Week 34

May 3, 2021

Thank you all for coming to Journey Meetings on Monday – we feel that those are such important sign posts along the journey here at Acton! We witnessed many amazing conversations and we really appreciate the time to love on your Eagles while also making plans to overcome obstacles and challenges in their path.

We welcomed a new Eagle into the Studio this week! The Adventurers were really excited to have Teddy join them.

During Quest the Eagles talked about Guerrilla Gardening and watched a Ted Talk on gardening in a city. It was a new perspective of taking control of your food. Most of the Eagles didn’t know what a food desert was – they said they just go to the grocery store and can have anything they want. In a food desert, there isn’t choice like what we have in our community and people can’t just have fresh fruits and veggies whenever they want. Only the Explorers were able to be part of this Quest Launch because the Adventurers were 10 minutes late to launch and were asked to sit out, with their hands on their lap. It was unfortunate because this was a really interesting discussion! Hopefully the lesson was learned and our Eagles will start keeping track of their time and the clock better!

The Quest teams are all going at their own pace and some teams are soaring through this Quest while others are struggling. Ask your Eagle how their team is doing and if they have completed all of the challenges yet and if not, how come and what could they do as a team member to help get back on track?

We had Ms. Andie from Prescott Farm join us on Friday as our Guest Gardener! She had everyone explore seed packets and discover all the information they can find on them. She also discussed how important it is to know how big a plant is going to get so that you give it enough space in your garden and so that it won’t shade another plant next to it. She helped one group (the only one that was ready and at this stage) to layout and design where all of their plants will go in their garden spot. They also finished putting down cardboard and mulch.

During Civilizations the Explorers learned about the madness of King Nebuchadnezzar and discussed that when someone loses their mind, they lose the ability to have rational thought. They were asked, imagine that the President lost his mind and thought he was a cow and started eating the grass out on the White House Lawn. But then he got better and went back into the Oval Office to get back to work. Do you toss him out of office because he had this episode? Or does losing your mind grant you the wisdom you need to lead better? The Eagles were kind of split on this topic, although most of them said “get him out of there!”.

In civilizations, the Adventurers listened to a story on The Ottoman Empire. Russia has been formed, and there is now a new group of nomads settling just outside the Byzantine Empire. The Ottoman Turks succeeded in taking over the Byzantine Empire and the city of Constantinople changed its name to Istanbul. The Adventurers were asked whether they agree or disagree: Messengers of an enemy are still an enemy, and it is ethical to kill them in a time of war. 4 Adventurers agreed and 7 disagreed. Reasons for disagreement were that “messengers give you warnings that the enemy is coming.” “What if it is good news they are delivering and you kill them before you get the news?”

Suleiman, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire thought that being liked was very important. The Adventurers pondered, must a leader be liked to be successful?

“Kind of, because if no one likes you, your people won’t respect you.” “Some of my coaches that I did not like, still did do a good job bringing us far.”

The Explorers worked on counting money, learning sight words, they also read and learned some facts about Maine and NH. They read the story, Feeling Jealous then talked about these questions:

Have you ever felt jealous? Why?

How do you stop feeling jealous?

Sometimes people use the expression, being green with envy, to describe jealousy. Have you ever heard that expression? They also watched the short video Sesame Street- Word on the Street- Jealous 

The Explorers also had an emergency Town Hall to talk about being on time and how they are always losing XP for being late.

The Adventurers talked about the Hero’s Journey and all the pieces of it. They were then given the challenge of writing their own “I Am” book – their own Hero book. The Eagles were really excited about this idea.

The Explorers read: A Hero’s Journey- I am Albert Einstein

What was Einstein’s call to adventure? “Getting a compass and wondering why it always points north.” “Wanting to know all about the universe.”

Who were some of his guides/mentors? “The medical student.”

What obstacles did he face? “People calling him crazy and not supporting his ideas.”

What was the treasure that he brought back to his community? “His equation.” “Keep questioning and asking why.”

During Art the Eagles worked on their fence posts for the garden. This is an exciting project and we look forward to installing the fence before Exhibition. The Eagles are still enjoying Music, Yoga, Gym and Meditation every week.

Our nature day at Ahern State Park was wonderful! Half of the Eagles went tracking with Mr. TJ and the other half went hiking with Ms. Kerry and Ms. Mary. We found a cave in a boulder that went all the way down to the lake, a dead owl (which we stayed far away from), and a tree that was hit by lightning and splintered into pieces. They explored many rock formations, streams and trees.

Happy Mother’s Day! The Eagle’s have been working on a very special project to give one of the important ladies in their life this weekend : ) Enjoy ❤

PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on Acton Academy Essential Element #10: The Role of an Adult in an Acton Studio

PPS – Here is a link to a letter written by an Acton Academy Elementary student to their parents.

Week 33

April 26, 2021

We started off the week with a discussion on being warm-hearted and tough-minded and what those phrases actually mean. Mr. TJ asked the Eagles “Are these terms the opposite of each other?” They decided that they weren’t and that you can actually be both warm-hearted and tough-minded at the same time. They gave examples such as when you are holding others accountable because you want them to be successful and happy and you care about them. Please use this language at home with your Eagles and ask them “How could you be more tough-minded right now?” or “I saw how warm-hearted you just were and I think that really helped the situation”.

The Explorers learned about the return of the Assyrian empire during Civilizations. They talked about how leadership is more about the way you treat your people rather than being in control and having power. The Explorers really don’t understand how people could treat each other so unfairly. They are always astounded and say things like “Why would they do that!?!”. You can’t help but love and appreciate their pure hearts.

During Civilizations, the Adventurers left China and returned to Constantinople, which was under attack from a new invader. Vladimir, the Rus prince, sent the Byzantine emperor 6,000 Rus soldiers as a peace present. The Adventurers were asked if giving away his soldiers was an act of strength or of weakness? Opinions varied and two of the responses were, “weakness because if someone comes to attack the Rus land, they now have less soldiers to defend it” and “Stronger because giving away soldiers unites the tribes and then they are friends. So now they fight together.” They were then introduced to Ivan the Great and Ivan the Terrible. The Adventurers seemed to be appalled by the choices that Ivan the Terrible made. They thought about which was the more evil act: a leader killing his own people, or a father killing his own son? All Adventurers agreed that a father killing his own son was the greater evil. “The son because he is the future of the country.” “It’s worse to kill your own son. He’s your blood!”

Kendall lead a wonderful discussion about how to propagate plants. She showed the Eagles a baby spider plant and a fully grown spider plant. Then she led them in an experiment where they took clippings from a plant and they put one in a clear container and one in an opaque container and they will see which one grows roots faster. The Eagles had lots of good questions for Kendall and she explained the whole process clearly! They were very excited and attentive.

During Writer’s Workshop the Explorers had a review of common sight words in Waseca Red Workbook (the, and, you, of, to, it, for, are, be, was, as, at) . Explorers took turns reading one of the sight words to the group. They used their whiteboards to write and read two sight words.

The Adventurers read the Hero story of Jane Goodall. They talked about the “return home” part of the Hero’s Journey and how you don’t necessarily return to the ‘normal’ world that you originally left. You might return to a world that is changed by your actions or a world that you are seeing through a new lens, so it has transformed. Jane Goodall’s return home was bringing the idea of conservation to the world and in teaching people to see the worth in the natural world instead of abusing it.

The Explorers read the Hero’s Journey- I am Martin Luther King, Jr. Then Ms. Kerry asked them questions about the Hero’s Journey:

What was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to adventure? “He noticed that Black people were not being treated well. He wanted to make everyone treated well.”

Who were some of his mentors/guides? “Gandhi, Thoreau, others who shared the same beliefs.”

What obstacles did he have to overcome? “Giving up his seat to a white person.” “Police used tear gas.” “They treated them like they did not care at all about them.”

What was the treasure that he brought back to his community? “He helped Blacks get freedom.” “His dream came true.”

During Art, the Eagles started designing garden fence posts which will be showcased at the Exhibition!

During yoga, the Eagles used balloons to observe their breath and then they were instructed to blow the balloons up until they popped! They had a lot of fun with that experiment.

We went on a wonderful field trip to Prescott Farm this week. The Eagles learned about different elements of a garden as they explored the 3 different types of gardens at the farm. We also learned about the importance of bees and other pollinators. We were able to spend a few minutes at the natural Playscape and the Eagles had fun climbing Harold’s Rock.

During Quest the Eagles started thinking about what they want to grow in their gardens. They contemplated: Is it better to plant things that look good together, or things that coexist well? They watched a video on the way that carrots are grown and harvested. They then had a discussion on: Would you rather your carrots come hand-harvested from a small local farm, or machine-harvested from a well-organized operation like the one you saw in the video? On Friday they watched a video on Vermicomposting. They then discussed: What could you do to help lower the amount of wasted food in your home? In your opinion, which approach do you think it less wasteful: having a worm bin for your food scraps instead of putting them into the trash, or creating fewer food scraps in the first place? In order to compost well, you would either have to put the worm bin on your kitchen counter and keep changing its bedding, or you would have to make much more precise measurements and do more math when cooking. Which inconvenience would you prefer? Then the Eagles created their own vermicomposting bin for their garden! (Vermicomposting is having a bin of worms that you feed your food scraps to, and they in turn create nutrient-dense soil to use in the garden as fertilizer.) You can watch this cool video called “Vermicomposting How Worms can Reduce Our Waste”!

We look forward to seeing you all on Monday for your Eagle’s Journey Meetings!

PS – As promised, we now have a financing option for tuition! Find more info at: https://www.yourfinancingnow.com/actonacademynh/

PPS – Remember next Parent Lunch is May 14th 11:30-1pm – please RSVP!

PPPS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on Acton Academy Essential Element # 9 Frequent Public Exhibitions of Learning

Week 32

April 19, 2021

The Eagles started the week with a discussion on how and why to create lists. They talked about how it enhances productivity and organizes thoughts so that you don’t forget something. Mr. TJ gave them an intro to the task app on Gmail and they also discussed writing their lists by hand and posting them at their desks.

The Eagles talked about Leadership. Mr. TJ showed a video of one of our Eagles showing terrific leadership in a group setting and everyone pointed out what was done right. They came up with “tone of voice”, “kindness”, “giving choices”, “letting others be creative”, “being organized and giving tasks so everyone was moving forward and working on something at the same time”.

In Music the Explorers learned musical notations like Forte, piano, crescendo and decrescendo. They also worked on beats and singing songs.

