Launch date: We'll be opening for this upcoming school year, starting September 2020.
Grade Levels: For our inaugural year, we’ll be accepting up to 10 founding students, K-3rd, and will add additional grade levels and students each year. These lucky students will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build their school from the ground up.
Apply: We are now enrolling for next school year (starting September 2020). This is your chance to be on the leading edge of education. Start your hero’s journey. Change the world.
Daily Challenge & Socratic Discussions: Discussions that inspire, offer a challenge, introduce a new processes, reflect on lesson learned, or refocus priorities and studio intentionality.
Goal setting: You'll set your own S.M.A.R.T goals each morning. At the end of Core Skills time you'll hold each other accountable when reporting out your achievements . Are your goals challenging enough? Are they too challenging?
Core Skills: Includes math, reading, communications (writing), spelling, and language. Core Skills includes time for silent individual focus and also collaborative time for peer-to-peer learning, with a break & snack in between. Younger students have dedicated time for each Core Skill, while more advanced students organize their own Core Skills time.
Kindergarteners also have extra activities, games & projects during their Core Skills time.
Quests: Provides hands-on integrative project-based learning with both team and individual challenges, connected by a narrative, and culminating in a public exhibition that parents are invited to.
Science & Art are incorporated into every Quest. Art is also scheduled separately each week.
Studio Maintenance: Our young heroes work hard, play hard, and clean up their own mess.
Free Play: We believe play is important. Free time & breaks are scheduled throughout the day.
In addition to the basic daily schedule, Art, Civilization, and PE are scheduled separately throughout week.
+ Growth Goals & Art
+ Civilization & Art
+ PE and Reflection
adds Growth Goals & Art
adds PE & Weekly Reflection
Art is incorporated into every Quest and is also scheduled separately twice a week.
P.E., personal fitness, health, and sportsmanship are an important part of being a hero. Formal PE includes a variety of individual and team sports, group games, and outdoor adventures.
Civilization combines history, geography and economics from pre-civilization to the modern day, putting Heroes in the shoes of decision-makers to answer: “Why do some civilizations rise and others fall?” Our primary goal with Civilization is to prepare future leaders to make important decisions, with deep context and perspective, rather than memorize easily Googled facts. Heroes dive into historical, geographical, political, and economic dilemmas, enigmas and puzzles. In each case, Heroes step into the shoes of a historical figure at critical turning points to debate and make real-life decisions.
Growth Goals at the beginning of the week help students think about their longer term personal improvement goals.
Reflection at the end of the week asks what worked well this week? What didn't? What could be improved for next week?
Our year starts the day after Labor Day and runs through mid-June. The year is organized in 7 "Sessions". Just like a rocket blasting off on its journey and returning to earth, each session has a storyline with a rise and fall of energy and a return home to reflect. Each session has a theme, a new Quest, and a new Communications project, and culminates in a student-led exhibition where you'll showcase your hard work to your parents and the public.
Christmas & New Years Break
Session 1 (Leadership Quest)
Session 6 (E-ship Quest)
(Town Hall meetings are led by students themselves, where they bring up issues that need airing or suggest changes to improve the studio.)
By Michal Leshem
Guide at Acton Academy Verona
Originally shared with the Acton Academy Owner Network
Re-posted here with permission:
I have a story I would love to share with you about our small and young tribe :)Four weeks ago, one of the students (that happened to be my 9 YO son) had a suggestion for the town hall that he will teach art classes. He did not write a full suggestion, just wrote: "I want to be an art teacher". The students had a great discussion about it, and then they took a vote and the majority decided to vote against his proposal. He was devastated. He felt they were doing it because they hated him and really was hurt. For him, it felt like a big failure.
After he calmed down I took him for a conversation and we discussed what were the problems with his suggestion. He had an idea to ask the other students why did they vote against it, and he did so. Those conversations were very helpful for him: He understood what he needed to improve, and for the next town hall he came with a better plan: Each student that wants to be an art teacher, should make a plan with the list of materials and instructions for the students. After the lesson, the students get to give him/her feedback and also vote whether they liked it or not. This time he had a majority voted for his suggestion! For him, it was such a great experience of learning from your failures.
Today was his first art lesson and it was a great hit! The students love it, gave him great feedback, and after the lesson was done two other students said they want to lead art next time.
I feel this whole process of giving the students to lead the studio is so empowering. It gives them a real opportunity to grow and learn the most important lessons. I feel grateful to be part of this journey.
By Jessica Guile
Co-founder of Acton Academy Redford
Originally shared with the Acton Academy owner network
Re-posted here with permission:
Last session we had a terribly messy studio when they would "finish" studio maintenance. They would mostly fight or play and have a hard time getting each other to do their own work. When we would have closing group, we would sometimes ask them to rate themselves on their studio maintenance and ask them what they would like to improve. The reflection was always about what others were not doing.
