Archive | February, 2012

Academic Service Learning February 2012


Our Martin Luther King Day assembly was a big hit!  We were fortunate to have three different speakers present from three different forums–Skype, through a letter and in person.  Our three guests brought words of hope and inspiration and left many students feeling reflective.  It opened up some important conversations.  Hopefully many of you were able to participate in MLK activities or acts of service.  I would love to share some of these experiences.  Please e-mail me jthompson@hc.wash.k12.mi.us with any stories you would like to share!

With this beautiful weather comes a terrific opportunity to spend time outside and encourage your children to practice acts of service!  Take a walk in the park and pick up debris left behind, go for a walk in your community and identify areas and/or people who might need extra help shoveling when the snow does hit, be creative and take advantage of this time to be outside without the weight of all the winter gear!

Technology News February 2012

In 2/3 technology, students finished the “Engineer’s Notebook” project using the iPads. We have now started a new unit called Inventors and Inventions. This unit helps students learn more about the invention process, study famous inventors, and gain a deeper understanding of how the fields of technology and engineering have changed our world.  We’ve started with a fun invention to spark student interest: the roller coaster! Students started with using a computer simulation called WHOAler coaster, and have been working on building actual roller coasters (for marbles) the past few weeks.

WHOAler coaster can be found here:


In 4/5 technology, students have been working on becoming more expert with several different tools. We started using Google Earth as a way to understand how technology can allow us to learn more about the natural world (lots of connections to the 4/5 social studies geography here!). Over the last two weeks, we’ve been learning search strategies that can be used to become better at searching the Web for information.

The Middle School technology classes finished a major assignment called Analyzing Technology, where students were required to analyze three different styles of computer mouse and recommend one as the best choice for a school purchase. Over the last 2 weeks, we have started a new unit called Sustainable House Design. Students will be designing and building their own homes, based on a number of factors that include environmental impact, cost, and the occupants’ requirements.

The Middle School Technology elective finished the Programming with Processing class, and students displayed their work at the Curriculum Celebration. The new semester’s elective has now started, and it is entitled 3D Modeling and Prototyping. This class focuses on the engineering design process, and focuses on using Google SketchUp as a tool for creating 3D models.

Music News February 2012

     The halls of Honey Creek are being filled with the beautiful sound of recorders. The 2-3 and 4-5 music classes are making great progress with the recorders. The classes have all successfully learned the first three notes: B,A,G, and also completed our first song: Hot Cross Buns. In the coming weeks we will continue to work with B, A, and G and learn other fun songs using those notes.

K-1 music classes have been learning about whole notes, composers, and jazz. We will continue to build on these ideas in the coming weeks and introduce whole rests.

Band and Choir classes are building on our knowledge learned during first semester and will soon begin working toward our next concert. If you hear any of these groups while wondering the corridors of Honey Creek, please feel free to pop your head in and listen for a moment.

Art News February 2012

February is shaping up to be an exciting month for the artists at Honey Creek!  K/1 classes are finishing up their Keith Haring  dogs project, while 2/3 classes are finishing up their project about rhythm, and how it is not only used in music, but also in art!  4/5 classes are working more on their musical instrument drawings and getting ready to add watercolor, pastel, and collage elements to their work.  Middle School classes just finished up their printmaking project and will be learning about the art of the Pacific Islands next, and creating a clay sculpture to go along with that.

Middle School Elective has begun a new term, and I am very excited about taking the class on their first field trip to the University of Michigan Museum of Art on February 15th!  A big thank you goes out to Bruce Worden and the rest of the PTO Fine Arts Committee at Honey Creek for helping make this trip possible.  We are planning on a K/1 trip as well when springtime gets closer!

Physical Education/Swimming News February 2012

    This past month the lower and middle el have been focusing on manipulative skills. They worked on underhand and overhand throw and catch, soccer kick and trap, and striking with an implement where they tried tee ball, scooter hockey, tennis and pillo polo. The upper el and middle school have been working on designing their own games. In small groups they have to come up with a creative game that does not already exist. Then they present it to the class and the class votes on which game they like best. The game with the most votes is played on the final day of the unit. The kids have really gotten excited about this project and are doing very well.  February will consist of approximately 2 or 3 yoga lessons using yoga pretzel cards, Wai Lana’s Little Yogi’s DVD’s and Global Family Yoga’s Chill Children.

In the pool the students had a basic assessment of their front and back floats, front crawl and back crawl. Students are expected by state standards and benchmarks to be able to achieve these skills by the end of 2nd grade. Most of our students are surpassing this and many are well on their way. Some of the K1’s are moving onto the elementary back stroke and the middle and upper el are starting to learn the basics of the side stroke.

Middle School News February 2012

Social Studies

We have transitioned from our Building a Dwelling project into a unit on homelessness.  This fits with the inquiry strand in Social Studies and ties in with our theme of Homes and Habitats.  It also is meant to lead into our next unit on microeconomics.