Ms. Kerry lead the Explorers in a really fun session of “who wants…..?” They were all sitting and she would ask a question and if they thought ‘yes’ then they would stand. “Who wants to write a book someday?” Almost everyone stood for that one! “Who wants to travel to a different country?” The Eagles also asked questions “Who wants to go to Florida and Disney?” (a lot of standing : ) )

During Gardening Quest this week the Eagles learned about soil pollution and degradation due to agriculture. They discussed What should be our priority as a society: feeding the hungry now with highly effective agriculture, or preserving the land for future generations? What would you be willing to give up to help improve the environment: new clothes, junk food, new toys, new devices, driving and flying, none of it, or all of it? Almost all of them answered that they would give up junk food!! The teams that were ready did a soil testing experiment.

The Eagles also learned about parts of a seed. Their discussion was about: In order for the incredible process of seed transformation to take place, a seed needs just the right environment, support, and maintenance to grow. What about you? What is most important for you to grow: 

Environment, meaning the right space?

Support, meaning the right companions?

Or maintenance, meaning the the right upkeep, or completing a set of important habits everyday?

On Friday during Quest the Eagles learned about pollination. Then they had a taste test to see if they could detect which kind of flower produced the honey. They also had to guess the region where it came from. The Eagles loved this experiment!! (And Wildflower honey was the winner on taste over Orange Blossom and Clover).

During Civilizations the Explorers talked about the Israelites returning to Caanan and the phonetians. They equated it to if you moved out of your house and someone else came in and when you came back to your house, someone else was living there. If you came back to your house would you try to live in it with the new people or would you kick them out? “We would kick them out!” “Are they good people? If they were nice to me maybe we could all live together.” Then Mr. TJ flipped it and asked “What if you were living in a house and someone knocked on the door and said I used to live here and I want it back, then what would you do?” “We would kick them out!” they said. Mr. TJ then asked “Why would you kick them out when before you said that if you moved out of your house and someone moved in you would kick them out? Do you see the other side of this dilemma?” It was interesting to see the Eagles really considering this topic and grappling with the thought process.

Civilizations for the Adventurers centered around Exploring the Mysterious East and The Forbidden City of the Ming. The Adventurers continued learning about China during the rule of Kublai Khan and subsequently, the Ming Dynasty. They pondered, “Was Kublai Khan’s palace a beautiful expression of Chinese culture and history, or was it a waste of money and a display of ego?”

The majority of the Adventurers agreed with one Eagle’s opinion that it was, “not a waste of money because they have enough money. They should use the money or it just sits there.”

Next, the Adventures heard the story about Marco Polo, his journey to China with his father, and his experiences while living in China. “The Silk Road was not always safe, and Niccolo brought his teenage son Marco Polo on a four-year journey that included bandit attacks, detouring around wars, and Marco getting sick for a whole year. Was Niccolo’s decision helpful because Marco would experience the world, or irresponsible because a 15-year-old’s life was put at risk?”

Most of the Adventures thought that the decision was helpful because Marco was able to experience the world. One Eagle supported his belief by saying, “If you don’t have risk in your life, then your life would be pretty boring. Risks can be opportunities!”

Another Eagle agreed with this but thought that 15 was too young to go on the journey along the Silk Road. His father should have “waited until he was 20 and then go off. 15 seems crazy!” 

The Adventurers also read the Hero story of Albert Einstein. They identified his allies and helpers as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi through their shared beliefs of civil rights and universal consciousness.

After hearing about the Ming Dynasty and the luxurious Forbidden City built in Beijing, the Adventurers were asked to stand up if they would be interested in traveling to China to tour the Forbidden City. Half of the Adventurers stood up. Others were hesitant because of COVID and traveling to a place where they believed they would experience unappealing customs.

In preparation for adding geography to the Explorer’s core skills, Ms. Kerry introduced the concept of the 13 colonies. They remembered learning about George Washington and that when he was growing up, the U.S. did not exist, it was just colonies ruled by England. She showed a map of the 50 states. She asked: How many of these states make up the region called New England? They played a corner game to guess. The states that comprise New England became official states in 1788. Except for Maine and Vermont- Maine was part of MA and became a state in 1820 and Vermont was part of New York and became part of the union in 1791.

They learned the New England States Song (includes capitals)

And they were introduced to the New England geography maps! These will be part of our Core Skill choices from now on. They all practiced together; everyone got a New England map and they filled in the states’ names together. 

Ms. Kerry read Aesop’s Fables, The Crow and the Pitcher. The moral of the story is, “In a pinch, a good use of our wits may help us out.” The Eagles used a clear glass with some water in it and our glass gemstones to demonstrate what the crow did to get the water to rise. One by one each Explorer dropped gemstones into the glass of water. Then they talked about: What do you notice happening to the water?

The Explorer’s read A Hero’s Journey- The Story of Johnny Appleseed. Then they talked about the different aspects of the Hero’s Journey:

What was Johnny’s call to adventure? “He wanted to use apple seeds to make apple trees.”

Who were his guides/mentors? “The Indians” “Nature” “The pioneers and the settlers”

What obstacles did he face? “The snowy winter and an illness.”

What was the treasure he brought back to his community? “Apple seeds and apple trees!”

They looked at the picture of what is believed to be the last standing tree that John Chapman planted around 170 yrs ago in Ohio.

Our adventure to Ahern park was a blast. Some of the Eagles went to learn more about tracking with Mr. TJ and the rest of the Eagles went on a hike with Ms. Kerry and Ms. Mary. We found a huge tree that had fallen and created natural “forts” in the branches. The Eagles found caves amongst a pile of giant boulders and we even enjoyed being out in the sun/snow storm : )

Thursday April 29th we are going to Prescott Farm as a field trip for our gardening quest! If your Eagle will not be in school that day please let me know in advance because we do need a head count.

PARENT COFFEE FRIDAY is April 30th! It will be in person, outside!

JOURNEY MEETINGS are Monday May 3rd (no school), if you haven’t sent in your completed ticket or grabbed your spot on the calendar please do so ASAP.

PS – Here is Laura’s blog on Acton’s Essential Element #8: Freedom With Responsibility

Week 31

April 12, 2021

On Monday the Eagles continued their discussion of Experiences and everyone shared an experience that they had over break and what they learned from it. Some highlights were “Don’t click on internet ads” “Make sure to check sizes before you buy the wrong thing and need to return it” “Think before you buy” “Double check the price to make sure you have enough money” “Check ropes before you swing” “Pull up the handlebars when doing this kind of trick”. Mr TJ asked them: How do you guarantee that you learn from your experiences? They answered “Think about what you can do differently next time” “Reflection” Then they launched into reflection and looking at the results of the 360 Surveys!

Our Quest this Session is Community Garden! In this quest, Eagles become gardeners, and they take on the title of “scientist” as they explore plant science, including cellular biology, photosynthesis, decomposition, capillary action, germination, and pollination. As gardeners, they take on the responsibilities of planning, building, and raising a garden, then observing it and maintaining it with diligence. This week the Eagles focused on plant science: Plant Cells, Photosynthesis and Preventing Extinction and Capillary Action. They started making models of a plant cell, they had a deep discussion about GMOs and they performed an experiment with plants in a test tube to observe how they get water into their stems.

During Writer’s Workshop the Eagles discussed: Is everyone a writer or only authors? Who else writes? And they realized that everyone writes in some form for their job or life and that the skill of writing is essential for success.

The Adventurers read the Hero story of Martin Luther King Jr. They focused on act 2 of the Hero’s Journey. The “road of trials” was seen as everything he went through in his childhood, leading up to either the Selma to Montgomery march or his I had a Dream speech, which many saw as his ‘final showdown’. The Journey home was seen as all the work he did after these two challenges, his work for the poor and other causes.

During Civilizations, the Adventures read about Genghis Khan, Emperor of All Men.

They learned of the vicious battle manners of the Mongols and pondered the questions, leaving right and wrong aside, do you agree or disagree: the more savage a general might be, the better chance of victory on the battlefield. No one agreed. One Adventurer commented that savage generals, “only think about killing and not other strategies to conquer the cities.” While another Adventurer added that, “you would be taught more from a non-savage general.”

During Civilizations the Explorers read about the Israelites and their fleeing from Egypt. The discussion was about the effects of slavery on a people and how the Eagles felt about it. The result was that it was not acceptable to hold people captive for what they might do and slavery was not ok either. One Eagle said, “just pay them or let them go.”

They were then asked: If you agree, does that excuse evil because winning on the battlefield is the job, and being kind is not? They then went on to think about how Mongol aggression and toughness ended up beating Chinese wisdom and science and were asked, “Do you think the same strategy would still win in modern wars and political battles?”

All Adventurers thought that aggression would not work in today’s world. Reasons why included, “you should program something to help you win in wars”, “you could use robots to battle”, and “you shouldn’t go around and kill everyone because that might set other countries after you.”

The Explorers have been using Journey Tracker for a few weeks now and they are starting to get the hang of it. They decided that they wanted Freedom Levels like the Adventurers so now they need to keep track of their points in order to advance in freedoms. If you are an Explorer parent, be sure to log onto your Eagle’s Journey Tracker to see all the progress! Ms. Kerry and the Eagles talked about setting goals in your challenge zone and not just picking the easiest activities to accumulate points. The Eagles identified who to go to if they needed help locating and reading words in Journey Tracker.

During Music the Eagles are working on writing songs. One group is writing a song about how they never want to go back to public school! I heard them discussing all the things they hated about public school and like about Acton including: “You aren’t cooped up in a tiny classroom”, “we can go outside when we want”, “we can walk around without getting sent to the principal’s office”, ” We get to wear hats!” “we don’t have to hear bells and teachers telling us what to do all the time”, “we don’t have to take state testing!”

During Gym the Eagles worked on team building skills and working together for a common goal. They also had a black-light dance party!

During Art the Eagles worked on sunflower paintings that are inspired by Van Gogh’s Sunflower.

The Adventurers had a launch discussion about: What do you say in your mind before you start a hard task or something that you know you need to finish? They came up with “1,2,3 go”, “I got this”, “If someone else can do it, so can I”, “Just do it”. Then they discussed what the benefits are of saying a mantra before you start your work: “because it resets our brain to not think of the fear”. Afterward, each faction developed their own mantra.

The Explorers listened to Ms. Kerry read Aesop’s Fable, The Boys and the Frogs– Then they talked about the lesson “Always stop to think whether your fun may not be the cause of another’s unhappiness.” They talked about remembering this lesson when they have access to vernal pools at Ahern Park. They should respect the creatures that have laid their eggs in the vernal pools or have made it their spring home.  They also had a story time reading the book Feeling Angry. They then discussed:When are some times you feel angry? Why? How do you stop feeling angry at those times? How does it make you feel when other people are angry?

