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…

Four More Classes Round Out our 79th Trimester

What makes a school’s curriculum unique? Here at Eagle Rock, it’s the totality of student experiences that occur within the content of our educational process.

Robert-Frost-Teaching-Quote

Predicated on the belief that every student has the ability to become fully engaged in their own education, our curriculum focuses on competencies that we refer to as our 5 Expectations:

  1. Learning to communicate effectively: The primary purpose of an Eagle Rock class is to help students understand how to get a message across. That’s why poetry, art, and music often figure prominently into our class offerings.
  2. Expanding one’s knowledge base: Helping students understand and providing them with the tools to learn how to learn, as well as how to apply that learning to other situations, is also part of the Eagle Rock experience. As a result, many of our classes include elements of problem solving.
  3. Becoming an engaged citizen: At Eagle Rock, we’re intentional about helping our students learn something that naturally enables them to interact better with various people and cultures. Sometimes that’s accomplished by learning a second language or taking a class that focuses on worker’s rights.
  4. Acquiring leadership skills in order to achieve justice: Helping students understand what it takes to make a place — our school for example, or the local community in which we are based — more fair and equitable, is another aspect of our educational process.
  5. Creating healthy life choices: Finally, helping students understand that the decisions they make can increase or decrease positive outcomes regarding health of self, society, others, or the environment, is another unique aspect of our curriculum.

With our 5 Expectations in mind, we’re able to conceptualize and offer classes worthy of the student engagement we believe every student is capable of achieving. We also require that all Eagle Rock School students have Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) that guide them on their journey here. And each of those ILPs include distribution requirements. (For more information on distribution requirements, please see Distribution Requirements Play a Big Role in This Trimester’s Latest Class Offerings.)

This trimester, which is our 79th since our founding in the early 1990s, we’re offering five 10-week classes that we’ve previously blogged about and are still occurring (Research, Neuroscience, Jewelry Around the World, Facing History, and Facilitating Educational Change, along with the four new classes highlighted below: Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s 79th Trimester Begins with Some Unique Class Offerings

A quick look at a few of the classes available in this, our 79th trimester, shows that Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center continues to stand at the forefront of an approach to education that uniquely encourages students to become actively engaged in their own education.

No cookie-cutter classes here. It’s all about leading our students into a future that they can help develop — free of nonsensical edicts, outmoded education models, and unimaginative curriculum. Here on our mountainside campus in Estes Park, Colo., we put the emphasis on classes that will actually turn out to be helpful and useful once our students step out into the real world.

That being said, feel free to check out the list of class names and descriptions below for the first half of ER 79 (the 79th trimester since our founding in the early-1990s). A second list will appear here a few weeks before Thanksgiving: Continue reading…

Presenting and Learning at the 2019 Deeper Learning Conference

Late last month, three of our staff traveled to sunny San Diego, California, to attend the 2019 version of the Deeper Learning Conference — an annual gathering of educators committed to engaging students in deeper learning. Known as DL2019, this year’s event focused on offering attendeesa better understanding of how educators can foster student engagement in deeper learning and create equitable learning environments.

By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with Deeper Learning, it refers to a set of six competencies that students need to succeed in and out of the classroom, including Content Mastery, CollaborationSelf-directed Learning, Critical Thinking & Problem SolvingEffective Communication, and Academic Mindset. Learn more at Deeper-Learning.org.

Eagle Rock was represented at DL2019 by Josán Perales, our World Languages Instructional Specialist/Instructional Coach; Cindy Elkins, our Art Instructional Specialist; and me — Doen Lee, Eagle Rock’s 2018-2019 Public Allies Fellow in Professional Development.

The conference host was High Tech High, which is an integrated network of 16 charter schools in Southern California where the design principles of equity, personalization, authentic work, and collaborative design guide the organization’s work. For our part, our Professional Development Center has had a long-standing collaboration with HTH’s Graduate School of Education, while another one of our California-based clients, iLEAD, was also Continue reading…

Marking 5 Years of Professional Development for Ohio Valley’s Related Arts Instructors

Described in simple terms, the Ohio Valley encompasses a series of small towns alongside the Ohio River in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania — all of them heavily dependent on the steel industry.

During my high school years, our nation’s steel industry began to collapse and with it, the economies of many of these riverside communities, among them my own hometown of Weirton, West Virginia. Weirton Steel — our city’s primary employer — fell on hard times and as a result, many families in that town joined others up and down the Ohio River who suffered major economic losses.

