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Week 6 Concludes With...EXPO!

“On time. Every time.” is a phrase heard often in the Elementary Studio, as it’s one of Acton’s key components. Monday morning was the perfect opportunity to focus on the importance of time management with a “Be On Time” launch, followed by squad meetings and the finalizing of Core Skills goals for the week. Ms. Melanie delved further into the significance of music as it relates to each listener’s created mental imagery. This week’s musical selection was Tocatta and Fugue in D minor, and the Eagles’ responses were fantastic! They also enjoyed having some time, in the end, to practice their recorder playing. The ES ended the day by creating some very unique Grass Heads and then starting their planning for EXPO at the end of the week. The Elementary Studio finalized their poetic self-portraits during art, and then spent the afternoon perfecting and publishing their three poems.

Since this session was the first opportunity to obtain a Writer’s Workshop badge, the badge approval process was discussed in great detail, with extra time afforded to those who completed all the challenges to earn their badge. Wednesday was the final day to check on all of the Community Garden Quest experiments, as well as the final farm day to check on plant growth (and to see if the deer have ravished any more plants). With the final observations and recording completed, the ES spent some time reflecting deeply about this session’s quest, and how they could improve and grow next time. Ample time was provided throughout the week for EXPO preparation, as well as time for tying up all loose ends.

EXPO was a huge success! The Eagles, and their parents, truly enjoyed EXPO Thursday morning. Riley and Marley welcomed all of the parents, while Mekaal performed as this session’s emcee. Emmett, Marley, and Addison discussed this session’s art project, along with the session’s Writer’s Workshop theme: Poetry. Maxi, Charlotte, William, and Mekaal discussed all of the quest science experiments and quest-coordinating art projects. Maddy, Riley, and Saylor created and displayed a picture slide show and discussed the details and significance of the pictures, which were of the actual plants at the farm, and the pumpkin seed germination experiment. Ewan, Leo, and Christian demonstrated their recorder skills with an outdoor performance! After some light refreshments and a parent Q & A session, the ES officially welcomed two new Eagles with their signing of the ES contract and rules of engagement, followed by a celebratory human tunnel walk under. EXPO was the perfect culminating event of a difficult (per the Eagles) and highly engaging session!

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Immersed in Plants, Peer Critiques, and Portfolios.

Week 5 began with a mindfulness launch, where the Elementary Studio discussed the importance of silence during Core Skills by conducting an experiment with their bodies and breathing. After Squad Meetings, Goal Setting, and Core Skills, the Eagles enjoyed musical storytelling with Ms. Melanie before breaking for lunch. The afternoon brought some outdoor fun to the ES with a visit to Serenbe Farms so the observations and recording of their plant changes (or lack thereof) could take place. The farm visit was followed by an interesting germination experiment involving pumpkin seeds.

In Art, the Elementary Studio worked diligently on finishing their self-portraits. Civilization continued with the exploration of Chinese dynasties and the aborigines of the land down under. The Community of Editors concept was introduced in Writer’s Workshop, as well as the implementation of Peer Critiques. After the Eagles visited the farm, they also had to tend to their Plant Light Mazes, Decomposition Jars, and Worm Compost Boxes before beginning Wednesday’s Virtual Farm challenge.

Coach Lou introduced a variety of physically energizing games this week, with the Eagles choosing Spider and Four Square as their favorites. The ES completed their Peer Critiques on Thursday and began editing their poems based on the suggested revisions of their peers. The Peer Critiques and Community of Editors challenges were critical steps in preparation for the Publishing stage. The Eagles enjoyed their D.E.A.R. time this week and have made excellent progress in their challenging books. Friday’s Town Hall session provided an extremely helpful experience in democracy. With EXPO quickly approaching, the ES also spent time organizing their portfolios throughout the week in preparation for EXPO.

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Farm Fun, Dirt Digging, & Wriggling Worms!

