Week 45

June 21, 2021

We made it!! The final week of the school year has been a whirlwind of activity and events and the Eagles worked hard and played hard.

We started the week by celebrating the first day of summer!!! We call it the summer solstice. It is the day of the year that has the most daylight. The Explorers watched a video explaining what the summer solstice is and how it occurs. The Explorers also wondered what the moon was made of. Rock and metal! They watched a short video explaining the moon. One of the Explorers responded with, “Huh? How is it made of metal?” Now they would like to learn more about metals. : ) A beautiful example of how our Eagles are able to follow their curiosity and we never know where it will lead!

During Quest the Eagles worked on pitches for their businesses. Some of them even came up with jingles. They spent a lot of time getting everything ready so they could shine at the exhibition. It was wonderful seeing them help each other prepare and finish all the details.

Exhibition was wonderful – thank you all for attending. The Grand Prize winners were Nolan with Tye-dye My Darling for the Explorers and the Adventurer competition was a tie between Kendall with Saplings Studio and Braydon with Sips & Wicks! Congratulations – they all worked tremendously hard on this Quest.

Here is a link to a video of the Adventurers performing one of their music projects this week! (It is 35 seconds long).

During Civilizations on Tuesday, the Adventurers listened to Chapter 31: Exploring New Worlds. They heard an abbreviated version of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to what he believed was India. The Adventurers were asked, agree or disagree- Columbus’ sailors knew what they signed up for, and had no right to plot against their captain. All Adventurers agreed! They also found it both exciting and scary when they were asked to put themselves in Columbus’ shoes and imagine coming to a place with an unfamiliar language, people, food, and animals. “I would be excited to find a new continent because it would be a big discovery.” “I would be excited to see new things.” “It would scare me because I’m expecting to go to India!”

On Thursday they continued with stories of the Americas and were introduced to the Mayans and Aztecs. The Adventurers learned that Mayan mothers would tie pieces of wood tightly around the heads of their babies so that their heads would look more “godlike” as they grew. They also made their babies cross-eyed because they believed the gods were as well. The Adventurers were asked to agree or disagree- this is a mild form of abuse.

All agreed it was child abuse. “You don’t get a choice. What if you don’t want to look like a god?”

Civilizations for the Explorers was about the Greek cultures of Athens and Sparta and their wars against the Persians and each other. The relationship between them was contentious and created many issues. The learners were a bit confused why two similar groups had so many problems. After the reading on Thursday, we stepped outside and played a game where each person had a partner and they had to get the other person to open their fist. The first time the Eagles resorted to force and tried to pry their partner’s hands open. On the second try, we tried to do it without forcing anything. Being willing to relax your control and let go of insecurities or fear allowed you to cooperate with your partner and open your hands at the same time. This means that everyone can win. The Explorers really seemed to enjoy and grasp this idea.

The Explorers read Aesop’s Fables- Mercury and the Woodman. The moral of this story is, Honesty is the best policy.

Launch discussions this week focused on productivity and getting the Eagles moving and staying on track to finish strong. A lot of milestones and badges were awarded. On Friday, Mr. TJ asked the Eagles about passions. They discussed what they were passionate about and how, in order to discover new passions, they need to be open to new experiences. Their assignment for the summer is to look for new experiences!!

On Friday the Eagles reflected on the Exhibition and made beautiful thank you cards for all of the businesses that they visited. They also had the task to pack up, clean, and organize the studio for summer vacation! They knew that as soon as that job was done, they were going to Opechee Park and the Skate Park for the rest of the day. Let me tell you, I have never seen the Eagles clean so well and so fast before!!! They were motivated! Even the lost and found was emptied!

Have a wonderful summer everyone!!! This was an amazing year and we have loved watching the growth and struggles of each of our Eagles. We look forward to seeing you in August and continuing down the Hero’s Journey : )

PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on how you can create your own Socratic Discussions this summer to enjoy with your Eagles!

