News from the Hill

October 1st, 2018

Principal's Message

Dear Families,

It's hard to believe that September is over and October is here! It has truly been a joy to welcome our new students and watch friendships blossom. Whether engaging in learning experiences in our classrooms, chatting over lunch in the Cafe, or exploring new equipment on the playground, our students are adjusting to their new environment and having lots of fun, too!

Today, we had our first lockdown drill, one of four state-mandated lockdown drills. This was our only announced drill to ensure that students and staff are able to review and understand our protocols. Our Hillside team did a phenomenal job and we thank the Hastings Police Department for their partnership in keeping our school safe.

Tonight is our first PTSA meeting where we will have the opportunity to discuss the many initiatives that are happening at Hillside. We encourage you to join us to learn more about our balanced literacy approach, social-emotional learning supports, diverse book initiative, homework research, outdoor classroom committee and more! Our meeting will begin at 6:30 PM in the Hillside library.

This Friday, October 5th, we have our first Late Start. School will officially begin at 9:30 AM, one hour later than usual. Students will have morning recess outside beginning at 8:50 AM. We realize that some families have early childcare needs; thus, we will have staff available to provide indoor supervision beginning at 7:50 AM.

October is sure to be filled with lots of excitement! On Wednesday, October 10th, our PTSA's Culture and Arts Committee will be bringing City Lore's Afro-Peruvian Music and Dance assembly to Hillside. Thursday, October 11th will be our School Picture Day. Get your smiles ready! On Wednesday, October 17th, we will host a SEPTA Coffee beginning at 7:30 AM in the Cafe. Also, beginning on October 26th, we will welcome our PTSA New Book Fair where we encourage you to pick up some great new books.

Finally, on Wednesday, October 31st, we will be having our annual Halloween Parade at 9:30 AM. As you consider potential costumes, we ask that you please be mindful of anything that may be culturally insensitive or may perpetuate stereotypes. We appreciate your help in guiding our children in their selections of inclusive costumes. In addition, we will have alternate activities for those students who do not celebrate Halloween. Our goal at Hillside is to foster an environment that is respectful and inclusive for each and every learner and family.

We look forward to a wonderful month!

Warm regards,

Amy Cazes


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Classroom News


We spent the month of September creating a classroom community and learning new rules and routines as well as making new friends! In October 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!

1st Grade

First grade is FANTASTIC! This past month, our children are have settled into their new classrooms beautifully and are learning to make new friends, sing songs and learn new classroom routines.

We have started our first unit in Reading Workshop, “Building Your Reading Toolbox.” This unit focuses on setting up structures and routines that are the foundation for this year’s work. In the upcoming weeks, students will practice good habits for starting a book, staying with a book and finishing a book. They will be immersed in reading and rereading so that these actions become lifelong habits. We will also begin our work to model and practice meaningful conversations so that their thinking begins to grow.

Our first math unit is underway and focuses on sums and differences to ten. Students love trying to beat their score as we practice fluency in our sprints, as well as, using whiteboards to show thinking as application problems are solved. In our first topic in Module 1, students focus on counting on which leads to decomposing and composing numbers.

As we wrap up our first unit in content, “Fables,” students have enjoyed listening to stories such as, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” “The Goose and the Golden Egg” and an all-time favorite, “The Little Half-Chick” (Medio Pollito). Valuable discussions were had around the moral of each story and how they relate to our own lives.

2nd Grade

Second graders are already growing, learning, and flourishing! With plenty of getting to know one another, back-to-school, activities enjoyed, we’ve settled into solid routines within our classroom communities.

In ELA, the students have been choosing books to read during independent times. Lessons on how we choose and on how to “stick with” our choices have been given. The stamina is impressive. Conversations between and amongst readers are delightful. Story elements (settings, characters, problems, solutions, and themes) will be the focus of instruction in the next few weeks, as we feature fiction. The students are following the writing process to compose narratives. We know that topics are important, as are our plans, our drafts, and our revisions and edits (the nitty gritty). The enthusiasm to both read and write is noted! (This makes teachers happy!)

In Word Study, we have reviewed closed syllables, bonus letters, short vowel breves, digraphs, consonant blends, and digraph blends. We’re studying glued sounds now. Ask your second grader to explain a few! They should be able to rise to the occasion :)

Proper letter formations, adequately spaced words and placing them on the lines, and writing in complete sentences are expectations (the nitty gritty, again).

In Math, we have reviewed adding and subtraction numbers through 100 and have rehearsed the steps in solving a word problem (Read, Draw, Write!). The students are working to master sums and differences within five; the races are on! The mathematicians are becoming metric masters now. Centimeter rulers and meter sticks are the tools of choice. It’s always fun to find out whose shoes are the longest! Or whose pencil has been sharpened most often, thus far!

