Class Focus: Tending to Mind, Body and Soul Creates a Champion

Much more than just a scheduled workout program, In the Mind of a Champion is a new class offering at Eagle Rock School that asks participating students to reflect on their own mind, body, and spirit, and to also consider how the world currently aligns with their personal values.

With intent on developing a personalized physical fitness program, students are also being asked to contemplate on how the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and COVID-19 have had an impact on professional athletes.

Led by Jocelyn Rodriguez, Eagle Rock’s athletics coordinator, and Dan Marigny, a 2020/2021 Public Allies Fellow, students enrolled in this class are listening, researching, and speaking up about how the coronavirus has changed the way sports are viewed, and how athletes are now standing in solidarity on issues put forth by social justice movements like Black Lives Matter. Specifically, each student is asked how they may be able to adopt these athletes’ platform practices into their own lives.

Mind of a Champion Eagle Rock

In addition to highlighting aspects of their physical workout with Jocelyn and Don each week, students are asked to reflect on their mind, body, and spirit and how each aspect contributes to their personal views on the world around them and what it means to be a “champion.” Specifically, they are asked for their take on why athletes in various sports have opted out of participating in their current season, dedicating  time to activism, and walked off of fields and courts to make a statement about the importance of justice.

What is each student expected to take away from this class? Simply put, the primary objective is to Continue reading…

Ballot Box Stats Prove Voting MATHers

Hilary Clinton wasn’t the first presidential candidate to win the popular vote yet lose the election. Truth is, statistics and demographics have affected several elections over the centuries. And that’s important stuff to know, according to Stephany Subdiaz, Math Instructional Specialist, who is teaching a class this trimester called Voting MATHers.

So, was it entirely unfair that Clinton received more popular votes in the 2016 campaign than Donald Trump? Perhaps. But maybe not. Students enrolled in Subdiaz’s class are exploring the mathematics behind our nation’s elections. How do all those individual ballots get counted? Is the count generally accurate?

In Voting MATHers, students are also taking a close view of the Electoral College — a complex system that some folks believe should be disbanded. They’re also looking at alternative voting systems and methods of tallying votes, with an eye on the advantages and disadvantages of some of these vote-counting options.

So far students have discovered that depending on what state someone lives in, their vote can count more than others and vice versa. For example, a candidate could potentially win the electoral college vote while winning only 22 percent of the popular vote in certain states.

This week, for example, students are Continue reading…

Our 82nd Trimester Offers Life-Changing Classes for Students

As we began our 82nd trimester here at Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center, we again found our student body proactively participating  — albeit online and at home for now — in a half-dozen classes that are likely to have real-life impacts on our committed and engaged students.

Nearly all of this trimester’s class offerings are explored with an informed lens on what’s occurring across the United States at the present moment. From the Black Likes Matter movement and the upcoming Presidential election, to the health pandemic, students are exploring and learning about the important issues behind peace, social justice, nonviolence, the current and future state of the nation, and one’s own health and wellbeing.

As you’ll read below, this time around, students are looking at nonviolent protests through the works of Nobel Peace winners, as well as the determination of athletes who have opted out of participating in their current season, instead dedicating their efforts to activism.

Finally, below, we introduce three personal growth experiences in which all students are participating. These cover stress, resilience, and staying connected during these most unprecedented and changing times.

Over the next five weeks or so here on the blog, we plan to shine an additional spotlight on five of the classes mentioned below. In the meantime, here’s a short synopsis of what our students are studying and experiencing this trimester at Eagle Rock School:

Voting MATHers: Granted, it’s a clever name for a math class, but Eagle Rock Math Instructional Specialist Stephany Subdiaz is showing students how mathematics plays an important part in our nation’s complex voting system. Stephany’s students are exploring the math behind the ballot box. How are the ballots counted? Why does it matter? How do statistics and demographics affect the outcomes? There’s plenty of math in Voting MATHers.

You Are What You Eat: In this class, students are taking a close look at how Continue reading…

I Learn America at Eagle Rock School

Late last year at Eagle Rock School, World Languages Instructional Specialist Josán Perales, and Societies & Cultures Instructional Specialist Cedric Josey combined efforts to teach a class exploring personal identities in association with global issues. The class, named Beyond Borders, encouraged students to look for how their identities intersect and are affected by historical and current issues in their lives.

By asking students to become experts of their own narratives and storytellers of their own lives, Josán and Cedric sought to encourage understanding across real or perceived lines of difference. In support of their effort, they ran across a documentary film called “I Learn America and immediately reached out to Jean-Michel Dissard, the film’s co-director/co-producer (along with Gitte Peng), who was more than willing to partner with them by engaging with students after they watched the film.

If you’re unfamiliar with I Learn America, it’s a 2013 documentary was filmed at International High School at Lafayette — a Brooklyn, New York, public high school attended by newly arrived immigrants from around the world. The film focuses on five teenagers as they Continue reading…

15 Tech Tools for Teaching and Learning Online

COVID-19 changed the education landscape, and here at Eagle Rock School, we’ve employed approaches to engage students remotely through the use of rightsized and easy to administer online technologies. These range from online annotation and full graphic design programs to video services and music-making platforms that truly engage students from their in-home learning environments.

To prepare our educators and staff, World Languages Instructional Specialist Josán Perales curated a class online named ER 81 Tech Tools Overview and Links to Continued Learning, which enabled our team to explore on their own and learn about the tools as if they were the students.

Below is our rundown of 15 of these tools, starting with Google Classroom: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock Staff, Students Adapting to Era of Online Educating

We just finished up the eightieth trimester (ER 80) since our founding in the early-1990s, which we closed with a wonderful week of reflection and celebration. While you’ll be able to learn more about that final week of ER 80 in future updates published here on the Eagle Rock Blog, today we want to share more about the learning experiences we’ve designed for students during our foray into virtual learning in the time of COVID-19.

As previously described in Eagle Rock School Moves Online for the Time of COVID-19, we continue to ensure that the learning we design for our students is flexible and engaging, especially as they adjust to learning from home. Thanks to our quick-on-their-feet staff that worked hard and fast to create and facilitate new educational opportunities, students have had a variety of learning experiences to choose from and have demonstrated incredible commitment and flexibility as they transition to distance learning.

Some previous learning experiences have continued, including Fitness: Anytime, Anywhere, which features fitness challenges ranging from simply finding something active to do, to the 10-touch toilet paper challenge, where students and staff members attempt to Hacky Sack a roll of toilet paper — or maybe less valuable objects — 10 consecutive times. In addition, students, instructors, and other interested Eagle Rock staff have been posting online about their workouts. Such posts have included videos showing Eagle Rockers doing pushups, screenshots from running apps, and reports from workout apps.

The community-building aspect has been a huge success with our students. In fact, one fan-favorite has been Student Services Program Specialist/Explore Week Coordinator Annie Kelston’s video of herself performing weighted pushups with her toddler on her back.

For today’s post, we’re pleased to highlight several of our latest learning experiences, including: Continue reading…

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…