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).
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!
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.
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?
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
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.
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?”
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.
December 28, 2020
Our final week of Session 3 ended with 37 inches of snow and a remote day of learning at home!
During Civilizations this week, the Adventurers were introduced to a few of the Norse Gods. They listened to the story of Thor and Skymer. Thor is the God of Thunder and Skymer is a boastful giant. Thor goes to steal Skymer’s horn full of mead and does not succeed because of Skymer’s trickery. Thor accepts all of Skymer’s challenges, but fails at each one. Thor questions his own strength until Skymer announces that the tasks he challenged Thor with were much harder than what they appeared to be and Thor actually did a lot better at them than what he expected. Thor was angered by this deceit and went to strike the giant with his mighty hammer, when all of a sudden, everything vanished and he was standing in a lonely forest.
The Adventurers then had to discuss: What do you think is the strongest moral in the story of Thor and Skymer?
A bad temper never serves you,
Respect the elderly, or
Overindulgence in food and drink is unhealthy.
Which will you embrace the most as you continue to grow? Most of the Adventurers that shared their opinion decided that respecting the elderly and not overindulging in food and drink would be the best lessons to follow according to this story.
The Explorers talked about the first Sumerian dictator. We discussed what living is like under a dictatorship. They were asked the question: Would you rather live under a dictator in peace or have to fight but live in a free state and the Explorers chose to live with a dictator in peace.
As you will see in the pictures below, the Adventurers have had fun making themselves forts around their desks. This has actually proven to increase their work accomplished substantially, since they can hide out in their quiet forts and not distract each other. They call them “cribs”.
During Kindness Quest on Monday the Eagles filled their tie dyed pillowcases with essential items for New Beginnings. There are 2 pictures below of what we put in the adult and child packages. (Toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, soap, combs, chap stick, coloring books, stuffed animals, etc). 2 Eagles were chosen to hand deliver the packages and the staff at New Beginnings were overjoyed and so grateful!
During Quest on Wednesday we went Christmas caroling all over downtown Laconia! This “random act of kindness” made a lot of people smile – in particular a construction crew that started hammering to “jingle bells” and some people at Fit Focus who followed us from window to window. And we had a lot of waves. We ended our caroling spree with hot chocolate at Wayfarer. The Eagles who chose to not carol stayed back making the Exhibition video that will be shared with you all shortly in a separate email. (They are still finishing it today, delayed because of the snow day!)
During writer’s work shop, the Eagles are working on Essays that are at least 2 pages long. The theme is free writing about kindness.
The Eagles had a Monday discussion about how much they needed to focus this week to wrap up the Quest and other projects before break. They talked about how to support each other (by not distracting each other during focus time).
The Eagles enjoyed music class on Tuesday and gym/yoga.
Although we had a short week – we accomplished a lot!!
We hope that everyone has safe, healthy and happy Holidays! See you in 2021!!!
December 7, 2020
We have seen such amazing behavior from the Eagles this week! They have really stepped into kindness and have been very supportive of each other and helpful. It is a joy to see!
On Monday, the Eagles decorated the studio for the Holidays! They put on Christmas music and we turned on a fireplace picture on the TVs. We capped off the event with a small Holiday Toast to health and happiness (sparkling cider!).
During our Random Acts of Kindness Quest/Community Service this week, we walked all over downtown Laconia placing our kindness rocks (the rocks they painted last week with positive sayings). The Eagles had such a great time and acted very respectfully out in public. They also finished writing their cards to soldiers, first responders and the elderly who are in quarantine or hospice. They learned about All Kids Bike charity that helps bring bikes to underprivileged schools across the country. They also learned about the environmental charity POW (Protect Our Winters).
During Civilizations, the Adventurers learned about the Vikings and Leif Erickson, the Norse adventurer who was the first European to set foot on North America way before Christopher Columbus. They talked about whether or not, if they were explorers, would they stay in this fertile new land with trees and grass that also held fierce natives that wanted to kill you, or would you get back on your ship and go back to the cold, barren (but safe) land that you had come from, and why.
The Explorers Civilization time held stories of the old kingdom of Egypt and the development of pyramids and mummies. They discussed whether spending all of the King’s money on immortalizing himself with a big funeral and mummification process was the best thing to do or should the money have been spent on caring for the citizens and making the Kingdom a better place.
Mr TJ launched a great discussion on the Hero’s Journey, which is a common theme here at Acton. The Eagles reviewed all of the stages of the Hero’s Journey and then later in the week had to identify the stages from a story of a historical Hero. The Adventurers read a Hero story about Jackie Robinson and were aghast at the racial disparities of the times. They really couldn’t understand why he wasn’t allowed to play professional baseball because of his skin color or that people threw rocks at him because of his skin color. They identified that his allies and helpers were his mom, his teammates and Branch Rickey, president of the Dodgers. They talked about how the “normal world” was before he entered the major leagues and the “special world” was after. The Explorers read about Amelia Earhart as a Hero and they identified that her “call to adventure” was when Frank Cox took her up in his plane when she was 23 and she knew he had to be a pilot. They also recognized that the “treasure that she brought back to the community” was proving that a woman could do it and giving others the courage to follow their dreams.
The Eagles practiced more beats at music and did a lot of movement songs with clapping, stomping and snapping patterns. They also enjoyed their caroling club and getting ready for caroling next week!
At gym, the Eagles worked on coordination with tossing different objects and playing with drum sticks on the big yoga balls. They also did freeze dance – always a crowd hit : ) The Adventures competed in tug of war!
Yoga with Ms. Catrina was great this week – they explored peacock feathers and worked on focus and breathing mindfully.
We tie dyed pillowcases on Friday. Next week, we will fill them with essential supplies for New Beginnings, the women’s crisis shelter in Laconia.