Week 40

June 14, 2021

Happy Father’s Day!!!! We hope you all enjoy the weekend : )

This week the Eagles had a great discussion about unkind words and are unkind words acceptable language if it isn’t profanity? The resounding answer was “no! it’s rude to people!”. Mr. TJ asked “How would someone feel if you called them stupid?” they answered “Like no one cares about them or loves them”. He asked “who wants to be cared about and loved?” All of Eagles raised their hand except for one of our youngest Eagles. An older Eagle quickly snarked sarcastically “Oh, she doesn’t want to be cared about” Which was a perfect segue for TJ to ask “Everyone hold on, why didn’t you raise your hand?” And the younger Eagle said “because I was confused and don’t understand the question”. TJ then turned to the Eagle who make the remark and said “How do you think your comment made her feel?” He answered “That people wouldn’t like her for her decisions or opinions” Ah Ha!!! A great learning moment for everyone!!!! They then went over what is the best way to approach a situation when you aren’t feeling in control and like you might say something mean or rude to someone else. Walk away – get out of there! – take some breaths, calm down and reset before going back to the situation.

The Adventurers visited 2 more local businesses to interview the owners and find out more information about being an entrepreneur. One group visited Jen at Prescott Florist and the other group visited Tom at Belknap Tire! It was really cool to see behind the scenes of both businesses and learn about how much has to go on in the background to make a business successful.

The Adventurer’s worked on presentations about their Business Field trips that they went on over the last 2 weeks. They will be performing the presentations on Monday in front of the Explorers and they might also do them on Exhibition Night!

During Quest the Eagles learned about how to hire employees. They watched a clip from I Love Lucy where Lucy is working at the chocolate factory. We showed when she and Ethel have to wrap candies and can’t keep up with the work. It was hilarious. They then talked about some pieces of advice from Forbes on hiring your first employee at a startup company:

*The sooner the better (if you can afford it)

*Hire for potential, not (just) track record

*Have applicants demonstrate skill or aptitude

They were asked: which advice do you think is the most important and why?

The learners also worked on the process of deciding what you need to stay up to date on when competing with other businesses and asking themselves if they need to hire some employees. For competition and substitute island, we talked about the effects of entering a market and the effects of pricing on that market. This included an anecdote from Mr. TJ (from his personal training days) about how setting the right price even if it is more than someone else’s is extremely important.

This week our launches were focused on productivity and interpersonal awareness. On Friday we discussed the effects of sarcasm and how it can be a boon to a situation though it is a tool that must be used carefully because it is ripe for misunderstanding. The tool was a game of knot a not. When played you were not allowed to say/indicate/write/sign what you believed to be true about the knot. This meant the only recourse was to say the opposite (Mr. TJ knew what they believed to be true based on a blind vote on the state of the knot). This lead to a discussion about why they did not decide to say the opposite. It would be clear that they were not speaking the truth because the consequence for saying what you believed was true was not enacted. Though no one thought of that process. This illustrates very well the problem with sarcasm. It seems so obvious to the person using it. Though the individual receiving it may not be on the same wavelength. This discussion seemed very well received and the Eagles appeared to increase their understanding of using sarcasm.

Ms Kerry added a new game to the Explorer studio of: If 3 milestones and/or badges are earned this week, someone will get to pick a random Tribe Treasure from the bag for all Explorers to benefit from! Tribe treasures include freedoms such as, “All Explorers will get 30 minutes of extra free time next week!” They were able to earn their treasure!!! Ask your Explorer what the treasure was : )

The Explorers continued their deep dive on the New England states. Last week was Rhode Island, this week was Connecticut.

The Explorers had to pretend that they have no cups or anything to drink from here or at home. They were then asked, would you rather have a really cool-looking mug with a hole at that bottom or a plain-looking mug with no hole? Only one Explorer chose the cool-looking mug over the functional mug. We then read Aesop’s Fables The Peacock and the Crane. The moral of this story was, The useful is of much more importance and value, than the ornamental.

During Writer’s Workshop the Eagles worked on parts of a sentence and where to place spaces and capitalizations. They listened to the Sentence Song! The Explorers also were asked to create a mini-book about their business idea: It could be a product catalog, a story about someone using or buying your item, or whatever idea you come up with! Can you write a sentence in your book to describe what is happening?

During Civilizations, the Adventurers traveled back to India. They heard the story about how Babur, a Muslim prince, decided to take control of the Sultan of Delhi’s Indian kingdom. Babur wanted to be a good emperor and tried to improve the lives of those living in his kingdom. The Adventurers were asked, is it ethical to fight and take over an existing government if no crime or evil has been committed? One response was, “It is okay if you’re taking it over to make it better.” The Adventurers were then asked to imagine you are a parent, and your family is in a troubled empire looking to move out of it. Which part of Babur’s Empire gives you more confidence that life will be better if you go there?

