Rising 6th Grade Transition

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Link to Rising 6th Orientation Video for Students

6th Grade Frequently Asked Questions

The following are frequently asked questions about the transition to middle school and the 6th grade. We hope they will be helpful to you. If you do not see your question answered below, please complete this form or contact the Williamsburg Counseling Department at 703-228-5450.

  1. What does my child’s day look like in 6th grade?
    • The middle school day begins at 7:50 am. and finishes at 2:24 pm.
    • Students are on a block schedule at WMS. Which means, with the exception of one class and Wolf Time, you will have each class every other day. We have A Days and B Days. In 6th grade all your core classes are at the beginning of your day. You will have PE and your elective choice at the end of the day.
    • When you get your schedule, it will look a little confusing but, don’t worry, your 6th grade TA teachers will be spending time with you to write a schedule that is easier to read to keep with you and also to put in your locker. Your 6th grade TA teachers will also be taking you on tours the first week of school so you can see where your classes are.
  2. What are the core classes?
    • Core classes consist of English, Math, American Studies, Science and Reading or a semester of Reading and a semester of Introduction to Spanish or Spanish for Fluent Speakers.
  3. Does Health and PE meet every day?
    • PE meets for three quarters and one quarter of Health instruction.
  4. What are the choices for the elective period?
    • The elective period can be filled with instrumental music or an exploratory rotation that may include visual arts, theater arts, technology education, family and consumer science, computer keyboarding applications, and journalism. Please see the middle school Program of Studies pages 13-17 for descriptions of these classes. Additional options are described in these pages but are not offered at Williamsburg.
  5. How are students placed in core classes?
    • English, Science, Social Studies, and Reading are heterogeneously grouped.
    • In looking at our students who have been identified as gifted, we do try to cluster at least 4-5 of those students together in a class. The Gifted Talented Coordinator, Kristi Board (kristi.board@apsva.us), at Williamsburg will work with teachers to differentiate in the classroom for those students who need an extra challenge.
    • Math placements are based on the scores earned on the 5th grade end of the year assessment and 5th grade SOL, as well as information from 5th grade teachers.   6th graders can be placed in Math 6 (6th grade curriculum) or Math 7 for 6th graders (pre-Algebra curriculum). We are waiting on guidance from the math department to determine this year’s groupings.
  6. I understand my student will be assigned to a team. How are those team assignments made?
    • Teams are assigned somewhat randomly, although we do try to balance for gender and for academic ability so that we have a full range of abilities on all teams. We do not take team requests but know that there are multiple ways to see friends from other teams throughout the day.
  7. Is there Extended Day in middle school?
    • There is a program administered by the Extended Day office at the Ed Center called Check-In. Students in the program can “check in” with staff and then go to after school activities, work with a teacher or go to the Library until 3:30 when they return to Check-In. Check-In closes at 6:00 pm.
  8. What sports activities are available?
    • Students can participate in both interscholastic and intramural sports. For interscholastic sports, students must have a current physical form dated after May 1st of the current school year and must sign an Athletic Participation Statement. Tryouts occur afterschool from 2:30-4:10pm. Student athletes must be in good academic standing in order to participate in after-school sports. Interscholastic sports offered at WMS include Basketball, Wrestling, Soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, Cheerleading, Swimming/Diving, Tennis and Track.
    • Intramural sports do not require a physical to participate.
  9. What other after school activities are there?
    • There are many clubs and organizations that meet after school, everything from Model UN to Art to Robotics. Not all clubs meet every week so students should listen to announcements in the morning. After school activities are also posted on the WMS website.
  10. How do parents stay informed of after school activities and other school events?
    • The Williamsburg website is the best source for up to date information. On it, you will see Upcoming Events and a link to calendars for the rest of the year. The morning announcements are also posted on the Williamsburg website. There are shortcuts to teachers through email, and links to Emergency Announcements, APS Talk.
  11. In elementary school we had Friday folders. How do I know how my child is doing?
    • Each team has its own procedures for keeping you informed on a weekly basis. There is also an electronic grade book via Canvas that parents can access at any time.