The Explorers have been working on rhyming words.They read stories and talked about perseverance and kindness. They also have been working on writing out number sentences.
Our Exhibition will be a recorded video sent out via email at 12pm on Thursday. We are going to request that you reply to the email with your feedback on the video and how well it explained the Quest. We need your responses by 8:30am on Friday so that the Eagles can reflect on their work! Thank you for supporting them in this.
Ready or not, winter weather is upon us! Acton Academy participates in the WMUR School Closings notification system. If you don’t already have this web page saved or this app installed on your phone and/or computer – do so now! More info: https://www.wmur.com/weather/closings We usually follow the Laconia School District when deciding to close and/or call for a 2-hour delay (i.e. start at 10am instead of 8am). However, we have staff and families from a wider geographic area (Meredith, Concord, Belmont, Wolfeboro, etc.), so we may close or delay opening if weather conditions make travel unsafe, and sometimes we will be open when the Laconia schools are not. It is always your choice to drive or not so please stay safe if the roads in your area are not drivable. I will also send an e-mail to families. My goal is to decide by 6:00pm the night before, to give families time to make other plans – but sometimes early decisions aren’t possible – if not, a decision will be made by 6:00am that morning at the latest! Please text me if you have not heard anything and are wondering on our decision.
PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog about the 2 Biggest Reasons we use the Hero’s Journey as a foundation for our school.
November 30, 2020
We packed a lot into this week and we have a TON of photos to share with you! We welcomed Ms. Kristin to our team this week and the Eagles (and staff) LOVE her! Please feel free to introduce yourself if you see her around at drop off in the morning : )
Over the break we installed 5 HEPA air filters in the studio. These are a step up from just an air purifier but actually filter the air and can capture things like pollen, viruses, bacteria, mold and PM2.
Our Quest this session is centered on Community Service and Random Acts of Kindness. The Eagles painted rocks with positive saying like “Shine Bright” or “You’ve got this” and we will be leaving the rocks all around downtown Laconia for people to find. They also started drafting letters to soldiers, first responders and the elderly who are not able to have visitors during the holidays. During Art this week the Adventurers designed their own Christmas cards that they will be using for this project. Explorers will be drawing pictures to include in the cards. Another part of this quest is that the Eagles are learning about various types of charities and how giving back can effect a community.
A heads up to everyone that our next Exhibition is going to be “virtual”. We are still figuring out if it will be a live recording or pre-recorded but we will let you know asap.
We had our first Music class this week with Ms. Jess!!! The Eagles were so excited and had a blast. Ms. Jess talked to them about music from Africa and they tapped out beats and used some shakers. She is planning to take them on a “journey around the world” in music and show them what music is like in various cultures. During this session we are having an extra music class on Thursdays for everyone that wants to be part of the Caroling Club. This ties back to our Kindness Quest – the Eagles who wish to will be caroling all around town to the different businesses and spreading Holiday cheer.
During Gym the older Eagles worked on strength training and the Explorers played games in the dark with the disco ball and also learned about different types of food and how they effect your body. They all picked plastic food from a bin that they liked and afterward they found out that if they picked all cookies and sweets then they had to do laps for everything sugary but if they had picked nutritious food they didn’t have to!
We welcomed our new yoga instructor, Ms. Catrina this week! She has taught yoga in many of the local schools and we are thrilled to have her at Acton!
During Civilizations the Explorers learned about the ancient Egyptians made paper (papyrus) and used hieroglyphics and cuneiform. They loved reading a story about the God Osiris and his wife Isis who once ruled Egypt. (Osiris was the first mummy!) The Adventurers learned about the Great Kings of France.They heard the story of Charles the Hammer and Charlemagne.
On Monday we had a guest speaker from our parent community, Aaron Chase, who spoke with the Eagles about bike park culture. Aaron is a professional athlete and the Eagles respected his authority on the subject. Since that discussion we have noticed a HUGE positive change in the language (cheering each other on) and encouragement and respect of our bikers. Friday Adventure was for the entire Studio this week! The Eagles have been working so hard during Core Skills and we wanted to reward their focus with a trip to the new skate park and Opechee Park. They would have made you all proud if you had seen that field trip – it was so packed with fun and positivity and energy and the Eagle were super respectful to each other and to strangers.
We had several powerful launch discussions this week. One was about the scientific finding of Dr. Masaru Emoto and his photographs of water crystals. The Eagles were able to see pictures of what happens to water on a molecular level when it is exposed to love and gratitude vs. anger and name-calling. Then they talked about how our bodies are 70% water and how we are equally effected by our environment. If you wish to learn more, here is a link to his book The Hidden Messages of Water.
We also had a launch on fear and how it can stop you and influence you to make poor decisions. They had another launch on respect. They had a lunch on victim mindset vs. hero mindset and they watched a couple (humorous) videos of fainting goats (victims) and guard llamas (heroes).
PS – We challenge you, as parents, to take a step back – this is going to be hard!! – and let your child figure out the solutions to their problems and dilemmas on their own. Prompt them with questions: “How do you think you could figure that out?” “What could you say to him/her to tell them how that made you feel?” “What have you tried so far? What else could you try?” In the studio we are using this question a lot “Do you think you are being a victim or a hero right now? What would a hero do?”
And for some extra ideas on how to prevent (or curb) your child from having a victim mentality, read this article!
November 16, 2020
This week, the Eagles worked hard at their final push toward the Game Expo. They developed pitches for their games and put the finishing touches on everything. We had a great launch discussion on finishing strong and how to keep pushing yourself all the way to the end. We had a great event with many creative games being explained and played! Thank you to everyone who was able to make it and to those that couldn’t join us – the board games went home with the Eagles so you may get a chance to play the game at home! : )
We introduced the Character Traits Jar this week. Eagles write character call outs on a slip of paper and place them in the jar to be read at closing circle on Friday. These are usually “thank you ______ for helping me with ______” or “I saw ________ doing ______ and that was really nice” They discussed how someone could show kindness? Honesty? Perseverance? Generosity? Once an Eagle has written 10 call-outs they will earn their Character Traits badge!
