2018-19 (AP Edition)
Let me know if it is useful
Dr. Gottfried
  1. Dr. Gottfried
  2. Bias
  3. Error Detection
  4. Text Book and Extras
  5. Student ID number
  6. Course Requirements
  7. Course Contract
  8. Success in AP Biology
  9. Time and interruptions
  10. Block Scheduling
  11. DO NOW
  12.  Behavior/Discipline
  13. Conduct Grades
  14. Cell Phones
  15. Attention
  16. Substitute Policy
  17. Tardy Policy
  18. Groups/Seating
  19. Supplies-
  20. Lab Safety
  21. Donations
  22. Dreams
  23. Notes
  24. Guideposts For Written Work to be Submitted 
  25. Work In/Out
  26. Academic Grades
  27. Year Grades
  28. Assignment Values
  29. AP EXAM Grade overrides
  30. Tests/Quizzes
  31. Cheating
  32. Late Work
  33. Missed Tests/Quizzes
  34. Extra Credit 
  36. Lab and Activity Reports
  37. Effort Grades
  38. Posted Signs
  39. Agenda
  40. Homework
  41. Electronic  Access
  42. Phone Access
  43. Submission of Homework Done on a computer
  44. The Internet-At School
  45. Pictures
  46. College Advice
  47. Jokes
  48. Errors
  49. Thoughts to ponder

This "e-booklet" is basic class rules and policies. Most are generic. Once upon a time I set this up for my middle school classes. It has grown and evolved since then.
Specific details for AP Biology can also be found on the class web page.  

Dr. Gottfried

You can call me Mr. Gottfried, or Dr. Gottfried. I am not a medical doctor, so don't ask me what to do with a cut, a broken bone or a sprain. I earned my Ph.D. in biological oceanography in the department of Biology and Living Resources at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (a mouthful, but no one ever asked me; the name of the department has changed since then anyway.-but as a result of learning to say its name I was prepared for "Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High Biscayne Bay Campus.")
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I am a very verbal teacher. I will provide you with lots of printed material. I will talk a lot (Don't say it is because I like to hear the sound of my own voice. While it may be true telling me this is not a good way to impress me.) You need to listen to all instructions and to read everything carefully. 
I will do my best to teach you. I work hard for you and I expect you to work hard for me. Learning can be fun, but it is also hard work. Like any skill, thinking needs practice. In my classes I hope you will get lots of practice!

From a letter to AP Bio students from prior students: "To quote the brillant philosopher Douglas Adams, "For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen." This is what it is like if you try to study by diffusion. The fact of the matter is, absorbing information taught in this class requires active transport. Even then, the competitive inhibitors of procrastination will likely prevent any absorbed facts from being catalysed into long-term memory. Study early, study hard, and always do the reading."
don't put off today

Advice from former students (names removed to protect the guilty). (pre-2016 exam; Advice from 2016 and 2017 students is in a file (linked from the web page) along with their scores).

 I am happy to tell you that I got a 5 on the Ap Bio exam and got a score of 770 on the SAT Biology Subject test. Before school ended you told us to email you tips for how to teach the incoming AP kids. Well the only real "advice" I can give your students is to just listen and take in your lectures. Thats how i got my scores and succeeded in your class.

From a 2:
 I really hope you are not reconsidering your teaching style and methods, I honestly feel that I learned a lot in your class because of the way you teach rather than what you teach. Even if all I wrote in the AP test was wrong, I felt like I knew it all. We won't know whether I passed the test or not until the results are released, but if my score is not proficient I don't believe it reflects on how much I learned in your class. You've certainly taught me a lot, and I hope to someday be as knowledgeable as you (even if it comes with the cynicism..specially if, actually).

Now, the input on what you actually need. I think that the test is hard to predict, the topics are very broad. Looking at last year's test and this year's, I don't think a specific topic should be covered more than another because they give questions on random topics. Definitely cover the basics thoroughly, they always come in handy. Knowing the basics can be of great help even when the question is about something more specific than photosynthesis. For instance, they could be asking about free energy and the student might think they know absolutely nothing about it but knowing that photosynthesis is endergonic and explaining the process might earn them a point or two.

Personally, I found the Bozeman biology videos incredibly helpful. He might be slow, but he teaches thoroughly. I used his videos for things I did not understand (or felt uneasy about) rather than review. Your lectures were incredibly helpful, because of the way you teach I remember things I wouldn't have otherwise. It's incredible how much you can absorb between jokes and stories.

-I think you should read the barons review book and 3 days before exam read the crash course book, it is excellent and also when reviewing watch all 48 crash course vides. They are fantastic and extremely helpful.

Don't procrastinate. Trust me, you really don't want to do that. There is a lot to remember, and many different strategies in which you will need to apply that knowledge. So start as early as possible. I would recommend around December or January, or if you can, form the beginning of the school year. 

