News from the Hill

November 1, 2019

Principal's Message

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Happy November! As you know, our school goal this year is to improve writing instruction by providing teachers with ongoing professional learning opportunities that prepare them to deliver an aligned writing curriculum through purposeful instruction with individualized feedback for students. We are excited to share that our Hillside writers are growing daily! On our visits to classrooms, we see students engaged in writing as teachers serve as coaches through both strategy groups and conferences. In addition, there has been much buzz about the joy of writing. In fact, we have had audible groans from students when Writer's Workshop ends for the day! We couldn't ask for anything more, as our teachers are instilling a true love of literacy in our students.

We thank you for your cooperation as we continue to work to ensure a smooth arrival system at Hillside. Our security officer, Doug Schur, is outside each morning to assist with safety. We have ten numbered cones in our circle for cars to pull up and drop off quickly. Please remember that there is absolutely NO PASSING in the circle. Cars that anticipate taking longer to drop off due to instruments, car seats, etc., should stop in our student unloading zone (immediately on the right side after the custodial driveway). Doug will direct circle traffic around these two spots only. We appreciate your adherence to these safety guidelines.

November is a busy month at Hillside! We will kick-off with One Book, One School on November 1st. We are excited to share Peter Reynold's picture book, Say Something, with our K-4 students and families and then hear all of the amazing things that our children have to say! Also, on this evening, please join us at the PTSA New Book Fair Event with Hastings' author, MacKenzie Cadenhead.

On November 4th, our Building Leadership Team will meet for the first time this year to brainstorm creative ways to bring the Hillside construction project into our classrooms. This committee, comprised of teachers, parents, administrators and third-grade students, will work collaboratively to recommend stimulating learning experiences for the 2020-2021 school year. We thank our BLT volunteers for sharing their time!

This month, we will have two early release days on November 5th and 12th for Parent/Teacher Conferences. These are wonderful opportunities for our parents and teachers to partner to ensure a productive year of learning for each child. Please note that our children will be released at 11:55 AM on these days.

We are excited to share that our fourth annual, Tribute to our Veterans assembly, will be held on Friday, November 8th. If you have a family member who is a veteran, we would love the opportunity to honor him/her at our Hillside assembly. If a veteran is able to join us, please let your child’s teacher know the veteran’s name and relation to your child by Monday, November 4th.

November 22nd is a scheduled Late Start and HEF's Movie Night. It will take place at FMS and is sure to be a wonderful night out for families. In addition, as in years past, November 27th will be our District-Wide Early Dismissal Drill where students will be released at 11:55 AM.

As the weather turns cooler, we would like to remind you of our District policy regarding outdoor play. Students go outside for morning recess, mid-day recess and after-school recess when the real-feel temperature is 27 degrees or higher and it is not precipitating. Students can be outside for periods of up to 40 minutes. Please be sure to dress your child appropriately for the weather each day. We recommend sending your child to school with a coat, hat, gloves, scarf and boots/snow pants (when there is snow) so that they can enjoy their time outside.

Wishing you a fantastic month!

Amy Cazes


Just like paints on a palette, we all make the picture complete!

Big picture

Check Out the Folly Scores Composed by Ms. Concra's 4th Graders

Over the past few weeks, Ms. Concra’s 4th grade music students have been composing their own folly scores to accompany Disney’s black and white film The Haunted House (1929). Each class had a specific section on which to work. Students spotted the film, orchestrated and composed the score, and performed their compositions live while watching the video. After the four sections were combined, classes viewed their completed version and compared it to Disney's original score and discussed which version they preferred and why.
Counselor's Corner

Click here for our Counseling Newsletter!

Classroom News


Kindergarteners were enthralled with learning all about Fire Safety last week in a very hands-on way! The children had such a great experience sitting inside a fire truck, looking at fire gear and an ambulance. What fun!

We have finished our Nursery rhymes unit. In this unit, the children gained a good understanding of the meaning of the nursery rhymes, were exposed to new vocabulary words, and learned all about rhyming words.

In math, we are beginning to work on building our number sense by composing and decomposing numbers (for example, 3+1=4, 2+2=4, etc.). We are also continuing to practice our number formations and counting.

Our first writing unit is well underway and our students are exploring with different writing tools, learning about different types of writing, and beginning to explore with revising their writing. We are so proud of them!