During gym, the Explores worked on hops and jumps and slides and ways to move their body that required a lot of balance. The Adventurers did obstacle courses and physical challenges.
Art class was super fun with Ms. Marilee. The Adventurers made grid drawings of cornucopias which they then colored in with pastels. The Explorers made colorful turkeys out of paper towel rolls and construction paper.
During Mindfulness with Ms. Diane, the Eagles learned about kindness. They discussed how being different isn’t a bad thing at all, and that the more you show yourself some kindness and compassion, the happier you become!
We have decided to split our Eagles into Explorer and Adventurer groups during our Civilizations time. The Adventurers learned about the ancient Australians and the Maori that lived in New Zealand. The people who lived in Australia acted like a big family. A child would call ALL the adult males “father” and ALL the women “Mother”. Life was so hard that they had to all learn to live together. The Eagles were asked: Did the people get along and not have time to fight because they all had so many tasks to do for survival or because they treated each other like a big family? The Eagles were split on this topic! Explorers have started learning about nomads and the hunter-gatherer tribes.
The Explorers sang and danced to the song Pop-See Ko. They read the book The Very First Thanksgiving Day, The Berenstain Bears Thanksgiving Blessings and The Great Thanksgiving Escape. They talked about why we celebrate Thanksgiving and the history of Thanksgiving. They all shared something that they are thankful for. They also did Cosmic Kids ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ Yoga.
The Explorers read from Aesop’s Fables- The Young Crab and His Mother – moral of the story – don’t tell others how to act unless you can follow a good example. We also read the fable called, Belling the Cat, in which a young mouse comes up with a great idea to put a bell on the cat’s collar so that the mice always know when the cat is near. However, the mice were rejoicing about this idea until an older and wiser mouse asks, “But who will bell the cat?” Moral- “It is one thing to say that something should be done, but quite a different matter to do it.”
Today, the Eagles were able to discuss how the Exhibition went and reflect on whether or not it was a success. They thought that the game playing and voting part went well but agreed that showcasing their Art and Writer’s Workshop pieces was a bit of a fiasco. They didn’t clearly tell everyone that their art pieces were outside and perhaps they should have displayed them instead of having them in a pile.
During Friday’s adventure, the Eagles went to Opechee park. Some of them brought their bikes and others had fun exploring the cattails.
We did a “fire drill” of sorts, but instead of fire this one was preparing the Eagles for the slight chance that we may go remote. We are watching the Governor’s decisions closely and hopefully we will not have to go remote. However, if a stay at home order is put in place we will need to adhere to it. The Eagles were sent on a scavenger hunt where they had to connect to google hangouts to find Mr TJ and get their next clue but he wouldn’t say it until everyone had logged on. We loved seeing them help each other and work together as a team.
NOTE TO EXPLORER PARENTS: The Explorers took home paper folders containing all of their drawings and writing projects from this session. Please make sure to send the folder back to school empty on Nov. 30! Thank you : )
We are super excited to announce that next session we will be starting up yoga again with a new instructor, Ms.Catrina. We will also be having music class with Ms. Jessalyn AND we will be welcoming a new Guide to our team, Ms. Kristin! We are looking forward to the Gratitude and Community Service Quest!
Have a wonderful, safe and healthy Thanksgiving!!!
PS – Here are a few discussion questions you can talk about around the Thanksgiving table:
Is gratitude an emotion or an action? Are you born with it or can you create it? If your parents make you say, “thank you,” is that gratitude? Why are thank you notes valued so highly? Is gratitude contagious? Why is it considered the key to a happy life?
I am deeply grateful to each parent for sharing your treasure – your child – with us each day. My fire of gratitude burns bright. Happy Thanksgiving!
November 9, 2020
This week we had a launch discussion on the importance of tasks versus how fun they are. We went over everything that we do at the studio from core skills to adventure time and plotted all of the points on a graph. It was a great way to show the Eagles how sometimes things aren’t super fun but they are important and even the Eagles themselves think that they are important!
During Quest this week all of the Eagles played each other’s games and critiqued and gave feedback to each other. I must say, the feedback given was excellent and done in a very positive way! We were impressed. The Eagles also worked on their pitches and how they are going to entice all of you to play their games during the Exhibition!
In Civilizations, the Eagles learned about early Japan. They discussed if their neighbors viewed them as weak, would they try to keep the peace or be the first one to start the fight? It was an unanimous “keep the peace”. They heard the story of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu and discussed what is most important, knowing the history of your people or envisioning your future as a powerful empire? Japan decided to cut off all ties with China so that they could flourish in their own culture and not be influenced by the Chinese. We asked the Eagles “Would you like to be like someone else or like yourself?” They all said “like yourself, stay the way you are!” They also learned about how the Korean people didn’t want to be ruled by China. They divided into 3 kingdoms that ruled themselves.
We had so many Badges and milestones earned in our Explorer studio this week!!! Congratulations to everyone for their hard work.
Snow days are coming closer! If we have a school delay or closing it will be posted on our Facebook page, emailed out to everyone in the morning, and in the scroll during the morning news on Channel 9.
We talked about our Question of the Year which is “Who will you be?” The Eagles talked about what that means to them and how they want to show up in the world and then they wrote a paper on how they think they are doing so far this year on becoming who they want to be.
During Art the Eagles did water colors of wacky birds. At gym they did more exercising and game stations. They ran relay races and did stretches. The Explorers enjoyed a virtual yoga class again!
