News from the Hill

October 14, 2016

Principal's Message

Dear Parents/Guardians,

There is so much happening at Hillside! Our students brought their winning smiles for our Hillside Picture Day today. Thank you to all of our parent volunteers for assisting us. You are so important to our Hillside community!

Next week, we will be shifting one of our lunchrooms from the All Purpose Room to the Small Gym. The All Purpose Room will be having the floor refinished from October 19th-29th and in the future, will only be used as our “Gymatorium” for physical education classes and assemblies. We will put a plan into place to make this a seamless transition for our students in Grades 3 and 4 who are affected by this change at lunch. Additionally, physical education classes will be taking place outside during this time period, weather permitting. Please be sure to send your child to school with a sweatshirt or jacket, if necessary.


Our district plans to begin its administration of the i-Ready Diagnostic beginning next week. Students in both grades 3 and 4 will take the ELA assessment on Monday, October 17th and the math assessment on Tuesday, October 18th. We expect each diagnostic to take approximately 45 minutes to complete.

The goal of the i-Ready Diagnostic is not to rank and order students like a standardized test, but to instead, provide teachers with real-time student level information. The i-Ready diagnostic assessment will be used along with other formative and summative teacher-developed assessments already administered within our schools to provide teachers with information on each student’s educational progress.

Although i-Ready has provided the appropriate assurances regarding data security and student privacy, in response to some of the concerns raised by parents, the decision was made to remove all student identifiable information from the system. Pseudonyms were loaded in place of a student’s first and last name.

If you have any questions about the i-Ready testing, please do not hesitate to let us know.


1) We are scheduled for a late start on Friday, October 21st. School will begin at 9:30 AM. There will be coverage beginning at 7:50 AM, if you need assistance with childcare.

2) When visiting the school, please check in with our security guard, Tony Francis, and get a “Visitor” sticker. Visitors may ONLY visit the intended location. We ask for your assistance in refraining from making other stops along the way, as it interferes with instruction and is a safety issue. We appreciate your cooperation.

3) Halloween Costume Parade will be held on Monday, October 31st at 9:30 AM. Costumes (including accessories) of a violent or excessively frightening nature are not permitted. Additionally, given the recent community concerns over clowns, I would request that your child not choose this type of costume for the school Halloween celebrations, as it could be considered frightening for some of our youngsters. More details around this special day to come!

Finally, today was bittersweet as we celebrated our primary grade teacher, Sandy Bendet (photo below) and sent her off to retirement with well wishes from both students and staff. We thank Sandy for her many wonderful years of service and dedication to the Hillside community!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend with your families!

Warm regards,

Amy Cazes


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Classroom News


This month we will be studying Nursery Rhymes. We will be reciting and learning new vocabulary words as we introduce new and old nursery rhymes. Our discussions will allow children the opportunity to share their thinking about the nursery rhymes as well as identify characters and sequence the events in each rhyme. We will be doing many activities that focus on rhyming words, patterns and pairs. Rhyming is a very important skill for young readers!

First Grade

Our first graders have started a study of the human body. In the upcoming weeks, children will learn about the skeletal, muscular, digestive, circulatory and nervous systems. They love learning about how their bodies work and how the different systems work together to perform a variety of important jobs. During our reading instruction, we will dive deeper into learning what a “just right” book is and how to choose them from our classroom libraries. In math, first graders continue to work on practicing the strategies of counting on and will begin to explore the commutative property of addition. This past week, we also enjoyed a fire safety assembly and a visit from Frank Remkiewicz, the author of the Froggy books.

We look forward to seeing many of you at our Halloween breakfast and parade!

Second Grade

We concluded our Fairy Tales unit, our first English-Language Arts unit last week. The unit included literature (fairy tales), literary analysis and an introduction to expository writing. The writing component will continue in our guided reading program and our Tall Tales unit in about a month or so. With the conclusion of our reading assessments, our guided reading program will begin.

In mathematics, we concluded our first measurement unit, which focused on linear measurement in the metric system (centimeters and meters). Our third unit will begin our intensive work with place value leading to the traditional addition and subtraction algorithms in the subsequent unit next month. In the new unit, the students will work through a series of steps from concrete to representational to symbolic to understand place value and the underpinnings of the algorithms.

Our work in social studies continues with our study of community and citizenship. The students have worked with the concepts of the rights and responsibilities as citizens of Hillside and Hastings-on-Hudson. We will continue with a look at the various communities to which the students can claim “citizenship”/membership and how they relate to one another.

Communications Class K-2

We are busy!! The Kindergarten students will be studying Nursery Rhymes this month. Our focus will be on allowing the children the opportunity to share their thinking about the nursery rhymes as well as identify characters and sequence the events in each rhyme, and reciting and learning new vocabulary words as we introduce new and old nursery rhymes.

The First Grade students will bes starting a study of the Human Body. Our focus will be on learning the basic function of the body and exploring care and maintenance of the body.

All together we are continuing to learn/review letter sounds, letter names, and identifying beginning sounds.

