Murphy Creek P-8

The Highest Achievement for All!

Instructional Program

Our Mission

In alignment with the Colorado State Standards, Murphy Creek K-8 School ensures the highest achievement for all through:

  • continuous learning from kindergarten through eighth grade
  • long-term relationships with students and their families
  • integration of arts, technology, and academics

Rationale for Mission…

Continuous learning from kindergarten through eighth grade leads to increased student achievement by:

  • providing connections between elementary and middle school learning
  • allowing students to progress at individual rates
  • helping students of all ages to work and learn together
  • sharing instructional practices between elementary and secondary teachers
  • eliminating the transition between elementary and middle school

Long-term relationships with students and their families lead to increased student achievement by:

  • providing consistent student/adult relationships and role models
  • extending a nurturing learning environment through the middle school years
  • preparing students for a successful high school experience
  • increasing family involvement through the middle school years

Integration of arts, technology, and academics leads to increased student achievement by:

  • making academic content accessible to all learners
  • allowing students to make connections in order to deepen understandings
  • stimulating higher-level thinking
  • developing collaborative work skills
  • using technology as an instructional tool
  • increasing student motivation

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The program descriptors below fully align with Colorado State Standards and the Aurora School District. They reflect current research and the best collective thinking of the Murphy Creek P-8 staff and other APS professionals. Program implementation will be adjusted to meet the specific needs of actual enrolled students and will be revised based upon the academic success of our students.

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Instruction and Student Achievement

Murphy Creek’s instructional philosophy results in the construction of meaning in all content areas. The role of the teacher is to plan for and facilitate meaningful learning opportunities for students that meet grade level expectations as well as the developmental needs of the individual learner. Teachers at all grade levels and within all subject areas will use the Colorado State Standards, district created pacing guides, and agreed upon summative assessments.

Instruction in all content areas will be differentiated to meet the needs of each of our students. This includes daily, formative monitoring of each student’s growth towards identified goals, and a knowledgeable evaluation of both formative and summative data, leading to explicit planning for short-term and long-term instruction. There will be daily opportunities for each child to engage in whole class lessons, flexible small groups based on specific skills and needs, cooperative learning groups, and meaningful independent practice. Student achievement meetings will be held quarterly with the teacher, principal, and teacher leader to monitor each child’s progress and the class as a whole.

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Student Achievement Growth Expectations

Within each subject area, it is an expectation that a child who is currently performing at or above grade level achieve at least one year’s growth for one year of school attendance. Any child who is currently performing below grade level will be expected to progress at an accelerated rate (more than one year’s growth for one year of attendance), thereby closing the gap to proficiency over time.

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Reading Instruction

Reading is the construction of meaning from written text. It is developmental and includes both surface structure skills (phonics and word attack skills) as well as deep structure comprehension and social interaction skills. Teachers will understand the reading process and what good readers do to comprehend increasingly complex text. Students acquire and use these skills first with guidance and then independently. Students at all grades will learn through daily grade level appropriate teacher demonstrations, flexible small group shared and guided instruction, and ample time for independent reading and responding to text both in writing and in conversation with peers. Teachers will monitor student growth in reading through the use of individual running records, standardized reading assessments, reading conferences, classroom observation, and the elementary and secondary APS pacing guides.

The reading curriculum in grades K-4 adopted by the APS Board of Education is Mondo. Fountas and Pinnell phonics materials and DLI are used during the literacy skills block each day. K-8 Reading instruction will be supported with a balance of materials across a variety of genre, including trade books, leveled texts, periodicals, reference materials, and other authentic sources. A leveled book resource room is organized and used by all teachers to support differentiated instruction. Classroom libraries and Murphy Creek’s media center collection will also be available for student independent reading.

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Writing Instruction

Writing is a process which includes planning, drafting, revising, proofreading, and publishing. The successful integration of all stages of the writing process results in a meaningful piece of written communication designed for a particular audience and authentic purpose. Students at all grade levels will use the writing process to write daily during designated literacy times as well as in other content areas. Students will learn about the writers’ craft by studying professional authors’ processes and final products. They will be encouraged to select topics of intense interest and from personal experience, as well as respond to teacher-selected prompts. Explicit skills in writing will address: organization and support, purpose and audience, style and voice, and writing conventions. Published student work will be shared with appropriate audiences.