In Social Studies, we are midway through our citizenship unit. The students are learning about values that we might deem important in our school lives, our home lives, and beyond..We will discuss rules within the many communities we all belong to and why we need them.

We are looking forward to a new month of learning, and most especially, to Halloween!

Classroom breakfasts before the parade, at 9:30!

3rd Grade

Third graders are enjoying their first month of school and are eagerly involved in our daily activities.

Our first math unit is “Properties of Multiplication and Division and Solving Problems with Units of 2–5 and 10” . Students are studying the connection between repeated addition and multiplication. They are increasing math vocabulary with words like factors, products, quotients and commutative property. They will be learning multiplication facts- more information will come home about this shortly.

Reading workshop has begun with the opening of our classroom libraries. Lessons on how to choose a just right book, how to participate in reader’s workshop, and how to write about what we are reading in a reader’s notebook are underway. Students are also beginning partnership work during reading time.

In writing students are working on the various components of a well-constructed sentence. This include topic sentences, detail sentences and concluding sentences. They are working hard to create interesting and varied sentences that capture their readers’ attention. They have begun writing in their writer’s notebooks.

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. As we learn how to use an atlas to gain knowledge about our world, the students focus on the question: How does WHERE you live affect HOW you live? This helps us learn about how people living in different countries around the world are affected by their location.

4th Grade

4th graders have started the year with great enthusiasm. They are proud to be leaders in our school community and are already hard at work.

In math, 4th grade students are learning about place value, ordering numbers (using greater than and less than symbols) and placing numbers on a vertical number line. They are also learning how to multiply by ten to change the value of a given digit.

In ELA, students have embraced our first unit, “Studying and Sharing our Thinking.” In this unit, 4th graders are beginning to truly understand how to choose books that they can and want to read. They are also learning to pay attention to their thinking as they read, and create notebook entries about this thinking to help them discuss ideas with partners or a greater audience. Students are also beginning to reflect on their reading process in order to set goals for themselves. This is complex and deep learning and will continue throughout the year.

In Social Studies, students are being introduced to New York State and its geography. They are learning to compare our landforms with those of other states, and they are learning that New York is comprised of six different regions, each distinct and unique. In the coming weeks, they will take this information and with groups, create posters with 3D effects demonstrating these landforms.

In Science, students and teachers are working closely with Mrs. Farrell and STEAM to understand the inquiry process and how to apply it. Students worked together to save “Fred” and thankfully, he was able to survive! Students also learned about biotic and abiotic things in our world. If you are not sure who Fred is or what these terms mean, be sure to ask your 4th grader!

If any 4th grade student is interested in designing the cover of our 2018-19 yearbook, please send in any submissions to Mrs. Troop by Friday, October 5th. Thanks so much!

Communications Class 1-3

We’ve had a terrific start to the school year in the 1-3 Communications classroom! The students have learned classroom routines, rules and expectations. We’ve made new friends and continue to form strong bonds in our buddy classrooms.

In ELA, we are talking about the importance of books, how to take care of our books and choosing books that are just right for us. We are learning how to sequence events, identifying the beginning, middle and end of a story and retelling a story in the order in which it occurred.

In Math, we are working on addition with sums up to twenty. We are using manipulatives and visuals to help solve these problems. We have also touched on repeated addition and how repeated addition is connected to multiplication.

In Social Studies, we are learning about different types of homes and communities. In Science, we are supporting the concepts learned in STEAM, in particular working collaboratively and being problem solvers. In addition, we are learning about living and nonliving things.

Learning Lab 1-2

September has been a great month for Learning Lab 1-2. Our learners are blossoming as they are getting to know one another, learn classroom routines, and progress toward their academic goals.

Our ELA block has focused on increasing phonemic awareness, letter-sound correspondence, concepts of print, and rhyming. Students are participating in direct sight word instruction while engaging in literacy centers. These centers include sensory and kinesthetic experiences to target many learning modalities. Private reading allows learners to choose “just right books” by providing room for growth and increase overall literacy skills. Partnered reading offers time to engage in a story in a meaningful way while participating in authentic talk and self-reflection amongst their peers.

Our math block is composed of fun and collaborative opportunities to enhance learners mathematical concepts. This unit focuses on composing and decomposing numbers within 10 using number bonds, addition word problems, using the “counting on” strategy for addition, and fluency sprints. Interactive lessons utilizing Smart Board technology allow students to visualize word problems and better interpret information while incorporating hands on learning.

Learning Lab 3-4

In the 3-4 Learning Lab, we are setting routines and expectations for reading. Lessons on how to choose a just right book, how to participate in reader’s workshop, and how to write about what we are reading in a reader’s notebook are underway. Students are also beginning partnership work during reading time. We are discussing how to increase our stamina for reading and how to self monitor.

