Syllabus 2016 - 2017




305 Overlook Road

Asheville, NC 28803



6th Math Team

Mr Decker

Room 614



My Philosophy

“…every word and action can send a message. It tells children - or students, or athletes – how to think about themselves. It can be a fixed mindset message that says: You have permanent traits and I’m judging them. Or it can be a growth-mindset message that says: You are a developing person and I am interested in your development.

- Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

I have VERY high expectations for my students to show effort and demonstrate leadership.  My philosophy is to focus on whole-person development in my students.  This means I facilitate healthy emotional, mental, physical, and social development.   For academic development, I will provide regular constructive feedback on concept mastery, but will not grade based on this.  I am a guide, not a judge.  Success is reflected in hard work, engagement in instruction, demonstration of a desire to learn, and contribution to a POSITIVE AND PRODUCTIVE learning environment.  These are key factors in a student’s success.  I believe that when a school family holds students to a high level on these factors, concept mastery and healthy whole-person growth will occur.  It’s far more important for students to welcome a challenge and opportunity for growth than focus on correct, quick task completion.  Yes, I teach math and science, but in order for this task to be successful, I must focus on teaching the process of learning.  For more information on my philosophy of student success and motivation, please

look into “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck,

Ph.D. or visit                                                                      


Math Curriculum Overview

The focus of the math curriculum is for students to develop skills through mathematical investigation.  These skills include problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, representation, and connections. Students will focus on developing mathematical practices by making sense of problems and persevering in solving them, reasoning abstractly and quantitatively, constructing viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, modeling with mathematics, using appropriate tools strategically, attending to precision, looking for and making use of structure (discerning patterns), and looking for and expressing regularity in repeated reasoning.  


In Grade 6, instructional time should focus on four critical areas:

  1. connecting ratio and rate to whole number multiplication and division and using concepts of ratio and rate to solve problems; 
  2. completing understanding of division of fractions and extending the notion of number to the system of rational numbers, which includes negative numbers;
  3. writing, interpreting, and using expressions and equations; and  (4) developing understanding of statistical thinking.




Students are graded on a 10 point scale: A is 90-100; B is 80-89; C is 70-79; D is 60-79; and F is 59 or below.  Grades can be monitored using the Parent Portal.  Please visit the Koontz webpage for more information.


Grades are all averaged equally and include:


  • Assessments
    • Pre:  are not calculated in the grades (these are only used to guide instruction).
    • Mid:  are included in grades.
    • Post: are included in grades.
    • Students are given the opportunity to correct assessments for an average of the two grades.                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Home Opportunities (formerly known as homework)
    • 10 to 15 practice problems each week that pertain to what we are currently learning
    • Students may have periodic projects that pertain to our current skill


  • Notebook (composition/digital)
    • Problem solving process is expected to be shown (identify the problem, show your strategy, illustrate/explain your solution, and check reasonable response.
    • NEAT note taking (messy, unorganized notes do not benefit anyone!)
    • Warm-ups
    • Activity sheets and handouts that are inserted
    • Journals will be checked periodically and included in grade average


  • Participation/Classwork

       O  During math workshop, students complete exit slips to make sure they are completing each activity

    • Being prepared to discuss homework questions (this means students have attempted all homework problems prior to the due date and have come ready to ask questions and share strategies)



Homework is recorded for each week on the white board and on Website/Canvas Calendar every Monday. All homework will be checked daily and must submitted/turned in every Friday to receive credit.  This allows students to make changes based on class discussions.  Homework is not based on its correctness, but rather that the student demonstrated effort on every problem and showed their strategy.  Parental support is encouraged for accountability but students should be working as independently as possible.


Classroom Policies and Procedures


Each day, students need their math notebooks, sharpened pencils with erasers (NO PENS!), homework, calculator, and any other projects or activities that are due. 

If a student is absent, anything that they missed will be located in the designated absent work area.  Students are responsible to check this area, complete their missed work, and copy notes.  If a student needs extra time to complete this, they need to ask me. 


Snacks and water bottles are permitted.  As young adults, I expect 6th graders to recognize when these might be distracting to their or other’s learning.


School Wide Expectations


PBIS, L.E.A.D, and The 7 Habits

The staff at Koontz encourages and expects all students to be leaders.  We use a system called PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention Support), which is based on the ideas of encouraging leadership skills and positive work habits, as well as consistently enforcing ground rules and expectations throughout the entire school day.  


Our school uses the acronym L.E.A.D, which stands for Leadership, Empathy, Accountability, and Determination.  These four ideals lay the groundwork for our PBIS system.  In each area of the school building there are L.E.A.D expectations.  Failure to comply with these expectations will result in a fair consequence, which will be assigned by the staff member in charge at that time.  I will strictly and consistently adhere to our school’s plan. For more information, see the PBIS section of the Koontz website, or see the Koontz Handbook.


Part of the mission at Koontz is to prepare each student for the 21st century.  We have adopted Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a guide to help us ripen our students for the obstacles and challenges that lie ahead of them.

The key is taking  responsibility and initiative,

what your life is about, 

and prioritizing your life  around important things.

 -Sean Covey


The 7 Habits                                                                                       

1. Be proactive                                                                                    

2. Begin with the End in Mind                                                        

3. Put First things First                                                                 

4. Think Win-Win                                                                                               

5. Seek First to Understand, Then be Understood

6.  Synergize

7.  Sharpen the Saw

For more information on the 7 Habits, please visit


For other school policies and procedures please refer to the school student handbook link on the Koontz homepage.


Communication From Teacher:

Early, regular, and on-going communication between home and school is the backbone of a student’s healthy academic, social, emotional, mental, and physical development.  Families can expect a classroom newsletters that outlines upcoming events.   Additionally, my webpage is an excellent “go-to” source.    Here, you can find a class schedule, syllabus, pacing guide, homework assignments, helpful web links, wish list, field trip information, grading policy, student candid pictures, student projects, and our weekly newsletter.  Individual student feedback will also be forthcoming on a regular basis. 



To Teacher:

I have an open door policy.  I encourage family members to come and observe ANY TIME.  However, I ask that if a family member needs to speak with me, he or she contacts me in advance.  This way, critical instruction and student learning will not be interrupted.  Also, if a family member wishes to volunteer to participate in our classroom, please let me know so we may coordinate details.


Students and their family members may contact me ANY TIME via email.  I will also be creating an online Canvas classroom that will enable communication between students that allows me to monitor, provide feedback, answer questions, and post assignments/assessments.  I provide my cell phone number to guardians on record, but not students.  You can text or call anytime.  Family members have always respected and appreciated this outlet, and I have only had POSITIVE AND PRODUCTIVE results!   You may also call the school and leave a message.  I will always try to get back with you within 24 hours.  If for some reason you have not heard from me, please send another text, message, or email.  When pertaining to student success, I believe there can NEVER be too much communication!   



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