The Kindergarten classes will be having a “Seasons of Giving” celebration on Friday, November 15th from 9:00-9:30 a.m. and all families are invited. We will be making care packages and cards to send to people in the armed forces. Detailed information regarding this celebration was sent home last week.

1st Grade

First graders love to learn! This past month, our first graders have been deeply involved in learning about our human bodies and various systems, (the Skeletal, Muscular, Digestive, Circulatory and Nervous systems.) Children are making huge discoveries as they learn that our bodies have 206 bones, that our 650 muscles help our bodies move, that the heart pumps blood every minute, and so much more. In the upcoming weeks, our students will focus on the keys to good health and the importance of a well-balanced diet.

Our new unit in reading workshop, “Tackling the Tricky Parts” is just underway. During this unit, our students will learn strategies to solve words, focus on fluent reading and retelling. These strategies will help our readers learn to problem solve, overcome challenges and persevere while reading.

As we build our writing community, students are learning the structures and routines of the writing workshop. Building these routines and learning how to organize materials empowers their work as they create their first pattern books.

In math, students are beginning to work with subtraction, as it relates to addition. They continue to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together and comparing unknowns in all positions.

2nd Grade

Hello from 2nd grade!

This week, second graders, begin immersing themselves in non-fiction reading and writing. In reading, they will dive into the world of information, exploring topics of interest and discovering unique ways to stop and jot about their new learning. Our goal is to unleash the power of curiosity as readers think about the many questions that they have surrounding different topics.

As we begin our second unit in writing, Expert Books with Text Features, each child will explore topics of personal expertise. Second graders will be busy writing lots of information books with an objective to teach others.

In math, second graders are working on Module 3, Place Value, Counting, and Comparison of Numbers to 1,000. This begins the exploration of place value, which is a major goal of second grade. Students continue to expand their knowledge of place value by bundling ones, tens and hundreds, up to a thousand. We explore place value in a very concrete way, working with money, base-ten blocks and place value disks.

In social studies, we continue learning about communities, specifically urban, suburban, and rural communities. We learn that “where you live, affects how you live” by exploring the different features and attributes of each community.

3rd Grade

In Math, we are in our second unit of study: Place Value and Problem Solving with Units of Measure. The unit began with a study of telling time. Students are asked to tell time to the nearest minute and practice elapsed time on an open number line. Students will solve word problems involving elapsed time, grams and kilograms, and liters and milliliters. Also, students will round numbers to the nearest 10 and 100 up to 1,000.

We have just begun our second unit in Reader’s Workshop. Through reading non-fiction texts, students will focus on learning the main idea of a text and finding supporting details. Children are choosing non-fiction books of interest and using text features to better understand the author’s intentions. Third graders continue to write about their reading in their reader’s notebook and will use the method of “box and dots” to take notes about their reading. The box is the main idea and the dots are the supporting details.

In writing, we are finishing our first unit on narrative writing. Students have generated ideas and zoomed in on a small moment to expand their thinking. They have learned different strategies to stretch their ideas. Students have worked on creating a beginning, middle, heart of the story (climax), and ending. Students have also added sensory details to help their readers “see and feel” their stories. Our next unit will begin in early November; check your student’s folder for more information on our next writing unit!

As our geography unit comes to a close, students have learned the continents, ocean, prime meridian, compass rose, and other aspects of reading a map. Our next unit of study will be China!

4th Grade

Happy October!

In math, 4th graders are wrapping up their work on our first module of study and are moving onto our next module which focuses on multiplication and division. Students will be reviewing concepts such as area and perimeter, as well as learning how to multiply multi-digit numbers and divide using long division. This is a very important unit, so any reinforcement of multiplication and division facts at home will be greatly appreciated.

In ELA, students are busy drafting their first narrative fiction pieces. They are learning how to include the elements of a story (characters, setting, problem and solution) while also learning how to use craft and structure to add voice and creativity to their work. 4th graders are carefully examining the books they read to study a character’s thoughts, actions, and words which is an essential part of our second unit in reading.

In Science, students continue to study living things. They are learning about both the characteristics and the inherited and learned traits that a biotic organism can possess.

Social Studies: In the coming weeks, 4th graders will be studying the Iroquois people. They will learn how native people migrated to what is now New York State, and how they used their skill and the natural resources around them to not only survive, but to thrive. Students will take home an optional assignment to create a longhouse, the structure that many Iroquois clans called home. If you have any questions regarding this project, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher.

We look forward to seeing many of you in 2 weeks at the Halloween parade!

