Classroom instruction began a month ago for the 70th semester of Eagle Rock School, with returning students participating in many of the classes listed below.
Meanwhile, incoming ER 70 students set off on Sept. 26 for what serves as an initiation process here at Eagle Rock — our signature New Student Wilderness Orientation Program. These new students have since returned from that 24-day experience, and are busily preparing their Wilderness Program presentations of learning (POLs) that will be presented Saturday, Oct. 29.
Other activities on the immediate horizon include Explore Week — which takes place Oct. 31 through Nov.4 — and the beginning of the second half of the trimester beginning Nov. 7. The last day of classes before winter break is Dec. 9.
Below is a partial list of class offerings for the trimester, along with a description of the courses:
In this class, students are transported back to Harlem, New York between 1919 and 1935, seeing the neighborhood through the eyes of some of the brightest minds of the 20th century. A renaissance is a rebirth, and theirs — preempted by freedom — is expressed through bold colors, strong voices, and passion that launched a culture and was the foundation for the civil rights movement. Students are encouraged to study the history, of course, but also create in a variety of ways via art, music, dance, and poetry.
In this course, students are exploring the inner workings of the human brain. After studying brain anatomy and physiology, they are learning about how the brain responds to and is affected by specific substances including, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription pills. They’ll then turn to how “natural highs” — exercise, meditation, food, sex, music, adventure — can be healthy alternatives that stimulate specific, desired responses in the brain. In addition, they’ll collect and analyze data in order so they can make predictions about their own lives.
This music class is providing Eagle Rock School students the opportunity to begin — or continue —learning how to play the piano. Students receive training in piano technique, music reading, basic music theory, and basic composition. In turn, they are applying their knowledge and skills by learning and performing various pieces and songs, ranging from classical to popular at their own performance level. Musical skills are being taught on electric keyboards, where students learn at their own pace. They are picking out individual pieces that they will perform for the class as well as a culminating performance in a music gathering for the community.
Rebels With a Cause
The names of those who gave up everything or sacrificed heavily for their particular cause are well known. These legends in history include Muhammad Ali, Che Guevara, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi, among many others.
Eagle Rock’s student “rebels” are analyzing and exploring the sacrifices these individuals believed they had to make in order to do what they believed in.
In this course, students are exploring their own identities through the lens of the U.S.-Mexican border and the human stories from the line between us. They are learning and reflecting on the visible and invisible borders must be confronted every day. During this class, students are diving into the world of migration and identity, formulating their own informed perspectives, while learning to communicate in Spanish. During the second half of the class, they will explore their own identities and different perspectives through poetry, culminating in a performance poem in two voices. They will also engage in a community intercultural café, gathering frequently with ESL (English as a Second Language) community members trying to learn English. Through this exercise, students will cross cultural bridges within the Estes Park, Colo., community, practice Spanish speaking skills, and helping others learn English.
In Data Analysis, students use data sets to find patterns and statistics to answer student-generated questions. All are exploring one overarching question, utilizing research data to help answer that question. An analysis of the data enables students to communicate their newfound knowledge using infographics, written articles, presentation and blogs. Experts in the field, peers, and Eagle Rock staff members will be reviewing student work, providing feedback for that inevitable revise.
Riverwatch Citizen Science
In this class-without-walls, students will be outdoors two or three days a week, exploring the health of nearby rivers while engaging in the art of fly-fishing. In addition to collecting water samples and macroinvertebrates (bugs) of the Big Thompson River, students will analyze these samples to determine the river’s health. That information will then be used by both the Division of Wildlife and the Big Thompson Watershed Forum to develop and maintain water quality standards.
What makes a good coach different from maybe not so good a coach is the idea behind this course, with students practicing their skills at coaching soccer with grade school students. This hands-on class gives participants the opportunity to refine soccer skills, while becoming a skilled coach for the Estes Park Youth Soccer League, Working with children of different ages, students will receive feedback on their coaching prowess and learn how to transfer those skills to a variety of sports and fitness.
This writing class teaches would-be-authors to be “creative” while still being true to real life. It includes reading various forms of non-fiction writing such as journalism, memoirs, biographies, and more. Students analyze what makes for effective non-fiction writing and they are learning how to craft their own writings. In addition, students are focusing on more personal writing through memoirs and poems, and a more public side in literary journalism or “big idea” stories.
The how’s and why’s of people creating illusions to tell their stories is the topic of this classroom experience, where students are taking notes from a variety of visiting artists in order to discover how these masters express meaning with their work. While exploring a variety of materials, students are discovering what media they might want to be involved in for their power standard work. The class is visiting artists’ studios, galleries and museums while analyzing the magic of creating. Sewing, painting, glasswork, wood and metal work are just a few of the elements to be explored.
Analyzing literature and film from science fiction, fantasy and dystopian genders, students in this class are exploring the landscapes of deep space, ancient kingdoms, and alternate realities. They are studying the elements that authors and directors use to transport their audience from this world into another. Throughout the course they are busy crafting their own fictional world by writing a series of short stories.
In this hands-on course, students engage in the art and craft of natural building with wood, straw, stone and earth. They can be found mixing mud plasters and finishing the straw bale hut on campus. And they are designing and constructing additional improvements in the Eagle Rock outdoor classroom area. Lessons learned include problem solving, care and use of tools, creative design, planning, and collaboration at the work site. They are becoming familiar with building materials and with the tools and styles of straw bale builders and associated sustainable practices. In addition, students are studying natural building from a historical perspective, with each student completing a brief research paper and presentation on a practitioner or selected aspect of natural building.
Editor’s Note: Please check the Eagle Rock blog the week before Thanksgiving to see an overview of classes being offered during the second half of this trimester.
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About The Author: Dan Condon is an education activist who currently serves as associate director of professional development at the Eagle Rock School & Professional Development Center. Dan’s writing has been featured online in The Huffington Post and in print in the 2014 National Society for the Study of Education (NSSE) Yearbook that’s titled Engaging Youth in Schools: Empirically-Based Models to Guide Future Innovations.