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  • Writer's pictureMr. Masterson

TSMS Newsletter: Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Hello TSMS Families! We hope you are all well and enjoying the fall weather. Lots of pumpkin spice and apples lingering around! Here's what's up at TSMS.



Today, Tuesday, October 25, some of our 8th graders took the SHSAT exam for entrance into one of the 12 specialized high schools in NYC. It was a long, challenging exam. Results will come later in the year.


On Thursday, October 27 from 1-4pm and again from 5-8pm, parents and guardians will have an opportunity to meet with your child's teachers to hear how they are doing in their classes. Students will be dismissed at 11am on this day. This conference is intended to be a short check in with your child's teachers. If there is a need for a longer

conference, please take the time to schedule a follow up. Keep in mind we go first-come, first-serve for each time slot, so families should show up at the beginning of their time to sign in. You will see all of your children's teachers during that hour, though due to the sheer numbers of families, the meetings are short. March Conferences will be longer in duration and student-led. As you know already, parent and guardian involvement is absolutely crucial to students' educational growth, especially at this age! We look forward to seeing everyone! If you haven't received a form, you can click here to download a version or e-mail Shirley and she will schedule you for a time slot.


On Tuesday, November 1, students will be taking their school photographs. All students will be photographed as part of their homeroom for our yearbook. Students who wish to purchase picture packages should have received a form backpacked home. If you didn't get a form, please click here. All orders should be handed in to Magda as soon as possible.


On Tuesday, November 8, there will be no school for students. Teachers will be in attendance for professional development. Please remember to take the time to vote and make your voice heard. With one of the most important elections in our history, every voice needs to be counted! Also, it's great for our children to see their parents and guardians participating in the democratic process. If you can, take them into the voting booth with you!


On Wednesday and Thursday, November 9 and 10, our 6th grade will be making a trip to Camp Ramapo for an overnight. There they will participate in community building activities with their teachers to build relationships and supplement our advisory curriculum in social and emotional learning. If you haven't already, please pay your 6th grade dues. Dues will cover not only this big trip, but the smaller day trips we will be taking throughout the year. Everyone will go on all our trips no matter what your financial ability. Please pay as much as you can knowing that no one will be left behind. If you can give more than the $225 requested, that extra money will go towards helping others afford our trips.

Look our for information packets this week!


On Friday, November 11, NYC Public Schools will be closed in observance of Veteran's Day. Enjoy the long weekend.


Wednesday, November 16 will be our next Early Dismissal Day for professional development. Students will be dismissed at 12 p.m. or 12:55 p.m. after a bag lunch depending on how you filled out the form. If you would like your child to stay until our regular 2:35 dismissal, please e-mail or call Shirley at 347-563-5303.


On Thursday (Diversity and Balance) and Friday (Insight and Empathy), November 17 and 18, 6th grade will head to the New York City Center for Space Science Education to explore space! They will do some activities supplementing their work in science with experimental design and flight. They will also have the opportunity to experience a simulation of launching into space and the work astronauts have to do while there.


Highlights and such...


We are proud to launch our new website! Right now, when you type in, you will be redirected to our new site location. Eventually, the new site will take over the space, but we are working on that. For now, enjoy the new look of the site and let us know if you have any suggestions to make it more user friendly. You can e-mail Matthew Masterson at The site should also be mobile friendly.


One of my favorite gifts is a pink tool box that I received when I entered college. That same tool box has been used in multiple apartments and has hung many photos. In education, we refer a lot to our “toolbox.” We are always looking to fill it with new tools or utilize it in times of need. Middle school is a time when we are teaching our children that they have toolboxes, and that they should start filling them with skills and habits.

Teachers, speech pathologists, guidance counselors, advisors and of course, parents, are always giving “tools” to our kids. Using a planner, rereading, checking in with teachers and mediation skills, are all tools that we expose our students to in the hopes that they will add them to their tool box. The best part about tools is sharing them, so see what tricks your child has learned and share your best tricks!


We will be Mixing it Up at lunch to meet new friends and break down barriers on DECEMBER 2nd 2016! Students will have a lot to talk about and be challenged to make a connection with someone they didn't know before. Stay tuned for more updates closer to the event!


