FAQ - Navigating Middle School
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Find these FAQs and more online at http://www.piedmontparentsnetwork.org
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#QuestionAnswerResources
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1What is Schoology and how is it different from Infinite Campus?Schoology is PMS' Learning Management System. With Schoology, students may digitally submit homework assignments, participate in interactive discussions, receive announcements and feedback, take tests, write academic blogs, and more.
Infinite Campus is the Piedmont Schools student information system. The system can be accessed by guardians and students for a variety of uses including updating contact information, to read messages sent from the schools, and to access grades.
http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/district-info/pusd-technology/infinite-campus-for-parentsstudents/
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2How much homework will my child have?Homework is supposed to be balanced in 6th grade, and should not exceed 1.0-1.5 hour maximum per day. It will gradually increase. If your child is struggling wiith longer time to complete homework, you may consider to seek advice from their core teacher or counselor.PMS Homework Policy
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3How much sleep should my child have?Needs will vary but for children ages 12-18, the AAP recommends 9-12 hours of sleep and that all screens be turned off 30 minutes before bedtime and that TV, computers and other screens not be allowed in children's bedrooms. Consider teaching your child "sleep hygiene," so they can develop healthy sleep habits.http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Supports-Childhood-Sleep-Guidelines.aspx
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4Where can students hang out after school?PMS offers a supervised homework club for 1.5 hour after school, every day but Wednesday and Friday. Further, the Piedmont Recreation Department (PRD) offers many other activities, or students go home. Read the suggested article under "resources" and discuss this topic at your next PPN meeting to get other parents' input too!https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/work-play/Pages/Childcare-for-Older-Kids.aspx
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5What does SCOTS stand for?Be Safe, Be Courageous, Own my Responsibilities, Treat Others with Respect - these are the values that the PMS want to foster and recognize in students.
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6When are parent-teacher conferences?Starting in Middle School, there are no parent-teacher conferences. You can contact teachers individually by email or ask for an appointment if you'd like to discuss an issue or review your child's progress.
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7Whom do I notify when my child will be absent or miss an hour or more of schoolEasiest: Call the 24/7 Attendance Recorder @510. 594.2663. Other options are to call the Attendance Office directly or provide a written note to the office. After a student has been absent, s/he must first go to the office to obtain an "admit slip" before returning to class. Check the School's website for more details.http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/about/attendance/
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8What is the block schedule?The block schedule is the weekly combination of periods (block of minutes of teaching) by day, which can vary from ~1 hour to ~2 hours. A period represents a course (math, PE, core etc...) and may be different for each student. Example: Natalie's period 1 is PE, while Paul's is Science. The block schedule began in 2013 with the purpose of allowing more time for deeper discussions and meaningful activities.http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/about/schedules/
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9How can I contact my child's teacher? Check the faculty directory on the school website. Your child should also have their teacher's contact information. This information is also usually included on handouts at Back to School Night.http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/academics/directory/
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10How heavy should my student's backpack be?With Chromebooks and textbooks, backpacks tend to get heavy. Have your child regularly clear out their backpack so they're not carrying things they don't need. They may not realize how quickly the pounds can add up. Use travel-size versions of lotion or sunblock. Consider using a backpack that has extra support through additional waist and chest straps.