Those that earned Friday Adventure went on a field trip to Opechee Park this week.
The Explorers have shown interest in learning more about sharks and having some time to draw sharks and read books about sharks. They played the game wishy washy ball and backyard Hide and Seek. They had a discussion on how does it feel when others give away your hiding place? They did a Writer’s Workshop to build their sight words- they would build, write, and say short simple words. They also went on a scavenger hunt to find those sight words in literature around the Studio!
Journey Meetings on Wednesday were a great success. Here is a link to our Parent Contact info so that you can plan play dates or get togethers over vacation! Also, many of you requested a master copy of our daily schedule. You can find the link to that here.
Our Exhibition on Thursday, Nov. 17th at 4pm will be outdoors! We will have lights set up but feel free to bring your own flashlight. : ) We also would like to ask each family to only bring 1 car (unless it really isn’t possible) because of our parking challenges. There is plenty of street parking on Jackson St behind the Greek Orthodox Church and also at Opechee Park (leave a car there and carpool to Acton). Thank you in advance!!
PPS – In our Newsletters when I use the word “Eagles” that means everyone, all ages. If I say mention Explorers or Adventurers, then just that group did the task! : )
PPPS – A quick reminder that if you plan to attend a large family or friend function of people that you do not see on a regular basis for Thanksgiving, your child will need a negative Covid test to come back to school. This is also the protocol if you travel outside of New England. Thank you for keeping our small community safe!
November 2, 2020
This week we had a strong focus on Learning to Be, concentrating on studio culture, respect and how to treat each other. We introduced 360 reviews, which you may have heard of before. Many high-level companies like Google and Apple do internal 360 reviews. Each of the Adventurers reviewed each other anonymously. They rated each other on their “tough mindedness” which is their accountability of themselves and others and their “kind heartedness” on how they treat each other and the studio. We then had them guess on what they thought their average rating would be then we told them what their actual rating was. This was all anonymous. Mr. TJ then met with each individual Eagle to go over their results. This was an awesome exercise in holding up a mirror for them to see their own behavior patterns and how their actions affect others.
We had a launch on getting into flow state or “in the zone” as Kobe Bryant described it. They talked about when they have been in that state and also how to get there. They also talked about how multi-tasking is not an effective strategy to get things done. They did an experiment where they first said the ABCs really fast in their head and counted to 26. They timed themselves. Then they had to say them both at the same time “A, 1, B, 2, C, 3, D, 4, etc” and they found that doing them at the same time took considerably more time if they could even do it at all!
We introduced Friday Adventure Time to the Adventurers! If they remain on task all week and are respectful during discussions then they can earn an adventure on Fridays! This week 3 Eagles earned the privilege and they decided to go on a hike to a beautiful waterfall near Gunstock.
During Civilizations they heard stories about the start of Islam and its expansion as well as the Sui Dynasty in China, which only lasted 2 generations. The Eagles had a discussion about how the Sui Dynasty was overthrown because they treated their people very poorly which created unrest and the citizens did not have any respect or loyalty for their ruler.
Mindfulness with Ms Diane this week was all about centeredness. Here is a bit of the transcript from their meditation of Monty talking:
“Your center is not just the middle of you but also a little like the middle of your mind, where it’s calm and balanced. When you find your center, nothing much bothers you at all, not even a few bees buzzing around or the occasional ear tickle from a ladybug! Your center is where you can find the calmest feelings. It makes you feel light and easy, like a cloud just floating along in the sky,” Monty says, gazing up at some pinkish clouds slowly passing far above. Monty explains further by saying, “Everyone has a center point inside themselves where they feel a perfect balance. You can become good at finding that center point when you meditate or even when you use your breath.And here comes the fun part: take a slow but deep breath in through your nose while counting, 1, 2, 3, and 4 in your mind — you can even stick your belly out when you fill up with air! Now hold your breath while counting 1, 2, 3, and 4, and then exhale through your nose counting 1, 2, 3 and 4 making your belly deflate like a balloon.”
During gym the Eagles played dodge ball, did fitness stations and played with balloons in a gigantic parachute!
Our Game Design Quest is moving along and the Eagles are deep into the work of creating their board games. We are seeing so much creativity and thought going into the designs and look forward to sharing with all of you during the Exhibition on Nov.19th!
In Art class this week Ms Marilee showed the Eagles how to make mosaic owls. First they outlined with chalk and then glued pieces of colored paper to their owls.
The Explorers sang songs about days of the week and months of the year. They read the book Perfect Ninja and talked about: Is it okay to make mistakes? How should we treat ourselves? If you make a mistake, what should you do? They also read Aesop’s Fables- The Wolf and the Kid and discussed the Moral of this story- Do not let anything turn you from your purpose! They found leaves in the yard and identified what trees they came from. They also did Cosmic Kids yoga!
October 26, 2020
Just a quick reminder that the Downtown Gym in Laconia is putting on a Trunk or Treat for Acton Academy students tomorrow, Saturday, from 12-2pm! It will be in their parking lot on Fair St.
Week 11 was cold and wet! On Monday the Eagles helped to set up the inside studio. They moved all of their materials and computers inside and set up their desks and work areas.
Game Design Quest moved forward this week with the Eagles finishing their video games and starting to work on their board games. They also worked more on their rule drafts and thinking about how other people will be playing their games.
Mindfulness this week was all about Happiness. Ms. Diane asked the Eagles: How will a Hero use mindfulness? How to do you help each other feel happy? And what makes you happy? The meditation talked about bubbles and everyone agreed that even just saying the word “bubbles” makes you happy. All throughout the week we kept hearing “bubbles” randomly from the Eagles. : )
In Writer’s Workshop the Eagles worked more on their drafts. Their goal this week was to write as much as possible and just get all the ideas from their mind down on paper. Remember, if your Eagle is choosing not to do writer’s workshop this session, they are doing “Math Power Hour” during this time instead.
