Experiential Education Highlights Latest Eagle Rock School Class Offerings

For those of us who are fortunate to make Eagle Rock School a daily experience, we’re well into our 72nd trimester, which means our students are participating in a mixed brew of classes not often found in traditional high schools.

As has been the since the early 1990s, Eagle Rock’s curriculum offers its student body a selection of subjects from which to choose — most of them far removed from the reading, writing and arithmetic formulas often employed by schools that can curtail the creative juices that prompt students to want to learn. In fact, here at Eagle Rock, we tout ourselves as a “leader in the nationwide effort to re-engage youth in their own education.”

(Image ©2017 Mohammad Thabata)

(Image ©2017 Mohammad Thabata)

The emphasis is on “their own education,” which means our students are taking classes that will serve them well into the future, which may include as college students, employees, entrepreneurs, guardians of the environment, or just good citizens engaged in their own communities.

Here then is our second offering of unique and non-traditional classes currently being tackled by our 15- to 18-year olds:

Psych Rocks: In this class, students are exploring the perception of challenge, risk, and fear through the lens of adventure activity. The idea is to get the students to step outside their comfort zone. Designed to challenge students mentally, physically and emotionally, the Eagle Rockers enrolled in this class are learning the Continue reading…

From Flying Physics to Dragon Flies: Latest Classes Are Underway

Fresh off our spring break, Eagle Rock School has begun ER 72, which is the 72nd trimester since the school was founded back in the early 1990s. And that means a new offering of nontraditional class is on the schedule for our students.

Enter_To-Learn

For certain there are traditional classroom topics covering everything from English to mathematics, but Eagle Rock has always marched to the beat of a different curriculum, and ER 72 is no different.

For instance, some might consider the topic of physics as rather dry and droll. Not so much when you add roller coasters to the equation. In Physics of Roller Coasters, which you can read about below, our students will learn the physics of roller coasters and build their own Screaming Terror (that’s right, students get to name their rides, too).

Other offerings this trimester include a class called Rethinking Pop Media Culture, another called Dragon Fly Citizen Science — which does not entail giant mutant insects — and a class exploring the classic 1950s stage play, “A Raisin in the Sun.”

Below are class topics and a brief explanation of what it is our students are undertaking in this new trimester: Continue reading…

Classroom Culture Works When Teachers and Students Construct Norms

Every other Wednesday, our Eagle Rock School instructional team convenes for a professional development session that revolves around a predetermined annual theme. The theme this year is classroom culture, which rests on the notion that effective teaching and learning best take place in a healthy classroom culture built on high support and high expectations.

Among the founding principles of our organization is the simple idea we are all in this together, and it takes everyone — staff and students alike — all pulling the oars in the same direction to make a place as unique as the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center truly work. However, in order to effectively pull those paddles, there needs to be a solid foundation of trust and acceptance. We believe this foundation inside the classroom is built on classroom norms, which have a decisive impact on culture.

School Reform

Educational researchers Robert and Kana Marzano explain this foundation in their article entitled The Key to Classroom Management (PDF file). They write, “Research has shown us that teachers’ actions in their classrooms have twice the impact on student achievement as do school policies regarding curriculum, assessment, staff collegiality and community involvement.”

We couldn’t agree more! Healthy classrooms help teachers react to Continue reading…

Food for Thought: Chemistry Students Host Flavor Fest

Talk about creative curriculum. Our Science Instructional Specialist, Sara Benge, came up with a 10-week Chemistry of Cooking class that recently culminated in the First Annual Formulas & Food Fair — a hands-on event where students and staff had the opportunity to taste the “lab results.”

As usual, we’ve added a twist to your run of the mill chemistry class by focusing on the chemical changes that occur in food molecules during fermentation, baking and emulsification — not to mention the Maillard Reaction. As a result, our chemistry students learned how to identify and describe the features of atoms and molecular structures in specific food items, such as a glucose molecule that happens to be found in a number of carbohydrate and sugar-based foods.

Plenty of experimentation went into these chemistry lessons, with our “chem chefs” creating their own cooking recipes, observing changes in flavors, textures and the appearance of the food, and applying their knowledge of basic chemistry concepts in order to explain why they did or did not achieve a specific result.

The Food Fair was held on a recent afternoon with students in the class each preparing a Continue reading…

Classroom Teamwork Culminates in This Weekend’s ‘Songs’ Musical

For the past couple of trimesters our performance class has been working on the musical, Songs for A New World, which centers on how the choices you make in your life affect your future.

This contemporary song cycle production by Jason Robert Brown is being staged this weekend at the Walter G Ruesch Auditorium at the YMCA of the Rockies (please see the end of today’s post for remaining dates and times).

(Photo Credit: ©2017 - Barb Boyer Buck / for the Trail-Gazette)

(Photo Credit: ©2017 – Barb Boyer Buck / for the Trail-Gazette)

Participating Eagle Rock students auditioned for parts in this musical last trimester and have been rehearsing for more than 10 weeks, with performers practicing on stage both morning and night for the first five weeks. Students worked daily on basic acting and singing techniques.

And regardless of each student’s skill level or experience, all cast members received the Continue reading…