Spring 2015 Reading Recommendations From Eagle Rock

We’re thinking it was Harry S. Truman who said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers,” and that rhymed remark certainly holds true for educators. The staff here at the Eagle Rock School are avid readers, each knowing full well that in order to be good educators, you have to keep up with trends in education — not to mention culture.

Here then are some books they suggest for your spring perusal:

TheGlobalAchievementGapThe Global Achievement Gap — By: Tony Wagner
Recommended by Sarah Bertucci, Professional Development Center Associate

The premise of this book is that there is a gap between what our schools are teaching and the skills and knowledge students actually need in today’s world. Tony Wagner, who currently serves as an Expert In Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, shows convincingly that even our “best” schools are not teaching key skills like critical thinking and adaptability. I’ve drawn upon Wagner’s work when helping Eagle Rock’s partner schools articulate their priorities for student learning, and to fuel work, finding better ways to assess what students are learning and how well schools are doing. Wagner recommends the College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA) as one of the very few assessments that measure the skills that matter. And that is a key assessment that we have chosen to use at Eagle Rock.

CoveringBookCoverCovering: The Hidden Assault of Our Civil Rights — By: Kenji Yoshino
Recommended by Philbert SmithDirector of Students

This book provides a different lens through which to look at civil rights. The premise is that we all have a tendency to tone down an identity that does not fit the mainstream. In other words “cover.”  I found this book to be insightful. I like the final paragraph, which reads, “We must use the relative freedom of adulthood to integrate the many selves we hold.” This includes uncovering the selves we buried long ago because they were inconvenient, impractical or even hated. Because they must pass the test of survival, most of the selves we hold, like most of our lives, are ordinary. Yet sometimes, what is consequential in us begins to shine.”

WhatKindOfCitizenWhat Kind of Citizen?: Educating Our Children for the Common Good — By: Joel Westheimer
Recommended by Diego Duran-Medina, Societies and Cultures Instructional Specialist

I’ve been reading this book for the last couple of weeks and it’s been instrumental in how I think about my teaching.

I love this book because it argues for placing citizenship as one of the most important goals of education, and argues that critical skills are not only useful for reading, writing and academics, but for shaping the kind of society that our students inherit and work to build. The book has been helpful in thinking about what we do in the Heartivism courses and Societies and Cultures Department here at Eagle Rock. Is should be required reading for anyone who teaches social studies or history. A key takeaway is understanding that education can be a force for conformity instead of intellectual and societal liberation.

BlackFacesWhiteSpacesBookCoverBlack Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors — By: Carolyn Finney
Recommended by Jesse Beightol, Instructional Specialist in Outdoor Education

“Finney reveals the perceived and real ways in which nature and the environment are racialized in America. Looking toward the future, she also highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.”

The above quote is from the back cover of this book. Many Eagle Rock School students arrive here with the perception that outdoor education is not for people of color. There are many institutional barriers to equal participation in outdoor pursuits, and books such as “Black Faces, White Spaces” help to explain why these barriers exist and what we can Continue reading…

Using ‘Lesson Study’ for Instructional Improvement

There are a couple of ways of looking at continuing education for classroom instructors. There’s the Henry Ford method, which suggests, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

And then there’s the Marine Corps way: “If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.”

Lesson Study ImageHere at the Eagle Rock School, we subscribe to the above-mentioned automaker’s optimistic view and apply it to our own instructors’ commitment to become lifelong learners who are continually improving their craft. In fact, we believe continuing education to be a critical part of becoming — or remaining — a successful educator.

Our School’s instructional specialists and Public Allies Fellows constantly experience being part of a professional community where they are giving and receiving feedback, as well provided with opportunities to reflect on their practice. You can see this professional learning community in action through our instructional meetings, staff workdays at the start and end of each trimester, and conversations between co-teachers.

One specific structure that we use — primarily with our Public Allies Fellows — is a cycle that we refer to as “lesson study.”  Other schools might call it by a different name such as “educational rounds.” Our lesson study cycle has three distinct sections:

  1. Pre-meeting session
  2. Classroom observation
  3. de-briefing session

The pre-meeting brings together all of the teachers who will participate in the three-part cycle, and employs a couple of different formats. For instance, we could be learning about Continue reading…

For Updates on Progressive Education, Just Read the Tweets

As frequent readers of our blog already know, we’ve occasionally used this space to recommended books to read, organizations to be aware of, and conferences and workshops to attend. Now we’ve got a new reference point to share — people and organizations in and around education whose Twitter feeds you may want to follow.

