Faculty‎ > ‎L. Witmer‎ > ‎

Course Expectations

                                                                                                8th Grade Social Studies

Shikellamy Middle School

Mrs. Witmer



Dear Parent(s) or Guardian(s),


            What an exciting and historic school year we will have this year as we begin our time in the new middle school! My name is Lindy Witmer and I am your child’s 8th grade Social Studies teacher. I am a graduate of Penn State University with a degree in Secondary Education, Social Studies and minors in history and geography. I have been teaching in the Shikellamy School District for thirteen years. As a proud graduate of this school district, I am very excited to begin another year teaching at Shikellamy and working with the wonderful people in my own community.


Attached are my course expectations including class rules, daily procedures and assignments. Please read them thoroughly and contact me with any questions or concerns at 286-3736. You may also reach me by email at witmerl@shikbraves.org. With our continued teamwork your child will have a rewarding and successful year in Social Studies class.



Lindy Witmer

                                                                        8th Grade Social Studies Teacher


Detach and Return



I, the parent(s) of _________________________


______ Support the course expectations of Mrs. Witmer’s class and welcome phone calls and/or emails about the progress of my child.



______ Have questions about the course expectations and need to speak with Mrs. Witmer.



(Parent Signature)


I have read Mrs. Witmer’s course expectations. I understand them and will be successful in Social Studies class this year.




(Student Signature)


Mrs. Witmer

8th Grade Social Studies

Shikellamy Middle School 2016-2017


Welcome to 8th Grade Social Studies class!  Over the past few years in Social Studies class, you have studied Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Mexico, Canada and many other places around the world. Now it is finally time to hear the story of our own country and local area- the United States of America and Pennsylvania. History can be interesting and fun. I love history! Together we will make sure that you are successful in my class. Your learning and success starts with you. You must follow my class rules and procedures and, most importantly, do your work!


Classroom Rules


  1. Listen quietly when others are addressing the class.
  2. Come to class with a pencil, class folder and notebook every day.
  3. Raise your hand and wait to be called on when you want to speak.
  4. Keep hands, feet, and negative comments to yourself at all times.


These rules are very simple and straightforward. I know that each and every one of you has the ability to follow every one of those rules.



Class Assignments


“Bell Ringer” and Class Notebook


Nearly every day when you come into class, there will be a “bell ringer” question on the chalkboard. This question will be related to the day’s lesson. You should write the date and the bell ringer question followed by your answer. You should start the bell ringer immediately after you come in the room and finish it within 2-3 minutes of the beginning of class. We will then briefly discuss your answers.


This same notebook will be used for class notes. You will most likely need to take notes two or three times per week. These notes will help you study for tests and complete projects. I will grade the notebook each time we have a test to make sure that you have completed all the bell ringer exercises and class notes. Each notebook check is worth 25-50 points.


Current Event Fridays


Every other Friday beginning on Friday, September 23, 2016 we will have “Current Event Friday”. The whole class will be devoted to learning about and discussing current events. The catch is that you will be teaching each other. Each student will take a turn once per marking period. You will choose a current event, either local/state or national/international (I will assign local or national). You can learn about your current event through the newspaper, television, radio, Internet or a combination of those media outlets. The Daily Item newspaper is available in my classroom to everyone. You will turn in a rough draft on the Tuesday before your Current Event Friday so I can make sure you are heading in the right direction. You will write a summary of your current event and your reaction and opinion about it. Then you will speak to the class about your report. The project is worth a total of 100 points. I will post a schedule of current events presenters at the beginning of each marking period so that everyone will know in plenty of time. I will also give you a checklist ahead of time so you can include every element of the project. You will soon receive a detailed instruction packet.





When I give written homework assignments, I expect it to be completed on time. When we correct and discuss homework at the beginning of class it will be graded as is. If it is not completed the assignment is a zero unless the student was absent when the assignment was given.