Learning Lab 2-4

In the Learning Lab we have been growing as readers every day! We are using strategies to solve unknown words. Some of the strategies we are using are; point to the word and get your mouth ready for the first sounds, use the clues in the story or sentence to guide you, look for chunks and word parts. We have begun using our reader’s notebooks to jot and write about our reactions and our wonderings.

Our Second Graders are exploring place value. We are using popsicle sticks, money ($1, $10, and $100), and place value disks to model numbers to the 100s.

Our Third Graders are finishing our unit on the properties of multiplication and division. We can choose a model to demonstrate our understanding. We can draw an array, tape diagram, or number bond. Students should continue to work on fluency with addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts.

Our Fourth Graders will be reviewing concepts such as area and perimeter, as well as learning how to multiply multi-digit numbers and divide using long division. We are spending time recognizing the patterns when multiplying by multiples of 10, 100 and 1000. This is a very important unit, so any reinforcement of multiplication and division facts at home will be greatly appreciated.

Communications Class K-2

The students continue to work hard in the classroom! In ELA, we continue to read some of our favorite books. We are using these books to practice sequencing events in a story and answering Wh questions pertaining to the story. In Math, our K and 1st grade friends are working on counting and sorting. Our 2nd grade friends continue to work on place value, bundling and counting by ones, tens and hundreds up to a thousand. In Social Studies, our K and 1st graders are working on learning their personal information. Our 2nd graders are working on learning about rural, urban and suburban communities. In our classroom, we continue to learn about our 5 senses in Science. We are learning to use our different senses to explore the world around us.

Communications Class 3-5

In Communications 3-5 we have been working toward our individual goals and learning along with our Buddy Classes. We are showing what we know by practicing mastered skills and work and are growing by challenging ourselves with new skills. Our third graders created personal narratives and question and answer pieces. Our fourth graders created fictional pieces including character details. In Science we studied living things and classified objects/ organisms as living or nonliving. In Social Studies we focused on geography and the relationship between people and their environment. In math our class has been focusing on learning and applying concrete and visual strategies to solve various math problems. We are so proud of ourselves!


Hello from the Art Studio! Students are finishing their fall paintings. Check out all of the gourd paintings that are in the display cases in Hillside’s main hallway. The fourth graders are finishing up their oil paintings. As always, check out the Hillside Art Blog for regular updates of what is happening in the Art Studio - .


October was a fun month of music making! In fourth grade students learned about how music can be used to tell a story. They created their own soundtrack to a silent film from 1929 using classroom instruments and vocals. Third grade students learned about how an introduction and coda is used in music. In small groups they created their own musical arrangements that included both an introduction and coda. Second grade students began learning rhythm syllables as a preview to reading rhythmic notation. Kindergarten and first grade students participated in movement and directed listening activities where they learned how to find and keep a steady beat.

Physical Education

Hello Everyone! I hope the start to everyone’s school year has been awesome thus far. Here in Physical Education we just wrapped up our Soccer Unit, which as always was a huge success. The students learned about the rules of a regulation soccer game, how to properly pass the ball, how to dribble and maintain close control, how to strike a ball while attempting to score a goal, and competed in friendly soccer games to close out the unit! It was awesome to see the students progress and improve throughout the unit.

Beginning next week, we will be diving into our Gymnastics unit. Here at Hillside we are fortunate enough to have enough gymnastics mats to cover the gym. These mats are made of 2-inch thick soft foam with carpet on top. During the unit the students will learn and practice various stunts and tumbling skills, as well as yoga and stretching. This tends to be one of the most popular units, and all of us here are excited to get started! Please make sure each child is wearing socks on days they have Phys Edu, as its is a safety requirement to use the mats. Thank you!


Students have completed their study of Hispanic Heritage Month! Thank you for all of the wonderful posters and projects that were brought in to share--they are on display for all to see on the large bulletin board behind the office. Stop in and take a look at all of the Hispanic-Americans, famous people from Spanish-speaking countries, and interesting traditions we learned about!

Here’s a peek inside the classroom:

First graders are continuing their review of conversational questions, numbers, colors and family vocabulary. Second graders are continuing to review material learned in grades K and 1, and have begun a new unit on opposites. Third graders are finishing up their unit on the days of the week and months of the year. Fourth graders are finishing their review of material learned in grades K-3 and are now focusing on action words and questioning each other about what they like/do not like to do.