Education

Week 27


What an adventure this week has been. We are moving fast and adapting to our new experiences with grace and fortitude. On Monday and Tuesday, we were in the studio.
 
Monday was a fairly normal day. We launched on COVID-19 focusing on the facts that were available at the time and speaking honestly about our concerns about it. For Quest, we worked on our growing curiosity tree and completed a very exciting experiment. The Eagles had to try to blow up balloons with yeast & Sugar & warm water, vinegar & baking soda, and just the steam from hot water. They had a blast watching the balloons inflate and coming up with hypotheses and questions.
 
Ms. Anna came for Kindness Class and explored emotions and feelings in the face and body with the Eagles. They were able to look in a mirror to see the emotion and they also played a "Charades" game where they had to get the other Eagles to guess what emotion they were portraying. They practiced asking each other out loud "How are you feeling right now?" once they realized that sometimes they think they know what the other person is feeling but they might not be right. We also added stickers to our Kindness Garden poster for the Eagles' acts of kindness.
 
On Tuesday we did our music class via Skype. Ms Karen helped us learn about the staff in music and showed us some songs on the guitar. For civilizations, we started talking about the Indus river valley and the civilizations that came up around there. Including the caste system that came up in that area. I will say the Eagles did not like the idea of such a fixed system.
 
We went on an adventure hike in Ahern State Park and Mr. TJ showed the Eagles some of his outside survivor skills and how to build a fire. The Eagles were also challenged with seeking out the car without using the trail.
 
Wednesday as we all know we switched to the remote learning processes. The road started a little rocky and we hit some speed bumps a little faster than we wanted to. However, our Eagles seem to be taking the changes well.
 
On Thursday, we all got together to play some chess with our fellow Eagles and talked about Siddhartha during Civilizations. Quite an interesting tale. the book Siddhartha might be a good read for anyone who is looking to for a reading suggestion while in quarantine (adults, not Eagles!).
 
Friday was back to core skills and some quest time. Our younger Eagles are still working on the Growing Curiosity Quest while our older Eagle is working on an independent passion project to share with us next Friday. It is always great to hear how everyone's day is going at closing circle and Mr. TJ has been checking in with the Eagles throughout the day. We know that as everyone gets more used to the technology of emails and google hangouts, we should have smoother sailing with the Eagles asking each other and Mr. TJ for help/advice instead of parents! : )
 
 
PS - Here is an EXCELLENT blog (from another Acton Academy) on how to bring Montessori materials into your home life: https://www.howwewonder.org/post/setting-up-home-for-success
 
PPS- Here is a link to Laura's blog, about easing the stress of learning and working from home!

Week 26

This week has been very interesting. The Quest this week has been called Natural Disaster! It has challenged the Eagles to cope with issues and find ways to work around them. The Eagles have done an excellent job working through all of the problems that we have encountered. This includes: figuring how to make core skills work with limited space and limited resources, finding workarounds to challenges that were presented by Mr. TJ, and looking for solutions to social issues that arise by limited space. So far the Eagles have comported themselves very well. The social issues have been surprisingly few.
 
The Quest challenges have been: On Monday, the Eagles had to work their way across the slack-line to rescue "Brenda" as well as crossing a raging river using fewer "buoys" than they had feet. On Wednesday the Eagles had to contain some "toxic waste" that was dumped out in a flood, redesign a bridge that was washed away, and rescue "Gary" form a raft in a river using only two boards! The focus this week has been on problem-solving and adapting to situations that are not very comfortable.
 
We spent A LOT of time outdoors this week, even walking to Opechee Park for lunch on Monday. The Eagles enjoyed poking at the the ice with sticks (from a distance!) and seeing how it would break apart and make noises.
 
Wednesday was our first after-school lego club and the Eagles LOVED it. They had a ton of fun, thank you Jamie for hosting!
 
During music this week the eagles continued working on their skills with rhythm and beat, as well as learning some new songs to sing. At Art, they worked through following specific directions to accomplish a piece of art. The snakes they made were interesting a lot of creative decorations on each. Unfortunately, PE did not happen and we went to the park at Bartlett beach to play instead since Ms Sherry was out today.
 
