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MICRO — Employing the principles known as project based-learning, kindergarten classes taught by Karla Britt, Ashley Myers and Kathy Mast at Micro Elementary School recently demonstrated that gingerbread men and gingerbread houses can be effective teaching and learning tools.
“Project-based learning is a method of learning in which students are asked to solve real-world problems through exploration and research,” said Britt. “It generally involves lots of family involvement and community involvement.”
The method is being implemented in schools throughout the Johnston County Public Schools system.
Britt said all three classes recently completed a unit entitled “The Gingerbread Man Around the World” that involved activities and projects related to gingerbread houses.
“We used traditional gingerbread stories along with similar-type stories in other countries to help the children understand a little about other cultures,” said Britt.
One activity involved making paper gingerbread men and mailing them to people who lived in other parts of the world who then took photos of the characters in various locales and sent them to the students.
Among the places where photos were taken was the Empire State Building in New York and Biltmore Estate in Asheville.
“These were designed to let the students see what is going on in other parts of the world in addition to Micro, “ said Britt.
Another project had students learning how to create and build gingerbread houses at home before bringing them to school.
“This was designed as a family project,” said Britt.
Britt said more than 60 participants brought their gingerbread houses to school, where they’re now on display in the back hallway.
“We think the exercise was successful,” said Britt. “Some of the gingerbread houses are very extravagant.”
According to Brittany Taylor, director of project-based learning and digital platforms for Johnston County Public Schools, project-based learning is a way to make learning relevant for students by allowing them to explore and investigate real-world problems and questions.
“The benefit of the program is that they actually get to explore and discover solutions to real-world problems that actually interest them,” said Taylor. “It allows them to be engaged in their learning.”
Micro Elementary School Principal T.J. Parrish said he was pleased and proud with how the gingerbread project turned out.
“I think it is marvelous that our kindergarten staff is able to take a holiday tradition and incorporate engaging learning opportunities with the students,” said Parrish.