Charter school continues “Maker Challenges” during remote learning
The Learning Center Charter School has a history of STEM education and cultivating a “maker” environment on campus. In fact, back in March before stay-at-home orders were issued for the state, the school hosted its fifth annual School Maker Faire.
A School Maker Faire is a celebration of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. It’s a place to show what you’ve made and to share what you’ve learned with others. Schools host Maker Faires because they are a perfect combination of part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new. School Maker Faire exhibitors, or “makers,” are primarily students—either as individuals, clubs, classes or groups. And Maker Faire exhibits can be from any discipline — from science to art to gardening to engineering to craft.
Despite students being at home and completing the school year remotely, Head of School, Ryan Bender, has been sure to continue encouraging the maker spirit among students.
Each school day, Bender posts video morning announcements on the school’s Facebook page. On Mondays his announcements include the week’s “Makers Challenge” along with inspiration and encouragement on how to participate and share what students make.
“Students have made everything from catapults to animal habitats and innovative footwear as part of the Maker Challenges since remote learning began,” said Bender.
Bender added that parents have communicated their appreciation for the Maker Challenges as a means to keep their students engaged in their remote studies and excited about each school week.
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Middle school social studies students read about the Underground Railroad and the quilt codes used during the early to mid-19th century. The Underground Railroad was used by enslaved African-Americans to escape into free states and Canada. The scheme was assisted by abolitionists and others sympathetic to the cause of the escaping slaves.
Students were tasked with making a paper quilt and then describe the “message” that was being conveyed. Each quilt block sent a specific message. The blocks in the photograph above conveyed the following message: The “Monkey Wrench” turns the “Wagon Wheel” at “9:00 o’clock” following the “North Star” to the “Log Cabin” for some “Bow Ties”. Bow ties represented getting a change of clothes.
You’ve heard of “Charlie’s Angels” right? Well, meet the TLC’s Angels! Not only is this crew cleaning the school meticulously, but they are also calling families to see if they need food support. #TLCStrongerTogether
We invite you to use the hashtag #TLCStrongerTogether on social media to proudly showcase how we are, each of us, stronger together as a TLC family during this time.
Sixth grade students were tasked with creating 3D spaceships using geometric shapes as part of a larger PBL (Project Based Learning) project during the last several weeks of remote learning. Students had to research spaceships in order to be able to create an accurate model. Additionally, they had to find the area, perimeter, and surface area of each shape on their spaceship.
During this remote learning environment that our students and staff have been experiencing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, elementary science teacher, Ms. Emily, has included activities in her science lessons that get students outside exploring the outdoors.
Students were tasked with an outdoor challenge to build a fairy fort or a troll tower to welcome tiny outdoor friends. Students had a wonderful time at home interacting with the great outdoors to create beautiful dwellings.
Additionally, students were also guided on how to take tree and leaf rubbings to help properly identify trees in nature.
Teachers at The Learning Center Charter School have not let school closure and remote learning stand in the way of teaching effectively, engaging students deeply in core curriculum, and embarking on interesting projects.
For example, Jay Ward teaches sixth grade science at the charter school and implemented an entire science unit studying space exploration and the constellations remotely with her class. She called the unit “Space Exploration” and it involved students researching planets, creating 3D models of the solar system, and writing a paper from the point of view of a scientist hoping to colonize a distant planet.
The assignments were completed either via Google Classroom or hard copy. Physical projects such as the 3D models of the solar system were dropped off at the school during the weekly drop off times on Mondays from 7:30-9:30 am and 3:30-5:30 pm. As the project progressed, students were expected to view a series of “Crash Course Kids” science videos on YouTube. Finally, at the conclusion of the unit, students had to create a Nebula in a jar or comparable space feature depending on supplies students had available to them at home.
“In March when we began remote learning, I had great plans that mimicked what we regularly do face-to-face in the classroom,” said Ward. “However, as I spoke with parents and students through email, Facebook, phone, Google Classroom, Zoom, and Skype, it became clear that what we could accomplish at school in a short time was taking longer at home as families tried to figure it out and deal with all of the distractions.”
Ward added that based on the parent and student feedback, she pivoted and altered her plan quickly in order to meet the needs of her students while making sure that they continue to learn.
With all schools across the state being closed by order of the governor for the remainder of the school year, remote learning has been in place at The Learning Center Charter School since late March.
Head of school, Ryan Bender, worked with teachers and staff to implement a comprehensive remote learning plan that supported families during the transition and continues to lead, support and encourage families as remote learning classes continue.
“It took our entire staff to mobilize the extensive resources that we’ve made available to our students,” said Bender. “We knew that in order to give our students the quality education that they deserve that we had to ensure each and every student had access to technology and materials to enrich the lessons and projects that teachers developed.”
All students in grades Kindergarten through eighth grade are either participating in online meetings with their teachers and classmates or having supplemental educational materials supplied via technology supplied by the school when necessary. This includes laptops loaned to families that need them as well as each week’s online materials that cannot be accessed at home by some being supplied via a jump drive weekly.
“It’s a massive undertaking for our I.T. department to make sure each and every student has what they need each week to get the rich education that our teachers are providing remotely,” said Bender. “But they’ve made it happen successfully and I’m incredibly proud of them and our entire team.”
Each Monday morning and afternoon from 7:30-9:30 and 3:30-5:30, families arrive on campus drive-thru style and drop off and pick up any supplies that they need for the week.
“The remote learning happening for our students is impressive,” said Tammy Fleischer parent of an 8th grade student at the school. “These teachers have poured their hearts into creative lessons that stimulate and engage our students, keeping them on track with their standards. Every staff member has bent over backwards to meet individual student’s needs and I am eternally grateful for the love they have shown my daughter and the work they continue to do daily to keep her class connected.”
Sixth grade students learned about Earth structures, natural disasters and layers of the Earth recently. As a final project for the unit of study, students worked with partners and chose to make, among others things, a video, a children’s book, a 3D model, a Google slide, and a crossword puzzle in order to show understanding of the science standards. They then presented to class what they learned and what their project was about.