Monterey Hills Elementary School

Skip to main content
Academics » Instructional Strategies

Instructional Strategies

Common Core Implementation requires understanding of the standards, utilizing newly aligned curriculum and adding instructional strategies to the teacher's repertoire of practices. The teachers continue to build their knowledge of CGI for math instruction. Some of our teachers have writer's and reader's workshop training and other's will begin implementing the workshop approach as we use the new Language Arts Adoption.  Our teachers are revisiting the practice of using Thinking Maps as a way to think about their own thinking.
MHS teachers use a variety of instructional strategies when it comes to teaching mathematics, but one common, Gold Ribbon Award* winning strategy is Cognitively Guided Instruction. Over a three year period, UCLA Professional Development team trained SPUSD teachers throughout the strategy as a method for delivering the rigorous Common Core Math State Standards.  The goals for the teacher include:
  1. Analyze story problems and number sentences to determine their mathematical demands and recognize student responses in terms of cognitive development.
  2. Assess students’ thinking and design problems that will develop students’ understanding of concepts and skills.
  3. Facilitate discussions that provide a window into children’s thinking, strengthen children’s ability to reason about arithmetic, and build their capacity for algebraic reasoning.
We are excited about the use of this strategy in the classroom as it truly encourages deep understanding of mathematical concepts.
*  MHS was granted the Gold Ribbon Award offered by the California Department of Education in 2016.
Adding the Workshop Approach to the teaching of Language Arts 
Over the last few summers we have had a number of our K and1st grade teachers attend training on Reader's or Writer's Workshop.  Their enthusiasm for this form of lesson delivery continues to grow and has become contagious on our campus!  We have been lucky enough that many of our new hires at MHS have also had extensive training in the workshop approach, some traveling to Teacher's College in New York, directed by Lucy Calkins.
Writer's Workshop is an interdisciplinary writing technique which can build students' fluency in writing through continuous, repeated exposure to the process of writing. 
Reader's Workshop has as a goal is to teach students strategies for reading and comprehension.  The workshop model allows teachers to differentiate and meet the needs of all their students.  Reading Workshop helps to foster a love of reading and gives students chances to practice reading strategies independently and with guidance.  
The approach has three components; a mini-lesson, extended period of practice time and a sharing period. Students apply what they have learned as they build their capacities as thoughtful reader's and writer's with a true voice.
Our teachers are implementing the Common Core Aligned Benchmark English Language Arts program and Adelante (Spanish Language Arts for our DI class).  The program utilizes the Workshop approach in delivering language standards.  Through the implementation of this curriculum, our teachers will be able to add this strategy to their approach to providing a balanced literacy program.
Thinking Maps
Thinking Maps are consistent visual patterns linked directly to eight different thought processes.  By visualizing our thinking we create concrete examples of abstract thoughts.  These patterns help all students reach higher levels of critical and creative thinking.  
All of the MHS staff has received training in this language of learning.  The training was offered a number of years ago and our teachers taught our students to attach a visual pattern to one of the following thought processes:  brainstorming (circle); describing (bubble); classifying (tree); double bubble (compare and contrast); sequencing (flow) cause and effect (multi-flow) whole to part (brace) and analogies (bridge).  
We are asking our teachers to revisit this powerful strategy that can become a common language amongst our students as well promote metacognition of our students.