Year 1. Session 4. Week 1.

How much time would you need to practice in order to learn how to juggle?  To learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube in under five minutes?  What about solving three Rubik’s Cubes in under five minutes WHILE juggling them?

This week, to launch Project Mastery, the Ascent Discovery Eagles discussed just how much time and practice it would take them to be able to accomplish a feat such as this. They discussed what Mastery means to them, and if anyone is capable of mastering anything. They will deeply explore the concept of mastery each week this session, with challenges each week, including one that asks them to interview someone who has mastered something. The topic of mastery and excellence will come into play throughout the session as they dive into Architecture, and instruction writing (Writers’ Workshop).

Attention to detail is highlighted throughout this session.  Without correct and precise measurements, would a building be able to be constructed accurately and safely?  Would an independent learner be able to replicate a hands-on home activity without clear, detailed instructions?  The Eagles will be challenged in both of these arenas!

In Architecture, the Eagles dove in headfirst, honing observation skills while learning about measurement, scale, and various heroes who have pursued architecture as their life’s calling. To launch Quest each day, the Eagles participated in discussions that asked them to reflect on many important questions, including:

Is it more important for a building to be functional and efficient or to be beautiful and visually appealing?

Do buildings affect how you feel? How does our academy building make you feel? How does your home make you feel? Can you remember a time when a building made you feel sad, uncomfortable, or extremely happy?

Should the United States switch to the metric system? Why or why not?

Should buildings, like the library in Seattle that was built for, “How we consume media now,” change with us? Should architects be expected to innovate or to accommodate?

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On Tuesday, this session’s Writers’ Workshop was launched! Eagle authors will be challenged to create instructions to add to a blog that will be published at the end of the session: Home Activities for Independent Learners. This Writers’ Workshop comes with a bit of a twist as the Eagles themselves will get to choose which medium they deliver their instructions: written, visual, or audio. We expect to see everything from videos to 1-pagers to podcasts!

To launch this Writers’ Workshop, Eagles were challenged to follow and then critique a variety of instructions. They were hands-on in the Ascent Test Kitchen trying to follow instructions to make Energy Balls and in the studio itself attempting to craft DaVinci bridges, origami cranes and yarn crafts.  The instructions for each activity were delivered through different mediums (written, illustrated, audio and visual) and of varying quality, allowing for the Eagles to decide how effective each would be for providing instruction.

Art is back for Session 4 and Ms. Indigo from Creative Action is joining the studio to guide the Eagles through various means of creative expression using recycled materials.

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PD is in full swing with session of kickball on the schedule!


In a learner-driven studio such as this, Eagles support each other in their learning- through academic challenges and inter-personal conflicts. This session the studio elected four people to be Squad Leaders- another layer of support for the heroes. Squad Leaders chose their Squads (groups of 4-5 people who support each other in many ways such as goal-setting, badge completion, conflict resolution, and quest work). Each week Squad Leaders will hold meetings with their Squads to talk about progress, to challenge and support their group. The studio is looking forward to this next level of servant leadership!

Year 1. Session 3. Weeks 2 & 3.

This year’s session of gratitude continued by launching Week 2 with a focus on kindness.  The Eagles watched a video on how a simple, random act of kindness can trigger a ripple effect of kindness throughout the world and discussed topics such as “When someone is kind to you, are you more motivated to pass it on or accept it with gratitude?” and, “What are some acts of kindness you can do in your daily lives?”  The group overwhelmingly expressed their motivation to pass acts of kindness along and identified helping studio-mates finish up jobs and help work on skills they may be stuck on, as ways to show kindness to one another.  This served as a perfect segue into a renewed focus on Core Skills where the Eagles totaled over 25 hours of math learning on top of their other core skill work.

Exploration continued on the Cartography Quest as travelers journeyed to South America, Europe and Africa!  At each stop, the heroes chose a country to add to their World FactBook and continued progressing on their handmade continental maps.  While learning about South America, they were introduced to topics on perspective- mainly why the standard Mercator Projection map is centered on Europe and the impact this has on the perception of countries towards the edges of the map.  Border disputes were discussed with a focus on Europe and to launch their travels to Africa, Eagles dove deep into globalization and what personal global footprints look like just by the clothes worn to school that day (the Eagles identified the countries where there clothes were manufactured on the Quest Map with colored sticker dots).

Pitches for a studio pet continue to be refined in hopes to make a compelling argument in their favor during the Exhibition of Learning scheduled for the last Friday of the session.  The level of engagement and intentional focus shown during Writers’ Workshop this session was inspiring!

In PD during Week 2, the Eagles had to wait until Thursday to see what versions of Tag were in store for them as Tuesday was too cold and rainy to make use of the outdoors.  That minor obstacle merely provided an opportunity to explore other options and, as a result, a 30 minute guided yoga session took place in the studio! Tag ensued on Thursday with Ultimate Tag (everyone’s it!).

