WEEK 21 (01/10/22) Boats, Cars and Cells

UPCOMING EVENTS

Jan 17th MLK Day – No Classes
Jan. 28th – Parent Coffee Friday
Jan. 31st – Deadline for Family Badges
Feb. 4th – Parent Lunch 11:30-1pm at the Belknap Mill


PARENT RESOURCES SPOTLIGHT

This is an amazing Blog titled: Feeling Lonely or Insecure as an Acton Parent? I HIGHLY recommend that you read it, I believe that it will speak to all of you in some way.

Here is a video on how to schedule Journey Tracker Check-ins with your Eagles.

If you are looking to buy at home Covid tests, the Walgreens in Tilton had a few! Call ahead as I am sure they will sell out soon.


THE PRETTY

(From Mr. TJ) The learners are crushing at skiing and snowboarding. I had worked in the snowsports industry for a long time and quite frankly it is rare to find a group that progresses at a rate like this. I would like to shout out to the whole school for working hard and progressing in these skills.

I also wanted to share a poem that Ms. Kerry wrote for the Eagles to inspire them with writing their own Rhyming Poems:

The yard is covered in January snows,Patrick and Teddy are gathering everyone to play Shark and Minnows.

Bryce and David are running around the yard,Braydon yells, “No puppy guard!”
The bitter cold sails in on an imaginary boat,Jasper runs inside to put on his coat.
Who’s way up at the top of the tree?It’s Amadeus hiding from all who can see.

Sophia, Lillian, and Samantha are down below,Practicing dance routines and singing songs to all who say hello.

Is that Finn or Noah that made the doorbell ring?Pop! Swoosh! Pretend it’s the end of spring.

Bode sketches bikes and dreams of practicing his reflex, He envisions being at Highland riding on his BMX.

PE and Forest Friday are back!That makes the Eagles happy, especially Vivian & Jack.
Margaret, Ellie, and Aliyah can’t wait to sit by the lake,They’re hoping to pick out a snack that they can take.

Trace plans a spot to build a new fort,He invites Cody along, what a good sport!
Zoom! Zap! Back to January our minds travel,Nolan wonders how all of this will unravel.

THE GRITTY

The Adventurers haven’t been giving each other many warnings and strikes lately, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however we realize that Eagles are “getting away” with things and not following the contract. They aren’t holding each other accountable. Ms. Kerry asked them what was happening. They said they are choosing to be passive when others do something that they think is unkind or disrespectful and letting them get away with it because they don’t want the other Eagle to yell at them. Other reasons were that it is their friend and they don’t know what to say. They also pointed out that they have been getting better at working out disagreements on their own without needing to go to a Faction Head.We then discussed strategies and went over our judicial system again. 


ADVENTURER ELEMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

The Adventurers had a morning launch on the importance of reading through all instructions before beginning a task. 

They talked about isolating variables to do science experiments and how to isolate variables on their cars to make them better. They raced balloon-powered cars and they created performance guides. They discussed the challenges they had in making their cars and in communicating with their partners.

This week they also learned about displacement and buoyancy. They made boats out of straws, glue, elastics, cups and popsicle sticks. The challenge was to see if your boat would float and then how many pennies could it hold before it began to sink?
They practiced ‘square breathing’ to use whenever they need help calming down or focusing. They talked about hearing and listening. They played a voice recognition game, then they were asked: Would you rather lose your hearing or your sight? How come?

“Hearing because I could still see where I’m going and wouldn’t need a walker or dog or anything like that.”
“If you can’t see there might be a hole that you fall into.”
“Hearing because you can still read messages and it would be a lot easier for life skills. You could still swim and walk normally. If you couldn’t see you would not be able to walk normally and it would be harder in life.”
“Sight because who would teach you to read?”
“I’d rather be deaf because I would be less likely to die. If you can’t see, then you wouldn’t know if anyone was coming after you!”

The Eagles watched a video and had a discussion about what being passive, assertive, and aggressive looks and sounds like — the goal being to equip our learners to be more aware of their responses to one another and how their response may be interpreted. 

The elementary eagles were introduced to finger numbers for piano playing — ask them to show you! We discovered our student-to-piano ratio was too high, so we will seek to improve this with more keyboards. If your student has their own keyboard, please have them bring it on Thursdays.

We talked about how Monday is MLK Jr. day. Ms Kerry asked What is something that you want to learn about MLK Jr. or Civil rights?

“I want to learn more about what he did.”
“I want to learn about his family.” 

After they watched a video on the Civil Rights movement, we asked them what they learned that surprised them. They said:

“That the people gathered around the capitol to fight for freedom.”
“What surprised me the most was that they didn’t even use the same bathrooms.”
“There was a lot more discrimination than I thought!”
“It isn’t fair that white people got whatever they wanted and the brown people kept getting punished.”

