WMS / PTO Newsletter
October 16, 2017
Message from Principal Gavron

My guess is that like me, your experience of learning to write well looks very different from your child’s.  When I was in middle school (ok, it was “junior high” in the ‘80s), my English class looked nothing like the engaging classes I see at Wayland Middle School today.  I can clearly recall my 7th grade English teacher sitting at his desk in the front of the room and assigning us book-work from Warner’s English textbook.  We would obediently copy sentences, underlining the subject once and the predicate twice as we silently worked to identify direct and indirect objects.  It was dreary. While I learned to sniff out a split infinitive, these practices did not to teach me how to find my voice as a writer, select impactful evidence to support my arguments, or learn from my classmates’ wisdom by debating ideas.  Fortunately, the National Council of Teachers of English weighed in, and as early as 1985 declared that, “repetitive grammar drills and exercises"— like diagramming sentences — are "a deterrent to the improvement of students' speaking and writing.”  The good news is that since then, there has been an enormous body of research about how children grow as readers and writers, and our WMS teachers regularly implement best practices.

We follow a process model at Wayland Middle School that asks students to try their hands in a variety of genres to grow their skills as writers.  As resident expert, ELA curriculum leader Carrie Dirmeikis writes, “We believe that the use of short, powerful mentor texts--coupled with criteria charts--makes the complex task of writing transparent and accessible to writers at all levels. This kind of explicit instruction through short, focus-lessons affords us the time and space for what we know (and what research shows) moves writers most: one-on-one conferring.” Unfortunately, despite highly efficient lesson planning, regular conferring with every student in a class of 23 can be a Herculean task. This is why I am so excited about the advent of our new Writing Center to supplement conferring in the classroom.
Staffed by three veteran teachers Meeghan Peirce (ELA), Cori O’Keefe (ELA), and Matt McCormack (Social Studies), The Writing Center offers students an opportunity to build on high quality ELA instruction and writing instruction in the content areas. Students are invited to bring writing work from any discipline to the Writing Center . Armed with a pass from study hall, students find their way to the back of the library where our cozy writing center is housed. Once there, a student completes a quick entrance ticket to identify the assignment and her own goals for growing the piece. After initiating the conversation, the writer has about ten minutes of truly personalized learning, as the teacher and student focus on building one new skill. At the conclusion of the conference, the student leaves with written notes identifying concrete steps she can try independently.

Last week, as I looked through the conferencing forms of literally hundreds of visits, I saw a huge a range of foci across ELA, Social Studies, and Science writing pieces which included:
  • Details to build context and mood
  • Pacing
  • Sentence structure
  • Practice writing main idea statements
  • Outlining a multi-pronged argument
  • Examining model leads and selecting the best type for the topic
  • Strengthening active verbs to convey emotions
  • Organizing detail to theme
  • Thoughtshots to weave in backstory of main character
  • Line breaks
  • Cutting to the bone - eliminating extraneous language
  • Metaphorical expansion
  • Commas vs. semicolons
  • Transitions between time periods
  • Moving from graphic organizer to paragraphing
  • Brainstorming reasons to support thesis
  • Editing (verb tense and paragraphing)
One Writing Center teacher talked to me about wanting the student to leave the conference with a tool that would transfer to pieces across disciplines. For example, he described teaching a student to read the piece aloud to herself. In reading it aloud with him, she could hear and identify places where her word choice and sentence structures sounded repetitive and benefitted from revision to strengthen her argument.

Last week, I also had a conversation with an 8th grade student who is a frequent flier to the Writing Center, having logged six visits already this year.  She is a strong proponent of the benefits of the Writing Center, explaining that, “my regular teacher does not always have the extra time to conference with me. I come to the Writing Center as often as I can to work on my fictional launchpad, my op-ed piece, and my social studies writing about justice. It is is really helpful to go part way through the writing to tweak it and make it better.” Some areas she has focused on through her conferences include:
  • Centering the mood of the description.
  • Working on specificity of language choices,
  • Zooming in on a key moment, and
  • Weaving in a personal experience to expand on the explanation of fairness.  

After a writing center visit, the teacher logs the visit and emails the teacher who assigned the original piece of writing to communicate the key points of the conference. This provides an opportunity for greater double teaming and follow-up by the classroom teacher on the teaching points of the conference.  

All ELA classes have visited the Writing Center, and teachers regularly stop into study halls to remind students about this valuable resource.  While 8th graders have made the most visits as writing demands have increased, in the younger grades word of mouth about the conferring value has spread; 6th and 7th graders too are taking advantage of this amazing resource.  If you would like to encourage your child to utilize this wonderful opportunity, but you can’t seem to get him there on his own, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s classroom teacher who can give your student a pass and a little nudge to attend. Thank you for partnering with us.  Together we can grow one writer at a time, one skill at at a time.
THIS WEEK: ALICE Training & Drills 
ALICE is now a well-established part of our safety practices here at the Wayland Public Schools. We will be reviewing ALICE protocols this week.

  • On Wednesday, October 18th, our staff will be reviewing their ALICE training from 1:30 - 3:00 PM in preparation for work with the students.
  • On Friday, October 20th, we will be teaching/reviewing Wayland Middle School's protocol and practicing the drills. We will begin our drills by providing an inactive scenario, which gives students the opportunity to hear ALICE announcements and then discuss with their teachers the best plan of action given the situation (lock-down or evacuate). After this process, we will run one active drill where we will practice locking down or evacuating depending on the situation. Finally, we will walk students off-campus to our two evacuation sites (and back). The training will take place from approximately 9:30-10:40 AM. 

