Question prompts SKS field trip

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
SKS students learn how roads are built Shell Knob kindergarten students were treated to a field trip to Hutchens Quarry in Shell Knob after one of the students posed the question, "How do you make a road?" Students were given a tour of the facility and parting gifts that included work zone vests, hard hats and construction tools.

A question posed by Shell Knob kindergarten student Chevelle Johnson, "How do you make a road?" prompted a class field trip to Hutchens Quarry in Shell Knob.

Kindergarten teacher Mary Benner and Superintendent Shelly Fransen thought the question offered the opportunity for hands-on learning.

"After all, a chance to see the work that goes into road-building leads to a much greater understanding than a verbal explanation," said Benner. "A quarry is one of those places which can't truly be appreciated in a photograph."

The experience is just one example of how Missouri's adoption of new Common Core standards, part of the national initiative to align curricula across 50 states, can truly work. The goal of the movement is to provide consistency and improvement throughout the country in terms of academic standards, as well as graduation rates and requirements.

The emphasis in terms of implementation of these standards is a more student-driven approach to gaining knowledge and understanding by building upon a student's interests, curiosity and questions. Lessons can be formed and adapted to encourage enthusiastic exploration.

In the kindergarten classroom, this particular event began with a photograph projected on a whiteboard. Photos are often presented in that manner and left anywhere from a few days to a week without any discussion. This gives students time to study and reflect individually on each particular image.

Then, the class examines the photo together, pointing out details, talking about what might be happening or creating stories to go along with the visual.

"The picture that sparked Johnson's question was one of a man walking beside a road -- humble inspiration for what turned out to be an exceptional learning experience," Benner said.

"At the quarry, students had an up-close encounter with a massive front loader and an even bigger 70-ton hill of road grade asphalt," Benner said. "They learned how explosives are used to dislodge materials and saw the crusher in action.

"We appreciate Hutchens Construction for jumping at the chance to serve as guides on this journey of discovery," Benner continued. "John Wiltgen and Alison Vanzant were fantastic hosts and even treated students to some wonderful parting gifts, including work zone vests, hard hats and other construction tools."

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