The Elementary Studio kicked off their week with learning how word choice, both positive and negative, affect the tribe, followed by squad meetings, Core Skills, recorder fun with Ms. Melanie, and some much needed D.E.A.R. time. All morning, the Eagles were quite intrigued about the jar of worms in the Guide work area, as well as the dirt and jars. Monday afternoon arrived and they were thrilled to find out exactly what their experiments entailed using the materials that created all of the studio excitement. The ES is conducting three different mason jar decomposition experiments using synthetic and natural materials. Each squad also created a vermicompost using Red Wrigglers, soil, sand, and food scraps. The Eagles are spending the final weeks of Session 2 observing the experiments and recording the data so they’ll be ready to share all their new discoveries on decomposition and vermicomposting. The Eagles demonstrated their artistic flair when the painted their self-portraits during Art. You are going to love their final pieces! We wrapped up Civilization this week discussing Islam and Chinese dynasties. In Writer’s Workshop, the ES delved into peer review critiques and the specifics on how to effectively revise their poetic first drafts.

On Wednesday, the Elementary Studio took their work outside with a truly hands-on experience with planting their vegetables and herbs for the Community Garden Quest this session. They needed to make sure the beds were completely cleared before planting the new (they started that process the week before). We have four squads and each squad planted something different. Farmer Ian taught them about the spacing and growing specifics of each, and assisted each squad with the initial planting. After Farmer Ian’s demonstration, the Eagles were ready to plant the rest. They enjoyed the process and are eager to monitor for changes. The end of the week wrapped up with some P.E. fun with Coach Lou, revising poems with a focus on “good and bad” words, a packed Town Hall session, and how different plants affect soil nutrients.

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Already Halfway Through Our 2nd Session?!

The Elementary Studio enjoyed an extremely active and exploratory week! We started off the week with researching Peace Day, preparing a short speech, and then creating our Peace Day gifts. Music with Melanie was a lot of fun since the Eagles enjoyed some time practicing with their recorders. The ES dabbled in some interesting honey taste-testing for the Beautiful Pollination challenge on Monday. They learned that they couldn’t judge a honey’s taste by color or smell when a few flavors took them by surprise. Many Eagles preferred the Blackberry blend the most. Next, after researching pollinating flowers, they chose from a variety of materials to craft their own unique pollinating flower, with each main part of the flower labeled with its coordinating name. Their creativity never ceases to amaze me!

Creating self-portraits was the name of the game for art this week. Poetry styles were concluded this week with the exploration of odes, which were hilarious! The Eagles are super creative and witty, and they had the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned about word choice to truly make their odes pop. There were a lot of laughs and cheers at share time during closing group. Wednesday was another exciting day filled with the usual, and not-so-usual, vegetable and herb taste-testing for the Community Garden Quest’s So What? Challenge. Oh the faces made, conversations had, and discoveries made!

The Elementary Studio always has a good time working out with Coach Lou for P.E. time. Civilization’s focus this week has been the rise of Christianity, as well as the rise of Islam. The ES was committed to making the most of their D.E.A.R time this week too! The Eagles spent the afternoon focusing on the revisions they needed to make to each of their poems: Haiku, Free Verse, and Odes. Friday morning, the Primary Studio and Elementary Studio joined together to lead, and participate in, a beautiful Peace Day celebration, with song and gift exchange. The Eagles spent Friday afternoon working hard at Serenbe Farms! They learned about plants, weeds, soil, farm tools, insects, and prepping and turning soil for next week’s planting! They pulled weeds and arugula, and also observed, with eyes and hands, a huge vermicomposting bin the farm had set up! Many Eagles, and two Sparklers, were awarded Badges for their hard work so early in the school year! Friday was such a rewarding day for the Elementary Studio!

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Plants & Poems Abound!

The Elementary Studio started their week off with the discovery of how difficult Monday morning’s Circle of Silence challenge really was. Their task was to pass a jar of marbles around their circle, in complete silence, which they quickly discovered was no easy feat. This team building activity efficiently demonstrated how the actions of a single individual affected the entire group. In the afternoon, the ES designed their own Capillary Action experiments using fresh white carnations, food coloring, and test tubes. The final results were both surprising and eye-catching! The ES enjoyed viewing their beautiful creations for the rest of the week. After the Capillary Action experiments, the Eagles used the rest of their quest time to place the final touches on the Plant Cell models. The Eagles tapped into their musical sides with Music with Melanie and Tuneful Tuesday this week, as well as created some beautiful art on Tuesday.

