7th Grade Field Trip - Sense of Wonder - October 24th
8th Grade Field Trips - October 25th, 27th and 28th
WMS / PTO Newsletter
October 24, 2016

Message from Principal Gavron

Kids are so different - even in the same family. Their skills at working independently can be like night and day.  I think my daughter came out of the womb with a planner in hand.  She loves to break down tasks and relishes in checking off a to-do list. She needs very little executive functioning coaching from me, and in fact, I tend to just get in her way. My oldest son; however, considered PLAN to be an out-of-bounds four letter word.  Throughout his schooling, breaking down projects and managing nightly assignments were Herculean tasks and often a battle that left both of us exhausted.  So how then do we as parents support such a range of learners on the journey to becoming self-sufficient, independent learners?

Benefitting from a generous grant through the Wayland Public Schools Foundation, curriculum leaders dove into the topic of “study skills” this summer, looking at how we as teachers might be more effective at explicitly teaching study skills.  We began with the research reading articles* and a chapter from the book Make it Stick by Brown, Roediger and McDaniel.   One of the things that we found to be most helpful (and you may find interesting) was looking at the research around characteristics among effective studiers and how they contrasted with those of ineffective studiers:

An Effective Studier
     Sees learning as the goal

Uses a wide range of strategies flexibly

  • Previews
  • Determine importance
  • Connects ideas
  • Monitors understanding
  • Sets goals
  • Manages time
  • Organizes materials
  • Shields studying from competing behaviors
An Ineffective Studier
     Sees passing the test is the goal

Uses a limited range of strategies that may not match the task

  • Is unsure of purpose of task
  • Is unaware learning is not just reading
  • Makes few connections
  • Shows little evidence of monitoring understanding
  • Can’t articulate goals
  • Does not dedicate sufficient time to task
  • Has disorganized materials
  • Is overwhelmed by quantity
Other takeaways from the research that guided our thinking and work included:
  1. Students who struggle the most – benefit the most from direct instruction around these skills
  2. Study skills should be taught in context of subject area classes - not in “catch all” classes. 
  3. Studying is a reflective process that requires both time and hard work.
  4. Students need to know exactly what to focus on when studying.
  5. Effective studiers develop skills, strategies and systems for success (in areas of memory, problem solving, reading comprehension, & metacognition).
Based on the research our priority was to begin to develop common language and identify areas for the explicit teaching of independent learning skills. We landed on the metaphor of “Setting the Table for Learning.” (We credit the language to Naami Turk who has consulted with us around executive functioning).  Here is the current working draft that teachers are using as they design ways to help students prepare effectively for independent learning.

Fostering Independent Learning Skills

Preparing to complete work

  • Mental Preparation - Assume a gritty mindset
         Take a moment of mindfulness
         Read an inspirational quote
         Begin positive self-talk (inner critic vs. inner coach) - “I can do this!"
         Decide what assignment to begin  
         Picture what done looks like

  • Physical Set-Up - Create a work-friendly space and routine
         Choose a consistent space
         Ready the room (lighting, temperature, noises/music
         Display inspirational quotes/images/object
         Prepare your screen appearance (font size, size of window, toggling)
         Minimize distractions (phones, open tabs, siblings)
         Identify and collect the tools you need (timer, charged chromebook,        
                 calculator, pencils, erasers, pens, etc)
         Identify and collect resources needed (planner, Google Keep/calendar    
                 with assignments, notebook, handouts, textbook, teacher’s website)
         Organize resources in a user-friendly set-up 
         Pour water (hydration) & healthy snack if needed
         Evaluate body position - Make a deliberate choice that meets your needs 
                (relative to type of assignment)

  • Action Plan - Determine what to do when
         Find assignment, read & unpack directions, restate them in your own
         Prioritize (within the assignment): plan steps for completion - what’s 
                first...next...then… **
         Review relevant class handouts, documents, and notes
         Plan preventative breaks - set timer to work 25 min. then break 5 min
         Determine “life line” or study partner to help/clarify

    ** Time Management - Estimate & reassess
         How much time do I think this will take me?
         How much time do I have?
         How much time did it actually take?
Teachers are working with curriculum leaders to develop lessons, think-alouds, and reinforcement techniques within their curriculum to help students efficiently and effectively launch independent learning. We know that much of the work we do in school will actually play out at home in bedrooms, offices, and kitchen tables, as you look to support your learner.  I encourage you to try on this language of “Setting the Table for Learning” as well and experiment with questions like the following to support your student:
  • Which assignment will you begin?
  • Where will you place your table?
  • What resources do you need to be successful?
  • How can you organize supplies to be most useful?
  • What are you being asked to do (read and unpack directions – and summarize
         them in your own words)? 
  • How much time will it take?
  • How might your prior classwork help you succeed (rubrics/notes/handouts)?
  • If you get stuck who can help you? (Can you call a classmate or email a Teacher
         with a specific questions?)
The home-school partnership in shepherding students to become life long learners is a critical one.  Study skills are not one-size fits all, and each student will, over time, need to figure out what strategies work best for him or her.  Each child, like my son and daughter, may continue to need different levels of support from parents.  Please know you are not alone, and we want to partner with you and your child in building effective independent work habits. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of help.


Betsy Gavron

Gettiner, Maribeth & Jill Siebert. “Contributions of Study Skills to Academic Competence.” School Psychology Review, Vol. 31, 2002  pp. 350-365.

