Below is a sampling of some of this trimester’s unique classroom offerings that are already underway here at Eagle Rock School — each designed to challenge the mind, develop global citizenship or promote creativity and critical thinking. You’ll note that for the most part, there’s no memorization of historic dates or wheat export totals from Yugoslavia.
It’s education, but it’s education that’s useful in real life. We begin with three 10-week classes on education, eating and exploring (research). The other courses run five weeks.
Here then is a brief synopsis of some of the classes that began a week or so ago:
What is Education For?: Students begin this quest by looking at the foundational role of philosophy in education. Eagle Rock students are asked to answer three questions:
- What is real?
- What is true?
- What is good?
They’ll research the meaning and history of education as it has been delivered and experienced in the United States. Students are developing their own tools for making observations and we will be using these tools while visiting schools where different curricula, teaching methods and student populations are present. By applying what is learned from firsthand observations, from history, personal experience and context, each student will prepare and present their own Leadership for Justice action plan for improving education in the context of Eagle Rock’s mission and vision. Finally, the class will plan and conduct a mini-conference, bringing together different voices in dialogue arriving at new insights and directions in response to the perennial question, “What Is Education For?”
You Are What You Eat. By examining what students eat, they learn how the foods we consume impact their daily and long-term health. Students will track their food choices, discover how those food choices affect their bodies, and then make predictions about their future health based on their current choices. Students will figure out how what they eat today will impact their health tomorrow.
Research: In this 10-week class, students investigate and research a topic about which they are curious, steadily progressing from a novice to an expert in that particular field. Students will choose their topic through a process that balances interests with the general feasibility of the topic. They’ll learn how to find and evaluate both print and digital sources, examining the main arguments, purposes and biases within them. Students will pull key ideas and details from the sources in notes that support their emerging research questions and claims. Then they will learn how to synthesize and represent their growing body of knowledge in an organized way, eventually sharing their new understanding around their topic by developing a thesis statement and writing a traditional research paper.
Riverwatch Citizen Science: In this five-week class, students are exploring the health of the Big Thompson River, while engaging in the sport of fly fishing. Students are tasked wit collecting water samples and macroinvertebrates (bugs) of the Big Thompson River. They will then analyze their samples, which will help them to determine the river’s health. Their data will then be used by the Colorado Watershed Assembly to develop and maintain water quality standards and by students to create a data driven infographic.
Feeling Lucky: If the casino always wins, why do people gamble? Why are more and more states legalizing gambling? Is there a best way to play casino games? What is gambling addiction? Students will wrestle with these questions and many more as they examine the mathematics of gambling and consider the implications for themselves and their communities. This course, based in the casino world, will help students practice making calculated decisions. As students study the mathematics of games, they will learn about the world of gaming and its social impacts. In class, students will gamble, discuss real life decisions, and create casino-style games in preparation to hosting a casino night for the Eagle Rock community.
Piano Studio: Have you ever wanted to learn how to play that song you heard on the radio, write your own music, or tackle your fear of performance? This class provides Eagle Rock students with opportunities to start or continue learning how to play the piano. Students receive training in piano technique, music reading, basic music theory and basic composition. In turn, students will be asked to apply their knowledge and skills by learning and performing various pieces and songs ranging from classical to popular — at their performance level. Musical skills are taught on electric keyboards where class participants can learn at their own pace. Students learn individual pieces that will be performed for the class, with other students in the class, and also perform in a music gathering for the community later in the year.
Coaching: What characteristics make a good coach? In this class students get an opportunity to learn what differentiates a good coach from a not-so-good coach and practice those skills hands-on by coaching soccer with local grade school students. Students will have the opportunity to refine their soccer skills, while becoming a skilled coach for the Estes Park Youth Soccer League. The class takes an in-depth look at the game of soccer, offers feedback on coaching and coaching lesson plans, and how to plan engaging soccer practices. The class will also learn how to transfer those newly acquired coaching skills to a variety of sports and fitness.
Connections in Wood: In this class, students are working on finishing a straw bale shed and designing and constructing additional improvements in the Eagle Rock garden and greenhouse. Students will practice creativity and precision in the process of completing the design, layout and construction of specific projects and structural improvements in this area of our campus. Students will practice problem solving, care and use of tools, creative design, planning and collaboration with other members of the building team. They will become familiar with building materials and with the tools and styles of straw bale builders and associated sustainable crafts people. Students will develop skillful techniques and safe construction practices. Together students will develop a demonstration project in sustainability at Eagle Rock School.
Watch this spot in the next few weeks when we’ll present a follow-up blog post showcasing this trimester’s additional classroom offerings.