Eagle Rock’s Citizen Scientists Monitoring Our Changing Environment

For the first five weeks of this trimester, six Eagle Rock School students have partnered with staff at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) for the launch of its citizen science initiative — Lily Lake Phenology.

Phenology, which is vital to many aspects of society, is the study of the timing of biological life cycles (nature’s calendar, if you will). Things like budding leaves, blooming flowers, or migration of animal species. So, why should high school students care about any of this? Because long- and short-term changes in areas such as animal migration and flowering are related to our weather and climate patterns. With more information about how plants are reacting to the climate, national park staff can make informed decisions on how to manage species that might be at risk.

At the first data collection site, Eagle Rock School student Hendrick looks for catkins and leaf buds on a willow with RMNP Superintendent, Darla Sidles.

Sound like a worthwhile project? Of course, it is. Especially when you consider that seasonal changes in plants and animals happen quickly and require sustained and frequent observation to monitor.

That’s where our students, serving in the role of citizen scientists come into the picture. For two days each week, students in our Phenology of Lily Lake class take a Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Pursue the Psychology of Self

The classes we offer here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center have always pointed our students toward self-discovery, self-improvement, and existing successfully within a society that can be fickle, conflicting, and confusing.

In Social Psychology, a five-week class currently underway in this, our 78th trimester, a dozen students are exploring the big picture in order to identify the conditioned behaviors that we all exhibit. The class explores the thinking process of the individual in order to learn how to establish and nourish healthy habits — keeping in mind that each of us has a psyche that is based on our personal and family history.

And, of course, that history is built upon the existing culture and society, which is dictated by evolutionary and biological needs.

A primary focus that is being explored more than halfway through this class is the “self-other distinction,” which means people instinctively and inherently distinguish between their own feelings and Continue reading…

Here’s Some of What We’re Learning This Trimester at Eagle Rock School

Each trimester, we offer classes that traditional high schools might term progressive or unique. And while we pride ourselves on these offerings (please see our latest class descriptions below) because they truly engage students in their own education, there’s an approach to education that’s at work here at Eagle Rock School that may not be readily evident by just reading a bulleted list of class names.

Ours is a high school that has deep interest for classroom topics that make students think, build and validate their skills, and provide insight into what to expect in the real world upon graduation. And if everyone involved in the process — students and instructors alike — experience enjoyment along the way, all the better. Our instructors are as knowledgeable and helpful as our students eventually are eager and enthusiastic.

Lily Lake — Site of ER 78’s Phenology of Lily Lake Class.

It’s worked quite well for us this past quarter of a century as we continue to provide meaningful and engaging classes for our student body. Below are some of the topics we’re tackling this trimester, as well as a description of each. We’ll publish a second edition of classroom offerings for this, our 78th trimester since our founding in the early 1990s, at the beginning of July: Continue reading…

Distribution Requirements Play a Big Role in This Trimester’s Latest Class Offerings

A little more than a month ago, we offered a behind-the-scenes look at a number of class being offered during the first half of our 77th trimester (of Eagle Rock School). In addition to highlighting new five- and 10-week classes, we preceded that listing with a description of the role Power Standards play in Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) here at Eagle Rock.

To review, a student’s ILP is comprised of three sections: Power Standards, Distribution Requirements, and Required Experiences. And this time around, as we rundown the latest classes to be offered (during the second half of this trimester), we’re going to go into the details surrounding the role Distribution Requirements play in our curriculum and how students acquire credits as a means of assessing progress in order to complete their graduation requirements.

Here’s how Distribution Requirements fit into the scheme of things when it comes to Individual Learning Plans: Continue reading…

Instructors Tackle Tools for Competency-based Learning and Equity

Each year, our school’s Instructional Team selects an annual focus for improving our educational practices. Past focus areas have included student-centered coaching, classroom culture, and common assessments. This year, we are focusing on competency-based learning and equity.

Competency-based learning can go by other names in educational literature, including proficiency-based learning and mastery learning. Competency-based learning is one tool we use at Eagle Rock toward the achievement of our ultimate goal for students: equitable attainment of high standards of learning. We drew from a variety of sources to define what competency-based learning and equity mean to us and honed in on our definitions: Continue reading…