Eagle Rock Students Focusing on Real World Learning Experiences

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More than halfway through our school’s 82nd trimester (known as ER 82), all of our students have been tasked with answering this essential question: “How can I best direct my own learning to successfully support my future goals?

We’re calling this new educational experience Real World Learning as our student body continues to learn from their own homes during the 2020 health pandemic, using online tools such as Google Classroom and Zoom. And admittedly, it’s a broad topic, with each student asked to create an individual learning plan that fits in with their passions, curiosities, and virtual learning needs.

At this point in the trimester, each student has already selected from among a range of experiences, focusing on their future and concentrating on those interests that are most likely to put a sparkle in their eye.

Among the interests expressed by students are mastering a musical instrument, learning a foreign language, graphic design, antiracism projects, and college courses in entrepreneurship. Other interests include certification courses in First Aid, wilderness medicine, fitness, real estate, food handling and construction management. And some of our students have also opted to continue employment in their hometowns, focusing on responsibilities associated with those duties during their five-week Real World Learning experience.

To date, all students have announced their own individual learning plan and have met with their Eagle Rock staff point person to set weekly objectives tied to their goals. They have created schedules for themselves that account for 20 hours a week and are performing other tasks that conclude with designing and delivering a final summative assessment of their experience. Part of that assessment includes a two- to three-minute spotlight delivered by video on what the student has been up to. That “final exam” can take any form, including video, writing, visual, audio, or a combination of media.

How is it going so far?

Eagle Rock student Austin said he is raising money for a mental health organization, as well as taking an CPR course online in order to receive his certification for an upcoming fitness exam. And he’s taking the Life Skills class for extra credit. Austin is also working with staff at Eagle Rock to revamp our Workout Warriors program.

Last week, Malyk, another Eagle Rock student, met online with staff members and a few students to present what he has learned as a result of a gardening and landscaping project with his uncle. Malyk illustrated his learning with virtual views of his garden area.

No matter what they are engaging in, all of our students are required to go on a reflection journey throughout their first five-weeks of the current trimester — before staff members and their peers. And they are asked to walk through the 5 E’s (engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate) each week respectively.

Finally, each student must demonstrate that they have learned what they set out to learn and have met the criteria for credit. These assessments range from town hall discussions to multi-media art projects, written reflections, and virtual presentations and performances.

And to date, comments from staff members have been enthusiastic. Jocelyn Rodriguez, Athletics Coordinator & Spruce House Parent, said students have enrolled in a number of certification courses, and are working and attending Eagle Rock, and exercising their leadership skills in projects they plan to implement on campus.

Annie Kelston, Student Services Program Specialist/Explore Week Coordinator & Lodgepole Houseparent, said, the Real World Learning experience has “been an opportunity for students to tap into their passions and glean deep learning from the formal, the informal, the hard, the exciting — the real.”

She finds it incredible how differently each student’s path is. “Students have been flexible to the trying times that our nation and world is in right now and have taken committed action to stand up for what they believe in and create change within their communities and themselves.”

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