The guarantee of freedom to practice the religion of your choice, or

The guarantee your children will have an education.

Two out of ten Adventurers chose the guarantee of education for their children. “If they have an education they can choose to study different religions.”

The Adventurers heard an interesting folktale about the young emperor, Akbar, and an unlucky servant. Akbar was only thirteen when he was crowned, but was eager to restore the glory of his grandfather Babur’s empire. The Adventurers pondered, as a civilian, would you prefer your leader to be young and energetic, or older and wiser?

One Adventurer responded with, “younger and he can grow wiser as he makes decisions.” While another rebutted with, “If your king is younger he won’t know much about war and will not make good decisions.”

Civilizations for the Explorers was about Greece. Specifically the differences between Sparta and Athens. The dichotomy of Sparta as a successful civilization being aggressive and warlike and Athens being focused on the arts and sciences. This was discussed and the Eagles largely expressed that they would prefer to live in Athens.

During Art the Eagles each made their own individual splatter painting. We made a huge mess outside : ) This project allowed the learners to be more creative and free form with their painting. The creations were interesting and many of the learners took their own spin on the task. The Eagles also created a “group painting” where everyone got to add something. They had some issues because of a lack of learners following instructions that led to the painting being a bit ruined, turning a brown color and Eagles painting over each other’s work.

PS – Reminder that Tuesday the 22nd is the Launch Night for the Children’s Business Fair. (5:30-7pm at the Belknap Mill). Please RSVP if you are coming because I need a head count for the pizza!

Thursday 3:30-6pm is E-ship Exhibition and End of the Year Party

Friday the 26th is the Last Day of School!

PPS – Here is one of Laura’s blogs from many years ago that I think is relevant to this week because she mentions some reflection on the Children’s Business Fair. The title is Joy and Rigor.

Week 39

June 7, 2021

During last Friday’s Town Hall meeting the Eagles decided that they wanted to start doing the Pledge of Allegiance at least once a week. We opened our Monday discussion with the Pledge!

We watched a video of Derek Redmond in the 1992 Olympics when he was favored to medal in the 400 meter sprint and ended up pulling his hamstring in the last 100 meters. He was remembered for his perseverance to finish the race and we watched him hopping in pain to to the finish line. His father ran out, breaking through security, and put an arm under his son to help him along. He said “You don’t have to do this!” And Derek replied “Yes, I do”. (It was definitely a tear jerker!). We talked about how competition isn’t always about winning. It is about not giving up – even when times are the hardest. The Eagles talked about times when they never gave up. They also discussed, if they were Derek, what would have meant the most: your own perseverance to finish, your father’s support, or the crowds support? The answers were all over.

Ms. Kerry read Jumper and the Lost Butterfly Net from the book 7 Habits of Happy Kids. 

The lesson of the story is to listen before you talk. Learn to listen not only with your ears but also with your eyes and heart. They also read Aesop’s Fable The Farmer and His Sons. The moral of the story is, Industry is itself a treasure. Working hard will reap rewards. 

The Eagles were introduced to the Hunt-Lenox Globe. It is the second-oldest surviving terrestrial globe and also the oldest known globe to depict the Americas. The globe is covered in hidden details and pictures, including the Latin phrase, HC SVNT DRACONES, or “here be dragons.” They talked about the Hero’s Journey and when they might find dragons along the way and what could the dragons be disguised as? Mr. TJ asked the Eagles “Is Acton a place where you can face and fight your dragons?” The Eagles all agreed that it was, and we decided that we will put the phrase HC SVNT DRACONES on the wall!! : )

During civilizations, the Adventurers listened to African Kingdoms. They imagined that they were a Ghanaian king, ruling over a very wealthy kingdom thanks to taxing gold and salt. However, they are not Muslim kings like those around them, and they are being attacked for it. Would they choose to pretend to convert to Islam, convert to Islam, or not change their religion?

All Adventurers, except one, thought that they should reject the demand to change religion and fight. “People should have the right to choose their religion!” As we continued to read, we discovered that this is what the Ghanaian king decided to do and unfortunately lost his kingdom.