During Art the Eagles drew self-portraits while looking at pictures of themselves that Ms. Marilee printed. Music was fun with Ms. Rachel. Sparks experimented with shakers sounds by trying corks, beads, scrabble letters, rice, and pasta. Four students voted for rice, and two for beads. Next week we will create and decorate our own shakers to use for the rest of the session.

A call out to all who earned Badges this week:

  • Jack Piper Mountain Math Badge
  • Lillian Piper Mountain Math Badge
  • Finnian Spark Literacy 7 Badge
  • Noah Spark Literacy 6 Badge
  • Lenoncini Family Plan Badge

MIDDLE SCHOOL PATHFINDER HIGHLIGHTS

Biology Quest

This week during Quest, we got to do skits for Quest where the learners performed a skit from the perspective of a cell following a certain process. These were rather entertaining and I (Mr. TJ) even got to participate.

Our biology hero biographies are plugging along. The Pathfinders continue to learn about cells and the differences between plant and animal cells. They also researched what is a protein and what is an enzyme. I look forward to getting to look over the rough drafts this weekend.

Civilizations this week was looking into the “Dark Ages” and their effects on society. Also were they really “Dark”?

The launch this week that was most notable was on Monday, our launch was run by Zoe. I am impressed with the quality of the launch especially since she was remote while giving it.

It centered on plagiarism and what is the fine line that defines it.

The studio has been struggling with energy this week. Between missing our friends Zoe and Kendall and other Pathfinders being in and out it has made it difficult to keep our energy high. I will say that the Pathfinders have found a way through it. 

A shout out to Ava for earning her Deep Book Badge!


SPARK CORNER

This week was a great continuation of learning to use our goal board and exploration of physics during quest time. Or course we can’t leave out the amazing growth on the ski slopes.

The sparks are really starting to be able to utilize the goal board to keep themselves on track. When I see one of them straying and losing focus it has been great to direct them to the board so they can refocus themselves. This week the expectation for productive time was increased from five marbles to seven marbles. These are distributed during core skill debrief each day. It is a great time for them to recall their work and have a chance to talk in front of their peers about their accomplishments. I will roll the marble across the floor saying, “you are 3/7ths of the way to productive time.” Ask your spark about what they did to earn their productive time each day. It will be a great way to show them how important their goal setting is and to recall what they did.

Watching them all build cars during quest time was also so much fun. Problem-solving, teamwork, and excitement were all about the studio. Each built a working car and had a blast testing them down the ramp.


WEEK 20 – Jan 3, 2022

UPCOMING EVENTS

Jan 17th MLK Day – No Classes
Jan. 28th – Parent Coffee Friday
Jan. 31st – Deadline for Family Badges

PARENT RESOURCES SPOTLIGHT

Here is a link to next year’s school calendar! 
Here is a link to a Video made by Jeff and Laura Sandefer for the owners of Actons. It’s called “Why “kids” is a dirty word” (you might have to download it to open it)A FEW ASKS PLEASE:

  • Next Wed. skiing is supposed to be very cold, please consider sending a neck warmer for your Eagle that day!
  • Ms. Rachel is hoping to do a music experiment next Thursday with the Eagles and is in need of 10 empty plastic peanut butter jars and some dried beans or gluten free cereal.
  • We are looking for keyboards to borrow for this session if you have any at home or know of anyone who would lend!

The Pretty:
Wednesday was our first day skiing at Gunstock!! It went fantastically, the Eagles had so much fun and we saw a lot of grit and perseverance of getting back up every time they fell. 

Mr. TJ went around and asked all of the employees at Gunstock whom we made contact with, and asked them if the Eagles were kind and respectful. Guess what the answer was? YES! 

Our Eagles embodied the Acton spirit. They were seen as a Tribe, working on their individual goals, but also showing support and encouragement to their fellow Eagles. 

For showing such strong positive character traits, such as being courteous, hard working, energetic, encouraging, and perseverance, all Eagles earned 30 Journey Tracker Points to go towards the 200 point bounty needed to earn productive time on Friday.

The development of positive character is an integral part of the Hero’s journey – way to soar at Gunstock! 

The Gritty:
The Adventurers were not holding each other accountable for studio maintenance this week and the studio fell into a disaster-zone. On Friday morning, Ms. Kerry walked through the studio with all of the Eagles and had them point out things that needed to be fixed. They then initiated a deep cleaning of the studio and could only go to free time once a “Mystery Inspector” signed off that everything was clean. Pic of “Mystery Inspector” to the right……


ADVENTURER ELEMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

The Adventurers started the Quest of Newton’s Toy Workshop! On this quest, Eagles will play the role of a toy designers. They’ll start by learning all about basic concepts in physics by building different contraptions and conducting experiments.