In Civilizations we learned about the Indian Empire and how it fell to the Huns. We talked about how back in ancient times (before the internet!) the whole world still interacted with each other even over the distance. We also heard the story of Mohamed, muslims and how the Koran was written.
We had a Socratic Discussion around the question “Is peer-pressure bullying?” The Eagles were very insightful and ended with the idea that peer-pressure can be bullying if it is negative but it can also be a good thing if it is positive. They talked about what they can say when they are feeling pressured and don’t want to do something and how they can also stand up for others.
During Gym the Eagles had a dance-off!
We didn’t have yoga this week because Ms Tekla wasn’t feeling well. But we did have art with Ms. Marilee! She talked with the Eagles about the Day of the Dead and how it is celebrated and they all drew and colored their own Day of the Dead Masks!
This week the Explorers were introduced to a new Practical Life skill of using a hammer and nails. They have blocks of wood to practice this skill. During Quest they talked about Sore Winners and how to win in a civilized manner without making the other person feel bad.They read 3 books: You Got a Rock, Charlie Brown! , The Berenstain Bears and the Ghost Walk, and The Night Before Halloween. They sang 5 Little Pumpkins and Witches Brew!
During Parent Coffee, the Eagles learned about Mikaila and her business Me & The Bees Lemonade. Mikaila is a social steward who uses profits from her company to help save the bees around the world. After hearing her story, the Eagles were asked to guess how old she was and they guessed from 27-62yrs. old. Mikaila is currently 15 yrs old but she started her company when she was 5!!!! Here is a link to a YouTube video about when she was 11 and her Lemonade started being sold at Whole Foods. Mikaila first sold her lemonade at an Acton Academy Children’s Business Fair in TX!
We have 2 new rules/policies at the Studio due to mis-use of their privileges. The rules are: NO MONEY and NO TOYS may be brought to the studio until they can show us that they can be responsibly with such things. If you would like to speak with me more about this topic please feel free to call!
Please remember to fill out the questionnaire for your ticket to a Journey Meeting. Let us know if you need the link again!
Have a wonderful and spooky Halloween!!!
October 19, 2020
We welcomed a new Explorer this week and had lots of fun showing him the studio and teaching him about our systems! This week was rainy and the weather made us have a few of our activities indoors, as you will see in the pictures!
This week during Quest, the Eagles dove deep into brainstorming what their games are going to look like. They considered how to make their games fair and how to write the rules. The Eagles worked on the math part of creating a game: Probability, statistics, and the likelihood of things occurring and not occurring. They also spent time building their online video games.
The Eagles showed some challenging behavior this week as a group. There was a lot of interrupting during meetings, horsing around and not keeping on task. On Thursday, Mr. TJ had a great talk with the group about being a Hero. He asked them: Are Heroes born or made? They all agreed that they are made. They gave examples of how someone’s actions and accomplishments make them a Hero. He then asked them to “look in a mirror” and see if their actions this week were that of a Hero. He told them that we all believe that each of them has the ability to become a great Hero in their own life – we believe it with all of our heart – but we need them to believe it and to start making choices that reflect Heroism.
After that talk we started to see some amazing things. At Yoga, a few of the Eagles set down their mats next to their friends and then said “oh wait, I can’t be next to you because it will be distracting” and then moved their mats!! They started asking each other to be quiet during core skills. They interrupted less and were nicer to each other. 2 of the Eagles were even inspired to write apology letters for their behavior.
During Mindfullness Class with Ms. Diane we listened to a meditation on Wisdom. Afterwards the Eagles had a discussion on what wisdom is and how you can seek it out. Ms. Diane had fun coloring pages for the Explorers to do after their meditation!
During Civilizations the Eagles learned about Constantinople and Emperor Justinian. They learned about how he rebuilt the city after the war and built a beautiful giant church decorated with tessera (mosaics). They learned that during this time was when the Christian church divided into Roman Catholic and Orthodox. Then we read a story about Saint Nicholas!
We had our first Art class this week! Ms. Marilee taught the Adventurers about the artist Kandinsky and then they made trees in the Kandinsky style with circle imagery. The Explorers made fall trees with real leaves glued on!
During Writer’s Workshop they are still writing memoirs. This week they wrote about a special place that was dear to them and some kind of weird food that they had eaten at some point.
During gym the Eagles did relay races, physical challenges and dancing! Yoga with Ms. Tekla was amazing – the Eagles are really loving this time of the week.
This week the Eagles learned about SMART goals and played “keep it up” with a ball. They talked about how realistic goals are important and how to set goals. They are able to meet with Mr TJ every morning to set their goals together. Getting good at Setting and managing good goals is a long process but they starting down this road with enthusiasm!
The Explorers had a few new practical life skills to practice this week. They all involved holding tongs and moving objects. This is to build the muscle in their pincher-grip that they will need for handwriting. Ms. Kerry had a bunch of really fun Halloween-themed games for the group this week, They played ring toss over pumpkins, catch the spider, and search for the mini pumpkin. They also read a book called “How to Build A School” and then they all drew what kind of school they would create. During Quest the Explorers talked about what winning and losing looks like and how they feel and what should they do. Then they practiced losing and how to congratulate the winner.
PS – Check out this preview of the movie Most Likely to Succeed. This documentary is so eye-opening and entertaining! You can find it on Amazon : )
October 12, 2020
We had a short, rainy week, but we sure did do a lot!!
During Writer’s Workshop the Eagles worked more on Memoirs. They asked a series of “What if?” questions about times in their life when not much happened.