When you are scheduled to give a current event report, you should begin working on it at least two weeks prior to your due date. You can find the news in several different ways. You can read The Daily Item (available in my classroom) or other newspapers. You can also watch the evening news. Morning news shows such as Good Morning America or the Today show have brief news segments at 7am and WNEP and WBRE, our local news stations have news segments beginning at 5am. You can also look at news websites such as www.usatoday.com and www.cnn.com


We will also have state and capital quizzes each marking period and chapter tests. You are expected to STUDY!


Extra Credit


Extra credit can be earned through “Braves in the News.” If you see any Shikellamy student or teacher mentioned or pictured in The Daily Item, bring in that article and earn up to two bonus points added to any assignment. You may earn a maximum of 10 bonus points per marking period.



Class Procedures


Restroom Policy


You may use the restroom during the first few minutes of class or the last few minutes of class. One boy and one girl will be allowed at a time. I will certainly allow restroom trips for emergencies. Otherwise please wait for a time that does not disrupt the lesson. YOU must fill out your colored pass and give it to me to sign. Then take your pass as your hall pass. Please make your trip as expeditious as possible.


Consultation Time


Any student is welcome to come in before or after school for help. I will generally be at school from 7:40am-3:30pm. I will also give consultation time for discipline issues with one day’s notice. Failure to come to assigned consultation time will result in a discipline referral.


Lateness Policy


Being late for class distracts others and puts you behind for the day. The first time you are late for class without a pass you will receive a warning. The second time you will receive consultation time until 3:15pm. The third and subsequent times you are late for class you will receive a discipline referral.


Late Assignments


You will be given a reasonable amount of time to complete any homework and class work. Any assignments you turn in late will receive only half the points you would have received if it was turned in on time. After you have been tested on the material, late assignments will not be accepted and you will receive a zero.


Grading Policy


I use a point system to calculate your grades. Points will break down as follows unless I tell you otherwise when I give an assignment:


Notebook checks (about 2/MP) = 25-50 points

Class work/Projects = 20-75 points each

State and Capital Quizzes (5/MP) = 100 points total

Current Event projects = 100 points

Tests = 100 points each

Class participation (1 grade/MP) = 25 points


At the end of the marking period I will add the points you earned and divide that by the total possible points. From there my grading scale follows the school policy.


A= 100-92

B= 91-83

C= 82-74

D= 73-65

F= 64 and below


You may check your grade and any missing assignments at anytime using the Power School website.





Make-up Policy


I have a folder labeled “Make-up Work” that will contain any assignments you might have missed during your absence. There will also be a notebook in the folder explaining the assignment. If you have any questions please see me at the end of class. Make up notes can be found in the notes binder. You have the same number of days you were absent to make up the work you missed. You are responsible for missed work. I will not chase you!


If you are absent the day of a test or quiz, you will have to come in after school or during a study hall period to make up the test, provided that you can get transportation home. You may not make up the test during your Social Studies class time. This is not a punishment- I just do not want you to miss another day of class! Since I give plenty of notice for tests you will be expected to take the test on the day of your return if you are absent the day of the test. Likewise, if you are absent the day before the test you will be expected to take the test that day.



You are very lucky to have fairly new textbooks! We will use two textbooks in Social Studies class this year.  One is called, “America: History of Our Nation.”  You will get your own copy of this textbook to take home with you. Our second textbook is entitled “Pennsylvania Pride.” I have a class set of this book; therefore they will stay in the classroom. Any student who wishes to sign out one of the Pennsylvania books may do so.


Topical Outline


I have included below a rough and broad outline of topics we will study this year. This will most likely change and reshape as we continue this year. We will be studying the history of the United States from the pre-Columbian Era - 1820 with a special emphasis on Pennsylvania history throughout the course.


 First Marking Period

U.S. and Pennsylvania Geography

            Native Americans


Second Marking Period

European Exploration of the Americas

English Colonies Take Root


Third Marking Period

Road to Revolution

            American Revolution


Fourth Marking Period

            U.S. Constitution

            The Early Republic