Honey Creek’s instructional practices are guided by the Continuous Progress philosophy. This is a unique program in the MPS district because it is the only one of its kind successfully maintaining this educational model. The following guidelines serve as the foundation for the Continuous Progress model.
- Every child is unique, grows at a pace that is comfortable to them alone and can learn if motivated properly and provided instruction that teaches to all of their intelligences (intellectual, social, emotional, artistic, aesthetic and physical).
- Students progress along a developmental learning continuum. Benchmarks define major stages of growth and determine the placement for each child in an ungraded, multi-age homeroom.
- Ongoing assessment replaces definitive finish lines.
- Multi-age groups require teachers to create supportive learning environment where children experience success, develop positive self-esteem and learn to be helpful and sensitive to the needs and emotions of others. Differentiation is routine. Looping/multi-year placement is an option to be considered when appropriate.
- As a “learning laboratory,” Honey Creek provides learning, research and training to student educators from various local and state universities.
Honey Creek has a proven record of success. Test scores are consistently higher than the district average and the state.
The fundamentals of English/Language Arts begin in K4 with guided practice and the Language for Learning vocabulary development program. Progress is continuously assessed by in-house and district rubrics. The rudiments of writing are taught through a variety of resources and programs such as Adventures in Language, Spelling Mastery, English textbooks and High Performance Writing. Writing across the curriculum is emphasized at all levels. Technology such as Kidspiration, internet resources are integrated into lessons to help students advance their skills. Teachers keep journals or writing folders on hand and use them to reflect on student progress.
In kindergarten, English/Language Arts instruction focuses on the child’s verbal skills and on connecting the spoken and written word. Children are also introduced to the media, computers and research. Through small group instruction and language development, students begin to grasp basic concepts. As they progress through grade 1, students continue to learn about words and how to express themselves using spoken and written language. Through the Adventures in Language program, written language development is monitored through daily individual records. In grade 2, students improve their listening and oral communication skills, continue exploring the media and research and advance in the Adventure in Language program. Grade 3 learners create a variety of writing selections and apply correct grammar and spelling. They use computers to research topics and share findings both verbally and in writing. Students compose a well-organized writing assignment, complete with details, effective word choice and correct sentence structure in grade 4. Grade 5 students give presentations to the class, research topics and write reports.
The primary goal of Honey Creek’s Reading program is for the majority of students to read one year above grade level by grade 4. Direct Instruction (DI) Reading is Honey Creek’s core instructional program. As a research-based program, DI addresses the five essential components (Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary and Comprehension) of reading while increasing student engagement and motivation. Reading instruction begins in K5. At the beginning, students are learning to read. In the upper grades, they read to absorb new information and expand their skill sets in all subject areas. The Accelerated Reader (AR) computer program supports and promotes independent reading in both fiction and non-fiction genres while assessing comprehension. Additional reading strategies at Honey Creek include: phonemic awareness, use of high frequency words, Guided Reading, Read Aloud, Corrective Reading, Decoding, Comprehension and Spelling Mastery.
Kindergarten students begin their reading education with an introduction to reading readiness skills and preparation for the beginning stages of reading. Children connect letters to letter sounds and learn how letters combine to make words. Teachers read to students daily to gain meaning, identify parts of story and listen to the sounds of reading. In grade 1, children continue exploring relationships between letters and sounds and enhance skills needed to identify words and gain meaning from stories. By applying their reading skills to different texts, grade 2 students identify the need for reading skills in all subject areas. Grade 3 learners challenge themselves by reading higher level materials and applying their reading skills to other subject areas. Successfully learning to use reading materials and other resources as sources of information is the goal in grade 4. Students also focus on applying a variety of reading strategies to different texts in order to unlock meaning. Grade 5 students continue to extend their use of reading strategies to analyze and interpret information while making connections between fiction and reality.
Instructional emphasis is on the development of basic skills and their application in real life situations. Cooperative learning supports critical thinking and reasoning. Strategic Mathematics instruction helps students learn to reason and draw conclusions, mathematically and in other subject areas. Through intense and challenging instruction, Honey Creek prepares students for higher level mathematics that they will apply to real life situations.
Kindergarten students are introduced to the basics of mathematics by learning that numbers represent quantities, counting, sorting, making patterns and comparing groups of objects. As they progress, they also learn to add and subtract as well as collect, sort and represent data. Grade 1 students continue learning the basic processes of addition and subtraction while developing ideas in data. Knowledge of geometrical shapes and descriptions of data is implemented in grade 2. Students also familiarize themselves with measurement tools. Multiplication and division are introduced in grade 3 and expanded in grade 4. Fractions and decimals as well as basic concepts of geometry, algebra and data are also introduced in grade 4. In grade 5, students learn more about using mathematical data to solve problems, including how to estimate, measure and predict outcomes.
Our science curriculum is used to provide Honey Creek students with an extensive scientific background. Students conduct science investigations using tools, familiarizing themselves with the natural world and the environment. By asking and answering questions using scientific methods and vocabulary, students become comfortable learning new scientific concepts. Honey Creek’s environmental center, a greenspace outside the school, facilitates hands-on projects. Teachers utilize educational field trips to the Botanical Gardens and the Milwaukee Public Zoo to enhance what is taught in the classroom.