    • Teachers can be contacted via email or phone.
    • Just as in elementary school, we do two conferences a year, one in October and another in March. Team conferences can be scheduled at any time through the team leader or the school counselor.
  12. What are the homework expectations in 6th grade?
    • Students can expect to have approximately 20-30 minutes of homework per core class per night (which would be 2 core classes given our block schedule). Additionally, students are expected to read independently for 30 minutes per night. At times, homework is only assigned if a student needs additional time to finish class work.
  13. My child has an IEP. How are special education services delivered in middle school?
    • We offer a continuum of services for students with an IEP.  Students whose goals and accommodations/modifications can be met in a general education classroom receive support in the identified areas by special education staff which includes both teachers and classroom assistants. Students whose goals and accommodations/modifications are best met in smaller settings receive the same grade level curriculum taught by a highly qualified special education teacher. Depending on the size of the class, a classroom assistant may also be assigned to the class.
    • Williamsburg staff participates in transition IEP meetings at the elementary schools. Please direct questions about special education to Jennifer Doll, Special Education Department Lead.
  14. Are tours available for rising 6th Grade students and their families?
    • There will be an opportunity for students to visit WMS before school begins on PALS Day.  During PALS Day, students will meet their TA teacher and have a brief lesson about the first week of school and tour classrooms.  Additionally, students and families will be able to purchase PE uniforms and a light snack will be available at the conclusion of the event.
  1. How does Williamsburg communicate with parents about what is going on in the classroom?
    • Teachers utilize ParentVue/StudentVue to communicate about class-related announcements and homework on a daily basis. Additionally, teachers utilize an online Homework Blog to capture assignments so that parents can reference and review with their student at home. Parents can also “pair” to their student’s Canvas courses to view assignments and upcoming tests/quizzes. Teachers also are happy to communicate with parents via email regarding specific questions or concerns.
  1. What elective classes are in the wheel? Do you stay with the same group or does it shuffle?
    • The Exploratory Wheel consists of the following types of classes (offerings may vary): fine and performing arts, career tech education, and journalism. Students take 5-6 weeks of each course in a rotation and will stay with the same group of peers throughout the year.
  1. Where do I go before school begins?
    • Doors open at 7:20am for students to start entering the building. 6th grade students who arrive at WMS before the 7:40am dismissal bell are to report to the Auditorium. If you arrive by bus, staff will be in the halls to help direct you to the Auditorium. If you are a walker, bike rider or parent drop off, you can enter in the doors to the Auditorium lobby (door 14).
  1. How do students use Canvas?
    • Students will be using Canvas as part of their daily learning. Canvas is a tool used by teachers to deliver content to students and it is accessible by students through their iPads. Canvas is used by students to: check and submit assignments, access study materials, take assessments, and record media. Students are to use Canvas daily as teachers update their Canvas pages frequently.
  1. What is Wolf Time? What do you do in Wolf Time?
    • Wolf Time is a short daily block of time students have in their schedule. It is used in a variety of ways. In the beginning of the year, it is used to support students in getting their school year started with beginning of the year activities. Throughout the year, Wolf Time will be used for enrichment, which is student choice, or academic support. Students who are placed in support Wolf Time classes, are identified by teachers using standardized assessments and classroom data.
  1. How do teachers and students use the iPad during school?
    • Teachers use iPads in a variety of ways. Students may use them for academic activities or games, to write and collaborate with projects or take tests/quizzes to name just a few. Students will also use their iPads to access Canvas and StudentVue to stay on top of assignments.  In the first week of school, teachers will review with students the acceptable use policy so students are clear on expectations.
  1. What are the activities students can participate in after school?
    • There are various after school activities offered at WMS. We have intramural sports, clubs and ACT II offered during After School Period (ASP) 1 & 2 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30pm-4:10pm. We do provide a late bus on the days we have after school activities.
  1. What should I know about lockers?
    • Lockers are assigned by your TA teacher. Students will share a locker with someone in their TA. Students are allowed to decorate their lockers and bring items to help organize their belongings. All lockers are 3 number combination locks. So, practice this summer!