A practice AP test on a saturday morning would be ideal. Encourage the students to watch crash course after learning a lesson because it's the best way to review information. Taking notes while watching crash course or while reading barrons also worked for me. I wish I had started studying earlier, but like the procrastinator I am, I left it to the last two weeks, so I would encourage other students to start in the beginning of April, at the latest. But the problem I had with the actual AP test was timing. I had never really sat down and took a full, timed test so I did not know how to balance it very well, and thus was not able to finish the FRQ's. Overall, the multiple choice was easier than expected but the questions were REALLY long. I started off with the math questions because I am good at those, so I am pretty sure I got those right. I am looking forward to knowing my score, but scared as well. Guess we'll see!

Even though i started reviewing around March, my advice to future AP Bio classmates is to  -not procrastinate in studying, start around January and the latest early February,  - Watch all the Crash Course and Bozeman videos (both are really useful) - Take Multiple choice tests on your own time and by yourself  - review frqs from previous years  - buy a review book at the beginning of the year to help guide you throughout the year( Princeton- for the AP test, Barrons/Kaplan- the class) -TAKE NOTES -Review the powerpoints that were given


All ideas start from preexisting assumptions. In math these assumptions are frequently called axioms, or ideas that don't need proving. In history they are sometimes called maxims, things so obvious they don't have to be proven.
In science we like to think that there are no assumptions. HOWEVER, this is not true. There are a number of basic assumptions, or biases, to science that are so basic that we forget to think about them.
Science believes (and in this context that means that I believe) that the universe is rational, logical, and can be understood by rational and logical processes. Science believes (...) that the universe can be explained in ways that make sense without resorting to the supernatural or paranormal.
There are other world views that societies can use as a focus for their civilizations. The rationalist world view is mine, and has produced the technology that gives us our standard of living. While I am happy to debate the existence of supernatural, paranormal or pseudoscience I don't want to do that on class time. If you want to have that discussion, make arrangements to meet with me during lunch or afterschool.

REMIND -I encourage you to sign up for text/email reminders via Remind. 

My "sign in" page for AP Biology 2018-19   - enter your phone number.

OR- Either text @apbio1819 to 81010 or email  

(You can sign up for both sms-texts and email.) Please sign up with your real name if it asks... Standard text rates apply. If you use the email option you can leave the subject and body of the message blank.
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Error Detection

During this year I will be doing a great deal of talking (see link 2). I will give lectures, answer questions, conduct discussions, etc. Since I am an imperfect scholar and any evidence to the contrary aside, a fallible human being, I will inevitably make factual errors, draw some unjustified conclusions, and pass along my opinions as facts. I will be very unhappy (not a good thing) if you were unaware of these mistakes. To minimize that possibility I assign you all the following task. Make sure none of my mistakes goes unnoticed. If you find an error (and there will surely be some) tell me why it was an error, the source of your authority, and a truer or less biased way of saying what I was trying to say. (If you do this properly-politely identify and correct an error-you will get extra credit.) I may from time to time include deliberate mistakes or outrageous opinions to see if you are awake. There is no need for you to "test" me alone. Feel free to collectively review the things I've said. One of the strongest study techniques is the study group. Try and set up one.

Text Book and Extras

Your complete text book, and so much more,  is available through a Pearson publishing site-Mastering Biology. Email me for the sign-up details. (The site is password protected!)
We will also be using two OpenStax. The first link is to their general College Biology book and the second to a specific book for AP Bio. They are available for free download as pdf files or can be read online.

Readings will probably be assigned in the OpenStax Biology for AP Courses book. Check the Readings link OpenStax

Student ID number

It is very important you learn, and remember your student ID number.

Course Requirements

Read the fine print.

I give complex instructions. Read them.
Follow directions.

Course Contract

As AP students, there are certain standards that must be met to ensure your success in the course.  These standards apply to both student and teacher.  These are outlined below.
Students will:
  • Attend and participate in class regularly, bringing all required supplies each class period
  • Put forth their best efforts in all work done
  • Attend study sessions whenever course content is unclear or presents continued difficulty
  • Monitor their own progress using the Student Portal
  • Remember that the biology classroom is a working laboratory, and that everyone's safety is important
  • Complete work according to posted deadlines
  • Respect everyone's right to learn and participate
  • Respect the instructor's right to teach
  • Treat one another with kindness
I will:
  • Design lessons that help you to learn course content in multiple ways
  • Provide you with objective, constructive feedback on work you do
  • Hold individual conferences regarding your grades as needed
  • Update your grades on a weekly basis
  • Encourage you to learn about biology outside of class, not just within a laboratory context
  • Treat you with kindness and respect within the limits of my native sarcasm.
  • Provide you with multiple opportunities for study sessions with me
  • Model good laboratory behavior and technique
  • Create a classroom environment that enables you to question, analyze information and think critically

