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    Reading | Writing | Math | Science | Homework


    How do we teach reading?
    We teach a comprehensive reading and literacy program in every classroom. Students participate in daily reading experiences which include Guided Reading, Shared Reading, Independent Reading, and Literature Circles tailored to a student's individual reading and learning level. Explicit instruction and practice is provided in phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and comprehension skills and strategies. As students become fluent readers, instruction focuses on using reading materials to expand knowledge and derive content for a specific purpose. Students are given a variety of ways to respond to reading such as narrative, reflective and expository writing, class and small group discussions, or opportunities to demonstrate understanding through projects that may include art, drama or communication.

    Our classrooms offer a balanced environment of whole-group, small-group and individual instruction. We believe thinking, learning, problem solving and student interaction is an integral part of the learning environment. To that end, teachers provide a variety of materials which include fiction, non-fiction and various forms and genres of literature. Ongoing assessment is used to guide instruction and measure student growth. We have both clear expectations and high standards.

    What materials do we use to teach reading?
    Teachers use a variety of materials in their classrooms. In kindergarten through second grade, we apply practices and strategies found with the the Writers Workshop Model of instruction. In third through fifth grade the Pegasus program is used within the designs of a Comprehensive Literacy Program to enhance themed instruction and target reading levels. In addition, teachers use selected literature sets, leveled reading sets, library books, magazines an periodicals such as "Time For Kids," poetry anthologies, plays, journals, and drama experiences to raise interest and provide a wide range of reading experiences.


    How do we teach Writing?
    Written expression is the school subject most integrated across the curriculum. Beginning in Kindergarten, students learn to form letters and words and soon after begin writing for meaning. By fifth grade, students are expected to compose topical essays, write around personal interest, research and write to report information, and use writing to demonstrate understanding in all academic areas including math, reading and science.

    The emergence of the ability to write is closely linked to a child’s ability to read, which is why we often make reference to our reading and writing approaches under the title of literacy; that is, the compilation of reading, comprehension, writing, spelling, and composition. Each year, throughout the day, students are using writing skills to report, compute, express, compose, list, and more. Writing lessons are broken down into the teaching of a writing skill and practice and application of intuitive and taught writing skills to build fluency; much as we read to establish reading fluency. A typical school day will incorporate writing into every subject and skill-based lessons are taught according to state standards and student readiness.

    At Hay, we use the Writers Workshop approach and curriculum in all of our primary classrooms K-3. The intermediate classes use components of the Writers Workshop method to develop a Balanced Approach to the teaching of literacy as an integrated whole. Writers Workshop involves a designated 45 minutes of teaching time for writing, each day. Within the Writers Workshop lesson, students experience a ‘mini lesson’ around a particular skill and time to write on their own around a ‘small moment’ or a teacher provided prompt. Classroom teachers ‘conference’ with students each week to provide individualized instruction and monitor writing progress.

    In the Intermediate grades, a balanced approach to literacy incorporates the teaching of reading and writing via ‘mini-lesson’ or targeting teaching to a specific literacy skill, practice of the taught skill(s), regular assessment through writing samples and conferring with the teacher, and hours of opportunity for students to compose and express their thinking using their personal reading and writing skills.


    How do we teach math?
    Every student at John Hay is provided with a rich math experience. Teachers have high expectations, clear standards, and continuous evaluation for their students. Teachers use effective questioning techniques, correct mathematical vocabulary, and appropriate technology to guide students in their mathematical thinking. A variety of instructional groupings, including large group, small group, and one-on-one, are provided for students during math instruction time.

    Students are engaged in meaningful tasks, including hands-on investigations, use of manipulatives, and mathematical discourse. Students spend time exploring problems in depth, finding more than one way to solve a problem, applying their own strategies and approaches, and expressing their mathematical thinking through drawing, writing and talking.

    In addition, every second, third, fourth, and fifth grade class has a math tutor to provide additional assistance during math instruction.

    What materials do we use to teach math?
    Teachers at John Hay use a variety of materials to teach math in their classrooms. In 2007, Seattle Public School adopted the Everyday Math Program to anchor the math instruction in every classroom. Every Day Math is a progressive, integrated math program that brings enhanced rigor, routine, and mathematical connections to math instruction. Everyday Math incorporates:

    Real-life Problem Solving
    Everyday Mathematics emphasizes the application of mathematics to real world situations. Numbers, skills and mathematical concepts are not presented in isolation, but are linked to situations and contexts that are relevant to everyday lives. The curriculum also provides numerous suggestions for incorporating mathematics into daily classroom routines and other subject areas.

    Balanced Instruction
    Each Everyday Mathematics lesson includes time for whole-group instruction as well as small group, partner, or individual activities. These activities balance teacher-directed instruction with opportunities for open-ended, hands-on explorations, long-term projects and on-going practice.

