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Eighth Grade
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8th Graders 2016-2017 school year  
If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life wh ich he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Henry David Thoreau

Mrs. Westberg
Guidance Counselor
Grade 8

I am really excited to be working with you all again this year. I feel I've had a great opportunity to get to know you the last two years and am looking forward to helping you enjoy 8th grade and transition to high school!! Welcome to all new students! You will love Stony Brook and all it has to offer! I encourage all students to visit me in the guidance office at any time if they need any assistance or support. Parents are welcome to call or email at any time. I may be reached at 978-692-2708 x5107 on my confidential voice mail or by email.

From the Henry Benson Institue web site:
Managing Back-to-School Stress

Hans Selye, a pioneering Hungarian scientist who was a pioneer in modern stress research, was quoted as saying, “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.

Today, 75 years after he made that statement, it rings as true as ever. And nowhere is it more challenging to find an effective response to stress than among our kids.


An annual survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 2013 identified today’s teens and young adults (age 18-33) as the “most-stressed generation” in the United States. Nearly half of the teens surveyed said that they had stress but couldn’t manage it.  Another recent survey of seventh graders found that only 36 percent of students agreed with the statement, “I am happy with my life.”

Heading into the school year can be a particularly stressful time for kids, and a great time to start implementing long-term strategies to improve our and our kids’ ability to cope with stress.

Here are a few simple but important ways you can help your children and yourself to have a successful and less stressed start to the school year.

  1. Start the school sleep schedule early. A good night’s sleep is one of the most important stress reducers, as sleep helps to manage hormone levels, maintain a healthy body weight, and maintain and grow muscle tissue. Start the school sleep routine a week or two before the first day of school, to ease the transition from late summer nights. Getting into a good sleep routine will work best if you create a consistent bed time, keep away from the screen for at least 2 hours before bedtime, and do some type of winding-down exercises before bed such as prayer and other forms of meditation, gentle stretching, playing soothing music, or taking a bath.
  2. Be as prepared as possible. If you have school-age children, visiting the school can help them feel more comfortable and excited about returning. Find out who their classmates are, and if possible, ensure they have at least one friend in their classroom. Shopping for school supplies and other necessary items can be a fun transition ritual that has the important benefit of bringing a sense of control to a new situation. Along these lines, you can extend the preparation ritual by setting up a study area for your child. A quiet, organized space that is designated for schoolwork will encourage commitment and follow-through to the homework routine.  
  3. Talk about it, and stay positive. Another great way to prepare for the coming year is to simply talk to your child about their feelings. Find out what’s making them anxious; validate those feelings and work together to come up with potential solutions.If possible, carve out some quality time before school starts to reminisce about the joys of summer and any worries about the new school year.You might create a night-before-school special meal; showing enthusiasm yourself is sure to spread to your kids, turning their nervous energy into excitement. This may be especially important to do on Sunday evenings, which is when kids most often become stressed about school the next day. As a parent, you send your children an important message by assuring them that they can get through a transition, even if it’s hard.  
  4.  Help your child set realistic priorities for school and outside activities. Talk to them about finding a balance among discipline, self-challenge, and enjoyment. Maybe they don’t need to do three sports, or maybe they need encouragement to try something new. Establishing a successful schedule will go a long way to reducing stress. Part of this schedule should include down time, where nothing is scheduled and you have the opportunity to connect with your child. That relaxed connection can be a tremendous stress relief.
Finally, be a role model. In this stress-filled world, it is valuable for us to show our children how to counteract stress. Let them see you taking a few minutes to sit still while you concentrate on your breathing. Tell them about your own commitment to create a less stressful year.

In many ways school is the testing ground for a lifetime of challenges and opportunities that your child will face throughout his or her life. Providing children with a toolbox of ways to reduce their worry early in life can go a long way to promoting a lifetime of well-being.

Just the Facts:
1.  80% of jobs created in the next decade will require math and science skills.
A Plan for the Future, Massachusetts' Plan for Excellence in STEM Education
 2.  By 2018, more than one third of the 47 million jobs created will require an associate's degree or some post-secondary credential. (The year you graduate from high school!!)
Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century, Harvard Graduate School of Education, February 2011  
3.  Just 30% of high school graduates enrolling in a four-year degree will actually complete their degree by their mid-20s. (Remember-planning for, saving for, and attending college or any higher education--is part of your life journey-not a race !)
Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century, Harvard Graduate School of Education, February 2011  
Let me help you get there!

