Welcome to Reading and Writing!

Lisa A. Ryan, Language Arts and Reading Instructional Specialist

Greetings! I am looking forward to a year of great reading and writing here at Hillcrest Middle School. I am very happy to once again work with students in our reading and language arts classrooms.

I am available to discuss any questions or concerns regarding our program of study and assessments. I may be reached at ryanl@trumbullps.org or 203-452-4466. 

Program News

COMMON CORE of STATE STANDARDS (CCSS):

This year we continue our implementation of the new state standards. We are updating and creating units of study as we focus on literary reading, informational reading, writing, speaking and listening, conventions of writing, and vocabulary. 

For more information regarding the Common Core of State Standards, click on these links: 

General information regarding the CCSS:

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/common-core-state-standards-middle-school 
http://www.corestandards.org/other-resources/key-shifts-in-english-language-arts/

Supporting your grade 6 student in English Language Arts:

http://www.cgcs.org/cms/lib/DC00001581/Centricity/Domain/36/100282-000ParentGuide_ELA_6.pdf

Supporting your grade 7 student in English Language Arts:

http://www.commoncoreworks.org/cms/lib/DC00001581/Centricity/Domain/114/ParentGuide_ELA_7_v1r10.pdf 

Supporting your grade 8 student in English Language Arts:

http://www.commoncoreworks.org/cms/lib/DC00001581/Centricity/Domain/114/ParentGuide_ELA_8_v1r7.pdf

TRAITS of WRITING:

We continue to develop instructional strategies, activities, and assessments regarding the six traits of writing. Students explore the traits as they write narratives, expository essays, research reports, argumentative essays, reader response and analytical essays, and creative writing pieces.

THE SIX TRAITS OF WRITING

A trait is a feature or characteristic of a person, place, or thing.
A trait of a good sandwich may be the freshness of the filling or the bread. 
It could be the flavorful toppings. 
A trait of a good football
player may be his ability to tackle or throw the ball.
When it comes to writing, 
there are certain traits, or characteristics, as well.

Traits of Writing: Ideas - Word Choice - Organization - Sentence Fluency - Voice - Conventions

Parents: For more information regarding the traits of writing and how you might be able to help your child with their writing, please click on this link: Parent Guide for the SIX TRAITS OF WRITING

JUNIOR GREAT BOOKS:

Great Books is a national literature program published by the Great Books Foundation. With the powerful combination of outstanding literature and shared inquiry discussions, Great Books K-12 programs help students become independent readers and thinkers ready for the diverse demands of the 21st century. We have run this program at Hillcrest for many years and look forward to bringing it to more students this year.

ASSURED PERFORMANCE-BASED ASSESSMENTS (APBAs):

Teachers continue to meet as content/grade level teams to create and implement performance-based assessments in all the content areas. This year, we look forward to many interesting and challenging reading and language arts performance-based assessments, which will be part of our instructional program throughout the year. 

Summer Reading

I hope you have all enjoyed some great summer reading! 

Did you have a favorite book?

Did you discover a new author?

Do you have any reading recommendations to share with Hillcrest students?

Language arts and reading teachers are looking forward to hearing your thoughts. 

 SUMMER READING CELEBRATION

Celebrate the Governor's Summer Reading Challenge! 

All students who returned their summer reading journals attended the annual ice cream celebration on Friday, September 18th. This year, students are completing an online Summer Reading Survey!

Grade 6 students were asked to return their journals to their reading teachers, and grades 7 and 8 students were to return their journals to their language arts teachers.

Book Fair

Scholastic Book Fair visited Hillcrest Middle School on September 16th, 17th, and 18th. Students will have the opportunity to purchase books in the new fall collection. Shopping details will be explained in class.

The Hillcrest Word of the Day

Each morning at Hillcrest, a daily word is shared with all students and staff as part of the morning announcements. The word, its definition, use in a sentence, and spelling are shared over the intercom and then posted on the electronic announcement board in the cafeteria.

The Hillcrest Word of the Day is a great opportunity to BUILD YOUR VOCABULARY and to have fun getting to know and apply different words.

Activity Suggestions:

  • Challenge yourself to use and talk about new words. 
     
  • Share the word with a friend! With a brother or sister! With Mom or Dad!
     
  • Create a "Word of the Day" Journal. Simply write the word in a notebook. Tell what it means by giving the definition, creating an original drawing, or writing about an example from real life or a story that shows what the word means. BE CREATIVE.

    Click here to find our current month's list of words.

Hillcrest - Yale Reading Program

Over the last six years, Hillcrest Middle School and Yale University have formed a partnership program. Often referred to as our "Masterpiece Comprehension Program" or just simply "The Museum Club," we are very fortunate to be able to offer this program to our students once again.