Twitter-Water_Bottles

Here’s our list of 10 people and organizations in education to follow on Twitter:

  • Laura Thomas (@CriticalSkills1) of Antioch University New England (@AntiochNewEng): Laura believes every learning experience should link to the next, and that there’s great value in teaching teachers how to make those connections.
  • Carlos Moreno (@Carlos_Moreno06) and Andrew Frishman (@AndrewFrishmanof Big Picture Learning (@bigpiclearning): These two men lead vital changes in education by generating and sustaining innovative, personalized schools that work in tandem with the greater community.
  • Steve Drummond (@SDrummondNPR) of National Public Radio – Education (@npr_ed): Drummond is the senior education editor with the National Public Radio’s education team and frequently provides coverage of what’s happening in progressive education.

From Dragonfly Citizen Science to Sacred Places

ER 66 classes (the 66th semester in Eagle Rock School’s illustrious history going back to September of 1993) get underway this week. And as you might expect of us, this wouldn’t be Eagle Rock if we didn’t present our students with an assortment of progressive class offerings from which to choose.

As you’ll see, you’re probably not going to find these particular classes offered at your traditional high school, but perhaps — depending on the school’s vision, goals and objectives — the possibility exists. And that’s really the point of blog posts like this one… to inspire educators around the nation with concrete examples of classes aimed at reengaging the disengaged.

With that in mind, what we have for you today is a Part One of a two-part series detailing this trimester’s classes here at the Eagle Rock School.

Come the end of June — the halfway mark of this trimester — I’ll be back to present you with a whole new list of classes that we’re offering for the second five-week stretch of ER 66.

Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of 10 classes being offered right now:

Hip Hop Odyssey

In this class, students gain an understanding of the power of words through exploring the impact of spoken word and hip-hop. Through learning about the history of various forms of art expression (e.g., spoken word, djing, graffiti, mcing, b-boying) students become informed enough to craft their own message as they speak for themselves and those who have no voice. The class includes a travel component where students travel to local and national venues to practice spoken word (sometime called “slam poetry”) and hip-hop.

P1080279Sacred Spaces

In this class students gain knowledge about the significance of sacred spaces for different people and cultures through researching and visiting sacred spaces in our area (Colorado’s Front Range) and observing how these sites are utilized. We read and watch videos on the diversity of sacred spaces in different cultural and spiritual practices, with reflections and journal entries addressing the application and value of sacred spaces in moral and faith development. Activities include creating a personal sacred space, creating or renewing a shared sacred space here on Eagle Rock’s mountainside campus, and traveling to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (located in the southwest corner of South Dakota on the Nebraska border) to extend our experience about sacred spaces recognized and valued by the Oglala Lakota people.

Run for your Life

Running is among the most basic of human functions. It allows us to cover distance at speed, be it for sport or for fitness or out of necessity. Whether students love to run, hate to run, or have never given it a real chance, this class helps Eagle Rock students discover the beauty of movement and tap into that natural and simple piece of your humanity. In this class students learn how their body changes and adapts to stress and work. We track students’ running statistics on a daily basis, analyze running form and learn how to develop a workout plan to help class participants achieve their goals. In this 10-week course, students run almost every day — rain or shine, on or off trail — with the goal of participating in running events ranging from Continue reading…

Meet The Team: Eagle Rock Chef Instructor, William “Ed” Perry

William-Ed-Perry-Eagle-Rock-SchoolFor a guy who attended two great universities for a total of two years and then left to pursue a career in the culinary arts, Ed Perry’s done pretty well for himself. He’s been a chef for more than four decades now, and he’s even owned a couple of businesses along the way. To say we’re happy to have him here at Eagle Rock would be an understatement.

Meet Ed Perry:

Eagle Rock: Who are you and what do you to do here at Eagle Rock? 

Ed: I am William “Ed” Perry, and I am a chef instructor at Eagle Rock School. I cook several meals a week here and supervise and instruct the student KP (kitchen patrol) teams who assist me. Sometimes I help organize student activities like pumpkin carving and cookie decorating. I also did a “Baking with Ed” class during Explore Week, which was a lot of fun.

Eagle Rock: What did you do prior to coming to work for Eagle Rock?

Ed: Before coming to Eagle Rock I was a chef at The River Club in Jacksonville, Fla. The River Club is a private club located on the 34th floor of a skyscraper in downtown Jacksonville. During hurricanes the building would sway so much it felt like being on the water.

Eagle Rock: What attracted you to Eagle Rock?

Ed: I missed working with teenagers in a kitchen. At The River Club, most of the employees were Continue reading…