New Class Offerings Challenge Students’ Leadership, Learning Capacities

Among the visions we pursue here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center is for each of our nation’s students to become meaningfully engaged in his or her own education. That objective sounds good on paper, but where it differs from other schools is that our own students — students here at Eagle Rock School — actually learn in part by engaging.

What is standard practice here at Eagle Rock — and what we have made available to our students for more than two decades — are both traditional and nontraditional classroom offerings that ignite the imagination, encourage curiosity, and prepare young minds for the real world.


With that in mind, we have just introduced seven new classes to the curriculum for this, the second half of our first trimester at Eagle Rock for 2018. These five-week classes join three 10-week classes that began in January and are still underway.

Those 10-week classes include Data Analysis, where students continue to use statistics to look for patterns to self-generated questions. A second 10-week class — Neuroscience — has students examining not only the physical makeup of the brain, but the physiology, or habits, of the human nervous system. And in Exposure, the third 10-week class, students have been mastering black & white photography, processing their film in a darkroom, and are now preparing their photographs for a public exhibition in just a few weeks.

Below is a brief description of the new classes at Eagle Rock that got underway just this week: Continue reading…

The Eagle Rock School Student as a Citizen Scientist

At the risk of sounding boastful, I’d have to say that our Dragonfly Citizen Science class (offered in 2014 and again earlier this year) had global implications that far surpass what’s going on in the pristine areas surrounding our mountainside campus. And really, that’s why citizen science is so important.

Put simply, Eagle Rock School students enrolled in this class took samples of dragonfly larvae from water sources within the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park in order to determine the mercury levels within that larval stage. Mercury is a toxic pollutant that can be harmful to the health of both humans and wildlife. And because dragonflies spend most of their lives in the larval stage, our students visit the national park and collect dragonfly larvae from ponds and lake bottoms with nets.

As citizen scientists, Eagle Rock School students have the exciting opportunity to be involved in a national project coordinated by the National Park Service by investigating the risk and transfer of mercury around food webs. The samples are then sent to the USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center for mercury analyses. The study connects people to parks and provides baseline data to better understand the spatial distribution of mercury contamination in national parks.

Our Dragonfly Citizen Science students discussed what mercury is, where it comes from, and why National Park personnel around the country care about this. Students also became experts on identifying dragonfly larvae — among other living species — taking water samples and using sampling protocols.

When students find themselves within a national park several times a week, taking samples, gathering data and hiking to remote locations, they soon find themselves rooted in real science and research.

We aren’t sitting in a classroom, watching slides about dragonflies or discussing the dangers of mercury. Instead, we’re Continue reading…

From Dragonfly Citizen Science to Sacred Places

ER 66 classes (the 66th semester in Eagle Rock School’s illustrious history going back to September of 1993) get underway this week. And as you might expect of us, this wouldn’t be Eagle Rock if we didn’t present our students with an assortment of progressive class offerings from which to choose.

As you’ll see, you’re probably not going to find these particular classes offered at your traditional high school, but perhaps — depending on the school’s vision, goals and objectives — the possibility exists. And that’s really the point of blog posts like this one… to inspire educators around the nation with concrete examples of classes aimed at reengaging the disengaged.

With that in mind, what we have for you today is a Part One of a two-part series detailing this trimester’s classes here at the Eagle Rock School.

Come the end of June — the halfway mark of this trimester — I’ll be back to present you with a whole new list of classes that we’re offering for the second five-week stretch of ER 66.

Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of 10 classes being offered right now:

Hip Hop Odyssey

In this class, students gain an understanding of the power of words through exploring the impact of spoken word and hip-hop. Through learning about the history of various forms of art expression (e.g., spoken word, djing, graffiti, mcing, b-boying) students become informed enough to craft their own message as they speak for themselves and those who have no voice. The class includes a travel component where students travel to local and national venues to practice spoken word (sometime called “slam poetry”) and hip-hop.

P1080279Sacred Spaces

In this class students gain knowledge about the significance of sacred spaces for different people and cultures through researching and visiting sacred spaces in our area (Colorado’s Front Range) and observing how these sites are utilized. We read and watch videos on the diversity of sacred spaces in different cultural and spiritual practices, with reflections and journal entries addressing the application and value of sacred spaces in moral and faith development. Activities include creating a personal sacred space, creating or renewing a shared sacred space here on Eagle Rock’s mountainside campus, and traveling to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (located in the southwest corner of South Dakota on the Nebraska border) to extend our experience about sacred spaces recognized and valued by the Oglala Lakota people.

Run for your Life

Running is among the most basic of human functions. It allows us to cover distance at speed, be it for sport or for fitness or out of necessity. Whether students love to run, hate to run, or have never given it a real chance, this class helps Eagle Rock students discover the beauty of movement and tap into that natural and simple piece of your humanity. In this class students learn how their body changes and adapts to stress and work. We track students’ running statistics on a daily basis, analyze running form and learn how to develop a workout plan to help class participants achieve their goals. In this 10-week course, students run almost every day — rain or shine, on or off trail — with the goal of participating in running events ranging from Continue reading…