8th Grade Students “Venture Out” into Mountain Region

8th Graders are seen with Macon County Historical Museum curator Robert Shook during their Venture Out trip to Franklin, NC in September.

Venture Out is a cross-curricular travel and study program for fourth through eighth grade students at the school.  It weaves literature, science, history and art with travel and real life experiences.  The Venture Out program promotes trips to places and people of interest across the mountain region. The annual upper grades class trip branches out to include travel destinations such as New York City, Coastal NC, Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans and Atlanta.

Students in eighth grade experience a robust Venture Out travel schedule that began with the trip to Franklin in September. Students toured the Macon County Historical Museum that is housed in a 1904 building in the town center. They enjoyed a guided tour with special emphasis on Franklin’s unique Civil War history. Students also visited a gem and mineral museum housed in the old Franklin city jail. They enjoyed viewing the expansive mineral, gem and fossil collection housed there.

On October 9th, these students traveled to Rabun County, Georgia and explored the Foxtire Museum and Appalachian Heritage Center. They enjoyed the demonstrations from craftspeople, hands-on activities and learned how people have lived in our mountains for centuries.

Julie Johnson, Expedentiary Learning Coordinator at our school, said, “Our goal at The Learning Center is to create life-long learners who know that there is always something to learn from the world around them.”

The Venture Out activities are chosen to closely align with what students study in the classroom.  Venture Out is not a day out of school – it’s a day where school happens off campus.

Johnson added, “Through travel and exploration, we are making our great community our classroom.”

3rd Grade Science — STEM — Making Skin Models

Earlier this year, students in third grade spent many weeks studying systems of the human body as part of their science studies. To culminate the body systems unit, students made skin models. It helped them better understand the function, structure and purpose of skin.

2nd Grade — Reading in the Dark?

Second grade is enjoying their new reading headlamps.

They have been working hard on reading strategies in second grade. Specifically on how second graders need to learn how to pick “just right” books. They are using our new reading headlamps to examine books and use what we have learned to pick out the perfect book.

5th Grade PBL — Native Americans

Project Based Learning, or PBL, projects are part of the regular approach to learning at the charter school.  PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to authentic, complex questions, problems or challenges.

Fifth graders worked on a PBL project as part of their studies of Native Americans.  They ultimately created a Native American Living Museum wherein the students researched and became experts on the tribes way of life (clothing, housing, crafts, and geographic location).

Student were also expected to replicate, by creating from recycled materials or craft items, a 3-D house, a doll, and a craft item. 

Students then presented their finished projects as part of a living history museum. They presented their living history museum to other students as well as to parents and staff.

2nd Grade’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Before Thanksgiving, second graders completed a STEM project where they learned to design and build their own balloon floats.

Students learned all about the history of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They learned about the beginnings in 1924 all they way up to the present day parade through an amazing book, Balloons Over Broadway, by Melissa Street.

Afterwards, students were challenged to design and construct their own Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. Students were allowed to share their hard work by celebrating with a second grade parade. Students marched around the school and visited all of the classrooms to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

Muddy Sneakers and 5th Grade Part II

Fifth graders have begun participating in The Muddy Sneakers program and will have several excursions throughout the school year.  The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude.  Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.  Be sure to scroll down and read Part I in of series of 5th Grade and Muddy Sneakers in the previous post.

The second Muddy Sneakers excursion had the students trekking to Fires Creek to learn about Aquatic Ecosystems. The class was divided into two groups and Muddy Sneakers leaders Kiersten and Alex each took a group to the river to check the water quality.

The students had fun hiking their way through the trails to reach the water destination. Once there the instructors took out the collecting materials and explained to the students how to collect animal specimens without hurting them. Each student was partnered up. One of the partners went into the water first with a bucket, small fish net, and a small paint brush sponge.  The other student stayed on the bank to separate the different species into separate containers.

Afterwards, the class came back together to discuss what they found. Depending on what kinds of micro-invertebrate species they had found, they could determine if the water was healthy or polluted. Students were pleased to discover that the water was good quality.

Then, students hiked up to the waterfall and we discussed what they had learned from this expedition.

Muddy Sneakers and 5th Grade Part I

For the second year in a row, fifth graders at our school are participating in Muddy Sneakers.  The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude.  Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.

Students had their first excursion to learn the rules and procedures during these field work expeditions.  Students learned things like how to identify poison ivy, what to do if they see a snake in the woods, how to use compasses and magnifying glasses, and how to behave around stinging insects.

This first day was spent walking the trails in our own Outdoor Learning Center.  During the lessons and hikes, students found some really cool fungus and discussed it as the group. They found Cobalt Crust, Stinkhorn Mushrooms, and a blanket of white fluff on a tree branch that they identified as Beech Blight Aphids (Grylloprociphilus imbricator), a species that lives off the sap of beech trees.

The students really are excited to learn more on future Muddy Sneakers expeditions!

Kindergarten Makes Applesauce

A special thank you to a parent volunteer that visited the Kindergarten class and helped them make applesauce. This fun seasonal activity included teaching the students about apples, the importance of eating local foods that are in season and how to read a recipe. Plus, the resulting applesauce was delicious!

4th Grade E-STEAM focused on Social Studies & Science– Harvesting Seed Beads

Recently, fourth grade teacher, Carrie Dyer, and elementary science teacher, Emily Willey, collaborated on Native American science and social studies E-STEAM project.

Students learned in science that technology evolves with society and that technology is anything or system that makes a process easier. Student went out into the school gardens and harvested seed bead plant, a plant that produces a little seeds with a natural hole through them that native Americans often used to make jewelry. The plant is technically a native from Africa but has been used in America for many years.

The students were challenged to see how many they could collect in a certain amount of time. It was interesting to watch the students process in gathering change. Some students quietly sat and picked the seed off the plant. Others picked up seeds that had dropped from the pile of plants pulled from the ground. Finally one group decided to start whacking their plant on the ground to knock the seeds off and collect them. Ms. Emily told that they basically had discovered the threshing of grains.  The class discussed how indigenous peoples harvested grains and had to thrash the plants to get the seed off of the plant.  They further discussed other systems of production and how need for survival encourages the development of technology. Students then worked with Ms. Carrie to incorporate the seed beads into a Native American project that tied in with their social studies standards.

2nd Grade — Learning to Read Recipes

Last week, students in second grade practiced learning to read recipes and follow step by step instructions by making their own Pumpkin Patch Pudding Cups.

The students learned about recipe ingredients, cooking supplies and following the directions of a recipe. They had an amazing time following the recipe and creating their own edible pumpkin patch treats. Never mind the measuring, following directions, team work, math and science learned right along side their yummy pudding cups!