Cherokee Culture Part of Outdoor Education

Students at The Learning Center Charter School are outside a portion of each school day. The school has an official screened room dubbed The Outdoor Learning Center as well as numerous gardens and trails.

Students regularly can be found doing art, reading, learning science, participating in PE, learning math, gardening, or having recess outdoors.

“Having our students outside is just what we’ve always done,” said Shelley Farmer, physical education staff and STEM coordinator at the school. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

“Our campus sits right near the river and Cherokee elders have told us that it would have been prized Cherokee land,” said Farmer.  “That in addition to the Cherokee people and culture so prevalent in our region, we make it a point to study the tribe, their language, culture, and traditions each school year.”

Farmer added that students are learning new Cherokee words each week. Students recently learned that osiyo means hello in Cherokee.

The school also includes traditional crafts in their studies. Students recently made Dream Catchers from natural materials found around the school’s Outdoor Learning Center.

“Being outside engages students by providing a living environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture, and learn,” said Farmer. “Layering on the culture of the Cherokee Nation enriches those experiences.”

3rd Graders Studied Famous Statues

This statue was titled, “Stay Safe, Stay Home”

During remote learning this past school year, third grade students were assigned the task of researching some famous statues across the world, like the Statue of Liberty, Christ the Redeemer, and The Motherland Calls. They were asked to create their own statues to represent the Covid-19 Crisis and Quarantine. These students totally knocked it out of the park!

This student described his statute by saying, “I don’t like staying at home all the time and I don’t like wearing a mask. My statue is six feet tall because you are supposed to stay six feet away from people. The laptop is for remote learning because we can’t go to school. The gloves and mask and antibacterial soap are to keep people safe from getting the virus. The solar light is for essential workers and teachers for helping.”
This student explained, “I chose the apple because it’s a symbol for health and I chose the golf tees because it is a symbol for fun and social activities which have been really limited by Covid 19.  I had it floating in the air because everything is so uncertain right now.”  

Third Graders Study Lost Cities as Part of Remote Learning

As soon as stay-at-home orders switched daily school to remote education from home, Kathleen Shook, third grade teacher at The Learning Center Charter School, immediately switched gears on how to continue enriching E-STEAM and PBL projects for her remote class.  As a result, students embarked on an extensive project based on lost cities of the world.

A targeted E-STEAM education approach ensures students engage in science, technology, engineering and math 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.

The premise of the lost cities project came from a book the class read together about cities in history that are no longer inhabited either by means of disappearance, natural disaster, or mysterious episode.  Students researched lost cities and chose ones to focus on depending on their interests.  Petra, Atlantis and Great Zimbabwe were popular choices.

At the conclusion of the project, students designed and built models of their chosen lost city.  Many used recycled materials while others used both technology and materials found in nature to build outside forts.

“Not being able to be in the same room with my students is challenging to be able to gauge how my students are delving into a subject,” said Shook.  “However, I know from experience that PBL projects like this harness student curiosity and allow a deeper exploration and understanding of studies.”

The lost cities project included science, reading, writing and social studies components.

“What we could have learned about lost cities in one lesson on one day is nothing compared to the deeply engaged learning that we participated in during our PBL unit with lost cities as our overall theme,” said Shook.

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Underground Railroad Quilt Project

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.

4th Grade Makes Famous People for School Maker Faire

Fourth grade students had an incredible display of the famous people in history sculptures that they made at our annual School Maker Faire in March.

Students researched famous people in history and then recreated them as seen here. The photos do not do them justice. They were incredible to see in person.

These sculptures, of course, allowed the students to experiment with a new form of art but also required them to delve into history, sharpen their research skills, practice their writing skills in a written report, and dive deep into their studies.

8th Grade Studies Gilded Age

Eighth grade students have been studying Gilded Age in American history.

The Gilded Age was an era that occurred during the late 19th century, from the 1870s to about 1900. The Gilded Age was an era of rapid economic growth, especially in the Northern United States and the Western United States.

During their studies, students worked their way through an “escape room” scenario based on the Gilded Age. After they escaped they got to play monopoly.  The students will go on to play another round teamed up based on their first round rankings. They are competing to see who lands on top –“Robber Baron” or “Captain of Industry”.

The Learning Center awarded TVA STEM Education Grant

The TVA and local partner, Murphy Power Board, presented a $3,500 grant award to The Learning Center Charter School on February 4, 2020.

The Learning Center Charter School is excited to announce a recently awarded grant of $3,500 by the Tennessee Valley Authority, in partnership with Bicentennial Volunteers Incorporated for a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education project.

“Students will design and construct a putt-putt golf course on our campus,” said Jess Stephens, eighth grade social studies teacher at the school.  The design will center around North Carolina history and will include replicas of historical artifacts. 

“We’ll be using the grant for building supplies and hope to continue adding holes to the course every year,” said Stephens.

The grant award is a part of $600,000 in competitive STEM grants awarded to 142 schools across TVA’s service territory. The competitive grant program provided teachers an opportunity to apply for funding up to $5,000 and preference was given to grant applications that explored TVA’s primary areas of focus: environment, energy, economic and career development and community problem solving. Schools who receive grant funding must receive their power from a TVA distributor.

“This is the second year we offered this program to the entire Valley and we saw a major increase in grant applications this year,” said Community Engagement Senior Program Manager Rachel Crickmar. “There is a demand in the Valley for workforce development through STEM education and I am proud of the way TVA and our retirees are responding to that demand by supporting teachers in the classroom.”

For additional information about the TVA STEM grants and see a full list of recipients visit https://www.tva.gov/Newsroom/Press-Releases/TVA-Partnership-Awards-600000-in-STEM-

7th Grade Renegotiates the Treaty of Versailles

Recently seventh grade students participated in a lively debate where they renegotiated the Treaty of Versailles.

The Treaty of Versailles was one of the most important peace treaties that brought World War I to an end.

After spending time studying WWI and learning of it’s historical importance, students then got a first hand education on all the important factors and country interests in securing a peace treaty. This process allowed students to better understand what factors were at play that caused the war and the difficulties in ending it.