The Adventurers also learned about the brutalities of working in the salt mines and the dangers of crossing the Sahara Desert. They were asked if they would rather work their adult lives in the salt mines or attempt crossing the Sahara in search of new gold or salt? Everyone chose to cross the Sahara. “The gold and salt could make you rich.” To conclude, the Adventurers reflected upon the Songhay Empire, which was easily the largest in all of Africa. However, they lost to a much smaller Moroccan Empire in battle simply because of the weapons the Moroccans had. 

The Adventurers had to choose whether to agree or disagree: Nothing else matters for a civilization if it lacks great weapons and a strong military to fend off threats.

There was division on this topic. Their thoughts were: Disagree, “if you have more people you could come up with a better defense plan than your enemy.” Disagree, “you could pick a place to live that is hard to get to or well hidden so you are harder to attack.” Agree, “you can easily be taken down if you don’t have good weapons.”

Civilizations for the Explorers was about the Olympics and the different ideals that sport can represent. The Eagles agreed that sport can show many different ideals and that strength of character and body was chief among them. On Thursday we discussed the rise of the Persian empire and the effects of cruel leadership on a people and what will happen when a kind and good leader has the chance to take control.

During Writer’s Workshop the Explorers worked more on sight words. They paired up and had a scavenger hunt!

We had a great time at Ahern Park this week! Mr. TJ took a group that was interested and went into the woods to learn how to make shelters. They had a blast. Some of the Eagles found an old fishing rod and tackle and were able to go fishing but they didn’t end up catching anything.

The Eagles Character Trait Focus this week was being shy. They read the book, Feeling Shy! When are some times you feel shy? Why? “When it was my first time coming here.”

How do you stop feeling shy at those times? “Knowing other people.” “Friends asking me to play.”

When are times you feel confident? Do you do things at these times that you could try doing when you feel shy? “When I see a familiar face.” “When I’m good at something.”

We had a launch discussion about reasonable expectations and using our tough-minded versus warm-hearted mindsets to recognize when we should hold someone to the full force of the contract or when we should use a chance to teach someone what is right. We discussed a law passed in Texas that said that reasonable freedom for children would be protected, like walking to school, going to the park, or waiting in a car for short periods of time. We discussed what would be reasonable for different ages or people. Then tied that into how we hold people accountable and the difference between a teachable moment and a time to punish.

During Quest the Eagles watched a video about Bee Sweet Lemonade, a business that was started at the Children’s Business Fair and is now worth over $1,000,000 and is sold in Whole Foods stores. The Eagles took a deep dive into who their customer should be and what makes a customer attractive or unattractive. They also played an economics games where they investigated how to make a profit and the equation: Contribution – fixed period costs = profit and Profit – sunk costs = money you can pocket immediately. They also worked on designing their booths and logos.

Another part of Entrepreneurship Quest is that the Adventurers are visiting local businesses and interviewing the owners about what it is like to own a business! They came up with 10 questions and we set up the business tours. On Tuesday the Eagles visited the Downtown Gym and were able to see behind the scenes and find out the things that the owner needs to think about (customer experience, competition and employee happiness). On Thursday the Eagles visited Daub’s Cobbler Shop and were able to see a shoe being re-soled and how to use a sewing machine on boots and shoes. They learned all about attention to details and the freedom of doing something you love and are passionate about. The equipment was impressive!

PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on The Flame that Burns for Acton Parents

PPS – Remember our last Exhibition of the year and end of the year celebration and BBQ will be Thursday June 25th, 3:30-6pm!

Week 38

May 31, 2021

This week we started the Entrepreneur Quest and there were literally hoots and hollers of joy and excitement when the Eagles sat down for their first Quest meeting and Mr. TJ announced the theme! They started with brainstorming ideas on Motivation Island. They also heard a version of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare and they related that to business and investing ideas. Ask your Eagle about The Bootstrap Tortoise, the Asset Fox, and the MBA Hare. (Most of the Eagles claimed to be a Bootstrap Tortoise).

On Day 2 of Quest the Eagles were presented with this question: Over the years, Acton MBA students have done thousands of interviews with successful people from 30 to 85 years old. If you listen carefully, the older, wiser role models will all tell you the same thing: near the end of life, you will ask some form of the following three questions:

Did I contribute something meaningful?