This week they learned about the force of gravity by making race cars and ramps with a partner. They also learned about concepts in physics such as potential energy, kinetic energy, and velocity. They also learned about thrust and momentum and watched a TedEx on mini rocket-ships. 

During Writer’s Workshop the Eagles learned about poetry. Ms. Kerry read a couple Shel Silverstein poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends. 
During Civilizations the Eagles learned about Ancient China. They contemplated the question: Is the principle of a dynasty fair or unfair to a civilization? Does your answer change if the ruling family or leader is great and fair, or cruel and selfish?

During Town Hall, the Eagles wanted to discuss: Being able to eat snack inside (during Core Skills) when it’s below freezing or raining. This PASSED and the Eagles came up with the following rules:

  • 2 at a time
  • Use timers
  • Anyone who does not have a desk/table is welcome to find an unused seat at the gray table
  • Snack is a time to eat, not to talk
  • Must wash hands before and after eating as well as clean area with Norwex
  • Library is a mask zone for those who don’t feel comfortable having someone next to them eating inside without their mask on, can continue working on their Core Skills

During Art, the Eagles painted cardboard snow-globe pictures! During Music they worked on piano basics of moving their fingers up and down the keys and loud and soft sounds.

Congratulations to Braydon for earning his Mount Washington Math Badge!! And to Sophia for earning her Mount Chocorua Reading Badge!!


MIDDLE SCHOOL PATHFINDER HIGHLIGHTS

Welcome to Biology!

We will be covering a whole heap of topics this session from cells and evolution through plants and animals ending on human bio. This session will be a challenge and we will come to see some struggles. Thanks for the support you offer your learners. 

In Genre, the Pathfinders were learning about biographies and defining what that would look like. They are going to be writing about Biology Heroes this session. Two learners have approved subjects, Jane Goodall and Louis Pasteur. Two very interesting and influential scientists.

Ask your learners what they are most excited about for biology and what they find most awe-inspiring about biology.

Congratulations to Ava for earning her Grammar badge!!


SPARK CORNER

The spark learners were so eager to get back to routine after the holiday break. Monday morning we introduced some new activities in the studio. The motivation and determination of these young learners not only shocked me but also shed light on just how much they are embracing their own Hero’s Journey. Each set big daily goals for themselves and they all met and exceeded each and every one.

The daily goal board has helped them to each see their accomplishments and strive to attain more checkmarks. Each spark is in charge of this process and leads their own learning path each day. We had two sparks that decided to push their challenge zone to the limit and each accomplished not only a milestone but an entire badge in just one core skill block of time. These accomplishments not only helped propel them but serve as a great encouragement to their peers.  

Quest this week also bought lots of enthusiasm. Each spark needed to design a ramp and meet two different challenges, the ‘longest distance achieved’ and ‘most accurate’. They all worked their fine and gross motor skills having to cut through strong cardboard and find the end of that pesky packing tape roll after each cut. They experimented with different ways of adjusting their ramps and helped each other through the challenges.  

We enjoyed hot wheels inspired productive time and Thomas the Train jumping to further our exploration of gravity, force, and momentum. We ended our time this week by experimenting with different styles of ramps and speeds in the snow. Each spark tried sledding on their bottoms, their knees, backward and tandem all with the goal to see which tactic would gain them the most speed and distance. They also worked together to add height to the sledding hill with the help of some shovels and good old-fashioned manual labor.
This week was a wonderful way to start the session, with lots of determination, focus, and joy of learning!

Congratulations Noah for earning his Spark Math 4 badge and to Aliyah for earning her Spark Math 5 Badge!


WEEK 17 – Dec 13, 2021

UPCOMING EVENTS

Dec. 20th to 31st – Winter Break
Jan 17th MLK Day – No Classes
Jan. 28th – Parent Coffee Friday

PARENT RESOURCES SPOTLIGHT

This is a video I recorded on Growth Mindset. This video was recorded for my marketing newsletter but I think it might be valuable for you to watch as an introduction to Growth Mindset. 

Monthly Book Recommendation: The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan


The Pretty:
The Adventurers had a big discussion about how, at Acton, we often push you to take on challenges that “break you down” in order to allow your mental muscles to gain strength – if there is no discomfort, there will be no growth. 
They were asked: Imagine some of the character traits you are building at Acton as muscles. What are some of the traits you are building? The Eagles said: cooperation, friendship, focus, being selfless, being a hard worker, being respectful.

They were asked: Which “muscles” do you personally feel you need to work on strengthening?”could take a breath and cool down, part of mindfulness, practice resetting your body, mind, and body reset, giving cool feedback, being curious” why? “Because you need to figure out why you are mad in the first place, ask yourself why you are mad.”