In Civilizations this week we learned more about Rome, specifically the Punic wars and Hannibal's use of elephants in war. We discussed whether the use of warships or elephants during war-time was more helpful.
 
We had a great launch discussion about giving feedback and using "I" statements and expressing your feelings well.
 
Writer's Workshop is focused on Communication in this session. We are practicing coding and decoding conversations. Learning that slang and other languages are just codes that we need to figure out in order to understand people. The Eagles did Stump Mr. TJ with the code they created which was very creative and challenging to figure out. 
 
During Town Hall the Eagles agreed to start a recycling bin for glass, plastic and aluminum.

Week 25

This week has been incredibly fun! Last week the Eagles were challenged by Mr. TJ to beat him in an engineering contest and they were successful. This meant that they earned an extra session of adventure time for this week. We used it to explore the pyramid park (Bartlett Beach) on Thursday morning. While there we saw a bald eagle standing very close to us on the ice and later saw two more eagles (or maybe the same one with its mate)! 
 
Our other day of adventure this week was a trip ice skating at Merrill Fay arena. Nolan showed us all of his skating skills while the other Eagles showed off how quickly they can pick up new skills. We had a few spills, though every fall was recovered from quickly. Tuesday was such a beautiful day that we made the executive decision to be outside as much as possible! That meant an impromptu hike at Waukewan Highlands where the Eagles built forts in the woods and enjoyed the fresh air.
 
During music this week The Eagles learned about some different kinds of notes, like whole and half notes. The Eagles then practiced counting the notes using drums and pianos.
 
In art, the Eagles worked on their origami skills. They made paper airplanes and secret letters. The process was fun to watch.
 
In PE the Eagles were working on striking skills using rackets, fly swatters, and pool noodles. It was exciting to watch. and the Eagles really worked hard.
 
We have changed up the Writers workshop this session. This session we are focusing on learning how we communicate. This includes the way we send our messages to others and how others receive them. This helps us understand other people's messages better. We are even going over body language and how to interpret other's actions and faces. Also, what does it mean to be polite? How close do you stand to someone when talking? And other nuances of communication!
 
In Civilizations we talked about Rome more and the types of things they liked to watch for entertainment. The eagles really did not like the idea of how they treated the people that entertained them, and did not give them the respect and freedoms that the Eagles think they deserved.
 
Kindness class with Ms Anna is still a big hit. This week the Eagles started a Kindness Garden Poster where they can recognize each other for acts of Kindness. Each act of Kindness is a "seed" in the garden that will eventually turn into a "flower". They also practiced deep breathing and how to follow their breathing to quiet the emotions on the inside. We read the book "A Quiet Place" and discussed the benefits of having a space where you can go to reset and be with your thoughts.
 
Edison's Lab Quest was exciting this week! The Eagles built water wheels with weights attached that needed to be lifted up by a dowel just with the energy of water. There were a lot of cheers when the wheels started working!
 
In case you missed the announcement, we will be having a 1 week summer camp: SURVIVOR QUEST from July 6-10th. You can register here.
 
Here is a link to Laura's Blog on Acton Tools you can use at home!! This is a good one!!!
 

Week 24

We welcomed the Eagles back to the studio this week after their break! For this session will be doing multiple, mini Quests. Our first quest project is called Edison's Lab! This quest is focused on the scientific process and inquisition. We started by practicing our observational skills and then started working towards solving problems. We learned about multiple "hero" scientists and choose Avatars to embody while on the quest. On Wednesday we learned how pullies work and then were challenged with making a pulley system to pull Mr. TJ's car across the parking lot! It was challenging and quite fun.
 
