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Five Principles of Deliberate Practice: Dylan Kane featured on Edutopia!

March 27, 2017

Educators often say that practice makes perfect. But what should that practice look like?” asks HMI math faculty Dylan Kane in the opening of his most recent article, “A Focus on Self-Improvement,” featured on Edutopia. Dylan goes on to discuss five principles of deliberate practice, and how educators can integrate them into their classroom to improve their teaching. It’s worth a readcheck it out!

Thanks, Dylan, for inspiring us to always do better and be better!

Semester 38: Second Expedition

March 24, 2017

Group A

Our group started off the trip with a short drive to our trailhead. After organizing our group gear, we began the ski to our first campsite. It took awhile for us to get use to the weight of our backpacks and sleds. We made it to our first camp in a couple of hours and began setting up our tarps and building our kitchen out of snow. The next day we woke up and skied to our next camp site where we mounded snow for our quigloos then returned to our first camp site. On the third day we dug out our quigloos and settled down for the next three days. On a typical layover day we woke up around 7:30 to cook breakfast and get ready for the day. Most mornings were spent on ski tours around Homestake Peak. We would skin up a slope then take the skins off of our skis and enjoy some nice snowy turns, getting back to camp just in time for a hot lunch! In the afternoons we would have class and free time to complete homework or play games. Starting around 4:00 each evening we began cooking appetizers and our dinner. After eating, everyone met up for Circle where we talked about the plan for the next day and answered the daily Circle question, which could range from silly to serious to inspiring. Most nights we were given some free time for a students-only Circle after the initial Circle. On the last full day of our trip we had the chance to summit Homestake Peak. It was a very warm day and the group felt extremely accomplished when we made it to the top!

Group B

After preparing for the trip and getting all of our food we were ready to get on the road. We got into the van, and sat for the fifteen minute drive to the trailhead leading us into the backcountry. We got our skis and skins on and headed up to our first campsite, where, nestled in the trees, we dug into the snow, then put a tarp above us for a comfortable first night. From there we made breakfast, and hit the trail again, going up to our first quigloo site. We mounded snow, and left it to harden overnight. The following day we hollowed out the mound of snow, and created a roomy four-person space to sleep that protected us from the harsh weather outside. We stayed at two of these quigloo sites during the trip. A typical day at a quigloo site included a luxurious 7:15am wake up and some breakfast. We then would get all ready, and so some laps on a nearby hill. Then we would come back to the site for a late lunch, and do some homework. Then we might have a discussion-based class on a reading. An interdisciplinary theme that we discussed throughout the trip was water in the west, whether that be in math, history or science. In math we learned about mathematical models, and wrote a response on if we think these models are useful for tracking water. In history we read about the progression of westward movement, and how water had an affect on the migration. One piece of the reading was a chapter of the book Cadillac Desert which is one of the staple pieces of literature covering the American West. In science we learned more about snow, and studied our snow homesspecifically how temperature is different in, and outside of the quigloos. At our last campsite, on the last morning we woke up extra early and watched the sun slip over the mountain ranges, and light up the sky with incredible hues of orange, yellow and red. We got everything packed away, and, with mixed feelings, made our last descent down to the van for the quick ride back to HMI.

