As we reach the midpoint in in our winter/spring trimester, Eagle Rock School students find themselves wrapped up in unique classroom experiences that we believe will affect and influence the rest of their lives. What we offer here is the second installment of descriptions about the latest lineup of five- and 10-week classes, many of which offer Eagle Rock School students unmatched opportunities to reflect on who they are and what they stand for.
The People’s History: In The People’s History, students are examining U.S. history through African American, American Indian, Asian American and Latino American points of view. Students are looking at individuals and groups that had an impact on history and their styles of change and leadership. A strong focus is on the importance of change as outside groups stepped in and collaborated in change efforts. By using perspectives on the past, we students are being encouraged to explore and construct ideas and or ways they can have an impact today and in the future through our own leadership for change.
Human Sexuality: While this class includes students exploring sex and sexual health from many different perspectives, this is definitely not your normal sex-education class. Students are looking closely at sexuality through different media, including newspapers, magazines, websites, documentaries, film, fiction and non-fiction and are improving their reading, writing and thinking skills in the process. The focus is on understanding data about sex and sexuality as we use that data to think about our future sexual health. In addition to working toward the creating and making healthy life choices power standard and distribution credit, students also receive human sexuality required experience credit.
Five-week classes for the second half of this trimester include:
Storytelling & Animation: Here, Eagle Rock School students are being introduced to various techniques of storytelling and stop-motion animation. As a result, they are engaged in a process that has them looking toward other methods of storytelling, including radio drama, long-form journalism and folk stories. In addition, they are learning techniques of more traditional art forms (drawing, sculpture, collage) with the addition of movement. We are also studying techniques that storytellers use to tell very compelling tales. The class culminates in students telling their own stories (fiction/historical/personal) through one of the mediums studied during the class.
Hero’s Journey: “I think the person who takes a job in order to live — that is to say for the money — has turned him/herself into a slave,” wrote Joseph Campbell, author of Hero With a Thousand Faces. Through this class, students come to grips with the essential ingredients of the hero’s journey. They are learning how to pursue a career that fulfills them by means of following their strengths and interests in order to achieve true freedom. The insights of Joseph Campbell, presented in narrative and video form, serve as a guide for students own calls to action, vision, mission and plan for a fulfilling life. This Leadership For Justice power standard class includes weekly meetings and collaborative “personal-social development” work with seventh graders at Estes Park Middle School.
Alternative Energy: Did you know that in the time you spent reading today’s blog post, the Sun will have produced enough energy to power our planet for an entire year? Imagine what our world could look like if we were harnessing this sort of green energy. This class teaches our students about the variety of renewable energy sources being developed in the world right now. By building pizza box ovens and performing other labs, they are learning the science behind alternative energies such as wind, solar and hydropower. Students are designing and building their very own alternative energy powered devices to be shared at an upcoming expo for the Eagle Rock community. Bicycle-powered charging station for your phone? Solar-powered lamps in their on campus housing? The possibilities are as endless as the Sun’s rays and the blistering Colorado wind.
Holocaust and Indigenous Genocide: In this class, Eagle Rock students create a visual representation comparing our nation’s Native genocide to the holocaust. Students are focusing on comparing and contrasting, resulting in the completion of a final project that is expected to demonstrate their ability to think critically and analyze historical patterns found across various genocides.
Sacred Spaces: Here, our students are gaining knowledge about the significance of sacred spaces through researching and visiting sacred spaces in the area and observing how these sites are formed and used. The concept of a sacred space has many different meanings depending on what it is defining and what peoples it is being designed for or by. There are readings and videos on the diversity of sacred spaces in different cultural and spiritual practices, with reflections and journal entries addressing the application and value of sacred spaces in moral and faith development. Students are also diving into topics such as intentionality, mindfulness and self. Activities include sacred space on campus.
Street Art as Social Action: By studying the artwork of The Guerrilla Girls, Banksy, The Black Lives Matter movement and others, Eagle Rock students are gaining an understanding about the impact art has within social movements. Inspired by artist and movements, students are picking up rudimentary skills in printmaking, puppetry, graffiti, painting, design and guerrilla installation art. After researching a current social issue of choice, they are engaging in courageous conversations and discussing the ethics of street art. Each student artist will create a series of artwork that bring awareness and information on his or her chosen issue. The artwork will then be shared with the Eagle Rock community later this year.
Call of Duty: Every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things. What are you doing to separate yourself from everyone else and live your life to the fullest? When duty calls, will you be ready to answer? This class encourages students to explore their own answers to these and other questions by focusing on historic and current events where people have offered up their service to family, country and community. This class, which is often offered to our students, is never boring, with topics ripped from the headlines, including natural disasters, war, government, religion and entrepreneurship.
The Shape of Space: Have you ever wondered what a two-dimensional world would look like? For example, have you ever given any thought to the shape of our universe? Geometry, both ancient and modern, can guide us in solving puzzles of shapes and space. In this class, students travel from a two-dimensional flatland into four-dimensional space following the innovations of mathematicians and physicists. Along the way, they are learning how to create tessellations and three-dimensional models of the universe.
Mockingbird: The novel To Kill a Mockingbird tells a story of justice, judgment and morality, as well as family, gender and race. It is a story that prompts Eagle Rock School students to reflect on their own moral compass and place in the community where we live. In this course students are analyzing the moral growth of the novel’s main characters, and then reflecting on the moral growth that has occurred in their own lives. Throughout the course, they return to a central question: What kinds of experiences help us learn how to judge right from wrong? Students examine primary source documents and other relevant media from the time and location of the novel (the Depression era in the deep South). At the end of the course, students are writing their own personal moral and ethical code that can be used during their graduation trimester presentation.
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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 entitled Engaging Youth in Schools: Empirically-Based Models to Guide Future Innovations.
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