The Gritty – from MS
Some of the MS Eagles had challenges with their emotions this week. Mr. TJ reminded them all of the effective ways to communicate their feelings to each other: “When you do ______, it makes me feel ______” And even to walk away if you are feeling too angry to talk. Just saying “I need a minute” and walking away can diffuse a situation before it moves into chaos. The Eagles had a lot of practice with this week and we started seeing a substantial improvement in communication. We also saw them starting to take a pause before just blindly reacting to a situation.


ADVENTURER ELEMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

The Adventurers read the Hero’s Journey story of the Grinch and noticed two different callings in this story. One of the callings would leave the Grinch’s character unchanged and the other calling helped him grow. The first calling was to steal Christmas and the second calling was to return the presents and present himself as a happier enlightened Grinch.

During Kindness Quest they learned about the history of Christmas Cards and then they practiced writing friendly letters.
On Wednesday, the Eagles re-read their feedback from the last Exhibition before they planned Thursday’s Exhibition to remind themselves of what they wanted to work on and change. They then decided to break into groups and each focused on one part of the schedule.

Upon Exhibition reflection on Friday, the Eagles thought that they did a good job of staying off the playground this time, they really liked the way the lights looked, they thought they could have made the schedule better and maybe have the potluck start after all the parents had seen everyone’s work and the slide show.

On Friday the Eagles continued spreading Holiday Cheer by caroling to all the businesses in downtown Laconia. They then came back to the studio for a hot chocolate treat!

Thank you Ms. Rachel for organizing the Exhibition Pot Luck – it was delicious!


MIDDLE SCHOOL PATHFINDER HIGHLIGHTS

The Trial of Socrates

During Civilizations, the Pathfinders were challenged to examine the effects of Greek philosophy and religion on western society. This included whether philosophy has failed because of the lack of concrete answers to the big questions. Most Pathfinders seemed to believe that they were prepared to say philosophy has not been a waste of time. This is because the questions are large and need time, effort, and focus to answer.

This week we launched on multiple topics. Including developing our passive observation and memory skills, as well as, the nature of philosophy, and the change of their understanding through this session.

Quest culminated in the trial this week. The preparation some of the Pathfinders put in was deep and well-practiced. This included our Crito who was credited with saving Socrates from his fate of being put to death with her Pathos-focused defense.

For this week were the final edits and green-lighting of their myths. A big shout out to Ava for winning best myth with her beautiful story about a dog. It definitely kept me enthralled.

Most of the pathfinders ended the session with their badges. Including Zoe earning a Math and Grammar Badge (Woot Woot).


SPARK CORNER

This week brought lots of fun for the Sparks. Holiday prep and quest time brought great opportunities for the sparks to focus on their writing skills and kindness. Holiday cards were written, addressed, and mailed. It gave great opportunities for younger Eagles to work with older eagles and learn lessons in teamwork and patience.  

Ms. Kerry started our week off with How the Grinch Stole Christmas and incorporated some wonderful character traits to be mindful of not only during the holiday season but year-round. The sparks continued the Grinch theme within their studio practicing cutting, gluing, and writing, and some math games all with the Grinch himself.  

The Sparks also had sensorial and practical life skills this week with group tea time and muddy buddy making. Tea time was a great opportunity to listen to mindfulness meditation and breathe in the peppermint smells of steeping tea. Muddy buddy-making brought challenges of patience and following directions.  

Exhibition prep was also a highlight for the Sparks. Each of them had time to sit and look through their work and put together a book all of their own. It was wonderful to listen to each of them as they pulled their work out talking about what they learned, how well they colored, or how much fun one of the activities was. It was a great time to connect and see what each Spark enjoyed for activities so each session we keep gaining momentum and build excitement on our Hero’s Journey.  

WEEK 16 – Dec 6, 2021

PARENT RESOURCES SPOTLIGHT

Parent Video link by Mr. TJ on understanding Mastery vs. Perfection. Remember at Acton our standards are Mastery – achieving 100% on every subject so that there are no holes in your child’s education.

Monthly Book Recommendation: The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan


The Pretty:
Eagles voted that the pallets should be used to make one big fort on the playground that everyone is allowed to use. The Eagles created a list of expectations and if any of the expectations are broken, that individual will lose the privilege to use the fort for the remainder of the day. 

They formed a fort-building team to listen to everyone’s building suggestions. Each studio (MS and ES) will elect 2 members to be on the fort building team. 

The Gritty:
Ms. Kerry prepared a Socratic Discussion for the Eagles that centered around INTEGRITY. An incident that happened during that discussion was interesting because it totally sent the conversation in the right direction.

They started watching a video that explains what integrity means. Only one minute into the video, one of the Eagles asked another Eagle to leave the circle because he wasn’t following the Acton Rules of Engagement that states they should be respectful by not distracting and interrupting others.

When he was asked to leave, he said: “I’m not leaving. Nobody gave me a warning.” The other Eagle said he did get a warning and that he needed to leave but he refused since he was not given any warnings. Ms. Kerry asked some pointed questions and tried to clarify the differing expectations of the Eagles. Believe it or not, this discussion lasted for 45 minutes. And it all centered on integrity.

