Last week you read about second grade students and their whistle parade! These students have also been exploring sound in the classroom by rotating through stations and discovering how you can change the pitch of sound on a variety of different instruments. Students have learned that the length of a vibrating object is associated with the pitch it creates.
Students at TLC aren’t strangers to getting their hands dirty. Why? Because gardening engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn.
Gardens are living laboratories where our students learn everything from team work to food production and lessons can be taught across the curriculum. Gardening encourages students to become active participants in the learning process.
These first graders took time to plant radishes. However, they weren’t just planting radishes. They were also learning about energy that plants need to grow. They also deepened their understanding of how plants get nutrients from the soil to grow, flower and produce food.
While they were in the garden, they snipped dozens of marigold blossoms in order to make garlands to decorate their classroom in celebration of fall harvest season!
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Second graders have been studying sound in science. In order to understand the relationship of pitch and length of air column, Ms. Emily had students play with water whistles. Students could change the length of their whistle by adding or removing water and then observe and hear how it affected the pitch. The class had a blast learning about pitch with the whistles . . . and with the whistle parade they did around campus!
Recently, eighth grade students have been immersed in a project based learning (PBL) scenario where they are trying to determine what a mystery disease is and how to handle it from a community perspective. Students are taking on the roles of county health officials by diagnosing the disease, creating an action plan to stop the spread of the outbreak, and educating the public on disease transmission.
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 an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. This mystery disease scenario is allowing these students to not only learn the science of disease but also a community response to manage it. This PBL approach helps students develop skills for living in our knowledge-based, highly technological world.
Students learned how pollinators are an essential link in agriculture. Animal pollinators, especially bees, are critical for producing more than one-third of U.S. food products. In addition to bees, other pollinators, including butterflies and moths, beetles, flies, wasps, birds, and bats are necessary for pollinating more than 80% of plants in nature.
In addition to what the class learned in the presentation, they have gone on to build their own 3D models of pollinators based on what traits an efficient pollinator needs.
Recently, seventh grade students have been studying biological inheritance and genetics. They have followed a horse pedigree, completed gene surveys and are currently creating aliens based on Punnett squares. The Punnett square is a diagram that is used to predict an outcome of a particular cross or breeding experiment. It is named after Reginald C. Punnett, who devised the approach. The diagram is used by biologists to determine the probability of an offspring having a particular genotype.
Second graders were recently introduced to STEM Bins, a hands-on form of engineering for elementary students. STEM Bins contain a large variety of materials. When a student opens the bin and sees the contents he or she is encouraged to think imaginatively. Students have the chance to design and build real world things such as working tools, bridges, mazes or traps. However, they can also design something the world has never seen before. STEM Bins promote creativity and engineering by using 2D and 3D shapes, lines, and angles.
As the second graders were introduced to STEM Bins, they worked together collaboratively as they thought about what to build as well as when they improved upon designs together as their structures took shape.
Second graders will continue to use STEM Bins throughout the school year.
Students at The Learning Center Charter School are experiencing a new approach to math this school year, termed Guided Math, due in large part to second grade teacher, Stephanie Hopper. In spring of 2016, she began researching math curriculum. The more she researched, the more she realized that no magical math curriculum exists. She saw that it’s not the curriculum but the approach to math that better meets the needs of the school’s diverse population of students.
Guided Math is now what kindergarten through fifth grade students at the charter school do each day. Math class begins with a math warm up and is soon followed by a whole group mini lesson which focuses on a specific math standard. After that, students work in smaller groups following a rotation schedule according to STACK. STACK stands for 1) Small group with the teacher, 2) Technology, 3) Apply what they have learned; 4) Create using critical thinking skills through math journaling, and 5) Kinesthetic, or in other words, hands-on games and activities. These rotations allow the students to experience direct instruction as well as student-centered activities and hands-on learning. The teacher is able to work with small groups of students to further enhance the direct instruction and work closely with those who are struggling and those who are ready to be further challenged. After the daily rotation is complete, the class comes back together as a whole and reflects on the lessons of the day.
Ms. Hopper says that student response to Guided Math has been great and is a perfect addition to the school’s Four-Blocks English Language Arts Program. Fourth grade teacher, Chris Conroy says, “My experience with Guided Math so far is that students are much more engaged in their work. They enjoy helping their fellow group members and love the rotations. The Guided Math approach gives students the opportunity to learn the math standards in many different ways and allows the teacher to monitor each individual child and provide differentiated instruction and lessons. It’s a win-win learning experience!”
First grade scientists recently ventured outside with Ms. Katie, Ms. Becky, and Ms. Emily as they began learning out in the field in The Outdoor Learning Center (TOLC.) They observed and recorded living and nonliving parts of our environment. They discussed that all living things grow, eat, react, reproduce, and move. Students were fascinated to learn the different ways plants move! They also noted several ways that plant and animals show signs of life by reacting to stimuli.