Mr. Wagner’s 7th Grade Math Class


(Frequently Asked Questions)



When can I come for extra help?

How do my parents sign up for the weekly email?

How do you want me to organize my binder?

How much time do I need to spend on homework?

I was absent—do I still have to do the work for that day?

What are “challenge problems”?

What are "checkins"?

Can I do my work on my IPad?  

How do you do an error analysis on a checkin?

How long do I have to complete a quiz or test?

How do I make up points on my test or quiz?

What is "Skills Mastery"?


When can I come for extra help?

I have official extra-help afternoons two days a week. Generally it will be Tuesday and Thursday, but that may change on a particular week depending on meeting schedules, etc.  You will need to come on one of those days if you need to make up a test or quiz, take the basic skills test, or work with me for an extended period of time.


However, if you have questions or things you don’t understand, it is often possible to get things cleared up with a quick question or a short conversation. Please don’t hesitate to find me and ask me questions at other times, although I may not be able to talk for an extended period of time.  


You should also feel free to email me with questions. 


return to top


How do my parents sign up for the weekly email?

If your parents aren’t getting the weekly email, they should email me at


return to top


How do you want me to organize my binder?

You only need to have one section for math.  This section will contain your book, and any handouts or work you are doing. Most of the work will be in your graph paper notebook.  You only need to save the work from the current unit. 



return to top


How much time do I need to spend on homework?

On most days you should expect to spend around a half on homework.  If you find yourself regularly spending more than that, please let me know. If you find yourself regularly spending less time than that, then you may not be fully correcting/reflecting on your homework, or you should do some challenge work.   


The most important thing is that you understand the work.  I'd rather you spend more time on fewer problems and really understand them rather than rushing to "answer" every question without really understanding.



return to top


I was absent—do I still have to do the work for that day?

Yes—you are responsible for both the class work and the homework.  Usually the classwork is MORE important than the homework.  All classwork and homework is posted on Google Classroom, INCLUDING handouts.  "I didn't know what we were supposed to do" is NOT a valid excuse for not doing the classwork."


If you were absent for more than two days, see me. We can work out a makeup plan. You will most likely need to spend at least one day after-school with me going over material you missed. 


In particular you should make sure that you make up any checkins that you missed.


return to top


What are “challenge problems”?

Challenge problems are harder problems that extend the regular material.  In some cases, students will be allowed to do challenge problems to replace some of the homework problems or classwork. 



Challenge problems can positively affect your grade.  If you find that the regular classwork and homework is easy for you, you should be doing challenge problems.


In order to access challenge problems, you need to join the Challenge class on Google Classroom.  Each investigation will have a list of possible challenge problems.  Some of the challenge problems can be found in the book. Others  are handouts that are available online in the Challenge classroom. 


Challenge problems are worth different amounts of points depending on their level of difficulty. 


Most challenge problems are meant to be done collaboratively. You can work with classmates, parents, friends, etc. 

It is important to note that you must use CER (CLAIM, EVIDENCE, REASONING) to show how you solved the challenge problem in order to get credit-- you can't just turn in a piece of paper with an answer.


You can turn in challenge problems at any time-- they don't have a due date.  You can turn them in by emailing them to me, or by putting a hard copy in my inbox.   You need to make very clear what challenge problem you are doing and how many points it is worth!  Also your name must be CLEAR. 


Here is an example heading:

Joe Schmoe

Find My Value Challenge

for Accentuate the Negative 1 & 2

Worth 3 points


If you don't get the full credit for the challenge problem, you are encouraged to retry the problem. You can do this as many times as you like until you get full credit. 



return to top


What is a “checkin”?

A checkin is a way for me to see what you know, and a way for you to redo work on a topic until you are proficient. Checkins may be in class, or they may be take home assignments.


When you turn in a checkin, you will get it returned to you fairly quickly with a grade. The grade will be either

P (proficient), N (not yet), or S (see me)

Any N or S grade REQUIRES you to do an error analysis on the part that is incorrect. You must do the redo on separate sheet of paper, attach it to the original checkin, and turn it in again for a new grade.  You may need to redo a checkin more than once before it is proficient.


If you got an S grade, that means that you need to see me about the checkin. You can do this after school or during Lab if you have lab that semester.


How do you do an error analysis on a checkin?