During Civilizations the Eagles heard stories about Christianity coming to Britain. They had a very lively discussion about, if they were going to somewhere new, would they rather go to a foreign land where they knew that people already lived or a new territory where they could start their own colony from scratch? They also learned about Beowolf and how, during the Dark Ages, most people couldn’t read or write so they told oral stories instead. They discussed what type of leaders they admire the most.
We had a big discussion on Tuesday about appropriate clothing for being outside in colder, wet, weather. The Eagles had to draw what they thought was a warm outfit and so did Mr. TJ. Then they compared! Mr. TJ told them his personal life stories of having hypothermia. They talked about the difference between cotton and wool, water “resistant” and water “proof”, and different types of shoes and boots.
ALL the Eagles had Yoga this week!! Tekla brought her singing bowl (which they were able to investigate!) and taught them simple techniques to relax.
On Wednesday we had our first Mindfulness Class with Ms. Diane!! All of the Eagles now have access to a 12 minute meditation that helps with Focus that they can do every day. Ms. Diane briefly touched on brain waves and how taking time for stillness can result in better focus and more work accomplished.
This week the Explorers read some Halloween books and sang spooky songs. They talked about how they are going to be making their own board games and they practiced rule-making by each inventing a game of tag (which they then played!). They also did an exercise where they had to find the letters of their name in magazines and cut them out with scissors, then glue them to paper in the right order.
At Quest time this week the Eagles worked on probability by guessing which cards were going to be flipped over in a deck. They talked about luck, strategy and skill. They were told this scenario: Imagine this: you’re on a game show and I’m the host. I tell you that there is a million dollars behind one of three doors and you just have to choose one. Now, imagine you picked door #1, but before I go over to door #1, I decide to show you (because I know the right answer) that door #2 is empty and I ask you, do you still want to stick with door #1 or do you want to switch to door #3? What do you choose?
Do you make this decision based on intuition (meaning your gut), on math (meaning your knowledge of probability), or on how much you trust the game show host?
During Gym the Eagles did exercise stations that worked on balance, core strength, agility and cardio.
We welcomed 2 new students this week to our Adventurer group and we have 1 new student starting in the Explorer group next week. We are officially cutting off our admissions until further notice but we will start a waiting pool for future new students!
A HUGE thank you to Jamie Towne for putting together an after-school pumpkin painting session! The Eagles had too much fun decorating their pumpkins : ) They also had an opportunity to do a Halloween Craft with Ms. Kerry and you might see those projects today.
We enjoyed a wonderful parent lunch and I will be sending out an email with a bunch of announcements and important dates in it next week. Please be on the lookout for that email and let me know if you don’t get it! One date to mark on your calendars is Nov. 11th. We do not have school that day because it is Veteran’s Day but we will be holding Journey Meetings with parents and Eagles throughout the day. More info will be in the announcement email!!
New News: We have hired an Art Guide and Art classes will be starting asap!! We are super excited!
PS – This is a really great Ted Talk to listen to if you have 15 mins : ) It is Sugata Mitra’s talk on child-driven education.
October 5, 2020
Special Announcement: School Picture Day is Monday, Oct. 26th! More info to follow.
We have had a wonderful week here at the Studio! The Eagles have continued to do the SAVERS every day. During their writing time one day they had to reflect on how new students will effect the studio and how we can welcome new students into our tribe. (On Tuesday we will have 2 new Adventurers!)
With the start of Session 2 we have added Civilizations and Yoga to our schedule and our Mindfulness Class starts next week. In Civilizations the Eagles learned about the Fall of the Roman Empire. In their discussion they had to imagine themselves as a Roman Empire and decide whether or not, when they took over a new territory, if they would force the people to be like Romans or if they would let the people carry on with their own lives and beliefs. They also discussed ancient Britain and the Anglo-Saxons’ takeover of the Kelts.
They had a Socratic launch on words. They talked about how words can either build up a community or tear it down. They watched a TED Talk on the “7 Deadly Sins of Language” which are: gossip, negative talk, lying, judging, excuses, complaining and dogmatism. They discussed which one they thought was the worst and then were challenged to watch themselves throughout the day and see if they took part in any of them. They also talked about the best side of language: love, integrity, positivity, authenticity and honesty and they talked about which is the most important and why. They each had to choose one that they would proactively work on throughout the day.
Our Quest this Session is Game Design!! On this quest, Eagles become game designers. They explore probability and game design while playing and analyzing games of luck, strategy, and skill. The quest culminates with learners each designing a board game and an online game to present at the public Game Expo on Thurs. Nov 19th. The goals of this quest include:
-Introducing the Eagles to game design as a calling and the heroes who chose it
-Inspiring a love of design and creation
-Inspiring a curiosity about probability in the real world
-Instilling a deeper understanding of the iteration process and the importance of taking a deliberate path towards excellence
Eagles will have the opportunity to learn about game design and playing as callings, experimental vs. theoretical probability, calculating probability, elements of game design, attention to detail, and working with customer feedback.
We had a Guest Speaker this week, Brian Bollinger from the Wild East Game Company. He is a professional game designer and he told the Eagles about the importance of play testing with peers before your game is done. He said that 4,000 games are published each year in the US! He told the Eagles how he comes up with his ideas and the process of getting a game from start to finish. He held a Game Design Contest and he published the winner’s game which happened to be created by a 15 yr old! He also told us how he fundraised to get enough money to produce a game called Pie Rats of the Carob Bean Farm. People paid him to become one of the “rats” in the deck of cards. His artist would do a caricature of each person to make them into a rat. So if you ever play that game, the rats represent real people! He generously donated a set of all of his games to our studio!
The Eagles enjoyed gym and yoga this week. Right after yoga the Adventurers had a reading block and it has never been so quiet and peaceful before!!! Tekla Frates is looking forward to her first day with the Explorers for yoga on Tuesday.