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11Does every kid at PMS truly have a cellphone? Ask around at your next PPN meeting. You'll be surprised to hear how many parents are resisting and haven't yet given their child a smartphone. Some of them decide to start with a "flip phone" or non-smart phone in case they really need to reach them. The recommended approach is "Wait till 8", as in wait until they reach the 8th grade. If your child does have a cellphone, take a few minutes to create a "contract," so they'll have some healthy guidelines you can all agree on, like "No phones at the table." There are many online resources that address this topic. Check out these resources:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/sites/default/files/uploads/pdfs/census_factsheet_teensandsmartphones.pdf
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https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/heres-real-proof-that-a-cellphone-contract-works
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12How can I keep my child safe online?PMS provides a program to educate parents and students about online literacy and safety. This and related topics (parental controls, how to keep screen time under control) are often discussed at PPN meetings. https://sites.google.com/piedmont.k12.ca.us/digital-citizenship-pms
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13How does the counseling department work?The counselors reach out to the students and make themselves available in a variety of ways. Students can approach them with any questions or concerns they might have. Read about the conselor's role and how to contact them on the school website. http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/counseling/
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14What protocols are in place to deal with bullying and cyberbullying?Bullying is taken very seriously at PMS. Any student who is a victim of or observes bullying must immediately report it to a school counselor. The link to the school policy explained is provided. http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/district-info/non-discrimination-policy/
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15What are the big events for parents in 6th grade?Check the PMS website or the weekly PMS bulletin for upcoming events. "Back to school night" may be one of the only times you get to meet your child's teachers unless you request a meeting. "Meet the administrators" is an informative conversation with PMS administrators, which usually takes place mid-semester. For the first time this fall, PPN will organize a 6th-grade kick-off on September 4th, 2019, where you'll have the opportunity to meet your child's counselors and ask tons of questions. There may be other events scheduled outside of school where you can meet other families and learn more about what is happening in middle school.http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/, http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/bulletin/
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16What elective classes are available to my child? How do they pick?All students will go through the "elective wheel" and get a taste of the following electives: Arts, Associated Student Board, Computer Graphics, Drama, Green Team, Film Animation, Music, World Languages, Yearbook. At the end of the year, they'll get to choose their favorites for 7th grade. http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/academics/electives/
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17I’ve heard about kids “dating” in 6th grade….does this really happen?At some point during middle school, you might hear of kids "dating." This isn't necessarily cause for alarm. It could mean they're texting or hanging out together. Keep the communication lines open with your child. Reach out to the PMS counselors for more information since they have their eyes and ears to the ground.
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18Whom do I contact if I have a question about grades, technology, social issues? What’s the protocol if I have a concern?Start by encouraging your middle schooler to speak to their teacher if they have a question about classwork, homework or grades. (Being able to approach teachers and "advocate for themselves" is a skill all students will be encouraged to develop through middle and high school.) If you need to contact the teacher, it's probably best to email them. You can also reach out to your child's counselor since they will be familiar with your child's situation. Contact information for teachers and counselors can be found on the PMS website. http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/counseling/the-pms-counseling-team/
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19What is the dress code for boys and girls?Here is the official message: "Piedmont Middle School does not have a specific dress code as in a uniform policy. As per the Middle School Handbook, PMS students are expected to dress in a manner that does not distract from the educational process. Clothing that depicts alcohol or drug logos or any inappropriate pictures/words are prohibited. No halter tops, bare midriff tops or very short shorts/skits should be worn to school. No undergarnment straps should be exposed." http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/forms/emergency_plans/Site_Safety_Plan_10_11_PMS.pdf
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20What food is served at brunch/lunch? Are there options for kids with food allergies? How much $$ should I load onto my child’s account?You can find the weekly menu offered at the school cafeteria in the weekly bulletin, either in your email inbox, on the school website or on your inbox on Infinite Campus. It is pretty varied and delicious (popular items can even sell out). There is no cash payment option, so please set up a payment method on Infinite Campus. You can either select to automatically renew or limit to a specific amount. The amount depends on whether your child will eat there every day or occasionally bring lunch and snacks. Lunch is around $3.50-5.00. Brunch/snack $1.50-5.00. Excess funds in June will carry over to your child's account the following school year.http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/food-service/
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21What is the Wellness Center’s role on PMS campus?The Wellness Center provides a tremendous amount of support for our students for a wide range of issues. The WC is based on the PHS campus but can also serve PMS students. Read about the Wellness Center on the school website, or discuss at your next PPN meeting! And remember, the WC relies on generous donations from people like you!http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/pms/counseling/pms-wellness-center/
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We will add Q&A's as new questions come in during PPN meetings!
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