People can be biased. This was one of the points that were raised during the conversation. For example, an Eagle may be asking somebody across the circle to leave for being rude, but they’re not asking their best friend who’s sitting right next to them to leave who might also be doing the same thing. And if you aren’t going to hold everybody to the same standard, people aren’t going to listen to you. They’re going to fight back. That’s why this Eagle said, “Why should I leave when everybody else is doing the same thing?” — which was a great point. 

The Eagles started talking about how they should hold each other accountable, how they can become a better version of themselves and how they can help others do the same. We reminded them that we want Acton to be their safe place. A place where they can share their ideas and not worry that someone will laugh at them. A place where they can learn and practice how to be kind-hearted and be more accepting of others. A place where they can learn how to bring their friends along for that ride of growth and being better every day!

Here are what some of them said:

“When someone else is talking during circle, I’m going to be more respectful.”

“I’m going to hold others to a high level even during free time.” 

“I’m going to make sure that my friends use good language around the youngest learners.”

“I will help others when they need help.”

“I will include other Eagles besides my friends.”

“I will be better at standing up for myself and others.”

This 45-minute conversation was heavy and exhausting. It was also fulfilling because we sensed that the Eagles felt pride and accomplishment! 


ADVENTURER ELEMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

This week the Adventurers started the Sandwich Economics Quest. They dove into the concept of supply & demand and how that can affect the cost of groceries. They played a game looking at the different costs of sandwich ingredients listed in the Vista Grocery flyer. They worked through questions like

“How many sandwiches can you make from 1 loaf of bread?”

“How much does a tablespoon of mayo cost?”

“Is it more cost-effective to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or ham and cheese?”

Then they broke into teams to figure out what kind of sandwiches they wanted to make, how much they would cost, and the ingredients they would need. 1 *eligible* member from each team was able to go on the field trip to Vista Grocery to buy their ingredients.

Then they learned about assembly lines and the history of assembly lines. They pondered the idea of how to add an assembly line into their sandwich-making process. They concluded that using an assembly line would make the process faster and cleaner and the sandwich would be more excellent.

They talked about the hourly wage of an employee or Artisan Sandwich-maker and how that will add to the cost of the sandwich. They also talked about the Inspector and what quality standards they would be looking for in the finished sandwich. They didn’t need to pay for an inspector if the team encouraged each other with genuine Growth Mindset language.

On Thursday the Eagles dropped off 100 sandwiches at Isaiah 61 Café. Isaiah 61 Café is a nonprofit organization that provides a place for the less fortunate and brokenhearted in Laconia to have access to food, clothing, basic supplies, bathroom facilities, showers, lockers, washers, and dryers on a daily basis.

“No matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all. Integrity is Everything.”
– Unknown


MIDDLE SCHOOL PATHFINDER HIGHLIGHTS

A lot of hard work:

Civilizations this week was used as prep time for Socratic Smackdowns. The Pathfinders prepared questions like “Would Jesus or Socrates be more proud of America?” and “Imagine that, like an ancient Greek, you lived in a town with only 1,000 residents. What would be the positives of living in such a small community? The negatives? Do you believe the positives outweigh the negatives? Why?”. These were then tested in the crucible of a Socratic discussion done head to head between two pathfinders. They earned points based on the Socratic skills that were used. This was received as a very fun experience. It is clear the Pathfinders are learning a lot about how to be Socratic.

This week we turned our launches towards a bit of fun. We practiced our passive observational skills and our memories. We are working on using the Mind House Memory tool and recognizing small details in the environment around us; things we see all the time but might not take notice of. These skills are not only fun to learn but will serve the learners far into the future.

Our quest work has continued on preparing for the upcoming Trial of Socrates including quest launches designed to question base assumptions and sharpen the Pathfinders’ opinions and ideals. I don’t want to give too much away to our future jury (The parents at Exhibition!) so stay tuned for some fun.

During Genre, the Pathfinders are plugging away at their myths. Some are shaping up to be very involved. The subtle elegance of others is quite pleasing. The subtext in these is getting quite deep. I look forward to everyone getting to hear the winner of the class vote.

The Pathfinders this week had a lot of work to do. They have been quite busy and while some distractions have disrupted the flow, it has been a quiet week for work. This short session means that work needs to be done in a timely manner and shifting work to later does not work out this session. It seems the focus has been strong, although some distractions have razed the flow of the studio. These distractions have not been long-lived, however, and I look forward to the exhibition.


SPARK CORNER

We threw the Sparks a curve when Ms. Jessica was sick at the beginning of the week. The Sparks worked hard to make sure the Guides knew what to expect from them. I (Mr. TJ) got a lot of help in understanding the expectations of the Spark room from the Sparks themselves and would like to congratulate them for their integrity.