  1. When do 6th Graders get their schedules?
    • All 6th grade students will receive their schedule during PALS day/First day of school. Students will know their team assignments and TA teachers prior to PALS day and the first day of school.
  1. What do the first couple of weeks look like in 6th grade?
    • The expectations for the first few weeks of school will be for 6th graders to become comfortable within the WMS community. The TA teachers will be giving tours, helping with lockers, working with students to understand routines and the block schedule and to provide organizational tools to help manage their schoolwork.
  1. Williamsburg is a big school; how do I make new friends?
    • There are so many opportunities to make new friends at WMS! A great place to start is by checking out our after-school clubs, sports, and programs spanning a variety of interests. Aside from classes, all sixth-grade students eat lunch together without assigned seating which allows students to meet new peers. The counselors and student services staff are also always here to support our students if they find they’re having a tough time making new friends.
  1. What is block scheduling? What does it look like?
    • WMS operates on a daily A/B rotating schedule. Students will have specific classes on their A day schedule and then the next day (B day) they’ll have a different schedule of classes during those same periods. Basically, students will have their block schedule (90 minute) classes every other day. TA, Lunch, Wolf Time, and 5th period (45 minutes) do not rotate and remain at the same time every day. So, for example, a student’s A day schedule may go as follows: TA, 1st period, 3rd period, Lunch, Wolf Time, 5th period, 6th period. Therefore, the B day schedule would look like this: TA, 2nd period, 4th period, Lunch, Wolf Time, 5th period, 7th period. We promise it’s not quite as confusing as it sounds! We also know that this is a big change for our sixth graders, so we help them out a lot along the way.
  1. When do students get to go to the library?
    • Before school, students have access to the library on all days starting at 7:30 am. Students are also able to go to the library during After School Period (ASP) 1 & 2 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 2:30-4:10 pm. Of course, you will also go with your Reading teachers, as well as other teachers, to check out books and help with research.
  1. What if I don’t have classes with some of my friends? How will I get to see them during the day?
    • We know that a lot of students get very concerned about whether or not their friends are on their team, but we ask you to consider a few things. First, being on the same team with someone does not guarantee having any classes with them, and second, it’s possible to have classes with students who are not on your team. Reading, electives, and PE are not by team, and sometimes math isn’t either, so really only about half the day is spent in classes with your team. Also, the entire 6th grade eats lunch together and we do not have assigned seats, so students can see their friends in the cafeteria. Lastly, middle school is a wonderful time to meet some new people and make some new friends!
  1. How do I know what school supplies to get?
    • School supply lists can be found on Williamsburg’s website.
  1. Should I buy or bring my lunch? How much is it if I buy? Where do I sit during lunch and do I have to eat in the cafeteria?
    • 6th graders eat lunch pretty early at Williamsburg, they are the first lunch. Students can purchase whole lunches, items a la carte (like chips or water) or bring their lunches each day. Full lunches are $3.10 and if you would like breakfast before school starts it is $1.75. Parents can set up lunch accounts online where students simply enter their student number and the cost will come out of the account like a debit account. If you want to make your choice of bringing or buying based on what is for lunch that day, you can check out the menu online with this link.
    • To apply for free/reduced lunch, please visit https://www.myschoolapps.com/
    • During lunch students are able to sit wherever they like. This is a great way to see friends you may not have classes with and get to know new friends you are meeting. Make sure to invite those new faces to get to know them better!  Some students may choose to see a teacher during lunch for a variety of reasons. Students may want to eat with a small group of friends with a teacher, have questions from class or make up work during lunch. All students need to do is have a pass to go to the teacher during lunch.
  1. How do I go see my counselor?
    • Students can meet with or talk to their counselor in a variety of ways. As long as their teacher knows where they are, they can stop by the main office and ask to see the counselor. If the counselor happens to not be available, the student can leave a note for the counselor, who will then follow up with them. Counselors are also in the auditorium in the mornings, and in the cafeteria at lunch time. Students may also send their counselor an email or a message via Canvas requesting to meet with them.