not easily replaceable. To conserve despite all the excess around us
will allow for more freedom with the use of materials for all.
Education in America is by nature a wasteful enterprise, and we desire to
reduce the amount of waste in all areas, including the element of time. Avoid
wasting our time by drawing unseemly attention to yourself.
What is The Block?
The block is a device which has many purposes:
1) It is a reminder for those (even the instructor!) who forget to practice
the safety rules.
2) It is a place to work off excess energy
3) It can be a place somewhat like The Chair where you can focus your
attention when you are distracted, and remind yourself what you should be doing.
4) Anyone can assign another student (or the instructor!) to the block for cause.
5) Block sanding is usually limited to five minutes. (extraordinary
What to do while at the block:
A) Get a sanding block- a box of them are under The Block.
B) Sand the block vigorously.
C) Remember to sand the top or sides and not the corners or edges.
Having to sand the block is not a punishment. Being assigned to sand the
block is designed merely to remind you to follow the safety rules and practice
what you have learned so you will act safely around classroom machinery, as
well as to keep the classroom an orderly place which is focused on learning.
What is The Chair?
The Chair is very special. If you are having a hard day and need a place to
sit for a while and not be bothered, you may sit in The Chair. If you need a
break from school and from people, you may use it to give yourself a time-out.
So that everyone may benefit from The Chair, limit your sitting time to ten
While you are sitting in The Chair:
1) You may not be bothered by anyone.
2) You may turn the chair any direction you like as long as it does not
interfere with classroom operations.
3) You must not talk to or interfere with anyone while sitting.
4) You need not do any class work while sitting.
While sitting in The Chair, you must follow all instructions from the
instructor, and make up any work that you may have missed while sitting there.
All assignments will continue to be due on time and sitting in The Chair does
not make you exempt from finishing your assignments or other classroom work.
The Chair is a special privilege, and should be used on rare occasions: only
May I go in the storage room?
The storeroom and office are off limits at all times. In them are sometimes
expensive supplies or material and equipment which can be misused without
proper instruction or supervision. Some students will be given permission at
various times to obtain materials or projects from the office or storeroom.
If you have previously been granted permission to enter, do not assume it's
OK to do the same on future occasions. Always ask for permission. If you need
to use a pencil sharpener, use
the electric one in the classroom.
Where should I sit?
Seating and Seating Arrangements:
At the beginning of the school term or at odd times, a seating chart will be
used to take roll. After several weeks, you are usually allowed to sit where
you like unless your choice of desk and chair are a distraction to the
classroom learning environment. You will then be assigned another seat not of
your choosing. Students have been known to ask for second chances when
confronted with this situation. Do not expect second chances; you will usually
Remember that your choice of desk and seat is a privilege- making good
choices gives you more privileges and more freedom. Poor choices restrict your
Desks and Chairs:
The only reasons for having desks and chairs is to make the classroom an
orderly environment conducive to learning. We would not have them in the
classroom unless they were a
necessary requirement, because they are such a hassle.
Many days you will find the desks and chairs in a different order than the
previous day. Whatever. The reasons for a different arrangement of the desks
is to focus attention on what is to be learned that day, and you can usually
figure out what we will be doing by understanding how the desks and chairs are
If there is no chair under the desk where you usually sit, get one from the
back of the classroom instead of robbing your neighbor. Chair stealing may
earn you a visit to the block to
remember the proper procedure for using chairs, and to be polite.
Odd computer questions and answers:
General Computer Information:
Each computer is numbered, and you can locate the computer number by looking
for the Mac number of its hard disk in the upper right hand corner of the
finder. A few computers have more than one hard disk, and each additional disk
is labeled. As you know, these are all Apple computers, and if you have never
worked with them before, you will have to convince yourself not to be
frightened and that you won't die or shrivel up or something if you use them;
You won't get in trouble or anything despite what people on the internet might
Anything that can be done on a PC can be done better and easier on a Mac.
In the OS X system finder, click the "Go" menu and then "Connect To
Next, click on the "Browse" button and find the computer you want to
connect to. It will take a minute or so for the machine to assess the network
and bring up a list of available
machines. Follow the directions and share or save your work.
Anyone may use a laptop from the laptop cart, as long as you sign it
out on the clipboard. Use the safety guidelines you have learned in your other
classes for the care and safety of
laptops-- be sure they are being used on a stable table and not on you lap, etc.
These machines are OS X only, and are wireless, in that they will
print or connect to the internet on their own, but are not as reliable as the
desktop machines. If the weather is nice you may take it outside as long as
you get the instructor's permission and take a table and chair with you.
When you are finished with a laptop, be sure it is shut down (and not
asleep) and put it back in it's place and plug it in! It will then be ready
for you tomorrow.
Push the print button in your application (or Command+P) and wait until you
see the dialogue box appear- If you have forgotten what a dialogue box is, go
to your portfolio and look
at your notes.
Check to see that the appropriate printer appears in the printer dialogue
window. If you select the wrong printer, your document may print in Outer
Zimbabwe and you will never see your document this side of ninth grade. I
don't think FedX has an office in Outer Zimbabwe.
Other printers are connected to different machines/networks and not for
common use. If you want to use one, get instructions from the instructor.
Stop and think.
Did you choose the correct printer? (go look at the print dialogue box again)
Is the printer turned on? A message on your screen saying the printer cant be
found usually means it is not turned on. Find the switch and turn it on.
Cant find the power switch? Think for a second or two and look harder.
Is there a stop sign or yield sign on the printer icon? If so, open the
printer and follow directions.
Do not run setup. You will dig yourself into a deeper hole and your work will
never again see the light of day.
Printing is not immediate the way you might be used to at home. This is a big
system and the information bounces around for awhile until it finds the
correct place to come out. Be patient
and learn the nuances of what you see on the monitor. (the word nuance can be
found in the dictionary)
Differences between Seventh and Eighth Grade STEM Education:
Seventh Grade Tech, (or STEM) is based on completing a specified number
of projects in order to obtain your grade. Following directions in a workbook
and using a worksheet will help you complete your projects successfully and
earn a good grade. Projects will be done consecutively and the instructor will
assign a new project once the former project has been successfully completed.
Do not move on to a new project unless directed by the instructor.
Eighth Grade Tech. grades are determined by a points system, and
project information will be found on other pages of this website. Use this
site to obtain directions and instructions in order to complete the project
you choose or have been assigned to do. Projects will need to be done
concurrently, since several require wait time- for instance, waiting for glue
to dry, or for launch day to occur, etc.
Make use of your time wisely and keep yourself occupied and moving forward
with your work.
Begin a new project only with the consent of the instructor, so that he can
keep track of your progress and give you good coaching and advice.
Who's in charge:
Parents. The teacher is not the primary educator of the student- the parent
is. The instructor's function is to instruct students in specific topics and
methods, but it's the parent who teaches
values, morality, acceptable behaviors, and the norms of society. Once the
student reaches school age leaving these things untaught, the teacher has
little recourse but to react with more time and effort expended with untaught
students; the others must endure as best they can with as much patience as
possible. Parents are in charge whether you like it or not, and what the
parent has done or left undone will affect the student far more than anything the
teachers says or does.