One day, they seemed to think very highly of how it was done, and I personally thought it was terrible. So we quickly took pictures of each area and cast them on the screen. They picked apart the pictures, horrified at their own work. Still, they did nothing to change it. (I should add that it drove my apprentice guide crazy and he would stay to clean it up and I was constantly telling him to leave the mess alone and go home.) Then one day.... we had a problem.
The studio was terribly smelly. So smelly that I couldn't stand it (pregnancy nose!) and had to open a window. The learners also had a bad habit of leaving their lunch containers open and unfinished on the tables and not cleaning up their trash. Right when studio maintenance was beginning, the learners discovered an army of ants coming through the window, down the wall, across the floor, up onto the table and into two different food containers. Those who discovered it started shrieking and freaking out about the ants. They ran to our apprentice guide who was walking out the door for the day. He felt it was an emergency, and he responded to their distress to help them. They all began working feverishly to get rid of the swarm of ants and in the meantime the guide spilled an entire bowl of chili (which was left open) on the floor. He then asked the owner of the bowl to clean it up which made her late for closing group. It was a comical mess. I sat by listening to the whole ordeal from the other room.
The next day, the guide came to me, upset about a discussion that he had with his son who had observed the whole thing. His son confronted him and said that he thought it was unfair that the guide asked someone else to clean up the chili bowl, making her late for discussion (for which she had to pay an eagle buck that day). He said that she didn't spill it, and the guide should have taken responsibility to clean it up.
The guide was asking me what I thought, and looking for me to defend him. He felt justified to ask her to clean up the bowl because she had left it out uncovered, even though he knocked it over. I asked him why the incident felt like an emergency to him. He said that he could feel their distress and didn't want to leave me to handle the whole mess so he stepped in to help. I told him patiently that I would not have done anything except ask the learners what they could do to solve the problem. He was shocked. I told him that the ants were not dangerous, but they were an awesome representation of the chaos that a messy studio can create. So I was thrilled that the ants had arrived. He quickly realized that he had just stepped into a rescuer role and that his actions short-circuited the entire learning experience that could have been. I told him that it was now his learning experience, and whenever he felt the internal anxiety and impulse to step in, he could picture the comical day with the ants and the chili and the terrible mess.
He apologized to the whole group, realizing his mistake and understood that he just created more of a problem by stepping into the mess. The learners all decided that day to figure out how to do studio maintenance as well. They cleaned better than ever and have taken pride in their work on most days since then. I feel like studio maintenance is a beautiful opportunity for things to get wild and out of control without any significant damage or even pushback from the parents. The parents know that it is the learners responsibility. Studio maintenance offers parents the same great opportunity to see beautiful improvement and ownership in the process.
How do you deliver hands-on, real world skills, in a way that motivates Heroes?
The answer: Quests.
Start with a series of individual and team based real-world challenges. Tie them together with a compelling narrative, where you feel as if the fate of the world rests in your hands. As you compete individually or in a team, you conquer one challenge then move forward to the next, ending with a high stakes public exhibition that’s led 100% by you and your fellow students. Now you have a compelling Quest.
Examples of Quests:
➢ Entrepreneurship Quest, where you'll experience entrepreneurship first-hand and start an actual business.
➢ An Electricity Quest, developing patents for new electrical devices in Edison’s Menlo Park lab.
➢ A Game Design Quest, where learn about risk, probability, and human behavior, and design your own game to be played at the public exhibition.
➢ A Detective's Quest that delves deeply into forensic science.
Core Skills include math, reading, writing, spelling, and language. You'll set their own SMART goals each day for what you'll challenge yourself to accomplish. At the end of Core Skills time you'll report out your results to your peers who help hold you accountable.
For math, spelling, and language, you'll use gamified adaptive programs that help you “learn how to learn” as you progress at your own pace, building a strong foundation without gaps, moving quickly through topics you grasp easily and taking time to master those concepts you find tough.
Reading and comprehension skills are developed by choosing great books you love. Those who love to read, learn to read, and love to learn.
Writing is integrated throughout Quests, Civilization, and focused on specifically in Communication Projects.
Communications Projects are also an important part of Core Skills. Our goal isn't just to learn how to write, but communicate clearly, creatively and with great joy. These projects feature a wide variety of "writing" and "non-writing" adventures to spur creativity and develop excellent writing, speaking, and storytelling.
Our goal is to help you learn to communicate clearly, creatively and with great joy, in a variety of mediums. You'll practice effective communication in writing convincing speeches, biographies, stories, research articles, websites, journals, emails, videos, thank you notes, etc.