In math, our third graders are working on our first math unit, “Properties of Multiplication and Division and Solving Problems with Units of 2–5 and 10” . Students are studying the connection between repeated addition and multiplication. We are working heavily in the pictorial representation, specifically drawing an array to match the repeated addition and multiplication.They will be learning multiplication facts- more information will come home about this shortly. We are also reviewing foundational math concepts such as fluency with addition and subtraction facts and answering multi-step word problems.

In math, our fourth graders are learning about place value, ordering numbers (using greater than and less than symbols) and placing numbers on a vertical or horizontal number line. They are also learning how to multiply by ten to change the value of a given digit. We are also reviewing foundational math concepts such as fluency with addition and subtraction facts and answering multi-step word problems.


After participating in the International Dot Day, students in K-3 have begun to explore color mixing. After spending a week creating an infinite amount of colors, students will begin the Painting of the Gourds project. Fourth graders are working with the idea of Abstraction that will eventually lead to oil paintings. Please remember to check out the Hillside Art Blog for regular updates of what is happening in the Art Studio - .

Physical Education

Hello Everyone! Welcome to Hillside Physical Education. We have been hard at work kicking off our school year. We just wrapped up our first unit which was “Recess Games”. We teach all students K-4 various recess games so everyone can play by the same rules and learn new games to play while outside.

We are now just starting our Soccer unit with K-4. To begin, we will work on our technical skills such as kicking, passing, and dribbling. We will use various drills in order to teach these skills. Each grade will see different drills which will be developmentally appropriate for their age level. From there we will play mini lead up games which will eventually lead into tournament play for our 2nd-4th graders. During tournament play, the skills learned in the prior weeks will all come together and allow for students to be successful while playing in these games.

We are excited to begin our sports units here in phys edu and can already tell it is going to be a successful year with all of our talented students!


We have had an exciting start of the year in the music department! Students in Kindergarten and First Grade have been learning about the differences between their singing and speaking voices. They have been singing, moving, and chanting to a variety of songs and rhythm chants. The older students in second through fourth grade have been preparing to sing Friends Are Like Flowers in honor of our school theme at our Second Steps Kickoff Assembly. Second graders have also been learning to identify the “resting tone” or home note of a piece of music. Third and fourth grade students have been learning to use the Orff instruments, which include xylophones, metallophones, and glockenspiels. We are looking forward to a fun and successful year of music making!


‘La clase de español’ has been off to a busy start! My students have been very flexible as they’ve adjusted to Spanish class “pushing into” their classrooms this year. Kindergarten is learning how to say their name in Spanish, greetings, and times of day through songs, read alouds, and other total physical response activities. First grade has been reviewing important concepts from last year, including colors, numbers, and body parts in Spanish. Second grade also has been reviewing concepts from first grade, such as colors, numbers, food and the weather in Spanish. Second graders will also begin studying how to describe themselves and others in Spanish in the coming weeks.

Third and fourth grade learned more about “los países hispanohablantes” through song and by creating a “classroom map” of the countries (please note that if your child enjoyed the song we listened to in class, it is on the FLES website under “Online Resources.”). We are also studying the days of the week and the months of the year in Spanish. I’m looking forward to helping your children grow in the coming year!


What a busy few weeks we have had in the library! We received an incredible shipment of new books at the end of the summer and Hillsiders have wasted no time in checking them out, reading them, and offering their reviews. Kindergarteners are becoming familiar with the library, the checkout process, and listening and talking about great books such as “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” by Ryan T. Higgins, “”A Visitor For Bear” and “A Library Book For Bear” by Bonny Becker, as well as the classic “Library Lion” by Michelle Knudsen. First graders listened to “If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, DON’T!” by Elise Parsley and then came up with ideas of what they would bring to the library if they could bring ANYTHING (no roller coasters PLEASE!). We are now working through, “Neck & Neck” by the same author (Parsley) and looking at the similarities between texts by the same author. Grades 2-4 are actively learning about the library - specifically fiction books and how they are organized and cataloged. Students in grades 3 & 4 are using the online catalog to find fiction books on the shelves by using the call number and also helping to shelve fiction books that have been returned. They love it - good practice (and helps the librarian too!)!


Our engineers are learning how to collaborate as we work together to solve a variety of problems such as building towers out of balloons or “Saving Fred,” our gummy worm. We have recently been collaborating across all grade levels to solve problems facing Charlie’s Garden here at Hillside Elementary. Our kindergarteners helped to beautify our school and garden by creating special rocks based on the book You Be You by Linda Kranz. First grade artists worked to solve the problem of some hungry chipmunks burrowing in our garden by creating gorgeous sun catchers, while second graders collaborated on how to craft watering globes used recycled plastic bottles. Third graders used the engineering principles found in origami to make large pinwheels that may act as beautiful versions of scarecrows, and our fourth graders learned how to wood-burn and make signs for our garden.