For the Poetry edition of Writer’s Workshop, the Elementary Studio learned about, and created, their very own Haikus and Free Verse poems. We have some amazing talent in the studio and some of our Eagles decided they wanted to share their creations with one another during this week’s closing group. For the Community Garden quest on Wednesday and Friday, the ES explored soils types and layers. Digging in the dirt is a lot of fun! Eagles discovered how sacrification of lentils affects the seed germination process. Finally, Eagles used shoe boxes to create their plant light maze to observe, over time, how light affects lima bean growth. The ES Sparklers are hard at work too and are enjoying their days in their new studio, all the while overcoming their own unique challenges of academic growth. Wrapping up the week, Thursdays are always a lot of fun with Coach Lou around, and Fridays are the Eagles’ opportunity to practice the fine art of debate while learning about justice during the weekly Town Hall meetings.

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Sizzling September Start of Session 2!

The Elementary Studio started off the new session by introducing this year’s Civilization Series (Story of The World 2: Ancient Times) and Writer’s Workshop: Poetry! The Eagles were fascinated to learn about the fall of the Roman Empire and the very early days of Britain. The Eagles truly enjoyed creating their Poetry Posters, as well as delving into learning about and crafting uniques metaphors. A new Town Hall & Eagle Buck Council committee was voted on for the new session. The new committee members were hard at work this week, leading the way for policy reformations and Eagle Buck appeals.

The Elementary Studio also started a new quest, the Community Garden Quest, for Session 2. There are a plethora of hands-on and exciting science experiments scheduled for this session, a couple of which the Eagles have already started exploring and learning about environmental effects. The Eagles’ first task was to work together in squads to create plant cell models. Truly enjoyed seeing everyone’s creativity and teamwork! The Elementary Studio enjoys the weekly visits from Coach Lou, and this week’s session did not disappoint!

Our two full-time Sparklers are quickly becoming acclimated to their new learning environment. They are working hard on earning their Spark Badges while being fully immersed and adaptive to all the differences in the Elementary Studio environment. Some of the Eagles worked so diligently during the first session that they can move up the freedom level of Soaring for Session 2! The Soaring freedom level brings new privileges during Core Skills, and a few of these Eagles took the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor during Core Skills this week. Wrapping up this week’s Community Garden Quest, the Eagles gained first-hand knowledge of the photosynthesis process and how light affects plant growth. Also, how the lack thereof, along with hydration issues, can lead to the plant’s demise.

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Session 1: That's a Wrap!

This exciting and fun-filled week wrapped up Session 1 of the new school year! The Eagles revisited the process of formulating S.M.A.R.T. goals for their Core Skills sessions to keep the sessions challenging, as well as practicing their time management skills. This week the Eagles designed their badge plans and met with a guide. We went over their plans and discussed the details specific to their Reading, Writing, Math, Spelling, and Learning to Be goals to earn the applicable badges.

Excellent conversations took place where critical thinking merged with creativity as the Elementary Studio created their challenges for the Prediction Tools quest. After the final challenge creation took place, the Eagles spent time reflecting on all the tools they learned about and the knowledge gleaned during the first session’s quest.

The Paragraph Party continued in Writer’s Workshop this week. Last week the ES focused on crafting unique topic sentences using the Rockin’ Beginnings technique. This week the ES explored how to create relevant details and closing sentences that effectively brought their paragraphs to a close. Next, the Eagles had the opportunity to choose their favorite paragraphs to publish and receive rubric-rated peer reviews.

During P.E. Coach Lou has been working with Eagles on team-building experiences, as well as upper body strength conditioning. The pictures below represent the fun had by all.

The highlight of our week, which also closed out Session 1, was the EXPO! The Elementary Studio spent the week preparing and rehearsing. The studio was filled with nervous energy, but you’d never know it. As the Eagles presented themselves in a relaxed and calm manner like they have spent years becoming EXPO professionals. This EXPO focused on the Elementary Studio systems and tools. We had an Emcee/timekeeper, greeters/program creators, and then the Eagles volunteered to take charge of the studio elements they felt the most confident in explaining. The Elementary Studio had a fabulous parental turnout, and the Eagles performed a fantastic job during their EXPO presentations.

Friday afternoon, both Primary and Elementary Studios enjoyed an afternoon at the Serenbe pool playing and socializing. After a couple