6th grade math will be working on a hands-on project in December. We are in need of a 20' x 50' "4 mil" Black Plastic Sheet (you can find it here). If you happen to have or would like to donate one - please let the 6th grade math teachers know! You can email Jackie Brown at or Sara Garner at Many thanks!


Classes 8A and 8B have been working diligently in the months of September and October to compose memoirs for our "It's Complicated" project. As a special treat, a professional photographer visited the classes to take a photo of each student to accompany his or her writing piece. Now that the writing is complete, the pieces are being arranged into a real hard-bound book! Many students have volunteered their time to make this a reality. This book will be available and shared with students as an eBook. However, we are also allowing families to purchase their own hard copies for $20. The order form is here.


In today's world, new words are continuously being added to the dictionary. Who would have thought google or selfie would become such popular words! In speech-language therapy, we assist children in acquiring new vocabulary so they can understand the words used in their classes and move on to use them in their speaking and writing. We not only do this through direct instruction, by providing the word, definition, and a model sentence, but we also do this through Embedded Instruction. Embedded Instruction allows the student to learn the word through experience, like using context clues while reading a book, drawing a picture to represent the word, and even playing a vocabulary game with words from their curriculum. Children learn new words after repeated exposure, so picking books or games where words are repeated, helps them gain a greater understanding.

Since we all tend to learn new words each and everyday, we encourage you to dive into some good books and identify new words with your child, you never know, you may even learn a new word or two yourself and if you're looking for a fun way to learn some new words, board games like Blurt and Scrabble are great ways to get discussions going about different words!

Also just a friendly reminder, if your child receives speech & language therapy, please come by our room (Room 311) during parent-teacher conferences, so we can have a quick five minute discussion. We look forward to meeting all our 6th grade parents and reconnecting with our 7th and 8th grade parents. See you then!


The high school touring season is well under way! A couple weeks ago marked the first day that a few students missed my Humanities class. More are on the way. Visiting high schools is a really important thing to do, and I fully support it. As someone who has played a role in the high school process here at TSMS for fifteen years, I hope that our families find joy in the process. It’s a wonderful opportunity to engage in dialogue with your children about the incredibly broad list of high school options in the city and to discuss which are most suitable. I hope that you visit the high school fairs and the school tours together, and then collectively debrief. Most importantly, I hope that you understand that it’s not about your child getting into Stuyvesant High School or any of the other “elite” schools in the city. The truth is, the high school your child will attend will not define who he/she is. The key is to find the school that is the best fit.

Every year, the high school process inevitably challenges me to consider my role as an 8th grade teacher. What do I need to do so that my students are fully prepared for the challenges that await them the following year? I think a lot about this. First and foremost, I consider myself to be in the character building business. I want my students to have a strong character. I want them to be able to enhance our world by being responsible and caring global citizens. I want them to have grit. I want them to understand time management and the importance of being organized. I want them to meet deadlines. I want them to present their work like it matters.

I try my best to achieve character building by challenging, nurturing, and exposing my 8th graders to differing perspectives and ideas. I want them to think independently and to think critically. I push them hard to be academically independent and to learn the power of self-advocacy. I want them to read a lot and to write well. I want them to be confident public speakers. And if they hold onto a few historical facts about the 20th century, gosh, even better!

So, as you and your child navigate through the high school process these next weeks, please don’t stress out. I know firsthand that it all works out in the end. Where your student is meant to be, he/she will be. Our guidance counselor, Ms. Diaz, is an amazing resource and I hope that you tap into her immense talent. The entire 8th grade team is here to assist as well. And as far as what’s happening in the classrooms, please have faith in us. You’ve provided us with some amazing kids; we promise to get them high school ready.

All the best,


8th Grade Humanities


That's all for now! We hope you get a chance to check out our new website! We will update the "Community Updates" section on a regular basis where you can find up to date information and announcements to support you and your child in keeping on top of all that goes on throughout the year. Also, stay tuned for updated curriculum pages from our teachers to get a more in depth look at what your child will be learning all year. Take a minute to ask them about! Having a conversational "in" is helpful in pulling out the ever more hidden details in our adolescents. Have a wonderful week. We look forward to seeing you all on Thursday for Parent Teacher Conferences.

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