Middle school math fosters excellence through the joy of learning

March 9, 2018

 Middle School Math Teacher, Christine Tankard, with some of her students.

Middle School Math Teacher, Christine Tankard, with some of her students.

As Cape Charles Christian School, our Middle School Math curriculum is driven by the desire to develop a strong foundation for our students and to infuse joy into learning throughout the process.

We believe a strong foundation in math is essential to preparing students for high school and college. We don’t encourage our students to use calculators, but rather encourage them to be able to rely on themselves and to show their work on the paper. We teach our students that you may not get a problem right the first time, but to keep on trying - eventually you will solve the problem by breaking it down into little pieces.  In this vein, homework and tests can be retaken and after school for math tutoring is offered as support. During this time, we encourage students help and teach each other. 

In addition to ensuring a strong math foundation, the Cape Charles Christian School infuses the joy of learning into our math curriculum. The intent is to show students that doing mathematics is not only easy but fun as well. As an example, our students love music and can remember the math rules if they have a little jingle/song to remind them. Over the years our middle school math teacher, Mrs. Christine Tankard, and her students have made the songs up together. This strategy gives our students confidence and we have seen very positives attitudes towards math evolve.

Mrs. Christine Tankard, the fearless leader of our middle school Math program, has taught math for over 43 years. This long tenure in teaching has taught her that, “If you shut a kid down at a young age they will never have the confidence to learn on their own.” For this reason, she grabs teachable moments as they happen and listens actively to her student’s questions. She says, “I ask them many questions of my own and I find that I learn right along with them”. 

In Mrs. Tankard’s class, Sixth Graders are expected to master the basic skills related to fractions, whole numbers, decimals, and percents. Students also focus on introductory algebra and geometry skills and mathematical vocabulary. Seventh Graders are introduced to pre-algebra. This includes solving multi-step equations and inequalities, computing and applying statistical data and probability, solving and graphing linear equations, and applying basic geometric principles in plane figures. An eighth grader is taught algebra works with linear relationships and corresponding representations in graphs, tables, and equations.

CAPTAIN'S DAY - Peace and Equality

January 23, 2018

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.”
            ~Dr. Martin Luther King

At Cape Charles Christian School, Captain's Days are scheduled periodically throughout the school year, usually in conjunction with holidays and/or forthcoming school breaks. During a Captain's Day, all students are divided into multi-aged groups with representatives from each grade level working cooperatively together with mostly hands-on learning materials.  The days themed educational objectives span the curriculum and grade levels for multilevel and open-ended learning.

Our most recent "Captain's Day" was held on January 16th with the theme  Peace and Equality in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King and six other African Americans that stood for peace and equality.   Students were divided into six groups and spent time in different classrooms learning, sharing, listening, creating, discussing and eating together. Lessons and examples of peace and equality were taught by the teachers in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, George Crum, Harriet Tubman, Matthew Henson, Euclid, George Washington Carver and Ray Charles.  

Pre K teacher, Valerie Travis taught the students about the African-American scientist, George Washington Carver, known for his many uses of the peanut and a pioneer of agricultural research. Student, Brodie Rapine was amazed and said, “You can use peanuts to make oil, makeup, shampoo, metal, and polish.”  A Harriet Tubman Readers Theatre and songs about the Underground Railroad were performed and sung in Carrie Cabello’s classroom. A plastic snowball was tossed around by teacher 2nd and 3rd grade teacher, Leslie Savage, and students in her classroom. After hearing stories of Arctic explorer Matthew Henson, students could throw the snowball to a classmate after they told a fact pertaining to Henson’s six voyages and eighteen years of exploration. 

4th and 5th grade teacher, Kate Tayloe, read a story from the book, Mistakes that Work about the invention of the potato chip and the inventor George Crum. Crum was a chef and a patron ordered french fries and kept sending them back because they were not crispy. In return, Crum made the fries extra crispy and the potato chip was invented.  The students worked together on a Venn Diagram and the majority liked the potato chip better than the french fries cooked in class. Kate Tayloe enjoys Captain’s Day because, “The day’s education focus is hands-on, fun and the children work together to learn the days educational objective”.

Math skills were taught in middle school math teacher Christine Tankard’s room where Euclid, the founder of geometry and his principles of geometry were taught and students worked together with geometric blocks. Students were fascinated when they watched a Ray Charles documentary. Ray Charles was a singer, songwriter, musician, and composer, nicknamed 'The Genius'. He was blind and became one of the pioneers of soul music. Students focused on how he was able to read and compose music using braille. After lunch, the students painted pointillism doves and were all united together - Peacefully and Equally on Captain’s Day!


As one of our fall mission projects, Cape Charles Christian School supported “Operation Christmas Child”. Students brought in various items including: school supplies (crayons, markers, pencils, notebooks, etc.), small toys, soccer balls and pumps, toiletry items (toothbrushes, soap, washcloths, etc.), items for sewing kits and fishing kits, mini flashlights and packed 123 shoeboxes that are currently en route to be delivered to needy children around the world.  

CCCS students, parents, teachers, and other community volunteers gathered together after school in Heyward Hall as our bible teacher, Erica Johnson, paired older students with younger students to assemble the shoeboxes. Students decorated the inside of the shoeboxes and wrote letters to be included with the donated products.

