Writer's Workshop | Reading | Mathematics | Science

Writer's Workshop

At Coe Elementary we value a strong emphasis on teaching the basics in reading, writing, math and science. Coe was the first school to offer Writer’s Workshop, now adapted as a district wide curriculum.  During the 2013-2014 school year, Coe staff renewed their Writer's Workshop skills. A trainer provided multi-day workshops, including leading model lessons in classrooms.  Coe is committed to the Writer's Workshop model.

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Coe teachers use and believe in teaching students through the practice of a balanced literacy approach.  Reading and writing are regarded as a complementary process that promotes higher level thinking skills. During reading students will listen to an Interactive Read Aloud, participate in shared reading, have small group instruction during guided reading, and engage in word work to develop phonics skills, spelling and vocabulary. Classroom teachers provide students differentiated instruction, usually in small groups.  Many of the intermediate students may also participate in literature circles. The emphasis on each of these areas changes as students move through the grades.     

Reading assessments, both formal and informal, are an integral part of the teaching and learning of reading.  All of our students, K – 5, are assessed formally at the beginning and end of each school year.  Continued ongoing assessment in classrooms allows students to read at their just right level and to be instructed at the level where the greatest learning occurs.  Each child at Coe knows his or her level for independent reading and the level is included on assessment reports sent home and on the report card. These levels are letter names, taken from the Fountas and Pinnell leveling system. The goal is that the level will guide students and families in choosing just right books for each student.

Students use a wide variety of materials during their reading instruction.  Some classrooms use the adopted text by Houghton Mifflin, and many others use literature or trade books.  It is recommended students read nonfiction about forty percent of the time during their literacy period. 

Having every student be a strong independent reader is the goal of the staff at Coe School.  To this end, students and families have the support of both a primary and intermediate reading specialist.  Both reading specialist teach small groups of readers every day.

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A new math resource was initiated fall 2014 in the Seattle Public Schools after the School Board approved Math in Focus.

The program is considered excellent for language learners but also for all students in the general population.

Math in Focus, uses the Singapore method of teaching math, takes an approach called “bar modeling” as the primary strategy to visually depict problems. Students learn early how to draw these models, and they continue to use them to show their thinking as problems become more complex.

The District will use Math in Focus as one basis for aligning curriculum with Common Core State Standards, the new statewide benchmarks that also emphasize pictures and graphics to foster “number sense” in learning math.  One commonality with Common Core is the program’s emphasis on skill mastery – providing a deep focus on one skill with repeated exposure, moving from concrete to pictorial to abstract. The previous program, Everyday Math, spiraled through skills, touching on many at once.

Anna Box, district math program manager, said the program “gives kids and teachers the right balance between conceptual understanding and procedural fluency.”

The single adoption across the District will help improve equity – maintaining consistency for students who move from school to school and ensuring that students enter middle school equally prepared. The aligned program also helps with teacher collaboration and professional development.

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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.

Below is a list of the units taught in each grade level:


  • Fabrics
  • Animals
  • Wood

1st Grade:

  • Balls & Ramps
  • Weather
  • Organisms

2nd Grade:

  • Liquids
  • Soils
  • Balancing & Weighing

3rd Grade:

  • Sound
  • Rock & Minerals
  • Plant Growth & Development

4th Grade:

  • Circuits & Pathways
  • Ecosystems
  • Food Chemistry

5th Grade:

  • Microworlds
  • Models & Designs
  • Space Science
  • Land & Water

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