MHS Chemistry
Room Management Plan 2007-08
Mr. Zahm

Mission Statement
Rules & Expectations
Procedures & Grading
Cheating Policy
Classroom & Lab Conduct
Study Hints, Resource, and ESL
Grade Span Expectations
Computers and the Internet
Final Note

Chemistry in Middletown is taught using the American Chemical Society's program "Chemistry In The Community" and other sources. Chemical concepts and scientific habits of thinking are learned through inquiry in real-world scenarios. Basic concepts of chemistry are developed through a combination of lab work, individual guided reading, home study, and class discussion. Emphasis is on critical thinking, problem solving, and chemical concepts, rather than memorization.

This course is a foundation for further study of chemistry and the physical sciences. Successful completion will benefit students wishing to continue studying the sciences. It is recommended that all students complete this course successfully before signing up for advanced science classes at MHS.

ALL sciences use mathematics to some degree. It is expected that you are fluent in basic mathematics operations, including ratios, percents, fractions, and scientific notation.

A Middletown High School graduate will effectively utilize literacy skills; reading analysis and interpretation, writing, listening, and speaking.
A Middletown High School graduate will acquire, analyze, and evaluate information and ideas to effectively solve problems.
A Middletown High School graduate will demonstrate technological literacy.
A Middletown High School graduate will demonstrate a critical understanding of aesthetics.
A Middletown High School graduate will be able to identify behaviors that are physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.
A Middletown High School graduate will identify the responsibilities of each citizen to local, national, and global communities.
A Middletown High School graduate will demonstrate a personal sense of ethics that will include honesty, integrity, and self-control.
A Middletown High School graduate will demonstrate responsibility for his or her own actions, behaviors, and academic success.
A Middletown High School graduate will work cooperatively to achieve group goals and resolve issues.
Assignments in this course will address Academic-1 and 2, Civic-2, and Social-1 on a regular basis. Other goals will be pointed out when they are relevant.

During the upcoming school year you will be learning the basic concepts of the subject of chemistry. You will be expected to complete all assignments in a timely manner, and to participate actively in class from day to day. Behavior that interferes with any student's learning will not be allowed. My job will to be to guide you through your discovery of this subject. Behavior that interferes with or distracts from any student's learning will not be allowed.

You are expected to be in your seat and ready for class when the period begins. Bring your pencil and a calculator to class every day. If you are late for class without a pass, an X-period will be assigned for the next school day. Do not come to class and ask to leave for any reason; if you are going be late for a legitimate reason you will be able to get a pass. If you are late for a first period class, you must sign in at the main office.

Visible or audible CELL PHONES will be confiscated and turned over to a dean.

Bring your pencil and calculator every day. Calculators are strongly recommended but will not be provided (cell phones may not be used as calculators under any circumstances).

Each student should keep a “Bound Lab Notebook” (see example). This notebook should be kept in class at all times, and may be used during a variety of assignments, possibly including tests. Any class-work and ALL lab-work should be kept in this book, neatly and in order. Any additional material stapled or taped or otherwise added to the book must be removed or the book will not qualify for in-class reference. You will be provided a space to keep this book, so you never have to lose it or forget it. You may not use anyone else’s book during tests.

This course will consist of a series of units. Your term grade will be the average of the grades of completed units from that term. Each unit will consist of a series of graded assignments, which will be worth a pre-determined number of points. Each unit grade will be the percentage of possible points earned. The term grade will be the average of (completed) unit grades from that term. Anyone failing a unit may raise the unit grade to a 65% by passing an alternative assessment given during class.

Your Credit Mark will be the average of four terms (20% each) and your midterm and final exams (10% each).

Quizzes will usually be “pop” quizzes. If you miss one for any reason, you must take it immediately upon your return to class. Labs will be collected anytime on their due date. If you are absent, they are due immediately upon return to class. Late labs will be penalized up to a pre-determined “expiration date,” after which they will be returned un-checked.

Missed labs may be made up after school if there is supervision in room 204. It is your responsibility to arrange for a student that has done the lab (your partner?) to work through it with you. The equipment to carry out the lab will only be available for a week or so after the class uses it, after which the lab "expires" - so make things up promptly! The first lab we write up will be done together and you will be able to revise one time after I grade it; all further labs must be revised before passing them in to me. Don't worry, though: if you pass all your work in on time, you will have almost nothing to worry about. Also, you (and all of your chemistry friends) will have plenty of references to help you. Get their phone numbers!

During the course of the year, each student in chemistry at MHS will take three Portfolio Tasks as part of the class. This year, two of them will be provided by the RI Skills Commission, and one has been written here at MHS. The dates of these tasks will be announced, but they are not optional. Stay tuned!

Beginning in the fall Spring of 2008, Juniors in Rhode Island high schools will be taking state science tests similar to the ones in place in Math and English Language Arts.  Below are the Grade Span Expectations (GSEs) that will be addressed in the introductory chemistry class.  These GSEs replace the NCEE Science Standards as the basis of the MHS Science curriculum.

