• Liberty North has many exciting teaching and learning opportunities! This space is devoted to making that learning visible and sharing our collective story. 

  • AP Biology -What's that cell telling us?

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 10/17/2019 11:00:00 AM

    Dr. Brittan Wilson’s AP Biology students are not just studying for an AP test, they are gaining the skills needed to cure diseases! Students are investigating different diseases to determine what cells and molecules are affected using primary research from institutions like the Mayo Clinic or The Center for Disease Control.  They can describe a healthy and an unhealthy cell in a person affected by a particular disease as well as the size, function, purpose, and cellular structure. They will then be assessing how this impacts an individual as a whole. The goal of this research is for students to experience the initial research process and to be able to assess what we already know about these diseases.  At the end of the term, they will be submitting a research proposal for what needs to be further assessed in order to cure their particular disease.

    Teacher Reflection: Science relies heavily on research skills and peer-review.   My goal with this project is to teach my students about the scientific research process through authentic research and a topic they choose. The project is designed to have the students break down their research into manageable pieces.  The students peer-reviewed each other’s projects looking for points of confusion and offered to clarify questions to one another. The students were also able to get new ideas regarding how to approach their own research. Seeing the varied approaches increased their understanding of both their own and others' processes as the project progresses.  This also exposes them to how science is reviewed in a conference-style setting. The students are struggling at some points within this process and I hope to add clarification as we move forward. They do seem to have a genuine interest in their selected topics and have expressed that it is helping them put or coursework into use.  


    Student Reflections- “I like being able to do peer review so we can edit it before we turn it in. It was helpful to me being able to draw out the cells and looking at other people’s drawings.” 

    “The project is very interesting. Especially learning how such a small change can cause disease. Research has been challenging but interesting.”

    Student Work-

    student work student drawing

    Comments (-1)
  • American HIstory Read, Write, Think!

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 9/17/2019


    American History Class


    We have all read something and then forgotten everything that we just ran our eyes across at one time or another. American History teacher David Fulkerson is determined to help his students find a process that supports learning reading material and is personal to the preference of each student. We exposed the students to 3 styles of note taking in the first month of school.

    • Outline notes
    • Cornell notes
    • Sketch notes 

    While the type of note taking changed the goal remained the same. Make meaning of what you are reading! We talked about the learning process and how it requires the right type of repetition including adding new thinking, making connections, and asking questions. 


    Teacher Reflection:

    Regardless of the format, notes should require the notetaker to analyse, look for connections, and get to the “why”.  Many students don’t understand the purpose of notetaking and use it as a task that needs to be completed; not looking at it as a tool for growth and understanding.  One of the biggest challenges is to change attitudes about the chore of learning to embracing how learning takes place. This is true for the teacher as well. Sometimes I find myself falling into the trap of delivering content or providing an activity without making the learning connections evident.

    Student Reflections:

    • Benefits of Outline notes: Organization, making connections with the information
    • Benefits of Cornell notes: Deeper thinking 
    • Benefits of Sketch notes: Engaging your brain in a different way

    sketch note sketch note

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  • Biology Project Based Learning

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 5/29/2019

    The Liberty North Biology team was really thinking about student voice and choice in their culminating project. Students were able to pick their subject and project and flow from their normal room of assignment to a place where they could dive deep into learning about a topic of their choosing. Juli Hustof’s students attacked the problems of the MO Dept of Conservation through art and web design to draw awareness to our ecological problems and potential solutions. Andrew Bilen’s students worked like sports medicine specialists and examined the effect of specific exercise programs on muscle groups. There were students who went further to research how those muscle groups affect their sport.  Gretchen Hubinger’s students looked at water quality and water pollution in areas we live. They traveled to the fishing river and studied how to improve the water quality. Cheryl Turlin’s students created experiments to investigate animal preferences and studied careers in animal education. Ryan Dahm’s students worked like forensic scientists and dissected pigs to determine the cause of death.