Was I a good person?

Who did I love and who loved me?

Thinking again to your future, which of these questions about life will be most important for you to answer? 

The Eagles answered: “Being a good person because otherwise I wouldn’t be happy” “Contribute because that means I helped other people.” “Be a good person because without that I couldn’t be the other things (wanting to contribute and being loved by people).” “Contributing because that happens first, that makes you a good person and people will love you for your contributions.” “Loved because it would motivate me to do the other things like be a good person and contribute to others.” Very insightful answers!!

During Art the Eagles started working on the Logos for their businesses including coming up with business names! We are lucky to have Ms. Marilee – she is a professional graphic designer and a great resource for the Eagles.

Mr. TJ had a heart-felt morning launch discussion with the Eagles on Friday. He told them that he saw them working hard and having more focus during core skill time lately. He then asked them how they feel about their progress this year and how the year is ending (he asked this because he also noticed a lot of anxiety about work in the studio). They answered with these comments: “I think I’m not working as hard as I could be.” “I don’t think I will get all of the badges done by the end of the session.” “I have definitely learned a lot and I feel like I’m where I should be but I’m still not going fast enough to get the Badges.” “I am not going to have my badge plan done.” Then we discovered that there was rumor going around that you would be kicked out of Acton if you didn’t finish your Badge Plan!!! Mr. TJ reaffirmed to them that they are safe here – and that this school is all about going at your own pace. We want them to succeed and challenge themselves but if they need to go at a slower pace in a certain subject, that is fine! You could see the shoulders started to relax around the circle! Then, to make the point extra clear, he took them outside and he asked a few of the smallest Eagles to lift an 80 lb rock. They couldn’t do it. He asked the group “Was it reasonable for me to ask them to lift that rock?” They answered “No”. He said “Maybe it wasn’t reasonable for me to ask you to learn a new system of school, learn about accountability, get used to having new freedoms and responsibilities, learn new ways of being, and focus on a full Badge Plan all at the same time.”

Civilizations with the Explorers was interesting. We talked about Greek writing and Greek stories like the Iliad and the Odyssey. The discussion was focused around what the writings gave to the English language. They thought it was quite funny that their names would be missing most of the letters without Greek writing. On Thursday they read Odysseus versus the cyclops. The discussion focused on how being the biggest and the strongest is not always the best way to win. Being creative and using your imagination are just as important.

Civilizations with the Adventurers focused on Wars for the English Throne The Wars of the Roses and The Princess in the Tower.

They were asked, Is it foolish for a king to fight on the battlefield because the country could lose its ruler? Or is it brilliant because of how it would display patriotism and motivate soldiers?

The responses were, “He should fight. It does show patriotism,” and “It’s good to be with the soldiers and helping out.”

The Adventurers heard the story of a deceptive and throne-thirsty uncle and the disappearance of two young princes. They then thought about, If you were the Queen hiding with your son in the church, do you obey the order of Richard to send your last son to be with his brother, or do you make a plea to keep your son, knowing he is safe with you but risk further angering Richard?

The Adventurers who shared their opinions said, “I would keep him with me in the church because sending him away would be unsafe.” “He’ll be safer with his mom.” “His mom can keep an eye on him.” After listening to the entire story about Richard and his nephews the Adventurers were asked if they agree or disagree: Richard was planning all along to take the throne and kill his nephews.

All Adventurers agreed! “It’s very suspicious how they died in the end.” 

During civilizations on Thursday, the Adventurers returned to Spain, and a new kingdom emerging just beside it. Henry the Navigator was the fourth son of the king of Portugal, meaning he would most likely never assume the throne with three brothers ahead of him. This enabled his dedication to sailing and navigating. The Adventurers were asked, “If you were a child of a king, would you want to be the oldest, knowing your path in life is already set but to a powerful throne? Or be the youngest, where you are unlikely to rule over a kingdom but can enjoy much more freedom in your life choices?”

Two of the eleven Adventurers chose to be the oldest. “I don’t just want to play. I would help more as King.” “I want to take care of my responsibilities and kingdom.” Their opinions made it so all but three Adventures changed their minds from wanting to be the youngest sibling to being the eldest.