Many of our parents volunteered to assist students in packing. This helped reinforce lessons about the importance of compassion and giving, and to appreciate many of the simple things that can be taken for granted. When asked what she learned from participating in Operation Christmas Child, third grade student Lyla Harris replied, “I thought it was fun and amazing because when people don’t have toys, it feels good to give them something.”

Bible Teacher, Erica Johnson explains, “This is probably one of the favorite missions for the kids. They love watching the videos of the children who receive their boxes and seeing how it impacts the recipients' life.  The parents seem to really enjoy this mission as well. Over the past 4 years we've had so many parents volunteer their time to help at the packing party. It's wonderful seeing everyone involved.”

“Operation Christmas Child” is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization whose mission is to provide local partners around the world with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies as a means of reaching out to children in their own communities. Samaritan’s Purse ships the shoebox gifts outside the United States to children affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease; and to children living on Native American reservations in the U.S. To learn more, please visit SamaritansPurse.org.


21st century project-based learning: Tall Ship A.J. Meerwald

November 16 , 2017

 4th and 5th Grade Students Hoist the Sail of the Tall Ship A.J. Meerwald

4th and 5th Grade Students Hoist the Sail of the Tall Ship A.J. Meerwald

As part of our 21st Century Project-Based Learning initiative, 4th through 8th grade students at the Cape Charles Christian School recently completed multi-faceted project work based on the retired oyster dredging schooner, A. J. Meerwald. Highlights of this work included communicating with the crew of the A. J. Meerwald via Skype during an active sail, and touring the ship while it was docked in our community harbor.

Learning outcomes of this project work including an understanding of the working history of the Meerwald as both a fishing and coast guard vessel, an understanding of the mechanics of sailing and navigating the Tall Ship, as well as an understanding of the Ecology of the Chesapeake and Delaware bays as it relates to critical fisheries. Our students were inspired by the importance of ecosystem of our bays as well as the inspiring history of the stunning ship. 4th Grade student, Reid Travis, connected the visit to work in the classroom. After visiting the Meerwald, he remarked to his teacher that he felt like one of the characters in in Shipwreck by Gordon Korman – a book the 4th grade class had recently finished reading.

At Cape Charles Christian School, project-based learning increases critical thinking and improves student achievement. Our curriculum requires both independence and collaboration and often requires the use of technology. Projects are designed in order that they have context within our life environment and are also integrated with our community. 4th and 5th Grade Teacher, Kate Tayloe explains, “When you have students begging to work on a project, you know you have done something right. Project based learning creates engaging and purposeful learning experiences, where students are intrinsically motivated to not only understand, but apply information. Given the opportunity to think creatively and critically, they are so happy to work really hard. What more can a teacher ask for?”

The A.J. Meerwarld is a restored oyster dredging schooner. Launched in 1928, she is one of hundreds of schooners that was built along New Jersey’s Deleware Bay shore before the decline of the shipbuilding industry which coincided with the Great Depresstion. Today, the A.J. Meerwarld is used by the Bayshore Discovery Project for onboard educational programs.

A Maker’s Summer: Inspiration brought to you by Two Curious Students

September 26, 2017

 Grayson Brown and Beckett Neville pictured at the 757 Makerspace in Norfolk, VA

Grayson Brown and Beckett Neville pictured at the 757 Makerspace in Norfolk, VA

Summer isn’t too far of a distant memory yet is it? We learn leaps and bounds in school, but summers are important for learning and growing too. With the support of loved ones, summers provide children with with the freedom and opportunity to explore not only the great outdoors, but any number of specific interests that capture their curiosity. This past summer our students did amazing things: some traveled the world; others immersed themselves in the arts; and still others grew their independence at wonderful camps. Two of our students, Beckett Neville (5th Grade) and Grayson Brown (4th Grade), grew into creative hands-on designers by participating in classes and activities offered at the 757 Makerspace located in Norfolk, Va.

757 Makerspace is a workshop and prototyping center – a “gym for innovators”, if you will. Community members including entrepreneurs, engineers and designers utilize the space to not only engage in a community of like-minded creatives, but also to share equipment and machinery such as, 3D Printers, Laser Cutters and Shopbot fabrication tools. The Makerspace offers “Cadet” classes for children, as well as adults. Among other projects, Beckett and Grayson stretched their hands and minds with print making, learning “Scratch” programming language to make their own instruments and playing with Non-Newtonian fluid - they pushed sound waves through the fluid to make the liquids jump. When asked what they enjoyed the most, Beckett replied, “The best day was Deconstruction Day when we got to take apart old electronics. I liked seeing how things worked and all their separate parts.” Grayson said “I like that there are so many fun things to try every week and you get to use all the different equipment like the 3D printer”.

 Electronics found at the 757 Makerspace

Electronics found at the 757 Makerspace

Inspired by these students and, understanding the enormous benefits of this kind of hands-on learning, Cape Charles Christian School is currently being advised by Beau Turner, Founder of the 757 Makerspace, on initiating our own small yet mighty maker space at school. Stay tuned for more information as we build our entrepreneurial and design workshop!

To learn more about the 757 Makerspace, please visit their website at 757makerspace.com or find them via their Facebook page here.

Maker Cadet classes are offered Saturday mornings at 10am for a fee of $20 for non-members.