-Modified from Mrs. Ferguson (

Success in AP Biology

The successful AP Biology student:
  • Realizes this is a fast-paced course so they have excellent attendance.
  • Shows up to class on time, ready to learn.
  • Always has needed supplies: binder, notes, pens, pencils, calculator (as needed).
  • Prepares for class each day by watching assigned lectures, reading assigned labs and taking notes.
  • Reads assigned chapters, takes summary notes and writes clarifying questions about content they don't understand.
  • Recognizes when they need help with learning a difficult concept or topic and comes in and asks for assistance.
  • Uses the textbook as a learning tool, and remembers to read it each night.
  • Sets learning goals and uses study skills and strategies to meet those goals.
  • Lets the teacher know ahead of time when they will miss class for any reason.
  • Completes and turns in assignments on time.
  • Schedules tests & labs to be made up after school when they return from an absence.
  • Keeps track of their grade using the Student Portal.
  • Always reads every lab before that lab day and any assigned pre-lab exercises.
  • Organizes a binder just for AP Bio things with handouts, returned work, returned quizzes and returned free response questions so that studying for tests and the AP exam is much, much easier!
  • Studies and reads class notes and text a little each day, rather than waiting until the last minute.
  • Does not let personal technology distract them from learning, whether they are in class or at home.
  • Keeps neat & accurate lab data to be organized in lab reports.
  • Follows instructions for all labs and activities assigned.
  • Uses an AP Bio review book along with the textbook all year long.
  • Sets up a study group to maximize learning productivity
  • Participates as an active learner in class each day.
-Modified from Mrs. Ferguson (

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Time and interruptions

Don't waste time! Our class time is a limited resource. We have many things to accomplish and a limited amount of time in class. While each of you is an important individual, I must teach you collectively and you must respect the rights of the other students and my rights as a teacher.

Many minor crises can be more appropriately handled if you submit your problem (with a grade, an assignment, a group) in writing after class or by email. I'll get back to you with an answer as quickly as possible, and you won't disturb or interrupt the entire class. In addition, I am more likely to consider your plea if it does not interrupt me than I am if you are disrupting the class.

When it comes to whining importuning requests during class time the following witticism is informative: A politician says "yes" if he means maybe, "maybe" if he means no, and if he says "no" he's not a politician. An editor says "no" if he means maybe, "maybe" if he means yes, and if he says "yes" he's not an editor. A teacher says "no" when he means no, "no" if he means maybe, and "no" if he means yes. Anything other than "no" and he's not really a teacher.

Block Scheduling

We will be having periods 1,3,5 on Monday and Wednesday, period 2, 4, 6 on Tuesday and Thursday and  Friday will be 1-6.  This is subject to adjustments, particularly depending on the number of days in the week, or to allow for special events (PSAT testing). For example, I'd guess that the first day of school will be 1-6 with Tuesday, Thursday being 1, 3, 5 and Wednesday, Friday being 2, 4, 6.  Let's see if I'm right. (Email me when you know for a potential reward).

In 2015-16, 2016-17 and again in 2017-18 we were forced to go to "full" block to accomidate testing. There was lots of testing.


DO NOW/Jump Starter

There will be an assignment on the board, a "DO NOW," in every class, every period.  JUST DO IT!  
It may be graded, collected, or simply reviewed.


I hold my students to a high standard of discipline and good behavior.
I like to take my classes outside the building for some labs on the courtyard and PE field. I can not do this if my students can't control themselves.

I expect you to be able to walk 100 meters without talking to anyone else!

I expect you to respond to directions without argument or debate.
I expect the sound level in the classroom to at all times be less than that of a jet airplane on take-off.

You know when you are too loud without being yelled at by the teacher. Keep yourselves under control, or I will be forced to control you! The school has a discipline policy which will be adhered to.

The Discipline Plan includes the following rules:
-Be prepared for class and on task at all times.
You need:
covered text (when I tell you to bring it-which honestly won't be often, and in AP Bio may be never.)
Notebook with sections (see Notebook)
additional class materials (as required by teacher which for a couple of labs/assignments may be calculators)
-Be on time and in your seat when the tardy bell rings.
-Be polite and respect others.
raise your hand and wait to be recognized
do not use profanity or obscene gestures
-Accept responsibility by following the rules the first time they are given.
do not disturb the class
do all class and homework assignments
no food in class (see safety issues)
do not wear hats or shorts unless told specifically it is ok
no radios, cameras, tape players or beepers
-Make a positive contribution to our school.
dress neatly and adhere to the school dress code
participate in all grade level, and school activities
take care of your school materials
take care of library books
do not vandalize or deface school property

Consequences range from verbal warning and parent contact to referral to the administration.


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Conduct Grades

You are responsible for your behavior. Every student starts out each nine weeks with an "A" in conduct.

If you interrupt me, or other members of the class your conduct grade will suffer. If you don't know how to behave in class, your conduct grade will suffer.

You know what is appropriate behavior for a classroom. You must show respect for me and for every other person in the classroom.

In the past few years the single biggest conduct problem was tardiness at the beginning of the school day. WAKE UP!