The Sparks created a story by going around the circle and each saying one word at a time! It was very creative! Then they created a story by each saying a sentence. Then they started working on drawings to go with each sentence – they plan to put everything together to create their own book!

They also had a ton of fun exploding their volcano on Friday!

Week 15

Nov 29, 2021

UPCOMING EVENTS

Wednesday, Dec. 15th from 5 to 8pm
PASS NIGHT at Gunstock! Free skiing at Gunstock. You can go get your Eagle’s season pass at any time! A message from Gunstock: “We are open 7 days a week, 9am-4pm and extended hours on Dec 2nd & 3rd until 7pm. Please do not delay in picking up your pass now! “

Thursday, December 16th from 3:30 to 5pm
Eagles Holiday Concert and Exhibition

December 20 to 31st – Winter Break


PARENT RESOURCES SPOTLIGHT

Link to Journey Tracker Videos.

Monthly Book Recommendation:The Gap and the Gain by Dan Sullivan

Here is a blog post by my friend and Acton Omaha owner, Rachel Benson. Beware – this is a tear-jerker!!! This story really dives into the transformation that can happen when there is an alignment of philosophy at home and at school.


The Pretty:
This week the Adventurers were heads down and focused on their core skills. We had more milestones awarded this week than ever before! The hard work from the first 2 sessions is finally clicking into place and the Eagles are excited about their momentum. 

The Gritty:
We had to dismantle their pallet forts. Mr. TJ observed a bunch of Eagles being very territorial, saying things like “This is our fort, this is all ours, you’re not allowed”. At Acton, this behavior is not acceptable. The consequence was losing their forts. A group of Eagles did come up with a creative way for them to prove themselves and earn back the right to build forts. Stay tuned.


ADVENTURER ELEMENTARY HIGHLIGHTS

Quest this week was all about Kindness. The Eagles each developed their own “Good Citizen Manifesto” and presented their final papers on Friday. One memorable discussion this week asked the questions: Are you a good citizen if you simply do no wrong and mind yourself? Or must you love and give to others and your country to be a good citizen? 

The Eagles said:
“You don’t have to give to others to be a good citizen, but helping others would make you a better citizen. It’s like following the guardrails here at Acton. You can just follow them or you could choose to embrace them.”

“I think you shouldn’t just keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself because if you help others then they will know you are a good person and then they will want to help others. This will make others more helpful.”

They also played the ‘how am I feeling?’ face and body language game. They had to pick out of the box a card with a feeling on it and use their face and body to show the emotion. Then other Eagles had to guess. Kind of like charades.


OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

This was our first week in Music class with Ms. Rachel! The Eagles had a blast singing Christmas Carols and playing hand-held instruments.

Also, this week brought the start of Holiday cheer and lots of decorating. It was a very busy 30 minutes. We have never seen so much decorating in such a short amount of time. Lights were hung, pipe cleaner decorations were made, paper chains were built, snowflakes cut and Christmas music sang. With the holiday fun brought some engaging worksheets and collaborative fun finding words in a winter word search.


MIDDLE SCHOOL PATHFINDER HIGHLIGHTS

This week the focus has been on ancient Athens and specifically the information surrounding the trial of Socrates. The discussions have focused on the dynamic between a free democratic society that is “inclusive” and the hypocrisy therein because it was limited to certain groups of people. The Pathfinders have expressed similarities and differences between our own system of government and how they could be improved, in their opinion.

Launches this week have been focused on Logic, Reason, and Persuasion in arguments. The Pathfinders are working through logical fallacies and are developing their skills in creating arguments that are fact-based and logical.

This Session’s Quest is entitled: The Trial of Socrates. This Quest is all about examining logical fallacies, the logic behind arguments, and the ideas behind democracy. It is focused on creating effective arguments and avoiding fallacies that could disrespect yourself and your opponent. It is a quest realistically all about building skills in civil discourse.

Genre this session is our creative outlet. Each Eagle is building a Greek-style myth that will be engaging and original. The Pathfinders began brainstorming their myths and writing the initial drafts of conflicts and encounters within their stories.

SPARK Corner (5 & 6 yr olds)

This week brought a lot of new excitement and independence in our new Spark corner of the studio. On our first day, we brainstormed ideas of what a Spark studio should be. We talked about having a group snack time and free time, practicing kindness (picking a seat in the morning is sometimes a process so kindness has been a huge focus right away), having a system to track our focus and completion of tasks to earn productive time on Fridays, and making sure to give clear and concise warnings.

Ask your Eagles about our small glass jars and what goes in them. You can ask questions about finding focus, respecting our materials, and completing a task. The movement of the Sparks in a more defined area brought so much more clarity to the tasks in front of them. It was wonderful to see our youngest Eagles picking a core skill and working on it through the entire duration of core skills.