    Multiple Methods for Basic Skills Practice
    Everyday Mathematics provides numerous methods for basic skills practice and review including written and choral fact drills, mental math routines, practice with fact triangles (flash cards of fact families), daily sets of review problems called math boxes, homework, timed tests and a wide variety of math games.

    Emphasis on Communication
    Throughout the Everyday Mathematics curriculum students are encouraged to explain and discuss their mathematical thinking, in their own words. Opportunities to verbalize their thoughts and strategies give children the chance to clarify their thinking and gain insights from others.

    Enhanced Home/School Partnerships
    For grades 1-3, daily Home Links provide opportunities for family members to participate in the students' mathematical learning. Study Links are provided for most lessons in grades 4-6, and all grades include periodic letters to help keep parents informed about their children's experience with Everyday Mathematics.


    Our district adopted curriculum designed by the National Science Resources Center, Smithsonian more commonly known as the Inquiry Based Science Program. Modules at each grade level provide hands- on labs for the teaching and practice of scientific concepts beginning in kindergarten.

    A typical science lesson involves four components through which students access and practice scientific study: 1) engage and encounter known and unknown science concepts, 2) explore and investigate life science, physical science and earth science,3) reflect and explain their thinking and reasoning & 4) apply and extend new learning.

    For more information on these subjects, feel free to talk to your child's teacher.


    At John Hay, we believe that daily homework is an essential piece of learning. The regular practice of homework insures a time of repeated practice which will lead to transfer of learning and ultimately, retention of important skills.

    Guiding Principles for the Practice of Completing Homework Assignments

    1. Homework assignments are most effective when developmentally appropriate. The complexity of homework assignments should increase as students develop skills and abilities.
    2. The practice of completing homework regularly builds responsibility, ownership of learning, and independence in tasks.
    3. Homework assignments should be tied to previously introduced or learned objectives and should be consistent with state learning standards.
    4. Homework assignments should be incorporated and viewed as key in preparation for success in today’s middle school classrooms.
    5. Homework assignments may provide practice, remediation or enrichment of learning standards and objectives.
    6. Homework assignments engage parents and build connections between learning at school and at home. Expectations for the completion of Homework Assignments Time Spent Completing Assignments

    In keeping with our belief that homework should be developmentally appropriate – the following windows of time should be expected for homework completion, by grade level:

    Kindergarten    10 – 15 minutes per night
    First Grade    20 – 30 minutes per night
    Second Grade     30 – 45 minutes per night
    Third Grade    40 – 60 minutes per night
    Fourth Grade    50 to 75 minutes per night
    Fifth Grade    60 to 90 minutes per night

    • Should a child attend, work diligently, and find that he/she is exceeding the recommended window of time to complete the work, it is expected that the child will stop working and have the parent notify the teacher that focused time on homework assignments was accomplished, but that some assignments remain incomplete.
    • Should you find the homework is too difficult, or the child is unaware of what to do, send a note to the teacher to let his/her know about the difficulty so the situation can be corrected and more instruction or support can be provided in school.
    • Teachers may assign extra homework to accommodate project work, assignments not completed in class, or significant needs for extra practice toward mastery of certain skills.

    Weekend Homework
    Typically, homework will not be assigned on Fridays for completion over the weekend. Exceptions may occur to this such as when a child has not used classroom worktime wisely during the school week and is behind in his/her lessons. Or, times may occur when additional time in homework is needed to complete special projects.

    Absences and Completing Missed Assignments

    Should a child be absent from school on a day that homework is assigned, the missed homework assignment must be completed and turned in. The child will have one day to complete the assignment for every day missed at school. Parents should consult with teachers regarding adjustments to this expectation.


    • Provide a consistent, quiet workspace for a child to complete homework at which pencils, a calculator, a pencil sharpener, extra paper, crayons & markers, a dictionary/thesaurus, and other materials are easily accessible.
    • Begin homework after the child has had some time to rest, recharge, and enjoy a healthy snack and beverage.
    • Have a clock visible or use a timer to assist your child in managing time and to promote a productive homework session.
    • Offer assistance, but avoid over-managing the homework experience in order to help your child build confidence and establish independence and ownership of the work.
    • Communicate with the teacher when/if the workload exceeds the recommended time for homework.  Do not allow homework completion to dominate your child’s after school and evening time.
    • Avoid battling over homework completion.  If a child refuses to complete or argues over homework – let the teacher know; send work back to school with a note.  Teachers are your best resources and advocates for building a cooperative homework experience.
    • Allow your child to complete homework at the level he/she is capable.  Avoid providing too much assistance so that the teacher is able to see where gaps in performance are occurring and can respond. 
    • Should you find the homework is too difficult, or the child is unaware of what to do, send a note to the teacher to let his/her know about the difficulty so the situation can be corrected and more instruction or support can be provided in school.