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Submitted by La Tierra Community School
La Tierra Community School kicked off its grade-by-grade camping trip season in May with a third-grade trip to Walnut Creek Station. The class was learning about plant adaptations as part of their second semester themed learning.
While at the station, the kids got a visit from the Prescott National Forest fire prevention crew, who explained the role of fire in the Southwest and taught them about fire-adapted plants and local animals. For fun, they put out a pretend fire.
Camping trips play an important role in La Tierra’s expeditions. They are engaging theme-based lessons allowing kids to get out and have fun as they learn core math, science and English language arts concepts.
The spring camping trips are just one part of the school’s programmatic approach to out-of-desk learning.
“We do at least six fieldwork outings a year — every teacher, every grade — to emphasize learning outside the classroom,” Director Julie Jongsma says. “I think that that inspires a love of learning.”
The expeditions are just one part of a data-driven push to help La Tierra’s students excel in core subjects. Each year, the teachers work in professional learning communities to use the data they gather to make improvements to the school’s curriculum.
So while David McNelly, the third-grade teacher, is out in Walnut Creek building challenges based on the Deltora Quest book series, it’s all happening with an evidence-based approach.
“Every year, we get better. We do it as an organized group with clear protocols, and we stick with it,” he says. “It’s really paying off.”
Other trips the kids took this spring includes a visit to Southern California for the sixth- and seventh-graders, who have been learning about the ocean. The trip included a sea kayak tour and an up-close and personal glimpse of marine animals at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Meanwhile, the first camping trip for the kindergartners and their parents was closer home. The trip was planned for Lynx Lake, but its closure due to the Crooks fire meant their camping trip happened in town. They pitched their tents and found plenty to study as they wrapped up their theme: Trees.
La Tierra Community School is a public charter K-7 school. More information is available at 928.445.5100 or by visiting online at www.latierracommunityschool.org.