Cell Phones

earingWhile the school board ruling says you can have them in school it specifically says your can't have them on during class. If your phone rings, buzzes, vibrates etc during my class it (or the battery) will be taken away and you will be asked to have a parent come in to pick it up. Do not take them out to use as cameras without permission or, they (or the battery) will be confiscated and you will be asked to have a parent come in to pick it up. Do not ask to go to the bathroom so you can use your cell phone during class. If you get caught at it, it (or the battery) will be confiscated and you will be asked to have a parent come in to pick it up. You may end up having to use your cell phone as a camera, calculator or stop watch. In any case, ask first.
Recently I have seen some students actually taking notes on their smart phones. If you want to do this (a) ask first (b) you may be asked to email a copy of your notes to me to verify that you were actually taking notes on your phone, not texting and to allow me to prove to administration that we can "Live the future."
MP3 players & Ipods
See Cell Phones! 
There are media files for AP Biology review which are in mp4 (ipod)  or flv (youtube) formats.  If you are reviewing them, you can use your cell phone or media player.  DO NOT Abuse of this privilege.

We will actually be using your devices (cell phones, laptops, or tablets) a lot. (!)

I have lots of electric outlets. If you need to charge your device, just ask. 

In an interview about education Nobel Prize (physics) winner Carl Wieman said about digital distractions 

"These new technologies can be helpful, but generally they are bad in that they distract people. One of the things that's very easy to demonstrate in studying learning is a distraction. Splitting your attention between two things. Your brain processes this stuff in very different ways, and the amount of learning drops precipitously. Basically, when those kids are in that classroom and they are switching their attention back and forth between their cell phones and the internet and what's happening in the classroom, I can just guarantee the learning, as it turns out, is almost zero as soon as that happens."

Think about that before you look at your phone.

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One important procedure involves my getting your attention when you are too loud, doing a lab, working on your own etc. It is possible I may need to get your attention quickly and efficiently before you do something dangerous.

I have tried a variety of techniques ranging from ringing bells, clapping, flashing lights and just screaming. I don't know yet what we'll end up using this year. BUT, when I want your attention you need to:
(1) stop talking
(2) stop what you are doing
(3) focus on me


Substitute Policy

If you misbehave when a substitute is in the classroom, you will earn a conduct grade no higher than a C for that marking period. Your parents will be contacted. You will also be excluded from special activities for a month.
Subsequent offenses will require a parent conference at which additional sanctions will be discussed.

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Tardy Policy

Class can't start until you get here. Excessive tardiness will be dealt with as a serious conduct violation.  Initially I'll call home. After that it gets worse.


I may or may not assign seats in the classroom portion of the room. Don't complain. I'll move you around when I feel like it.

You will also be assigned to a lab and assignment groups on a needs basis. For labs and group work you will be with the other people in that group for the duration of that assignment.

Part of the process of group assignments is to get you to work with a variety of different people. Do not tell me who you want to be in a group with! You have to learn to work with people you may not like as well as with your friends. Everyone has something to contribute.

If behavior allows, I may allow you to pick your own seats and dispense with assigned seats in the classroom section of the room.



You will need one (to start) composition book for notes & lab journal entries
You will need a small 3 ring binder, or sections in a larger 3 ring binder for lab reports, homework, worksheets and other papers that can not be placed in the bound notebook. 
Both are subject to collection at any time. I suggest a 1" loose-leaf notebook, or a section of a larger one, with a pocket for material that is (a) too big for the binder or, (b) doesn't have holes punched in it. 

You will need to bring a pen and pencil (#2) to class every day.
You will need a basic calculator (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and square root) for some of our tests and assignments. On days when we will need additional supplies (rulers, calculators, colored pencils, glue, etc) you will be notified in advance.

While not required, a USB drive with at least 1 GB of space is recommended.

If you are completely disorganized see me, and I can offer some suggestions.

Rumor has it (yes, I love Adele) that students will get tablets for the 2017-18 school year. We'll see.
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Lab Safety

Safety in the classroom and when we do labs is the first consideration. You will be required to read and sign a safety contract. Failure to do so will result in your forfeiting the right to participate in lab activities.

Violations of lab safety will be considered severe violations of class, and school rules! (See link 3).
One of the safety rules is that no food is to be eaten on the lab side of room 336. This is a science laboratory and many unpleasant chemicals have been used and are stored here. Please do not violate this rule. Some of the chemicals can cause cancer. It would be real pity if 20 years from now you got cancer because you put your muffin down on the table in the science lab.

If you are lucky, violation of lab safety rules will result in severe disciplinary action. If you are unlucky you or a friend might loose a limb, an eye, or a life. (Or worse, I might loose a limb, an eye, or my life!)
Below is a reference copy of a safety contract.

