Tracking Explore Week Through Discovery, Creating, and Playing

Three times each year, our student population looks forward to unique and challenging course offerings within the context of Explore Week — a period of time providing a respite of sorts from classroom participation, enabling our students to learn and experience from a variety of less traditional offerings.

This time around, students picked one track from a selection of three for their Explore Week activities, which took place the week of Feb. 24. The idea was to provide students with some excitement, experience, spark, and fun by doing things they aren’t able to do on campus.

Students selected one track and stuck with that track for the duration of the week. Their choices included a discover track, a create track, and a play track. And while you may think the majority of students choose the play track, it turns out, students who are committed to engaging themselves in their education can be trusted to find value in whatever they choose to engage in.

In this post, we describe the activities in which students participated, starting with the discover track: Continue reading…

Class Spotlight: Sports Conditioning

This trimester, six Eagle Rock students are enrolled in a 10-week class named Sports Conditioning. Instructed by Human Performance Center Adjunct Instructor Christ Iafrati and our 2019/2020 Public Allies Teaching Fellow In Science & Math Chelsea Ehret, this class focuses on helping students develop and implement their own individualized workout plans. They’re also learning the physiology behind athletic conditioning and nutrition.

Successfully completing this 10-week class qualifies students for a ‘Creating Healthy Life Choices’ Power Standard. (For more on Power Standards, please read The Role of Power Standards in this Trimester’s Class Offerings.) That’s because this class combines content from biology, physical education, and statistics, it additionally qualifies students to receive additional experience and points required for graduation.

As an interdisciplinary class, students split time between the Aikido Dojo — located within our on-campus Human Performance Center (HPC) for the fitness component — and on the HPC stage for the traditional classroom component.

In the Dojo, students work out using weight machines, cardio equipment, and the Aikido mats. During these times, they’re engage in a variety of workouts that are meaningful to them, such as high-intensity interval training, yoga, Pilates, and resistance training.

Additionally, students have routine times where they Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School Begins its 80th Trimester with Engaging Class Offerings

Just as it has been for the last 79 trimesters here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center, students are once again immersed in classes that challenge their minds, improve their life skills, and present new ways of learning.

In this, our 80th trimester since the school was founded in the early 1990s, students made their selections from an assortment of class offerings, ranging this time around from exploring the probability and statistics of a dice game, to exploring personality traits through literature and the lens of a camera.

If you are familiar with our 10 Commitments for students attending our non-traditional school, you’ll run across the values that our students are committed to live by. In particular, they are asked to develop their minds through intellectual discipline, their bodies through physical fitness, and their spirits through thoughtful contemplation. As you’ll see below, our curriculum continues this approach of presenting educational experiences that add actual practical value to our graduates’ lives after they leave our mountainside campus and re-immerse themselves in the real world.

That being said, below are descriptions of a half dozen or so of the new classes available in this trimester. And please look here again in a month or so to see a synopsis of the remaining classes being offered this trimester:

The Game of Pig: Pig is a competitive dice game, and Interim Math instructional specialist Stephany Subdiaz is teaching her students the best approaches for this game of chance. Through numbers and probability, students are analyzing real life situations and games.

By the end of this five-week class, they’ll be able to figure out complex probabilities, the likelihood of basketball free throw percentages, and have designed their own games of chance — where they’re likely to win or at least come out ahead more often than not.

But Then You Read: The title of this class comes from James Baldwin, who once said Continue reading…

Neuroscience Students Expound on Findings During Eagle Rock TED Talk

In the final trimester of 2019, a half dozen Eagle Rock School students participated in a unique class offering called “Neuroscience,” that put its full focus on functions of the human brain — that mysterious grey-hued organ that is crowded inside each of our skulls.

This 10-week class was taught by our science instructional specialist Sara Benge and Chelsea Ehret, our 2019/2020 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in Science & Math, with the purpose of exploring the anatomy, physiology, and habits of the human nervous system.

In addition to discovering how different parts of the brain and nervous system work together to allow us to perform day-to-day duties ranging from doing the dishes to, well, breathing, the class also focused on how the system affects our personal lives.

TED Talk Eagle Rock School
(Image © Sara Elise Benge)

Specifically, students enrolled in the class learned how the human nervous system responds to our personal surroundings and experiences. Students’ conducted experiments, collected data, and then analyzed that information in order to determine how the brain has an impact on our decision-making and health. Perhaps even more important, they learned how  Continue reading…

Athletic Coordinator Changes the Game Plan in Unique Coaching Class

As Eagle Rock’s adjunct athletics coordinator, Jocelyn Rodriguez wears many (sports) hats, ranging from managing the school’s basketball program to heading our Sports Challenge partnership with Strive at Haverford College. Most recently, Rodriguez taught a unique class called Changing the Game, where her students focused on what it means to be a coach in the atmosphere of today’s professional sports.