Communication Projects: Each session offers a rich communications adventure that moves from idea generation to rough draft, to critique, revision, peer review, and final publication. The beauty of this approach is our learners eventually become powerful writers, who love to write.
While the primary communication focus is on writing, you'll experiment with film, photography, speech making, sales pitches and many other "non writing" communication skills such as,
➢ Small talk
➢ Comic strips
➢ Visual design
➢ Starting conversations
➢ Interviewing someone
➢ Being interviewed
In Socratic discussions, you are presented with an interesting scenario and asked to make a difficult choice. As you struggle with questions and come to your own conclusions, you are forced to really think about what you believe and why, and to seek evidence to back up your answers. The goal is to learn how to evaluate all sides of a topic, take a stance, and articulate your opinion with a solid argument.
What makes a question "Socratic"?
If you know the answer, it's not Socratic.
Questions that seek a particular answer, even if open ended, lead to lackluster discussions where only those who know the answer participate. (And those who don't are more likely focused on avoiding eye contact rather than learning what their peers have to say.)
For example, in Civilization one could ask:
Non-Socratic question: "What was the significance of Julias Cesar crossing the Rubicon River?"
While open ended, only those handful of students who know will answer, simply recalling what they've been told and rephrasing it in their own words. Non-Socratic questions leave little room for unique thinking.
Socratic question: "Imagine you're Julias Cesar. You've just spent 8 years away from home battling the Gauls. Finally, you have emerged victorious! As you head back to Rome with your army, you're looking forward to be welcomed home as a hero. You're now standing on the edge of the Rubicon River. This is where the law requires you to send your army home. However there's a problem. In the time you were away, your government has become corrupt. You realize that at this moment in time you're in a unique position to do something about it, but it would involve breaking the law. You could lead your army into Rome and attempt to launch a risky revolution – knowing that if you're unsuccessful you'll forever be known as a traitor. As you stand on the edge of the Rubicon River, you're forced to make this difficult choice: Do you disband your army as the law requires and come home a hero, OR, do you risk everything, march on Rome with your army, and attempt to launch a revolution?"
If a Socratic question is posed properly, answers and opinions will differ. The result is a lively discussions with every participate contributing their own unique viewpoint.
The goal of Socratic Guiding is to help someone else learn to think more clearly and critically.
Guides do not offer shortcuts. Struggle is essential to the learning process. Guides ask questions because learning to think critically is more important than being shown an answer. Good Socratic guiding focus on the process of solving a problem.
For example if you are stuck on a math problem, a Guide may ask,
➢ What strategies have you tried? Is there a strategy you haven't you tried yet?
➢ Have you faced a similar problem before? How did you solve it?
➢ Have you watched a video on this topic? Would it be more helpful to you to rewatch that video or search for another video on this topic?
➢ Which mindfulness technique would best help you refocus?
➢ Can you restate the problem in your own words? What information do you know? What information are you trying to figure out?
➢Would it be more helpful to break the problem into small steps, or take a step back to try to visualize what's being asked?
The goal is to walk along side someone, while they learn to think more clearly and critically.
You'll celebrate progress by earning badges to prove you've mastered new skills, you'll assemble portfolios to showcase your best work, and you'll present to parents and the public at exhibitions.
Because our goal is to promote a growth mindset, assigned grades are no longer a relevant or helpful way of representing what you know. Instead, you'll progress based on skills mastered and earn badges to celebrate milestone achievements:
➢ Parents use badges to track academic progress in Core Skills like reading, writing, math and spelling and also in character development. Inspired by the Boy and Girl Scouts, Badges are awarded upon achievement of defined goals.
➢ Electronic and hard copy Portfolios capture your best creative work.
➢ Public exhibitions at the end of most Quests allow you to present accomplishments to experts, customers or the public for a real world test.
Of course our heroes will make mistakes. Disagreements will naturally occur between people, so it's an important life skill to learn how to respectfully face conflict. If conflict is ran away from, feelings of frustration, anger, and hopelessness can build up and release in unhealthy ways. We guide heroes to act in healthy ways, which means confronting these challenging emotions and learning how to have difficult conversations with people.
Many adults do not do this well and it is critically important. Too often when we feel that someone has wronged us we never let that person know, we talk to someone else about it and hope it will just go away or someone else will fix it. That is exactly what we do NOT do. We put much emphasis on guiding heroes to confront disagreements and learn to resolve conflicts in healthy and productive ways.
What about bullying? We believe in having crystal clear boundaries and agreed upon consequences. We honor the choices young people make with the consequences that were previously agreed to, which sometimes means departing from Acton.
Our discounted tuition for founding families is $750/month for full day (K-3rd), with 10 payments per school year. These lucky founding students will get the once-in-a-lifetime experience of helping create their school from the ground up.