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This is to certify that I, _________________________________ have been instructed in the following safety components of this science class:
1) ______Safety Rules
2) Location and proper use of the following safety equipment:
________ a. Fire extinguisher
________ b. Fire blanket
________ c. Eye protection devices
________ d. Eyewash
________ e. Chemical containers
________ f. Master shutoff for gas and water
________ g. Bunsen burners
________ h. Electrical equipment
________ i. Intercom location & Phone
________ j. aprons
3) Safety procedures for the following situations:
________ a. Fire
________ b. Chemical splash to the body
________ c. Eye emergency
________ d. Chemical spill

I am aware that in the laboratory every student's actions can affect the safety of others more so than in any other classroom environment.

Every experiment can be performed safely by each laboratory student following recommended safety procedures.
To do my part to provide a safe environment in the laboratory, I agree to:
1) Follow instructions EXACTLY.
2) Perform only authorized experiments.
3) Protect eyes, face, hands, and body utilizing proper safety equipment and procedures.
4) Keep my work area tidy and clean up after each experiment.
5) Know where to get help fast.
6) Know where safety equipment is and how to use it.
7) Report at once all accidents, even minor ones, and any unusual occurrence.
8) Never bring food or drink into the laboratory.
9) Never "play around" - unusual motions are distracting and dangerous.
10) Ask questions if I do not understand what to do.

I am aware that I can look up chemicals I am to use and their safety in the Material Safety Data Sheets that are posted or are available.

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Often there are "kitchen" chemistry labs that we can do if YOU bring in the supplies. You do not get extra credit for this (you can't buy a grade!), but you do get my gratitude and to do some fairly interesting labs.
We always need paper towels!


(Once upon a time I made up an acronym for my 7th graders about what it took to succeed in school & life. I made them chant it! I no longer teach middle school and so no longer have my students "chant," which doesn't make the acronym less true.) 

I assume you have them. Aspirations, hopes, and dreams of what you can and will do with your life. I have an acronym for what you need to master to reach your dreams.


Discipline-not external discipline, but internal discipline, self discipline to do what has to be done and not to do what shouldn't be done. In school we can force some discipline onto you, BUT to succeed you need to have self-discipline.
Responsibility-doing what is required of you, without excuses or delays. We all want other people to trust us and rely on us. They only do when we are responsible.
Effort-to succeed you need to put in the time and work. No enterprise succeeds without effort, and that includes your education. I put in effort to do the best job I can for you. I expect you to do the same for me, and for your own futures. No one becomes a great basketball player, architect, designer, doctor or chef without practice and effort.
Ability-there is no doubt in my mind that in addition to effort, natural ability plays a role in success. A very short Magic Johnson would not have made a great basketball player.
Motivation-without internal motivation you can not learn, and grow into a thinking person. You may succeed in school temporarily, but without some drive or motivation you will not become all that you can be.
Skills-reading, writing, math, science, art, music, car mechanics, drafting, typing (now called keyboarding), cooking and sewing are all skills. To convert your dreams into reality you need to work on your skills.

I believe that scientific thinking is a skill that can help anyone (with the exception of a psychic) in any walk of life. Science is a process that interprets the world. That is a skill we all need.

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Vocabulary Cards

I find that students lose the use of their scientific vocabulary the day after a test, and even during a test confuse words and meanings.

While you will not  be required to create a set of vocabulary flash cards it is HIGHLY suggested.  On one side you will have a word, concept, or formula, and on the other a brief explanation. There is a posted master list in the google drive and the cards should be organized by topic.  Their are several lists coming from different review sources and  a list from words on  the old Barrons vocabulary cards. I know you could just buy the cards, but, that doesn't make you learn the words. 

Biology is to a large extent vocabulary!  I have posted a list of prefixes, roots and suffixes which may help you. If you don't like "cards" you can create an Excel spreadsheet with definitions etc. (It is harder to add drawings, but not impossible).

Much of this has been replaced by which has MANY AP Biology lists besides those I have created. USE IT.


I expect each student to be ready to work when the bell rings. In my mind that means that you will be:
1) in your seat
2) be quiet
3) have your notebook out to take notes
4) have any work to be handed in out and ready

Note taking is a vital skill. It is very important to be able to write down what you are learning as you learn it. To copy from the board, TV, or overhead is not enough.

You need to take an active part in the process, interpreting what is said, and taking notes based on what is said, not just what is written on the board.

(It is my general observation that those students who take notes in class do better on tests and quizzes than those that don't.)

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Guideposts For Written Work to be Submitted 

See new Green Paper Policy Write neatly and legibly. Type if possible. You can submit by email as text files, MSWord files, or WordPerfect files. (I may be able to "translate" other formats, but it is a pain. In particular, I have problems with MAC files, so if you use a MAC, use the "SAVE AS" function, and save it as something I can easily read.)
Use blue or black ink on standard white notebook paper unless otherwise instructed. Do not use paper torn from a spiral notebook. Do not write in red, pink, or purple inks.
Do not use the plastic report covers with sliding plastic binders. (This is not a school rule or policy but one of my own. I HATE those binders!)
Write the correct heading in the upper right-hand corner of the paper. There is a correct heading for individual and for group work.

Individual Heading-In the upper right hand corner.

