The Learning Center Charter School fielded two Odyssey of the Mind teams for the 2018-2019 school year and both teams earned 2nd place finishes at the regional competition in February. The middle school team advanced to the state level competition and placed 4th in March.
Odyssey of the Mind (OM) is an international educational program that provides creative problem solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members use creative problem solving skills in a range of scenarios from building mechanical devices to presenting dramatic interpretations of literary classics.
Thousands of OM teams across the U.S. and from approximately 25 other countries participate in the program. Students in the program work together as a team preparing for months before the competition. Team members learn valuable skills such as creative and critical thinking, global awareness, cooperative planning, and complex technical and artistic problem solving.
Judy Coleman, OM Director at the school, said, “I am incredibly proud of all of our teams. They all performed exceptionally well!”
Coleman, who also serves on the OM Western Board of Directors for North Carolina as well as the State Board of Directors, added that the 2019-2020 school year will see a creative interplay between the OM problem solving approach and the Project Based Learning approach at the charter school.
“Our students will be presented with ongoing scenarios that will truly stretch their creative problem solving skills!” said Coleman.
Eighth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School know how to give back to the community. That’s because throughout the school year they have developed service projects in conjunction with the Lead2Feed program.
Lead2Feed is a student leadership program that blends leadership lessons with community service. The program is designed for 6th-12th grade students and integrates robust leadership lessons with a project based learning model. The goal of the program is for students to increase their understanding of practical leadership skills as they take action to make a positive impact within their communities.
The eighth grade class was divided into four teams with the goal of creating service projects within our community. One team donated over 300 units of food and supplies to REACH in Murphy. Another group was able to raise money and donations for The Friendship House in Murphy. A third team scheduled three liter clean up days.
Teacher Ryan Bender noted that the students worked through all the necessary steps of each service project. “These student groups created team names and logos and worked diligently to determine attainable goals for their projects,” said Bender. “I am proud of their work and they are happy to have made a difference in our community.”
Back in May, Ms. Jessie noticed that her 7th grade students needed a refresher on United States geography. She proposed a States and Capitals Quiz Bowl and the students were totally on board. They spent a month studying up and then held their Quiz Bowl. These students were the proud winners!
Back in May, upper grade students “opened” a Living History Museum to the younger grades. These older students each selected a historic figure, event or place and presented information about it. Many students essentially “became” that historical figure as they dressed, acted and spoke as though they were that person.
For this project, these upper grade students had to synthesize the information they learned to create an exhibit representative of their subject. In order to select pivotal events or recreate significant circumstances in an individual’s life, students had to research the person but also critically evaluate the people, places, and events surrounding them in order to develop a powerful exhibit.
Deciding on a format, selecting key material for younger students to understand, and putting it all in context required active learning and encouraged creative interpretation. As they worked, students needed to understand the subject and the world in which he or she lived. Additionally, this Living History Museum introduced younger students to subjects relevant to their history studies beyond their reading ability.
Fourth and fifth grade students learned about zero waste lifestyles- ways of living that use no plastic or packaging that can’t be composted. Afterwards students walked around campus to see our schools compost pile and picked up trash along the road in front of school and on campus. They filled three grocery bags and the kids were so proud to help our environment.
Third graders became soil scientists by observing and testing different soil samples around the school campus. Students noted color, texture, and infiltration. They did a simple soil test to determine the main rock particles of each sample. After moistened, if the soil would not make a ball we knew the main component was sand. If it formed a crumbly ball the main component was silt. A sticky ball that could form into a worm was mostly clay. Students also noticed if there was a high or low amount of organic matter present. Students identified organic matter in the garden soil and noticed it made the soil darker in color.
First graders recently completed a PBL project (Project Based Learning) where they learned about the climate in Antarctica. On this particular day, the class made snow!
Fifth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School completed their studies of the Civil War on April 26th but students didn’t want the unit to end.
Jay Ward, fifth grade teacher, developed a multi-layered social studies simulation that required students to imagine they were a soldier who just volunteered for the Civil War. The class was divided into Union and Confederate soldiers and grouped to represent different state infantries.
“Once students were assigned their regiments, they had to research what battle flags looked like and replicate one for their regiment flag,” said Ward. “Students then marched around campus with their battle flags and we recreated the Battle of Oak Grove.”
To simulate the Battle of Oak Grove, students rolled dice to determine if they fired their weapons, were injured or deserted. They would roll again and use an injury table created for the simulation to determine what injuries they sustained, if they were healed, died, received amputations or were sent home due to injuries.
Recreating the battle took several class days. Every day after the simulation, the students had to write letters home as a soldier and explain circumstances, outcomes and daily struggles they faced on the front lines of the Civil War.
“My students were so engaged in this learning process and figuring out exactly what it was like to be part of the Civil War,” said Ward. “This project really allowed us to explore the subject on a deep level.”
Fifth graders learned all about heredity in science and created “alien babies” using Punnett squares and figuring out dominate and recessive traits. The students were so involved in the activity they wanted to see what other types of species they could create like a mad scientist!
A Punnett square is a graphical representation of the possible genotypes of an offspring arising from a particular cross or breeding event.