The Eagles had a lot of fun at Ahern. They played an intense game of hide-n-seek and made more forts. Some of the Eagles went off with Mr. TJ to learn about tracking. They tracked a fisher cat and then discovered a bunch of squirrel nests.

Thank you Jamie Towne for organizing a really fun bird house painting after-care! The Eagles had a blast!

We had A LOT of badge ceremonies this week! The Eagles are doing a lot of great hard work and we are introducing a variety of accountability posters to the Adventurers. This will help them keep their goals at front of mind and track their progress tangibly without having to check it on Journey Tracker.

PS – It’s that time of year again and the ticks are coming out! Please remember to double-check your Eagles for ticks when they come home, we have found several on them at school. Also, please put bugspray and sunscreen in your child’s backpack so that they have access to that during the day.

PPS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on Essential Elements of an Acton Academy # 7 Excellence

PPPS – On Thursday April 29th we have a special field trip planned to Prescott Farm to explore their gardens and learn more about gardening for our Quest.

Week 30

March 29, 2021

We started off the week playing Simon Says and then talking about how we can all get distracted. Everyone talked about times in their life when they were distracted and Mr. TJ then asked everyone to come up with a plan on what they are going to do the next time they get distracted. Some of the plans were “Give yourself breaks from doing the work so you can reset,” “write down and journal about how you got distracted,” “Ask others to please not distract,” “move somewhere else so someone next to you is distracting you”.

During Civilizations with the Explorers we read about the New Kingdom of Egypt, discussing Pharaohs and their power and how they got their power. One Pharaoh demanded that everyone had to follow the new religion and the Kingdom was so mad about it that after he died they tried erasing him from history. They also talked about the first female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut, who actually had to wear a fake beard and pretend to be a man to be Pharaoh. The Explorers were stunned at how women weren’t allowed to do all the same things as men.

The Adventurers read about the Jews after the Crusades. They heard the story of Yohanan ben Zakkai, who escaped Jerusalem by laying in a coffin pretending he was dead. Yohanan had his students carry the coffin out of the city to safety. The Adventurers were asked, If you were a student with your family at home, would you have helped in this mission and risked death if caught?

Most of the Adventurers agreed with one Eagle’s remarks that they would not help “because if you get caught your life would be over and people shouldn’t put others at risk.”

Ask your Adventurer if they remember the story of the Rabbi who was clever enough to outsmart the Emir (king) and how he did it?

The Eagles had a launch discussion about the word “experience”. They were asked to define experience. Can you have the same experience twice? Why is it important? They answered: “For learning!” “To find out new stuff!” “So that you know how to do it better next time!”

During Writer’s Workshop the Explorers played a book sorting game. They were divided into 2 teams

and they had one minute to sort a pile of books into fiction or non-fiction piles. 

How did your team do? Why is this book in the fiction pile? Why did you think this one was non-fiction? Then they had to create a book. Is your book a fiction book or a non-fiction book? How come?

The Adventurers read George Washington’s hero story and talked about his legacy. The Adventurers didn’t know that people loved him so much he could have stayed President his entire life (essentially being King of America) but that he chose to step down. They mapped out Washington’s story on the Hero’s Journey map. They did a great job recognizing all of the aspects of the journey.

The Explorers read the Hero story of Jane Goodall. They were asked:

What was Jane’s call to adventure? “She loved animals!”

Who helped her on her hero’s journey? “Dr. Leaky.” “Her mother.”

What were some of her obstacles? “Saving money to go to Africa.” “Being a woman and wanting to be a scientist.”

What treasures did she bring back to her community? “That animals have more to them than what we thought.” “That chimpanzees have feelings and their own personality.”

The Eagles did their 360 surveys this week. They each anonymously evaluate each other and then we compile all of the feedback so that each Eagle can see how they are doing in certain areas.

The Explorers focused on learning place value – ones, tens, 100s. They also did some work on syllables this week.

On Friday, the Eagles reflected about the Exhibition. They were asked: Knowing what you know now, having the feedback from everyone who attended the exhibition and having that exhibition experience, what would you have done different? “I would’ve been kinder to my group” “I would have explained things better to my group so that they understood.” “I wouldn’t have focused on just one challenge, I would have worked on more of them so our robot could do more.” “I would have done more things from the beginning instead of just helping at the end.” “I would help with more of the coding.” “I would’ve been more prepared.” This is the question, when you learn to ask yourself and reflect after certain experiences, this is the question that makes the difference between ‘good enough’ and ‘excellent’.

We thank everyone who was able to attend the Exhibition of Coding and Robotics. We felt that it was a success and the Eagles were really happy with the feedback! The Eagles overcame a lot of last minute hiccups, including the robots going bonkers and not working properly, having to conquer new coding challenges from the beginning with only one day left to work on them, the bluetooth not working and needing to plug in the robot cords, and one group’s robot lost a wheel 2 hours before the Exhibition started and they had to figure out how to repair it! But everyone persevered and really focused during Quest time.

A huge thank you to Mr TJ and his 3 Explorer helpers for renovating the first floor ‘orange bathroom’! It now has a beautiful laminate floor and a new vanity!

We ended the week with a trip to Opechee Park where the Eagles could play and run around and have fun!

We hope everyone has a wonderful Vacation Week and we will see you back at school on Monday April 12th!

PS – Every family should have received renewal paperwork from me for next year. If you did not receive, please let me know! Also, we will be offering financing this year. The link will be on our website and I will also send out a separate email once it is live.

PPS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on Acton’s Essential Elements 5 & 6: The Socratic Method and Trial and Error Learning

IMPORTANT DATES:

Monday, May 3rd – NO SCHOOL – Journey Meetings
Friday, May 14th – 11:30-1pm Parent Lunch
Thursday, May 20th – 3:30-5pm – Community Garden Exhibition

Week 29

March 22, 2021

We enjoyed the amazing weather this week and spent LOTS of time outside!

During Quest the Eagles learned about rescue robots. They watched a video of rescue robots in action and were asked : Can robots save lives? There are some robots being designed to take over low-skills jobs such as grocery clerk, or mundane jobs such as agriculture. Where do robots add the most value: high-danger tasks, or mundane, low-skill tasks? The Eagles worked on programing their robots with code and conquering certain challenges that you will be shown at Exhibition!

The older Eagles were once again not holding each other accountable. Instead of just taking away their freedom levels, we confronted them with a choice. They could either re-write the Studio Contract, or all lose 3 freedom levels. They immediately had a discussion and decided to re-write the contract because they had “put so much work into earning their points”. They then had to ask the Explorers if they wanted to re-write the contract (because it is for the entire studio). The Explorers haven’t been having any issues upholding the contract or holding each other accountable. And so they didn’t think it was necessary. The Adventurers went back to the drawing board and came up with an accountability system where they will be able to take away points from someone as a warning for violating the contract or studio guardrails. We are excited to see how this plays out!

After a deep discussion about handwriting, the Eagles have decided to add Journaling as something that they can do during Writers Workshop. Mr. TJ launched with a video interviewing famous athletes who all have used journaling as a major tool in their life and personal growth and development. The Eagles took to the journaling with a lot of enthusiasm!

For Civilizations the Explorers talked about the middle kingdom in Egypt. Without the proper support of the people in the kingdom and a strong leader your kingdom could easily be taken oven. They acted out, in 2 groups, being “different kingdoms” and each group elected a “leader” who could distribute the free time “wealth” of the community. He choose to give everyone 5 minutes and he kept 55 minutes for himself. He didn’t have a strong following because of that action, and the other kingdom was able to take over. They were then able to elect a new leader and the new leader gave everyone equal free time including himself and the other group was driven out. They learned that being fair as a leader is how you gain support.

For Civilizations the Adventurers read about A New Kind of King – Robin Hood. They were asked to imagine “you are a judge, whose job it is to enforce the law, and you are brought the case of Robin Hood. While his actions were always out of concern for his fellow citizens, he did steal. Do you find Robin Hood guilty or not guilty of theft?” All Adventurers agreed that they would find Robin Hood not guilty. “Not guilty because he is trying to help out his people and the king is being cruel to them.” “He’s not taking money, he gives it away.” “It’s okay because the king is greedy and has way more than he needs.”

The Adventurers read the Hero story of Harriet Tubman who personally freed 70 people from slavery. She was the first female spy in the US Military, an amazing athlete and survivalist. She also started the first elderly-care home in New York. The adventurers were very excited about everything she accomplished.

The Explorers read the Hero story of George Washington. They were asked:

What was Washington’s call to adventure? “He likes to do many things.” “He was good in battle.”

What obstacles did he face? “Battles with the red coats.” “Not having enough food or clothes during the battle.” “Being barefoot in the snow.”

Who were his guides/mentors? “His big brother.”

What treasure did he bring back to his community? “Freedom.” “The United States of America.” 

During our time in the woods on Thursday Mr TJ split off a group that was interested in learning about tracking. He showed them what to look for and how to find it and then the Eagles had to “track” TJ out of the woods. It was really fun! The other Eagles worked on whittling sticks and some of them made really awesome shelter forts in the woods. There was a lot of tree climbing and throwing sticks onto the ice to see if they could break it. When our time was up to go back to the studio no one wanted to go – that’s how you know they are having a good time ; )

During Writer’s Workshop the Explorers learned about US coins. They played a game by holding up the coin that is described. For example, “Pick up the coin that is worth 10 cents.” “Pick up the coin with George Washington’s face on it.” “Pick up the two coins that when they are added together, they equal 6 cents.” Then they were asked: Can you draw all of the coins? Are you noticing the size differences and reflecting that in your drawings? What details can you add to your coins?

During Art the Eagles had a drawing lesson. They learned how putting pressure on your pencil makes the line darker and how to add shadows. They practiced doing a rough sketch first and then adding detail in phases. The Explorers made garden pictures using coffee filters as flowers and butterflies and painting everything in bright colors.

During Music this week, a bunch of the Adventurer’s “graduated” to playing real instruments. It was so fun to see them really focused and working hard on something they enjoy.

We continued our mindfullness Headspace class on Wednesday.

The Explorers read an ABC book centered around the pandemic. The Day the World Got Sick and What We Did About It. They also watched an amazing little video about being responsible and accountable where a lighthouse keeper had the light go out at the lighthouse and a ship was coming close to shore and he had to run to the town to get help from the townspeople to save the ship before it crashed! They then discussed: What would have happened if the lighthouse keeper gave up and did not ask for help from the townspeople? How were the townspeople being accountable?