Last name, first name
Science-period number
Dr. Gottfried
Full Date Due

Group Heading-Again in the upper right hand corner, and including all the names in the group.

Last name, first name
Last name, first name
Last name, first name
Last name, first name
Science-period number
Dr. Gottfried
Full Date Due

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Academic Grades

The  school board adopted  computer grade program only allows me to grade on a 0-100 point scale. Thus, an assignment not done (0) is MUCH worse than  one done very poorly (55).  The system allows you or your parent/guardian to log into the school's grade system and look up your grades.
Check the grades page for information on using the "look up" feature and interpreting the reports
Since computers prefer to think in numbers (rather than letters), I use a numerical version of the A-F grading scale, using the scale.

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Grades will no longer be posted. See above for information on grade calculations.
F=0 D=1 C=2 B=3 A=4
In general, you will get the points you earn. For assignments that would normally be graded simply, A, B, C, D, F  or Z,  the following system will be utilized.
A perfect A=100, otherwise A=95; B=85; C=75, D=65; F=0, 25, 45, 55 depending on the degree of "F", Z=0

Year Grades

Your year grade is calculated as 25% each marking period grade. No midterm or final. Also remember that at least 0.5 has to be earned in the last half of the year (the so called "5 point rule").  For more details you should discuss your grades with your counselor or arrange to see me after school.

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Assignment Values

In general, most assignments, homework, classwork, lab reports and quizzes count more than some minor assignments. Weights  may be assigned a value of 1-10 or even 0. That is, I know whether you did it or not, but it doesn't count in your average.


AP EXAM Grade overrides

If you pass the AP exam but didn't do as well in my class I will override your grade (subject to my discretion).
If you earn a 3 on the AP exam I will consider overriding an F->D;  D->C; C->B
If you earn a 4 on the AP exam I will consider overriding an F->C; D->B; C->B; B-> A
If you earn a 5 on the AP exam I will consider overriding an F->C; D->B; C->A; B->A

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Tests will always be announced at least 2 days in advance, usually a week in advance (see link 15).
There may be pop quizzes (see link 3).



A first cheating offense will result in an F, or 0, on the exam, or assignment, a conduct grade cut and may  require a parent conference. Subsequent offenses, will require a parent conference which will discuss additional sanctions.

What counts as cheating? Using someone else's work. Handing in two identical papers, with different names. Copying from someone during a test or quiz. Bringing answers (crib sheets) into a testing situation. Copying word for word from someone or something (encyclopedia) else without attribution. This is especially easy on the Internet. That doesn't make it right.
You know what cheating is. If in doubt, don't do it.

Late Work

In theory, late work is better than no work. In practice handing in work late is a sign of poor planning, pathetic study habits, and lack of responsibility (See link 8).

Not only I am I supposed to teach you science, but responsibility.

Nothing at all is accepted late without a really, really good excuse. And then I take off tons of points.
I mean this.

That said, since not handing in something is a 0 (zero), handing in late work frequently makes the difference between passing and failing for procrastinators. An F (50)  is better than an F (0).  "A" level work turned in very late will generally earn a "D" (60).

I reserve the right to make exceptions for specific cases.

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Missed Tests/Quizzes

It is
your responsibility to schedule make-up tests and quizzes. In general, I administer make-up examinations, by arrangement, after school from 2:30-3:30. It may be possible, under special circumstances, to arrange to make up a test during lunch. I do not in general offer make-up tests during class time. You would then have to make-up what you missed in class!


Extra Credit 

I do not offer  a lot of extra credit. In the past for many people extra credit was the difference between a C and an A, or, a D and a B. I don't think that is fair to those who do what they are supposed to do on a regular basis.

You can get credit for helping me around the classroom before or after school (when I ask for the help). Cleaning up after labs is a common chore. There are also frequent additional assignments that get counted as extra credit. For example, you can write a lab or activity report on a lab, demonstration or activity when I have said that no report is required.

There is a standing extra credit assignment which I will not refer to in class at all. Your only information on this assignment is right here. (Aren't you glad you're reading this.) You can do this once each nine weeks. The total amount of credit depends on the depth of your analysis and how related the error you discuss is to the work we are doing that nine weeks (Don't go off on tangents-you can discuss your idea with me before you research it.) 
Describe one of the most significant errors (see link 2) scholars and scientists have made related to this years' course work. Indicate why it is an error, who made the error, and what persons are mainly responsible for correcting the error. You get even more credit if you can identify errors made by the error-corrector and even more if you can suggest an error in current thinking about the subject. Lastly you can get even more credit for indicating a possible error in some strongly held belief that resides in your mind.

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Lab and Activity Reports

A significant part of your grade will be based on how well you can write your lab and activity reports. Each report is MORE than a homework assignment. Each lab report is graded and its grade value depends on the amount of work I expect.

It is a combination of what was done in class with a conclusion you develop based on what was observed. Lab reports are the essence of science and they allow me to "see" how you think.

