Teacher Spotlight: Tradition

Ryder and Thomas

Several years ago, Susan Ryder and Bryan Thomas collaborated to plan a project-based learning experience for their students. They found some alignment in the curriculum they teach, and saw an opportunity to create an interdisciplinary experience surrounding Greek and Roman literature and history. The result is the Greco-Roman Olympic Games, and it has become a tradition for freshman at Estes Park High School. Since, they have brought more teachers on board to collaborate on this project-based performance assessment for students. This Spotlight edition is a follow-up to the one published last November.

Importance of Tradition

Tradition is important in schools. Traditions create a sense of belonging and comfort for staff, students, and families. They create a sense of pride in our schools; pride in what we do and who we are. They provide purpose and give identity. Ryder and Thomas understand this and they know how to create moments in students' lives that they will remember for a lifetime. In Dan and Chip Heath's book The Power of Moments, they provide the research behind what makes experiences memorable. When asked, most people remember events such as Prom from high school, and rarely do they remember passing a test or anything academic for that matter. How can we as teachers create academic moments that students will remember far into the future? Ryder and Thomas hope that when our current students are asked what they remember from high school years from now, they will remember the powerful learning from The Olympic Games.

Summary of the Games by Mina Honda

Global Outcomes Abound

On Friday, November 1st, the freshman class gathered in the auditorium to compete in the 2019 Greco-Roman Olympic Games. This cross curriculum event, put on by Mr. Thomas and Ms. Ryder, combines Ancient Greco-Roman history with the book Red Rising to create a unique opportunity for students to practice perseverance, collaboration and creativity.
Through weeks of preparation during Bobcat Advisory, Pre-AP English I, and World Civilizations, students, divided into houses inspired by Roman Gods, created a dance, anthem, costume and banner to represent their house. At the games students competed in the Gauntlet, a trivia competition, as well as a speech contest, a rhetoric contest, and many other fun activities. Eventually, Houses selected the members that would represent them in the Olympic Games. Each student was able to play to their strengths while working towards the common goal of winning the Olympic Games.
Many Houses struggled to come to an agreement with their teams, but with the guidance of their teachers and Proctors (older students who worked with each house) every house persevered and successfully competed in the Olympic Games. This project provided an opportunity for students to learn outside of a traditional classroom and develop skills aligned with our district Global Outcomes.
Though House Pluto won the competition, each student was able to participate in this unconventional, cross-curriculum event that pushed our freshman class to collaborate, be creative, and persevere. Thank you to all the teachers who made the 2019 Greco-Roman Olympic Games possible, especially Ms. Ryder and Mr. Thomas for designing and organizing this event.
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