Starting off strong this fall!
Helpful hints to start the 2016-2017 school year off right and build excellent study habits! Your performance in 8th grade will affect your options in high school so start off strong!812012_62522_0.png

1. Slow your schedule down at home and limit plans. Adjusting to a new school year will take a lot of your energy. You can pick up your activities again after you settle into your school routine.
2. Speaking of routine-decide when you should do your homework-and try to stick to that same time every day. Gather all the materials you will need to do your homework now, and set aside a quiet place at home where you can work without distraction. Turn off all distracting technology. Work on your hardest subjects first, while you are fresh. Take a break mid way if you need one and then reward yourself when you are finished for a job well done! Even if you do not have a specific assignment that night, there are usually long term projects, quizzes and tests coming up. A little preparation each night is really helpful.
3. Get plenty of sleep, exercise and fresh air every day.  Eat healthy. This will go a long way to help balance your moods and help you through your school day feeling strong mentally, physically and emotionally.
4. Ask for help when you need it from me,  your teachers and the Stony Brook staff.  I promise-it will really pay off!
5. Get excited about making new friends-and be open to new experiences. Students who are most successful in school are involved in their school.

                                                               Join a club-play a sport-get involved-have fun!
Upcoming Events:
Nashoba Assembly: October 6, 2016
Visit to Nashoba Tech: October 13, 2016

How to Get Good Grades in Ten Easy Steps!

Step One: Believe in Yourself
In order for you to succeed, you have to believe in yourself and your abilities.  You need to recognize the talents and abilities you possess, and you must know, and believe, that you can succeed.  

Step Two: Be Organized
-Use an assignment notebook or a planner.  Write down all assignments and due dates.  Break up large assignments into smaller parts so you’re not overwhelmed with trying to do it all and finish at once.

-Use three ring notebooks for class notes.  This make sit easy to insert handouts and copies of notes you might have missed.

-Use different color folders with pockets for each class.  Keep current and past assignments, tests, and quizzes of each class in them.  Having all the class work together can help you study for future tests and it may come in handy if there is ever a question about a grade.

-Have at least one classmate's phone number for each class.  If you're absent or you have a question about an assignment having someone to call and find out information is handy.

-Keep your locker and backpack neat, clean, and organized.  Never put loose papers in them, always put them in their appropriate folder.

-Get organized before you go to bed.  Put completed homework in its corresponding folder and put everything you need for the next day in the same place each night.  This will minimize the chances of forgetting something the next day.  Use sticky notes to remind yourself of what you need to do in the morning.

Step Three: Manage Your Time Well
-Use the time teachers give you during team time or classtime to ask questions and get help.

-Figure out a schedule and study plan that works for you.  Determine how much time you have and how much you have to do in the day then develop a plan.  For example:
2:00-2:30 Break/ snack
2:30-3:00 Instrument practice
3:00-4:00 Homework
4:00-4:15 Study for quiz

Finish all school work before dinner.

-Prepare for interruptions by avoiding them.  Set your IM to busy or offline, leave your cell phone in another room, shut off the TV, and share your homework routine with your friends to gain their support and respect to not interrupt you during this time.

Step Four: Be Successful in the Classroom
-Be in school, on time, everyday.  When you miss school, you miss quizzes, assignments, lectures, notes, class discussions, etcetera.  No matter how good you think you are at making up, you can never make up for everything you missed.

-Learn how to adapt to different teachers.  Know your teachers, their rules, teaching styles so you can make the most of your classes.

-Be prepared for each class.  You need to have all your supplies (books, paper, pencils, and folders) with you for each class.  You also need to have your homework done.  Being prepared also means being mentally alert, getting exercise, enough sleep, and good nutrition.

-Sit in the front row of the class if possible.  It is easier to pay attention, participate and avoid distractions when you sit at the front.  It is also easier to ask questions and see what is being presented.

-Be aware of your body language.  Teachers are at the front and they can see everything and everyone, even the back row.  Slouching, rolling your eyes, sighing, putting your head down say that you do not care, and teachers notice this.  Your body language must show you want to get good grades.

