- Hands-on Learning
- Project Based
- Individual Attention
- Christian Environment
- High School “Buddy Program”
- Fun & Affirming
- Learning for Life!
classroom”. Supervised recess occurs 2-3 times a day with PE classes held multiple times per week. Music and Art classes are also held multiple times per week.
Project-Based Learning is defined as a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem or challenge. By this definition, the “Seeds to Salsa” project that has been in the making over the last four months definitely qualifies!
The “Seeds to Salsa” project was started last May by the Freeman Academy first through fourth grade students, as they planted community gardens under the supervision and leadership of Todd and Suzanne Koerner. Over the summer and as the plants developed, volunteer groups of Freeman Academy 1-4 students and rotations of local church groups maintained the gardens by gathering weekly to weed and harvest. Throughout the harvest season, produce was taken to the local Bethany Mennonite Food Pantry, the Yankton Banquet, and shared among families that participated in the caretaking. I have to say, there is nothing quite like sitting in the garden rows after pulling weeds on a hot, summer day, eating fresh watermelon with the same kids that helped you plant it a few months prior. At that point, I thought that it was impossible to top seeing the look of ownership and satisfaction on their faces, but then…fast forward a few weeks to when the process took on a whole new element.
How do we make the bounties of our garden harvest last longer? Adults know . . . it’s through the process of canning. How do you make sure that young students internalize and understand that answer? You let them DO it! You might think that during the famous German Schmeckfest meal that the Pioneer Hall kitchen is a buzzing bee hive of activity. However, there was definite energy to witness while five adults and twenty-two students dove in to salsa canning on committees of sterilizing jars, chopping veggies, measuring dry ingredients, mixing and stirring, and packing the fresh salsa for the water bath canners. In a little over two hours there were 16 beautiful jars of salsa and, even more importantly, 22 young minds exposed to the concept of long-term food preservation.
What’s the next step? That is the amazing thing about Project-Based Learning. Experiences overlap and reinforce one another, and the learning is significantly increased compared to the antiquated “drill and practice” style of teaching. The student-created, homegrown salsa from this experience will become the featured item in the 1-4 Auction Basket at the upcoming FA Benefit Auction on Sept. 26. The next time you see one of the Freeman Academy 1-4 students, ask them what their favorite experience was in the “Seeds to Salsa” project. It could be anything from when they unknowingly took a chomp from a jalapeno pepper right out of the garden and had to run to extinguish the fire in their mouth, to planting in practically knee deep mud after some extended South Dakota rains. Either way . . . check for the smile as they tell their story; that memory is the product of “learning” through “doing.”