September 3, 1998

Dear Parent(s) / Guardian(s),

As your child's science teacher, I would like to introduce myself and explain what we will be doing in science this year and, in particular, how my class works. My name is Lara Sargent, and I am the Science Department Coordinator at the Junior High. I teach 5 classes of science, and I have approximately 120 students. Therefore, sometimes it is difficult to meet the families of all my students. I am located in Room #13 and invite you to stop by anytime, whether it is to meet me, talk about your child's progress, volunteer, or just out of curiosity.

Over the course of this year, we will study ecology, cell biology, systems of the body, classification, and physics. At some point this year, we will study the reproductive system, which will cover anatomy, puberty, fertilization, development of the fetus, and birth. If you object to your child's studying this material, please let me know so that he or she may be assigned to another classroom or the library to do a research project during this time.

It is important for you to understand how my class works so that you can monitor your child's progress. When designing my teaching program I decided to build in a way for students AND parents to keep track of progress. This is extremely important so that any problems can be caught and solved early rather than when it is too late. I would appreciate your help with this so that together we can insure a successful year in science for your child.

The program I have designed allows students to choose the way they learn and take responsibility for getting the grade they want. In the units we study, there are required activities as well as various options. Since we all learn differently (visually, reading, listening, teaching others, etc.) I give students some choices about ways to learn and process the information. The criteria for getting an "A" are very clear, and any student is capable of this if he or she is willing to work for it. For every unit, all students have a "Performance Monitor," which is a sheet that they use to keep track of their own grade. At any time, you can check this to see how your child is doing on the current unit. Students are also given an "Activities List," which is a list of various options they can choose to reach a common goal. For example, if I want them to learn the structure of the digestive system, they can choose to draw and label it, write about it, teach another student about it, make a 3-D model, etc. I provide them with many options so that they can choose the activity that they will learn the most from. Each activity has a point value, so that as the students complete each activity, they record it on their Performance Monitors and can see their current unit grade. I may not assign a lot of homework; but it is clear to the students that, if they want a good grade, they will need to do homework. My intent is to promote responsibility to help prepare students for high school. Their final grades are determined by averaging the unit grades together.

This teaching program has proved to be very successful. In fact, I am in the process of getting it published for other teachers around the country. If you would like to check out the web site on the internet, it would help you understand better how this program works. The web site address is:

Explaining this may sound a bit confusing on paper. The best way to understand it is to have your child show you how it works or look up the web site on the internet. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 324-3114. You may need to leave a message, but I will return your call as soon as possible. Feel free to send me an email at:

Please sign and return this form so that I know you are aware of how this class works. Thank you, and I look forward to meeting you.

Lara Sargent

Parent / Guardian signature: _________________________________________

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