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A Pirate's


to Survival


Everything you need to know to survive Captain Hoffman's literacy class.

Who is Captain Hoffman?                                                  Page 3

Where in the World Did She Come From?                      Page 3

Why Is She Here?                                                               Page 4

How Did I Get Here?                                                          Page 4

What Will I Need to Succeed on My Literacy Voyage?  Page 5

What Is Expected of Me?                                                   Page 5

What is Captain Hoffman's Discipline Policy?                 Page 6

What Is Captain Hoffman's Homework Policy?              Page 6

What Do I Do If I Miss the Boat?                                      Page 7

How Does Captain Hoffman Grade?                                Page 8

What Will My Literacy Voyage Entail?                              Page 9

What Do I Do If the Sharks Are Circling?                         Page 10

Pirate Duties                                                                        Page 11

But Why Do We Have to Read?                                         Page 12

Reading Bill of Rights                                                          Page 13

Explore Scholastic Book Booty                                          Page 14

All Hands on Deck                                                               Page 15

Operation SOS                                                                     Page 16

A Note to Parent Captains                                                 Page 17











Table of Contents

Captain Hoffman (AKA Mrs. Hoffman) is a kind, benevolent, magnanimous teacher who is in her 33rd year of shaping young minds in the Hillsborough Township Public School System.   In 2011 and 2012, she had the honor of being selected as Auten Road Intermediate School's Teacher of the Year.  During that time, she was also chosen as Hillsborough District's Teacher of the Year, Somerset County's Teacher of the Year, and was among the 5 finalists for NJ State Teacher of the Year.  She is married to a handsome, courageous paramedic.  Together they have two children –twenty-four year old boy/girl twins…no they are not identical.  Their daughter’s name is Kristianna Cory (K.C. for short), and their son’s name is Travis.  During the year, you’ll hear many a tale about these two scallywags!  The Hoffman crew has three Labrador retriever dogs-an elderly black one named ResQ, an elderly yellow one named Blaze, and a yellow puppy named Ember.  Flemington is the Hoffman’s home port.


Captain Hoffman was born in White Plains, NY (No, not at the turn of the century!) in 19…well, let’s just say not too awfully long ago!  Later, her family moved to Butler, NJ.  Upon graduating from Butler High School, she sailed to East Stroudsburg University in PA where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in education.  Previously her ship was docked at the Hillsborough Middle School where she taught 6th and 7th grade and worked as the school’s writing content specialist. Then for seven years, she made port as the reading content specialist at Hillsborough Elementary School.  Missing her 6th grade crew, the Captain sailed to Auten Road Intermediate School in 2006.

Where in the World Did She Come From?

Who Is Captain Hoffman?

Contrary to popular belief, she is not here to make your life miserable!  She is, in fact, here to assist you in becoming the absolute best writer and reader you can possibly be.  In writing, the wonders of the writing process will unfold before your eyes.  Her stimulating lessons will leave you breathlessly begging for more.  You will witness dramatic, never before seen improvements in your writing style and technique or your money back.  In reading, Captain Hoffman will guide you in discovering the splendor of the written word as it tantalizes your taste buds to totally turn you on to the joys of literature.  Prepare for the voyage of a lifetime!

Why Is She Here?

Congratulations and welcome to the crew!  You have the great fortune of being hand selected (all right…it was probably done by computer) to sail with the Hoffman crew. Only a small fraction of sixth graders are bestowed this dubious honor.  So, consider yourself among the lucky few who will have the distinct pleasure of having the ever so humorous and witty Captain Hoffman at the helm of their literacy voyage.  

How Did I Get Here?

In order to extract maximum educational output during your sojourn in Captain Hoffman’s literacy class, it is necessary for you to bring the following items to class daily:

     *  Your CHARGED Chromebook

     *  A reading book (Crew Members should ALWAYS have a book to read in their possession.)