As Hillcrest's Reading and Language Arts Instructional Specialist, I have worked with Jessica Sack, the Jan & Frederick Mayer Associate Curator at the Yale University Art Gallery, to design and implement this program. The goal of the program is to enhance reading comprehension skills while developing higher order thinking skills used in viewing and studying art. As students study art, they construct meaning through interpreting, analyzing, and connecting. Research shows that while engaged in these critical thinking skills, there is often a transfer of skills and process to a student's approach to written text, thus reinforcing these skills used in reading. This program is meant to enhance the other facets of our reading strategy program.

This year, the program will be implemented in grade six by the Yale staff, myself, and our grade six reading strategies teachers. The Hillcrest grade six group is scheduled for eight visits to Yale while our 7th and 8th grade groups will travel to the museum as "returning members."

 Verse Works!

"A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom." -Robert Frost

"Verse Works!" is a literature enrichment program at Hillcrest Middle School. Throughout the year, students read common poems in their language arts classes and then have a brief discussion. Students informally explore a variety of poets, classic to contemporary, along with a variety of themes and poetic forms. Students expand their vocabulary experiences and use their active reading strategies as they read and respond to these selections.

To learn more about our program goals and guidelines, please click here.

HERE IS A LISTING OF OUR SELECTED POEMS FOR 2015-2016. CLICK ON A TITLE AND READ WITH US! 

Week / Poem

1 "HOW TO EAT A POEM"
2 "THE MOUNTAIN AND THE SQUIRREL"
3 "I MEANT TO DO MY WORK TODAY"
4 "THE NAMING OF CATS"
5 "HOPE IS A THING WITH FEATHERS"
6 "THE MIDNIGHT RIDE OF PAUL REVERE"
7 "SWIFT THINGS ARE BEAUTIFUL"
8 "THE WORLD IS NOT A PLEASANT PLACE TO BE"
9 "FLANDERS FIELD"
10 "THE NEW COLOSSUS"
11 "YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND"
12 "THE EAGLE"
13 "STARS"
14 "IF"
15 "THE FUNERAL OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR."
16 "TAKE OFF YOUR MASK"
17 "THE DRUM"
18 "STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING"
19 "IF I CAN STOP ONE HEART FROM BREAKING"
20 "LINCOLN MONUMENT: WASHINGTON"
21  "HAIKU"
22 "TO JAMES"
23 "FOG"
24 "THIS IS JUST TO SAY"
25 "SEA FEVER"
26 "SICK"
27 "APRIL RAIN SONG"
28 "I WANDERED LONELY AS A CLOUD"
29 "THE BUTTERFLY JAR"
30 "MAMA IS A SUNRISE"
31 "BLEEZER'S ICE CREAM"
32 "A TIME TO TALK"
33 "THE CIRCLE OF LIFE"
34 "YOUR WORLD"
35 "UNFOLDING BUD"

Enjoy the CLASSICS!

What are we reading? Why not try a classic! CLASSICS help us to succeed! Learn from the Masters!

Reading the classics opens the door to…

  • Bigger Vocabulary
  • Improved Writing Ability
  • Improved Speaking Ability
  • Fresh Ideas
  • Historical Perspective
  • Educational Entertainment
  • Timeless Ideas

SOME FAVORITE CLASSICS FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Duma
Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Incident at Hawk's Hill by Allan W. Eckert
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O'Dell
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Irving Washington
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
National Velvet by Enid Bagnold
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Shane by Jack Schaefer
Story of My Life by Helen Keller
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Tackling Text

We are often faced with difficult reading in our different classes. For some strategies to help make this job an easier one, click on the following link. Tackling Text: Reading Strategies to Build Better Understanding

Reading and Writing RESOURCES:

NCTE - National Council of Teachers of English
http://www.ncte.org/middle

State of CT Dept. of Education
http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/site/default.asp

RIF - READING IS FUNDAMENTAL
http://www.rif.org/

SCHOLASTIC PARENT PAGE
http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/parentsHome.jsp 

Topics in Reading and Writing:

GRAMMAR:

http://www.homeworkspot.com/middle/english/grammar.htm 
http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/guide-to-grammar-and-writing.html 

READING COMPREHENSION AND VOCABULARY SKILLS:

http://www.homeworkspot.com/middle/english/readingskills.htm 
http://www.homeworkspot.com/middle/english/vocabulary.htm 

ONLINE DICTIONARY:

http://dictionary.reference.com 

LITERARY TERMS:

http://www2.uncp.edu/home/canada/work/allam/general/glossary.htm 

JUST FOR FUN:

Magnetic Poetry - Drag and drop words to create poems.

Etymologic - Test yourself with word puzzles.

WordPlays.com - Solve word puzzles and play with Pig Latin. 

RELATED "SPOTS"

BookSpot
MuseumSpot
LibrarySpot

Hillcrest Calendar
Daily Announcements (Day 1 & 2)
Word of the Day
School Schedules
Infinite Campus Parent Portal

 

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