Friday, October 26, 2012


Here are the latest set of notes for Mr. Hatfield's Biology classes.   This is something students should complete right away, in order to be able to start their Cell Travel Brochure Project!

Here's the link you need to download this Power Point, to use to complete your notes or the Lecture Guide based upon it.

Monday, October 22, 2012


EXTINCTION Monday and Tuesday's classes featured excerpts from 'Extinction!', which is Episode 3 from NOVA's 'Evolution' series (2001). The video begins with paleontologist Peter Ward hunting for Permian fossils in South Africa's Karoo Desert, and relates ecological pyramids (which are like a 'house of cards') to mass extinctions, which are believed to be rare but important events in the history of life. It then follows the work of American Museum of Natural History researcher Michael Novacek in building the fossil record of small, shrew-like mammals from the Mesozoic, representative of the lineage that will survive the next mass extinction (the K/T event), which will claim the dinosaurs.

It concludes with an examination of the role of human activity in accelerating the rate of extinction, with important attention to conservationists like Alan Rabinowitz.

Students have been given a worksheet based upon this video as homework, which is due on Monday. I encourage students to watch the video in its entirety for themselves if there are points that they don't get in class. We simply do not have enough class time to review this, but I know many students will want to see the whole story again, either by going to Google Video or watching it here:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


These notes were given to students on October 12th and 15th. The Power Point on "Diversity and Classification" can be uploaded here. The Lecture Guide based on the Power Point can be found as a PDF file here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Yes, it's true.....from time to time, I assign forms of detention to my students, usually for gross academic negligence rather than misconduct.   

I usually start by assigning detention at lunch ("Study Hall"), and I expect my students will arrive within ten minutes of the lunch bell to serve it, with or without lunch.   I allow students to eat in my room during lunch, and I also provide them something to do that gives them an opportunity to raise their grade, which is typically disastrous by the time I assign Study Hall.
Now, students can decide for themselves whether this is a punishment or an opportunity, and their attitude about Study Hall will no doubt have an effect on whether or not this intervention will prove helpful.   Frankly,  as a personal matter I'm more interested in their choices than their feelings.   If they feel motivated by having the opportunity to raise their grade, and they make the choice to take their work seriously and complete it, that's great.

On the other hand, if the student simply thinks they are being punished, and their only motivation is to do whatever they are supposed to do to avoid future punishment of the same sort, they probably won't get as much out of it as the student who treats it like an opportunity.   But, in the end, the outcome is likely to be the same:   that is, they make the choice to take their work seriously and complete it, and get an opportunity to raise their grade.  

My philosophy on how I respond to students not doing the things they should has been shaped by experiences listening to other teachers and administrators.   I have often heard exasperated colleagues talk as if they are drawing a line in the sand, about what they are willing to do with a particularly difficult student who has already exhausted the usual remedies.  The comment usually goes something like this: "The student has the right to fail." 

That's absolutely true.   Teachers have to admit that the student has the right to fail,  and that no teacher can force a student to care about their grade or their future.   We can't really force students to do the work needed to pass their classes.  They can choose to fail, if they like. However, that is really not the issue.   What matters to me is this: as their teacher, I not only have the right, but I have the moral obligation to make the choice as difficult as I can.

So, let's suppose that the student doesn't attend Study Hall as I direct, and their parent or guardian won't excuse that absence.   In that case, the student is defiant.   I'll assign the student after-school detention, which is strictly punishment, and that will bring the matter to administration's attention.  And then I'll call the home, and give the parent an earful.   And then I'll (firmly) assign Study Hall again.   At this point, the student will usually attend.   Those who make a different choice typically don't last much longer with me, or with the public schools.

Now, it would be a mistake to think this always achieves the desired goal, or that I don't have other strategies to motivate students.   I do, and after nearly fifteen years of teaching, I know what will work for me and what won't work.   Some kids are going to need more motivation than an occasional Study Hall.   For those kids, I will offer Saturday School.   This is another opportunity, only longer and more grating on the student's sense of their freedom.   Unlike Study Hall at lunch, which I assign as I see fit, I will enlist the parent's support before I assign it, and will expect students to complete a permission slip to receive the opportunity.   Most parents, as it turns out, will support this intervention if given sufficient advance warning.

Students and parents: as you might guess, I'm posting this on the blog because I'm getting ready to start intervening for students whose grades are very low, and who are not completing most of their work, as they should.   I hope that by clearly stating up-front what strategies I use that students who are assigned Study Hall will realize they are getting an opportunity, and take advantage of it.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Here is the Power Point on 'The Chemistry of Life.'    This is the last section of notes for Unit 2.   Our after-school Study Session to prepare for Wednesday's Unit 2 Test will begin at 4:00 in Room N-63 on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 9th.  

To help students compare their notes and insure their Cornell-style composition books are completed and perfected, students received a Lecture Guide based on this Power Point in Friday's class.


Attention all Environmental Science students!   Your next exam is on Tuesday, Oct. 9th.   

This is an important opportunity for you to "reset" your approach to the course, and thus your grade.

This exam focuses heavily on reviewing basic principles in physics and chemistry that are essential to this course.   As such, most of the concepts and vocabulary will come from your notes, rather than the textbook.  That means it is more important than ever to have your notes completed and perfected, Cornell Note-taking style.

Students are reminded Mr. Hatfield's tests  not only assess your content knowledge, but your organization, preparation and effort.  Mr. Hatfield has previously shared with his students what choices they should make in order to be able to demonstrate these items.

As a further incentive, Mr. Hatfield makes the following offer:  if a student's score on the second unit test is a higher percentage than the first, he will raise the first test score to match the second test.   Yes:  it is possible to turn an 'F' into an 'A'.

To assist students in preparing for the second unit test, Mr. Hatfield has prepared a Study Guide.   This will be given in class.   A copy of the Study Guide in a PDF file is available here.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


For all of Mr. Hatfield's students, because ALL students need to know about the properties of water:  cohesion, adhesion, polarity! 


Here is the link to the Power Point on properties of water: acids, bases and the pH scale.