     *  Pencils or pens (blue/black)

     *  A hand held pencil sharpener




  • A RED 1” binder
  • A RED single subject spiral notebook
  • Binder tab dividers (package of 5)
  • A supply of loose leaf paper
  • Loose leaf supply kit/pencil case with a YELLOW highlighter, a RED pen, blue/black pens, pencils, Post-it Notes, scissors, glue stick, and a handheld pencil sharpener
  • An additional yellow highlighter and several additional RED pens should be kept in you



In order to ensure safe passage, all crew members are expected to “Keep to the Code”:

                                                 Pirates’ Code

  • * Be respectful, kind, and courteous to others.  Rude, mean behavior will not be tolerated.
  • * Be prepared and in class on time.
  • * Follow established classroom procedures.
  • * Complete all class work and homework in a timely fashion.
  • * Follow all verbal and written commands (directions) issued by the Captain or any other teacher/adult.
  • * Be cooperative and respectful to everyone aboard the ship.
  • * Raise your hand before speaking unless otherwise directed.
  • * Be honest.  Honesty is respected & appreciated at all times.  Captain Hoffman admires those who have the strength and good character to tell the truth.
  • * Do the best you can possibly do-not just the minimum to get by.  Effort is always noted.
  • * Read at home and record the time on your Reading Rewards Log we will set up in class.

What Is Expected of Me?

What Do I Need to Succeed on My Literacy Voyage?

Captain Hoffman does not believe in inordinate amounts of superfluous homework. In other words, you will not have “busy work”. Homework is a chance for crew members to experiment with new skills and apply what they have learned in order to figure out what they do and do not understand so that when they return to class, they can ask questions.  Crew members are expected to READ at home and record reading time on their Reading Rewards Log.  READING IS HOMEWORK!  All assignments will be posted in class on the Assignment Boarrrrrrrd and should be recorded each day during class.  QUALITY and EFFORT are important factors. Work is expected to be on board the ship (not at home or stowed in a locker!) when due.


Captain Hoffman’s discipline policy is very simple.  She runs a tight ship to prevent mutiny. First, a warning will be issued.  If inappropriate behavior continues, the crew member will be directed to “walk the plank” and be marooned on a deserted island (change of seat or a time-out area).  Should the inappropriate behavior persist, the crew member will be incarcerated in the ship’s brig (detention) during lunch, before school, or after school.  Chronic misbehaving crew members will be thrown overboard where they will swim to the vice-principal for disciplinary action.   A phone call/e-mail home and/or parent-pirate-captain conferences will follow as deemed necessary.  Conferences between Captain Hoffman and offending crew members to discuss behavioral difficulties may be instituted following any disciplinary action.  Severe or dangerous behavior will result in immediate removal from the ship so as to ensure the safety and well being of other crew members.

What is Captain Hoffman's Homework Policy?

What Is Captain Hoffman's Discipline Policy?


If you are absent from school, log onto Captain Hoffman's Google Site  using your school account - you must use your student

account, otherwise you won't be able to access it.  (Click here to check out my website), and click on the Man Overboard Voyage

Manifests  section.  Here you will find  a detailed written record of what you missed on each day's voyage.  Review the manifest,

complete the work, and show Captain Hoffman the work upon your return to the ship.

 If you are in school but are not on board when Captain Hoffman sails (ex. band, chorus, lessons, etc.), you must first report

to the ship, turn in any homework that is due, and sign out, so the Captain is aware that you are on shore leave.  For homework,

you must review the Man Overboard-Voyage Manifest from the website, complete the work, and show the Captain the next day. 

 Whether you miss the boat due to sea sickness or pillaging and plundering another port, always check your Man Overboard 

Voyage Manifest, make up any classwork/homework you missed, and turn the work into the Captain.  This is your job.  



 Parent Captains:  You, too, can check the Man Overboard Voyage Manifests for updates on what

ports were visited during any given day.  It's a great way to follow our literacy voyage and know

exavtly what your pirate is learning.  Please remember, in order to access the website, you must

be logged into your child's account.  When your pirate is absent, kindly remind him/her to

check the log to ensure all missed work is completed.



