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.”
Back in October, students in first and second grade visited the Mayor of Murphy, Mr. Ramsey. They got to tour his offices and ask all sorts of questions about what a mayor does on a daily basis. Learning about roles within a community are important academic standards for these young students and visiting Mayor Ramsey cemented in their minds the importance of the job. Thank you Mayor Ramsey!
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.
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.
On October 1, 2018, Kindergarten through fourth grade students were delighted to observe and be part of a Native American Drum Circle and story telling from the Grandfather Mountain area. Mikko Harmon (main speaker) brought a group to both perform for and with our students. They performed traditional Native American music and dance and shared folklore.
Recently, eighth grade students have explored ecosystems near and far. They have focused their studies on Yellowstone and Great Smoky Mountain National Parks. In addition to the science of ecosystems where they learned of species extinction and reintroduction, they have also been taking a look at the politics and leadership roles within our National Park system. Seen here, students held a mock public debate between “US wildlife officials” and concerned citizens.
As a kickoff to the school year, Ms. Jess, Eighth Grade Social Studies teacher, had her students put together a North Carolina puzzle. Her only instructions were to get it put together. They had to figure out how 18 8th grade kids were going to achieve this goal successfully. They put 550 pieces together in 175 minutes!!!
However, though the teamwork lesson was learned quickly, they are now looking up why these images on the puzzle are relevant to North Carolina.
Third graders had no idea that they could learn history, science and etiquette from one project all about the Boston Tea Party. But, that is exactly what they did at The Learning Center Charter School in May 2018.
Emily Willey, science teacher, and Kathleen Shook, classroom teacher, collaborated to create an ongoing project based learning (PBL) project where students learned about the history and importance of tea. Students began the project by planting a perennial tea garden consisting of lemon grass, bee balm, various mints, and roses. Students researched the science of each plant as well as traditional medicinal properties of the resulting steeped tea.
Students learned that during the Colonial time period, Americans began growing herbs and drinking herbal teas as a patriot act in order to assist in the boycott British teas. Many of these herbs were native plants that had been used by Native Americans for both health purposes as refreshment.
To conclude their studies, the class held its own formal tea party based on what they had learned about Colonial times, traditions and history. Community volunteer, Sharon Nifong, taught the class about the customs and etiquette of “afternoon tea.” Students dressed in 1700’s era clothing and used fine china to taste teas made from their own herb garden. They even baked tasty treats using recipes from the 18th century.