Physical Science 1 Students demonstrate an understanding of the structure of matter by…  
1.1.a utililizing appropriate data (related to chemical and physical properties), to distinguish one substance from another or identify an unknown substance  
1.1.b determine the degree of change in pressure of a given volume of gas when the temperature changes incrementally (doubles, triples, etc)  
1.2.a using given data (diagrams, charts, narratives, etc) and advances in technology to explain how the understanding of atomic structure has changed over time.  
1.3.a identifying and explaining the basis for the arrangement of elements within the periodic table (e.g. trends, valence electrons, reactivity, electronegativity, ionization)  
1.3.b predicting the relative physical and chemical properties of an element based on its location within the periodic table.
1.4.a comparing the three subatomic particles of atoms (protons, electrons, neutrons) and their location with an atom, their relative mass, and their charge.  
1.4.b writing formulae for compounds and developing basic (excluding transition elements) models using electron structure.
1.4.c explaining or modeling how the electron configuration of atoms governs how atoms interact with one another (e.g. covalent, hydrogen, and ionic bonding).
Physical Science 2 Students demonstrate an understanding of energy by…  
2.5.a describing or diagramming the changes in energy (transformation) that occur in different systems (e.g. chemical = exo- and endo- thermic reactions, biological = food webs, physical = phase changes)
2.5.b explaining the Law of Conservation of Energy as it relates to the efficiency (loss of heat) of a system.  
Physical Science 2 Students demonstrate an understanding of physical, chemical, and nuclear changes by…  
2.6.a writing simple balanced chemical equations to represent chemical reactions and illustrate the conservation of mass.
2.6.b identifying whether a given chemical reaction or a biological process will release or consume energy (endotheric or exothermic) based on the information provided (e.g. given a table of energy values for reactants and products or an energy diagram)
2.6.c explaining and/or modeling how the nuclear make-up of atoms governs alpha and beta emissions creating changes in the nucleus of an atom results in the formation of new elements
2.6.d explaining the concept of half-life and using the half-life principal to predict the approximate age of a material.
2.6.e differentiating between fission and fusion in a nuclear reactions and their relation to element changes and energy formation.  

If you pass all your work in on time, you will have almost nothing to worry about. I have never seen a student with no zeroes fail. Think about it!

Your term grade will be the average of tests, assessments, labs, quizzes, and other assignments. “Other assignments” may include a daily readiness grade. Missing work will be entered as a zero. Your Credit Mark will be the average of four terms (20% each) and your midterm and final exams (10% each).

I will not be available for make-up work or extra help during advisory periods. This period is scheduled as the AP Chemistry Lab.

CHEATING will not be tolerated. This includes (but is not limited to) giving or receiving answers or work on a test or quiz, removing tests or answers from the testing room, plagiarism, any use of a cell phone or other communication or recording device during the test, and unreported knowledge of these activities. Working together does not mean “copying.” Remember that plagiarism involves presenting any work that is not your own without proper credit to the true author. The penalty for cheating will be a grade of zero on the work in question, and forfeiture of make-up privileges for that work. Also, parents, deans, and the National Honor Society may be notified, and letters of recommendation may be rescinded. Check the student handbook for the school's cheating policy.

A chemistry lab is a potentially dangerous place to be, and must be treated with respect. With that in mind, all movement should be at walking speed, and conversation should be at normal volume. There will be no eating or drinking in class. Safety procedures for each lab must be followed. Open-toed shoes, and shorts will not be allowed for some labs.

There is SAFETY EQUIPMENT around the room - fire extinguisher, eyewash, acid shower, fire blankets, etc. Misuse of any of this equipment will immediately result in an X-period, and referral to a dean. Students violating safety procedures or direct instructions from the teacher will be required to sit out the remainder of the lab period and must complete the lab outside of class, at a time agreeable to their partner and the teacher.

Glassware, other lab equipment, and anything on the front or side benches should be treated as someone else's property - ask permission before touching. If you are ever unsure about these rules, ask me!

In the event of fire or fire drill, we will evacuate the room according to instructions reviewed in class. It is expected and required that we stay together as a class during such drills.

I also maintain a web page (of which this sheet is part) for my chemistry classes containing copies of most labs and worksheets we will use in class.  It will also contain class/chapter notes.  I will update this page approximately once a week, so there will not be daily assignments or due dates listed.  In addition to this page, I also maintain the AP Chemistry page and the MHS Drama club page.  The addresses are:  

AP Chemistry
Drama Club

Many teachers at MHS use on-line services such as or to post announcements, assignments, and due dates.  Please take note that I do not intend to use any of these sites for class updates.  It is your responsibility to keep track of assignments and due dates in class.  If you are absent from school, contact your lab partner or another friend from class, or the guidance department (846-7250) or e-mail me.  Please see me in person if you need to make other arrangements.

As far as computer access, you can use the computers in the library after school, or the computer at home. I don’t require anything to be word-processed, and you can research any topic we need just as well in the printed references I have as you can on the internet.

Students with IEPs, 504s resource teachers, or ESL support will occaisionally wish to request extra time or help in a variety of ways. Please communicate with me before or after school if you would like to set some of this up.

I have prepared a list of some very relevant topics that may come up in the first few days, and here and there during the school year. They may not seem so important now, but keep an eye out for them

  1. Arithmetic and the sausage factory.
  2. Knowing how vs. Knowing that.
  3. Grammar police.
  4. Analogies, images, and reality.
  5. Precision vs Accuracy.
  6. My responsibilities.
  7. Rights vs. Responsibilities.
  8. The STATE Science Test.
  9. Grade Span Expectations (GSE’s)
  10. “I don’t know.”
  11. Is this a democracy?
  12. Why do you come to school?
  13. Calculators.
  14. Lab rubrics.
  15. Hyphens.
  16. Repeating myself.
  17. When are you an adult?
  18. Downloading, uploading, and the interbrain.
  19. School rules.
  20. Chemistry Nicknames.
  21. Mr. Popper's Penguins.
  22. Rotator cuffs.

Have a safe and productive year!

[MHS Chem page]