We had an excellent “parent coffee”, I hope you were all able to join us. If not, the morning discussion video will be posted on our Facebook page for 30 days. The topic was apologies and what the difference is between a good apology and a bad one.

EXHIBITION IS NEXT THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 3:30-5pm – it will be in-person!! More info to come. You must arrive before 4:30 – please let me know ASAP if you were planning to just “catch the tail end” so that we can plan accordingly.

PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on Acton Essential Element #4: Mixed Age Studio

Week 28

March 15, 2021

On Monday we had a discussion inspired by how messy the yard was left all weekend. Mr. TJ had them visualize where their most valuable possession was in their room and then where something was that they didn’t care much about. It was really enlightening to a bunch of them. One answered that their most valuable possession was a transformer and it was on a shelf by his bed but he didn’t value his legos as much and they were scattered all over the floor. They said “you don’t think we value the yard and the sports equipment because it was not put away.” Then they made a plan to do better and this whole week they have left the yard in much better shape.

Civilizations for Explorers was about Ancient Africa. The Explorers told some short stories that they knew that had morals. Mr. TJ asked them to tell him what the moral of the story was and they actually came up with some very surprising and insightful answers.

We had a discussion on Accountability and how to hold each other accountable. There was an incident where 4 Eagles were making fun of another eagle and no one was doing anything about it until the one Eagle exploded in anger, then everyone acted like the victim. We discussed how we need to hold each other accountable and that means not looking on in silence because you feel like you aren’t involved. This caused many tears of remorse from the Eagles who feel like it’s “not their fault” because they weren’t part of it. We challenged that with “it is your fault because you didn’t try to stop it or say ‘We don’t act like that here,’ “we don’t talk to each other that way here'”. This was a monumental day of forming a building block in our cultural foundation.

Wednesday was our last day of coding and Friday we started Robots! We had a guest speaker, Robert Hartson, who worked for FIRST in Manchester (a non-profit started by Dean Kamen and tasked with spreading STEM projects and enthusiasm to students). He show us a video of Sophia, the first AI to have citizenship (Saudi Arabia 2016), and the Eagles were entranced with her and we had a great discussion on how robots affect our life and how they will add to our future. The Eagles then built their robots and were able to just play around with them and send them down obstacle courses for the rest of the day.

On Friday, Mr. TJ did an experiment. He wrote some questions on the white board and walked away from morning circle. He let the Eagles figure out how to have a discussion around the questions. After a few minutes of silent and not knowing what to do, they started talking and had an amazing discussion. Here are some nuggets from the question: What is different about Acton compared to your previous school?: “Pretty much everything”, “we can ride bikes”, “we have freedoms” ,”at my old school we just sat at desks for a long time and here we get to move around”, “we are able to learn more subjects here and work on what we want” ,”we just sat all day in my old school.”

One of the other questions was: What do you think needs to change about the studio? They answered:

“Respect the studio more”, “do better studio maintenance”, “be more responsible”, “keep our desks cleaner”. They voted to make space in the day on Wednesdays and Fridays to clean out their desks. They talked about how to respect their peers more: “when someone asks you to do something you just do it or have a conversation instead of being so stubborn” ,”Listen to others is actually on our contract! So you could get a strike for that”, “keeping the studio clean is also on the contract!”, “maybe we should make another poster with reminders about all the things we just talked about!”

The Adventurers read about Richard the Lionhearted and John Lackland and the Magna Carta for Civilizations. Each Adventurer imagined that they were Richard the Lionhearted and that they were closing in on Jerusalem, on a Crusade for which they sold almost all of their possessions. However, you hear that back home, your own brother is attempting to steal the throne. Do you carry on with your mission and serve God, but lose your throne? Or abort your mission and leave Jerusalem to the Muslims, but return to England and remain king?

The Adventurers were split on this scenario. A few agreed that they should, “head back home and reclaim the throne.” While other Adventurers believed that they “should keep on fighting because that was the mission and you shouldn’t give up.” 

The Adventurers were then asked if the Duke of Austria’s imprisonment of Richard was fair and justified because of how Richard treated him back near Jerusalem or was it an unfair overreaction? The general consensus was that “it wasn’t fair because two wrongs don’t make a right” and “it was an overreaction because being imprisoned is much worse than what Richard did.”

The Explorers did a Movement Song- Spaceship counting by 10s . They also reviewed 2D and 3D and made shapes with sticks and practiced drawing 2D and 3D with their whiteboards. They also Read a story about Feeling Sad. They were asked: Was there a time when you felt sad? How did you start feeling happier again? 

The Explorers read A Hero’s Journey- I am Harriet Tubman

What was Harriet’s call to adventure? “She wanted to help other slaves escape like she did.”

What obstacles did she face? “Being a slave.” “Working.”

Who were her mentors/guides? “Black and white people who helped the Underground Railroad.”

What treasure did Harriet bring back to her community? “Freeing slaves.”

On Thursday the Eagles went on an adventure to Ahern park. Mr TJ gave a knife safety lesson and then the Eagles practiced pealing bark off of sticks and whittling. They had fun exploring the stream and the rocks and the forest.

We did a Headspace meditation on Wednesday. This is a beginners course in meditation. The episodes are on Netflix and they explain the way the brain works – it teaches psychology along with mindfullness.

In case you are looking for Summer Camp options, Red Oak Montessori has summer camp all summer long, 5 days/week for children up to age 7. Here is a link to their camp flyer.

PS – If you are planning to use the after school program on any given day please make sure to text or email Jaime Towne at: 207-451-7482 jtowne01@comcast.net

PPS – Here is a link to Laura’s Blog on Acton Academy’s Essential Element #3: The Studio Contract

Week 27

March 8, 2021

During Quest the Eagles discussed “What does it mean to be a good citizen?” They watched a video on the importance of choosing to be safe, responsible, and respectful online. They also learned about in-home robots that exist today! They did a fun “unplugged” activity where “our human friends will become robotic”! whoever played the robot had to follow the instructions exactly. We told them “Remember, you’re a computer and computers don’t have the ability to make assumptions based on experience like we humans can.” They also dove into the history of Google and how it was created. They discussed: What is the most important character trait in bringing an idea to life: imagination, perseverance, or curiosity?

The Adventurers did a launch on Archetypes. Once they had learned about the different types, they had to come up with what Mr. TJ is. It was super interesting – the Eagles see Mr. TJ slightly different than he sees himself. But isn’t that true for all of us? They then compared his Archetypes to his Core Values to make sure that they lined up. Each Eagle has a similar (optional) challenge in Journey Tracker to figure out their own Archetypes.

The Adventurers read Neil Armstrong and talked about that it wasn’t just a one-shot deal. He had supporting people that helped him along the way (allies and helpers), and that a big journey is never just you – it is all the people who help you along the way to make the journey work.

Civilizations with the Explorers was reading about Ancient Africa. They talked about the morals of stories and how people use stories as a way to pass on information and help people learn (before anyone could write). The Explorers talked about how even today we still tell stories to depict different ideas and ways of life.

For Civilizations, the Adventurers read about The Age of Crusades.They were asked if they agreed or disagreed with the opinion that the Christians staying inside Jerusalem as opposed to confronting Saladin’s army would have been a cowardly act.

Two responses that many Adventurers agreed with were that, “They should stay in the city, even if it is cowardly, because it is safer and the Saracens will tire themselves out” and that “They should stay because they might starve if they march to the battlefield.” One Adventurer came up with an approved plan to: “Keep half of the army at the city while the other half go to fight.”

The Civilizations discussion traveled back to Spain where the Adventurers were introduced to Rodrigo de Vivar, most commonly referred to as, El Cid. The Adventurers thought about the question: “Despite being vastly outnumbered, El Cid led his army to victory over the Islamic army in Valencia by carefully selecting the battlefield on which he would attack. Which skill is most important for a general? Knowing when to attack, knowing where to attack, or knowing how to attack (formations, weaponry, and so on)?”

One Adventurer explained that “It depends on the General and his skill set. They should use what he is the most knowledgable about to their advantage.”While another Adventurer replied that, “All of the skills listed are important.”

The Explorers read the story, Feeling Scared! They then discussed the questions: Who would like to share about a time when you felt scared? How did you overcome your fear? How did you show courage?

During Writer’s Workshop the Explorers learned about proper spacing when writing sentences and when to capitalize letters. They had to create mini books that contained at least one sentence. They also worked on short vowel sounds and long vowel sounds. They played games outside with chalk on the pavement and games inside with the moveable alphabets to practice noticing vowels in words.

The Adventurers have taken our new and improved Writer’s Workshop to heart and they have all been on a writing frenzy! Many of the prompts included in the Write About. This app asks one to explain their opinion about a variety of topics as well as provide a jumping off point for both fiction and non-fiction narratives. An example would be “Look at this painting by Rembrandt, what do you think the people in the boat are thinking? Saying? Feeling? What is their story? Why are they in this boat? Where are they going?”

The Explorers read A Hero’s Journey- Leonardo Da Vinci, then related it to the parts of the Hero’s Journey: What was Leonardo Da Vinci’s call to adventure? “He was curious about everything!!”

What obstacles did he face? “People thought he was weird!”

What was the treasure that he brought back to his community? “Drawing about scuba gear, tanks, helicopter, parachute, bridges and the Mona Lisa.”

During Art the Eagles worked on drawing fruit with chalk pastels and oil pastels. They learned techniques for shading and smudging and their pieces are very impressive.

Parent Lunch was a blast on Friday. I am always amazed by the deep thinking, pure hearts and true generosity of our community. Thank you everyone for keeping us strong and united as we pave the best path forward for our children to succeed in today’s world and to be equipped to handle challenges. I cannot wait to see what our Eagles accomplish in their futures!

PS – Reminder that we will be starting Thursday Adventure days in Ahern park and if your child needs a booster or car seat we will ask that you leave one at the studio that day! Here is a link to the Mifold basic if you choose to purchase a low-profile seat to keep at the school. Here is the folding one that’s even smaller.

PPS – Here is a link to Laura’s Blog on Acton Essential Element #3: Studio Contract.

Week 26

March 1, 2021

We welcomed 2 new Eagles this week! We have had fun getting to know them and are slowly starting to introduce them to how the studio works and the systems that we use. On Monday we spent time doing team building and getting-to-know-you activities.

We started the Coding and Robotics Quest this week!! The Eagles are very excited and they took on a bunch of coding challenges this week, including making a dance party, and learning the functioning of coding and what it actually means. They started with graph paper coding so that they could understand algorithms better. On this quest, Eagles embark on a journey to learn the basics of coding, a journey that culminates in a real-life exploration of the world of robotics.   

