Searching The Globe for a World Languages Teacher

Do you favor an educational process that backs diverse high school students in their search to discover their gifts and passions and then nurturing those gifts and passions? Does that sound better to you than rote instruction based on standardized tests and curricula?

Eagle Rock School World Languages

Do you like the notion of enabling students to explore and examine their lives and the world around them through language and culture? Do you think Spanish and other languages can be taught in cross-curricular experiences that are meaningful to teens that are actively working on reengaging themselves in their own education? Does a boarding school that bases its ”disciplinary action” on relationships and mutual respect resonate with you?

If you answered yes to those questions, consider applying for our latest job opening: World Languages Instructional Specialist.

At Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center (PDC), our instructional specialists work together to develop empowering active-learning opportunities for our students. We care about each other’s success and our student’s experience, and the way we work constantly and consistently leads to innovations that have an impact at our school and beyond.

That means we’re not only committed to our students here at Eagle Rock, but we learn from those experiences in order to Continue reading…

Strategic Plan Update: Curriculum and Instructional Practices Improvement

Editor’s Note: Back in 2013, Eagle Rock’s board of directors embarked on a strategic planning process that resulted in the adoption of a plan titled ‘Vision 2020’ that assures what we do day-to-day reflects the long-term goals that the organization aims to achieve (see News From The Rock: Vision 2020 for an overview of that plan and process). ‘Vision 2020’ includes seven distinct areas of focus (a.k.a. domains) that guide our board, administrators, staff members and students. In today’s blog post, Jen Frickey offers an update on our third strategic domain — Academic Curriculum.

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By Jen Frickey, Director of Curriculum

Here at Eagle Rock, we intentionally place a significant amount of energy into graduating students who have the desire — and are prepared — to make a difference in the world. We implement effective and engaging practices that foster each students’ unique potential and these help young people use their minds well. To support this, we are working on improving our approach to assessment at Eagle Rock so there is more consistency in assessing what we value across all classes.

As we continue to improve our curriculum and instructional practices, it is important to us that we are challenging our students and delivering quality instruction across all classes and other learning experiences at Eagle Rock. For that reason, we are focusing a portion of our strategic work around creating a framework for normed common formative and summative assessments.

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Our aim is that 50 percent of our assessment practices will be normed and shared across classrooms and disciplines by Continue reading…

World Class Instructors Visit Eagle Rock for Explore Week

Did you know that throughout recorded history, humans have had an attraction and affinity for gemstones? People from kings, pharaohs, monarchs, and businessmen, to artisans, shamans, scientists, and commoners have honored the power of the stones and worked with them for various personal and spiritual purposes.

That’s just one of the many topics Eagle Rock School students learned about at the end of October during the latest installment of Eagle Rock Explore Week. Students had a chance to discover a variety of topics related to hobbies, music, art, sporting and outdoor activities and other pursuits intended to enrich our community and better their lives.

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The weeklong learning options had the added benefit of offering a slight break for many of our Instructional Specialists, so they can prepare for the rest of the trimester, while enabling students to pick up knowledge they’ve self-selected as being beneficial to the future.

We have listed the titles of some of these opportunities below, along with the name or names of the instructors involved: Continue reading…

Explore Week Adds New Meaning to the Term ‘Alternative Education’

Jimmy_FrickeyThis week at Eagle Rock School, we find ourselves once again immersed in Explore Week, a thrice annual offering of lectures, classroom experiences and events that have little to do with credits or curriculum leading to a high school diploma, and everything to do with engaging students in their own education.

This special week enables Eagle Rock School students the opportunity to look at different job choices, hobbies, art and music, trending exercise regimens and outdoor activities they may have never experienced in the past.

So, instead of wondering if you’d maybe like to take up rock climbing as a pastime, Explore Week gets you past the “future planning stage” and onto the mountainside, learning the ropes and helping each other reach the peak.

Explore Week is also an opportunity during this — an intentional week on the School’s schedule — for many of our instructors to catch up on future schoolwork. Meanwhile, students explore alternative learning options, with many of the instructors coming from outside the Eagle Rock faculty family.

Below is an offering of this week’s “classroom” opportunities that already have students doing everything from writing songs to creating their own robot:

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Instructors: Jacob Guggenheim and Daniela DiGiamcomo

Students in this Explore Week course create their own robot under the watchful eyes of MIT Engineer Jacob Guggenheim and University of Colorado Boulder Learning Scientist Daniela DiGiamcomo. Here, students are exploring the fascinating field of engineering by learning how to program and going on visits with local design experts. Taking a deep dive into the life cycle of design and iteration, they are constructing robots and navigating them through mazes and challenges that the class created and will showcase for the final day’s presentations.

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About the Instructors: Jacob is a first year masters student in mechanical engineering at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He originally became interested in engineering — and robotics in particular — when he joined his high school’s first robotics team. What really hooked Jacob into robotics was the ability to take a problem (how to kick a soccer ball) and build something that could do it. During college he sought out projects and research that would continue to allow him to tinker and play with new systems. Today he applies this same mindset —though backed with a significant amount of math and theory — to automating single cell micromanipulation.

Daniela is a third year doctoral candidate in educational psychology and learning sciences and ethnic studies. She is working as a research assistant for the MacArthur Foundation’s Connected Learning Research Network as well as for the Ford Foundation’s “More and Better Learning Time” national initiatives. Daniela is a graduate instructor for Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Instructors Work Together on Formative Assessment

JanetJohnsonJenFrickeyBy Janet Johnson and Jen Frickey

Each year, our school’s instructional team fine-tunes its collective classroom practice by learning together. Instructors submit ideas for possible topics of study and the director of curriculum, in conjunction with our Professional Development Critical Friends Group, chooses an area of focus for the year.

The Critical Friends Group then meets weekly to plan for four instructional meetings each trimester. The members of the group — both instructional specialists and Eagle Rock Public Allies fellows who are seeking Colorado state teaching licensure — volunteer to study an annual theme, design and deliver engaging adult learning, and facilitate our weekly planning meetings.

A hallmark of these meetings is using School Reform Initiative protocols to share our instructional meeting plans and get feedback about them. We commonly use The Charrette Protocol (note: link opens a PDF) and Tuning Protocols (note: link opens a PDF) to examine our works in progress. These protocols — as well as those that help us to learn from texts, investigate teaching, learning and assessment, and examine student work — are often the backbone of our instructional meetings.

This year’s annual theme is Formative Assessment. For assessment to be formative, teachers and students must ask themselves where they are going, have a realistic appraisal of where they are now, and make a plan together for how to get there. These questions are central to our formative assessment approach.

We attempt to develop our skills in four distinct areas:

  1. Communicate learning targets and criteria for success
  2. Provide effective feedback
  3. Foster strategic questioning among students and teachers
  4. Promote self-assessment and goal setting

Formative assessment is student centered and transparent, with students and teachers working together to set learning objectives and collect evidence of meeting goals. The explicit result, of course, is improving student achievement.

Since the Critical Friends Group had varying levels of understanding and experience with formative assessment, we decided to ground our work together using two texts: Continue reading…