If you have to miss Captain Hoffman’s class for ANY reason, it will truly be a sad and dismal day.  Crew members have been known to suffer

severe withdrawal symptoms (not to mention scurvy) when not receiving daily doses of Captain Hoffman’s lessons.  However, should this occur,

you need to follow the established procedures outlined below:

What Do I Do If I Miss the Boat?

Grades are standards based and will reflect what the crew is able to show they have learned.  Therefore, extra credit will not be given at any time.  Formative assessments will be used to provide information to the crew and Captain about progress. While they may appear on Genesis, they will not be calculated into the overall grade as their purpose is to guide instruction. Summative assessments will follow at the end of a period of instruction to assess progress in meeting the standards. The consistency of these assessments along with the consistent application of skills will comprise the overall grade.  All evaluations will be points based.  Smaller assignments will be worth fewer points while larger assignments and summative assessments will be worth more points.  Therefore, it is important for you to look at the point value and not necessarily the percentage.


It is very important that both pirates and parents monitor learning throughout the year. While crew members and their parents will have 24/7 access to the on-line grading, PortGenesis, the grade may not necessarily provide an accurate picture of the learning.  Parents wishing to monitor pirate progress will get a clearer indication of progress by frequently checking folders and Google Docs,  paying special attention to rubrics and comments.  Captain Hoffman believes that Crew Members should always know exactly where they stand with their learning and that they should be continually engaging in open, honest pirate/parent discussions to prevent shark attacks.  Communication is key!


We will be doing a lot of reflective self-assessments, so scallywags should be able to engage in meaningful conversations regarding areas of strength, areas that need further development, and where they are in their overall learning process. If there is ever a question, kindly begin with a pirate/parent dialogue, check the folder, and/or Google Docs, and check for comments attached to grades on Genesis.  Following your pirate/parent conversation and digging for treasure, if you have futher questions, you can always throw a message in a bottle (email) to the Captain (


Learning is a process that occurs as a result of thinking and actively trying to make sense and meaning from information and experiences. It is not a passive activity.  Therefore, crew members are expected to be active learners engaged in the process not passive bystanders waiting for knowledge to magically be absorbed.

How Does Captain Hoffman Grade?

On our literacy voyage, we will be visiting several “Ports of Call”. 

     *  Port Word Study – During our voyage, we will develop our word study, vocabulary, and spelling skills through exercises

focusing on components of words such as roots, prefixes and suffixes; patterns of how words are spelled; and how parts of

words often give hints to the meanings of words, as well as their spellings and pronunciations.  We will apply these skill in our

daily reading and writing.

     *  Port Reading – While in Port Reading, we will explore a treasure trove of books and skill standards through a Reading

Workshop model.  Our long-term goals are to increase stamina (the ability to remain engaged in reading for longer periods

of time) and to increase the quantity of books read.  On many occasions, buccaneers will have a choice of what they read

within a specific genre.  While they may have the choice of what to read, they will not have a choice of whether to read or not. 

During the designated workshop time, crew members will be reading, working in small groups, and conferencing with the

Captain.  It is imperative that each pirate comes aboard with adequate supplies of reading material EVERY DAY.  Please plan

ahead by visiting the public library, the school library, ordering from Scholastic Book Club, etc.  Additionally, pirates are required

to complete a required amount of self-selected reading per week (the amount of time will increase as the year progresses), and

they will log their time on a program called Reading Rewards.  


     *  Port Writing – This booty-full port will consist of grammar skills, journal writing, letter writing, writing units, open-ended

questions, timed writings, etc.  Grammar and writing skills will be assessed through the consistent application of skills in daily writing, formative and summative assessments, and writing units.  Our writing units will focus on increasing the development of ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation.                       


What Will My Literacy Voyage Entail?

Captain Hoffman may look mean and ornery, but she rarely bites…and if she does,

don’t worry.  She’s had all her shots!  If there is something that you don’t understand,

please ask.  The Captain is many things, but a mind reader is not one of them.  All you

need to do is communicate.  You can even e-mail the question!  She will gladly assist

you in whatever way she can.  Communication will definitely lead to smooth sailing!