To end our week the tribe all earned their productive time. We learned about hydrophobic sand, slime, putty and had sensory time with kinetic sand. Some of the older E.S. eagles joined us as well for all the fun. We mixed plaster and poured the mold of a volcano which we will learn how to make it erupt next Friday (as long as the Spark tribe as a whole earns productive time).

Week 14

Nov 15, 2021

Thank you to everyone who was able to make the Exhibition, and for filling out the feedback surveys! Those surveys helped tremendously during our Quest Debrief on Friday.

In the ES Studio, the Eagles thought the Exhibition was a great success. When they dove deeper and as the discussion progressed, they realized that many of the parents felt that they didn’t see their Eagles’ work displayed. Some of the Eagles said they didn’t put out their work because “there wasn’t room” or “they were afraid it would all blow away”. We talked about how a good many of the Eagles thought that it was OK to be playing on the playground during the Exhibition when announcements and games were going on. The Eagles reflected and admitted that this was disrespectful and that they should have been paying attention to the announcements and the schedule. The Eagles should have also been participating – some of the Eagles were under the false impression that the announcements and Exhibition were “just for Parents!”. They now understand that it is for everyone to be listening and helping their parents understand what they should be doing/ where to go. They recognized that there should have been better signage and directions for the continent game.

In the MS Studio, during Exhibition Debrief, the Eagles talked about the emotions that were provoked for them this Session such as anxiety and the fear of what was to come (giving speeches). The discussion focused on validating those emotions “it’s ok to be anxious and you should be nervous, especially if it is your first time giving a speech.” Mr. TJ asked: What is 1 step that we can do better? What is one thing we can do differently to make it 1% better next time? “I can prepare more!” “I can focus on getting things in on time”. “Work harder on the final product to feel more pride.”

How did you feel after the Exhibition? “I felt an immense sense of pride when I finished with my speech because I could tell people enjoyed it.” “felt a sense of relief after it was done”

ES UPDATE FROM MS. KERRY

After discussing how to break down their big goals and watching a video, the Eagles each sat down with Ms. Kerry, to develop their personalized long and short-term goals. They were able to look at their big yearly goals or session goals, and get clear about what they needed to accomplish this Session, this week, and this day in order to achieve their goals. We even made post-it notes for some of their computers with what they need to do on a daily basis to reach their goals. Ask your Adventurer what his/her daily tasks are to reach his/her goals! We called it “chunking down”. Goals that were shared were, “Finish Waseca Aqua” “Play for FC Barcelona” and “Earn my Piper Mountain Math Badge before Christmas break.”
During Quest, they dove into the ‘right to vote’. When asked if citizens under the age of eighteen have the right to vote? Why or why not? The Eagles answered:
“No, because they may be too immature and not know the reason why they are voting for that person.”
“It should be lowered because what if they do have a reason and really want to vote for someone.”
“It should be moved down to 13 because younger people should see what it is like to vote.”
The Adventurers also did a mindfullness meditation on Wednesday.

MIDDLE SCHOOL UPDATE FROM MR. TJ

In Civ the Pathfinders discussed the fall of the Roman Empire. As well as all of the aspects that lead into it. Like the Rise of the Caesars and the emperors that eventually brought the empire to its downfall.

This week’s launches were focused on building intrinsic observation skills. Like passive observation, mind house, and empathic tools. Practices like these help to develop deductive reasoning skills because more information is available to the mind to make inferences. There will be a large focus on these skills in the future to help the Pathfinders prepare for Apprenticeships, coming quests, and life in general.

At this point, many of the Pathfinders have reached their badge requirements for the first 3 sessions. This means that they not only have completed a major task that was set before them, it means that they have leveled up in the studio and are moving towards more independence.

We look forward to Session 3 where we will be diving into The Trial of Socrates Quest!

GRITTY in the ES

The rules of engagement kept getting broken during Civilizations on Tuesday. 3 Eagles who were upholding the rules of engagement (come to circle prepared, be on time, be attentive, and don’t interrupt) were asked to meet and choose between 2 consequences. They chose to have everyone come in after namaste to finish the Civilizations discussion. 

During the closing circle, the guides noticed that there was a lot of commotion. Eagles being sent away, others not being attentive, an Eagle playing on his scooter and not listening when other Eagles were asking him to leave the meeting.

After finishing up our civilization’s discussion, Ms. Kerry showed a short clip of the Adventurers during the closing circle. It was then disclosed that some Eagles had the idea to make the closing meeting longer so that they didn’t have to use as much free time to finish the Civilizations discussion. Hmmm…how did that turn out in the end?

The Adventurers discussed their struggles during closing meetings. They decided that they would like Ms. Kerry to be outside and watching this week (not participating). They did not want the guide participating in the circle because they understand the importance of Eagles starting to listen to one another, not just the guides, especially when the other Eagle is trying to ask them to do the right thing. This circles back to our question of the year, When does a hero submit to authority? 