During Writer’s Workshop in Session 2, the Eagles will be working on Memoirs. They enjoyed doing a mind map this week and telling stories about different times in their lives.
This week, the Explorers sang the Days of the Week song and Humba Humba. They read a bunch of books, My Mouth is a Volcano was especially memorable because it talked about interrupting and how to control the impulse. Also, after Should I Share My Ice Cream? Ms. Kerry asked them: How do you think Elephant felt when he looked down and saw his ice cream on the ground? How did he get over his disappointment? Do you remember a time when you really didn’t want to share something, but your mind told you that you should? The inner struggle! They also practiced writing letters on their own individual whiteboards.
When the yoga class was cancelled on the Explorers, we did a Launch on the feeling of being disappointed. The Explorers felt sad, mad, and one person felt happy for himself, but sad for the other Explorers. They were asked how they could start feeling happy again so they could get over the disappointment. Suggestions included playing, riding bikes, reading, and playing games. We also introduced some new Practical Life Montessori material this week, including folding washcloths and pouring liquids and solids into cups.
We hope you all have a wonderful Columbus Day Weekend!
PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on Goal setting and Quests
September 21, 2020
We did a lot this week and the Eagles are finally starting to get in ‘the groove’ and figure out the systems and expectations here at the studio.
During Writers Workshop the Eagles learned about peer critique and how to give critique and also how to respond and handle other’s opinion of your work. They finished up the Poetry module for this session.
On the way to gym class this week, the Adventurers behaved very rudely to people passing by and people in cars. It was not at all how we expect our Eagles to behave , especially when in public. The next day, Mr TJ did a launch on Standards. He asked them what is a standard and they responded “a car, something boring, average” TJ read the Webster’s definition: “It is an agreed level of quality or attainment.” Then they discussed standards of products that you buy (you expect a new iPad to work properly), standards of behavior with people, and even what do you expect of yourself as an Eagle here? Mr TJ explained that our standards at Acton Academy are EXCELLENCE and that if you expect to just be average and not stretch yourself, then this isn’t the place for you.
After that discussion, the Eagles had a mandatory writing assignment to reflect on their behavior during the walk to and from the gym and to put themselves in the shoes of a passer-by. What would that person think of the group or of you as an individual? PLEASE ASK YOUR ADVENTURER IF YOU CAN SEE THEIR REFLECTION PAPER OF THE WALK TO GYM. They have the papers to show you. They grew inside while pondering the choices they had made and later in the week when they walked to Opechee Park track, the walking etiquette was MUCH better!!!
We also did a launch on hard work, featuring Michael Jordan and his journey of entering the baseball world and how he was always the first one on the field and the last one off the field for practices.
Mr. TJ challenged the Adventurers to tell him how they can learn something during free time and they would be awarded 15 minutes of extra free time. He was amazed that no one did this challenge! When he asked why, the answer was “You can’t learn anything at free time”. Wow. So during Parent Coffee, he launched on “What does learning mean?” They talked about skills, both academic and social, and discussed where they learn these things, They realized that during free time they are learning social skills, or biking skills, or soccer skills, etc.
This week the Explorers went back to basics! Our goal is to help the Explorers become more successful at being independent. They went over hand-washing skills, manners, how to speak kindly to one another, taking good care of our personal belongings, learning materials and the learning environment.
During DEAR time, the Explorers launched on who enjoys reading with a friend? How can you read with a friend in a quiet voice and find something that both people want to read? Then they were able to choose reading buddies.
The Explorers played wishy washy ball, hide and seek, freeze dance, and math games. They also read Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room, they then talked about if they have messy rooms at home or not, and how could they keep them clean? They had to draw a picture of their messy room, sound out and try to write the word mess and sound out and try to write the word clean.
We had a wonderful Exhibition and Parent Coffee Friday – thank you all for attending these events, your Eagles love to see you there – even if they don’t express it : )
We are VERY excited for next Session. Just to give you all a sneak peak, our Quest for Adventurers is Game Design and the Eagles will be designing their own board games and/or video games. We have a guest speaker, Brian Bollinger, coming on Wednesday. He is a professional board game designer and is going to tell the Eagles his experience and the road map to making a great game. Our Explorers will also have a Game Quest but they will be focusing more on game playing etiquette, how to win and lose graciously, and how to take risks and use probability.
We will also be starting Yoga class with Tekla Frates. Explorers will have yoga on Tuesday and Adventurers will have yoga on Thursday. We are also adding a Mindfulness Class that will be taught by Diane Orlowski on Wednesdays.
Art and Music will also be coming in Session 2, just not sure on the start date yet!
We hope you all enjoy this first break and we look forward to seeing you back on Monday Oct. 5th!
PS – If you can, please take the time to read this blog from Laura: Advice From a Wise Acton Parent. It is excellent and will really set the stage for you as you begin your journey here as Acton Parents!!
September 14, 2020
This was our first week of gym class and our gym guides, Mr. Jay and Ms. Sherry were amazing, as usual!! Before we left the studio, we had a discussion on how we should act in public, as a group. We asked the Eagles what they thought was acceptable and unacceptable. They came up with: not be crazy, be responsible, stay together, be careful. We did explain to them that if they choose to behave in a manner that is disrespectful or unsafe, they will stay at the studio for the following gym class. The Eagles all loved our walk down the WOW trail to get to gym. Also of note: Gym class will now permanently be Explorers on Thursday and Adventurers on Tuesday.
This week we introduced the SAVERS to the Eagles. SAVERS stands for Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing (Journaling). These are the daily practices of the most successful people in the world. Our Eagles will be doing an abbreviated version every single morning!
One of our morning launches this week was about What is the difference between doing something kind and doing something that is not mean? Then they had to say something kind that someone did to/for them that day. They then reflected on how they personally acted that day and if they were actually kind or just not mean.