What Do I Do If the Sharks Are Circling?

            Independent, self-selected reading is an important life-long skill that will ultimately lead to improved literacy performance.  It is essential for your buccaneer to be regularly engaged in reading a novel appropriate to his/her grade level. Occasionally, students may choose to read magazines and/or newspapers.  Pirates should have book booty with them at all times! 

            During the school year, buccaneers will be required to maintain a reading log through the Reading Rewards website.   On the website, we will not only log the reaing time, but we will also track our Book Booty (books completed).  Our sixth grade goal is for each pirate to complete between 30 - 60 books during our voyage.  The amount of required independent, out of school reading time will increase as the year progresses.  Each day your scallywag reads, he/she should record the amount of time he/she read on the website.  Please encourage your pirate to meet the monthly reading goals and to be diligent about recording the time.  At the end of each month, the logs will be examinded and evaluated. 

            Novels can be obtained from our school media center, the public library, classroom bookshelves, Scholastic Book Club orders, home libraries, etc.  The selected literature should be at a comfortable, independent reading level.  It is important that the materials are not too challenging.  I want the experience to be pleasurable not frustrating.  Sharing the reading experience with your buccaneer can be an enjoyable way to bond. 

            I realize that many families have busy schedules.  However, reading is an essential life skill that needs reinforcement on a regular basis.  Additionally, regularly reading positively impacts pirates’ abilities to write.  If you examine your daily schedule, I am sure you can find a few minutes to squeeze in some quality literature.  For example, scallywags can read on the way to and from activities, while waiting for the bus, or a few minutes before bed. 

            I greatly appreciate your cooperation and support.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.    

Pirate Duties...Swab the Deck?  

Heck no!  READ!

Some Key Findings Regarding Reading:

Children between the ages of 10 and 16 who read for pleasure make more progress not only in vocabulary and spelling but also in math than those who rarely read (Sullivan & Brown, 2013).
» “Omnivorous reading in childhood and adolescence correlates positively with ultimate adult success” (Simonton, 1988, p. 111).

» The U.S. Dept. of Education maintains that avid reading is a widely recognized precursor to:
           Better skills acquisition
           Superior grades

           Desirable life related to income, profession, employment and other attributes (2005).
» Students who read widely and frequently are higher achievers than students who read rarely and narrowly regardless of their family income; so students from lower income families who read a lot score higher on reading achievement tests than do their more privileged peers who don’t read (Guthrie 2012; Brozo et al, 2008).
» Students who read a lot score better on every imaginable test.  (Calkins, et al., 2012).
» Reading volume … significantly affects … general knowledge of the world, overall verbal ability and academic achievement (Shefelbine, 2001).


To read more about the value and importance of reading, click here.

But Why Do We Have to Read?

The Reading Bill of Rights

With our 6th grade reading program, your buccaneer needs to have a steady supply of reading material.  Scholastic Book Clubs offer a convenient, inexpensive option for providing engaging reading choices for your pirate. 

Here’s how it works:

Use the information below to access the Scholastic Book Clubs Web site.  Browse the titles with your scallywag and place your order with your credit card on or before the due date.  Your order will come to me, and your credit card payment will go directly to Scholastic’s secure server. If you order online with a credit card, there’s no need to send money or any order form to school.  After I submit the entire class order to Scholastic, your order will be delivered to our classroom for your pirate to take home. Crew Members, do not do this without an adult’s permission!


To get started, go to the Web address below.  On the parent page, register by clicking the “Don’t have a user name or password?” link.  When prompted, enter the one-time Class Activation Code.  This unique number ensures that your order is sent to me.

Web address:

Activation Code:  GWXDR (only needed the first time)

Username and Password:  follow directions to set

Remember, placing your online credit card order is completely safe and secure.  Ordering online is the most convenient way to use Scholastic Book Clubs. You can order anytime.  You’ll also get instant access to additional titles, plus online-only specials and discounts.  You may certainly still order using the printed catalogue form with a check sent to me at school if you wish.