The Adventurers want to continue having the duty of asking others to follow the rules of engagement (come to circle prepared, be on time, be attentive, and don’t interrupt) and said they would follow through, after the meeting, if any Eagles decided not to leave the circle when asked. FYI- An Eagle is asked to leave a meeting and sit nearby if they choose to break the rules of engagement two times in one meeting. The Eagles also agreed to count to 10 in their heads after a warning is given to allow enough time for an Eagle to choose to change his/her ways.

PARENT VIDEOS!

Here is your next Journey Tracker Training Video, click on the studio that your Eagle is in : )

ADVENTURER Weekly Tracking in JT

PATHFINDER Weekly Tracking in JT

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Our annual Acton Gear sale is happening! Here is the link to our group order form:

https://www.customink.com/g/xzx0-00ch-du85.

The deadline to order is Monday, Nov. 29th 

Starting next Session we will be adding Music class to our weekly schedule! Please let me know if your Eagle plays an instrument and would like to bring it in on Fridays.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Week 13

Nov 8, 2021

This week, I want to tell you about some changes that will be happening at Acton in Session 3 and also to let you know a bit of what is on my heart to share.

It has been in our plans to open our Spark Studio (for ages 5 &6) next year. However, after observing the studio for the first 2 sessions of this year, we asked “How can we make this separation sooner?”. While it is true that there are many positive things that happen with all of the ages mixed, there is also a lot of negative feedback. Perhaps ‘negative’ is too strong a word to use. We have noticed that the younger learners do not completely understand how to use the Strike System and honestly, nor should they. To a 5 yr old learner, this becomes a tattle-tale system and causes a lot of fear and unrest. We have also noticed that many distractions occur by having the younger learners (who are constantly getting up to get new Montessori works off the shelves) with the older learners who are trying to get into flow on their Chromebooks. It is also hard for the younger learners to keep track of their snack and break times on their own. We already separate the 5&6s for Writer’s Workshop and for Quest and we have decided that starting in Session 3, they will also be separated for Core Skills. That way, they will all have their snack and break times together and will be able to develop camaraderie amongst their peers. Ms. Jessica will be heading up this effort. We are very excited about this change and we expect to see a lot of positive results! Many of the other Acton Academies around the World separate their 5-7yr old learners into the Spark Studio, where they focus mostly on Montessori materials and have a bit more hands-on guidance than in ES. We want to make sure that all of our learners are able to follow their curiosity and thrive in a positive environment.

The other thing that has been brought to my attention is the way that I have been writing the weekly newsletter. My hope and goal in writing to you every week was to give you an account of what the Eagles have been learning so that you could A) Ask your Eagles questions about the topics we are covering and B) So that you have a record of the academic side of our curriculum. At Acton, our learners do not bring home papers, quizzes, and tests every day – I wanted you, the parents, to have some sort of record of what was being covered during the school day. However, my Guides have reminded me that all the parents have access to Journey Tracker and that is where the papers and projects, and quests are posted. You can see all of their Quest challenges and core skills goals under “Weekly tracking”.

Which brings me to the next question: What would you, the parents, like out of the weekly newsletter? I have had suggestions of showing an example of “The Pretty” (something wonderful that happened this week) and “The Gritty” (something challenging that happened this week that the Eagles needed to overcome), one parent suggested a Spark Corner of the newsletter where I can give an update specific to that group, I could also do a “Middle School Column”. I could have a “Resources” section where I post a new video each week (Yes, parent videos are starting!), and also articles, blogs, and books that you might find interesting. I would love to hear everyone’s feedback on what you would like to see so that I make the Newsletter a tool that you can use and look forward to every week. I will, of course, be keeping the pictures at the end!

Journey Meetings were terrific and I felt like we all made huge steps forward just in our 30-minute conversations. Parents, you are wonderful listeners and your feedback to your Eagles was terrific!

Here is the link to the Acton Academy Terminology Page that Ms. Kerry created! Hopefully, this will help!

IMPORTANT DATES:

Thursday, Nov. 18th 3:30-5pm Exhibition

This week, as part of the Citizenship Quest, the Adventurers learned about the Bill of Rights. Most of them didn’t even know it existed and they were surprised by it! They also learned what Amendments are. They talked about what Amendment they thought was the most important and which one would change their life the most if they didn’t have it.

The Adventurers also finished up their 360 feedback forms and received feedback from all of their peers.

The Pathfinders worked on revising their Hero Speeches this week. They also began putting together their Travel Boards of the trips that they have been planning. They had a great morning discussion on stoicism.

PARENT VIDEOS!

Here are the first 2 of TJ’s Journey Tracker Video Series:

Welcome Video

Video 1

There will be more videos coming soon!