Group C

As we were the last group to leave campus we said our final goodbyes among an empty Who’s Hall. After a short drive to our trailhead, we prepared our packs, skis, and sleds for our first leg of the expedition. We embarked with all of our gear and food for the entire expedition starting with the steepest hill of the entire trip. We landed at our tarp site a few hours after and went to work digging out sites to place our tarps. After we were done, we got dinner cooking in our new snow kitchens to finish out the day. The next day we woke up early to get up to our quigloo site. After a couple hours of skinning, we arrived on site and began building up large, round snowpiles which in turn were dug out into quigloos the next day. After spending all day digging out our quigloo sites, including snow kitchens, a meditation chamber, and a cozy, round family table, we got into our sleeping bags a bit earlier. The following three days were filled with plenty of ski hills, classes, and (mock) avalanche rescues. Then, we were thrown into the midst of a raging snowstorm and spent the entire time cooking, reading, and talking together bundled in sleeping bags and jackets all crowded into the same quigloo. After the three days were up, we picked up our packs and sleds, covered up our kitchens and sites with snow, and traversed across Zion ridge to our second and final quigloo. We mounded our quigloos upon arrival and slept that night in tarps. The next day after mounding we had a bit of chill time until dinner. The final days of our trip were spent skiing the massive ski hill right below our quigloos, engaging in class discussions, and writing of all kinds. Our group seemed to become a little closer everyday. Every inside joke, or ineffable moment gave us a sense of togetherness, until we became truly inseparable. Everyone in our group got along perfectly, if we ever were found arguing or “yelling” it was undoubtedly a joke as we never became truly upset with each other. Every night was filled with laughs and hugs. On the last night, as we sat in our final Circle, we all expressed the sentiment of dread to return to “the real world.” It seemed that what we found on that trip was irreplaceable and as we said on that last night, it was hard to leave an experience that was so perfect. However, we will always have the fantastic memories and accomplishments to remember and draw from.

Group D

This expedition was off to a much smoother start than the first: with all of us already comfortable both with each other and our backcountry skills, the learning curve was definitely not as steep. We all still had to do some adjusting to dragging heavy sleds uphill on skis, especially when the sleds kept breaking, but luckily we were all in the same boat! We reached our first campsite with enough time to dig out our tarp space and build ourselves a “Gretchen” (a group kitchen!). After the night in the tarps, we headed out early the next morning to mound quigloos at the next site, which was well-sheltered below the treeline and had a beautiful view of the Sawatch mountain range. The group spent a few peaceful days there, ski touring, melting snow for water (pine needle tea was a big hit), and holding our own Olympics with events ranging from limbo to ninjaa good time was had by all. The day after the Olympics, we all headed off to our second campsite to mound more snow, after which we would return to our old site to let the snow harden. Upon arrival, several members of the group had doubts about our ability to survive in the intense wind above the treeline, but we persevered and were productive enough that we finished the majority of the quigloo carving by the end of the day. The next day we returned to our new homes, ready to make it work. And we did! After the first day, the wind was noticeably calmer, and the sun was out almost every day. We enjoyed a couple of days of combined ski touring and classes, honing our expedition behavior, learning about Gender and Leadership, and writing poetry for English Class. On our last full day, we decided to take advantage of the cornice our camp was built into, and filmed a music video for “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen (in between skiing and sledding down the hill right next to our quigloo, of course). That night we hosted our final Circle under the spectacular stars, and everyone was sad to be leaving such a unique place. But on this expedition, everyone had people they had missed and were excited to see again, so the next morning we packed up our bags, collapsed a quigloo, and headed down the mountain eager to return to our home at HMI. We made it back to HMI in time for lunch, and spent the rest of the day de-issuing, sharing stories with everyone on campus, and reflecting on the incredible experience had by everyone on the trip.

Group E

We left campus on Wednesday with our skis, backpacks and sleds all packed up, ready for our ten-day expedition. We drove to the gravel pit site and started skinning to our first campsite. The first two nights, we slept in tarps that covered a huge hole we had dug out to sleep in. We skied to our first quigloo site to shovel snow into mounds. The next day, we skied back to the site with all of our gear to dig out our first quigloo and camped there for three nights, taking trips to prepare for the building of our next quigloo. On the fourth morning, we did a little bit of skiing and had a class on avalanche safety. The fifth day was our second mounding day. Temperatures dropped with the cloudy sky and snow fell for almost the entire day. We finished mounding quickly and got back to camp. The next day was the day we summited Homestake. We left camp early and headed up the eastern ridge of the mountain. The wind and cloudy conditions prevented the group from skinning all the way up, so near the top everyone took off their skis and we boot packed it the rest of the way to the peak. Everyone was extremely excited about summiting Homestake and we stayed on top for a couple minutes to take pictures and rehydrate. We then walked down to our skis and skied the rest of the way down the mountain. When we got down, we ran into Group A at their mounding site and took the time to ski a lap with them. On Friday, we had the option of going skiing or playing some games like volleyball. The next day, we had some classes and ended the night with a fun game of Winter Olympics. The last morning, we packed our sleds for the last time and skied out four miles, back to the bus and to HMI.