Communications Class 3-5

The students have been working very hard!!!! We finished reading Dodsworth in New York to go along with our New York State unit. The students are learning to sequence important events in a story in ELA. In Math, we began our unit on strategies to solve word problems and continuing rounding. In Science, we began discussing animal adaptations, focusing in particular on camouflage and how animals use this adaptation to survive. In Social Studies, we are continuing our unit on New York by focusing on the different landforms found within our state.

Integrated Learning Class 2-4

We are continuing to enjoy the introduction of new elements to our day.

Students have been getting to know their mainstream classmates during Social Studies, Specials and special events like Nature Walks and birthday celebrations. Meanwhile, math, reading comprehension, decoding and writing skills weave in and out of our busy days!

Third Grade

As scientists, students are continuing to learn about how the living environment works. They are researching food chains and food webs in various habitats, to see how plants and animals transfer energy from the sun to use as fuel. An outdoor activity, where students are part of a food chain, help students experience this transfer of energy first-hand.

Students have begun their social studies work with a study of geography. We have begun a multi-week unit that began with learning about the continents and oceans. It continues with learning about how physical, political and climate maps help us learn about how people living in different countries around the world are affected by their location. To help students build their geography skills, they are researching a country of their choice, using a variety of geographic tools. This is part of our “Learner-Activated, Technology-Infused (LATI) classrooms. Students are also using ELA skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking during this unit.

In mathematics, we continue our work with multiplication. Students are learning how to use the commutative and distributive properties to help solve multiplication word problems.

Fourth Grade

Fourth Grade is continuing to move ahead. In mathematics, we are learning to place numbers on vertical number lines and we have learned to use place value understanding to round multi-digit numbers to any place value. It’s been wonderful to see our students embrace this challenge.

In social studies, 4th graders have used their knowledge of landforms and resources in New York State to create colorful maps and keys. These poster-sized works of art will be able for viewing outside of each classroom. We invite you to come and take a look!

In ELA, 4th grade students have learned many strategies to help them become better readers. These strategies have included visualizing, using post-its to stop and jot thoughts, and asking questions as they read. Now, students are taking this information, organizing it, and creating a polished reflection piece that will show who they are as readers. We look forward to seeing the final products of their hard work.


Students are in the middle of different projects. K-3 classes have begun creating seasonal paintings of gourds and other fall vegetables. Fourth graders have begun an abstract painting using oil paint. Please check out the Hillside Art Blog for regular updates - .


Ms. Concra’s Music Classes: Kindergarten and 1st graders are wrapping up the unit on singing voices versus speaking voices. I am challenging students to sing alone. So far, there are many brave singers! We will continue with practicing fast and slow beats and movements while maintaining body control. 2nd grade is learning a new song and game from Ghana. The song incorporates steady beat and hand eye coordination while singing. 3rd and 4th grades are wrapping up their graphic notation projects by performing their compositions for their classes.

Mr. Campbell’s Music Classes: Kindergarten and first grade students are continuing to develop their singing voices and learn how it is different from their speaking voices. Kindergartners are still singing short echo songs, both with and without words. Ask your first grader if he or she can sing you the car song, I’m a Little Acorn Round, Hey Betty Martin, or Dame Get Up. Second grade students are wrapping up their study of piano vs. forte and are beginning to learn the difference between duple and triple meter. Third and fourth grade students are continuing to perform on the xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels. Third graders are performing steady beat and broken borduns, a simple rhythmic pattern that is repeated. Fourth graders have learned how to transpose simple tunes from one key to another through solfege.

Physical Education

We have continued to work on our soccer unit which has been going very well. The students’ skills are improving, allowing them to participate in soccer games. In the upcoming weeks, students can look forward to learning various games that can be played at recess such as box ball, SPUD, kickball, and safe use of the playground equipment. If Mother Nature decides not to cooperate, we will bring students inside and introduce them to fitness stations, yoga, and group fitness activities.


First and fourth grades were lucky to have a visit from Jack Birkedal's grandfather, famed Illustrator Frank Remkiewicz (Froggy books by Jonathan London; Suzy Kline's Horrible Harry series and much, much more). He showed a number of the books he has illustrated in his long career and explained to the students how he generates ideas for his illustrations and the process of making them come to life! Both first and fourth graders enjoyed a lively interactive read-aloud of Froggy book as well. The library is very excited to have received a poster-sized signed Froggy illustration, drawn on the spot during the first grade presentation, that will be displayed for all to see!

We're wrapping up fables with the first grade and folk tales with the second. Kindergarten is reading Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jon Klassen, discussing the meaning of the word spectacular (used throughout the book), and drawing a reading response to the spectacular thing one might find at the bottom of a hole. Going forward, we'll be doing Dewey and catalog explorations with the third and fourth grades; more work on Just Right books with all grades to stem the tide of half read books returned to the library and get children more engaged and aware in what they are reading; and read-alouds of thrilling, chilling Halloween books.

Maker Space

Third and fourth graders have continued to explore with the littleBits Gizmos and Gadgets kits, moving on to the very challenging remote controlled BitBot. K-2 classes have continued building and creating with Legos - Lego StoryStarter Kits with Community and Fairy Tale extension packs, as well as Lego WeDo Robotics. The collaboration, conversation, and problem-solving among students working together has been amazing to watch! Follow me on Twitter @hohjned