In kindergarten, students explore the world around them, making their own discoveries about their environment. They learn about systems, order and organization, observe changes in the weather, identify the characteristics of living things and give examples of how science helps us care for ourselves. In grade 1, students continue the process of scientific discovery by exploring how parts work together in whole objects, identifying properties of objects, conducting simple experiments and discussing how families use science in their jobs. Grade 2 learners explore motion, sound, magnetism, the life cycles of organisms and the properties of earth materials. They also learn how science and technology change their daily lives. In grade 3, scientific exploration leads to a deeper understanding of scientific principles. Students identify famous people who have contributed to scientific discoveries and are introduced to more complex concepts. Grade 4 learners begin interpreting what they see in order to gain meaning about scientific processes. In grade 5, students are equipped with facts that provide basis for an in-depth study of particular areas of science in the middle grades. Models, graphs, maps and charts are used to record scientific information.
At Honey Creek, students focus on five areas of study: Geography, History, Civics, Economics and Behavioral Sciences. Project-based, hands-on learning is used at all grade levels to extend the lessons.
In kindergarten, students identify maps and globes and recognize that they are used to locate different places in the world. They also compare family cultures and traditions and learn about different jobs. In grade 1, students explore how families and social studies are related. Diversity in neighborhoods is the focus of grade 2. Grade 3 learners study the larger world and connect it to their own lives in Milwaukee. In grade 4, students focus on states and regions of the U.S. and study the state of Wisconsin in depth. Grade 5 students concentrate on United States history and learn how the government works.
At Honey Creek, the staff realizes that art education is as essential to the basic education of all children as core academic areas. As an area of study, art education includes understanding how things are presented visually, knowing what makes beautiful art and creative problem solving. Art is integrated by the classroom teacher or is taught using SRA materials. Digital cameras and camcorders are available for classroom projects.
Kindergarten students explore the use of various materials to produce art and express themselves through artwork. They also learn that art can be used to tell stories. In grade 1, students become familiar with vocabulary words used to describe different types of art and identify the work of famous artists. Grade 2 students work with different art materials, recognize that art takes different forms and realize that it can convey emotion and mood. In grade 3, students explore different types of art and focus on self-expression. They learn to appreciate different artistic styles and understand unique perspectives. Grade 4 learners develop greater skills using materials and learn about artistic design. They also recognize art contributions throughout history, discuss artistic design in architecture and practice contrast in their own artwork. In grade 5, students experiment with perspectives from which art is created and viewed and demonstrate problem-solving skills when working on projects.
The Music curriculum at Honey Creek provides children with musical understanding at a beginning to intermediate level. Using what they learn, all students perform in Honey Creek’s Annual Holiday Program. In addition to Honey Creek’s talented music instructor, piano and violin lessons are offered beginning in grade 1. Other experiences include schoolwide performances from local theatre companies and a trip to the Milwaukee Symphony orchestra for grade 5 students in March.
In kindergarten, students begin their study of music with singing and learning the basics of verse and melody. They also learn that musical notes represent sounds. Grade 1 learners increase their understanding of music and the arts while learning to evaluate and appreciate musical performances. The focus of grade 2 is to continue working with song and to learn basic music notation. In grade 3, children explore different instruments as they study rhythm, melody and harmony. Grade 4 learners read basic music and begin to listen to and identify different musical styles. They are also introduced to instrumental ensembles. Grade 5 students play instruments in the classroom and are given the opportunity to participate in choir.
The goal of Physical Education (P.E.) at Honey Creek is to help students develop an awareness of the importance of physical activity in building a healthy lifestyle. P.E. classes are offered twice a week to all students. After-school sports, such as basketball and soccer, give children additional opportunities to stay active. As children grow and increase their athletic abilities, P.E. teaches them not only how to participate in group activities, but to develop lifelong interest in both team and individual sports. In 2006, a rock wall was added in the gymnasium to enhance Honey Creek’s P.E. program.
In kindergarten, children are introduced to new physical skills and healthy exercise habits. They demonstrate respect for one another and are guided through organized activities. Grade 1 learners begin playing physical games together and upon entering grade 2, are encouraged to stretch themselves and meet new physical challenges. In grade 3, students practice good sportsmanship as they play team sports. Grade 4 learners continue participating in group activities while improving their individual skills. In grade 5, students study how their bodies work and apply this knowledge to physical activities.
Health education at Honey Creek includes both a personal and community approach to health care. While the importance of physical fitness is relayed through P.E. classes, students must also remain aware that their overall health is a priority in the Honey Creek community. Honey Creek’s part-time Nurse is available to provide services to students in need.
Kindergarten students are taught the basics of caring for themselves and keeping themselves safe. They recognize healthy and unhealthy choices and learn how to express their feelings in appropriate ways. Grade 1 learners continue to explore health and safety topics by discussing proper nutrition and learning what to do in case of an emergency. In grade 2, children connect their own actions and health habits with others in the community. They also learn how diseases can be passed from one person to the next. Grade 3 learners look at messages the community gives and receives about health and practices interpreting them properly. The human reproductive system is discussed in grade 4. In grade 5, students make connections between health and personal habits. They learn how to cope with emotions in a healthy manner and describe how weight and heart health can be controlled with physical fitness and exercise.
Honey Creek stays current with the latest technology, providing students with resources that will aid them in the future. With a lab available to all grade levels, students gain familiarity working with technology. Sound field systems are installed in all classrooms and SMART boards are used frequently. Classrooms are also equipped with desktop computers, laptops, chromebooks, and iPads.
At Honey Creek, students become proficient users of technology by following the guidelines set forth in the Honey Creek Technology Learner Expectations Folder. This document is based on the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) and is used to track ways in which Honey Creek students are achieving all the necessary skills to become digital learners in today’s global community. All kindergarten students are provided one hour of teacher-directed activities on computers in the computer lab weekly, while students in grades 1-5 receive two hours of instruction. Students also are provided opportunities to practice on computers in their classroom. By illustrating, collaborating and communicating ideas and stories using digital tools and media rich resources, students maximize their learning through technology.