HMI Gap Announces our Civic Adventure Scholarship

March 07, 2017

Through HMI Gap’s Civic Adventure Scholarship program, we hope to support students who have demonstrated a commitment to civic engagement and outdoor adventure to become part of HMI Gap. This year, we will award three merit scholarships to students who wish to take one of our HMI Gap semesters.

Why Civic Adventure?

The American conservation movement started with early outdoor explorers who drew their inspiration from the land. In pursuit of adventure, people journeyed to, as Terry Tempest Williams puts it, “extreme landscapes.” Through their journeys, they developed strength of character and a deepened sense of their place in the world. This spirit of adventure is central to the American frontier narrative, with its legacy etched across our vast public land system.

In recent years, we’ve seen outdoor recreation, especially adventure pursuits, explode in popularity. The Outdoor Industry Association estimates that outdoor recreation contributes $646 billion annually to the US economy and has seen consistent 5% growth per year since 2005. While this rise indicates more people are getting outdoors, it is not necessarily accompanied with responsible use and may lead to a host of environmental, management, social, and safety problems.

Rather than to merely take from these places, to consume an experience that can be conveniently curated on Instagram, HMI Gap invites students to engage with these landscapes, to consider themselves part of their communities, both human and natural. They do so through hands-on and community-based environmental stewardship efforts while also gaining the skills and experience to be competent outdoor adventurers. By exploring some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the world while also working to protect them, students develop a deep connection with place and become part of a community of shared responsibility. Through this “civic adventure” model, students not only cultivate an enduring appreciation of the natural world; they can learn to act as citizens and to work toward positive social and environmental outcomes.

We are not alone in seeing this important and timely connection. Organizations such as the Access Fund, American Whitewater, and the International Mountain Biking Association, to name a few, are national conservation groups that emphasize initiatives to engage adventurers as caretakers and advocates of wild spaces. Even the National Outdoor Leadership School has recognized the importance of involving their students in more direct stewardship through their new Service Expeditions.

Just as we have the power to transform the landscape, the landscape has the power to transform us. Throughout history, many different cultures have looked to the mountains as sources of meaning and inspiration. From Moses’s ascent of Mount Sinai, ancient philosophers’ reverence for mountains, to indigenous cultures’ vision quests to sacred summits, these “extreme landscapes” have become the mythological stage for some of humanity’s most profound quests. There is something instinctual in outdoor adventure, shared across time and place, in which mountains become, as Edwin Bernbaum claims, “places of inner experience that have the power to transform our views of ourselves and the world around us.”

To learn more about the Civic Adventure Scholarship and HMI Gap programs, visit Deadline to apply is April 30, 2017.


Semester 38: "A fantastic week at HMI"

March 06, 2017

This past Sunday anxious HMI students rose early in the morning for the first day of Ski Week. The semester was buzzing with excitement as we were all looking forward towards a week of skiing in the morning and classes in the afternoon. As we all loaded onto the buses, quickly yawning away the tiredness of morning, the sudden realization that we would all be telemarking for the first time in a matter of minutes became a reality. This fear quickly went away and wide smiles broke out across the semester as our first experiences of “freeing the heel” began (unlike alpine bindings, telemark bindings do not attach your heel to the ski). The week quickly became one of the most memorable weeks of school as we spent the mornings at Ski Cooperthe local Leadville mountainand the rest of the day hitting the books. The first two days were full of bumps and bruises as we either learned to ski for the first time or learned the switch from our downhill alpine skills into the graceful stance perfected by tele skiers. On Tuesday the semester was treated with a blessing from Mother Nature as we enjoyed 6” of that light Colorado powder we had all been dreaming about. The previously empty mountain that we had all enjoyed the first two days transformed as the powder hounds attacked the slopes. HMI students held strong and we all relished in the snowy falls as we learned what it was like to ski in powder. By the end of the day we all sorely limped back to the buses and loaded on. On Wednesday we had a well-deserved day off and gave our limbs a needed 24 hours of rest. Over the final two days of Ski Week, you could see HMI student ripping turns into the corduroy as telemarking had quickly been adapted into our new lives. We are ready for the backcountry as our second expedition fast approaches.  

