People typically have one of two perspectives on intelligence and innate ability: they either believe it’s fixed and can’t be changed and that exerting effort or making mistakes are signs of stupidity, or they believe it can be improved through hard work and that effort and mistakes will increase their abilities. The former is called a fixed mindset and the latter, a growth mindset. Science has shown that intelligence actually can grow through effort, problem solving, and risk taking. Teaching the growth mindset has been shown to increase student achievement, school engagement, and motivation.
At Red Top Meadows, students typically arrive to the program well below grade level and with countless failures in the classroom.
Over the past two years, the school has taught about the brain and the growth mindset. Students made models of neurons. They demonstrated how intelligence grows by strengthening neural pathways through effort. In writing about a time when they had to work hard, try different strategies, and get help from others to learn something new, they strengthened the understanding of the growth mindset. Students also compared their muscles to their brains to explain how they can grow their intelligence and made brain hats to take on the role of the brain to learn how the different lobes function.
The frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for some executive function abilities (planning, problem solving, emotional and physical regulation, and organization), can be strengthened through mindfulness meditation activities. During science class every day, the students do mindfulness activities. The final lesson in the growth mindset and neuroscience unit will have them determine how they can use meditation to strengthen the frontal lobe and take charge of the rest of their body, their thinking, and their behavior.
Personal Finance: As the Personal Finance course comes to an end, the focus has moved toward wise consumerism Students evaluated marketing and brand recognition by viewing popular commercials, reading about teens as the largest market in the country, analyzing how expensive it can be to succumb to marketing schemes, and determining how to negotiate their way through the world of marketing.
Language Arts: With the spring wilderness theme of spirituality, reflection, and change, students read the work of several poets, analyzed the different forms of poetry, and created a book of poems addressing issues in their lives.
Math: Middle school math students translated written phrases into mathematical expressions, practiced the order of operations, combined like terms in algebraic expressions, and used the distributive property to solve for variables in one and two-step equations. Algebra I students solved real-world and hands- on problems to develop their algebra skills. Students graphed and solved inequalities, absolute value equations, and also used graphing to solve linear equations. Geometry students proved their understanding of several advanced geometry concepts through practice problems. Students learned the material through textbooks, videos, investigations, and online interactives. Topics included points, lines, and angles; proving theorems with deductive and inductive reasoning; parallel and perpendicular lines and planes; angle relationships; equations of slopes and lines; triangles; and segments and angles.
Algebra II students solved systems of linear equations and inequalities. They practiced some of the basics of linear programming and analyzed graphs of linear equations in three dimensions.
Reading: Students in reading class played reading games, breaking down words into their affixes and roots and using those to determine word meaning.
Science: In Physical Science, students created comic strips to demonstrate the factors that contribute to the unique climate of the Galapagos Islands. Next, students modeled the phases of the moon by making i-Movies showing how movement within the Earth-sun-moon system results in the phases of the moon. They also modeled how the axis of the Earth results in seasonal changes globally. Students also experimented with nuclear fusion to demonstrate how elements in the sun fuse and release radiation that powers energy-dependent processes on Earth. Biology students practiced using and developing dichotomous keys to identify organisms and illustrated how the processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration work together to ensure organisms on Earth have the energy they need to grow, develop, and reproduce.
Social Studies: Students in Government determined how political parties emerged after the presidency of George Washington. They got two perspectives on the role of federal government by reading the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. Students created charts and researched the differences between the two main political parties. In World History, students researched and developed Power Points on a nation in Central or South America to investigate concepts of colonialism and independence from England. Finally, students analyzed the French Revolution by answering questions about the reign of Napoleon.
Life Literacy: Students practiced and reflected on mindfulness. Next, when the mindfulness unit ended, students shifted to a focus on the Escalante Desert. The class conducted experiments with rust, made observations of artifacts from the desert, and collected and used evidence to argue whether they thought scientists had enough evidence to prove there was once liquid water on Mars.
VISION: All students will acquire the academic, social, and behavioral skills necessary for success in school and in life.
MISSION: To increase students’ confidence as learners by providing multiple opportunities for academic, social, and behavioral success; to cultivate students’ capacity to generalize the process of learning in the classroom to learning in life; and to empower students’ ability to make and sustain positive change.
The theme of fall at Red Top Meadows is community service and the importance of being a positive member of a community. The staff and residents recently returned from their Fall Wilderness Experience where our residents paired up with the Jackson Ranger District Forest Service Trail Crew to work on trails down the North Fork of Fall Creek. The ultimate goal, that we have been working on over the past few years, is to revive a multi-purpose trail that is referred to as “The Knob.” This trail will ultimately provide another option for the surrounding community to hike, trial run, mountain bike, horseback ride and hunt.
Long Draw Outfitters, working out of a hunting camp in the area had discussed, with Trail Supervisor Tim Farris, a particularly problematic section of low-lying predominately mucky trail near their low camp. As a result, this years mission was to reroute about 1/3 mile of trail out of a low wallow and to drier, higher ground on the side-hill above. Our residents camp on-site for the duration of one week to complete our work. Our crews were fortunate to find sunny afternoons of hard work to warm themselves up from frosty mornings with frozen boots. After crushing out a significant part of the reroute in the first two days, the crew spent the final days perfecting their work and closing the old trail.
This trip provides a valuable opportunity for our residents to take pride in hard work and feel like positive members of a larger community. One resident said after the trip, “I’m proud to have accomplished such a large project with all the other people that were working side by side with me. I felt part of a community when we would stop at lunch and just enjoy each other’s company, then eventually get back to work.”
Go check out their reroute before the snow falls! If you don’t get there this season don’t worry, their hard work will benefit the surrounding community for years to come.