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…

It’s ‘Back to School’ Time for one Eagle Rock School Architect

Who better to teach a course on architecture to Eagle Rock School students than one of the people who was part of the original team of architects that designed our 640-acre campus back in the early 1990s? Noted architect Jeff Winston has returned to Eagle Rock to co-instruct Architecture — a class which explores the spaces in which we spend our days and how these architectural areas define many aspects of our lives.

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Winston is a member of MIG, a planning, design, communications and management services firm with offices in many cities across the United States. With two decades of architectural expertise, Winston is currently the principal director of MIG’s Colorado office.

Harboring a special interest in the design and function of urban spaces, Winston has designed plazas, malls and streetscapes, along with developing design guidelines for public spaces and entire communities. He has taught at the University of Colorado, is a registered landscape architect in Colorado, Utah and Arizona, and holds masters degrees in Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Students Buckle Down for a New Batch of Classes

We’re already halfway through ER 71 (the 71st trimester since Eagle Rock’s founding in the early 1990s), fresh on the heels of another successful Explore Week that wrapped up just last Friday. And from now until April 6, students will be concentrating on a number of class offerings that should prove interesting, sometimes provocative, and always engaging.

Many of ER 71’s second batch of classes feature topics that you can find at most any traditional high school, with such standard subjects as math, language, art, and music. But even these “basics” undergo a unique transformation when taught at Eagle Rock. They become useful and relatable.

(Photo ©2010 Buckville Publications, LLC)

(Photo ©2010 Buckville Publications, LLC)

Take mathematics for example. During this second half of the trimester, a number of students are taking Math4Life, a no-nonsense class that teaches teens how to manage their paychecks, search for an apartment, buy a car, and file taxes.

On the other side of that math coin is The Art of Mathematics, a class that explores the deep connections between math, art, and the search for truth. Here, students are discovering some of the most beautiful ideas in algebra and geometry. Many mathematicians and philosophers through the ages have talked of the deep connections between math, art, and the search for Truth. Here we give numbers a Continue reading…