After hitting the slopes at Cooper, we headed out to find more powder in the backcountry. This was the first time the second expedition groups came together. We put climbing skins on our skis and slowly but surely made our way up some hills. Trekking through the untouched snow of Leadville, groups saw reminders of this mining town’s past, with lots of abandoned buildings dotting the landscape. Thanks to Margi, we were able to identify animal tracks in the snow and the three types of trees around us while climbing. After we summitted, we tore off our skins and were able to ski down the hill. It was very fulfilling to ski down what we had spent a long time hiking up. We hung up our skis and are anticipating some great skiing during expedition.

HMI showed off our talents at the Open Mic Night last Saturday and had a blast. A total of 17 performances rocked the house, featuring comedy, inspirational quotes, songs, Alaskan anthems, and dancing. Ben and his back-up singers/dancers sang Nicki Minaj “Super Bass,” and set a high bar for the rest of the night. Creative and poetic poems were read by Skye and Amira, and Ray fired things up with an awesome shuffling performance by him and his dancing pupils. An absolutely hilarious re-enactment was done by Hayden and Howie, two awesome apprentices, and Hayden followed it with a hysterical video on how to “send” in the backcountry (let’s just say it was very informative). We also had the privilege to see the a “Cabinet Battle” between two very skilled rappers representing John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, which was absolutely stellar. The night closed with yet another intense rap battle, this time a Hungarian one. Aron lit up the stage with his musical talent, and Stewart’s rap made it all the better. All in all, it was an incredible night which revealed the many hidden talents we have in the community.

This weekend the Paintball Biathlon was something to remember. An Olympic event (the Biathlon) was transformed into a creative and fun event right here in Leadville. It featured either a five or a ten kilometer course which included three loops each. At the end of each loop, paintball guns awaited us to measure our accuracy along with our endurance. If you hit your target, thirty seconds were deducted from your overall time. This prompted vigorous and fun competition for the race. HMI’s participant numbers were staggering, breaking our record once again with a total of 37 of 49 HMI students racing. Simon, one of HMI’s fastest runners, got third overall in the ten kilometer race finishing just under 27 minutes 30 seconds before the shooting-time deduction. Lots of flare was worn by our team, once again displaying HMI’s style to the rest of Leadville, and our support was astounding. Overall, it was an unbelievable event which our community will hold with us for a long time.

Have you ever wondered how one can get hypothermia? No need to fear, HMI kids are here! Sorry, that was cheesy. If you are unfamiliar with this word, it is essentially  when a body can no longer generate its own heat because it is running out of “ATP.” Because of the way that our schedule is structured, we have all morning on Monday to perform an efficient lab to test different “cold levels.” You are probably wondering, “how the in the world do you even test hypothermia?” Well, instead of testing which cold space provoked human hypothermia the quickest, we tested “bread hypothermia.” It sounds silly, but the results were quite intriguing. For example, the bread that was at the bottom of the snow lost less heat per minute in comparison to the bread that was at the top of the snow. From these results, we concluded that the snow was in fact warmer towards the ground than it was at the top; however, a real scientist never concludes anything from one result! In previous weeks, we had focused on avalanches and when making a demo avalanche on another Lab Monday, temperature results showed that the snow was warmer towards the bottom and colder at the top. That being said, we took the two labs and came to the conclusion that the bottom is in fact warmercool stuff.

As you will read above in the “Ski Week” section, you will notice that we have had busy days here at HMI; the experiential learning of skiing and intellectual thinking in our classes fills the air. That being said, at the end of the week and last period of the day after a long day of telemark skiing, it was hard to stay awake in the warm library while learning about Native People’s interaction with Americans during the 19th century. However, one of the best parts of HMI is the fact that we have a beautiful campus and incredible weather. How do the two relate? During history class, our teacher could tell that we were weary, so our teacher told us to pick up our books, grab a coat, and head outside. We ended up having history class while going on a walk through the beautiful trees. The combination of fresh air, the blue bird day, and the footpaths of American history was a perfect way to end a fantastic week at HMI.

