Sixth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School adopted not one, but two endangered species as part of a broader Project Based Learning (PBL) project in science class.
PBL projects are part of the regular approach to learning at the charter school. 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 authentic, complex questions, problems or challenges.
In this instance, students tackled not only learning about specific animal species and all the science related to that task, but also the ecological, environmental, economic and social circumstances that are threatening the existence of the species. They gained insight and understanding of the fact that it is not as easy as it may seem to change the factors threatening animals.
These students learned about and found ways to help endangered species across the globe. They researched various animals, narrowed down their choices, and came up with ideas to raise money to help their selected species. The students finalized their plans and raised enough money to symbolically adopt both a polar bear and a Sumatran rhinoceros.
Jessie Karagenes, sixth grade science teacher at the school, said, “These students have diligently worked through the standards in this science unit.” Karagenes went on to explain that the connections these students made to one of several 21st century skills that the school stresses, thinking globally, made this project even more impactful for the class.
Earlier in the school year, seventh graders worked a project based learning project (PBL) to discover how the systems in the human body work together. Students were tasked with creating a life size diagram of the human body-illustrating three of the systems. Additionally, students created multimedia presentations to explain how the systems of the body function together.
Recently students in second grade learned about the Lunar Calendar and the celebration of Chinese New Year. The class used technology with interactive activities, crafts and literature to learn about why and where this celebration happens.
Students also had an interactive experience as they “visited” China through the use of technology. They were able to experience the culture and customs and traditions that surround the celebration.
Students at The Learning Center Charter School recently held the first of two annual mini malls on campus. This popular event is made possible through a program called Middle REAL.
Offered to 5th through 8th graders, Middle REAL (Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning) provides curricula, training and resources to help rural students grow through hands-on entrepreneurship education and small business creation. The school also has a Mini REAL program that serves kindergarten through 4th graders. Both programs are a part of the North Carolina REAL program which is dedicated to helping bring entrepreneurship and small business creation to our state.
The Mini and Middle REAL programs work together to hold two annual Mini Malls, an event that has students in kindergarten through fourth grades “shopping” at the Mini Mall with “bucks” they’ve earned in their classroom throughout the school year. Middle school students are responsible for creating all the goods and services available at the Mini Mall. These students create their business from the ground up doing everything from business plans, market surveys, and product design. For the first time this year, students even made video commercials advertising their business.
“This Mini Mall saw everything from popcorn and juice for sale to rented time enjoying a virtual reality machine,” said school Director, Mary Jo Dyre. “Although the day of the event was very much fun and games, the skills these students learned creating their businesses are valuable and will serve them for years to come.”
You can find out more about the REAL Entrepreneurship program at www.ncreal.org.
Recently, second graders completed a study of penguins, a week long “Penguin Palooza.” Using learning activities across the curriculum, students were able to read about penguins, write a report, complete a 3D penguin art project, use media and technology to do research, and completed their study by designing and constructing “Penguin Hideouts.”
The second grade students enjoyed learning about penguins throughout the week and had concluded by the end of the week that penguins are “fascinating and amazing birds.”
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Recently, fourth graders headed outside to The Outdoor Learning Center to study rocks and minerals. They examined different rocks and minerals and used properties such as streak, color, luster, hardness and breakage in order to identify each by name.
The Learning Center prides itself on their long standing Middle REAL program offered to 5th through 8th graders. Middle REAL stands for the Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning. Additionally, TLC also has a Mini REAL program that serves kindergarten through 4th graders. Both the Middle REAL and Mini REAL programs are a component of the North Carolina REAL program that is dedicated to helping bring entrepreneurship and small business creation to our state.
The Mini and Middle REAL programs work together to hold two annual Mini Malls, an event that has students writing business plans, conducting marketing surveys, and devising effective advertising in order to create a successful marketplace.
The videos above were made by students running businesses at the Mini Mall held in January of this year. These video commercials were part of their marketing plan to entice young students to visit their booth and spend their hard earned TLC bucks at their store.
Mini Mall is a hugely popular event on campus but Middle REAL and Mini REAL achieve far more than just that at TLC! These programs also educate in the following ways:
· Community Problem Solving – Students focus on the basic rules of safety at home, in the community and on the internet. Students create dramatizations of problematic situations then model effective solutions. Students compete for “best” solutions much like real-life contractors.
· Community Environmental Design – Students are involved in the design and construction of a miniature “green” community and the design and creation of a Japanese garden.
· The Global Community – Students learn Internet safety as they develop an awareness of the world that is accessible with the click of a mouse. Student research will support other Middle REAL classes and Friday activities.
· Community Wellness –With a focus on overall health of humans and the good earth, students experiment with good-tasting, nutritious, “kid-friendly” snack recipes. These recipes are then be distributed to grades K-4 for classroom use.