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Jemison Middle School Homework Assignments

Humanities Contract & Syllabus

2014-2015 School Year


Dear Students and Families,


Welcome to Middle School Humanities!  I am excited to work with you as I begin my eighth year at Midtown, where I teach 6th,7th, and 8th grade Humanities and serve as our school’s teacher leader.


Students,the Humanities classroom is a place where you should be comfortable expressing your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. If you ever feel that this is not the case, please let me know.  I am here for you!  Families, you have an open invitation to my classroom, and I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s progress.


Please review the information about our class together and sign the contract portion at the bottom.  This document should be stored in the front of your Humanities binder for the duration of the year.  You will use it as a reference for class policies and contact information.




Ms.Whitney Ward Birenbaum                                                                       



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I will post Humanities announcements and weekly homework on Midtown’s website: www.baltimorecityschools.org/321.  To access my page, click the “Staff”heading and click on my name. 




In Humanities, students will develop literacy and writing skills as they engage with compelling periods in history. Each unit is developed using the Common Core State Standards that outline what students should be learning at each grade level.  Much of our work is grounded inauthentic, real-world texts such as magazine and newspaper articles,biographies, websites, poetry, and novels.  As a supplement to these texts, we use several textbooks:the Language of Literature textbook and accompanying Interactive Reader workbook,the We The People government textbook, and two books from the History Alive curriculum.  Students also use the Wordly Wise vocabularyand Daily Oral Language grammar programs.



  1 binder (1or 1½ inches, for use in Humanities only)

  5 tab dividers for binder

  Composition notebook for use as a reading journal

  1-subjectnotebook for grammar warm-ups (provided by Midtown)

  Student planner (provided by Midtown)

  Pens (blue &black ink only), pencils, pencil sharpener, & highlighters


Please let me know if you have any difficulty obtaining these supplies.






It is essential that students have a separate binder for Humanities class.  Organization is a critical skill for middle school students, and a well-organized binder will help to ensure success in this class. The Humanities binder is divided into five sections, in the following order: (label tabs accordingly)


1.     Tonight’s Homework

2.     V.I.P. (Very Important Papers)

3.     Current Investigation

4.     Writing

5.     Loose-Lea fPaper


Student Planner:

The planner is a critical part of staying organized in middle school.  Our team requires students to write their homework assignments in their planners, as well as important dates and events.  We encourage families to check student planners regularly to stay on top of assignments, tests, and upcoming events. 


Homework Policy:

Students will have homework every night to help reinforce content and to practice reading and writing skills.  We will go over homework daily at the beginning of class.  We will rarely deviate from the homework schedule listed below:



Week A – Content/Skill Practice

Week B – Wordly Wise


Homework during Week A will be content-related each night.

WW Activity A


WW Activity B & C


WW Activity D


WW Activity E


Extension assignment (optional)


Makeup Policy:

A master binder will keep copies of all homework assignments.  Absent students are responsible for obtaining a copy of the homework out of the binder.


  Late homework will not be accepted for credit


o  For the number of days missed, students have that numbers of days to make up missed homework

o  E.g. if you miss two days, you have two days to make up your homework


Quizzes and Tests

Students will have a Wordly Wise vocabulary quiz every other Friday.  Students will take content mastery quizzes throughout the unit, as well as a comprehensive unit test at the end of each unit.



Students and families are welcome to view the student’s grades at any time.  The grading breakdown is as follows:








Middle School Grading Scale


90-100= A                                    80-89= B                                    70-79= C                                    60-69= D                                    Below60 = F





Quizzes, large assignments & projects will be kept in student portfolios in the Humanities classroom.  Portfolios will be available during student-led conferences and will be sent home quarterly for review, and to keep at the end of the school year.  Families are always invited to come in and view portfolios at any point during the year. 



Additional Policies


  Major assignments (projects, reports, etc.) will be accepted late; however, each day that an assignment is late, the student will lose 3 points.  Late homework will not be accepted.


  Midtown’s dress code is in effect throughout the school day.  I encourage you to bring dress-code appropriate layers (alight sweater during the warmer months, a sweatshirt during the winter months)so that you are comfortable in class.  

Mae Jemison Biography

Born: October 17, 1956
Decatur, Alabama

African American physician and astronaut

Mae Jemison, a doctor, was the first African American woman to be selected for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's (NASA's) astronaut training program and was the first African American woman to travel in space.

Early life and education

Mae Carol Jemison was born on October 17, 1956, in Decatur, Alabama, the youngest child of Charlie Jemison, a roofer and carpenter, and Dorothy (Green) Jemison, an elementary school teacher. Her parents were supportive and encouraging of all of their children's talents and abilities; Jemison's sister, Ada Jemison Bullock, became a child psychiatrist, and her brother, Charles Jemison, became a real estate broker. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, when Jemison was three to take advantage of better educational opportunities there.

Throughout her early school years, Jemison spent many hours in her school library reading about all subjects related to science, especially astronomy. From a young age she was interested in space travel. During her time at Morgan Park High School, however, she became interested in pursuing a career in engineering. When she graduated in 1973 as an honor student, she entered Stanford University on a National Achievement Scholarship.

Jemison pursued a double major at Stanford, and in 1977 she received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and in African and Afro-American Studies. Just as she had been in high school, Jemison was very involved in outside activities, including dance and theater productions, and she served as head of the Black Student Union. Upon graduation she entered Cornell University Medical College to work toward a medical degree.

During her years at Cornell, Jemison found time to expand her horizons by visiting and studying in Cuba and Kenya and working at a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. When she obtained her degree in medicine in 1981, she received her on-thejob training at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center and later established a general practice. For the next two and a half years, she was the area Peace Corps medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia, where she also taught and did medical research.

Following a dream

After her return to the United States in 1985, Jemison made a career change and decided to follow a dream she had had for a long time. In October of that year she applied for admission to NASA's astronaut training program. The selection process was delayed after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in January 1986, but when she reapplied a year later, Jemison was one of fifteen candidates chosen from a field of about two thousand. She became the first African American woman ever admitted into the astronaut training program.

After more than a year of training, Jemison became an astronaut with the title of science-mission specialist, a job that would make her responsible for conducting crew-related scientific experiments on the space shuttle. On September 12, 1992, with six other astronauts, Jemison flew into space aboard the Endeavour on mission STS-47. During her eight days in space, she conducted weightlessness and motion sickness experiments on the crew and on herself before returning to Earth on September 20. Following her historic flight, Jemison noted that society should recognize how much both women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity.

Honors and new challenges

In recognition of her accomplishments, Jemison received the 1988 Essence Science and Technology Award, was named Gamma Sigma Gamma Woman of the Year in 1990, received the Ebony Black Achievement Award in 1992, and received a Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College in 1993. Also in 1992 a public school in Detroit, Michigan—the Mae C. Jemison Academy—was named after her. Jemison is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and she served on the Board of Directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation from 1990 to 1992. She is also a committee member of the American Express Geography Competition and a board member of the Center for the Prevention of Childhood Malnutrition.

After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, Jemison established the Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop, and market advanced technologies (scientific ways of achieving a practical purpose). She is also a professor at Dartmouth College, where she started the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries. Jemison also created The Earth We Share, a science camp for twelve-to sixteen-year-olds that helps improve students' problem-solving skills. She remains a popular

Mae Jemison.
Courtesy of

U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration

public speaker, and in 2001 her autobiography, Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life, was published.

For More Information

Gelletly, LeeAnne. Mae Jemison. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2002.

Jemison, Mae. Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life. New York: Scholastic, 2001.

Yannuzzi, Della A. Mae Jemison: A Space Biography. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1998.

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