-Always do your homework.  Think of homework as something you must (not should) do.  Your grade drops every time you miss an assignment.  Whenever possible do extra credit work.

-Participate in class.  Participating might give you extra points, helps you focused, and makes the class more interesting.

-Be a good group member.  Do your share of the work and do it well.  Accept that everyone is different and be open to all ideas.  Support all your group members.

-Treat others with courtesy and respect, the way you want to be treated.  Be polite, look at your teachers when they’re speaking, listen while others are talking.  Be aware of the tone of your voice, the tone also communicates a message.  Remember that teachers are people too, they appreciate when a student shows interest in them.  Give positive comments whenever a situation makes it possible.

-Involve your parents.  When they ask you what you did, tell them, they will like the fact that you tell them about what you are learning at school.  Whenever possible let your parents help you with an assignment, studying by quizzing you, listen to you practice a speech, or read over a paper you've written.  Parents can also intervene on your behalf when you have a problem and help with difficult situations.

Step Five: Take good notes
-Be an active listener, think about and try to understand what is being presented.
-Take notes to help you pay attention.  Thinking about the lecture helps you stayed focused so you do not have time to think about anything else.  Taking notes also shows your teacher you’re interested in the class and paying attention.

-Recognize important information.  Listen for changes in tone in you're teacher's voice and for verbal cues like the most important reason or the three causes.  Most of what is on the board or on an overhead is important, highlight this information.

-Take notes that are easy to read and organized.  Put the name of the class and date on every page of notes.  Leave space to add information later and write key words on the margins.  Use symbols and abbreviations.  Use erasable pen/pencil.

-Go over your notes as soon as possible, this will help clarify any information that is confusing and help you remember the lecture.  Redo your notes whenever possible, eliminate unimportant information and rewrite the rest in your own words.  This way you are relearning and solidifying the information in your memory.

-Get copies of class notes when you are absent.

Step Six: Know how to read a textbook
-Pay attention to boldfaced subtitles, the important words that are in italic or bold print, charts, vocabulary words, summaries, and review questions.

-Scan to get an overview of the material and get an information outline.

-Read to comprehend.  Turn bold subtitles into questions, keep your questions in mind and try to answer them when you finish the section.

-Review what you read, this makes a huge difference in remembering the material.  Read the bold print and briefly state what it means and why its significant.  Answer all of the review questions.  Review everything again a day or two later.

Step Seven: Study Smart
-Find a good place to study.  Make sure it has a surface for writing, it is well lit, comfortable, and equipped with (or have space for) all the supplies you need and your books.  Listening to classical music can improve your concentration while you study.

-Just get started.  Don't put off studying until later or you're in the mood.  Start with a simple subject and just start studying.  Organize your study time by making a plan, deciding what you want to get done and the order you are going to do it.  Prioritize and allow more time than you think you’ll need.  Study your least favorite subject first to get it out of the way and alternate types of assignments.  Take a short break every 20 minutes to get a drink of water and stretch.

-Know your learning style.  Figure out if you're a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner.

-Know how to study for tests.  Understand the big picture, know the main points and key facts.  Pay particularly close attention in class the day before a test.  Have all your reading done ahead of time.  Go over important facts and/or formulas as much as possible before you take the test.

-Use tricks to help you memorize information, such as flashcards; stare at  what you want to memorize, say it out loud, close your eyes and do it again; go over any information you want to remember right before you go to sleep; use acronyms; use the first letter of words you want to remember to make up silly sentences; look for an easy or logical connection; use diagrams to group information; use ridiculous images to help trigger your memory.

Step Eight: Use test-taking strategies
-Get off to a good start.  Have everything you need for the test when you go to class and try to relax right before the test.  As soon as you get the test, write down anything you want to remember from your memory aids.  Read the directions and write your name.

-Quickly look over the test and develop a plan.  Decide how long you will spend in each section and try to give yourself a few minutes at the end to check your answers.  Read each question carefully.

-Mark the questions you want to go return to.  Donít spend too much time on any one question or problem.  Donít panic if you donít know the answers to the first few questions, go back to them and youíll probably remember the answers.

