The National Center for Safe Routes to School is the coordinating organization for Walk to School Day held every October and Bike to School Day held each May. These events are used to encourage families to celebrate the benefits of walking and biking and to increase local leader commitment and visibility for traffic safety and community quality of life.
However, staff at the charter school opted to take this program farther than just a one day event each semester. Instead, they instituted a daily walking program for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
school, Ryan Bender, said “We want to promote a healthy and active lifestyle
for students, staff and parents.” He
added that starting each day with exercise is a great way to stimulate the
brain and get it prepared to learn during school. Also, by offering
incentives to participate in the morning walk, the school has seen a reduction
in the number of students arriving tardy to class each day.
students walk. If the weather is good, students walk a safe path on campus. If
it is raining or below 35 degrees, students complete their walk in the
“The first year of our walking program was a success in the way of fitness, attendance, class attentiveness and team building and we are thrilled to be continuing the daily walking program for a second year,” said Bender.
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Building boats and racing them down the creek was the order of the day on October 29th for fifth grade students at The Learning Center Charter School. That’s because field educators from Muddy Sneakers took the class on an expedition to Fires Creek to learn about force and motion.
The Muddy Sneakers program exists to enrich the standard course of study through experiential education in an outdoor setting where students connect with the land, become more active, and gain self-confidence while improving science aptitude. Muddy Sneakers began as a pilot program in the spring of 2007 with Brevard and Pisgah Forest Elementary Schools in Transylvania County and has grown each year to now serve 36 schools across 12 counties and 13 school districts in the Carolinas.
While at Fires Creek, students had to construct a boat and see how fast it could travel in the creek in 11 seconds. Students made a hypothesis, tested their boats, made adjustments and then tested them again. They also investigated how a pulley system works by trying to find the best way to get a rope over a tree limb to lift a weighted backpack off the ground.
Fifth grade science teacher at the school, Gina Stafford, said, “The students loved the trip not just because it was fun, but because they were divided into small groups and were really able to focus on what the instructors were teaching. I loved seeing the kids so involved with the activities and enjoying the outdoors. They really did get muddy sneakers!”
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Students in 4th and 5th grades made for the Holiday Cards for Our Service Members Drive. North Carolina Schools Superintendent, Mark Johnson, passed along this information to schools in North Carolina. Ms. Gina presented it to her students and they were very excited to participate in the wonderful drive. They used their writing skills to write a personal note along with some illustrations and decorations to create the holiday cards.
Third graders use natural materials to make mini scarecrows on Halloween. Students learned about Appalachian heritage and history crafts and the time honored tradition of using what you grow on the farm. They used corn shocks and corn husks along with dried fall leaves to make their scarecrows
grade students at The Learning Center Charter School spent the month of October
immersed in a STEM and PBL project all about bats.
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 since students at the school engage in STEM and PBL education daily.
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.
Of course the second grade students read about bats but they also expanded their studies across the curriculum. In science, students learned that bats are flying mammals that are important for our environment. In geography, they learned that bats live in warmer climates, closer to the equator and that no bats live in the continent of Antarctica. In math, they learned how to read thermometers as related to the preferred climates of bats as well as measurements of bats’ wingspans.
“Bats are a good fit for students in the month of October due to Halloween,” said second grade teacher Stephanie Hopper. “The kids are interested in spooky things and I take the opportunity to harness that curiosity and use it in every subject we study and really delve into the subject deeply.”
Hopper added that “What we could have learned about bats in
one lesson on one day is nothing compared to the deeply engaged learning that
we participated in during our PBL unit with bats as the overall theme,” said
Each school year, eighth grade students VENTURE OUT on day trips. It’s part of our school’s cross-curricular travel-study program that weaves literature, science and history with travel and real life experiences. The VENTURE OUT program promotes trips to places and people of interest across the Mountain Region of North Carolina.
In September, students traveled to the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville. In addition to seeing and learning about the many animals at the center, students also enjoyed the ropes courses.
Why do we venture out with our students?
Traveling is 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. Travel teaches tolerance, self-sufficiency, and resourcefulness. Without travel, students only see the world on a screen or in a book but TLC ensures they get to experience it for themselves.