Just across the river from my hometown lies Steubenville, Ohio, whosename is derived from Fort Steuben, a 1786 fort that sat within the city’s current limits and was named for German-Prussian military officer Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. Today, a replica of the fort is open to the public (downtown on South Third Street). The city’s other claims to fame are its annual Christmas Nutcracker Village & Advent Market, Dean Martin Festival, and more than 25 murals scattered throughout the city. Steuben is also the county seat of Jefferson County.

As an Ohio Valley native — and with the above as background — I take great pride in the work I’m able to do in this area through a long-time partnership between our Professional Development Center (PDC) and the Jefferson County Education Service Center (ESC).

This educational collaboration started as a Continue reading…

The Role of Power Standards in this Trimester’s Class Offerings

It’s the beginning of our 77th trimester here at Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center and our students are already well entrenched in furthering their education with meaningful classes — many promoting strong leadership and good citizenry in the world they will soon inherit. A rundown of those classes is offered below, but first, we’d like to give you some insight into how we plan for and assess educational progress here at Eagle Rock School.

(image courtesy of Josán Perales)

At Eagle Rock, we’ve long maintained an “Individual Learning Plan” for our students, as well as “Power Standards” that assess student progress within this plan. All of this is organized around what we call our “5 Expectations,” which include:

  1. Creating Healthy Life Choices
  2. Effective Communication
  3. Leadership for Justice
  4. Engaged Global Citizen
  5. Expanding Knowledge Base

The Individual Learning Plan (ILP for short) is a means of assessing each student’s progress in completing their graduation requirements. The plan is divvied up among three sections, which include: Continue reading…

Professional Development Team on Pace to Facilitate 30 Events This Trimester

As our 76th trimester gets underway at Eagle Rock School, our Professional Development Center continues to host and facilitate the needs and opportunities of educational organizations around the country — with 30 such events on the calendar for the trimester at hand.

With an asset-based lens embedded in our facilitation, we support educators in determining and applying steps that lead towards powerful organizational transformation. The objective is to re-engage students in their own education. Learn more about our work by visiting the Professional Development Center section of our website. Or, for a more precise accounting of our work — including a partial list of current PDC clients and the work we’re doing between now and the end of this year — please see below:

AUGUST 2018

August 9 – 10

iLEAD_CircleLogo_Blue

iLEAD, Castaic, Calif.: Founded 10 years ago in the Santa Clarita Valley area of Southern California, iLEAD  charter schools focus on project-based learning and student-led assessments to improve the quality of education. Dan Condon, Eagle Rock’s Associate Director of Professional Development, spent two days with Empower Generations (a charter school that supports pregnant and parenting teens) and Innovation Studios (a high school with a hybrid learning environment of human resources and technology). Dan’s objective was to cover enduring understandings and learning targets with the two program’s instructors.

August 20 – 21

Boulder_County_I_Have_Dream

I Have a Dream Foundation (IHAD), Boulder, Colo.: With the objective of assisting low-income students to and through college, iHAD’s seeks to provide a long-term, comprehensive educational and cultural enrichment programs to members of Boulder’s student body. Dan Condon was on hand to provide support for launching professional learning communities within this organization.

August 24

31530466_10156222266167510_8192998262874046464_o

New Visions Charter School for the Humanities IV, Queens, N.Y.: Dan visited the charter school in Queens, N.Y., to discuss a future partnership. New Visions school in Rockaway Park, offers routes to success for urban students who otherwise might not have access to both formal arts training and a college preparatory education. Eagle Rock envisions working with the organization to Continue reading…

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Eagle Rock’s Take on ‘The Wiz’

Eagle Rock School students and faculty members are busy rehearsing for a series of performances of the Tony Award-winning 1975 musical, “The Wiz,” which are scheduled in Estes Park at month’s end.

The Wiz Eagle Rock SchoolOur production of “The Wiz” (March 31-April 2, 2016) is an urban retelling of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 tale, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” using Motown, Funk and Soul music to rework the story into the context of modern African-American culture. A film adaption of the show was released in 1978, starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Eleven talented Eagle Rock students and four staff members will perform in our staged version, backed by a live four-piece professional pit band. Meghan Tokunaga-Scanlon, Eagle Rock School’s Music Instructional Specialist, directs the show, with co-direction by World Languages Instructional Specialist Brighid Scanlon and musical direction by 2015/2016 Public Allies Teaching Fellow Michael Grant.

Performances will be staged beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31 as well as Friday and Saturday, April 1 and 2 at the Hempel Auditorium within the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Admission at the door is “pay what you like” and all proceeds benefit the Eagle Rock Graduate Higher Education Fund.