The arguments for being the youngest sibling were, “I don’t want to sit on the throne all day.” “There’s too much responsibility and too many people depend on you.”

During Writer’s Workshop the Explorers focused on differentiating between Fiction and NonFiction books. The Non-Fiction shelf in the library was a mess and they went through all the books to categorize them and bring the shelf back to organization. They also worked more on writing the date – especially now that we are in a new month!

To continue with learning about the New England States, Ms. Kerry read some facts and stories about Massachusetts to the Explorers. The Explorers thought it was crazy that there is an old Boston law that states that no one shall take more than one bath per week. There is another old law that states that you are not allowed to sleep in your day clothing!

On Wednesday we had a visitor – the Owner of Acton Academy Kennebunkport spent the day with us! She loved our morning launch on grit and determination. Mr. TJ showed a video clip of Tommy Caldwell free climbing Yosemite’s Dawn Wall!

Please make sure to read my earlier email on Important Dates in June!!! (the 22nd and 24th!).

PS – Please read Laura’s parent blog on Badges with a link to a video of the Eagles explaining What We Wish Our Parents Knew About Badges

Week 36

May 17, 2021

We started the week off with a Launch discussion about what it means to “eat the frog”! This is a very common saying in the personal development world which basically means that you should tackle the hardest thing on your to-do list first. The thing that you really don’t want to do but you know that you have to do it – that is your “frog” – and it should be the first thing you do! The Eagles then had their Faction meetings where they talk about their individual goals for the week and they added talking about the “frog”. If everyone in the Faction gets their frog accomplished, then they earn extra free time.

Ms. Jess is back from her honeymoon and the Eagles presented her with a cake decorated with music notes and a big card shaped like a guitar! (pics below!)

During Quest the Eagles put the finishing touches on their garden projects. Some teams were rushing to try to finish the things that they had procrastinated on and we can see that they are learning the lesson about being rewarded by staying on task. Some of the Eagles are very disappointed that they did not have a garden to show their families during Exhibition. “What went wrong?” they asked “how come one group was done with everything a week early while other groups struggled to complete even one task?”

During Art, the Eagles worked on clay projects. For music they continued to learn about beats and notes and rests in written music. Gym was fun with stations for the Explorers and games for the Adventures. Coach Jay and Mr. TJ took on the Adventurers in a type of tag game where they clearly showed the importance of communication.

During Civilizations the Explorers heard about Crete and early Greece. Mr TJ tried to get them to understand what arrogance is. He asked if the Cretans were arrogant for thinking they could defeat a bunch of barbarians without much effort? What ended up happening was that they became slaves to the barbarians.

During civilizations, the Adventurers read about France and England at War – Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt and Joan of Arc. They heard about how life began to reshape after the Plague devastated Europe. The Adventurers were asked to, “imagine you are a general on either side of the Hundred Years’ War. The Plague is devastating your soldiers, along with their families back home; but the same is true for your opponent. Do you order your men to fight on, increasing the odds of victory, or honor them and their families by stopping (knowing war will just pick up where it left off eventually)?” The Adventurers made solid cases for both options.

“Keep fighting. Finish what you started. It will increase your chance of victory.”

“Send them back to their families. The Plague is very contagious!”

“Go home because if everyone gets sick you won’t have an army to fight with.”

The Adventurers also briefly learned about Joan of Arc.

Continuing with our new “letter writing station” at the studio, during Writer’s Workshop the Explorers discussed: What is an address? What is its purpose? 

Who would like their address searched on Google maps? All Explorers did!

How to address an envelope https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjFSKDsMZmk

Let’s practice writing our address on our personal whiteboards, and then in smaller print on envelope-sized paper, and then on mock envelopes. Is it easier to write your address in large print or small print?

The Explorers read 7 Habits of Happy Kids- Lily Plants a Garden

Have you ever been super excited to do something?

“Buying a new house someday.” “I was so excited to go to Acton!” “I’m excited about going to MA for two days!”

Why was Lily’s mom worried? “She knows a garden is hard work and she might have to do all the work.”

In the end, why were both Lily and her mom happy? “Because they both got what they wanted. Mom wanted strawberries and not to have to do all the work. Lily got her garden.”

Why is it important to think about making others happy as well as yourself?

“It makes me happy to make others happy.” 

