Students ‘Owning’ Their Projects: Highline Big Picture High School

Editor’s Note: Last July, staff from Highline Big Picture High School in Washington State participated in Eagle Rock’s weeklong Growing Equity Together Summer Institute for educators — an initiative that grew out of an Eagle Rock staff member’s (Sarah Bertucci’s) 24-month Deeper Learning Equity Fellowship. Other schools participating in the Institute — which is scheduled to meet again this July here at Eagle Rock — include City Neighbors High School in Baltimore, Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx, Winooski Middle/High School from Vermont, and Eagle Rock School. As you’ll see from today’s post, a lot has happened at Highline since last July:

By Highline Big Picture High School staff in Burien, Washington

Highline Big Picture High SchoolHighline Big Picture High School (HBPHS) and Eagle Rock have a history of collaboration, with several advisors and administrators traveling to Eagle Rock in the past and representatives from Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center arriving in Seattle to support us at different stages of our school’s development.

Having heard good things about past work, several newer staff members were excited to be able to join the Growing Equity Together cohort. Our team consists of Dan (STEM specialist), Gwen (301 Advisor), Mia (201 Advisor) and Bev (201 Advisor).

In mid-July of 2016, we traveled to Eagle Rock to begin our work with a cohort of adults representing five different schools with five different goals connected by the common theme of equity. We quickly jumped into it, utilizing a method of Continue reading…

Winooski School Tackles Equity in Personalization

Editor’s Note: Inspired by Sarah Bertucci, our professional development associate, Eagle Rock is leading five schools through a yearlong project with the objective of improving equity at those schools by means of independent projects. Last summer, Growing Equity Together was launched with representatives from all five schools gathering on at our campus in Estes Park, Colo., to make plans. Today’s post is an update from Winooski Middle/High School — one of the five schools involved in this innovative program.

From Lindsey Cox, iLab Humanities Teacher — Winooski Middle/High School

As one of the schools participating in The Growing Equity Together Project, Winooski Middle/High School is nearing the end of its first continuous improvement cycle aimed at supporting students in Grades 6 through 9.

ilab-winooski-logoThe objective is to develop the confidence these youngsters need to be successful when working on personalized learning projects.

Winooski is a small town in northwest Vermont that also serves as one of our nation’s refugee resettlement locations. Our middle/high school has about 380 students in grades 6-12 with about 30 percent being English Language Learning (ELL) students and 70 percent qualifying for free or reduced lunch status.

Over the past four years, Winooski has benefited from being part of a student-centered learning grant in collaboration with Burlington High School in Burlington, Vt., with funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

The grant effort, known as the Partnership for Change, has supported educators in shifting their teaching and learning systems to be more student-centered by being more personalized and proficiency-based. Simultaneously, legislation passed in 2013 known as (PDF) Act 77: The Flexible Pathways Bill (PDF), mandates a progressive educational agenda for the entire state because it requires all students — beginning with the class of 2020 — to graduate based on proficiencies instead of Carnegie units.

Act 77 also requires students in grades 7 through 12 to Continue reading…

Growing Equity Together Update: City Neighbors High School

Editor’s Note: Back in May of this year, we told you about a handful of Eagle Rock staffers who had recently attended Deeper Learning 2016 — a three-day conference in San Diego, Calif., that attracted a powerful group of educators, all of whom were focused on creating more opportunities for students to learn deeply.

It was at that event that Eagle Rock’s professional development associate, Sarah Bertucci — who is participating in a 24-month Deeper Learning Equity Fellowship — presented a project proposal that involved facilitating a cohort of five schools through a yearlong process aimed at improving equity in the schools through independent projects. That project, titled Growing Equity Together, was launched this summer when staff from the five schools gathered in Estes Park for the first-ever Growing Equity Together Summer Institute.

With that as a backdrop for today’s post, below is update from one of the five schools participating in project (City Neighbors High School in Baltimore, MD):

From Cheyanne Zahrt, Principal — City Neighbors High School:

After attending the Deeper Learning and Equity program last summer at Eagle Rock, City Neighbors High School decided to embark on increasing student’s independent skills through independent projects. As a school, our teachers have worked with students on content-driven projects, but we have never embarked on independent projects.

In short, each advisor agreed to take on this endeavor and to create a plan that best supports the students and each grade level. As a staff, we started off the academic year by sharing our interests and creating posters that represent us individually. The staff collaborated around this activity and we used it to Continue reading…

Summer Institute Helps Educators and Students Grow Equity Together

Editor’s Note: Courtney Coleman of Harlem, N.Y., arrived at Eagle Rock in May of 2015 as a member of ER66 (the 66th trimester since our founding in the early-1990s). This blog post describes Courtney’s exposure to, and experience with, Eagle Rock’s Growing Equity Together Project, where our young author discovered the difference between Equity and Equality and helped to coordinate and facilitate Eagle Rock’s Summer Institute for educators seeking to improve equity at their schools.

By Courtney Coleman

The first seeds of the Growing Equity Together Project were planted in 1994, when Sarah Bertucci, Eagle Rock’s professional development associate, was an intern during Eagle Rock’s first summer in existence.

Eagle Rock is known for its positive influence on people. Sarah was one of the early staff members who were changed forever by getting to know Eagle Rock students and seeing them thrive in our innovative learning environment.

Her summer internship was Sarah’s first experience working in a non-traditional high school. As she adjusted her lessons and provided individualized support to meet students’ needs, she experienced what equity entailed, even though she didn’t yet call it by that name. This was also her first exposure to deeper learning — an approach to learning that focuses on knowing a smaller set of topics in depth while developing lifelong learning skills, rather than covering vast amounts of information at a surface level. Sarah says Eagle Rock internship is what inspired her to become a teacher.

Educator and student participants — Eagle Rock's 2016 Summer Institute.

Educator and student participants — Eagle Rock’s 2016 Summer Institute.

The Growing Equity Together Project was inspired by Sarah’s Deeper Learning and Equity fellowship. Part of the fellowship included a capstone project, so Sarah designed a project with three parts: Continue reading…