But we digress. The story of Dorothy and her road trip to Oz has become known worldwide for its themes of home, belonging, belief in oneself and freedom. “The Wiz,” with its original premiere in 1975 with an all-black cast and African-American styles, boldly showed that this classic story belongs to everyone, with audiences of all races flocking to watch productions of “The Wiz” over the past four decades. In addition to be culturally empowering, it is a “joy machine,” gorgeously designed, with quick humor and irresistible melodies.

Preparations for our production began last fall with a Continue reading…

Winter Classes Range from Musicals and Murals to Soilless Gardening

erslogo2Eagle Rock’s busy student body is already well into the winter trimester, with many among them enjoying a number of class offerings — most of them new — that promise to challenge their intellect and maybe even spark interest in an avocation, adventure or activity that can last an entire lifetime.

Ten-week classes sprinkled among the mix for ER 68 (our 68th semester since our founding of Eagle Rock School in the early 1990s) include:

La Telenovela: In this class, which we first offered in the fall of 2014, students analyze and create their own Spanish-language “soap opera” episodes. By doing so, they are gaining insight into telenovela structure, characters and themes by viewing real telenovelas. (For the uninitiated, a telenovela is a type of limited-run serial drama and popular on European, West Asian, Southeast Asian, Latin American, East Asian, South Asian, Arab World, Brazil, Portuguese and Spanish television networks.) By watching these programs, students are refining their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in Spanish, which is enhanced by working together on their Spanish in the classroom. As a final project, students will be asked to script and film their own telenovelas — themselves portraying the characters as well as completing all of the required behind-the-scenes production work. They will work on acting as well as filming and directing techniques to produce the final episode. (Brighid Scanlon is teaching this class.)

Data Analysis: In this class, which first appeared at Eagle Rock School in the spring of 2015, students are beginning to explore data sets, looking for patterns and using statistics to answer student-generated questions. Each student explores one question, researching data that will help answer that question. By analyzing the information, they can communicate their newfound knowledge using infographics, written articles, presentation or blogs. Experts in the field, peers, and Eagle Rock staff will review the work and provide feedback for the inevitable revision. (Becky Poore and Helen Higgins are teaching this class.)

Five-week classes offered this trimester include:

101 Years of Murals: This all-day class presents students with the opportunity to appreciate what murals can teach us, communicate and add vitality to our lives. Students are part of a hard-working team with an emphasis on leadership that is designing and painting a mural in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We are learning how to use different mural techniques to create Part 2 in a series of murals. Students in this class are already capable at drawing — or are teachable — and they’re all willing to take risks. This class promises a lot of hard work, but it also promises to yield a lot of new skills as well as possible connections that may benefit them in the future. (Cindy Elkins and Claire Oliphant are teaching this class.)

RMNP Mural ER65

The Wiz” Musical: Ease on down the road with Continue reading…

Eagle Rock’s Public Allies Fellows — Where Are They Now? (Part 1)

Welcome to what will be the first of many updates about what’s happening in the lives of educators who participated in the yearlong Public Allies fellowship program here at the Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado. What we intend to offer with posts such as these is a glimpse into the lives of those who went on to forge their careers in progressive education post-Eagle Rock.

But first, a short explanation of what the Public Allies program is all about. It’s a national movement based on the notion that everybody leads and everyone can make a difference. That difference can be as small as helping someone believe in themselves, to step up and make change.

Public-Allies-Logo-2015_2

Public Allies has as its mission the advancement of new leadership to strengthen communities, nonprofits and civic participation. The Public Allies signature AmeriCorps Ally Program identifies diverse young adults and prepares them for leadership through paid full-time nonprofit apprenticeships and rigorous leadership training.

And how has that worked out so far? In the past 23 years, more than 6,000 Allies have completed the program with more than 80 percent of them continuing careers in nonprofit and public service. Meanwhile, many of this nation’s nonprofits are struggling to recruit and retain the diverse talent they need to address our most pressing community challenges. The Millennial generation — the largest and most diverse generation in history — is energized to work for change, but doesn’t know how to get started.

That’s where Public Allies comes in. With the edict that “everyone leads,” participants create pathways for young people to engage in their communities, and help communities and organizations tap the energy, passion, and perspectives of a new generation. Public Allies is the leadership and human capital solution our diverse communities need.

That brings us where we are today… happy to tell you about two former Eagle Rock Public Allies Fellows and their current pursuits. First up, Anna McCanse Nelson: Continue reading…