Course Syllabus and Description
Howard County Public Schools
River Hill High School
Name: John DiFato
M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction, University of Maryland, College Park
B.A. History, University of Maryland, College Park
River Hill High School
Howard County Approved Textbook: Myers, David. Psychology. Eighth Edition.
The AP Psychology course is designed to introduce students to the systematic and scientific study of the
behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Students are exposed to the
psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within
psychology. They also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice.
Topics include learning, intelligence, personality, patterns of behavior, growth and development,
interpersonal relationships, and social issues. As you are aware this is an Advanced Placement class, if you
have entered this class without the desire and determination to achieve your best possible score on the AP
exam, I ask that you take some time and think about what you want from this class. It is my hope that
everyone in this class will take the AP exam in May. Please speak with me if you have any questions.
A. Assignments: All assignments must be either typed or written legibly in black or blue
ink. All assignments must be of student’s own work. In some cases vocabulary may be
the focus of these assignments, and the format of those assignments will be determined
by the teacher. Many in-class assignments will also be assigned to enhance the content.
a. All long-term assignments will be posted on my website.
B. Projects: Several short-term and long-term projects will be assigned throughout the
course of the year. More details will follow with each project. Projects will be posted on
C. Notes: In order to succeed in this class and do well on the AP exam you MUST read the
textbook and take notes. You will have a reading assignment almost every night. The
format for notes will be assigned by the teacher. I cannot stress the importance of
reading the textbook enough. There will also be class notes.
D. Tests: Tests will be given at the completion of each chapter. Students will also have a
warm-up at the beginning of every class period to review material from the previous
class periods. All tests will be multiple-choice in the AP format. Some tests may or may
not include an AP style free-response.
A. Students should be equipped with the following supplies for this class:
1. 1 spiral or composition notebook. This book is to be used SOLEY for reading
notes. This notebook will be collected at the completion of each chapter.
2. 1 spiral or composition notebook. This notebook will be used for class notes,
vocabulary, and certain assignments. Some items may be glued into the notebook.
(The best note books are ones with pages that are 8.5 x 11)
3. Some type of folder for handouts. (A binder can be used, but I am sure I will forget
to hole-punch most handouts.)
5. Colored Pencils
Grades are based on a scale. Letter grades will be assigned accordingly.
Test/quizzes: 40% 89.5-100 =
Projects/Papers: 30% A
Class work: 15%
Homework/Notes: 15% 79.5-89.4= B
In class work and homework are assigned for instructional purposes with the 59.4- =
understanding that in order to gain the most out of this class, students must complete E
all assigned work.
Busy work: You do not like it. We do not have time for it. Enough said.
Extra credit will NOT be given on an individual basis. NO EXCEPTIONS. Asking for it
will just upset the instructor.
Semester exams will be given as per HCPSS and RHHS policies.
Grades will be issued every academic quarter. Grades will also be available online via
Aspen/Family Portal, which your teacher promises to TRY and update regularly.
Individual grades will not be discussed during class time, but rather in an individual
appointment. All discussions will be respectful or will end immediately.
Homework Free Weekends/Breaks:
As per River Hill Policy: Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, and Spring Break are homework
free (AP student may need to prepare for May exams during Spring Break.) Teachers will
also keep Homecoming weekend and Prom weekend homework-free and chose two other
homework-free weekends throughout the year. The guideline is that teachers should provide
students with ample time before the weekend/break to complete an assignment due after a
homework-free weekend or break.
Late work will be accepted until 5 schools days before the close of the quarter for 50% credit,
unless otherwise specified by the teacher. This means it is the student’s responsibility to seek
out the teacher to turn in the homework/class work before the end of the quarter.
Students will NOT email assignments to the teacher without prior permission.
Unusual situations and exceptions will be dealt with on an individual basis (death in the family,
extended illness) but it is the student’s responsibility to talk to the teacher.
HawkTime is a perfect opportunity to come in and ask questions about the material and get
some extra help. This is also the time to pick up handouts/assignments that you may have
missed due to absence.
HawkTime is not the time or place for one-on-one instruction, if you require that level of
extra help, please make an appointment with me for before school.
I do ask that you let me know if you are coming in during HawkTime so that I can make
sure I am available.
Howard County Public Schools attendance policies are in effect.
Tardiness is not tolerated. More than two tardies will result in a detention.
o Regular attendance in class is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to the successful
completion of the course. If a student is absent from class without official
school approval, that student is NOT given credit for any work missed
during that class period as well as any work that was due on that day
cannot be made up.
o If you have an approved absence you are allowed a period of time
equal to the time of your approved absence to make up any missed
o It is your responsibility to pick up all work that was missed. I will not come and
track you down; this is a college level course. The onus is on you to be proactive
about your absence.
o Students should make every effort not to be absent…discussion, lecture, films, and
other class activities can seldom be satisfactorily made up.
Please note if you are absent on the due date of any long term assignment/project, where the date has
been clearly identified in advance, you are expected to have it ready to turn in on the day that you return
to school. If you are in school but miss class for any reason (i.e. field trips, school performances, pep
rally) you are still responsible for handing in any assignments due on that day.
o Make an appointment with the teacher to make up any test or quiz. It is NOT the
teacher’s responsibility to make up your test.
o Conference hours with your teacher should be made by appointment. I will do
everything possible to make myself available to you.
Should the need arise for a detention; all detentions will be served before school at 6:50am.
Additional Help/Make-up Appointments:
If you require additional help at any time, please do not hesitate to ask. I will be happy to
provide additional help, but it is YOUR responsibility to make time for extra help.
Appointments for extra help can be made any morning, before school. If that is an issue, we
can discuss other options, such as HawkTime.
Make-up appointments for missed tests/quizzes will take place in the morning before
Classroom Behavior and Other Policies:
All classroom procedures will be discussed during the first few days of school. There are very few
rules for behavior, but very high expectations. Choose your actions and make your decisions wisely and
be aware that all HCPSS and RHHS policies will be in effect in the classroom. (See student
handbook if you have any questions.) This is a college-level class, I expect you to act in accordance.
2. You will be assigned seats; you do not change seats, I do.
3. You must be in your seat BEFORE the bell rings or you will be considered -
TARDY. Three tardies will constitute a lunch detention.
4. You are expected to raise your hand in class and not speak while the teacher is
5. There will be no inappropriate language.
6. Bathroom pass: one person at a time out of our classroom. (Period 4A and 4B:
no one will be allowed to go to the bathroom during the changing of lunch
7. You must take care of our classroom and clean up after yourself.
8. No cell phone, iPod, or electronic device shall be brought into the classroom
unless given permission. Use of any such device will result in immediate
confiscation (look at handbook for further details).
9. The teacher will indicate the end of the class session; the bell is not an
a) To participate in class discussions and activities.
b) Be respectful to everyone’s opinion.
c) Complete all assignments to the best of your ability.
d) Be prepared for class.
Teacher Expectations: I will…
a) Be prepared.
b) Be fair.
c) Believe what you say, until proven untrustworthy.
d) Respect you and your opinions.
e) Listen to any reasonable suggestions you may have.
f) Make psychology fun!
A Personal Note:
I have every expectation that this will be a successful and happy school year. We will work hard, but
it is my great hope that you will enjoy this class. Please do not hesitate to see me if you have any
concerns or questions. I am very glad to be at River Hill High School and look forward to working
with you this year.