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.
Fourth through eighth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School travel each spring as part of the school’s robust “Venture Out” program. Last school year, fourth and fifth graders traveled to Pigeon Forge while sixth through eighth graders spent three days in Atlanta.
These annual excursions are part of the school’s Venture Out cross-curricular travel-study program that weaves literature, science, social studies, history and art with travel and real life experiences. The Venture Out program includes travel across our mountain region throughout the school year and has included New York City, coastal North Carolina, Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans in the past.
This year, fourth and fifth graders experienced attractions in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg including Wonderworks, Titanic Museum, and Ripley’s Aquarium as well as Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Sixth, seventh and eighth graders ventured to Atlanta where they explored the Georgia Aquarium, Buford Highway Farmers Market, Callenwolde Fine Arts Center, and the Fernbank Museum. They also enjoyed an Atlanta Hawks basketball game, the Martin Luther King Historic Site, and the Centers for Disease Control Museum.
School Director, Mary Jo Dyre, considers travel an investment in education. “It allows kids the opportunity to see first-hand the things they have learned and to put into practice the skills they have acquired. They gain a global perspective and a strong independence that no other teaching method can impart,” says Dyre. “Without travel, students only see the world on a screen or in a book but our school ensures that they get to experience it for themselves.”
Expeditionary Learning Coordinator, Julie Johnson, says, “Venture Out trips expose our students to a wide range of experiences across a variety of subjects, and create lasting memories they will carry into their future studies.”
Working with our community partners and larger “Community of Learners” is important at our school. Tapping into the expanded knowledge that folks in our community can offer our students enables our teachers to expand their classrooms beyond four walls.
A perfect example of this is when last Spring, Dr. Mitchell visited the kindergarten class and discussed how he is a community helper by being a doctor. He talked to the students about what he does and even gave each student a pair of gloves and mask. Students got to listen to his heartbeat and ask loads of questions.
You might remember prior posts describing how Kindergarten students have been cooking “around the world.” As part of their social studies, they have invited guests to cook native foods from different parts of the world.
Most recently, a special guest made Finnish cinnamon rolls with the class. She read them a Finnish story, taught them how to say hello and good bye in Finnish, talked about the geography of Finland and answered lots of curious questions from the students.
Second grade teacher at The Learning Center Charter School, Stephanie Hopper, wrapped up a cross curricular unit on insects with her class earlier this month. Found online, Eddie the Entomologist sent the class friendly letters each day that included clues. Using the clues, the students then guessed what creature was the bug of the day.
Hopper was able to bridge the study of insects across all subjects in her class. In science, students learned about insect life cycles. Numerous books and interactive online reading texts were used by students for research and reading comprehension. Plus, the daily letters from Eddie allowed the class to review and reinforce what they had previously learned about the composition of friendly letters.
In math, students used measurement standards to compare different types of insects as well as jumping distances. Additionally, students put their STEM skills to use when tasked with designing and building their own insects.
Plus, these industrious second grade students wrote acrostic poems using descriptive words to describe insects, wrote a sequence paper on the life cycle of an insect, made terrariums with appropriate habitats for insects to live and did a drawing activity where they were guided, step-by-step to draw, label and color a realistic bumble bee and butterfly.
At the end of the all encompassing insect unit, students earned an “Entomologist Expert” badge from Eddie.
Hopper said, “These students could hardly wait each day to read the letter from Eddie and use the clues to figure out the bug of the day. Using their excitement about bugs across all of our studies engaged them thoroughly in each subject.”
On April 6th, Second Grade visited the Cherokee County Historical Museum. The children were able to learn about our local history and they were able to see many artifacts that relate to Cherokee County and the surrounding areas.
The children also learned about the Trail of Tears and the hardships Native Americans faced at this time in history.
The children asked a lot of relevant questions and had a great time seeing and hearing about our local history.
In early Spring, our middle school students immersed themselves in local history as they strolled though town as they learned of the unwritten stories and significance of many local landmarks and memorials.
Lead by the Cherokee County Paranormal Society, the historical tour started downtown at the Charters for Freedom monument on the square. The students were treated to lively stories. Stops included The Miners & Planters Bank (now Cruise Planners), Cherokee County Courthouse, the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, Harshaw Chapel and Cemetery, and “Angel Eye.”
Interested in learning more? Contact the Cherokee County Paranormal Society to schedule your own tour.
High school students at Tri-County Early College High School (TCEC) work on large scale Project Based Learning (PBL) projects throughout each school year. During the third quarter of this school year, that large, school wide project was termed the “Hometown Heritage” project.
TCEC students worked individually or in groups with local residents who know skills, crafts or have specialized knowledge of our geographic area and cultural history. Students took up to ten weeks to plan, research and create their projects. In total, there were 47 different projects ranging in subject matter from natural remedies, Cherokee bow making, hide tanning, to canning, folk songs, weaving and more.
One group, seen here, focused their studies on Appalachian quilt making. In addition to learning about how to make a quilt, these high schoolers also learned about the necessity of quilts, supplies used in times of economic hardships and the social aspect quilt making encompassed.
An additional component of their project included finding a way to encourage young people in our community to become interested in our local heritage as well.
These TCEC students decided to present to our third graders about interesting things about our local heritage and asked each student to create their own quilt block representing something important to them and their unique heritage. Those quilt blocks were then sewn into a quilt and presented to the class.
The quilt is now a beautiful artifact of what the high school and elementary students learned and helped bridge the gap between older and younger generations. The quilt will ultimately be displayed permanently on campus.