The writing curriculum in grades K-4 adopted by the APS Board of Education in Lucy Caukins Units of Study. Students in all grades will learn through daily grade level appropriate teacher demonstrations, flexible small group instruction, one-on-one writing conferences with the teacher and peers, and independent practice. In addition to standardized writing and language arts tests teachers will use the APS writing pacing guides to monitor growth by evaluating student draft books and final products.

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Math Instruction

Strong conceptual mathematical understanding is the foundation upon which we develop numerically powerful students. Therefore, math instruction at Murphy Creek will be problem-based, involving meaningful tasks in which students are encouraged to use a variety of approaches and strategies to arrive at mathematically correct answers. Hands-on learning experiences and opportunities to explain their thinking, both orally and in writing, will help students to construct meaning across all math standards. Teachers will systematically plan for a balance of learning opportunities using evaluated data. Students in all grades will learn through grade level appropriate instruction including, collaborative work with peers, flexible shared and guided small group work, and daily time for differentiated independent practice in a variety of mathematically relevant contexts. Multiple measures will be used to monitor student growth including standardized tests (district quarterly interim assessments), the APS math pacing guides; Kathy Richardson assessments, district benchmark assessments, teacher observation, and individual conferences.

The following Board approved resources will be used for grade-level instruction: Kathy Richardson’s Mathematical Perspectives, Navigations Series, Investigations Series, the Connected Math Series, and CORE-plus.

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Science Instruction

Using an inquiry-based instructional approach, the standards-based science curriculum will provide students with opportunities to explore and construct the meaning of scientific phenomena. Classroom and science lab experiences will enable students to:

  • Acquire and use skills of inquiry through the scientific process;
  • Understand scientific principles in earth, physical, and life sciences;
  • Integrate science, technology, and mathematics;
  • Become familiar with the natural world, its diversity, and interdependence; and
  • Use scientific knowledge and thinking patterns for personal and social purposes.

District required health units will be taught within designated science instructional time.

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Social Studies Instruction

Social studies content will focus on developing an appreciation and respect for cultural difference, a knowledge of significant current and historical events, an understanding of our democratic process, and a geographical awareness of our world. Social studies concepts will be authentically integrated into literacy instruction when appropriate. Materials will include textbooks, primary sources, content-related picture and chapter books.

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Murphy Creek will incorporate technology into every aspect of the curriculum. A full technology lab contains desktop computers, scanners, and a presentation projection system. We also have the following hardware available for teacher and student use:

  • Chromebooks, laptops, iPads
  • Mobile laptop lab with wireless capabilities including Internet access
  • Ceiling-mounted LCD projectors
  • Digital cameras
  • Promethean Boards and LCD projectors for class demonstrations and presentations (Internet access available)
  • Document Imaging cameras for class demonstrations and presentations (Internet access available)
  • iPads in the classroom

We also have electronic musical keyboards available for student use. This allows students to compose and record musical compositions.

The music teacher has an electronic piano with LCD display, song playback, and recording and composition capability.

In alignment with our mission, it has an expectation that teachers use technology to enhance their instruction and engage their learners. Teachers will each have their own laptop with word processing, spreadsheet, database, and presentation software. The portability of laptops is the key to productivity. In addition to usage inside the classroom for instructional presentations and technology-related tasks, teachers are able to take advantage of a mobile workstation for use at home and in other facilities.

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Visual and Performing Arts

All students K- 5 will be instructed regularly in visual arts and general music as part of their enrichment classes each day. Middle school students will sign up for specials/elective classes each year in each specials content area.

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Physical Education

All students in first through fourth grade will participate regularly in physical education as one of their enrichment classes. Middle school students will sign up for specials/elective classes each year in each specials content area.

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Competitive and Intramural Sports

Sixth, seventh and eighth grade girls and boys inter-district, competitive sports will be offered during the year. Students will compete against other APS K-8 and middle schools.

