Click above to learn more about the coloring book illustrated and designed by ROCS students. Thank you Thalia Truesdell for your support and hardwork!
Click above to learn more about the annual Earth Day Celebration and all the outdoor activities that kids participated in. Thank you to our AmeriCorps member, Sofie Maciel, for your organization and positive energy!
This year, Ruch Outdoor Community School (ROCS) is partnering with the Teton Science Schools (TSS) by joining The Place Network, a collaborative network of rural K-12 schools that connects learning and communities to increase student engagement, academic outcomes and community impact. Alongside 21 other rural schools (see map below), ROCS will have access to sample curriculum, consulting and implementation, research to inform best practice, and assure school readiness in fully adopting the principles of place-based education.
To learn more about how teachers and students are realizing these principles, read the article below published in the Winter 2022 Applegater newspaper written by first grade teacher, Kim Neiswanger.
Last week, 6th grade students from Wilson Elementary School participated in the Ruch Outdoor Ed Experience.
Students spent the first day at Ruch Outdoor Community School mastering archery skills, building nature shelters, and experimenting with hands-on fire models organized by Southern Oregon Fire Ecology Education.
On day 2, students traveled to Cantrall Buckley Park to engage in riparian lessons with the Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council. Stations included macroinvertebrate sampling, stream water testing, salmon anatomy, and planting native willow clippings.
The last day included a hike to the infamous Bigfoot Trap on Collings Mountain Trail near the Applegate Lake. Rumors will circulate about a possible sighting, bizarre noises in the brush, or "ape-like" shadows roaming the hillside. Whatever stories you hear, lots of fun was had as students dug into their place with a new appreciation for the natural world.
Thank you to all the volunteers, students and staff at Wilson Elementary School for a wonderful time! See you next year!
Ruch Outdoor Community School (ROCS), a K-8 public school in the Medford School District, is continuing and expanding a multifaceted partnership with the Southern Oregon University Environmental Education (SOU EE) graduate program. ROCS’s pedagogical approach of place-based education aligns well with the rich field-based opportunities offered by the SOU EE graduate program. This school year, ROCS is inviting Jackson County Parks and the Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council to create the Southern Oregon Field School Collaborative. By adding these agencies to the existing partnership, the Collaborative will further advance and widen both short-term and long-term goals leveraging unique characteristics of our rural bioregion and improving school connectedness to the surrounding community.
There are a number of interested projects moving forward.
First, Cantrall Buckley Park will serve as host site for day and residential programs offered through the Fall in the Field capstone project by the SOU EE graduate program. One shared vision of the collaborative is to build permanent yurts at the park. This will expand the usability for park patrons, as well as summer youth camps and ad hoc education programs for students in southern Oregon. Educational programs will have access to riparian areas, forests, and hiking trails. Lessons will align with Next Generation Science Standards and fulfill Oregon Department of Education requirements relating to outdoor school.
Second, ROCS will sponsor SOU EE graduate students as they complete practicum credits in the winter and spring terms. Duties may include coordinating outreach with community organizations and assisting teachers with curriculum that focuses on place-based education.
Finally, ROCS recently completed the participant application for the Adopt A Park program at Cantrall Buckley Park. K-12 students in the Medford School District will participate in hands-on projects along the riparian zones with the Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council.
Schools can still register here for outdoor school day programs in the Applegate Valley, which will expand under the Southern Oregon Field School Collaborative as we enter the 2022-23 school year.
Ruch Outdoor Community School is starting the 2021-22 school year off with all classes traveling to White Oak Farm for outdoor education field experiences. This fall, students have enjoyed interacting with farm animals, working in teams to reinforce on-site buildings using natural resources, and digging into the yearly rotation of produce grown at the farm.
White Oak Farm offers a table during school lunch to give students fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm. Extra produce is put in front of the school at dismissal time for families to bring home. In addition to the tabling, White Oak Farm works directly with the Rural Schools Learning Coordinator to design and deliver garden-based lessons for all K-8 students every week at the Ruch School Garden. These lessons extend learning out of the classroom, adds relevance to the curriculum, and provides opportunities for students to explore personal interests in agricultural practices.