Labs generally involve a problem, in response to which you develop a hypothesis, design an experiment, carry out the experiment, report your results and present a conclusion.

Activities have problems, but no hypothesis. They have purposes (usually mine). They are sometimes called (by me) "lablets". Activity reports sometimes consist of only observations and a conclusion.

Your lab reports must have a proper school heading.

The full scale lab report has several important parts.


You can be creative or simple here. Your grade will not depend on your title, (unless it is too stupid for words).

In the form of a question.

Hypothesis or Purpose

This is important in my evaluation of how you think. A hypothesis is a statement (not a question) which your experiment or observations will attempt to evaluate. Some experiments we do will not have a hypothesis, but a purpose.

Materials & Procedures

To save space and time I encourage my students to abbreviate this part of the standard lab report format. I allow the following statement to replace this section in most cases:
As given in _______. Where the source of the procedure is noted as class, text link, handout etc.
If you do anything that deviates from the instructions you must include that in a "but.." statement after the
"As given in class."
For example you might say: "As given on page 264, but Sarah added 4 drops of dye instead of 2."
This may become important as I evaluate your data and conclusions. 

Data or observations
This is what you see, what you measure, what you record. It can and should include data tables, graphs and figures when appropriate. It does not include interpretation of what you saw. For example "The flame was orange" is an observation. "The flame was orange because of sodium" is not an observation. You do not observe the sodium.

This is where you have graphs, averages, and statistics. This is where you do the math. This is where you compare your data to that in other groups.

THIS IS THE ESSENCE OF THE LAB REPORT. Here you tell me whether the hypothesis was correct or not. Then you go on to elaborate on why, how and what it all means. I look in conclusion sections for evidence that you are thinking. That you are drawing conclusions based on the data and based on outside reading, other classwork, common sense, etc.  Lab reports in AP biology are frequently more than one page (3-4 pages is not unusual.)

There are numerous web sites with guidance on writing lab reports. 

Experimental Design


In the form of a question



In the form of a statement

H0-The “null” hypothesis

HA-The experimental hypothesis


Independent Variable

What “I” manipulate


Dependent Variable

What I measure in response to what I manipulated



What I compare my results to


Variables Held Constant

What I have to prevent from messing with my results


Statistical Test to evaluate data/results

How I know my results are due to the independent variable and not random chance


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Effort Grades

I believe that effort is essential to success in life. Whether you have mastered the material or not, you must do ALL the assigned work to get a good effort grade. It is possible, though difficult, to get an A for an academic grade in my class along with a 3 in effort.

In any given 9 weeks there are generally from 20-30 assignments. I generally give effort grades according to the following system:

0-1 missed assignments effort = 1
2-3 missed assignments effort = 2
4+ missed assignments effort = 3

There are exceptions to this rule. Those in your favor may involve hospitalization (yours, not mine). If you make up work late, and end the marking period with "zero-zeros" don't expect to get the same effort grade (1) as someone who did all their work on time. Occasionally I will consider the quality of your effort in assigning effort grades. Someone who does a poor job on all their work does not deserve the same effort grade as someone who tries their best and does a fine job on all their work.

Occasionally (very rarely-maybe once every other  year) I will reward excellent effort (0 missed assignments) by dropping the lowest grade in a marking period. But don't count on it!

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Posted Signs

Read all the signs. Especially those at the front of the room. Most of the material is also on the web page.



I post the general plan for the week including agenda and homework on the Internet at my web page ( I generally go over the agenda for the week on the first day of the week.



I post the homework for the week on the Internet at my web page (

I review the week's homework on the first day of the week (usually Monday). 

Written homework is usually due either on Friday or Monday.

Tests and quizzes (except pop-quizzes) are announced on the agenda/homework web page.

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Electronic  Access

I can be reached electronically with the following caveat:

I do not necessarily sign on every day or at least I don't guarantee it.

I can be reached at Internet   (Actually I have a bunch of  other addresses but this is enough--I am trying to consolidate ALL school correspondence into one account..)

Use this address in the TO: field from  Gmail, AOL, Earthlink, NetZero, Juno etc.

I have an occasionally updated home page, but you know that, since that is probably how you got here. 
IF you have parental control, or a SPAM filter, on your email it will be important that you set my addresses as "ok" since otherwise you can't get mail from me. 

Phone Access

You must be kidding. I'm not giving you my phone number.  You can leave a message or text to  305-349-3740.  No one answers this phone number, but it does accept SMS text messages or voice mail (up to 3 minutes), and I do check it at least daily.

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Submission of Homework Done on a computer

Homework should be emailed to

E-mail can be used to submit homework. However, it is important that you do not send me files I can not read. Any plain text e-mail message is readable. Files that are attached to a message may or may not be readable. Your best bet is to convert everything to ASCII (plain text) and send it that way. You may want to experiment with test files before you use this for your homework. In general I can open Word (up to Office 2013) or WordPerfect (up to version 13) documents.  There are converter programs on the Internet that can convert virtually any format into something standard. If you use something like OPEN OFFICE and I have to convert it you will lose points.  
I do not have a MacIntosh and many Mac specific formats do not convert. All the Mac programs have a "Save As" function. If you use a Mac, save your file as something I can read.  I can certainly open pdf (Adobe) files, and just about every program can save as "pdf."