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Special Education Learners

Murphy Creek has one designated classroom space which houses two self-contained special needs program for autistic students in grades K-8. Moderate needs, speech language, and functional academic special education students will be mainstreamed for all or a majority of their day into the regular classroom. Classroom teachers and special education teachers will work collaboratively to meet the needs of each learner in accordance with his Individualized Education Plan. IEP goals will be in alignment with state standards and APS pacing guide expectations. An in-class teaming model will be the preferred model of instruction unless a pull out model is deemed a more appropriate option for limited portions of the day. Students may be cluster-grouped in select grade appropriate classrooms in order to better meet their needs; placement decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

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English Language Acquisition Learners

All second language learners will receive instruction in alignment with federal and state requirements of Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act and the English Language Proficiency Act. Daily this will include a 40 minute English Language Development (ELD) Block as part of their literacy instruction. The expected outcome for all second language learners is proficiency in the four communication areas – listening, speaking, reading and writing – while also meeting the same challenging state academic content standards as all students as measured by state and district level assessments. Teachers will use the district’s ELA continuums in addition to APS pacing guides to assess and guide instruction for each ELA student. ELA students will be cluster-grouped within the general education classroom based on oral language, literacy, and math proficiency, previous school experience, and any additional needs such as special education and AGATE. Instructional models will include sheltered instruction, Oral language instruction, and the ELD Block. Second language learners will focus on vocabulary development and grammatical / syntactical oral and written language stuctures.

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Aurora Gifted and Talented Education Learners

Identified AGATE learners will be provided opportunities to accelerate their learning in their area of strength. Gifted learners will also be given opportunities to pursue interests in depth and breadth as well as engage in higher level thinking skills and exploration of complex ideas. AGATE learners will be cluster-grouped in grade appropriate classrooms. This allows gifted students to work with like academic peers within a developmentally appropriate social environment. On occasion, gifted learners may be placed in a higher grade level classroom for a portion of their day if this is deemed to be the best placement for the individual student.

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  • Please see district homework guidelines on the APS website.

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Report Cards

In order to support standards-based education and our mission of “continuous learning from kindergarten through eighth grade”, all kindergarten through eighth grade Murphy Creek students will receive a quarterly report card which reflects the current APS elementary report card structure. The following identifiers will be used in each content area: beginning understanding, partially proficient, proficient, and advanced. Written comments will minimally communicate one developmentally appropriate strength and one next step in reading, writing, and math. Students will also receive an “effort” score in each content area. Specials will report out at the end of each semester in grades K-4 and at the end of each quarter in grades 5-8. Every student in kindergarten through eighth grade will receive a brief progress report at mid-quarter indicating proficiency levels each major content area.

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Professional Development

Professional development results in improved instruction and student achievement. Each teacher will be expected to actively participate in a variety of professional development opportunities including: job-embedded individualized or group coaching, team instructional dialogues, building-wide staff development, and/or district-sponsored classes. Reading professional literature and research will be an ongoing part of this process. Literacy and math teacher coaches have been hired to formally coach teachers.

The school will be responsible for providing differentiated learning opportunities for teachers. The principal and assistant principal will be responsible for evaluating teacher growth using the district’s observation/evaluation process and monitoring teacher and student learning ongoing classroom visitations. Each teacher is responsible for continuing to deepen their understandings of content and the processes students use to create meaning, resulting in improved classroom practice and student achievement.

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Through a purposeful, systemic plan of school development, leadership is distributed and results in improved student achievement. This will include an administrative focus on instruction, with the expectation that the principal is continuing to develop her understandings across content areas and developmental levels. A leadership team will meet monthly, responsible for developing, monitoring and revising the Unified School Improvement Plan and Professional Development Plan. Membership will include administration, teaching partner, and classroom teachers. Members should demonstrate effective instructional practices within their own classroom. Leadership team members will be responsible for building leadership capacity and modeling the highest standard of professionalism with colleagues.

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Administrative and shared decisions will be data-driven and student-centered, with the goal of improving student achievement. We will work towards the continual improvement of student achievement, and the successful actualization of Murphy Creek’s vision and mission.

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