This quest is completed in teams, with most of the work done independently. All of the work on Code.org is completed by individuals, with the support and help of a team. It is completely self-paced with 19 lessons to complete for Adventurers and 9 lessons to complete for Explorers. Eagles keep track of their work, set goals, and earn points on the Journey Tracker. All robotics challenges are completed as a team. The goals of this quest include: 

*Gaining a basic understanding of programming concepts and how they apply to the real world in non-coding scenarios (concepts include algorithms, loops, conditionals, variables, and events)

*Honing and developing problem-solving skills through “debugging” 

*Developing an awareness and curiosity about the role technology currently plays and will play in their lives

*Learning about innovators and disruptors throughout history in various technology-related fields

The Belknap Mill was generous enough to donate the book Socks to our school. Socks was written and illustrated by 2 locals: ___ and Larry Frates. After reading the book, we talked about how the biggest industry in NH used to be textiles and a lot of forests were cleared to make pasture land for sheep.

The Eagles were able to play lots of board games this week – especially on Tuesday when we stayed inside due to the -22 degree wind chill!!

The Adventurers had a discussion about the difference between fun and exciting. They answered “exciting is a surprise, exciting means it’s cool, fun means happy, exciting is thrilling like a roller coaster.” Then they were asked “Can something be exciting but not fun? Like, what if you broke your arm. Would that be exciting? Would it make you happy? How do you feel on Christmas morning?” They ended up looking up exciting in the dictionary and it said “causes a commotion” then they discussed examples of when we get confused between when something is exciting or fun. They answered “When it is loud and crazy in here but we aren’t having fun, we are annoyed.” “If someone is yelling in a happy way, it can be very distracting even if they are happy.”

During Civilizations the Explorers talked about life in ancient China. They read the story of a 7 year old boy who woke up before sunrise to work in the fields with his father all day. They talked about how different that is from our current reality. This boy was expected to work all day, every day, in order to make sure that his family had enough food. The Eagles marveled that they are not expected to do that at all. They thought that it wasn’t right, and that kids should be able to play all day. They couldn’t quite grasp the idea that without someone working all day every day, they wouldn’t have things like a house, food to eat or clothes to wear.

During Civilizations the Adventurers read about The Age of Crusades – A Command From the Pope and Recapturing Jerusalem

The Adventurers were asked, “If you were devoutly religious in the Middle Ages, would you risk death to spread the word of your god to non-believers, or would you safely remain home with your family, simply living by your god’s words and values?”

The Adventurers who shared their thoughts responded that they would rather, “stay at home because it doesn’t matter what others think of your religion.” “Your religion should be private.”

The Adventurers pondered, “Agree or disagree: Because the Islamic empire did control Jerusalem at the time, it had the right to deny entry to Jews and Christians.”

When asked the above question, the Adventurers agreed that “they have the power to do that but it is not right.”

To relate to the story about the Crusades, the Adventurers were asked, “If an unarmed enemy army was on their way to invade Acton Academy, how would you keep our school safe with the resources you have available to you right now?”

This question captured everyone’s attention. Some of the ideas presented were to, “Take the desks and block the door”, “Grab forks from the kitchen”, “Barricade everything and find a hiding spot”, “Arm ourselves with anything sharp”, “I would ask them to leave”, and “Call 911.”

The Adventures read a Hero story about the life of Leonardo DaVinci. They were fascinated that he didn’t limit himself to be a specialist in just one thing and that he was an artist as well as an inventor, architect, engineer, scientist, dentist and a philosopher. They then were challenged to make a DaVinci bridge out of popsicle sticks. One group did succeed in this task and others came close!

The Explorers read the hero book, I am Neil Armstrong. They were asked: What was Neil’s call to adventure? “He loved flying airplanes and would dream of floating.”

What obstacles did he face? “He had many tests like ice water squirted in his ear.” “He was almost out of fuel and had to find a place to land.” 

What was the treasure that Neil brought back to his community? “Walking on the moon.” 

The Explorers wondered about how the astronauts ate their food and whether the flag was still on the moon. With research, we found out that all but Neil and Buzz’s flag remain standing on the moon. All flags are disintegrating and are theorized to have turned white from the sun’s rays!

Explorers read the book A New Alphabet for Humanity. (Thank you Frost family for this donation!). They also read Aesop’s Fables, The Fox and the Goat. The moral of this story is, “look before you leap.” 

The Explorers learned about 2D and 3D shapes and drawings this week. They even had to find spheres, cylinders, pyramids, cubes, and cones in the studio. They also dove deep into the parts of a sentence and how to create a sentence, including punctuation.

Art class was a huge hit this week. Ms Marilee had the Eagles draw “moody monsters” this week. They drew a monster figure/face which connected to a mood (i.e. happy, sad, angry, etc.) and then colored them with marker or watercolor. They had two choices – doing 3 different monsters on a 3 panel page or they could fold a piece of paper to make an 8 page book, illustrating a story of the moody monsters. Ask your child to explain their “moody monster story” when they get home – there are some really good ones!!

During music class the Adventurers have each chosen an instrument that they want to learn between keyboard, singing, guitar, bass guitar or drums. They have been tasked with figuring out the different parts of the instrument, how to use it and learning music theory. They are now starting to take online “lessons” of playing the instrument and will soon be playing them physically. The Explorers learned about choreography and how to memorize movements in a pattern that go with the beat of music.

DATES TO REMEMBER:

March 12 – parent lunch at Belknap Mill 11:30-1pm (please RSVP)
March 26 – parent coffee friday 8:15-9
April 1 – Coding and Robotics Exhibition 4pm
April vacation: April 5-9th

PS – Here is a link to Laura’s parent blog on Acton Essential Element #2: Growth Mindset

Week 25

February 15, 2021

This week the Eagles have focused on finishing all of their projects and getting ready for the Exhibition. They finished filming and uploading their Stop Animation films. Those in Writer’s Workshop finished their final drafts of their science fiction stories. They gathered all of their art work to display, especially the stained glass pieces.

We welcomed Ms. Jessalyn as our new part-time guide! She will still be doing music with the Eagles on Tuesdays but will now be at the studio M, W, F as well!

On Wednesday Mr. TJ read another chapter in the Steven Eagle adventure. Steven met Albert Einstein this week. The Eagles had a discussion about Einstein’s quote: “Logic can get you from A to B but imagination can get you everywhere else”

It took a looong time to walk to gym class and back because the Explorers were having so much fun on the crusty ice-snow. They were experimenting with how to break it and how fast they could run on it before falling in. They balanced on the top of mounds and held on to the fence to keep from falling. It was great to watch them exploring with so much curiosity!

For Hero stories this week the Adventurers read Walt Disney and talked about creativity. The Explorers read Sonia Sotomayor and discussed: What was her call to adventure? “To be a detective like Nancy Drew!” “To be a lawyer.” “To be a judge.” What obstacles did she face? “Diabetes” “Poor family.”

What was the treasure that she brought back to her community? “Being a female judge.” “Being a judge that was from a poor family.” Later in the week they watched a Sesame Street clip with guest, Sonia Sotomayor. “The Justice Hears a Case.” This helped explain what a supreme court justice does.

The Explorers had a discussion on Character Traits and Character Call-outs. They watched 5 Ways to Boost Confidence with Rocketkids. Those are: Say good things about yourself, visualize yourself succeeding, don’t give up, just smile, and prepare for setbacks. Ms. Kerry then asked: Which one of these will you try today? 

The Explorers read Aesop’s Fable, The Plane Tree. The lesson of this story is, “Our best blessings are often the least appreciated.” 

During Art this week the Eagles made Birch Tree Paintings with Ms. Marilee. They came out beautifully and will be going home today : )

On Friday the Eagles discussed the importance of play. They also reflected on the Quest and Exhibition and talked about how much they learned about working with a team and how different people can take on different roles in the team. Also about how sometimes it is hard when you have a good idea but no one else thinks so or when one person seems to “take over” the project. Overall the Eagles thought the Exhibition was a success – thank you all for coming! Here is the link to the stop animation films!

We all headed for an Opechee Park field trip on Friday afternoon. The Eagles loved playing in the snow and ice skating.

Have a wonderful February break and we will see you March 1! We are very excited for the start of the Coding and Robotics Quest next session : )

PS – Here is the next blog in the series of Essential Elements of An Acton: The Hero’s Journey

Please check the 2 photos below of what is left in the Lost and Found! Please send me an email if you think something is yours (the Acton long sleeve and sweatshirt are Youth Medium).

Week 24

February 8, 2021

The Eagles started filming their Stop Animation movies this week during quest! They are all so excited about this project and have built sets and backgrounds that portray short stories. They love this Quest so much that I actually overheard one Eagle staring at the clock and counting down the seconds 10, 9, 8….1…”It’s Quest time!” and everyone cheered and ran to get out their project.

We dove deep into Character Trait Focus and Character Call-outs by revisiting all the character traits we have talked about. Friendly, kind, respectful, responsible, and honest/trustworthy. The Eagles were asked: Who can show what each looks like? 

During Yoga this week the Eagles learned about the 5 elements of earth, air, water, fire and space. Ms. Catrina brought rocks and crystals and gems for them to hold and look at and they observed the different characteristics of the rocks. They practiced taking deep breaths and being aware of the space around them.

During music the Eagles used “boomwhackers” and are getting better at putting together rhythms and beats to make music! The Adventurers are continuing to work on their individual projects. They are making a TON of progress – making notations and writing musical pieces.

On Thursday the Adventurers read the story of Sonya Sotomayor. They talked about, can you look up to people even if they don’t have the same skin tone as you? If you can why? If you can’t why? They were asked to picture all the people that they look up to and think about their skin tone – is it the same as yours? It was an interesting thought experiment. Most of the adventurers realized that they only looked up to people who looked like them. (Except a few football players). This seemed to open their eyes a little to their current way of thinking and stretch them to consider expanding on their idols.

The Explorers read the Hero’s Journey of Walt Disney. What was Walt Disney’s call to adventure? “Drawing and wanting to create animation.” What obstacles did he face? “Lack of money and an unsupportive father” What treasure did he bring back to his community? “Movies!” “Disneyland!” “Mickey Mouse!”

The Eagles made heart men during Art. The Explorers first had to learn how to make hearts out of paper. Remember the number 2 rhyme? “Half a heart and you’re not through. Straight to the right makes a number 2.”