If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Explore Scholastic Book Club Booty

All Hands on Deck!  

We All Have a Job to Do to Ensure Smooth Sailing.


Expectations for the   


Expectations for the  


Expectations for the



Enhance the student’s self esteem.

Come to class on time and give 100% effort; be open to learning.


 Be involved in your child’s  educational journey.

Set high but reasonable expectations for the student.


Have all materials required for class each day.

 Set a positive example for your  child.

Provide the student with the support and structure that will enable him/her to reach those goals.


Ask questions or ask for help when you don’t understand.

 Be supportive of school rules,  policies, procedures, and goals;  avoid unnecessary absences.

Ensure the student’s safety in class; protect him/her from physical harm, humiliation, and rejection.


Write your homework in your planner and share it at home

 Act preventively; contact the  teacher while problems are small and manageable, not only when a crisis occurs.

Deal with behavior in a fair and consistent manner.

Bring home all materials required for the completion of homework and projects.

Inform the school of any home situations that may impact upon your child’s performance in the classroom.


Communicate honestly and openly with parents.

Complete your work with pride.

Provide your child with the materials he requires to complete school assignments.


Assign effective and appropriate homework.

Ask for and complete work you miss when you are absent from class.

Assist your child with his/her homework by providing him/her with a time and a place to study.


Use a variety of teaching methods to meet individual learning styles.


Be an active learner.  Learning is not a passive process.

Treat school personnel with respect and dignity.

Genuinely care about the students.

Participate in an appropriate manner in class.

Give your child praise, encouragement, and support.


Be aware of the student’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses.

Show respect for your classmates, your teacher, other adults in school, and your school materials.

Become an active and supportive member of the school community.

     In the spirit of American patriotism, our crew will be adopting a platoon of  soldiers.  Through out the year, we will be writing letters, drawing pictures, and collecting items to create care packages to send to the men and women in uniform who are defending the freedoms of our country.  Regardless of political opinions or whether we agree or disagree with the present powers that be, the fact is, our troops have been deployed.  Moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors, people we know and love have been called upon to serve our nation.  We have the honor of celebrating our nation’s tradition of supporting our troops and letting them know they are appreciated and have not been forgotten.  


     Each month we will request the donation of certain items to create a themed care package to accompany our letters.  We would greatly appreciate any items you are able to contribute to our collection.   In addition to providing us with real world writing experiences, Operation S. O. S. is an excellent opportunity to teach the importance of community service, patriotism, and giving.


     If you have any questions or concerns regarding this program, please do not hesitate to contact me.  If you do not wish your scallywag to appear in class photos we send or to participate in this activity, please let me know and alternate assignments will be provided.  


     Our first care package theme is “Treats for the Troops”.  We will be collecting packages of gum and candy – no chocolate though, please, since it melts in transit.  Please send in donations by  Thrusday, October 6th.  Thank you!  

Operation S.O.S.

(Support Our Soldiers)

     If you have any questions or concerns at any time, or if I can further assist you in providing a quality educational experience for your child, please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail at

Be sure to bookmark my website and visit often to follow our voyage throughout the year.  The web address is:  Just remember, you MUST be signed into your child's school Google account - but you DO NOT need to be on his/her computer.  You can access the account from any computer any where in the world!  

      I truly believe that communication is an essential component for a successful 6th grade year.  Each marking period, I will send out Voyage Update e-mail so parent captains can track our journey.  Additionally, I encourage all crew members and their parents to utilize Genesis, to frequently Google Drive folders, and to engage in regular open, honest pirate/parent discussions.  Sometimes we overlook the most valuable source of information and insight – the pirate himself. 

      Together we can turn any squalls or troubled waters into smooth sailing. With you on board providing help and support for our voyage, we can create a positive learning experience that will last a lifetime.  

We’ve charted a course, hoisted the anchor,

 and we’re ready to set sail…

Arrrrr…Let the adventure

begin, Mateys! 

A Note to Parent Captains...