Extra Curricular

Extra Curricular

+ Art

Just as academic studies support and build on each student’s unique set of strengths, so does our art program. It teaches students the basic concepts of art—how to look at objects through different perspectives, how to express what they see—as well as the notion that an artist is a problem solver and a creator.

Art is about creating and allowing our individual selves to reflect in our masterpieces.

The art curriculum emphasizes each child’s unique set of strengths and talents to help him or her improve achievement in all areas of education. Hillside’s integrative approach to learning uses art to enhance academic studies and create the best learning experience for each student. In addition, art class is an excellent area for students to practice their executive skills.

Classes incorporate topics from each grade’s core studies so students learn to connect art and other subjects. Through painting or sculpture, for example, students may illustrate the main themes of a book they have read in Language Arts, or create artwork that replicates the ancient civilizations they’ve studied in Social Studies.

Students have weekly art class, and they may also attend Extra Art instead of recess on Friday to work on new projects or help with collaborative school-wide projects.

In weekly art class, students focus on

2-D and 3-D media
Art History
Contemporary art and artists

+ Guidance

Guidance for Students and Families

Our guidance counselors help students understand their learning needs, address behavior changes and skill deficits, and develop self-confidence through weekly guidance classes. Close collaboration between teachers and guidance counselors ensures that counselors address a student’s issues in a timely and individual manner. We also provide individual sessions tailored to our students’ needs if we believe additional support would be beneficial.

Weekly group guidance classes focus on

  • developing self-advocacy skills
  • understanding learning styles
  • strengthening peer relationships and social skills
  • problem-solving

Small group work addresses issues that appear among several students simultaneously and are developed on an as-needed basis. If, for example, a group of students exhibits a similar behavior pattern—typically a social or self-regulation issue–they will attend small group sessions so they learn to navigate their challenges and enhance their social skills with their peers. Typically, small groups will meet weekly and run 4-8 weeks.

On-going family communication is integral to a student’s success. Counselors regularly post relevant information and articles for helping students on the Parent Portal and work with parents to address their children’s specific needs—whether through a weekly email or phone call, or just a check-in every now and then.

Hillside Education/Learning Parent Support Group (HELPS) —is a parent and caregiver program that educates and supports those closest to the students, and gives its participants a chance to meet each other.

Led by our guidance counselors, HELPS meets in person four times a year to discuss topics like talking openly with a child about learning disabilities, self-care for parents, and transitioning to high school. In the months that there are not in-person meetings, HELPS sends out online presentations through our Parent Portal centered around material that is both educational and supportive for our families.

+ Library

We know that schools with strong library programs help students become more successful learners. The Hillside School library is a place where the joy of reading for a reluctant reader is discovered and fostered. Hillside’s library classes also support the writing process by teaching students to track plots and analyze themes in books and movies through the steps used in our EmPOWERTM writing method.

Additionally, our library media specialist works closely with teachers to integrate the library with the classroom content. For example, when students have book reports, our librarian helps them choose books that are appropriate for their reading level and genre. When they are studying more complex units, our specialist works to create supplemental, hands-on projects to support each classroom teacher.

Library classes are held weekly by our library media specialist. Lessons focus on:

  • in-library and online research techniques
  • organization of a library and the Dewey Decimal System
  • using the EmPOWERTM method for reading comprehension and writing
  • Destiny library management system
  • reading aloud to enhance public speaking skills

+ Physical Education

Physical Education is valued as a continuation of instruction through active learning and a key component to a well rounded education. Research supports our goal to help children understand the importance of exercise as part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Good sportsmanship, collaboration, and having fun are achieved through fine and gross motor games and activities.

+ Speech & Language

Because language skills are a critical foundation for learning, Hillside’s full-time speech/language pathologist (SLP) focuses on receptive and expressive language skills, teaching students how to process what is being said to them and how to say what they are thinking. Through standardized speech and language assessments, the pathologist assesses their strengths, weaknesses, and growth.

All students receive a class lesson and most receive small-group instruction each week. If needed, they also receive articulation therapy provided by a Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21 pathologist. Teachers observe the speech & language class lessons so they can help students transfer their skills across the curriculum and throughout their day.

The pathologist works closely with parents and teachers to identify and explain the difficulties a student may experience, as well as to provide strategies to overcome the difficulty.

Weekly small-group classes focus on

vocabulary and verbal expression
word usage and grammar
memory and processing
concepts (for example, time, sequence, direction, and location)
social language (for example, reading body language, and initiating and maintaining conversations)
phonological awareness (for example, rhyming, and identifying and manipulating sounds and symbols)

+ Science Lab & STEAM

Middle school students carry out hands-on inquiry in Hillside’s science lab, which was created with the generous support of Air Products. The science program emphasizes conceptual learning and critical thinking and gives learners many opportunities to strengthen executive skills.

The 8th grade curriculum focuses on physical science: students learn about the composition and properties of matter as well as physical and chemical change. Students develop an understanding of atomic structure and the Periodic Table, and experiments include growing crystals, identifying metals with flame tests, and measuring rates of CO2 production in a chemical reaction.

Seventh graders study life science, beginning with the organization and energy flow of living things at the cellular level and progressing through genetics, natural selection, and the relatedness of life on earth. Students isolate DNA from bananas, explain diffusion using a model cell system, and make root beer with yeast to understand cellular respiration.

Six graders enrich their classroom science by visiting the science lab for experiments and activities such as synthesizing polymers, building electrical circuits, and practicing measuring and mixing to build quantitative skills.

All middle schoolers participate in the STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) in which they build and learn to program Lego EV3 Robots. Students work in pairs to write code to solve a series of challenges that encourage collaboration, organization, flexibility, and perseverance.