STP Conference Offers Students a Chance to Give Back to the Community

The upcoming Senior Thesis Project (STP) Conference (February 22-23, 2016 in Camden, N.J.) and the Big Picture Learning (BPL) schools are perfect illustrations as to why — pedagogically speaking — work and community are essential aspects of classroom learning.

Schools that implement the Big Picture Learning design explicitly provide students with weekly opportunities to go out into the community to intern and learn from mentors. The model allows students to experiment with classroom learning in their communities while still having a safe place to return and discuss these ideas from different perspectives.

This year’s STP conference (link opens PDF file), which is being put on by Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, will be hosted by MetEast High School in Camden, N.J. The conference is a congregation of Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Assists A Pair of Big Picture Learning Students

Our Professional Development Center, which is known for its unique ability to facilitate school reform initiatives, recently collaborated with Big Picture Learning in South Burlington, Vermont, on a one-of-kind event on service- and project-based learning.

In particular, our focus was on helping two students — South Burlington High School seniors Olivia Decell and Ella Downey — facilitate the Service Thesis Project Conference, which was held in the spring at Burlington College in Vermont. The event was designed to help high school students create relevant and exciting Service Thesis Projects and help educators implement service/project-based learning into their classrooms.

Service Thesis Project Conference

Service Thesis Project Conf. attendees.

At the May 2014 conference, participants shared ideas and had the opportunity to observe some very good examples of successful thesis projects. That’s one of the things we do best; Eagle Rock has been working with Big Picture Learning in a variety of capacities since 2006, so we’ve quickly acquired and honed our knack for such conferences and get-togethers.

In fact, over the past few years, we have helped several schools develop conferences that have become an engine of self-renewal for students and staff.

In this latest endeavor, our Professional Development team facilitated the Continue reading…

Eagle Rock and Big Picture Learning Share a Very Common Thread

In the U.S., one student drops out of school every 12 seconds. That’s 1,129,291 students so far this school year, according to Big Picture Learning (BPL) – a nonprofit organization that was founded in Rhode Island back in 1995 by Dennis Littky and Elliot Washor, who insisted that education is everyone’s business.

In fact, the two men made that the company’s motto in their goal to demonstrate that schooling and education can and should be radically changed to the benefit of the student. What these two educators envisioned was an environment where schools would start with a student’s interest and build a curriculum around it rather than start with a curriculum and force students to fit in.

And therein lies the common thread between Big Picture Learning and Eagle Rock — a shared belief that students need to be reengaged in their own learning. The founders of BPL believe students should spend considerable time doing real work in the community under the tutelage of volunteer mentors, meaning they wouldn’t be evaluated solely on the basis of standardized tests.

That doesn’t mean students in Big Picture schools can just take a pass on a formal education. In truth, they still must meet each state or district’s requirements for graduation. No alternative or lower, softer standards here.

Rather, Big Picture schools focus on a high school experience that leaves students well prepared for college — and the world of work. In fact, students in BPL schools are held to higher levels of academic and professional standards as they complete their in-school advisory, as well as the real-world work of their internship site.

As a result, BPL students are assessed on their performance — on exhibitions and demonstrations of achievement, on motivation, and on the habits of mind, hand, heart, and behavior that they display — all reflecting the real world evaluations and assessments that all of us face in our everyday lives.

Due to the efforts of Littky and Washor, the state of Rhode Island took a close look at Continue reading…