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.
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.