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.
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.”
Students in fourth grade across the state have a special emphasis on North Carolina history as part of their social studies curriculum. This year our Fourth Graders learned to clog as part of this emphasis.
Clogging is an American dance form that began in the Appalachian Mountains and now enjoys widespread popularity throughout the United States and around the world.
The students performed a clogging dance to the song “Cotton Eyed Joe” at the annual talent show on April 4th. They did a fantastic job too!
Third grade students at The Learning Center Charter School completed a cross curricular study of the Oregon Trail and the California Gold Rush in March. Their studies included standards in both social studies and science.
Students learned about the Oregon Trail and the California Gold Rush as part of their social studies curriculum. They learned about specific land forms and water bodies as part of their science curriculum. Their teachers teamed together to create a hands-on project that blended the two together beautifully.
Gina Stafford teaches social studies to the class while Emily Willey teaches science. Working as a team, the two teachers asked the students to create 3D models that included land forms and bodies of water they studied in science with the real life route that people took on the Oregon Trail during the time of westward expansion.
Students used salt dough and cardboard to create their landforms following the guidelines for both science and social studies.
“It’s one thing to study a subject and a whole other thing to relate it to particular events in history,” said Stafford. “Students were surprised to learn about the physical obstacles people faced while traveling west in the search for gold.”
Recently, seventh graders were studying World War I. Here they are seen simulating their version of WWI trench warfare. One group was the Allies, the other the Central Powers. Based upon the rules of their particular game, the Central Powers were victorious in their simulation. The kids loved engaging in this activity and, as a result, understand WWI on a deeper level.
Fourth graders recently had to use their sleuthing skills to help Clara Barton decode and solve clues to help wounded soldiers as part of her historical role during the American Civil War. The lesson was based on the pop culture “escape room” concept.
An escape room is a physical adventure game in which teams of players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategy to escape a locked room. Escape rooms have popped up all over the country including in Blue Ridge, Georgia.
On February 5th, students in second grade celebrated Chinese New Year. Students learned about the customs and traditions of the holiday and the importance of the celebration in China. They also learned about the lunar calendar.
The students were able to read books, enjoy interactive parades and make Chinese New Year dragons and lanterns. To end the celebration, the students were able to enjoy traditional Chinese fried rice. The day was loaded with fun and learning.
Fourth grade students recently learned about events leading up to the French and Indian War. As part of their studies, they were tasked with composing a letter to a friend or family member back home describing their circumstances and environment as a soldier in the war. The students then tea stained the parchment paper and sealed the envelope with a wax seal. Their teacher, Ms. Carrie, said it was so interesting to hear the detail that students included in their letters. It was clear to her that the letter writing process caused her students to become invested in the history and understand it on a deeper level.
On September 26-28, Learning Center charter school 6th – 8th grade students embarked on what they wanted to be their annual fall camping trip to explore Great Smoky Mountain National Park. However, they got rained out and came up with alternative ways to explore the park.
Instead of camping as originally planned, students stayed at the bunkhouse at Wildwater Outdoor Center. They visited Occunaluftee Indian Village as well as the Mountain Farm Village.
The group ventured into the town of Cherokee where they had lunch at Newfound Lodge and enjoyed eating a traditional Cherokee meal. Students also stopped at Nantahala Outdoor Center where they played in the Treetop Adventure Playground and waded into the river.
“Camping is an annual event for our 6th-8th graders where our students get to share experiences and stories with their classmates in a new setting,” said Mary Jo Dyre, Executive Director of the school. “Although this year’s weather didn’t allow for camping, our students got to experience our mountain region in brand new ways.”
Dyre added, “At the Learning Center, we believe in hands-on education and there is no better way for our students to learn than to venture out and spark their curiosity.”