Ridge and Valley Charter School Students put their Education to Good Use
Ridge and Valley Charter School (RVCS) 2nd and 3rd grade Nova Team students have been planning for their upcoming overnight expedition to Pocono Environmental Expedition Center (PEEC) in Dingman’s Ferry, PA. They successfully developed a strategy to raise money for the trip by hosting a student-led market where they sold handmade goods to the school community. This was a great lesson in planning and execution for these young entrepreneurs.
Overnight expeditionary experiences like the PEEC trip are embedded into the RVCS curriculum, from kindergarten through graduation, and offer some of the most important and exciting opportunities to its students. Not only are these experiences a critical element in the development of self-confidence and a love of the natural world, but they also provide a rich, integrated way to learn and apply the skills and knowledge that the students are studying throughout the year.
Creating a school market to fundraise for the trip was closely tied to the mission and foundational principles of the school which includes student-led and experiential learning, integrated curriculum and ecological literacy.
RVCS students are placed at the center of their own learning and are empowered to make decisions for themselves. RVCS and families partner to fund student trips. The Nova Team students decided to offset the family cost and were inspired to fundraise for their special trip. They came up with the idea to create a student-led market at the school where they could sell handmade items to students, families and teachers. They took the idea from inception to fruition with great success.
Art, crafting, building and creating are woven into the curriculum at RVCS so the students are adept at making beautiful creations that could be appealing to consumers. The students, in a circle meeting format unique to the school, brainstormed what they wanted to make and how to structure the market. They planned, organized, agreed on prices and set up the market as if they were the owners of a real store. They then worked at the market, interacted with customers, communicated about the products and handled the financial side of receiving and counting money.
Experiential learning like this occurs when students are placed in a situation where they think and interact, learn in and from a real-world environment. While traditional teaching and learning are typically teacher-directed, content-driven, text-oriented and classroom-based, experiential learning involves active participation of the student in planning, development and execution of learning activities, is shaped by the problems and pressures arising from the real-world situation and occurs most effectively outside the classroom.
Students at RVCS build cross-discipline skills that integrate subject matter through hands-on experiential activities that activate a wide range of sensibilities, skills and awareness. It’s a way of teaching and learning that does not depend on the usual division of knowledge into separate subjects.
The students used their math, language arts, science, and communication skills simultaneously in just about every aspect of the market. Much of what they sold had a connection to what they learned this year. Some of the items they decided to make were bird feeders, bee blocks, a class recipe book, star braid looms made from wood harvested at the school, natural dryer balls, herb infused lip balm, gardener’s hand salve and weather wands, a result of their study of weather cycles, local bird habitats, cooking, gardening, math and language arts.
Ridge and Valley Charter School believes that it is possible to create a more ecologically sustainable future and that our children have a right to a planet of pure air, clean water, a vibrant natural world and a more just and equitable human community.
In keeping with the mission of the school, the students wanted the items they made to be composed of natural, organic and locally sourced ingredients as well as donated items that could be reused and repurposed. They recognized that these items are more sustainable and better for the planet. Some of the materials even came from the school land.
Nova Market was a success!
The student-led market was a success with almost all of the items selling out. Their goal was to raise $300 however, the market was so popular that the students raised over $1000. There was a great sense of accomplishment and so much learned along the way.