    Teacher Reflection:

    90% of our students responded positively to the project and many asked for more time. The feedback on the project was incredible. Students who attended the project were able to articulate that they would have enjoyed it as freshman and remembered the material more in this type of format. The juniors and seniors who attended were also impressed by the amount of information the freshman were able to articulate and the range of knowledge they displayed.

    Student Reflection:


    Student Work:

    How to remove feral hogs

    Mussels in MO

    Chronic Wasting Disease

    Elk Repopulation

    Comments (-1)
  • Humanities 10

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 4/29/2019

    Humanities 10 teachers Ronnie Lathrop and Kimberly Brownlee asked their students:

    What story is worth telling?

    The students researched and found that many stories worth telling were from individuals and groups affected by world wars, revolutions, and global conflicts. Students analyzed the short term and long term effects and presented their findings in a gallery event. Additionally, students engaged in a film study to enhance their understanding both the context of the conflict they researched as well as film techniques that highlighted the culture and conflict represented.

    student project

    Teacher Reflection: “This was the most successful research project we’ve done all year. I credit that to student choice in terms of partners and film analysis (and thereby the history behind the film) and the fact that at this point the students have become master researchers. The level of progress from where they were in September to where they are now has been very pleasing. I have two students who struggled early on and their project was absolutely outstanding.” - Ronnie Lathrop

    gallery walk

    Student Reflection: I thought the project was intriguing. I liked how the history and the film went hand in hand and learning the techniques of filmmaking. I liked my project because my topic was the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and it is not as well known as it should be.

    Comments (-1)
  • Business Management Socratic Seminar

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 4/9/2019 10:00:00 AM

    Students take the lead in Kristen Hittner’s Business Management class as they participate in a socratic seminar wrestling with the question: Are Leaders Born or Made? This combination of reading, research, and speaking & listening skills is intentional in an effort to have these aspiring business leaders take and stand a defend it with evidence.


    Teacher Reflection: It is important to give students the opportunity to practice communication skills which can get lost in the technology driven world. Their verbal communication skills and ability to dialogue is critical to their skill set for the future workplace.


    Student Reflection: I thought it was cool to hear my other classmates input.  I like it more than a test and it might be more beneficial for me to research and hear from the class. I learned more.

    Comments (-1)
  • Tag der offenen Tür/German Culture Open House

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 3/14/2019

    Stefany Van Scoyk's German students engaged in project based learning with the goal of teaching other students, parents, and teachers about their German research findings. Students identified a topic they were interested in becoming an expert including architecture, literature, and music. Within their determined topic, they identified similarities and differences with American history and culture.  Students also rehearsed their German greetings and salutations to greet guests in the target language.


    Teacher Reflection: ”Through this project, students were able to discover aspects of German culture that are not in a textbook. I think it also think it did wonders for the relationships in the groups and our class.”

    Student Reflection:  “I liked learning about Germany because I have always wanted to visit there. It was fun to research tourist destinations. It was interesting to see how different Germany is from America. Presenting was fun because we got to express our hard work and research to others.”

    Comments (-1)
  • Visible Learning

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 1/10/2019 9:00:00 AM

    One component of Visible Learning that our LPS colleagues are diving into are learner dispositions. Learner dispositions are a person's habits of thinking and doing when learning. Liberty Oaks has made an effort to choose 6 ideas that they will intentionally teach their students. I was recently in their building and had the opportunity to interview several students and they were experimenting with the language successfully. Check out the graphic below and you will see that many of these concepts are applicable at the high school level as well.

    More on Learner Dispositions

    Learner Dispositions


    At Liberty North, we have several teachers also discussing the language of learning and the tools we need to be successful. The team of teachers who volunteered to be a part of the Visible Learning Guiding Coalition wrestled with this question this week.  One component of our discussion included the helpless hand raising that sometimes occurs in our classrooms. This article Weaning the Helpless Handraiser is a good resource or reminder. I had no idea that one of these interactions can take 4-5 minutes away from instructional time. It is ok for learning to be hard for the right reasons including learning new concepts and thinking critically about complicated topics.  Teaching our students to rely on themselves is a great habit to reinforce and helping them develop a language of learning may increase their ability to trust themselves to move on without constant teacher contact.