We believe in simplicity. Other than providing your own chromebook or ipad (which can be purchased for ~$200 online), our tuition is all inclusive: No application fees, no bake sales, no fundraisers, no field trip fees, and no required book purchases.
50% of the first tuition payment is due upon acceptance to reserve your child's spot, with the remaining 50% due August 5. The remaining 9 payments are due at the beginning of each month, Sept - May. (If you depart mid-year, your tuition will be prorated).
Our school year runs the day after Labor Day through mid-June.
For Kindergarten, choose between either a full day, morning half day or afternoon half day.
Drop off is between 8-8:25am
Pick up is at 3:15pm
Morning Half Day:
Drop off is between 8-8:25am
Pickup is at 12:45pm
Afternoon Half Day:
Drop off is between 11:30-12:30
Pickup is at 3:15pm
Our student to adult Guide ratio is 10:1.
However our student to teacher ratio is 1:10. Each student has at least twelve teachers.
One must simply look deep into our learning community to understand this truth. We embrace the idea that a teacher is "any person or thing that teaches something". This opens wide the door for finding great teaching everywhere – if you know how to seek it. Our goal is to free our young heroes to discover excellent teachers all around them.
You'll be connected excellent teachers in your own life and within the world at large. You are a teacher. Your peers are teachers. Sal Khan is your teacher. Alex de Tocqueville and Harper Lee are your teachers. Socratic discussions are your teachers. Town Meetings are your teachers. Mistakes are your teachers. Conflict resolutions are your teachers. Mentors in apprenticeships are your teachers. Artists and coaches are your teachers. Parents are your teachers.
Read more how you'll find world class teachers in this post on the Blog for Acton Parents.
You have several opportunities to support your child and connect with the other families:
Public Exhibitions create relevancy and purpose to the work being done all session. At the end of each session, you are invited to the public exhibition, often planned and led 100% by the students themselves, where they showcase their hard work. Learn how public exhibitions make learning meaningful in this post of the Blog for Acton Parents.
Casual coffee (optional): The first Friday of each month, we welcome you to stay around after drop-off for a casual opportunity to chat with other parents and watch the children's opening Socratic discussion. The coffee is on us.
Weekly surveys are a time-honored Acton tradition. At the end of each week you'll receive a survey asking for you and your young hero to review of the week. We believe that listening to our customers is essential to our continued improvement. The weekly surveys give us the opportunity to hear from you about how we are doing in fulfilling our promises. Transparency matters – survey results are always made available to every parent. Learn how these weekly surveys make a positive impact in the learning environment in this post on the Blog for Acton Parents.
Fly on the wall: At anytime, you are always welcome to come observe the Studio.
Journey meetings: A few times a year, you and your young hero have the option of meeting with the Guide to discuss progress and growth.
Parent meetings, held a few times a year, are designed to encourage, uplift and equip parents. These meetings are a place for exploring challenging parenting questions and are a place to share stories to help each of us grow as heroic parents. Learn about heroic parenting in this post on the Blog for Acton Parents.
Play dates: We encourage families to organize play dates outside of school.
Continue the conversation: Before you pick your child up each day, the Guide will post one of the day's Socratic questions for you to "continue the conversation" on the car ride home. Gone are the days of the generic, "So how was your day?" "Good."
Family travel offers wonderful learning opportunities. We encourage family travel. Take your family trips at any time. Pick up where you left off when you return, or continue making progress towards your badges while you're away.
We are always interested in meeting those who would be a fantastic Guide. As we grow, we'll be hiring additional Guides.
The three important traits of a Guide that are absolute requirements:
➢ Must be an inspiring storyteller,
➢ Must love reading,
➢ Must be excited to embrace Acton's approach, where you're role is not about being a “deliverer of content”, but instead is to creating a vibrant learner-driven culture.
Most of the daily work of a Guide is in preparing meaningful Socratic discussions and engaging challenges that resonate with the young heroes. This can almost always be accomplished during the school day, leaving time outside school as personal time.
As a Guide, you'll have a wealth of materials to support you, including access to hundreds of pre-packaged Quests, communications projects, civilization resources, and Socratic discussions that you'll be able to customize and adapt to our Studio. You'll also be able to collaborate with and ask questions to every other Guide around the world in the Acton network. You'll also be able to create custom Quests and your own Socratic discussions to best serve the interests of the students.
Having a Montessori-trained background is a plus. Holding a teaching certificate is a state requirement. Compensation is competitive.
If you are interested, please read through this website, watch the videos, and devour the Blog for Acton Parents. If as the more you read, the more this opportunity excites you, please contact me at email@example.com or 586-337-9300. Scott Taylor
Your questions are always welcomed. Please feel free to call, text or email us,
Scott & Cally Taylor
c: 586-337-9300 or scott@ActonBrighton.com
We look forward to connecting with you and your family.