Wood, Karen & D. Taylor. “Research into Practice: Activating Study Skills in the Middle School Classroom.” Middle School Journal, Vol. 36, May 2005, pp. 51-55.

Brown, Peter, et. al. Make it Stick. Harvard University Press, 2014 .
WMS/WHS Orchestras Masquerade Concert 
TONIGHT!      7:30pm      October 24, 2016     WHS Main Stage Auditorium
Wear a disguise and get a prize!         Audience Participation Grand Finale!
If you’re not scared, we’re not playing!       
School Council News

This year's school council has formed and will be meeting soon. The council members for this year are:

Amy Frankel Nau - parent of 6th grader
Merline Bhukhanwala - parent of 7th grader
Tricia Clifford, Parent - parent of 8th grader
Stephanie Janoff - parent of 8th grader
Patricia Harlan - Community Member
Luann Duesterberg - 7th Grade Teacher
Matthew McCormack - 8th Grade Teacher

We thank them in advance for the time they will give to to the middle school. We would also like to thank Katie Angis, Brenda Ross and Laura Zhang for their participation in the past year. Thank you!

Sixth Grade Math Night
Thursday, November 3rd

On Thursday, November 3rd, the middle school will be transformed into a mathematical maze for 6th grade students and their parents during Sixth Grade Math Night. Families will begin in the cafeteria with an assortment of math games (including 24, 99, Cribbage and Number War card games).  Parents will be provided with a list of commercial games which enhance reasoning and spatial skills. Following the games, families will disperse throughout the 6th and 8th grade wings as they visit different stations, each hosting a math strand – Measurement, Algebra, Statistics and Probability, and Geometry Stations.   

Please put Thursday, November 3 on your calendar and reserve the date.  Sixth grade students should have already brought home an invitation with more information.  There will be two sessions for families: 4:30 – 6:00 pm and 7:00 – 8:30pm. At each session, students will compete in a scavenger hunt consisting of math problems and clues. The winners of the scavenger hunt will receive a prize.  The sessions will conclude with an ice-cream sundae party provided through the generosity of the PTO. Hope to see you there.

Reminder From the Office
Work to Foster Responsibility
As part of her Back-to-School night presentation, Principal Gavron let parents know that one of the skills we try to help children acquire is taking responsibility for belongings. We offer some suggestions for your help in fostering this growth. 

Pack school bags the night before. Please do not come running to the school with a forgotten chromebook, instrument or lunch. It is too disruptive to learning time. Instead. allow students to build resilience by dealing with a forgotten item and negotiating with teachers their next steps. Eating a school lunch is an option, and there are a limited number of chromebook loaners. Thank you for your support!

Gift Your Child

The PTO has raised just over 60% of our $15,000 fundraising goal for this year.  Last year we were able to award many exciting grants to Wayland Middle School teachers, classrooms, departments and extra-curricular clubs.  Visit the WMS PTO on Facebook to see some of those grants in action!  Please consider donating now to help us reach our goal.  Remember, this year the PTO will not be asking you to pay dues or to sell gift wrap or cookie dough – we instead ask that you Gift Your Child.  100% of your donation is tax deductible and eligible for matching gift donations, and every dollar directly supports the PTO’s many programs at WMS.  You can donate online after registering at MySchoolAnywhere (the new online directory) or at http://waylandpto.org/middle-school-pto/donations-and-purchases/.  You can also mail a check (made out to “Wayland PTO”) to Wayland Middle School PTO, 201 Main Street, Wayland, MA 01778.  The suggested donation is $100 per middle school student. 

Upcoming Events
Middle & More Coffee

Thank you to everyone who joined us last Tuesday for the first Middle & More Coffee of the year.  Betsy Gavron and George Benzie reviewed the district’s new UNITED goals, as well as the Middle School’s new Independent Learning Skills curriculum (study skills).  You can find information from the coffee on both topics online. 

The next Middle & More will be Monday, November 21st (Please Note – this is a new date!) from 8:45-9:45 am in the library.  Betsy Gavron and the 6th Grade House Leaders will join us for a 6th Grade Check-In.  Even if you don’t have a 6th grader, please join us – the discussion is enriched by having parents of all grades involved.  You can find the entire year’s schedule of parent coffees at  http://waylandpto.org/middle-school-pto/middle-and-more-coffees/

REMINDERS (from previous emails)
Chris Grabenstein @ WPL, October 26th @ 3:30 PM
Ms. Ravid is excited to share that the ES and WPL librarians have arranged for Chris Grabenstein to present at the WPL 3:30-4:30 on Wednesday, October 26th!
All are invited!
MindsetGo TV Talk Show Host Program Full...
Wait List Established

MindsetGo's debut communications workshop for Grades 6, 7, and 8 students at Wayland Middle School is fully enrolled. The after-school program offered through Wayland School Community Programs will have 12 participants. 

"Lights, Camera, Communicate: Be the Star of Your Own Show" has established a wait list. Please email  maltman@mindsetgo.com with the student's name and parent's contact information.
  Artist: Ryan Najemy
Grade: 8
Medium: Colored Pencil 
All Grades
10/24: MS/HS Masquerade Orchestra Concert 7:30 @ WHS
11/11: NO SCHOOL - Veteran's Day
CUB (Catch Up & Breathe) weekends: 10/28, 11/10, 11/23

Grade 6
11/3: 6th Grade Math Night

Grade 7
10/24: RLC Days of Wonder Trip 

Grade 8
10/25: NY Caves Field Trip
10/27: NY Caves Field Trip
10/28: NY Caves Field Trip
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