The Eagles had their bike privileges taken away for a couple days this week after a few incidents of neglecting the biking safety rules. They then had a big discussion on how they could solve the problems to be able to get back on bikes. They came up with words to call out “crossing and dropping” and to put a rope on the ground around the jumps so people know not to walk there. They also decided to create a crosswalk from the lawn to the door so that everyone can safely walk to the bathrooms. The Eagles decided that if someone violates a bike safety rule they will lose bike privileges for1 day, the second time they will lose them for 1 week, then 1 month, 1 year, then forever.
The Eagles had trouble with studio maintenance this week and they had a discussion about how to fix it.They basically came up with an accountability system. So far it has made a huge difference!
A committee was formed of the Eagles who attended the Welcome Ceremony in August. We have a very special tradition at Acton where the in-coming class of Eagles paint their handprints on the wall during a solemn ceremony where they are called to step into the role of Hero in their own life. The committee was tasked with making a special ceremony for those Eagles who missed that night in August. They created a maze inside the studio and once the Eagles made it through the maze, they were able to do their hand prints!
Writer’s workshop for Adventurers this week was focused on words and how each word in a poem matters and how to choose effective words to relay your message.
The Explorers worked on how to not interrupt when someone else is talking or having a conversation. They sang songs, played SPUD, read Doing the Animal Bop and danced the animal movements with the story, They wrapped sticks with yarn, practiced measuring, cutting, tying a knot and fine motor wrapping skills. They played math games with partners and natural objects in the yard (acorns, rocks, sticks). During Writer’s Workshop they listened to a story, Hey Little Ant, about respecting creatures of all sizes. They then had to write or draw about what choices they would make in the story after listening to the ant’s point of view.
The Eagles finalized their Studio Contract on Friday and also worked more on the bag room design. They are starting to plan the Exhibition of Learning which will be next Thursday, September 24th at 4pm – please mark your calendars!!! At this Exhibition your Eagle will show you exactly the programs and Montessori material that they are working on, as well as giving you a tour of the Studio, explain freedom levels to you, show you their Avatars, sign the Studio Contract, and “unveil” the bagroom project. We we also behaving a parent training on Journey Tracker that night so that you will be able to check in on your student’s academic progress and ask them specific questions on what they are working on.
Yes, we are still also planning to have Parent Coffee Friday this Friday at 8:30am, even though it is right after an Exhibition : )
We are looking forward to seeing everyone next week!
PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog: A Parenting Mindset Shift to Free You
September 7, 2020
This week started off with another episode of the Story of Steven Eagle. This time the Eagles met Emily Klug who is a White Mountain Legend. She hiked Mount Washington, alone, for weeks at a time, learning every aspect of the landscape despite being almost blind. Her message was to practice managing risks. Don’t be afraid to take risks, but be prepared for what can happen. After the story, the Eagles discussed “What does it mean to manage risks?” They talked about riding bikes and going off jumps and why they take that risk when they know that they can get hurt. They agreed that the fun of succeeding has to be worth the pain of failing. Then we dove deeper into other kinds of risks (trying harder math, social risks and emotional risks)
I sent an email earlier this week about our “balloon challenge” that produced many tears and frustration from our Eagles. The Heroes discovered that it is easier to succeed together and how to communicate effectively to each other. Afterward we asked them: are there other situations when you have to work with or around other people and you end up not communicating well? Specifically at Acton? And they identified when they are doing their Core Skills work and when they are in circle. The very next day we notice a HUGE shift in energy under the tents while everyone was working. There were less disputes and everyone seemed happier.
We did the Seeds of Potential launch on Thursday. For those of you who have read Courage to Grow you will remember it from the book – it is a discussion that we have as a tradition every year at Acton. Mr TJ had a bowl of apples (3 different types) and he passed them around the circle, asking everyone to notice the differences between the apples. Then he cut them all in half and showed everyone that each apple has a star inside! On the inside, each apple looks the same, even though they are very different on the outside. They then talked about how each of them, as individuals are different on the outside but they each have a star inside of them. They each have seeds of potential like the apples. What do seeds need to grow? What do we as humans need to grow? The Eagles came up with knowledge, inspiration, and challenges.
During Writer’s Workshop the Eagle’s worked on Free Verse poetry. They talked about what makes a poem a poem.
We welcomed a new student this week and have had lots of fun showing him around!
On Friday the Eagles started working on their Avatars. These are drawings of “themselves” as a Hero. They also had to add their Hero character traits to the drawing and draw in each hand a skill that they hope to master this year at Acton. These drawings will be used throughout the year to show when Eagles have earned special privileges and freedoms. (We will have actual items, like a crown or a shield, that they can add to their Avatar). The Eagles had a big discussion on Character traits.
The Explorers continued to discuss Friendship and what is the best way to treat each other. They read a book about filling each other’s bucket throughout the day with kindness. They made a “friendship soup” where they put all kinds of things into a bucket and mixed it together. As they added rocks and leaves they had to say what they were adding and among the mixture was swinging on swings, love, riding bikes and kisses from mom.
The Explorers read How to be Friends with a Dragon and then played some dragon themed games. They also talked about dragon scales and how they act like armor and aid in camouflage. They talked about if they have ever had disagreements with a friend and how they solve that. They played reading and math games and worked with words that rhyme with rat and cat.
We had many “Level ups” this week. I have included a picture of our Level board below. Also, when the Explorers were working really diligently, they could unlock freedoms like a snack or being able to choose a place for DEAR. (drop everything and read)
NEXT WEEK we start GYM class!!! Please make sure that your Eagles bring gym clothes and sneakers on their gym day. Explorers will be every Tuesday and Adventurers will be every Thursday.
PS – Here is Laura’s blog on the Seed of Potential launch!