Students will start the unit off by writing a narrative of a homeless person, which will act as a means to share our own thoughts (and biases) about homeless people.  We will compile information about gender, race, age, and struggles from the narratives and compare them to national averages.

As we go deeper into the unit, we will begin to look at public policy in Ann Arbor and around the country, which will be the basis of a persuasive essay and debate.  The final piece will be a student-run simulation in which parents have to go through a day in the life of a homeless person in Ann Arbor.


Channel 2 News team at Honey Creek Community School will be coming to a viral video near you!  These expert weather scientists will be explaining their local forecast at the guest locations all over the United States.  Using their knowledge about weather/climate conditions, and data collected from those locations, these outgoing and enthusiastic meteorologists will make their mark under a lot of high pressure.

Language Arts

In the month of January we are starting big things!  We have wrapped up the writing of memoirs, and are moving into the study of biography.

This shift also kicks off our multi-genre project for this year.  For this project, each student had to choose a biography or autobiography to read, and in the coming weeks will be producing several genres to represent their study of that person (or cat or horse in some cases).  The multi-genre projects last year were stunning, so I am looking forward to watching these develop.



The semester is over, progress reports have gone out, it’s a good time to review the progress your student has made.  If they’re doing well, be sure to tell them; if they’re not, problem solve with them to see how things can be improved for the rest of the year.

In Course 1, February finds us reviewing/learning/and understanding fraction operations.  We will be reviewing addition, subtraction, and some multiplication, and we will be learning (some for the first time) dividing fractions.  A new method that we’ve learned when multiplying fractions and mixed numbers is to use cross canceling.  Many of the kids really like it – because they view it as a shortcut.  Who doesn’t like a good shortcut?  Feel free to ask them about it.

Course 2 just began a unit on Ratios, Rates, and Proportions.  This unit will take much of February as we will incorporate a dilation project with the new material.  Since this year’s theme is Homes and Habitats, I’m thinking about making a castle… you’ll find out at the next Curriculum Celebration.

You may have noticed your Course 3 student filming with friends lately… they just finished up a Problem Solving Video Project.  Overall, they are very creative kids, I enjoyed watching them work.  For February we will be focusing on Exponents and Roots, as well as Percent Problems.

The Algebra students just completed a unit on Linear Functions.  In February, they will be using that knowledge to evaluate Systems of Equations and Inequalities.  This is usually another opportunity for the kids to use what they are learning and apply it to real life – they will be assigned a project using systems of equations to compare and analyze  different companies.

Later Elementary News February 2012

Well, we’re already into the second month of 2012! Thus far we certainly haven’t had much of a winter! Let’s keep our fingers crossed that February is kind to us, too! Here’s a quick look at the month ahead in the 4/5 classes.

In social studies we’ll be focusing on the European slave trade and slavery in Colonial America. I’ve talked with students recently about the idea of keystone events/concepts in history. There are just certain historical events and issues that have to be understood in order to understand the human experience throughout the years. I’ve argued that the institution of slavery – in Colonial America, the United States of America, and throughout the rest of the world – is one such issue. It’s impossible to understand how the United States was formed without understanding the role slavery played in its formation. Similarly, it’s impossible to truly understand our society

today without fully discussing and learning about our nation’s sordid slave-holding past.

Things that will be discussed during our study of slavery in

Colonial America include: The Triangle Trade (people and goods that were traded – and the Middle Passage); The lives of enslaved and free Africans in the Colonies; and the formation of a distinct African American culture in the colonies.

In science students are working on the scientific method by making paper airplanes. They’re conducting test flights and making modifications intended to get their planes to fly further.

In language arts students are continuing to read “Maniac Magee” and discussing topics dealing with social justice and equality. These topics tie in nicely with our current social studies topic. Students are also continuing their work with the six traits of writing.

Throughout the upcoming month students will be focusing on the traits of word choice and ideas.

Please feel free to touch base with your child’s math teacher if you have any math related questions. We hope you all have a great start to February! Thanks for all you do for you kids!


The 4/5 Team

Middle Elementary News February 2012

Please make sure the check Tammy, Mary and Salli’s blogs each week as this is where you will get the most up-to-date information.

We are going to be going on two different field trips, the Leslie Science Center on Monday, April 9th and Hudson Mills Metropark on Friday, May 11th. Salli has set up an electronic volunteer sign up through signupgenius.com . There is no fee associated for chaperones to attend the field trips with the exception of a parking fee at Hudson Mills but we are asking for a $16.00 donation for each student to attend both field trips.  We would like to collect the money by March 9th and you can send cash or a check with your child made out to Honey Creek Community School. If you have any problems with signing up electronically, please contact Salli and let me know right away.  The focus on these two field trips will be animals and their habitats, wetland discovery and the plant cycle.