During Exhibition debrief, the Eagles wrote thank you letters to Andie from Prescott Farm. They also reviewed the surveys filled out by everyone who attended the event. The more notable discussions were about how they could have done better. The feedback from the guests was mostly along the lines of “I didn’t know what was going on, I wasn’t sure when the event ended, My Eagle didn’t explain anything to me, Were there experiments? No one showed them to me”. First the Eagles talked about what they thought went well: Bode’s reading of his writer’s workshop piece, how they displayed their art and writing, some of the presentations, and the studio tours. We asked them: What would you change if you could do it all again? “make the outside set up different, spend more time preparing speeches, actually follow the schedule, keep our team accountable to being at the booth to present, prepare a closing speech so people know when it’s done (thanks for coming), make a stronger set of expectations for Eagles and parents so they know what to do, have a better schedule (start at this booth then go to the next, etc.)”. We then asked them to break into their teams and come up with 4 things that they could have done from the start of Quest to have a better outcome. They came up with “focus better, better time management, not roll on the floor, get quest challenges done on the day they are assigned, stay on task, be more organized with our finished worksheets so they don’t get lost, work harder, take time to read the directions”. There were a lot of ah-ha moments and we hope to see this learning reflected at the last Exhibition!!!

Mr. TJ has created an amazing, new-age, Hero’s Journey poster that our Art Guide, Ms. Marilee has brought to life on paper! Mr. TJ showed the Eagles on Thursday and explained the new “path of the Hero”. It is game board themed and in the shape of an infinity sign. We hope to have this on our wall next Session!!!

On Friday during closing circle we celebrated Gemma, Noah and Ben as they leave Acton and move on to a new journey! They were presented with jars full of well-wishes from all of the Eagles to take with them on their next adventure. They will be missed!

Have a wonderful Spring Break – we will see you back at the studio on Tuesday, June 1st!

PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on What Does it Mean to be Learner-Driven?

Week 35

May 10, 2021

“You reap what you sow”. None of the Eagles had heard this phrase before. During this discussion, one Eagle made a beautiful connection of the concept to how his group is doing in this Quest. He said “In the beginning we weren’t working hard or getting anything done and we were way behind and then when we started focusing and putting in effort and getting work done, we realized that we might make it to actually planting our garden by the deadline!” They also talked about, if you plant spoiled seeds, are you going to get a good garden? They played a tag game where half of the Eagles could run and half could only walk and they realized that, while running took more energy, you were more likely to win and get farther.

During Quest the Eagles continued working on their daily challenges. The team that is furthest along and ready to plant their garden actually went on a special field trip to Lowes to pick out their plants and seeds! Each team is at a different place in the quest, depending on their efforts and ability to focus. You will see this at the Exhibition. : )

During yoga the Adventurers worked on handstands and different, more complex poses.

The Explorers had a launch on passions. We told them “Next Friday, you’re going to get the chance to research your passions during core skills time, but only if you put the time and effort in to get a lot done during the other days.” What is a passion? What are some of the things you are passionate about? How awesome would it be if you could use your morning core skills time next Friday to find out more about these topics? As Mr. TJ said during one of the Quest launches, “You reap what you sow.” If you put in the time and effort to complete core skill tasks, you will earn passion time on Friday. Be a self-starter. Be driven and goal-oriented. Do this for yourself! There is a picture below of all the ideas they came up with in a heart. If they want to learn about outer space, they can dive deep into that during this Friday time. Or butterflies, or rock climbing, or anything!

We introduced letter-writing to the Eagles. We showed them how to write the main address and return address on an envelope and where to put the stamp. They now have a station dedicated to mailing cards and letters. They were VERY excited to try this out and for our Adventurers, each letter they send counts as a writing prompt toward their Writing Badges. They are mostly writing these cards to each other so you might find some letters to your Eagle the next time you go to the mailbox.

For civilizations the Explorers learned about the bull jumpers of Crete. The Cretans had to decide to be sailors (pirates) or a bull jumper or a soldier. Bull jumpers were basically professional athletes who were showered with gifts and the best houses. The question was do the bull jumpers actually contribute to society and is this right? Why or why not? The Explorers were all over with their answers. The Explorers were also asked which profession they would choose. Crete had a lot of earthquakes and volcanoes. If you lived in a place like that would you stay or run away? Only one Explorer chose to stay on the island and he said that if everyone else ran away, he would be left with all the land and the whole place to himself and there was no guarantee that the volcano would erupt.

