2nd Graders Immersed in STEM & PBL Project About Bats

Second 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 Hopper.

2nd Grade Explores Math

Second grade students at The Learning Center Charter School have wasted no time getting familiar with the math tools that they will be using throughout the new school year in Guided Math.

Guided Math is the approach the kindergarten through fifth grade classes take each day to math.  Class begins with a math warm up and is soon followed by a whole group mini lesson which focuses on a specific math standard.  After that, students work in smaller groups following a rotation schedule according to STACK.  STACK stands for 1) Small groups with the teacher, 2) Technology, 3) Apply what they have learned, 4) Create using critical thinking skills through math journaling, and 5) Kinesthetic, or in other words, hands-on games and activities.

Stephanie Hopper, second grade teacher at the school, said “Our Guided Math approach allows students to experience direct instruction as well as student-centered activities and hands-on learning.”  Hopped added that she is able to work with small groups of students to further enhance the direct instruction and work closely with those who are both struggling and those who are ready to be further challenged.

“After the daily rotation is complete, the class comes back together as a whole and reflects on the lessons of the day,” said Hopper.  “Guided Math allows me to monitor each individual student and provide differentiated instruction. It’s a win-win learning experience!”

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1st Grade STEM — Bears!

First grade teacher, Ms. Katie Beaver, and elementary science teacher, Ms. Emily collaborated on a huge ecosystem unit that covered deciduous forests, rainforests, and coral reefs.  In addition to covering an entire wall with trees to represent deciduous trees found in each season, students also were given a STEM activity where they created bear caves for the bears to hibernate in using nothing but marshmallows and toothpicks to engineer their designs.
Each student was given 10 marshmallows and 15 toothpicks. The students were instructed to use these materials to build a bear cave (shelter). The shelter needed to fit a paper bear that was about  4 inches wide and 3 inches tall.

Additionally, students delved further into their studies by designing and constructing underground burrows by connecting small paper bags to model beneath the ground shelters of animals in the deciduous forest.

1st Grade — All About Birds

First grade students recently spent time studying birds across the curriculum. Their bird STEM project incorporated reading, math, writing and a hands-on art project.

The students studied and gathered information about six different types of birds — Penguins, Eastern Blue Birds, Birds of Paradise, Hummingbirds, Golden  Finches, and Blue Jays. They learned how to draw and label diagrams with specific bird body parts/ field marks, create graphic organizers of bird facts, use bullets to organize and record data, write detailed sentences of bird facts, and use a ruler to measure the actual height of each bird.

To gather this information, the class read non-fiction books and read online articles about each of the six birds during Guided Reading.

The students also made suet feeders out of peanut butter, seeds, and dried corn.  Student especially liked gathering sticks from The Outdoor Learning Center to serve as a perch for birds at their feeders.

Students Use Technology to Celebrate Holidays

Sixth graders at The Learning Center Charter School used state of the art technology to celebrate the holidays.

First, students designed cookie cutters as part of their studies of expanding ratios in math class. Once designed, each student printed their cookie cutter on one of the schools several 3D printers. They used the cookie cutters in salt dough which ultimately became Christmas tree ornaments.

However, the class did not stop there.  Each student also designed and 3D printed unique Christmas ornaments, sharpened their computer programming skills by writing computer code to move a robot along a desired course, and engineered pop-up Christmas cards.

Sixth grade math teacher, Kathleen Shook, said, “At our school we integrate state of the art technology into everything we do. Christmas was no exception.”

Shook added that having the means to take what starts as an idea all the way through to a completed project keeps her students engaged in the standard course of study required by the state but also makes her students thirsty for more.

“Having the technology at our fingertips means that I’m able to cover academic standards with impressive scope,” said Shook.

Shook added that her students are already gearing up with ideas, plans, designs and projects for the school’s fourth annual School Maker Faire scheduled for March 14, 2019.

2nd Grade — Learning to Read Recipes

Last week, students in second grade practiced learning to read recipes and follow step by step instructions by making their own Pumpkin Patch Pudding Cups.

The students learned about recipe ingredients, cooking supplies and following the directions of a recipe. They had an amazing time following the recipe and creating their own edible pumpkin patch treats. Never mind the measuring, following directions, team work, math and science learned right along side their yummy pudding cups!

Apple Crazy in 2nd Grade

As part of their study on Johnny Appleseed, students in second grade had to learn how to read a recipe.  Students learned what recipes are, why recipes have ingredients as well as suggestions for cooking supplies.  They also learned how a person cooking must follow the step by step written directions when assembling the recipe.

Students were able to make a recipe called Apple Smiles where they gathered ingredients and supplies and followed the directions on assembling their Apple Smiles snacks.

Along with recipes and making Apple snacks, the students learned all about the life of John Chapman and made an Apple Fact Tree as part of their Guided Reading time.

Clearly, everyone  had fun learning about Johnny Appleseed as well as how to read a recipe.