-Multiple choice questions.  Try to come up with the answer in your head before you look at the choices.  Read all the choices.  When youíre unsure, eliminate the choices you know are incorrect first, and then make an educated guess.

-True/False questions.  Look for key words, read carefully; one word will often determine whether the statement is true or false.  Statements with always/never are usually false; those with usually/often/most are usually true.

-Draw a diagram or picture when solving a difficult math problem.  Show all your work, you may get partial credit.

-Open book tests require preparation.  Highlight your notes, use sticky notes or bookmarks to help you locate information.  Write down information you will need on a separate piece of paper.

-For essay tests it is important that before you do any writing, brainstorm.  Take a moment to write down what you know about the subject and make a quick outline.  Note how many points each question is worth and spend time on it accordingly.  Begin writing using clear, concise sentences and write legibly.

Step Nine: Reduce test anxiety
-Start studying early, study enough so you feel confident that you know the material.  Replace worry and negative thoughts with positive thoughts and relaxing.  Cramming increases anxiety.

-Learn and practice relaxation techniques.  Take a deep breath, hold it, release slowly, and repeat.  Staring at the top of your head flex and relax each part of your body.  Close your eyes and relax, visualize tension flowing out of your body, relaxing your muscles.

-Walk with confidence, head up and shoulders back.  How you act can definitely affect how you feel.

Step Ten: Get help when you need it
-When you have a problem, do something to resolve it.  Most questions can be answered and problems resolved when you explain them to the appropriate person.  Remember you teachers, counselors, principals, and your parents can help.


Tips for Parents and Guardians
Caring for “The Acting Out Teen”
•     This teen often has problems with their grades, teachers, parents and often externalizes their problems while acting out and engaging in risk-seeking/taking behaviors. The teen usually acts like nothing matters when you take all of their things away.•     They tend to cut on their arm so people can see
•     They will yell, argue, fight, and might run away if they don’t get their way•     They are often poor at emotion-regulation, and often unskilled at communicating their feelings, and are unclear about what is really bothering them
•     The teen might present as very dramatic and depressed, and often hangs out with the wrong crowd of peopleCaring for “The Perfect Teen”•     The “perfect teen” is harder to see and often goes unnoticed. This teen may participate in many activities, has good grades, often has a job, and never gets into trouble. However, these teens often suffer in silence and their difficulties often go unnoticed.•     These teens often present with anxiety, psychosomatic complaints, internalization, cutting, feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, feelings of being overwhelmed, decreased self-esteem, and may feel they are never good enough. Many of these are also depression symptoms.Red Flags that They ARE NOT Okay:
•     Changes in behaviors
•     Changes in eating habits•     Changes in sleeping•     Loss of interest in activities they usually enjoy•     Changes in how they normally communicate with you•     Staying in their room more than usualA lot of times, these are signs that your teen is struggling.
What Can You Do?
How can the physical and psychological consequences on teens be reduced? Studies have shown that using the mindfulness program and other tools and interventions can reduce negative symptoms.
As parents and guardians you can help your teen(s) by encouraging mindfulness practices and by engaging in mindful parenting.
Can You Offer Your Time?
•     Children and teens want to be heard. •     Family dinners are a way for you and your teen(s) to connect o       Ask about highs and lows of their day

•     Trust
•     Openness
•     Letting Go•     Gentleness•     Generosity•     Beginners mind Empathy•     Gratitude•     Loving-Kindness
•      Respect•      Frequently check-in with your teen(s), even when you get no response. •     Be present with your teen without multi-tasking—without doing anything elseMindfulness Qualities
Bring attention, curiosity, and awareness of these qualities to yourself, your teen, and others:
•     Non-judging
•     Non-striving•     Acceptance•     Patience•     Forgiveness
•     Not-knowing
•     Being vs. Doing•     Non-reactivity•     Thoughts and feelings•     Curiosity

Parental Self-Care
It is difficult to care for someone else when you are not taking care of yourself. Self-care is NOT the same as being selfish. Model for your teen the importance of self-care.

8th Grade Guidance Links:

Steve Jobs-Standford graduation
J.K Rowling-Harvard graduation




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Stony Brook Middle School  |  9 Farmer Way, Westford, MA 01886  |  ph: (978) 692-2708  |  fx: (978) 692-5391

Westford Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or homelessness.