Image © 2019 Jocelyn Rodriguez

Specifically, the five-week class addressed how gender, race, and power, and even social media have influenced sports in the United States every bit as much as talent and collective bargaining between players and the team owners. Rodriguez’ students explored the unspoken rules and reality of professional sports by looking at the history and changes that many of our most popular sports are undergoing.

Students learned about the successes of female coaches, including Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs (NBA) and Katie Sowers of the San Francisco 49ers (NFL), both of whom battled to become staff coaches in a sport formerly designated for “men only.” And they examined the  Continue reading…

Fall 2019 Explore Week Focuses on Unique Student Experiences

With the first five weeks of this, our 79th trimester (ER 79), under their belts, Eagle Rock School students are now in the midst of Explore Week — an opportunity to pivot from regular classes and explore personally chosen interests in structured courses taught, led, and facilitated by instructors with deep knowledge and expertise in their chosen fields.

As with prior Explore Weeks, our instructors hail from all over Colorado and across the country, and include current staff and fellows, members of the local community, and other notables from the Eagle Rock family — including Eagle Rock School graduates who now have careers of their own.

Here’s a rundown of what’s on the schedule for this week’s courses, both on and off campus:

Producing and Audio Engineering: This course is taught on campus in our recording studios by Bradlie Jones, a University of Colorado-Denver graduate who majored in Music & Recording Arts and minored in Music Business. Known as Jelie, this artist has been writing and performing songs — as well as MC’ing — for close to 15 years. In addition to learning how to build beats, students in this course are focused on  Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s 79th Trimester Begins with Some Unique Class Offerings

A quick look at a few of the classes available in this, our 79th trimester, shows that Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center continues to stand at the forefront of an approach to education that uniquely encourages students to become actively engaged in their own education.

No cookie-cutter classes here. It’s all about leading our students into a future that they can help develop — free of nonsensical edicts, outmoded education models, and unimaginative curriculum. Here on our mountainside campus in Estes Park, Colo., we put the emphasis on classes that will actually turn out to be helpful and useful once our students step out into the real world.

That being said, feel free to check out the list of class names and descriptions below for the first half of ER 79 (the 79th trimester since our founding in the early-1990s). A second list will appear here a few weeks before Thanksgiving: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock School Continues to Place the Focus on Literacy and Literature

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.” ~ James Baldwin (American novelist, playwright, and activist)

For more than five decades, educators throughout the United States have taken Baldwin’s comments to heart, stressing the importance of reading and words to allow students to navigate their future.

Poet Edgar Kunz visits Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colo.

And, indeed, literacy and literature — which we believe helps students unleash their imaginations, relate to the world around them, and actualize their literacy skills — is forefront in the curriculum at Eagle Rock School, with hands-on experiences such as the one I am attempting to pass on to my students this trimester. Called Adventure Writing, this is the latest class delivered through an experiential education context that emphasizes the importance of reading and writing.

Most recently, a class called Continue reading…

Second Half of Eagle Rock School’s 78th Trimester Gets Underway

We’re entering the second half of our 78th trimester, and as promised in our post about this trimester’s first grouping of classes (see: Here’s Some of What We’re Learning This Trimester at Eagle Rock School), we’re now publishing a follow-up post featuring a rundown of the classroom offerings for this particular portion of the school year. Call it ER 78: The Sequel, if you will.

Each of our classes is carefully contemplated, curated and contained within our curriculum — constructed specifically for students seeking a purpose in school and in life. It’s an approach that has worked continuously for the past 25 or so years for the young people who are studying hard and experiencing a new life with and through the Eagle Rock community.

Without further ado, here’s what we’re tackling on the backside of ER 78 (the 78th trimester since our founding in the early 1990s): Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Citizen Scientists Monitoring Our Changing Environment

For the first five weeks of this trimester, six Eagle Rock School students have partnered with staff at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) for the launch of its citizen science initiative — Lily Lake Phenology.

Phenology, which is vital to many aspects of society, is the study of the timing of biological life cycles (nature’s calendar, if you will). Things like budding leaves, blooming flowers, or migration of animal species. So, why should high school students care about any of this? Because long- and short-term changes in areas such as animal migration and flowering are related to our weather and climate patterns. With more information about how plants are reacting to the climate, national park staff can make informed decisions on how to manage species that might be at risk.

At the first data collection site, Eagle Rock School student Hendrick looks for catkins and leaf buds on a willow with RMNP Superintendent, Darla Sidles.

Sound like a worthwhile project? Of course, it is. Especially when you consider that seasonal changes in plants and animals happen quickly and require sustained and frequent observation to monitor.

That’s where our students, serving in the role of citizen scientists come into the picture. For two days each week, students in our Phenology of Lily Lake class take a Continue reading…