During Civilizations the Explorers learned about ancient China and the yellow river valley. They had Dynasties that lasted for hundreds of year. They were asked: Is that fair? They surprisingly thought that passing down power through a lineage was fair – as long as it wasn’t the same person for 500 yeas.

The Adventurers learned about the English code of chivalry during Civilizations this week. They learned that if a knight fell in love with a lady, he had to obey any order or task she gave him. They were then asked if this was a fair aspect in the code of chivalry? Were women given too much by knights in this era, or was it deserved because of the power men possessed? One Adventurer thought this was, “kind of fair because men could own the land.” While another Adventurer thought that, “the women should not make knights do whatever they want because the knights are already doing so much to protect the land and keep the country safe.” 

The Adventurers then heard about the life of a knight from being a page to becoming knighted. Part of being a knight is showing honor toward your lord and competing in jousting tournaments. The Adventurers pondered about which form of entertainment they would have rather observed, the Roman games at the Coliseum or the jousting tournaments in England? A few Adventurers answered that they would rather watch jousting “because it sounds cool’ while the majority would rather view the Roman games because “they sound more exciting because of the inclusion of animals.”

For Writer’s Workshop the Explorers learned a song with a tip to use to remember which letter is b and which letter is d. They also learned about Venn diagrams and how they are used to organize thoughts. For example, we can compare two peoples’ similarities and differences using a Venn diagram. Ms. Kerry read the storybook The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. Then the Explorers had to work together to fill out a Venn diagram comparing these 2 main characters. What is the same about them and what is different? Using rope on the carpet they made a Venn diagram. Then they sorted items using a Venn diagram- things that you can write with and things that are blue. This took a lot of time because they focused more on who would go first instead of getting the task done. They then debriefed on what went well and what didn’t. 

During Wednesday’s launch the Eagles watched a TED talk given by a 15 yr old from Sierra Leone. At age 12 he had figured out how to build and fix radios just using scraps that he found at the local junkyard. He was able to build a receiver and a microphone and he became a DJ at community events. He was spending all of his money on batteries so he build a rechargeable battery. At age 15 he created his own radio station and climbed on his family’s house to put up his antenna. He hired 2 friends to work for him and sold ads to make money. The Eagles were asked “What is your version of Calvin’s radio station? What is your version of something that you can do and work on in your spare time?” They answered “i could fix planes because that is what my Dad does, I could build plane motors because my Dad could teach me, I could rebuild and fix dirt bikes, I could do small engine repair, I could build bikes and spruce up old rusty ones and make them look new again, I could make a pop-up stand to sell my art, I could build robots from scrap, I could design and build a computer and my uncle could help me.”

The Eagles enjoyed their Valentine’s Pancake Breakfast! Lots of smiles and laughter and excitement in the air! Afterward they all handed out their Valentine’s cards and enjoyed a little free time. A big thank you to Heather and Jodi for helping with the event and making it a huge success!

If you haven’t grabbed your spot yet for coming to the Exhibition on Thursday please do so here!

Remember there is no school on Monday, President’s Day, but we look forward to seeing all of you at Journey Meetings that day!

PS – Please read Laura’s Blog on the 10 Essential Elements of a Learner-Driven Community at Acton. I am super excited for this series of blog posts and she is going to be diving deep into each element in future weeks!

Week 23

February 1, 2021

This week we started our second Quest of the session, Stop Animation. The Eagles had a ton of fun making flip books. They then broke into teams and started writing their story boards for the videos and they worked on making their background scenes for filming.

The Eagles role-played what to do in a scenario when someone “gets too close”. (Ex/ bumps into you intentionally while walking past you) They practiced how to respond with kindness while also standing up for themselves. “Please don’t bump into me” or “I don’t appreciate it when you do that” This was really hard for the Eagles but they were up to the challenge. We could tell how uncomfortable they were with using their words in a kind way instead of just immediately getting irritated or defensive. We will definitely be re-visiting this one!

On Wednesday the Eagles heard more of the Steven Eagle adventure. They talked about how to prepare for disappointment and failure and doing something about it. They used the example of asking someone for a playdate and then that person says no – how do you prepare yourself for that answer? The Eagles came up with “saying oh well”, “no big deal”, not taking it personally, being flexible, saying “it’s their loss, I can still have fun”. They talked about managing the risks that they enter into.

The Adventurers read Jim Henson’s Hero story this week. He believed that there is good in everyone. The Eagles discussed: Do people who do things that we see as wrong, feel justified in their actions? Does a bank robber think he is doing the right thing? “What if he was desperate? Would any life situations make that ok?” the Eagles were very engaged in this conversation and had differing opinions. Most of them said “no, that is never justified”.

The Explorers had a launch discussion on responsibility. They were asked: What are you responsible for at home? The Explorers responded with “keeping track of my sister when momma’s cooking, cleaning my room, brushing my teeth, helping my dad cook, and cleaning the living room”What are some things that you are responsible for at Acton Academy?

The Explorers came up with “treating others how they should be treated, keeping the materials organized, coming to circle prepared, being kind, not lying, doing my own work and not doing others’ work, working on my computer, focusing and not bothering other people, and getting your core skills done.” They then watched a video called Stop Making Excuses and role-played what to do if an Eagle is trying to chase you around inside during studio maintenance. (This often occurs) How could you be responsible for your actions? “Tell the Eagle to stop and let them know you’ll play the chasing game during free time.”

During yoga the Eagles learned about mudras (hand positions). They also practiced a few flows.

During art the Adventurers worked on a big stained-glass window project. They also did a drawing/creative thinking exercise. Ms. Marilee would pull a drawing prompt out of a cup and they had a limited time to draw it or what pops in their mind. The prompts were words, or photos or shapes and lines.

During Writer’s Workshop the Explorers learned about punctuation. They played: What’s missing at the end of this sentence? Ms. Kerry will read a sentence. Does it sound like it needs a period, question mark, or exclamation point at the end? Go and stand next to the ending punctuation that the sentence needs. (A period, question mark, and exclamation point were in three separate areas of the studio) They then sang a song about sentences.

The Adventurers who are participating in Writer’s Workshop this session are finishing their first drafts of their science fiction stories and revising with peers.

We let the Eagles talk about if they want to hand out Valentines or not. They decided that they will give Valentines to the people who they choose to give them to. This will happen next Friday the 12th. That is also the day when we will be having our annual Valentines Pancake Breakfast! Please remember NO CANDY in the Valentines. Thank you : )

We had a Town Hall to discuss studio maintenance. Some of the Eagles wanted to change the way things work and are delegated. It was great to see them handling an issue on their own without any intervention or encouragement from adults.

A quick reminder that if you haven’t done so yet, please fill out your Journey Meeting Ticket with your Eagle if you would like to schedule a Journey Meeting for Feb. 15th!

PS – Read Laura’s blog on how Acton is for the Long Haul not the Quick Fix

PPS – I will be sending out an email shortly with a link for scheduling your Exhibition time slot for the 18th. We will have 4 times available, every half hour from 3-5 on Feb. 18th.

PPS – The public hearing for HB20 will continue on Feb. 11th at 9am, here is a link to a copy of the email I received from the Children’s Scholarship Fund that tells more detail about Educational Freedom Accounts and how you can help support this bill!! Thank you to everyone who sent an email to your legislators and/or gave testimony – this would be huge if it came to fruition.


Week 22

January 25, 2021

On Monday the Explorers were rewarded for their amazing work ethic during core skills last week with a field trip to Opechee Park! They ice skated and played on the playground and in the snow. They had a blast!

We were fortunate enough to have 3 excellent guest speakers join us on Monday for our Frank Lloyd Wright architecture quest. We had 2 architects from Misiaszek and Turpin and one of our Acton parents, Cindy Thibault from Balanced Interiors, who all discussed design and how to take 2D blueprints and convert them into 3D models. The Eagles started building their models with foam board and finalizing their design ideas. It was really fun to see all of the Eagles show their blueprints to the architects – especially some of our youngest Eagles who stood right up fearlessly to present their ideas.

During Writer’s Workshop the Adventurers worked on how to critique each other’s science fiction pieces. They learned the rules for critiques: Be kind, be specific, be helpful, critique the work not the person. They also learned the difference between warm and cool feedback.

Writer’s Workshop for the Explorers was spent practicing writing numbers. They used whiteboards and learned number rhymes and even had a super fun time writing numbers in shaving cream!! They also worked on rhyming words and matching pairs of words that rhymed.

We introduced a decibel meter to the studio that we will be using during core skills time. If the Eagles get too loud, there is a loud beeb to remind them to quiet down. It has worked remarkably well and the Eagles are taking it seriously!

We spent a lot of time talking about accountability this week. The Eagles practiced how to “call each other out” with positive language instead of being snippy/harsh. We have noticed such a huge difference in the studio culture as we see the leaders stepping up to hold each other accountable and not letting things slip by. They are starting to even be able to quiet each other with a simple look and not even having to use words! So effective!

We introduced running squads this week, which is another part of accountability. In the Acton Academy model, Eagles are put into Running Squads or they have a Running Partner who they check in with weekly on their goals and progress with certain tasks. We have given each Faction Head a checklist for weekly meetings where they can check in with everyone.

Mr. TJ continued the Badge Plan check-ins and we are starting to see many more milestones being awarded and even a few badges! Very exciting to see them finally taking the initiative to record their progress.

During Yoga, Ms. Catrina brought in a bunch of different essential oils and talked with the Eagles about how oils are used and the effects that they can have. The studio smelled wonderful afterward! : )

Music was fun, as always, with the Adventurers working on their individual music projects and the Explorers learning more about beats and rhythms. The Eagles worked more on their stained glass windows during Art. They had a fun time at gym, although a large number of Adventurers were not at the gate ready to leave for gym at the appropriate time. If you do not line up in time for gym, you are left behind. Those Eagles were very disappointed as they served out their consequence back at the studio and we look forward to seeing how early they line up next week!

Civilizations with the Adventurers was all about England After the Conquest – Stone Castles:

Many English farmers rioted when William gave parts of English land to his knights, refusing commands, throwing rocks at their horses, and even burning down their houses. The Eagles were asked, “Did the knights deserve this retaliation because they were imposing on the farmers’ land? Or were the farmers too violent toward people who were simply following orders and accepting a gift from their king?”

The majority of the Eagles thought that the farmers were being too violent. “It’s not right to retaliate but I can understand why they would do it.” “The knights were just accepting orders. Maybe the knights could have given the peasants more land to grow food.”

