This Trimester Offers Classes from Statistics to Dystopia

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Editor’s Note: Today we’re please to share Dan Condon’s second of two blog posts covering the unique class offerings we have at Eagle Rock this trimester — you know, the ones that steer clear of conformity and provide students with real opportunity to reengage in their own education. The first installment can be found here: Eagle Rock Classes That Add New Meaning to the Term ‘Non-traditional’.

Why these particular classes? Our diverse student body didn’t arrive at Eagle Rock with math books and chemistry mineral charts in hand. One of the reasons they come here is to get an education that includes taking classes that enrich, enlighten and engage.

By Dan Condon, Associate Director of Professional Development

Who Made Those Nikes? In a world where technology is connecting us across time and space, why are we becoming more and more disconnected from where things come from and the people who make them? In this class, students trace some of the items we consume every day — coffee, shoes, flowers, gasoline — from cradle to grave. And yeah, who made those Nikes? What conditions do they work in? Why does it matter? What roles do power and inequality play in global capitalism and what does this mean for our environment, our global community and specifically — the Eagle Rock student?

In Fresh Prints students explore the possibilities that exist in printmaking. We focus on silkscreen printing and we print our own designs on wearable and collectible objects. Here, we learn some of the history of printmaking and about current modern printmakers who are working today. In this course, our students discover the power of print to share a message, spread the word and explore their own creativity.

Do you ever look up into the night sky and wonder what’s up there? In Astronomy, we explore the features and origins of some of the most amazing occupants of the universe: galaxies, stars, moons, planets, black holes, comets and asteroids. We learn about the theory of gravity and how it affects objects in space. We also take night sky walks and learn how to identify prominent constellations using the naked eye. The class culminates in an independent research project to dig deeper into a specific space phenomenon of your choice.

Lifeguarding is high atop the most popular part-time jobs for high school students, and can be a well-paying job that is transferable anywhere you might want to live. We tell our students that if they’re ready to take their aquatics skills to a whole new level, this is the challenge for them. This class gives the Eagle Rocker the opportunity to set new goals and work on improving their comfort and skills in the pool. In this class we take a look at the role of a lifeguard, the components of a rescue, pool safety, risk management and rescue skills. We also work on first aid and CPR skills by exploring different scenarios and situations. Successful completion of the course may lead to Red Cross certification in First Aid & CPR, as well as possible Lifeguard certification. We swim every day and ask our students in the class to be ready to be in the pool! The course is open to those with previous swimming experience or anyone enrolled in our Learn To Swim class.

Have you ever wondered how in the world you would use calculus outside of a math classroom setting? In Calculating Change we explore the main concepts of calculus in relation to key ideas in physics. We look at how gravity and other forces affect flying and falling objects such as rockets, skydivers, catapults and Superman. We look at how to find the volume of odd shapes such as soda bottles, stream beds or a coffee pot. For a final project, students create both a physical and a mathematical representation of a physics concept.

Interfaith Dialogue is the act of intentionally bringing together members of different faiths for the purpose of achieving mutual understanding across different beliefs and values. In this class, we research student-selected faith traditions, discuss issues from diverse faith perspectives, and engage in service experiences to determine if interfaith dialogue is an effective way to achieve social change.

What the Heck Happened?  In this class, students select a popular dystopian text to see how it can provide insights into issues that impact us today. Dystopia is a futuristic society where everything is as bad as it can be. Think Hunger Games or Divergent. What we do is facilitate debates, writing activities and literature circles geared toward finding exactly where our students stand on their chosen issue and why. In addition, students are exposed to issues their classmates are exploring. This class culminates through the writing of a dystopian work of fiction that helps readers better understand the prospective consequences of an issue that they choose.

Human Sexuality is a topic we explore from a variety of perspectives, but we’re not talking your typical Sex Ed class. Here, we create a safe space to explore controversial topics through newspapers, magazines, websites, documentaries, film, fiction and nonfiction and improve our reading, writing and thinking skills in the process. This class offers a healthy life choices distribution credit and AIDS awareness credit.

The Pit and the Pendulum is an introductory statistics course that was originally based on a mystery presented in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” essay. During the course, we model bungee jumpers with eggs and rubber bands. How high up can you drop the egg without it hitting ground? Are you confident enough of your answer to lie underneath when the egg is dropped? Students then go on to solve a mystery of their own choosing. They get a lot of hands-on experience with data collection and analysis, then put all of that experience to use when they design, run, analyze — and then present their own project.

True leadership works best when how you lead is who you are. In Kaizen: Ethics, Integrity, Leadership, we explore the connection between mind, body and spirit through reading, writing, giving and receiving feedback. We also perform physical practices that include physical training, martial arts and meditation. Students have the opportunity to explore deep personal growth that can open up new possibilities for them. We read, write and work with a moral and ethical code. It is helpful (but not required) if the student is in a leadership role so they can practice what you learn. For example, if they are an Eagle Rock house leader, KP leader, or have some other leadership role in the community, they are in a better position to apply the lessons from this class. There is a lot of team work in this class, and as we tell our students, material from the class may fit well into their Leadership for Justice Power standard portfolio.

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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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  1. Pingback: Why We Use The College and Work Readiness Assessment - Eagle Rock Blog

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