Semester 38: Ski Week, Math Class, and a Prank!

March 03, 2017

Last Saturday night, we danced. This was not your average high school dance. This was dancing to the music of Aha, Bon Jovi, Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, Michael Jackson, and the Talking Heads while dressed in our best 80’s ski attire. All of this of course was done in order to get pumped for Ski Week. For those not accustomed to doing the cabbage patch, the MC Hammer dance, or the moonwalk, we had the holy grail of extreme ski movies, the Blizzard of AHHH’s, on repeat throughout the entire night. While everyone danced in their neon onesies and matching headbands, Who’s Hall was filled with great music by DJ Austin, who provided us with the classics, as well as more urban contemporary sounds. Everybody had a great time on campus spending time with each other and letting loose after a busy week of school.

Today there was a discussion about how great the math classes are here at HMI. In some classes you could spend 55 minutes getting lectured, and the minutes could last hours. But in HMI math classes those minutes are some of the most exciting of the day. Math class at HMI starts by doing a really interesting problem, and then after a couple minutes you go into groups and discuss how you solved the problem. It’s really fun to see how each person in the group can solve the problem differently. After you talk about the problem you’re given a worksheet and asked to try and solve it in your group. In  some other math classes it’s very competitive but here at HMI everyone seems to come together and try to solve the problems as a group. Once we all finish the worksheets we come together and talk about the problems we had trouble with. Each student receives the help that he or she needs and no one is afraid to ask questions because there is no judgment present. Some of us feel like we are usually not great math students, but at HMI we feel like we are excelling. We find ourselves being engaged throughout the math class where in the past perhaps we would just watch the clock. We love having a renewed appreciation for math!  

This past Sunday was the first day of Ski Week. During Ski Week we get to go skiing every day in preparation for 2nd expedition! Some students will be learning how to telemark ski, while some will be getting accustomed to being on skis for the first time. On Sunday we left from the HMI campus at 9:00. When we arrived at Ski Cooper we got our lift tickets then split into groups based on previous downhill ski level and experience. First we adjusted all of our tele-gear, then practiced falling in powder and getting up. After we got the basics, we headed up the two person chairlift. We did a quick run down the hill alpine style to see what it’s like to do that on  tele-skis, then we started learning the basics and did some drills. By the end of the day most of the groups had begun to master what they had been working on, whether it was the basics of the telemark turn or making “pizza” turns. It was so much fun that by the end of the day, every person was beyond stoked for the upcoming week.  

AMX (early morning exercise) is an everyday occurrence. However, this week we were informed that we would have to run five miles rather than the usual two to three. Understandably, we had some mixed emotions; some of us were visibly scared, others were overcome with anxiety, and a select few were excited for the opportunity to double our normal mileage. We were told that this five-mile run was an HMI tradition that we would all continue. Due to the length of the run, we would all depart together at 7:00 AM, dressed warmly. The only reason we wouldn’t run would be if the temperature dropped below zero degrees Fahrenheit. So, obediently, at 7:00 AM. we all trudged out of our cabins to Who’s Hall. But, to our surprise, when we walked through the doors, all of the members of Cabin 1 were dressed in plaid button downs, ripped jeans, and cowboy boots. As we deliriously walked into Who’s Hall and looked around at the decorations fit for a hoedown we were greeted with a “Howdy y’all!!!” Before we knew it we were randomly paired with another student and were sacheting through the hall. We danced the “Cotton-Eyed Joe” and “Hoedown Throwdown” lead by our resident Southerners. After we were thoroughly tired, we had a family-style meal of chicken and waffles. After a while, the reality finally set in that the traditional five-mile run to the railroad tracks was a prank. Anything would have been better than the five-mile run, but no one was expecting to be greeted with Southern hospitality at 7:00 AM!