The Eagles thought about castles and the small houses made of wood and mud that serfs occupied. They were asked, “Is a child’s physical home environment less important, more important, or just as important as the parents that raise him or her?”

The Eagles were divided on their views about this. One Eagle said that, “the people raising them were more important because if no one was taking care of you, then you would die.” Another Eagle thought, “the home environment is more important because it affects the child and could be uncomfortable.” While yet another Eagle shared that, “both were equally important because your home keeps you warm and your parents get you stuff.”

The discussion continued with the question, “Do you think castles would create greater leaders because of what it exposes them to at a young age? Or do smaller houses, because of the hard work that children must learn at a young age?”

There was an unanimous view expressed amongst the Eagles. Smaller serf homes were believed to create greater leaders because, “a smaller house means you learn more and a bigger house would lead you to being spoiled.” “A smaller house would make you understand the importance of hard work.” “A smaller house would teach you how to take care of yourself and learn how to grow your own food.”

We had a great discussion on Wednesday that focused on Amanda Gorman. The Eagles talked about all of the obstacles that she had to overcome, especially having a speech impediment and a hard time saying her “r’s” and here she is today, age 22, the youngest Poet Laureate ever.

The Explorers read the Hero’s Journey of Gandhi. They were once again surprised by the injustices that people with colored skin had to face. “That’s mean!” “That’s unfair!” They understood that Gandhi’s call to adventure was his desire to create equality for the Indian people and give them the tools to stand up for themselves in a non-violent way. The Explorers shared examples of what they thought was a need vs a want. “Do we need remote control cars?” “No!” “Do we need a house (shelter)?” “Yes!” They heard about and acknowledged the many obstacles that Gandhi had overcome to bring the treasure of independence back to his community. 

The Adventurers read about Amelia Earhart’s Hero’s Journey and then Mr TJ showed them a video from when he was hang gliding. They were definitely inspired by her call to adventure.

On Friday we had a great Parent Coffee morning circle launch on how to keep a space sacred and what that means. They discussed how they can make the studio a special place so that anyone who enters can feel how special it is. They discovered through their conversation that it isn’t all about the physical space but it is also the people who are in it that make a space special. The way they treat each other can effect the environment. If you missed the Facebook Live – no worries! – it will be posted on our Facebook page for the next 30 days so you can go back and watch it if you missed it live.

PS – Check out Laura’s blog here on What Does it Take to Thrive at Acton Academy?


Week 21

January 18, 2021

The Adventurers had a few ups and downs this week. They were struggling with adhering to the contract and rules of engagement. Especially the rule of “Treat others as I would want to be treated”. It came to a breaking point on Thursday and the Eagles were told that they either find a way to shape up and live the contract as we know they can, or they would lose all of their freedom levels. This spurred them to call an emergency town hall meeting at the end of the day on Thursday to discuss how they would act better in the future and how they could help each other. We were so proud of them today! They stepped up to the challenge and were constantly keeping each other accountable all throughout the day. Discussions were much more respectful and voices were lowered. It is amazing to see them at their best, and frustrating when they are letting themselves slip and we know their potential. All in all, we were happy with the outcome but the threat of lost freedom will hang over their heads for a little while more to make sure that we don’t lose this positive momentum.

The Adventurers had a task this week to describe each other in positive words and phrases. They were challenged to see the best in each other and write it down. Mr. TJ started the process by telling them how he saw each of them and the Heroes and geniuses that reside inside of each of our Eagles.

For civilizations this week the Explorers discussed The Assyrians and the story of Gilgamesh. The Assyrians story was focused around Shamshi-Adad and how his dictatorship compared to Hammurabi and his code. They also discussed Gilgamesh and how Enkida standing up to him and becoming his friend caused him to become a kinder person in the long run. We connected this idea to our own lives and how we can manage bullies.

Civilizations with the Adventurers continued the history of ‘England After the Conquest.’

After King Harold died in England, French-speaking kings ruled for almost three hundred years. The wealthy and the educated also took to the French language. The Eagles were asked, “Imagine you were a proud English farmer when Harold died. As the French language grows in popularity, are you less of an Englishman if you speak only French?” One Eagle disputed that, “you can’t be both.” You are either an Englishman or you are a Frenchman living on English land. Others believed that it doesn’t matter what language you speak and that, “you can choose to speak any language you want to.”

The Eagles were also asked, “Is having one language for a whole empire more or less useful than having one religion?” The majority of Eagles thought that everyone having the same language would be more useful because, “it would make communication easier.”

When William the Conqueror became king of England, he took all of the land as his own and required the inhabitants to follow feudalism. The Eagles thought about the question, “Is feudalism, where every person in society serves someone else, a fair or unfair system? How so?”

The Eagles were divided with their opinions on the fairness of feudalism. One Eagle responded that the system was, “fair because everyone has a job.” While two other Eagles rejected this notion and chimed in that it was, “unfair because the lord has more” and “the peasants seem like they have a lot more work to do.”

Yoga was fun with Ms. Catrina. The Eagles worked on balance and learned different yoga poses.

During music the Eagles continued writing their own music. They were tasked with deciding if they would rather play an instrument or sing. Those who chose to sing have to first write poetry because all songs start as poetry. Those that choose an instrument have begun writing notes and stringing them together in musical notation.

Gym class focused on strength stations. The Explorers ended their class with a glow-in-the-dark dance party! Ms. Trish had glow bracelets that they were able to earn during class.

Ms. Marilee has brought an aspect of our Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture Quest into art class. He was known for his stained glass designs and the Eagles are working on making their own stained glass pieces! They are using tape, tissue paper and acrylic material and they may even do a big project on the 3 paned window that overlooks the backyard.

Mr. TJ (dressed as Dr. Petzel) continued the Hero story of Steven Eagle. This week Steven went back in time and met George Washington. George Washington’s wisdom is now something that the Eagles can earn to add to their Avatars.

Writers Workshop continued science fiction pieces. On Tuesday the Eagles practiced showing rather than telling. (Instead of saying “this person did that, then this, then this”, show with adjectives and describe the scene so readers can imagine it). They did an exercise where someone would come into the room and show an emotion, then everyone else had to describe the emotion in writing. On Thursday the Eagles watched a video on the Pixar story telling rules of how to develop a great story idea. They talked about how to make an aspect of their story surprising to their readers. Then they each had to write 150 words minimum on their stories.

During Writer’s Workshop the Explorers learned about the short and long form of vowels.They sang songs and then had to draw a picture of something that starts with the long vowel sound for each one of our vowels.They also had an in-depth discussion on the letter Y. On Thursday they learned about syllables.

During Quest the Eagles had their second round of feedback about their drawings. We were super excited to receive an actual model of a boat house and real blueprints from the architects at Misiaszek Turpin, who will be our guest speakers on Monday.

We took time to watch the historical Inauguration on TV. We only watched the band play and the oaths of office. We were able to keep the political conversation at bay, and instead focused on the historical significance of having the first woman and minority to be Vice President of the United States.

The Explorers read a story from 7 Habits of Happy Kids and discussed how to begin with the end in mind. Ms. Kerry asked them how making a goal before starting Core Skills helps them achieve their goal? They also read A Hero’s Journey- Jim Henson. The Explorer’s recognized that Jim Henson’s call to adventure came when he watched variety shows and comedy acts on television. He knew that he wanted to use his creativity to make puppets and bring people laughter through the television. One Explorer shared that Jim Henson’s treasure that he brought to viewers was to “keep believing and imagining.” 

The Explorers had a Town Meeting about how they walk to gym. They were asked:

Who likes walking in a line to the gym? Does that mean that if your friend is in the front you can’t talk to him/her the whole way to the gym? What if you need to run back inside to get your gloves? Should you be allowed to go back to your same spot? How should you speak to people when they cut you in line? How should your voice sound? What should the rules be for walking to and from the gym?

The Explorers discussed their thoughts about these questions. Only 3 of the 10 Explorers like walking in a line! Many of the Explorers don’t like being yelled at when they cut because they believe that they should be able to walk freely. The town meeting concluded with the agreement that there will be no line on the walk to and from the gym. Explorers will be allowed to walk and talk with anyone as long as they stay between the 2 adults.

Next Friday, Jan 29th will be a virtual Parent Coffee Friday. We will be live streaming on our Facebook page starting at 8:30am!

PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog titled: Loosen the Collar and Let Go of the Leash


Week 20

January 11, 2021

We started off the week with a discussion on SMART Goals. We did this at the beginning of the year but the concept will need many repetitions before it sticks for good! : ) We asked the Eagles what their goals are and they said “minutes in Lexia!’ and “gaining Freedom levels”. We talked about how we all have different goals because we are all different people. We asked “why should we set goals?” They said “So that you focus on tasks, so that you get better at something, and they also said not to set it too high or too low.” We asked them to give examples of a perfect goal for themselves.

We said goodbye to Ms Kristin this week, as she goes off on a new Hero’s Journey. We welcomed our new part-time Guide, Ms. Katelyn on Friday.

In Civilizations, the Explorers learned about the Hammurabi Code and the rules and laws based around it. They talked about whether they were they fair, unreasonable, strict? How are they like the rules that the Eagles wrote in their Studio Contract? Mr. TJ was impressed that the younger Eagles drew the line between ‘treat others how I want to be treated’ and Hammurabi’s ‘an eye for an eye’ they said it was the same concept but in the other direction. Very insightful for a 6 yr old!!

During civilizations, the Adventurers heard stories from the chapter, The First Kings of England – The Battle of Hastings. Upheaval restarted in England when aging King Edward the Confessor did not have any heirs to the throne. His advisors decided to nominate a nobleman, Harold, to be his successor. When word reached Normandy of this decision, King Edward’s distant cousin, William, did not agree. He believed that he should inherit the throne because he was related to the king. William then played a trick on Harold to make him swear on the bones of saints that he would renounce the throne and give it to William. When Harold did not uphold his oath, William and his Normish army invaded Harold’s English army. William succeeded in defeating Harold and thus took the throne. He was then known as William the Conqueror.

The Adventurers shared their thoughts about the idea that because Harold was tricked, would it be ethical for him to break his promise even though it was on sacred bones? Or should a promise be upheld regardless of the circumstances under which it was made?

The Adventurers all agreed they should uphold their promise, but William should not have tricked him in the first place. One Adventurer said that William should not be able to be king either because he did not show good character.

What if one of the Eagles that you are really good friends with, threatens to stop being your friend, if you don’t agree to do something that you really don’t want to do, like stealing someone’s belongings? Would you risk losing that friendship right away by saying no or would you agree to do it, but not follow through, and hope that you could still be friends?

