Posted in Class Life

What Grade Will You Receive?

Grade Distribution

Collaboration-tutorials 40%

Technique-binder checks, Cornell Notes, learning logs, etc. 30%

Participation-Grade checks, presentations, etc. 30%

Types of Assignments
Below are listed the types of assignments I give and how many points they are worth.  When making up missing assignments a student would be wise to make-up the assignments worth the most points first.

Tutorials – 25 points
Essays – 20 points
Projects – 20 points
Binder Checks/Pioneer Passport Checks – 10 points
Cornell Notes- 5 points
Learning Logs- 5 points
Grade Checks-5 points

Grading Scale
A = Outstanding Level of Performance (90-100%)

  • Indicates that the pupil has done excellent work and has mastered the course and/or assignment objectives, consistently does excellent work with skill and thoroughness; and consistently has applied knowledge gained to new situations.

B = High Level of Performance (80-89%)

  • Indicates that the pupil has done above average work, mastered almost all of the course and/or assignment objectives; and has applied knowledge gained to new situations.

C = Satisfactory Level of Performance (70-79%)

  • Indicates that the pupil has done average work and has mastered many of the objectives of the course and/or assignment.

D = Needs Improvement in Performance (60-69%)

  • Indicates that the pupil has done below average work and has mastered few of the objectives of the course and/or assignment.

F = Unsatisfactory Level of Performance (59% and below)

  • Indicates that the pupil’s work fell below a level of acceptance for the course and/or assignment and was unsatisfactory.
Posted in Class Life

How To Do Well In School

There are many different ways to do well in school.  Here are a few suggestions.

    1. Before the School Year/Semester/Trimester Starts Create Goals.  Ask yourself what types of grades you want and be clear on what you are willing to do to get them.  Be realistic.  If you say to yourself you want A’s but you are not willing to do homework than you must understand that you will not receive A’s.  Other goals you may want to set are Better citizenship grades, Student of the Month, Scholarship, and/or CJSF.
    2. Use You Pioneer Passport.  Not only should you write your homework in your Pioneer Passport you should also include tests and projects.  It is also a good idea to add extra events like play practice, club events, field trips, and sports practice so that you can manage your time better.  It is possible to do homework before it is due especially when you have practice and will be unable to complete it the night before it is due.
    3. Create Habits.  Do your homework in the same place at the same time every day.  Study your worst subject 5 minutes every day once you complete your homework.  Clean your binder out once a week on the same day.  Hole punch your papers and file them as soon as you get them.  Create good habits and practice them every single day.
    4. Do Every Single Assignment.  Grades are about the accumulation of points.  Be sure to do every assignment so that you can get the most points possible.  It is never okay not to do an assignment even the extra-credit.
    5. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Do you Work.  Be sure to do work as soon as you get it.  Waiting until the last minute makes turning in assignments more difficult.
    6. Find a Study Buddy.  Be sure to write the names and phone numbers of at least two people in each of your classes.  If you are absent, get confused, need to talk about class assignments, or recopy notes you can ask your study buddy.  It is okay to pick your friends but be sure they are people you can rely on.
    7. Take Advantage of Sussman.  There are many opportunities at Sussman for students who need extra help.  After-Math is offered Mondays, Tuesday, and Thursdays.  Many teachers open their classrooms before-school, after-school and at lunch.  Mrs. Espeseth is in her room almost every day before school starting at 7:00 am, lunch, and after-school until at least 3:00 pm.  And Saturday School is always a great option to get extra help.

Can you think of other suggestions?  Write them in the comment section.


Posted in Awesome Articles, Class Life, Getting to College, Help Yourself

Getting Ready to Take the SAT

Khan Academy has one mission–To provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.

The newest way Khan Academy is trying to help others is with a free SAT prep.

The SAT is a test that 11th and 12th graders take.  The results of that test are used by colleges to gauge how well a student will do in college.  Some colleges require a certain score on the SAT to be accepted to that school.