Sweat & Dirt for ALL! Ruch launches outdoor education experience for students in Medford School District
The shared vision of the Medford School District is ALL are learning and learning is for ALL. At Ruch Outdoor Community School, we believe all students should get sweaty and dirty in their learning experiences through the lens of place-based education.
For the 2021-22 school year, Ruch is welcoming sister schools to sign up for a three-day experiential learning opportunity in the Applegate Valley. The program consists of on-site skill building lessons and off-site outdoor exploration activities, in the outdoors with peers and qualified staff. More information can be found here.
Teachers interested in signing up can complete an online Google Form with date and activity preferences.
Come join us to take footsteps and make footprints. See you outside!
Mission statement for Ruch outdoor education: At Ruch Outdoor Community School, we hope to instill in all students a passion for connection and exploration of the natural world. Focus points of our outdoor education program include: 1) increasing student awareness and understanding of the environment; 2) grounding learning in observing, inquiry, and participation; and, 3) fostering stewardship through community service.
In addition to the Comprehensive Distance Learning framework adopted by the Medford School District for the 2020-21 school year, 8th grade students at Ruch are working on self-directed learning (SDL) projects designed to reflect a student's authentic interests or budding passions. These focused, in-depth projects give students responsibility to work independently from the teacher in peer support groups. Projects include a final creation or product based on the integration of knowledge and skills from different disciplines that may overlap with issues of sustainability.
There are several parts to SDL projects, including developing a formal plan, conducting background research, an experiential "DO" part, and a formal sharing designed to educate peers or the community of successes, setbacks, and personal growth.
This planner offers guidance on how SDL projects might assist students during remote distance learning. Teachers and instructional staff can choose what feels appropriate in - and applicable to - their specific educational setting in order to achieve learning outcomes and help each student hit milestones in their project timeline.
Below is a collection of resources related to remote project-based learning:
How Interdisciplinary PBL Can Solve This Year’s Scheduling Dilemmas
"Remote-Ready" STEM Challenges
An Adaptable Framework for Project-Based Learning
Essential Project Design Elements Checklist
Library of Interdisciplinary Project Ideas that are Standards-aligned
On April 21st, Project Green Schools announced honorees for the annual 2020 Green Difference Awards in recognition of Outstanding Energy, Environmental STEAM Education efforts led in Schools & Communities worldwide. Honorees include principals, teachers, advisors, citizens, schools, students and school groups/clubs from across the nation and globe.
Ruch Outdoor Community School received an award in the area of Outstanding Green/Sustainable Practices. The school's model of place-based experiential learning actualizes into many hands-on projects at Ruch through the lens of food, water, forests, waste, and energy.
Project Green Schools has directly impacted more than 6,500 schools and 500,000 students from 45 U.S. states and 45 countries to facilitate the development of student leaders who have engage at the intersection of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), energy, environment and public health to develop sustainable solutions, employability, college and career readiness knowledge and skills.
Link for full list of award winners: https://projectgreenschools.org/2020-green-difference-award-honorees/
This fall, 8th grade students at Ruch Outdoor Community School began a yearlong project with the Well Water Warriors (or Warriors for short) concerned advocacy group to help rural communities understand how to protect their drinking water resource. Students participated in hands-on lessons to learn about what groundwater is, where it comes from, how it can become contaminated, and what to do if the groundwater used for drinking water becomes contaminated. The four-week course aligned with topics covered in science class, including the water cycle, salmon habitat, water quality, and food webs.
Students collected water samples from their home, conducted the test at the school, tabulated the results, and then plotted the nitrate values on a community map. Nitrate is the most common well water contaminant, and the sources of nitrate are fertilizers and animal and human wastes. At the end, all testing equipment and supplies were donated to the school for future use.
In addition, the Warriors, with the assistance of a few Ruch students, are offering to conduct a free community-wide well water nitrate-testing event at this spring’s science fair on May 15th at Ruch Outdoor Community School, 156 Upper Applegate Road.
The Warriors would love to offer their assistance in working with other schools to conduct a large-scale nitrate well water testing events.
It’s never too late to learn more about protecting our groundwater! You can reach Audrey Eldridge from the Well Water Warriors at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-292-1329.
“The mountains are calling, and I must go.”
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