We are VERY excited to be introducing a new Kindness/Mindfullness Class to Monday and Friday mornings. Ms. Anna was a hit with the Eagles and she taught them how to pay attention on the inside (breathing and emotions) and on the outside (what is happening around me that is influencing me). The Eagles noticed how calm they felt when they were breathing deeply. They also planted seeds in flower pots and had to wait their turn to use the dirt, seeds, and water. They were asked to really focus on how that made them feel on the inside to have to wait their turn. They are all excited to watch their flowers grow!
 
In Music this week the Eagles practiced more recorder work and kept working on their piano skills. They started to learn chords and what they mean.
 
In PE the Eagles worked on counting using dice to pick their workouts. Ms Sherry is showing us how learning never stops.
 
In Art, we didn't have Miss Sanni this week so Mr. TJ helped the eagles work on learning how and why inventors create patent drawings. The Eagles were able to draw patents and really appreciate the details involved!
 
In civilizations we learned about the Romans. We heard stories about their Gods, in particular the story about Persephone. We also learned how they made nice roads (which were unheard of in those days), aqueducts, public baths and apartment buildings. They also were the first civilization to erect "milestones" or road signs on their roads so that people would know which direction they were going and how many miles they had to go. They invented concrete which helped them build their 5 story apartment buildings. We discussed which of the Roman inventions we thought was the most important and why.
 
This week's adventure was a trip to Rambling View Farm in Gilford, a beautiful area for a hike. There are cross country ski and XC mountain bike trails there if you are looking for a place to adventure in any season.
 
 
 
 

Week 22

We had the completion of our quest tournament on Monday. It has been a lot of fun during Chess Quest learning and playing along with the Eagles!
 
We had a great launch on the Definition of Excellence and how it is a moving target, also how it surpasses the common or ordinary.
 
In Civilizations we learned about the ancient people of the Americas. We looked at photos of the Nazca drawings and the Eagles were excited about the mystery of what they could possibly mean. We also read about the statue heads of the Olmecs. We discussed if we had lived in that time and were poor, would you have farmed food for the rich people in order to stay in society or would you have moved away to live by yourself and have freedom but need to rely on yourself for survival? We also discussed if the ancient people came to see the world as it is today, would they have liked what we have done with the land and with civilization or not?
 
In Music we practiced our piano pieces for the Exhibition concert and we also played our ukuleles and worked on reading music.
 
On Wednesday we spent time getting ready for the exhibition. This exhibition was tough to plan because so much of our work involved being present in the studio and it was hard to show off everything we did. 
 
Thursday we finished our exhibition prep after we did our usual Thursday activities. PE was very fun as always with fun Valentine's Day-themed games, relay races, tag, and balancing on big yoga balls. Art was focused on finishing up our final drafts of our self-portraits. 
 
Friday was clean up after the exhibition and the last push for core skills. We also spent time reflecting on how the Exhibition went and what could've been done better/ in a different way.
 
We had a very special Valentine's Day Lunch Party - Mr TJ made everyone banana pancakes!
 
Our morning launch today was a debate about whether or not you can learn things outside of school. The Eagle were very insistent that they can (and do) learn a lot outside of school - which is exactly what we were hoping for! During vacation week the Eagles have been challenged to learn 1 new thing.
 
Here is a link to a TEDX talk given by the owner of an Acton Academy in Idaho: http://bit.ly/39AS5kV
 
 
Cutting books out for Exhibition!
 
 
Trying out human chess! They made a BIG board on the floor!

Week 21

This week for adventure we went on our pitch-a-field trip adventure to Fun Spot. In order to earn this field trip the Eagles had to write a persuasive essay that included how the trip would be educational. We will have this Essay to check out at our Exhibition at the end of the session! I must say our Eagles showed us what they are made of. I am proud to say all of the Eagles behaved like true Acton Eagles being kind, respectful, and helpful throughout the entire trip.
 
We had a great morning launch on Monday about good and bad apologies. We discussed how one little word can make sure a huge difference: "I am sorry but" vs. "I am sorry and". Using the word "but" almost negates the entire apology. We also discussed how much your tone matters when apologizing.
 
For quest we learned more about strategy and setting up checkmates using fancy piece combinations. At music we practiced our instruments (harmonica and piano this time) like always. I am proud of the progress we are seeing in the Eagles' musical abilities.
 
