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‘Anytime, Anywhere’ Learning at Country Day

February 21, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

"Anytime, anywhere, any place learning" is a common expression by now. When we hear it, we think primarily of laptop computers; however, it seems appropriate to think of it as any teachable moment. A student who experiences learning outside of the classroom walls learns that education is so much more than just "school."

At Wheeling Country Day School, you will not always find the students in their classrooms. It's likely that a fifth-grade science class is testing the water in the long run stream that flows through our campus.

A representative from the Oglebay Institute Schrader Environmental Education Center is teaching second-graders about the habits and habitats of local birds. First-grade students may be off campus visiting the Veterans Center and sharing their gratitude for service to our country.

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At Wheeling Country Day School, students may be found learning outside of the classroom. For example, here they learn about the habits and habitats of local birds at the Oglebay Institute Schrader Environmental Education Center

In applying math to the real world the fourth-grade students are learning about starting a business from the front line at Ziegenfelders Ice Cream Co.

While a science textbook or a computer program can teach the life cycle of a seed or the parts of a plant, a science student at Country Day has a much richer experience by harvesting tomato seeds, nurturing them to seedlings and then planting them in the school's garden in the spring.

By the fall they are once again collecting seeds and canning tomatoes.

"Young students live in a world that is high-tech; we want to make sure their experience is equally hands-on," says Liz Hofreuter-Landini, head of school at Country Day.

You will not always find Country Day students sitting behind their desks. Instead, they are forging partnerships within our community and the greater Ohio Valley. This idea of place-based education immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes and experiences as a background for the study of language arts, social studies, science and math.

Once a child is invested in the places around them, caring for them and learning more about them comes naturally. Second grade students worried that the growth of new classroom buildings on campus would disrupt the bird habitats for many local species. They researched what else was affected by the progress of construction on campus and created a list of ways the school needed to support the animal, bird and insect community in which our campus lives.

Their list included planting new trees, flowers, butterfly gardens, and building bird houses. Place based education boosts engagement in the content, but it also allows students the opportunity to be stewards of their school and of the local environment.

"If students could leave fifth grade with an appreciation for the landscape of our campus and value our local heritage, it will go a long way to their improving the quality of life in our valley as they journey through high school, college and become adult citizens in our community," Hofreuter-Landini said.

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