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Advanced Learning Opportunities

Advanced Learning Opportunities at Arbor Heights

At Arbor Heights Elementary, we have high expectations for all students, and we know that each will be challenged by the rigor and depth of our curriculum. To that end, Arbor Heights follows an inclusion model in which teachers differentiate instruction for all students. Current research shows that inclusion is generally best educational practice for all learners, including advanced learners, especially in math. An inclusion model is also consistent with the Seattle Public Schools’ Strategic Plan focus on “undoing legacies of racism in public education.” The following are various strategies we use to meet the needs of all learners, including those identified as advanced either by their teachers or district testing.

Arbor Heights utilizes the enVision Math 2020 curriculum, which builds conceptual understanding through a combination of problem-based and visual learning strategies. Teachers implement differentiated instruction in varied groups: whole class, small group, partners, and individual. Listed below are instructional strategies used at Arbor Heights (note that not every strategy will be used in every classroom):

  • Parallel Tasks — All students work on the same core content with tasks of different complexity.
  • Curriculum Compacting — Use assessment to determine student skill level in a core content area. Then eliminate or enhance parts of the curriculum based on instructional needs.
  • Flexible Groups — Students are grouped by interest, achievement, activity preference, or specific instructional needs.
  • Math Centers and Games — Activities in small groups based on student choice or teacher designation.
  • Small Group Instruction — Teacher works with a small group of students on a targeted learning goal.
  • Tiered Assignments — Adjusted degrees of difficulty of a question, task, or product to match the student’s current readiness level.
  • Open Questions — A question is framed in such a way that various responses/approaches are possible.
  • Targeted Questioning — Teacher is intentional about the depth of questions asked. All students are asked questions that require critical thinking at a level that is challenging for them, and all students benefit from hearing their peers’ thinking.

We also utilize the same strategies we use for math instruction in reading instruction. We use a wide variety of reading materials from our classroom and school libraries, Collaborative Classroom Mentor texts, teacher read-aloud, and content area reading. Classroom groupings include:

  • Flexible Leveled Reading Groups (K-3) — Utilizing the Collaborative Classroom curriculum, students are placed in groups by current reading level to ensure appropriate instruction and reading materials. Groups can change as students’ reading skills develop.
  • Literature Groups (3–5) — A group of students read the same book. They ask peer questions, discuss major themes, study vocabulary, and analyze the author’s purpose and style.
  • Independent Reading — Each student will have an opportunity for self-selected reading during the school day to develop reading fluency and get in the habit of reading.
  • Support for Students in Selecting Appropriate Books —The teacher will guide students in choosing just-right books for independent reading. (Criteria include instructional level, high-interest reading, and student choice.)

Teachers may also use the following differentiated approaches to support the ALO Reading Strategies above:

  • Reading Logs — Students keep a reading record to allow both student & teacher to monitor choices.
  • Independent Book Study Projects — Opportunities for students to explore a topic of interest to them.
  • Book Reports (2–5) — Depth of student analysis and comprehension is appropriate to student reading level.
  • Response to Literature — Opportunities for students to demonstrate understanding by using text to make connections and support thinking. Projects could include art, drama, writing, reports, or other presentations.
  • Extension Menus — Developed in conjunction with members of a grade level team, students choose an option from a predetermined “menu” of options (or propose an alternate option) that allows them to demonstrate and extend their learning.

For more information about Advanced Learning Opportunities, please visit the Seattle Public Schools Department of Advanced Learning.

Homework Policy

We believe all K–5 children benefit from a rich reading life at home. We encourage at least 20 minutes of daily reading, which can be a combination of looking at picture books, reading with an adult, reading independently, or other reading activities.

Brain research also shows that repeated exposure to math concepts is beneficial. As a result, we also want students to do some math work at home. That can be something the teacher sends home that matches the day’s lesson, or it can be something that a family chooses — playing go fish, counting coins, working on math facts, playing chess, talking about time, playing dice games, puzzle completion for problem-solving, etc. You can find additional ideas for supporting your mathematician at home by visiting SPS’s online elementary math family support page. Rich resources specially designed for elementary mathematicians and their families are also available online at the SPS website.

Special Projects

Sometimes, a teacher will assign a special project at school that requires a little prep work at home. Examples include interviewing a family member, thinking of ideas for a STEM or visual arts project, exploring garden ideas, tackling a physical education goal, etc.

How Long Should Homework Take?

  • 20 minutes of reading for Grades K–1
  • 20 minutes of reading Grades 2–3
  • 20 minutes of reading Grades 4–5

Teachers at Arbor Heights want to work with families so that children and parents enjoy learning at home, and we are open to alternate assignments. Please talk to your child’s teacher if you have questions.