All Adventurers said that they would not agree to do it. “If someone makes you do something you don’t want to do, then they are not a good friend.”

“It would be peer pressure.”

“They would be pushing you to get strikes.”

This week the Explorers read Aesop’s Fables, Hercules and the Wagoner. The moral of the story is, “Self help is the best help. Heaven helps those who help themselves.” They were asked: Why would Hercules not help the farmer? What was Hercules waiting for the farmer to do? (To stop whining and put some effort into helping himself) How have you shown that you have put effort into your core skills today? Who made it so your goals were achieved? 

The Explorers had board game time this week but there was a catch. Playing time wouldn’t begin until everyone is in a group. Explorers had to figure this out without the aid of a Guide. This took about 15 minutes because one Explorer would not compromise and join any of the groups that were already formed. Finally, one of the other Explorers decided that he would play the game that the other Explorer wanted to play. He took one for the team and board game time finally began!

During Quest, the Adventurers have been developing their understanding of scale, measurement and architecture. Some of them have started their first drafts of their building designs. The Eagles also took it upon themselves to reform a few of the groups for this project. The Explorers worked on their playground design. They found images of world-class playgrounds for inspiration and then drew a first draft of their ideal playground. They then took their drawings and learned how to draw to scale. Mr TJ took them out to our playground to measure how big everything is so that they could have an idea of sizes.

We continued the Steven Eagle Hero story and the Eagles talked about risk and seeing a task through to its end even when you might want to give up.

During yoga, the Eagles had to focus on peacock feathers as they balanced them on their fingertips.

During music, the Eagles explored different genres of music that they were personally interested in and learned about the artists and production of music.

During Writer’s Workshop the Explorers continued to work on learning how to write the date and how to write all the months in the year. They sang the months of the year song and a song about January by Jack Hartman. They also learned about vowels and worked on Character callouts. The Adventurers continued working on their Science Fiction pieces and collecting real scientific data that they can include in their stories.

The Explorers read the Hero’s Journey story of Jackie Robinson this week. Many Explorers didn’t understand why people were treated differently because of their skin color. “That’s mean!” they said. A few of the Explorers knew that race discrimination is prevalent today. All Explorers agreed that Jackie Robinson brought the treasure of uniting people of different skin colors. He helped people of different skin colors communicate and share their love of baseball with one another. 

The Adventurers heard the Hero story of Abe Lincoln. They talked about how the country was so divided during the time of Lincoln. They discussed how there is also a very big divide in our country in the present day. We did not go into details on what is happening today but just looked at it in a broad perspective. Mr. TJ asked them “When is the value of freedom no longer worth the cost we pay for it?” They considered how everyone has a limit and a line that they will stop at and each person’s is different.

The Adventurers had a real-life learning experience with studio maintenance this week. One Eagle , in particular, has been single-handedly re-doing most people’s studio maintenance jobs to keep the studio neat and clean. This week that Eagle went on strike. Needless to say, the studio got worse and worse each day and on Friday morning each Eagle was sent individually into the studio to critique it. They were aghast! They also learned how that 70% of your productivity is relative to your work environment and this week their points, on average, had gone down 60%! Needless to say, everyone is onboard with taking studio maintenance more seriously.

The Explorers had a socratic discussion on Respect. They each had to say one way that they would strive to be more respectful. We heard “not shove or kick”, “not harm the materials”, “say please and thank you”, “treat others as they want to be treated”.

All of the Eagles had individual check-ins with Mr TJ and Ms Kerry this week to discuss their Badge plans and how they are progressing.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Parent Coffee Friday, January 29th 8:30am – this will be a Facebook Live Stream instead of an in-person event. If you have not yet liked our Facebook page – please do so! : )

Valentine’s Day Pancake Breakfast (an Acton tradition!) Friday, February 12th – This is for the Eagles only but I would love to have 1 or 2 parent volunteers to help, if possible! Please let me know if you are available thank you!

Journey Meetings Feb. 15th, all day – I will be sending out the calendar soon to book your Journey Meeting with the guides and your Eagle.

Exhibition Thursday February 18th, 3pm – This will be in person but we are working on a flow design where 4 families at a time will come to the studio. More info once we get closer to the date!

PS – Here is a blog on An Acton Academy Parent Mindset Shift to free you!

PARENT CHALLENGE: When you pick your Eagle up from school, I challenge you to not say “How was your day today?” and instead ask “What did you have the most fun doing today?” and “What was the hardest part of your day?” If they say “I don’t know” then ask “Were you more challenged in math today or reading?”


Week 19

January 4, 2021

Everyone was ready and energized to come back to school after a long Holiday Break!

We started the week with a discussion on who is responsible for your experiences? What controls your experiences? The Eagles came up with your beliefs, your soul, your choices, and yourself and attitude.

Our first Quest this session is Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture. In this quest, Eagles play the role of architects designing ideal Acton Academy buildings for new owners. The Explorers will be designing playgrounds and the Adventurers will be designing Buildings. This quest is completed in pairs, with challenges taking Eagles through the process of designing a building: research, design (drafting/sketching), and construction (model building). The goals of this quest include: to introduce the Eagles to architecture as a calling and the heroes who chose it, to inspire a love of design and creation, and to instill a deeper understanding of process and the importance of knowing when to follow instructions and when to take your own path. Eagles will learn about architecture as a calling, scaling and applied mathematics, precision and attention to detail, and working within creative constraints. A few of the Adventurers are also acting as Project Managers for the Explorer groups.

The Eagles started Quest with a slideshow of beautiful buildings in all types of styles around the world. They then discussed: How do you feel when you enter your house? (safe, happy, relaxed) What about a haunted house? (scared, anxious, creepy) And they discussed how the design of a building can emit feelings in the people who enter. They practiced measuring by going on scavenger hunts to measure all sorts of things in the studio. They learned the history of measurements and how it used to be local tradition and every region had different standards until the French Revolution. They also learned how to scale measurements and what that means. It was funny at first because the Eagles were all looking for an actual scale to weigh something until Mr. TJ intervened with a quick mathematics session.

During Civilizations the Adventurers heard stories from the chapter, The First Kings of England – The Vikings Invade England and Alfred the Great. The Adventurers learned that the Vikings invaded the British Isles and showed no respect to the people that were already living there. They then learned that a kingdom in southern England appointed a nobleman named Alfred to serve as king. After a devastating surprise invasion by the Vikings, Alfred went into hiding for a few months and posed as a peasant. During that time, he secretly communicates with farmers throughout the kingdom to build an army. By the time the English army was compiled of enough men, the Viking army had become bored and diminished in size. The English army, under Alfred’s command, were able to drive the Vikings off the battlefield and eventually surrendered to Alfred’s army. The Adventurers pondered whether they would accept their new lives and become slaves, fight to the death, or attempt to flee if the vicious Vikings came to invade their land. A majority of the Adventurers decided to unite with like-minded townspeople and fight to the death! They thought it was worth the risk to fight since the Vikings would either sell them as slaves or kill them anyway. They also heard the Hero story of Ghandi. They couldn’t believe how much people are not treated equally and were impressed by his fortitude and hunger strike and willingness to sacrifice his own comfort for other people.

The Explorers Civilization time was hearing the story of Abraham and Sarah. They were asked what they would do if a God, or booming voice, told them to pick up and go somewhere without any explanation, would they go? The Eagles were very divided in their answers. They also heard the story of Abraham Lincoln. His call to adventure occurred when he saw a boat full of slaves chained together. He couldn’t get that image of injustice out of his mind and he knew he had to do something about it.

They talked about a part in the story where Abraham Lincoln came across kids being mean to turtles. What if you came across some of the Eagles being mean to a squirrel in the yard. Would you stand up to the kids harming the squirrel or would you do nothing and let them keep hurting the squirrel? How come? All of the Explorers said they would be like Abraham Lincoln and try to protect the squirrel because hurting the squirrel is mean.

In Writer’s Workshop the theme for Adventurers this session is Science Fiction. We kicked off the introduction into this genre by watching a scene from Star Trek! This week the Eagles worked on pre-writing and had to find 10 interesting facts and real info that they will need to incorporate into their stories based on their chosen science-fiction theme.

Writer’s Workshop for Explorers this week was focused on writing the date. They saw the date displayed on the whiteboard as January 5, 2021 and as 1/5/21. They each had their own calendar to explore. They talked about how many months are there in a year and practiced writing the date. They also worked on word math problems. Ms Kerry used the Eagles as characters in the stories. For example, Kyle has 3 Tech Decks and Walter has 2 Tech Decks. How many do they have in all? The Explorers had to write math sentences to go along with the word problems that they heard. 

The Adventurers discussed the caste system in more depth that they learned about in Civilizations. When people are born into a caste system, it determines their social status, career, and access to resources and opportunities. Whatever family you are born into (ex/ builder, prince, cook, plumber) you will stay forever. You are not allowed to move up and down in society. They discussed do we, in America, have a caste system? They said no because you can start a business or do whatever you want to make as much money as you can. Why not have a caste system? The Eagles said because it’s mean and not fair and you don’t have a choice about the family work you are born into. They deliberated on What is fair? Is equal fair?

The Eagles had a visit this week from Dr. Petzel, Socrates and The Time Keeper. (Mr TJ continued to read the Hero’s story of Steven Eagle).

During Music the Eagles learned more about notes and actually took a try at writing their own music!

Yoga was fun this week with Ms. Catrina – the Explorers used a parachute to think about breathing and mindfulness.

The Explorers read Aesop’s Fables, The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf. The moral of this story is, “Liars are not believed even when they speak the truth.” They discussed: How come no one believed him? Trustworthiness- to be reliable, be honest, does not cheat or steal, and you do what’s right no matter what others are doing. They watched a video about being trustworthy. They were asked: What would you do if you found something on the ground here at school that you knew belonged to someone else? Would you give it back to them or would you take it and keep it as your own? All Explorers said they would give it back. 

The week started with saying goodbye to 2 of our fellow travelers who have moved onto their next Hero’s Journey. The week ended with a beautiful signing of the contract ceremony for the 3 Eagles who were not with us at the beginning of the year. They also were able to add their handprints to the entrance wall!

We also had several Badges and milestones earned this week! Remember to check in with your Eagle at home and ask how they are doing on their badge plan. There are a bunch of Adventurers who have done the work to earn badges but just need to do that final step of submitting the badge on Journey Tracker or taking the tests on Kahn academy.

PS – Our summer camp registration is now live on the website for both camps. You can register here.

PPS – Here is a blog about Journey Tracker and what to look for in the program and questions to ask your Eagle.