• Updated: 7/29/2022

    Course Description:

    This course exposes students to the fundamental concepts of biology. Because this is an honors level course, the topics below are covered in more depth, and at a more rigorous pace.


    Course Standards:

    By the time the student completes the course of study he or she will be able to:

    • Develop and use models for the transfer or sharing of electrons to predict the formation of ions, molecules, and compounds in both natural and synthetic processes.
    • Obtain, evaluate, and communicate about the positive and negative ethical, social, economic, and political implications of human activity on the biodiversity of an ecosystem.
    • Develop and use models that show how changes in the transfer of matter and energy within an ecosystem and interactions between species may affect organisms and their environment.
    • Ask questions, plan, and carry out investigations to explore the cause and effect relationship between reaction rate factors.
    • Obtain, evaluate, and communicate data showing the relationship of photosynthesis and cellular respiration; flow of energy and cycling of matter.
    • Construct an explanation of how the process of sexual reproduction contributes to genetic variation.
    • Obtain, evaluate, and communicate evidence that describes how changes in frequency of inherited traits in a population can lead to biological diversity.
    • Gather, evaluate, and communicate multiple lines of empirical evidence to explain the mechanisms of biological evolution.
    • Engage in argument from evidence that the net change of energy in a system is always equal to the total energy exchanged between the system and the surroundings.
    • Engage in argument from evidence that changes in environmental conditions or human interventions may change species diversity in an ecosystem.
    • Ask questions and/or make predictions based on observations and evidence to demonstrate how cellular organization, structure, and function allow organisms to maintain homeostasis.
    • Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the causes and implications of DNA mutation.
    • Construct an explanation for how cellular division (mitosis) is the process by which organisms grow and maintain complex, interconnected systems.
    • Obtain, evaluate, and communicate the ethical, social, economic and/or political implications of the detection and treatment of abnormal cell function.
    • Engage in argument from evidence regarding the ethical, social, economic, and/or political implications of a current genetic technology.
    • Engage in argument from evidence regarding the ethical, social, economic, and/or political benefits and liabilities of energy usage and transfer.
    • Engage in argument from evidence about the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, changes in climate, and human activity and how they influence each other.
    • Engage in argument from evidence regarding the ethical, social, economic, and/or political implications of a current genetic technology.


    Classroom Expectations: In addition to strictly following the DVUSD "Students Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, I expect the following to occur in my classroom:

    1. Be There – It is important that you are in class regularly and on time. Not only should you physically be in class but also mentally.  Students should take advantage of time with the instructor to pay attention and ask questions as needed.  Make sure you come prepared for class with supplies and assignments done such as notes, reading, pre-lab etc.  If you are not prepared for class you may not be able to participate in the activity that day which will impact your success in class.
    2. Choose your attitude – You have no control over the things that other people do. You only have control over your reactions.  Make a conscious effort to have a positive attitude.  It is not always easy but if you are aware that only you can control your mood every day can be a great day.
    3. No food or drinks in the classroom – We might be using substances that may contaminate what you put in your mouth. This is for your own health and safety.
    4. Listen and participate- A lot of the learning for this class takes place when I am talking with you or you are collaborating in your groups! So, please be sure to truly and actively listen and when appropriate, participate.
    5. Don’t procrastinate-Study what was done in class for 20 minutes (minimum) PER DAY and start any homework as soon as you can after school before you are tired, etc. You will find that the pace of the class is very quick and if you put things off you will have a hard time keeping up. If you stay on top of the workload, learning will come more easily for this challenging class you have chosen to undertake!
    6. Get Additional Help (tutoring) ASAP: In addition to the Academic Prep times built into our schedule each week, additional assistance/tutoring is provided on a weekly basis both by MRHS and individually by me. My weekly availability will be posted in the classroom at the start of each week. I will demonstrate to the students how to find availability each week. I also encourage your son/daughter to write down my availability each week in their planner so that you too are aware of my weekly availability.


    Grading: Grades will be composed of 2 areas: class assessments (tests, pop quizzes & long term projects), and assignments (homework, labs and class work). Assessments make up 70% of the student’s total grade and assignments make up 30%.


    The percentages will be rounded to the nearest whole number, a 79.5% will be rounded to an 80% and a 79.4% will be rounded to a 79%. 


    Grading Scale:

    90% – 100%  = A

    80% – 89%  = B

    70% – 79%  =  C

    60% – 69%  = D  

    59% or below = F


    Report Cards

    In an effort to conserve resources and harness the capacity of our electronic grade reporting program (PowerSchool) district schools will no longer print hard copies of report cards unless requested by individual parents. To request a hard copy of your student’s report card, please contact the front office at 623-376-3000.  To receive your PowerSchool login, please stop into the office with a valid photo ID.


    Power Schools On-line Access: Grades and attendance may be accessed 24 hours a day online with your Power School access code.  Access codes are available in the Counseling Office or Front Desk Monday – Friday 7:00 AM– 3:30 PM. You may check student progress regularly on the PowerSchool site using the same login for one or more students.  For Mountain Ridge parents/guardians without home computer access, a computer with guest log-in capability is available in the Counseling Conference Room.


