Thomas Starr King Middle School

Castillo, Ms. Melina » Home


My name is Melina Castillo.  I'm very excited about teaching 7th grade English/Language Arts for the Film and Media Magnet on my 23rd year in the education industry.  My wide experience in the field makes me appreciate the T.S. King MS community even more.  TSK has parents who are involved in their children's lives.  The teachers here are dedicated to give their best to the students and their families.  I am in a very special place!
Below are some documents that my students and their parents may want to check every now and then as a reminder of my expectations.  These are designed to help every student do well in my classes.
This page is also designed to provide parents and students information about major assignments/projects and upcoming events.  Additionally, forms that students will use many times will be available for download here.
Please be sure to check this page regularly.
Facts About Me
Education Background
1. Bachelor's Degree:  Loyola Marymount University
2. Teaching Credential:  Mount Saint Mary's College
3.  CLAD Credential (allows me to teach students who are English Language Learners):  Stanford University
4.  Master's Degree:  Pepperdine University
Professional Experience
1. 14 years teaching (so far)
2. 3 years as an Assistant Principal in middle and high school
3. 2 years as a Principal for a 6-12 SPAN school
4. Curriculum Developer
5. Teacher Coach and Mentor Teacher (Master Teacher)
6. Teacher Professional Development Developer and Trainer
7.  Administrator Trainer
Fun Facts
1. I love animals, dogs in particular :-)
2. I enjoy eating milk chocolate (Swiss and U.K. made are the best!)... yum!
3. Reading is fun!  Really!
4. I can watch CNN for hours!
5. Good coffee and good tea --- it's not a good morning without a cup.
6. Travel --- the best way to learn about and appreciate others!  I travel every chance I get.
7. I'm proud of being a multi-racial person.
8. The sound of ocean waves is relaxing.
9. Learning is fun! Truly!
10. I'm a proud nerd :-))

Recent Posts

PARENTS: Executive Function is a Vital Stepping-Stone for Kids' Ability to Learn

Executive Functioning:  a group of cognitive abilities crucial for managing oneself and information
The 8 Core Cognitive Capacities (
1. sustained attention 2.response inhibition 3. speed of information processing
4. cognitive flexibility and control 5. multiple simultaneous attention 6. working memory  7. category formation 8. pattern recognition
According to Dr. Bruce Wexler, Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University:
1. negative secondary school qualities associated with under-achievement are disengagement, low self-esteem, and behavior problems
2. importance of focus, self-control, and working memory (skills most closely linked with academic achievement) for learning and life
3. martial arts, yoga, and exercise help improve students' ability to focus and control themselves

All Periods except Honors

Your Esperanza Rising Quiz will be on Friday, Sept. 22.  If you are absent on that day, you must arrange to take it during Homeroom or after school.  This will go towards your AR points.  Be sure to be ready!  Also, the 1-page summary and your opinion paragraph on this novel is due no later than September 22.  Any submission after that date will not be accepted.

Important Notice About AR

Students may only take AR book quizzes in the presence of Ms. Castillo.  Any quizzes taken outside of that time will not be credited towards your AR goal or any quiz on a given week.
Students will take an AR book quiz every other Tuesday.  Students absent on that day must make-up the quiz in Ms. Castillo's class after school before Friday of that week.  Students who do not take a quiz that week will receive a zero for that quiz.

Honors: Informative Essay for the Multi-Cultural Cinderella Project

Please see attached for more specific guidelines about your essay.
  • Type the essay using Google Docs.  
  • The heading is on the upper right hand corner and includes everyone's name who worked on, and therefore should get credit for, the essay.
  • Save the document using the following format:  Leader's Last Name_Leader's First Name_Group_InformativeEssay (Documents not named correctly will not be graded and will receive no credit.)
  • Share the document with me.  My email address is
  • Documents must be shared with me by 8 p.m. on Monday, September 18.  NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED!
Multi-Cultural Cinderella Project Requirements and Instructions
Group presentations will be on Wednesday, Sept. 20 (period 2)
Group presentations will be on Thursday, Sept. 21 (period 4)
A student absent on the day of the presentation will not get credit for the presentation (see photo for points allotted per section of the project)

Choosing your Accelerated Reader (AR) book

Every student in my class should finish reading a novel approximately once every other week.  Students are brought to the Library almost every other Tuesday to get a new book or renew one.  Since the goal of having students read is to raise each student's Grade Equivalent (GE) by the next test (December) and in May, it is important for students to read books within their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).  
Parents, if your child has not shared his/her GE and ZPD with you, please inquire.  They all should have taken their reading diagnostic exam and have been given their results.
Whether your child is borrowing from the school's library, a public library, or if they are reading from their bookshelf at home, it is important that they are reading within their ZPD.  Attached are directions on how to find the books in one's ZPD.  Please follow it carefully.  On the "Find" box, type in "fiction" to make sure that you are reading a novel, an AR requirement for my class.
Your child should be reading at least 30 minutes a day (including weekends) and logging the GIST of their reading in their Reading Logs that are collected every other Monday.  The Reading Log is worth 10 points.  The AR Book Quizzes are worth 20 points.  If you do not take the AR Reading Quiz within the week that you are supposed to, you will get a zero out of twenty.
Please note that the % of the goal that you complete is 300 points of your semester report card.
In short, not doing your daily reading can cost you 30 points every other week plus 300 points at the end of the semester.
Keep on reading.  Expand your world!

Develop a Growth Mindset

Failure is an opportunity to learn.  Do not allow one or two fails get you down.  Check out the attached graphic here.  Learn how to have a growth mindset.  Too often, students get frustrated when subjects become more challenging.  They turn off and give up too easily.  School will be more fulfilling, and you will be more motivated to succeed when you develop "grit" or a "growth mindset".

Parents: Check in with me

The 1st quarter grades are in, and your children should have shown you some of their work that have been graded.  Report cards should be coming out next week.  If you would like to talk to me about your child's grade, please contact me immediately.  Do not wait until the 15-week report card; that is often too late.

Be a Global Citizen; Help Houston, Texas


As you are aware, Hurricane Harvey has overwhelmingly impacted Houston and other Texas communities.  As the devastation continues, the L.A. Unified family is joining national organizations in offering support to those in need.  

The information below provides a suggestion about how you can support in this time of crisis.

Clothing and Supplies

The Houston Independent School District continues to have an immediate need for children’s clothing of all sizes (clean and in good condition), school uniforms, and school supplies.  Clothes and supplies can be sent directly to:

Delmar Stadium

2020 Mangum Road

Houston, TX 77092

Please help if you are able.  Thank you!