8th-grade AVID students are incredibly lucky, they get to take a practice version, called the PSAT, this April.  Khan Academy has teamed up with the company that gives the practice version of the SAT to help students practice for the real test.

By creating a partnership with the College Board, Khan Academy can get access to students’ PSAT test scores to help create a learning program exclusively for the student and it is all free.  If students take advantage of lessons it is possible to raise SAT scores.  Those raised SAT scores may help students get into college.

Kahn Academy hopes that this program will make getting into college more fair for everyone.  Click here to start your SAT practice lessons.

Posted in Class Assignment, Class Life, Help Yourself

Why High School Summer Assignments?

If your child decided to take Honor’s classes at Downey High School, he/she will be subjected to the dreaded summer project.

Every year students complain to me that they are required to read two books for their Honor’s 9th Grade English class.  They always ask me why.  Here is what I tell them.


  1. Over the summer, it has been proven that students lose reading skills they have worked so hard during the school year to attain.  As students continue into High School, it is even more important than reading skills continue to be learned and used to prepare them for college.
  2. Many Honor’s courses move at a much quicker pace.  Time, during the summer, is needed to help ensure that all coursework get completed by the end of the school year.
  3. Whatever assignment a student is completing is probably the type of assignments a student will see for the rest of the school year.  Practicing and perfecting the assignment is a good way to gear up for the new school year.
  4. As I mentioned above, high school Honor’s classes are much more rigorous than middle school classes.  I think summer assignments help students understand the harder workload and get them used to the demanding work.

Whatever the reason, don’t wait until the last minute to complete the assignment(s)!  Have any questions about the assignment?  Be sure to email your new teacher or the teacher who gave the assignment as soon as possible.  Teachers go on vacation too!  Still need help? Email me at the address to the right.


Posted in Class Life

Leadership Opportunities in AVID

_20171014_132649AVID 8 has been incredibly busy this year with leadership!  As one AVID student said we seem to have a focus every year.  In 7th grade, that focus was computers and coding this year’s focus was leadership.  AVID 8 had many leadership opportunities. Keep reading to find out what we did.

Every month Sussman Middle School had a school-wide binder and Pioneer Passport check.  Teachers would ask students to show them an organized binder and a Pioneer Passport which is Sussman’s name for an agenda completely filled out for the week.  AVID 8 students helped teachers check students binders and passports and collected data for the AVID program.  Some students were even allowed to run the entire check themselves.  Students really liked the opportunity to help teachers out and be in charge.  In addition, AVID students went on the school’s morning news to announce when the next check would be and to show examples of organized binders and Pioneer Passports.

AVID 8 students became quite proficient at using two self-grading programs called Grade Proof and Grammarly.  AVID 8 students were instrumental in not only teaching the Social Studies teachers on how to use the programs but also helping 6th and 7th-grade students use the programs to correct their DBQ essays on Google Docs.

Sussman Middle School recently created a newsletter.  Two students from AVID helped Mrs. Espeseth write an article about AVID that was placed in the Monthly school newsletter.

AVID 8 also helped with AVID Recruitment this year.  A number of AVID students spoke throughout the year to the 6th-grade exploratory classes to encourage students to join AVID when they reached 7th and 8th grade.

AVID 8 students were asked to show all 6th and 7th-graders how to look up their grades using Student Connect.  Then AVID 8 students helped students create goals at the 6-week mark before the end of the first semester and second semester.  

Both AVID 7 and AVID 8 made Christmas themed placemats for the Meals on Wheels program.  

AVID 8 students wanted to participate at Sussman Middle Schools first official Family Fun Night.  AVID 8 students, with some help from Mrs. Espeseth, decided what their booth would be, helped plan booth set up and take down, and who would work the booth.  Students decided to have a Cake booth.  Proceeds from the booth paid for the End of the Year Party and an after the event party.DSC_0513

AVID 8 students assisted parents who needed help fill-out the Parent LCAP survey at Open House and talked to parents about the AVID program.

After school tutoring was made available at Sussman Middle School.  AVID 8 students offered to tutor any students who needed help on Thursdays for most of the school year.