In Civilizations we learned more about Alexander the Great and we discussed "Would the Empire have been better if Alexander had been older when he became King instead of only being 20? Or does age not matter?" It was a very good conversation!
 
Here is a link to Laura's most recent blog post - warning, it is a heavy one! https://www.actonacademyparents.com/from-hell-to-hero/
 
 
 
Harmonicas!
 
Doing the obstacle course!

Week 20

A week full of accomplishments! The Eagles have had stellar focus on their core skills over the last 5 days with what we think might be the most points earned in one week ever. They all showed how much they have become Eagles and can work to accomplish goals. We kicked off on Monday with a morning launch about how much focus can matter and we watched a failed, unmanned space launch and a video of Kobe Bryant talking about "being in the zone".
 
In music Ms Karen had us working on our rhythms and practicing the recorder. In art, Miss Sanni had us work on our second draft of our self-portraits after practicing eyes, noses, and lips. The Eagles have also been given random scribbles and shapes on a paper and have had to use their imaginations to turn them into drawings of something meaningful. This has been a super fun exercise, although we had to put up privacy screens to deter copying other's ideas. In PE Ms Sherry ran us through a very fun obstacle course and had us working on our coordination using a ball and a wedge mat.
 
Mr. TJ shared a new way to handle studio disputes (called VOMP), and the Heroes took to it immediately:
Voice - tell your side of the story
Own - take ownership of what the other person said. This is how you made them feel, whether you meant to or not.
Make a Plan - how will you move forward and/or handle differently in the future?
 
In Quest, our chess tournament has started! So far everyone has played one game each. I think this will be a close tournament. The games were pretty tight on Wednesday.
 
In Writer's Workshop, we are working on picture books. So far everyone has a story written and we will start sharing and giving each other feedback on Tuesday. The Eagles are loving the freedom of writing any creative story they can imagine.
 
In Civilizations we learned about Alexander the Great and his father Philip. The Eagles were asked if he was destined to be the ruler of the biggest kingdom in the world or did he make a path for himself by working towards accomplishing his goals? We learned about the 3rd Great Wonder of the Ancient World: The Lighthouse of Alexandria that stood 330 ft tall!
 
On Friday to end the week strong we had a morning launch about focusing on your goal until the very end! We watched a video of Lindsey Jacob Ellis snowboarding at the Olympics when she was so far ahead of the competition but broke her focus and ended up falling and earning a Silver Medal instead of the Gold. The Eagles talked about how important it is to stay in the zone all the way until the finish line with whatever goal you are pursuing.
 
 

Week 19

The week started with a lack of focus, then ended very strong with stellar focus and effort!!
 
On Tuesday in music we learned a new song on the piano and practiced the same song on the ukulele and rhythm for it on the drums. During art, we continued working on our skills drawing faces adding lips and working more on noses and eyes. I look forward to seeing where these skills take us.
 
In PE, we played all sorts of fun games and did our usual warm-ups. The Eagles are showing how in shape they are.
 
We walked to the Laconia Library and everyone received a library card and choose books to take out and bring home. The Eagles were VERY excited about this trip and proud of their book selections.
 
During Civilizations we learned more about the Greeks and the Peloponnessian War. We talked about what is more important for a society: to make great architecture (what the Greeks are known for) or inventions?
 
In Quest, we have been plugging away at chess and I (Mr. TJ) am losing a lot more then I would like to admit.
 
During one of our morning launches we watched President Kennedy's speech from 1962 at Rice University where he announced that we would be attempting to go to the moon. We focused on the message from the speech that "We are not accepting this challenge because it is easy, we are doing it because it is hard and challenges that are hard are worth pursuing". We also watched a video on Grit that reiterated that learning is hard work and the key to success is trying again when things don't go your way. The Eagles then demonstrated persistence and resilience by trying to knock over Mr TJ and not giving up and having to try again.
 
We celebrated a Birthday this week with cookies on Wednesday!
 
