Thompson Transforms Classroom to Living Laboratory
Meagan Thompson’s “LINKing it Up...to the Outside World”, a grant that she received from the Fort Smith Public Schools Foundation, has turned her classroom into a real-world environment. With a new microwave, pots and pans, kitchen utensils and other everyday items to make a functioning kitchen, Thompson, a teacher at Southside High School, is enriching her students’ experience of learning.
Thompson’s classroom also received new kitchen tables and chairs allowing the students to help other classes and departments, and Fort Smith Public Schools carpenters built cabinets and countertops, helping to make the classroom really feel like a home. Now they have a safe space to stuff envelopes and even folding shirts for the athletic department Booster Club. This is teaching the students the idea of community and volunteerism. The students have also assisted with various companies in our city such as Pradco and the County Assessor’s Office.
This project is based on using the Links Curriculum, adopted by Fort Smith Public Schools, which is an evidence based, comprehensive, web-based curriculum to teach upper elementary and secondary self-contained students independent life, communication, and social skills. Links is designed to promote student independence in natural environments. With their new office and kitchen space, the students have learned how to use coupons, read recipes, make measurements, and learn nutrition and food safety. Thompson’s project started with everyone online shopping together letting the students decide what they could use to benefit the most.
Besides basic life skills, this project is focusing on social skills where students learn independence and communication. Ms. Thompson is truly transforming her class to a living laboratory.