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Bill Hager

Expectation/Grading Letter with Synopsis

September 2011                                                                                           Algebra Letter


Students and Parents;


Welcome to Algebra.  You probably know that this class is important.  It is sometimes referred to as the “gatekeeper” because you need to acquire an ability in this course to succeed in all math and science courses that follow it.  Time spent here will pay dividends in following years.


I impose only one rule on this class. And that is to respect the room, the people in it, and the work we do in this class.  I trust you understand that encompassed in the rule is the need to be here on time, prepared,  and to participate in what we’re doing. 

Participation          Learning



Because it is the international language of science.  It is not possible to understand science…or even enroll in science classes…until you’ve taken the necessary math to talk the language.

Because it allows you to understand natural and manmade phenomena best described mathematically; like the flight of a projectile, medical statistics, the path of the world’s population, or the growth of you or your parents’ financial account.

Because it requires (and actually is referred to as a) DISCIPLINE.  It is important to know that you are capable of the self-imposed discipline, which you will need to succeed in this course. It is why colleges and employers value your math grades as highly as they do value them.  Because those people know that your math grades reflect your self-discipline.

Because its fun to understand things.



You will succeed in this course if you meet the course expectations, which are rigorous, although success means different things for each individual.

Math talent helps.  We all have talent to differing degrees, and some are struggling to find theirs, but you will succeed if you stay on top of your homework, which will be assigned every night.  Doing your homework on time, however intimidating it may seem, is necessary but not sufficient to insure success.  Insuring success requires another step.  In order to succeed you must correct and make progress on your mistakes every day.  Absent special circumstances you will have an opportunity to correct or process at least part of your homework during the first 5 to 10 minutes of most class periods.  College texts provide answers to selected problems in the back of the book and it is expected that you self monitor your work, and clarify any problems giving you difficulty.  In our book, solutions to assigned problems can be found at If you’re not getting something, you need to take care to go the extra mile to understanding, either with your group and class mates or with me.  If there is not time in class to conquer a problem specific to you, I am available at lunch or after school by appointment.





Your marking period grades in this class are based 65% on the tests and quizzes you will take.  You will take a quiz, either group or individual, almost every week.  Tests generally come at the end of each unit, and count for more than half of that 65%.  If you are successful on the homework assignments you should do well on the tests and quizzes.  Remember that you are the only one who knows whether you are getting the homework assignments because you are correcting your homework regularly.  If there is a disparity between how well you are doing on your homework and how you are testing you should see me. 

Your homework grade constitutes 20% of your marking period grade.  It is based on completeness and timeliness of your assignments.  Your work must be intelligible to others, it must communicate the mathematical ideas employed.  I have a system that reflects whether it was done timely.  It does not reflect whether you are getting answers correct on your homework.  That is your job to monitor. 

Your participation in this class counts for 15% of your marking period grade, and it comes primarily from your group grade.  Some may lose participation credit because of their failure to participate or attendance problems.  Some, who contribute to the vitality of the classroom environment, and who exhibit the math characteristics that move your group forward, may get credit for a bonus 5%. 

Your semester grade is generally computed by weighing the 1st marking period 30%, the 2nd marking period 30%, the 3rd marking period 25%, and the final exam 15%.



            You need a scientific calculator.  Graphing calculators, although considerably more expensive, are incredible learning tools.  I am most familiar, and can help you, with the TI brand, and we will probably be working with a class set from time to time.

            You need a 3 ring binder with 3 dividers.  One to hold the work in the unit we are currently working on.  The binder is preferable because you will be handing your work in at the end of the unit for assessment. One to hold your “toolbox” which would be where you should keep any notes that you take on what we’re doing or have done, or questions that  need clarification.  The third divider is for your journal.  You will be asked to write in your journal regularly, and I may collect that section at any time to evaluate your participation.  You should hold onto tests and quizzes that you have taken and that have been returned.  These items are excellent study materials for semester exams, and should there be any disagreement as to grades received, which does happen on occasion, we may need to see the original document.



The curriculum in this course will include integers, graphing, probability, area and perimeter, the distributive property, linear and nonlinear functions, ratio and proportions, similarity, systems of equations and inequalities, rates of change, the pythagorean theorem, radicals and exponentiation, quadratic functions, circles, and problem solving.  A thread that weaves throughout the entire curriculum is the ability to COMMUNICATE mathematical ideas.  Mathematics is in some ways like a new language.  You will learn it most effectively if you talk about it with your group members and classmates.  That conversation will be stressed.  Let’s get started.                                                                                    

More later,

Bill Hager



Philosophy Informs Teaching

I believe that learning mathematics is important. Look no further than the correlation between early math success and success graduating high school, or the correlation between the number of math ...more


I have been teaching for about 25 years, math for about 20, at Lincoln for about a dozen.  I am a husband (wife's name Pat) and father of two young women (Jessa and Alexis Scott).