All in all a great and fun week. Thank you to all who participated in the Journey Meetings. Reflection is always valuable and hopefully you have enjoyed the information gained in those meetings.
 

Week 17

What a week coming back from break! Our new overarching Question for Session 4 is: How will you tackle challenges? The Eagles have dove back into Core Skills and our quest for this session: Chess! Some Eagles can already play and others are learning fast. We are using www.chesskid.com and Storytime Chess to learn the game and different strategies. These programs are very fun and interactive and the Eagles especially like King Chomper and King Shaky.
 
This week in music we learned about rhythms, what they are and how to use them. We practiced some of our songs on the piano and the ukulele. Ms. Karen was ready to show them how to play the flute but the Eagles all REALLY wanted to play the drums so she let them have fun with percussion and we will do the flute next week!
 
Our adventure hike on Tuesday was quite exciting and tiring. The trails at the Meredith Community Woods were pretty rough and I think all of us were tired by the time we got back to the studio. We took a lot of resting breaks along the way. It was really fun to see all of the animal tracks in the snow and we identified rabbit, squirrel, deer, fox and even an ermine (weasel).
 
PE was canceled this week so we spent some time at the park instead. Even with the cold weather, the Eagles were excited to get out and explore. In art, we are learning how to sketch self-portraits and started with practicing eyes and noses.
 
In Civilizations we learned about King Cyrus of the Babylonians. We talked about whether his best trait as a King was fairness to the people, kindness to new subjects, or wanting to expand the empire. We also learned about the Spartans and had a very lively debate about what is more important to focus on: military might or education and wisdom for the people.
 
We are ready for a great Town Hall meeting today with multiple topics that the Eagles want to discuss. Town Hall is the time when the Eagles get to discuss, vote on, and change the way that things are run in the Studio. We look forward to seeing them take ownership of their space and processes.
 
A special note from Mr. TJ:
This week I was thinking about my relationship with media. This was inspired by a conversation I had with my parents and my sister. My sister and I have children that are very close in age and we are trying to figure out what their relationship with media will look like. I came across an article from Canada's Center for Digital and Media Literacy. I was struck by it because of the funny anecdote my parents told about my sister hiding from Ursula (the bad witch in The Little Mermaid) behind the couch, dog or anything else she could find. That got me thinking about how media and movies can affect us in real ways. I was terrified of Captain Hook. If you find the time please read this article. It hit home for me and is something I thought others might appreciate. It is also a good reminder that children's brains are not fully developed and actually perceive the world in a different way than our adult brains. For example, children ages 3-6 cannot actually tell the difference between whether something is real or fantasy. In their developmental stage, all things are real. Even cartoony versions can be extremely frightening.
 
Here is the link:
 
 

Week 16

It has been quite a whirlwind in our final week in the session. We want to start by thanking everyone who came to the Exhibition & Holiday Party and supported our Eagles. We also want to thank all those who supported our Eagles in numerous other ways we can't even begin to count.
 
The Stop Animation Quest was a success and we are very proud of the Eagles' final video. You can watch their video here: Eagles stopmotion
 
In Writer's Workshop we continue to work on persuasive writing with the topic of "Pitch a Field Trip". Seeing as this session was so short, we will bring this WW into the first couple weeks of next session to make sure there is enough time for the final product. We also talked about rhetoric and we "built a house" for making good persuasive arguments. ( Picture below of the "house" drawing).
 
In Civilizations we read about the early Greeks. We imagined that we were inventing a tool that was to be used for farming but then someone figured out it could also be used as a weapon. Would you still invent the tool?
 
This week in Music we had a lovely holiday party and played musical chairs. We also practiced our percussion skills focusing mostly on dynamics and contrast in our music.
 
In Art, we did another snowflake based project and worked on developing visible patterns.
 
In PE we played more games based around winter, practiced our tumbling and received a very kind gift from Ms. Sheri.
 
We took a trip to the Laconia Library and everyone received a library card! The Eagles are excited and had fun reading in the sailboat in the children's room.