During Civilizations the Adventurers were introduced to the Black Plague and its devastating effects on the civilized world. They were asked to imagine- you are ruling a small village in Italy when a group of your own people arrives on a ship, pleading to be taken in. Do you allow them to come ashore and demand they remain separate from your village, but still risk the Plague wiping it out? Or do you leave your fellow citizens to a brutal death on a ship? Mostly everyone agreed to let the people on land but keep them separate from their village. “Stay separate on the land because they deserve to be on land.”

“Give them what they need to survive on land but stay separate.”

The Adventurers then opined about what job would have been most challenging, a doctor during the Plague, or a medic during a medieval war? There were mixed thoughts about this. Two responses were, ” A medic in war is harder because more people get hurt at a time and the enemy might still be trying to kill you while you are stopped trying to help others” and “a doctor is more challenging because they have to go into peoples’ houses and everyone is contagious.” The Adventurers concluded civilizations with the awareness that the Plague killed 1 out of 3 people. The countryside was depleted of essential workers to tend the farmlands and many people chose to move to the cities where they could learn a trade and make a living. 

For Art the Eagles scratched drawings into black scratch paper. They had a lot of fun with that!

We had a launch on Sara Blakely, the woman who invented Spanx and started her own company in her 20s. By the time she was 30 she was a millionaire and she is currently a billionaire because she never gave up on her idea, even amidst many failures. She attributed her success to her nightly dinners with her family where her Dad would ask her every night “what did you fail at today?” and then he would high-five her and celebrate the failure. If she had nothing to share, he was very disappointed. This made her more comfortable with failures and instilled an attitude of trying and experiencing new things! The Eagles defined failure as “Not trying!” and I thought that was perfect!! When asked “Is failure permanent?” they answered “Only if you give up”. We have decided to each share a failure at closing circle and celebrate Eagles trying!

After reading our hero story last week about Albert Einstein, the Explorers wondered why a compass always points north. They watched a short video that explains how compasses work. The Explorers also continued learning about the New England states. This week focused on Vermont.

The Explorers learned more about US currency. They worked on:

Adding pennies (counting by 1s)

Adding dimes (counting by 10s)

And they played, “I have…who has…?” game. I have a penny. Who has a dime?

I have a dime! Who has a quarter? 

The Explorers read The Berenstain Bears and the Truth. They were asked:How does lying to others make you feel? How do you think it makes the person feel that you lied to? Have any of you lied about something and then felt terrible about the lying? Did you end up eventually telling the truth?

The Explorers talked about procrastination.

Why is it so important to put first things first?

Work first, then play.

Explorers were given the freedom to choose when to eat their lunch during our hour-long lunch and free time period. However, we have noticed (and so have some parents) that the Explorers did not make the choice to eat, but to solely play during that time. Since the expectations were not met, they have now lost that freedom to choose and will go back to being required to eat first and then play. 

When we leave the studio to walk to gym, if the Eagles aren’t at the gate by the time that we leave, they are made to stay back at the studio and either work on core skills or sit quietly with their hands in their lap. This week only 3 of the Explorers were at the gate when we were ready to leave. It was a hard consequence for the rest of them but we think the lesson hit home. They all made sure to line up early when we were getting ready to leave for Ahern park.

The Eagles decided to bake a cake and make a big guitar card for Ms. Jess who got married on Saturday and is currently on her honeymoon! They are excited to have her back and celebrate with her : )

We look forward to seeing you all at the Garden Quest Exhibition this Thursday, May 20th from 3-5pm!

PS – Here is a link to Laura’s blog on Acton Tools To Use at Home.

Week 34

May 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever felt jealous? Why?

How do you stop feeling jealous?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 33

April 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 32

April 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environment, meaning the right space?

Support, meaning the right companions?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They learned the New England States Song (includes capitals)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 31

April 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 30

March 29, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMPORTANT DATES:

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

Week 29

March 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We continued our mindfullness Headspace class on Wednesday.

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

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

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

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

Week 28

March 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 27

March 8, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 26

March 1, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DATES TO REMEMBER:

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

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

Week 25

February 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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