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Biology Syllabus

Honors and General Biology Course Syllabus 2016-2017

Demopolis High School

Course Description:

Biology and the History of Life is a redesigned course that will take us from the
beginnings of the universe, our solar system and planet, to the formation of the
smallest building blocks of life, through biological evolution and biological classification.
Topics to be covered include: The Scientific Method, Ecology, Cells, Genetics and
Heredity, Evolution, Biological Classification, and Animal Behavior.

General Information:

Name: Mr. Robert McVay Room R11

School Phone: (256)-701-7152 Email

Email is the best method of contact and responses will be sent in a timely manner. I
will also email approximately every 2 weeks to update parents/students on important
dates that are approaching in biology class.

From January - May, I am available for assistance BEFORE SCHOOL

ONLY. (Football Coach)

Textbook: Miller and Levine published by Pearson; 2010

All students will have the three options for obtaining a text book for the year.

1. Students can purchase the book through iBooks ($14.99) for an iPad

2. Students can access the pdfs of the text book on my website (listed at the
beginning of the syllabus)

3. Students can check out a text book

Here are a few rules regarding our textbooks. The books were brand new five years
ago and many of them are already showing signs of neglect.

Students are required to cover their books.

Students are required to bring their books to class each day and take them
each day. If accommodations need to be made to leave a book in the room,
please talk to me.

If a student forgets his or her textbook, he or she will not be allowed to borrow a
book from the classroom.

When I check-in books at the end of the year, its not uncommon for me to assign fines
in the range of $20 or in severe cases, require students to purchase a new book ($95)
for the school. To protect your book and protect yourself, COVER YOUR BOOK!

Suggested Materials (you should be prepared to come to class each day):

Paper, pencils and a good eraser, book

Choose the materials that will make you the most successful. If you need help, please
let me know, I'd be glad to share what has worked for others in the past.

2016-2017 Class Schedule:

Period 1 Biology Period 5 Biology w/Watson

Period 2 Honors Biology Period 6 Honors Biology

Period 3 PLAN Period 7 Department Head Plan

Period 4 Honors Biology

Grades and Grading:

The Demopolis City School System adopted a weighted grade policy beginning with
the 2011-2012 school year. Under the new policy, a minimum of 70% of the grade will
come from exams and tests, and 30% of the grade will come from homework,
assignments, and reports.

General Biology will have the 70/30 ratio

Honors Biology will have an 80/20 ratio

Here is an example of how the grading system works. Let's say a student earns
400/500 points on all of the tests during the semester, and earns 300/500 points on the


First take 400/500 and multiply by 0.70 to give you 0.56. Then take 300/500 and
multiply by 0.30 to give you 0.18. Add 0.56 and 0.18 for a grade total of 0.74 or 74%.


First take 400/500 and multiply by 0.80 to give you 0.64. Then take 300/500 and
multiply by 0.20 to give you 0.12. Add 0.64 and 0.12 for a grade total of 0.76 or 76%.

With this new grading policy it is evident that your successes or failings in Biology will
depend on how well you prepare for the quizzes, tests, and exams. At the same time,
it is not possible to completely ignore the assignments/homework and achieve an "A"
or "B". The grading scale for biology will be the same as the one found in the student

Guidelines for Success:

Guideline #1: Own your education.

o Examples include: Be in your seat and working on the assigned

task when the tardy bell rings. Bring all of your materials to class and
take them with you when you leave.

Guideline #2: Respect.

o Examples include: Ask for points of clarification after I have

finished giving my directions. Treat each person in this room with
respect and dignity. This includes the property of each person and
of the school. As a rule, students will not be allowed to use their
phonesfor any reasonunless I have given them permission. If
students are caught using their cell phone at an undesignated
time, I will hold it until the end of class. Repeat offenders will
have parents contacted and the phone turned into the office.

Guideline #3: Safety.

o Examples include: Listen to and follow directions the first time

they are given. Being careful in the lab. Following the guidelines on
the safety sheet.

Class Attendance:

Expect every minute of class time to be utilized. It will be much more difficult for you to
learn if you are not in class each day. Each time you miss class for any reason, IT IS
YOUR RESPONSIBIILTY to find out what you missed and what can be done to make it

In order to assist you in case of an absence, I have created my own webpage to keep
you updated and on pace. That website
is After an absence it is your
responsibility to look at the page and see what was missed. Additionally, you should
also talk to a friend. If you have further questions or concerns about what was missed,
then you may talk to me at a time when I am not working with the class or with another
student. You are not allowed to ask me what you missed during the 5-minute passing
period, nor are you allowed to ask me at the beginning of class. The ideal time to catch
up and ask me questions is before the 7:45 bell. Tardy and truancy policies are per
building policy.

Online Homework

On my website (listed above), you will find online homework. This homework consists
of a 10-20 minute video and 10-20 questions regarding the video. Video homework is
a formative grade, however, these are used in lieu of teacher-centered power point
notes. This allows for more student-centered, hands-on activities in class. The online
homework will be worth 50-100 points. The students typically have a week to complete
the assignment (all online). After the due date, the multiple choice option is
removed. Students who fail to complete the assignment earn a 1/50.


Assessments will be given approximately every other week and will have point
values ranging from 50-250 points (depending on if it is a quiz vs. a test).

At no point will I give you an unannounced pop quiz.

Almost all of your quizzes and tests will be given on Thursdays. Plan

You will have the opportunity to RETAKE quizzes and receive up to full credit.
Your retake grade IS YOUR GRADE. There is no average of the two. This
applies to first semester ONLY.

o To retake a quiz or test, you must complete the retake assignment. Only
then will you be allowed to retake the assessment. Retake assignments
and retakes must be done by the following Wednesday.

There will be review sheets available for all quizzes and tests. It is the
students responsibility to complete them. Answer keys are provided on
my website 1-2 days prior to the assessment to allow the student to
check his/her work (copying answers is considered plagiarismsee
school handbook). Questions on the review sheet WILL NOT be the
same questions that the student will see on the assessment.

Practice assessments will occasionally be provided on my website. It is

highly encouraged that students take advantage of practice
assessmentsthey will give you an idea of how questions are
worded. Questions on practice quizzes WILL NOT be the same as on
the actual assessment.

Late work policy:

If a student turns in late work they will be deducted 25% from their score for each day it
is late.

Honors Course vs. General Course

The material covered in the honors course and general course will be approximately
the same. However, the depth at which we cover the material will be much more
involved and in much more detail in the honors section.

A previous example of an additional component of the honors course is a quarterly

article reviews of current events found in appropriate science periodicals (National
Geographic, Scientific American, Discovery). This is just one type of example of how
the honors course expects students to work outside the classroom on content-based

My expectations of you:
My teaching philosophy is guided by a fairly simple principle: Those who do the
doing do the learning. What does that mean? It is my every intention to make you
active participants in this class and organize it so you are the ones who are doing the
doing. If you are satisfied with sitting in your chair and having me feed you the right
information, then this will not be the class for you. If, however, you are genuinely
interested in discovering what Biology iswith a little guidance and assistance from me
then we should have a great year together!