This is the time of the year when we start really focusing on math facts. It is hard to do the dedicated practice with the intensity students need in a multi-aged classroom as there are so many different levels. Please make sure that you are helping your child develop speed and accuracy with math facts. It makes the conceptual and higher level things we do in the classroom much easier. The Common Core standards are that 2nd graders can fluently add and subtract within 20 and that 3rd graders can fluently multiply and divide within 100. We are trying to put together a complete and cohesive list of ways to practice math facts and we will be posting these on the blogs as soon as we get this document one.

February will find us digging in to rocks and minerals and science and government in social studies.

In language arts, we are getting back into the routine and building more stamina in writing and reading. Using details is strategy we are using in all types of reading and writing. Good writers use details to help their audience better understand the message. Readers use details from the text to support inferences, predictions and connections they make.

Early Elementary News February 2012

K-1 is just beginning the second part of our integrated thematic unit,  “How My Community Works”. The last half of this unit focuses on Food Systems. The children will investigate where the food in our community comes from. Using bread as an example, they will learn about the natural and human resources needed to get food from producer to consumer. They will learn about food production and follow bread through the food system from farm to factory to store and then home.

The children will get an opportunity to bake bread and participate in science experiments related to bread, yeast, and mold as well.

In Language Arts, we are working on nonfiction writing. The purpose of this unit is to introduce students to nonfiction and procedural writing. All children are experts on some subject matter, and this unit will give them the opportunity to be not only a writer but a teacher as well.

During the first part of this nonfiction unit, students will write their own “how-to” book. The second portion of the unit will be devoted to creating “all-about” books. We will use nonfiction books by authors such as Gail Gibbons to do research on the text structures of nonfiction. Children will be using graphic organizers and planning paper to help them create their books.

We are gearing up for the 100th day of school with our current math unit. Children are learning to compare and order numbers and use the 100 chart to count by 2s, 5s, and 10s. In the math unit we are just finishing children worked on problem solving and were introduced to telling time to hour and half-hour.

PTO News February 2012


Mark your calendars!

  • Faculty/Parent Ball-Gown-Optional Ball February 10

at Hathaway’s Hideaway 6-8PM

  • Honey Creek Annual Talent Show Thursday March 29


Food Allergy Awareness

Imagine a long table filled with food at one of our Honey Creek Potlucks.  Did you know that for some members of our community, instead of looking like the start of a great meal, that table may look more like a food allergen danger zone for themselves or their children?  Please read the following informational article written by our own Karen Andrews and learn a little more about this important issue so that we can all stop and think before preparing a dish for a potluck or a sweet treat for a bake sale.


Food Allergies in the Honey Creek Community

     As many as 15 million Americans have a food allergy, including approximately 6 million children. At Honey Creek, we believe the number to be over 25 children affected by food allergies.  The most common allergy-causing foods are peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, etc.), milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy. Recent studies showed that 3.3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts.


What are some of the symptoms of a food allergy?

     The most common symptom of a food-allergy reaction is hives. Other symptoms can include one or more of the following:

·   tingling in the mouth

·   swelling of the tongue and throat

·   difficulty breathing

·   stomach cramps

·   vomiting

·   diarrhea

·   eczema


Some symptoms or reactions can be life threatening, and repeated exposure to allergens can actually increase the severity of the response.  This is why it is critical to raise awareness to eliminate accidental exposures, and your help is needed.

A lot of kids have questions about food allergies.  It’s great that they want to help their classmates and friends who must always be vigilant about the food they consume.  http://fankids.org/ is a great website designed for kids to understand food allergies and how to be a “PAL” of a child that has an allergy.

A good “PAL” to a child with allergies:

·   Knows what foods need to be avoided.

·   Does not eat the food classmates are allergic to when kids are together.

·   Asks questions about what is in food because the allergen foods can be found in unexpected places.

·   Always washes his or her hands and keeps the eating area clean.

·   Doesn’t tease or call names because someone has a food allergy.

·   Doesn’t try to get kids to eat foods they shouldn’t.

·   Knows the symptoms of a reaction and how to get help.


As parents, it’s also important for us to be aware of the needs of the children in the HoneyCreek community to ensure inadvertent exposures do not occur.  Some ways you can help:

·   Know what restrictions may exist in your child’s classroom.

·   Ask questions of the parent of the child with allergies to understand the specifics.

·   Read labels to ensure you understand what ingredients are actually in the food or snacks you’re sending to school.

·   Take extra care when bringing in class treats to understand the needs of the classroom.

·   At school events, like Bake Sales, avoid nuts as an ingredient, and if you must include them, wrap each item separately and CLEARLY label the items as including nuts.

·   If you are volunteering at a school event where food is served, accept that you must understand all ingredients in the food to accurately answer questions for kids who will inquire about possible allergen ingredients.

Parents of kids with allergies will be profoundly grateful for your help in these simple ways; it can be very scary to send your allergic child off to an uncontrolled environment.  What I have found out is that my child’s classmates are her biggest advocates and a little education and awareness goes a long way!


Thank you for reading this piece and for your willingness to become more aware.

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