If you have any concerns about your child's experience with ALICE, please don't hesitate to contact me or your student's guidance counselor.

6th Grade Guidance Counselor
Suzanne Bernstein

7th Grade Guidance Counselor
Dr. Stephen Farina

8th Grade Guidance Counselor
Dr. Amy Parker


Betsy Gavron, Principal
Annual Drive for Coats for Kids begins today!
October 16th - January 7th
WMS Front Lobby

Bbbbrrrr! As it gets colder, we start to think of bringing out the fall and winter clothes. Check those closets and see if you have something to donate to Coats for Kids! Donation guidelines are listed below. We will have boxes in the front lobby to accept your donations. Thank you for helping to keep others warm during the season!
  • Warm, winter coats for children & adults
  • Gently used and Good quality
  • All sizes needed (especially XL & Pre-K sizes)
  • Coats with rips, tears, broken zippers, or permanent stains
  • Sweatshirts, Vests, Spring/Rain coats
  • Hats and mittens
  • Snowpants
WMS/WHS Orchestras Masquerade Concert 
TUESDAY - October 24, 2017 - 7:30pm  -  WHS Main Stage Auditorium
Wear a disguise and get a prize!      Audience Participation Grand Finale!
"If you’re not scared, we’re not playing!"
Haunted House and Fall Festival
High School Commons
Sunday, October 29th, 6-9 p.m.
Please join members of The Connect Program at Wayland High School for a spooky and fun-filled evening. Participants will enjoy games in the commons and the option to journey through Wayland High School's own haunted house. Admission is $2 with additional donations welcome. Pizza and treats will be available at an additional cost. All ages are welcome. Costumes are encouraged!
OPERATION GRATITUDE - November 1st & 2nd
WMS Wellness presents   OPERATION GRATITUDE   - our 8th annual Halloween candy drive for the troops! Bring your Halloween candy to school & deposit it into your class container. Candy will be collected each morning from  7-7:30 AM in the front lobby from November 1st & 2nd. Let the friendly class competition begin!
Gift Your Child
Did you happen to notice all the times that teachers mentioned the support they get from the PTO during classroom presentations at Back To School Night? All the extras for their classrooms that the PTO provides? It means a lot to them and enhances the learning experience for our children.

The PTO could not provide the support for our school, students, grades, teachers, classrooms, departments and extra-curriculars that we do without  your  support.  Please donate today by logging into your My School Anywhere account at  www.myschoolanywhere.com , by sending a check in your child’s backpack (preferably with your pledge card if you still have it), or by visiting  www.waylandpto.org .  And if you already have - thank you!
Middle & More Coffee 
October 19th, 8:45 - (;45 in the WMS Library
The   next Middle & More   Coffee  will be  6th Grade Check-In: The Transition to Middle School ,   held on Thursday, October 19th from 8:45-9:45 am in the library. Joining us will be Betsy Gavron, the 6th Grade House Leaders, Tom Halpin, Kelly Hagan and Chitra Mills, and the 6th grade guidance counselor, Suzanne Bernstein. We will have a   particular focus on the social and emotional qualities of sixth graders and the sixth grade academic program. While this is of particular interest to parents of sixth graders, we encourage all parents to attend and share their perspectives. Please contact Sejal T. Srinivasan, 
sejsri@gmail.com , if you have any questions.
Thanks to PTO Volunteers!
Thank you to all the many parent volunteers that helped our 6th Grade Parent Representatives and teachers to make the Walden Pond Trips such a big success again this year. It's a huge accomplishment and a memorable experience for the kids. 

Please keep any eye out for more volunteer opportunities or email  waylandmiddleschoolpto@gmail.com  to get involved!
REMINDERS (from previous emails)
6th Grade Math Night  
Thursday, November 2nd
Session #1: 4:30 - 6:00 PM
Session #2: 7:00 - 8:30 PM
On Thursday, November 2 the middle school will be transformed into a mathematical maze for 6  th   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 6  th   and 8  th   grade wings as they visit different stations, each hosting a math strand – Measurement, Algebra, Statistics and Probability, and Geometry Stations.  

Please put Thursday, November 2 on your calendar and reserve the date. Sixth-grade students will soon be bringing home an invitation with more information. There will be 2 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.
Wayland Public Schools Directory
Online only this year!
If you want to get in touch, or have others get in touch with you, this is how you stay in the loop! The PTO provides a FREE, online directory to all families through MySchoolAnywhere.  

This is an OPT-IN only system  –  if you do not register, your family will no longer be included in the PTO’s directory

Visit the PTO website using this link to register.
PTO: WMS PTO on Facebook
If you haven't already -  like  AND  follow  us on  Facebook !
Wayland Middle School PTO is on facebook, and it's an easy way to make sure you're not missing the important stuff  (and the likes make us feel loved) !
Artist: Anastasia Ponyrko
Grade: 8
Medium: Mixed
10/19  - Middle & More Coffee  WMS Library  8:45 - 9:45 AM
10/20  - CUB weekend
11/24 - Masquerade Concert WHS Auditorium 7:30 - 8:30 PM
11/7  - Shaun Derik,  WMS Auditorium 7:30 - 8:30 PM
presented by WaylandCares!
11/10  - No School - Veteran's Day
11/10 -  CUB weekend

6TH GRADE:       
10/19 -  Middle & More  - 6th Grade Check-in
11/2 -  6th Grade Math Night (see above)

10/19 -  Registration Deadline  for  DC trip  WorldStrides  Online Reg.
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