One benefit of being an independent Christian school is that smaller class sizes allow for a lot more hands-on learning. Students at Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) experience learning through all of their senses, which helps retain information, like the recent “cave painting day” in Mrs. Davenport’s social studies class.
“We have been covering the Paleolithic Age,” says Mrs. Davenport, “researching early cave art. Students explored what the subjects of these paintings were, and why the Paleolithic people would have included them in their artwork.”
But their learning didn’t end with a book or research. “I turned the classroom itself into a cave,” explains Davenport, “making it dark and cold (turning up the A/C) and playing ‘cave sounds’ like water dripping and crickets chirping.”
Students’ desks transformed into little caves with the help of blankets and flashlights. Paper was tapped to the underside of each desk for them to create their own cave art replicas. They made a handprint mural, just like the mural they researched inside some caves in Spain and France.
“On a project, you get to work on it every single day,” says 6th grader Caleb Flatt. “It’s helpful, and can get the information into your mind a bit better.”
“Our kids are so diverse in their learning styles,” Davenport explains. “The more learning styles you can put into a lesson, the better. It gets kids outside of their comfort zone, and that gets them excited about learning history!”
The kids aren’t the only ones who get excited. Davenport gets right down on the floor with them, offering helpful advice along the way. “Yes, I’d say that is historically accurate,” she critiques as students brainstorm their ideas.
At CAK, this is only one snapshot in time, but this type of learning takes place regularly. Davenport’s 6th graders have also made cuneiforms to learn about early writing systems, and in the spring they will make shields and have nerf battles to learn more about Greek warfare, specifically the Spartans vs the Persians at Thermopylae, making the phalanx shield formation.
The youngest learners explore science through growing a variety of plants in CAK’s learning garden, and our high school AP Chemistry students use vacuum filtration in the preparation of alum crystals that they later analyze.
Mrs. Siard, AP Chemistry teacher, says the strong academics and freedom of small classes are only one part of the reason she loves teaching at CAK. Her class started a tradition years ago where alumni come back to the school to pray with and for current students who are preparing to take their AP exams. “What a joy to teach in a Christian school!” exclaims Siard.
Davenport agrees “being in a covenant Christian school really does give us a wonderful freedom, as teachers, to tie history back into what our kids are studying in their Bible classes. We can discuss and ask questions related to our faith, all in class, together. Then, they can go home and discuss the topics further with their parents and church groups.”