  1. Don’t write on or erase the original checkin.  Leave the mistakes visible so you can learn from them later.
  2. Make sure you understand your mistakes/misunderstandings before you try to do the error analysis. You may need to talk with a teacher or friend to help you understand. Feel free to come to me as well.
  3. Use a separate sheet for the error analysis. Make sure it has your name, period, and the name of the checkin you are correcting.
  4. Redo problems that are incorrect or have comments. Describe as best you can why you think you made your original mistake (what did you misunderstand).  Make sure to explain how you got your new answers (even problems that didn’t require an explanation in the original checkin).  I

Staple your error analysis to the original checkin and put it in Mr. Wagner’s inbox.


Keep track of your checkins; it is YOUR responsibility to make sure they are redone to Proficient.   The last grade on the checkin is the only one that counts. You MUST redo all checkins until they are proficient. Don't throw away checkins; use the checkins to help you study for your tests.

return to top


Can I do my work on my IPad? 


Yes.  Generally you can choose whether or not do work on the IPad or in your graph paper notebook. There will be some assignments (typically turned into Google classroom) that you will be required to use Google Docs. 


If your handwriting is poor, I may require you to use the IPad to type your explanations. 



return to top



How long do I have to complete a quiz or test?

My quizzes and tests are designed to be completed in less than a class period (45 minutes).  My policy is to allow you some additional time to finish if needed.  However, I expect that you will finish the quiz on the day that it is given or the next morning before school starts (so that I can correct and hand the quiz back as soon as possible). 


This means that if you are nervous about finishing the quiz during class, you should make arrangements to stay after school that day to finish the quiz , or to come in early on the next day. If you cannot finish the test that afternoon, we can make other arrangements, but I will need you to bring in a note from a parent or guardian explaining why you couldn’t come to finish the quiz or test that afternoon.


return to top


I don't like my test/quiz grade. Can I make up the grade? 

You have the opportunity to make up test or quiz grade. The maximum depends on the quarter:


Q1:  B-

Q2:  C

Q3:  C-

Q4:  D


What you will need to do depends on the specific test or quiz. Generally you need to see me to go over the material, and then do a full, written error analysis of the test or quiz.  In some cases you will need to take a makeup test or quiz.  You can do this during an extra-help session (or lab). 


Tests and quizzes should be made up by a week after the test or quiz was returned unless there are special circumstances.


return to top


What is “Skills Mastery”?


 See the basic skills page for more information. 


return to top


What is my grade for the quarter?

Your quarter grade is based on the following:


Š      Your test and quiz average. A unit test is worth twice that of a quiz. Generally each quarter there will be around four or five unit tests or quizzes.  You have the opportunity to take optional challenge tests or quizzes, which are more difficult than the regular tests or quizzes. 

Š      Checkins.  Your grade is not based on the original grade of the checkin, but whether or not you have shown me that you are proficient on  the material on the checkin by redoing it.

Š      Collaboration and participation:  Are you working appropriately with your group? Are you a helpful skeptic?  Are you doing harder challenge problems and tests if appropriate? 

Š      Class process, including whether or not you have your materials, you are ready at the beginning of the class, you get extra help when you need it

Š      Successfully doing challenge problems and tests will increase your grade

Š      Skills mastery. For the first three quarters, your grade is based on your progress (unless you are already a Skills Master) —

Š      you turned in your skill evidence weekly

Š      you have passed the required skill tests

Š      if you passed all your Skill Level tests in a previous term, you must pass the Skills Mastery Test by the end of the quarter

In the last quarter, your skill grade will be based on whether or not you have become a Skills Master by the end of the year. Remember, it is REQUIRED that everyone become a Skills Master. 


I generally don’t compute the final grade until the end of the quarter. 

Remember that in this class, a B means you have met the expectations for the class.  To get a better grade, you need to exceed expectations by getting test and quiz scores in the 90s, by clearly explaining your work on your homework and classwork.  To get an A in this class you will need to exceed expectations on classwork and assessments, AND you will need to do challenges problems and challenge tests and quizzes. 


I will go over the grading policy early in the year, and will give out the following grading rubric . 


return to top



Can I use a calculator on my homework?

It depends on what the homework is.  The assignment will say whether or not you can use a calculator.

However, if you are a Skills Master you are allowed to use a calculator on any homework assignment.

You should understand the concepts in the handout Calculators and Rounding if you are using a calculator.




return to top


What math class should I take in 8th grade?

See the Wellesley Middle School Program of Studies (available online at the Wellesley Middle School Website (  Mouse over Publications and then select Program of Study.) 


My role in the 8th-grade math course selection process is to provide my own perspective on the class that is most appropriate, Algebra 8 or Algebra 8R (accelerated), or Concepts in Algebra.


The document Level Choices is a good resource to help you decide which is the best level for your child.





return to top