A Guide for Students in Mr. Damon's Classes

or "How to Get Good Grades With Mr. Damon"


There is no secret to being good at something. Ask any successful athlete, musician, or business person how they got to be so good, they will all say the same things: by hard work, self discipline, and by making sacrifices.

Being a good student means the same thing. Both in class and outside of class I expect you to work hard (that is to say to the best of your ability), to exercise self discipline (to be in control of what you do and what you say) and to make some sacrifices (you may be asked to work with someone in class who is not your best friend, for example.)

What do I expect of you and what can you expect of me?

Contents of this page:

  • Behavior - how to act in class.
  • Preparedness - what to bring and what not to bring to class.
  • Work - what is acceptable and what is not.
  • Quizzes - how to prepare for surprise quizzes. 
  • Spelling - when it counts and for how much.
  • Late Work - conditions and penalties.
  • Absence - how to make up the work missed.
  • Internet - how we will use it. 

Behavior - Since we work in science laboratories, safety is the most important factor in a classroom. Your behavior must be calm and controlled at all times. Running, pushing, throwing objects, squirting water or playing with the gas taps, for example, will not be tolerated. If you wish to speak in class, please raise your hand. You should treat your classmates and their belongings with respect. Calling people names or making fun of the way they dress, talk, or act are things I do not tolerate in my class. If you are well prepared for class, you should not have to borrow pens, paper, or anything else in class. If you must borrow something, ask discretely and politely. Do not simply take things without asking.  In addition, you should treat the laboratories with respect. The sinks are not trash cans, the tables are not to be written on, the stools not to be carved up.  

A final note about how to act in class: one of the objectives of having lessons in English is so that you can practice speaking it.  I expect to hear you speak English not just with me but with your classmates when you are working together in class.  

Preparedness - In order to be ready to work in the laboratory, you must have a certain number of things with you each lesson: 

  • a lab coat
  • the science book (in 6 every week, in 4, 3, and 2 only on the weeks I ask you to bring it in)
  • blank lined paper to take notes or to write the answers to surprise quizzes
  • a pen, a pencil and a ruler
  • a calculator is not necessary every lesson, but it is a good idea to have one (using the calculator in your mobile phone is not acceptable in class)
  • you need to have some kind of system to organize your science papers - click here to see the way that is the most recommended.

If you need anything special for a certain lesson, such as colored pencils or a protractor, I will tell you in advance and I will write it on the web page that has your homework on it

What if you forget something?

Especially in 6ème and 4ème, if you forget something, I will write it in your Cahier de Correspondence. If I see that you have forgotten something for the third time in the year, I will give you a mise en garde. I do this less in 3ème and 2nde but don't push your luck!

What NOT to bring:

Food and drink are not allowed in class and especially not in the laboratories where there is a risk of contamination and poisoning.  No chewing gum.  If you have a mobile phone or other things which beep and buzz, make sure they are not visible or audible.  If I hear one during class, I will stop the lesson, confiscate it and you will have some explaining to do.

Important note:  In class, I do not accept White Out, Liquid Paper, Typex or any other product which is painted over a mistake and which starts out wet and needs to dry.  Why not?  Here are a few of my reasons:

  • Such products are messy - white drops and smudges get all over the desks, students' fingers, their books, clothes and their bags.
  • Painting over mistakes is a waste of my class time.  If you want to use such products on your time doing homework outside of class time, that is fine with me.  
  • Students who do not have any in their pencil cases interrupt class time to ask everyone else if they can borrow some.  I am always surprised by the number of students I catch who do this even during quizzes!
  • All of these products contain solvents which are not very healthy to inhale.  I am in contact with enough chemical vapors working in the labs all day, I do not need students to bring me any more.
If you make a mistake in class, whether it be on your notes, on a quiz, or on work you will be handing in, all you have to do is put a single line through the word or phrase and rewrite it.  Example:  I mispelled misspelled a word.  I will not take off points for a few crossed out words.  If there are too many mistakes, simply start the page over.   



Work - Any piece of work, whether it be in class or at home, must be your work. Any sentences on a paper you give me with your name on it must be written by you. Text copied from a book, a web site on Internet, a CD-ROM, a classmate or any other source but you will not be accepted. Copying and cheating will not be tolerated.  I am very serious about this.

If you would like to quote a line or two from a magazine or a book, it is acceptable only if you cite your source giving the title, the publisher and the date. If I find that two students have copied from each other, those two students will have some explaining to do and they will be penalized. The official punishment in the school rules is that both students get a zero for their work and both students get an avertissement. I sometimes show clemency for first time offenders by simply dividing the grade by the number of students who "shared" their work.  I once had 13 students in a 3 class give me the same answers on a homework assignment.  The grade happened to be 13 also.  Each student got a 1 out of 20 for that homework and a little comment in their carnets saying that they lacked intellectual independence.  If you are caught copying a second time, then you will definitely get a zero.

Quizzes - Once in a while I give surprise quizzes. Such quizzes will be out of 10 points. As a result, if you get a 3 out of 10 on one quiz but you get a 9 out of 10 on the next one, the final quiz grade is 12 out of 20. It is in your best interest to study every week. Each week in science we learn approximately10 new scientific concepts or vocabulary words. If you do not learn them little by little, you will be in trouble for the quizzes and for the Compositions Groupées. As a result, when someone asks you, "What do you have for science homework," the answer is never, "Nothing," but always, "I have to learn the vocabulary from this week's lesson." Good students make lists of the vocabulary to learn and ask someone to quiz them. I strongly suggest you do this. You should be able to define a word that is given to you but you should also be able to give the vocabulary word if I give you the definition.  One good way to learn vocabulary is by using flash cards.  What are they?  Click here to find out.

Spelling - Spelling counts! The reason for being in a bilingual school is to learn how to be bilingual. On homework, 10% of your grade is based on your ability to express yourself clearly in English. For each spelling mistake or grammatical error, I will take off a half point up to a total of 2 points. The other 18 points are for your scientific reasoning and ability to do the exercises. This rule does not apply in three situations: 

  1. on quizzes, only the spelling of scientific vocabulary counts, 
  2. on the Compositions Groupées also, only the spelling of scientific vocabulary counts
  3. some homework may have only chemical formulas or drawings and so the full 20 points would be for scientific material

Late Work - I do accept homework one week late but there is a 2 point penalty. A 16 becomes a 14, an 11 becomes a 9 and so forth. If you do not hand your work in one week after it is due, you will get a réparation. If you are absent, your work is accepted one week late without penalty. 

Absence - If you are absent from one of my classes, you are responsible for the material we covered in class. In other words, you must get the notes from someone who was in the class, get an explanation of the experiment we did or get any photocopies I gave out. You can come see me for photocopies in the Biology Preparation Room which is between A1 and A2. Knock politely and enter. If I am not there, leave a message with the lab technician or with one of the other teachers. Be sure to give your name and class.  If you would like to find out where and when you can find me, click on my schedule.

Internet - Internet may be relatively new (available in 1992 in France), but it is here to stay and it is changing the way people work all over the world. Education is no exception. I will be publishing information for students and parents on this web site on a regular basis. At least one homework will include activities which must be done on Internet. If you do not have Internet at home, you should consider joining the other 95% of students who have access to Internet at home. Not having Internet at home is not an excuse for not being able to do the homework. There are other ways to access the world wide web: 

  • at school in the library (if that's full, you can try the computer room upstairs),
  • at a friend's house, 
  • at certain public libraries.

When I do give a homework assignment on Internet, be sure to start it early.  Computers have a way of not working when you absolutely must finish something for the next day!


A.W. Damon 2011


Last modification: 2011-03-01

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