All About Bugs in 2nd Grade

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.”

6th Grade Adopts Endangered Species as Part of PBL Project

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.

 

7th Grade Science — Human Body

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.

The STEM and PBL approach to learning at TLC

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Acronyms abound in 21st century life and are especially true in education. STEM and PBL are two prime examples.  STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and PBL stands for project based learning. Students at The Learning Center charter school are very familiar with each.

A targeted STEM education approach ensures students engage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics regularly. 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 an authentic, complex question, problem, or challenge.

Learning Center charter school students engage in STEM and PBL education daily.

For example, students in sixth grade have been recently learning about pollinators and their essential role in agriculture. Animal pollinators, especially bees, are critical for producing more than one-third of U.S. food products. In addition to bees, other pollinators, including butterflies and moths, beetles, flies, wasps, birds, and bats are necessary for pollinating more than 80% of plants in nature. The class has spent time learning this via lessons and special presentations from USDA guests but science teacher, Jessie Karageanes, amped the learning up by being sure to inject STEM into the lessons. The students have gone on to design and build 3D models of pollinators based on what traits an efficient pollinator needs to thrive. “Students learned the science related to pollination,” said Karageanes, “but designing and building actual 3D models of their fictional pollinators made the lessons really sink in. Plus, the valuable skills of designing, building, trouble shooting and redesigning are practical skills for everyday life.”

Science students in eighth grade, also taught by Karageanes, have been immersed in a project based learning (PBL) scenario where they are trying to determine what a mystery disease is and how to handle it from a community perspective. Students are taking on the roles of county health officials by diagnosing the disease, creating an action plan to stop the spread of the outbreak, and educating the public on disease transmission.  This mystery disease scenario is allowing these students to not only learn the science of disease but also a community response to manage it. Karageanes says, “The level of engagement these students have to this scenario is impressive.”

STEM and PBL are not just acronyms at The Learning Center. These teaching approaches are utilized daily and ensure that in every subject, elective and event at the school, teachers are reinforcing to students that the subjects they learn in the classroom have practical, real-world application. They provide a means for integration across the subjects and allow students to better understand through the physical act of doing.

8th Grade Science PBL — Disease Transmission

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Recently, eighth grade students have been immersed in a project based learning (PBL) scenario where they are trying to determine what a mystery disease is and how to handle it from a community perspective. Students are taking on the roles of county health officials by diagnosing the disease, creating an action plan to stop the spread of the outbreak, and educating the public on disease transmission.

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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 an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. This mystery disease scenario is allowing these students to not only learn the science of disease but also a community response to manage it. This PBL approach helps students develop skills for living in our knowledge-based, highly technological world.

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4th Grade Begins Project Based Learning Project

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Students in fourth grade have begun a Project Based Learning project that began will a physical science based activity called Contraptions. Ms. Chris was able to purchase Contraptions with the Tools for Schools money our school earns when parents shop at Ingles. IMG956476

Students had wooden planks and balls to make contraptions that would move the ball from one point to another. Ms. Chris says that she was amazed at the contraptions they built and the team work they demonstrated during their first Project Based Learning time!

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4th Grade — Making Animal Habitats and Environments

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If you’ve been following along over the past several weeks here on the blog, then you’ve seen these fourth graders learning about animals and their habitats. You’ve seen them create imaginary animals and understand what their habitats would have to contain in order for them to survive. These photos are of these students now creating these habitats for their animals. This ongoing project has touched on studies in science, math, reading and social studies and has kept these students engaged in the learning process.

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Visiting Artist Plans Recycled Art Project for Campus Gardens

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Back in March, Ashevile based artist, Jeff Menzer, visited The Learning Center to plan projects he and students will be implementing on campus this spring. Mr. Menzer specializes in creating “Re-Art” Sculpture, figurative sculpture, and environmental installations using found objects and industrial discards.  This spring he will work with our students to turn discarded trampoline parts into art pieces that will become part of The Outdoor Learning Center.

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This large scale art piece project serves to involve students in the design process, involve students in collaborative problem solving of environmental issues through the creative process, and to complete two art sculptures, one a shelter and one large bug, that will be permanently installed on campus.

4th Grade — Research Projects

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Fourth grade students recently conducted research projects on the world’s most unusual animals. They created lap books and shared their findings with their classmates. They have now taken this project a step further as they are combining each of their unique animals into “new” creatures. Groups of three students are working on designing their “new” animals by combining their special characteristics, designing a new habitat and explaining how their new animal will survive.

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2nd Grade — STEM — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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Second grade celebrated Earth Day on April 22nd. As part of the two week project based learning unit, the students were taught the importance of protecting and caring for our environment, both locally and globally. In Reading, the children read about recycling, comparing how paper and glass is made, and they had a chance to take a “trip” with a plastic bottle to see how it’s made and how it was repurposed and recycled. In Writing, the students completed a research paper in which they wrote about our earth and how and why we should protect it. In Science, the children learned about the resources the earth provides us and how these resources are used and how they should be conserved. In Social Studies, students learned how environmental issues affect not only our local community, but has far reaching global impacts. To end the Earth Day unit, students were presented with a challenge. They had to use math and engineering skills to design and repurpose trash into something new. The students had to take the projects in steps by planning, deciding on materials, sketching out designs, building their ideas and sharing their end product with other students.  IMG_6258 IMG_6263 IMG_6266 IMG_6272 IMG_6220

Throughout the Earth Day studies, students picked up trash, discussed ways to reuse supplies, wear hand-me-downs, consume less, and finished off with creating reusable grocery bags out of old t-shirts. Students loved making the bags and wanted to use every little bit of waste fabric to create costumes. IMG_6221

Second grade enjoyed learning about the environment, why we should recycle, reduce and reuse and why planet Earth is a miraculous gift that we should all work together to care for. IMG_6222 IMG_6223 IMG_6224 IMG_6225