    Another component of Visible Learning is regarding our students being assessment capable. Students are asked to share their understanding of content and concepts in a variety of ways in high school. We ask that they communicate their skills and knowledge through writing, presenting, creating, and performing to name a few. When can we provide exemplars for students? What do they still need to know and be able to do? How will they be able to show what they know? Are they connecting the dots between past, current, and future learning?

    More on Assessment Capable Learners

    At North, there are classrooms who are giving students opportunities to share their understandings in varied manners. One example is devoting time to developing a shared vocabulary that is overarching and therefore essential to the entire curriculum. When students are overwhelmed by new vocabulary, they are less capable in showing what they know. Students can wrestle with the concepts verbally and in writing as well as creating an image that represents the concept.  Cooperative Learning Strategies such as consensus placemats (strategy 3 in the article) are effective for giving students individual ownership as well as the support of peer influence which will lead to students being able to explicate what they know.



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  • Humanities 10

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 11/12/2018 1:00:00 PM

    Humanities 10 students have been researching human rights violations while exploring the historical, cultural, and societal implications. Through the creation of a multi genre artifact project they have been developing empathy and a deeper understanding of both world history and the impact it has on individuals. Ronnie Lathrop and Kimberly Brownlee have utilized project based learning in combination with cooperative structures to enable their students to dive deeply into content while also refining their research, reading, and writing skills.


    Teacher Reflection: The variety of means students used to present their research was outstanding. The kids are becoming masters of historical research and the synthesis of their understanding went beyond our expectations.


    Student Reflection: I researched human rights violations all over the world. I found violations where you would not expect them. I liked creating the different artifacts because I got to be creative.

    multi genre projectstudents sharing projects

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  • Humanities 9

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 10/18/2018 2:00:00 PM


    Using history and contemporary situations Liberty North humanities 9th graders had to explain how they would fix one of the immigration issues the United States currently faces. Led by Kelly Lock and Josh Baldwin, students studied both the history of immigration in the United States as well as the currently reality. Students had the opportunity to pen pal with students from East High School in Kansas City, MO who had immigrated to the United States and took a field trip to meet their pals in person on Oct. 11.

    Teacher Reflection: Students had the opportunity to see the world a little more, beyond the walls of Liberty North. There was a perspective that the East High students could give that we can’t replicate in the classroom. It is so much more impactful to meet and talk with an immigrant from another country and become friendly with them.

    Student Reflection: I didn’t realize that the kids would be this nice. I am happy to be at Liberty North and I am very thankful for what I have now.

    LMC Students meeting with pen pals

    Comments (-1)
  • ELA 9

    Posted by Tara Harvey on 10/5/2018

    teacher conferencing with students


    Reading Workshop:

    Ms. Ukleja and Mrs. Penner are reinventing ELA 9 for some of our kids. This model may feel a little different than a traditional ELA class. In the workshop model, students work to improve essential reading and writing skills through both self-directed and classroom text. They are teaching specific reading and writing skills through direct instruction and then asking students to practice independently with books and articles that interest them. The goal is that this will help students take a more active and engaged interest in their learning. They also hope that students feel success and are able to identify and reflect on their improvement. In an effort to foster an environment where students take control of their own learning, they are also working toward their writing their own story.

     students working

    Teacher Reflection: Our kids are able to talk about what they are learning and know their progress more than ever before.  The day after each conference we can tell our kids appreciated the individual time we have spent talking about their goals and progress.


    Student Reflection: My teacher cares about me because she knows I have trouble focusing and she checks on me.  I like reading a choice book more than a class novel. I feel proud that I have improved my focus and read more pages than I have in a long time.

    Comments (-1)