Ms. Hickl brings 16 years of teaching experience to her role as Middle School Director.  She studied Psychology and English at the University of Texas at Austin as an undergrad and later received her Masters in Education from Loyola University Maryland and her Masters of Arts in Secondary Education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She is a credentialed English teacher who is passionate about teaching students to read and write. She values literature as a device for thinking about important questions in life and writing as a powerful tool for self-expression. Ms. Hickl is also the Resource teacher for NDAES, and she teaches the 5th grade Study Skills class in which students learn the strategies they need to be successful in middle school and beyond.  

Her 8th grade ELA course is designed to foster the students’ personal growth while integrating their reading and writing skills. Students’ reading strategies and study skills are further refined while studying acts of personal courage in important cultural works such as The Pearl, The Diary of Anne Frank, and To Kill A Mockingbird. Students also complete authentic writing tasks such writing a research paper on water conservation issues, while studying effective writing strategies. Expert speakers, cross-curricular connections, and a visit to the experiential exhibit on the Holocaust at the Museum of Tolerance bring our studies to life.
Today we used Thinking Maps to analyze a short story called "Clean Sweep."  The Thinking Maps really helped us to see the subplot of the story.  Our discussions were great, and we discovered some great connections between the protagonist and one of the minor characters.  And our very talented, artistic 8th graders brought these posters to life with their amazing drawings!
The students shared their work with the class.  They had great insights and different perspectives on the story.  After discussing the short story from various points of views, we had a strong foundation for writing a response to literature paragraph.  Great work, everyone!
We are finishing our unit on Plot and Conflict by writing Personal Narratives.  The 8th graders are using the skills we studied in this unit to tell a personal story that has effective pacing, strong rising action, and a resolution that is memorable or meaningful to them.  The students are hard at work, and I can't wait to read their stories!
Today we worked on peer reviewing our narratives.  The students gave targeted feedback to each other based on our rubric. They had lively discussions about areas of strength and areas of growth for their work.  It was wonderful to see the collaboration among peers to help bring their writing to the next level!
This week we started our unit on Character and Point of View.  We completed the Text Analysis Workshop to study indirect characterization, character motivation and how these narrative elements bring a story to life.  We then used a Pixar short, "Burn-E" to complete two character studies.  Pixar shorts provide great models of lively and engaging story-telling.  Burn-E, the robot-protagonist in this story, is endearing, very sympathetic, and has a very clear personality.  For homework, the students are completing a graphic organizer on elements of indirect characterization for Burn-E, and we will use their work to launch a deeper discussion tomorrow.