I no longer accept floppy disks (who even has a floppy drive!).  Under limited conditions I do accept work on USB pen drives. The limit is that we usually don't have time for me to copy homework off 20 pen drives...



In an attempt to reduce the amount of paper I can misplace and to reduce the number of trees cut down for my classes I am instituting the following policy.

Each assignment submitted via email or OneNote will earn an extra 1-2 points on that assignment. 

You can’t lose by submitting via email.  The only caveat (warning) is that digital submissions are easier to check for plagiarism.

The Internet-At School

BYOD Policy:  Bring your Own Device to ATM (BYOD) Settings 

Bring your Laptop or Tablet and
access the internet at school.
The information below is needed to connect.
After you setup the WIFI settings students will need their Portal Information to be able to access the internet. 

I think the WiFi for you is called Miami-Dade Student, but, I could be wrong.

A Prompt will appear on your web browser asking for your username and password.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools has an acceptable use policy for students and faculty.
This policy basically says, don't do anything that you wouldn't want to get caught doing!

The complete text can be found at 

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In the course of the year I/we will probably take a great number of digital pictures, both still and video. You and your parents need to be aware that these pictures may be posted on the Internet and/or used in press releases etc. for the Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High Biscayne Bay Campus.  Student names will not be used in these cases without specific permission.

College Advice

Start preparing yourself early.
We at ATM have an amazing CAP program and counselor. Get on her email list!
Take every test that is offered. Take the PSAT in 9th, 10th and 11th grades.
Take the ACT (for reasons that escape me, some students do substantially better on the ACT than on the SAT).
Check out the NYTIMES - Stanley Kaplan question of the day, daily. Make it a routine. It is free help. If you started in 9th grade you can go over 1000 questions by the time the SAT counts for you!
 Since vocabulary is key...spend time on


You are not required to laugh at my jokes. But it helps keep me in a good mood!



In any document this size there will certainly  be errors. Please point them out to me politely. 

Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High Biscayne Bay Campus

For the 2009-2010 year we were lichens (if you were at ATM). For 2010-2011 we were mosses. For 2011-2012, we were shrubs (maybe ferns.) For the 2012-2013 school year we might be small trees. By 2013-2014 our "trees" are large and beginning to shade some of the young forest.  The forest is now  (2018-19) much more mature and developed.  In writing explain that to me by 8/20/2018 (7AM) for a small reward. Do not ask or discuss this with anyone. It is our little secret. (A bigger reward if you email it to me!)

As a is related to the 2010 AP Biology FRQ-#4 (you can look these questions up at the college board site).

Thoughts to ponder

Mostly harmless

As long as people believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities. - Voltaire

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -Arthur C. Clarke

"Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability."

"Knowledge itself is power."
"They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea."
"Books must follow sciences, not sciences books."
"I have taken all knowledge to be my province."
Francis Bacon

"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only a boy playing on the sea-shore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

"If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
Isaac Newton

"Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration."

Thomas Alva Edison

"The time has come', the walrus said, `to talk of many things:

Of shoes- and ships- and sealing wax- Of cabbages- and kings-
And why the sea is boiling hot- And whether pigs have wings."
Lewis Carroll

"It is a capitol mistake to theorize before one has data."

"..when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
Arthur Conan Doyle

"A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing impossibility."


"Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth"


"Problems worth

of attack-
prove their worth
by hitting back."

"The road to wisdom-

Well is plain and simple
to express:
and err
and err again
but less
and less
and less."
both by Piet Hien
"Sir, you have tasted two whole worms; you have hissed all my mystery lectures and been caught fighting a liar in the quad; you will leave by the next town drain."
William Archibald Spooner

"The terms and circumstances of human existence can be expected to change radically during the next human lifespan. Science, mathematics, and technology will be at the center of that change-causing it, shaping it, responding to it. Therefore, they will be essential to the education of today's children for tomorrow's world.

-All children need and deserve a basic education in science, mathematics, and technology that prepares them to live interesting and productive lives.
-Scientific habits of mind can help people in every walk of life to deal sensibly with problems that often involve evidence, quantitative considerations, logical arguments, and uncertainty; without the ability to think critically and independently, citizens are easy prey to dogmatists, flimflam artists, and purveyors of simple solutions to complex problems."
AAAS-Science for All Americans

Progress is made by trial and failure; the failures are generally a hundred times more numerous than the successes; yet they are usually left unchronicled.- William Ramsay

A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms. George Wald

Valid criticism does you a favor.-Carl Sagan

M. Gottfried, Ph.D. 2018
Any resemblance to the title and format of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams is purely complimentary, and it is with great sadness I must report that Douglas Adams passed away May 11, 2001

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