    Academic Assistance/Office Hours:

    In addition to the Academic Prep times built into our schedule each week, additional assistance/tutoring is provided on a weekly basis both by MRHS and individually by instructors. These office hours will be posted in my classroom, website, and/or Canvas at the start of each week. I will demonstrate to the students how to find my availability each week.


    Policies and Procedures

    • Homework assignments on paper are collected at the beginning of class. A majority of the assignments in this course will be submitted digitally via Canvas. Those assignments will be due by 7:30am on the due date.  Assignments are not accepted via email, canvas message, remind or any other method, they must be submitted to Canvas for credit.
    • All assignments are given a due date, and a zero is filled in once the due date is passed. Although assignments can be turned in after that date the point of assignments/homework/labs and projects are to expose students to content and help them obtain mastery of that content through timely practice so that they are successful on high stakes final exams. Not completing assignments as assigned and submitting them late, hurts the student’s abilities to achieve mastery as they may go into assessments without feedback and practice.  Having late work also causes students to have to play "catch up" which causes additional stress on the student.
    • Communication is very important in this class and every other. The primary mode of communication for this class is Canvas Inbox and should be used when contacting your teacher. It is also a good idea to remember when your teacher is likely able to return your messages. Do not wait until the weekend to reach out with a question that you need answered promptly, as they may not see your message until Monday morning. Likewise, do not message late at night because you will not receive a response until the next day. Communicating efficiently and promptly with your instructor is a key component to your success in this class.
    • For all district summative assessments, students will be allowed one retake per assessment as long as the student was present and took the original exam. No retake is available for students who miss the scheduled/announced exam and are taking a make-up test (there is no retest for a make-up test).
    • Students who are absent the day before a scheduled/announced assessment are expected to take the assessment as scheduled/announced the following day.
    • Retakes for quizzes will occur at the end of the storyline rather than after each quiz individually. There will be one opportunity before the storyline summative assessment where all quiz retakes will be provided at once. Students are only required to complete the sections that they would like to retake. Pre-requisites will be determined by your teacher and will be announced before the retake opportunity is provided. Not completing the requirements on time will prevent you from the retake opportunity.
    • Use of supplemental resources is not allowed on any assessments.
    • If a student is absent on a scheduled/announced exam day, multiple retest options are announced and occur during AcaPrep or afterschool. It is the responsibility of the student to communicate with the teacher as to which day they will attend. If a student commits to an appointment and does not come in, or notify in advance, he or she will lose the opportunity of making up that assessment.
    • On occasion, in order to re-enforce content mastery, PG and PG-13 science based video clips and science based instructional videos will be shown.


    Absences: After an absence, a student has one school day for each day missed to make up work/tests, regardless of the number of days absent. If many days were missed, please schedule an appointment with me to formulate a plan for the completion of make-up work. Make-up work for extended absences (over 3 days) may be requested through the Counseling Office and picked up there.  


    Late Assignments Policy:  Mountain Ridge students have within the current unit of study to turn in assigned work for full credit, as determined by the teacher, level, and department on campus. The length of the unit of study and due dates will be clearly communicated to students by the teacher. Any assignment less than a week old at the end of a unit will have a one-week submission period. 


    Classwork Policy: In-class assignments may be due by the end of the class period. 


    Plagiarism and Cheating: Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s work and reporting it as your own, or the giving of your work to another student to use as their own. Both instances are considered cheating and will not be tolerated. Any assignments that are plagiarized, or copied will not be accepted and the student using the copied work as well as the original author of the work (if the cheating is “peer to peer”) will both receive a zero for the assignment and may both face additional consequences at the school level in accordance with the MRHS Student Handbook.  There are also strict “no talking” and “no technology access” during all assessment (tests, quizzes and final exam). Any violation of these policies, regardless of the reasons/motives will result in the assessment being confiscated and a score of zero entered into the grade-book on the assessment. In addition, consequences at the school level may also occur in accordance with the MRHS Student handbook.


    Daily Device Use (iPads)

    Students should come to school with their iPads charged and ready to use in each class every day. Devices may not be used to record or take photos of other people without their consent.  Consequences for classroom disruptions and misuse of devices will follow a progressive discipline model, beginning with a phone call home and progressing to office referrals for repeated or more serious offenses. See the Student Rights and Responsibilities consequence chart in the handbook for more specific descriptions of infractions and consequences.


    MRHS Laboratory Breakage Policy

    The Mountain Ridge Science Department has a policy regarding the damage or breakage of laboratory equipment. In the event a student breaks any laboratory materials, that student will be responsible for paying the replacement cost of each item. A complete list of all laboratory materials and their costs are posted in each classroom.  The students are taught proper procedures and laboratory etiquette to ensure the safety of our students during lab activities. This policy helps hold the students accountable for their actions and reinforces careful laboratory procedures.


    Suggested Materials: Some sort of paper in an organized binder for which notes can be written and kept for frequent reference. A way to organize and keep handouts, pen and pencil and a basic function calculator are essential materials to have access to. If you have any issues obtaining these materials, contact me immediately.



    The Deer Valley Unified School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities.  For any inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies contact the DVUSD District Office, 20402 N 15th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027 (6285027 (623) 445-500


    This syllabus is subject to change. Any changes will be announced using the LMS system.