Course Syllabus

WHS Biology - ACP
Course Overview and Expectations
Mr. Giancioppo


Please click here to view my Back to School Video for 2023.


Course Summary & Expectations

Dear Students, Parents and Guardians,

Welcome to ACP Biology! In this course, we will explore the major concepts in biology, emphasizing problem solving, laboratory exercises, data analysis, and application of biology to everyday life.

The course will require you to work in teams as we spiral through many aspects of biology. Topics covered in this course will include (not necessarily in this order):

  • The scientific method 
  • Ecology
  • Plant development and structure
  • Biomolecules
  • Biodiversity 
  • Animal development and structure
  • Cell biology
  • Evolution
  • Human biology
  • Cell reproduction
  • Genetics
  • Biotechnology

We will be utilizing a storylining method for covering the content in this course. This style of learning is designed to be phenomenon-based, immersive and student-driven. In order for a student to find success in this course, students must take responsibility for their own learning and actions as well as develop a sense of agency. It will be important that you ask questions about any material that you don’t understand. In other words, self advocacy and communication are critical to success. It’s particularly important to do this at the time that the material is being discussed and well before an assessment (test, quiz, etc). For example, when something is unclear or if something comes up at home that impedes your ability to meet deadlines, please let me know! The sooner you reach out, the better and more able I will be to help you! Email is the best way to connect and I am available for extra help on Tuesdays (2:30-3:00pm). If that time doesn't work, let me know in advance and I will do what I can to find another time to meet.

Parents/guardians and students: please review the class policies, procedures, and expectations below. Understanding and following these expectations will serve as a solid foundation for your success in ACP Biology.

Policies and Procedures:
(Note: the policies and expectations noted in the WHS Student Handbook apply at all times.)

I. General Classroom Culture

The core values of Wellesley High School (Academic Excellence, Respect for Human Differences, Cooperative and Caring Relationships, and Commitment to Community) are core values of my classroom.  A culture of care, kindness and respect for community members is at the core of my daily practice and I expect the same from my students.  This includes daily preparation and participation, and active inclusion and compassion for all people, and adherence to academic integrity.


II. Suggested materials you should have:

    1. Your computer - with a charger (and headphones if possible)!
    2. Folder/Three Ring Binder (some way to organize paper handouts)
    3. Pens/Pencils (often many colors are useful)
      Text: Concepts of Biology - Open Stacks. This is an optional, free online resource. Students can find this URL and PDF version of the textbook on Canvas as well.


III. How you will be graded: Term Weights and Category Weighting, etc.
At the end of the first semester and at the end of the academic year, a midyear and final exam may be administered.  Additionally, there will be a long term research project on plants that will occur in the spring. The combined midyear, final exam and the research project will count for 12% of the final grade. Each quarter counts for 22% of your final grade in the course. The categories within the four terms are:

  • Assessments (quizzes & tests): 50% 
  • Labs/Activities/Projects: 50%
  • Homework will not be graded, but it will be assigned due dates, checked for completion, and reviewed. Completing the homework in a timely manner is essential for success on the assessments and this course.

*All grading policies are subject to change. Any changes will be announced and communicated to students & parents/guardians prior to the change taking effect. 

Tests:  Tests will always be announced in advance.  You can expect at least two tests per term.  If you have an educational plan stating that you may take your tests in a different setting or you allotted extended time, please let me know BEFORE test day. You are expected to take the test on the day that it is meant to take place.

Quizzes: Occasional quizzes will be given and may be announced or unannounced, but these may be formative.

Laboratory Reports: A worksheet, small write-up, or full laboratory report will be required as part of each laboratory exercise.  Up to a 20% penalty may be applied for late reports (see below).

Class work:  Class work is to be handed in at the end of the class period unless it is indicated that a particular assignment may be turned in at a later date. 

Late assignment penalty: A 20% penalty will be applied to any assignment that is not submitted at the beginning of class of the due date. Assignments that are 1 cycle late (7 school days) will receive 0% credit and will not be accepted for a grade afterward.


IV. Tardiness & Absences
Please make every effort to be on time to class. This class has a morning double block once per cycle and students are expected to be in the classroom prior to 7:30am on those days so that the class can start on time. You will be marked tardy if you arrive after the 2nd bell. If you know you will be absent or tardy from class, please inform your house office and then email me ASAP ( The Daily Agenda on Canvas should be the first place you check for information about what you missed from the day's lesson and what the homework may be. It is important for you the student to contact me about questions relating to missed work ASAP or you may fall behind.

Making Up Missed Work:  Students will receive no credit for work missed due to an unexcused absence.  If a student has an excused absence, it is his/her responsibility to make up all work as promptly as possible. The student is responsible for establishing a make up plan with me within one day of their return to school. If we do not have class on the day you return, please seek me out to schedule a time for make up work. You can do so via email as well. This includes regular classwork AND laboratory assignments. For a planned absence, the student should advise me in advance and check on the work to be missed ahead of time.  NOTE:  If the student is absent the day before a scheduled test and returns to school on the day of the test, they are expected to take the test with the class.  If the student is absent on the day of the test, they are expected to take the test on the day they return to school.  There will be no make-up opportunity for those students who cut a test.


V. Academic Honesty & Integrity
Please be clear that cheating, plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty as noted in the student handbook will not be tolerated.  This includes the sharing of homework, classwork, and communicating assessment information to other students. Assume everything is to be completed individually unless you are instructed otherwise by me; I will indicate when assignments are to be done in groups. If you are unsure, please ask! If any violations should occur, handbook protocols for handling the incident will be followed, which may include a failing grade for that particular activity for any individuals involved. The appropriate assistant principal will be contacted as well as parents/guardians.


VI. Canvas & Email Updates
We will be utilizing Canvas as much as possible when completing online work. Units will be outlined in module format and links to any online documents, assignments, presentations, labs, etc. will be found in these modules. The Daily Agenda for each class day will be posted within Canvas. Some updates will be communicated via email. It will be expected that you will check both the agenda and your email regularly for updates, especially when absent or tardy.


Thank you for your careful attention to these classroom expectations. Please know that I am here to help you learn and succeed in biology and am truly looking forward to working with you all this year. I hope this will be a rewarding year for all of us!

Parents/Guardians: please feel free to contact me via email ( Email is the best way to get in touch with me.  I will reply to your email as soon as possible.  


Mr. Paul Giancioppo