Montlake Elementary


Advanced Learning at Montlake

Montlake Elementary Advanced Learning Plan

Classroom Differentiation

At Montlake 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, Montlake 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.

Advanced Learning Opportunities (ALO) Math Strategies

Montlake 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 Montlake (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 need.
  • 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 student’s current readiness level.
  • Open Questions. A question framed in such a way that a variety of responses/approaches are possible. 
  • Targeted Questioning. Teacher is intentional about 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.

ALO Reading Strategies

The strategies listed above are also adapted for use in reading instruction. We use a wide variety of reading materials from our classroom and school libraries, Junior Great Books, teacher read-alouds, and content area reading. Classroom groupings may 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 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. 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.
  • Genius Hour. Students choose a topic of their choice, research it, and create an innovative project and presentation using the Genius Hour model. Past topics have included video games, learning sign-language, designing buildings, starting businesses, and changing the world.

More information about Advanced Learning Opportunities.