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Friday of Week 2 culminated with Town Hall and also a Badge Ceremony at the end of the day.  Each hero received stickers for each badge they’ve earned so far during their time at Ascent and will continue to add them to their hero boards each week.

The final week of this session was spent reflecting, preparing, and celebrating!


To reflect on this session, Eagles completed 360 Feedback Surveys for their fellow travelers and evaluated how well they followed this line of the Studio Contract: I will speak with kindness, encouragement, and truth.

They also completed Quest Reflections that asked them to reflect on lessons they learned from the heroes explored on this quest as well as to rate their own quest participation.

Finally, they reflected on this session’s focus of gratitude by writing Thank You Notes to those who have contributed to our community this session.


This week the Eagles learned the meaning of “Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!” (Ask your Eagle about this reference). With their Exhibition on the last day of the session, Eagles spent the final week wrapping up their Cartography work and practicing their pitches with their peers. They learned more about how to combat fears around public speaking and provided each other with direct, helpful feedback. They were certainly a team (even though they were in slight competition with each other pitching different pets!).



In the final hours of Quest Time on Tuesday, one team solved the clues that lead them to a set of directions and a map that revealed the final destination of the Cartography Quest: a celebratory pizza party at Ms. Janita’s house! The winning team navigated the group on a walk to and from what ended up being a beautiful party outside!

At the end of the session, Eagles also completed their Secret Eagle Book exchange. After weeks of secretly researching the right gifts for their fellow travelers, the Eagles gifted each other books in a lovely demonstration of gratitude.


Finally, the session wrapped up in a celebration of learning at the Exhibition. Eagles presented their pitches for a new studio pet to the community for a vote, and showcased their hard work from the Cartography Quest. The winning pet of the Pitch-a-Pet competition? A Fancy Rat! Pet ownership, here we come!


Looking ahead to Session 4, the Eagles will be diving into Architecture and Communications! Happy New Year!

Year 1. Session 3. Week 1.

Week 1 started off with a focus trait for this session: gratitude. The Eagles watched part of the TedEd video, The Amazing Effects of Gratitude and discussed the following points questions:

Q1: What do you think is the main reason why people are ungrateful some days:

  • Tired;
  • Unhealthy eating;
  • Feeling insecure; or
  • Something else?

Their responses ranged from comparing themselves to others, not recognizing what they have, and not having the energy to be grateful because, “Sometimes you have to put a lot of effort into it!”

They also discussed the question below and then were challenged to try it out! First they stated what they were grateful for out loud, then they wrote it down on sticky notes to carry with them through out the day:

Do you agree that it’s the thought that counts when it comes to being grateful? Is that enough?  

Throughout this session, the Eagles will come back to this practice. On Monday they were introduced to the Secret Eagle Book Exchange! This is a way they can show appreciation for each other by using empathy to pick out a book for a secret (drawn from a hat) fellow traveler. At the end of the session each person will receive their book to bring home, read over break, and then bring it to school to add it to our library. This is a special way for us to build the Discovery library.

This week launched Cartography! On this quest, Eagles become modern-day Magellans: cartographers and explorers attempting to circumnavigate the globe. Along the way, Eagles collect clues that lead them on a trip to a final destination…

Eagles travel in their imaginations to each continent, where they deeply explore a country of their choice and listen to folktales from the region.  

Eagles are tasked with three main goals on their mission around the world: 

  1. As explorers, they will complete a World FactBook to unlock the clues to their final destination. Each day of this quest, they’ll travel to a different continent. On each continent, they’ll choose a country to learn more about and they’ll complete a page in their FactBook (an independent deep dive). 
  2. As cartographers, they will complete detailed maps of a continent of their choice. Maps should include all the countries within the continent and important locations, such as cities, bodies of water, landmarks, and sites of historical significance. 
  3. They will complete “voyages”—mini challenges—at each stop, which will help them improve their skills as cartographers and explorers.

The goals of this quest include:

  • Inspiring a deep curiosity of learning about different cultures and traditions.
  • Inspiring a love of storytelling through folktales and Hero’s Journey stories. 
  • Discovering an appreciation for exploration.
  • Developing an understanding of maps as tools. 
  • Grappling with concepts such as border disputes, identity, globalization, and perspective. 

This week also launched a new Writers’ Workshop: Pitch-a-Pet! Eagles have been hard at work researching what pet to get for the studio. At the Exhibition next week, the audience will hear the pitches and vote on which pet our studio should get in Session 4!

Different takes on Tag/Capture the Flag is in full-swing during P.D., starting with Defenders of the Castle, which has proven both fun and challenging! The discussions on the field continue to be some of the most important as the Eagles learn to play new games together!

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On Friday Eagles finished the week with a potluck breakfast to celebrate accomplishing a group goal to improve their Socratic discussions! It was another example of generosity that was met with deep gratitude. Everyone contributed and put so much effort into creating a lovely celebration.



Year 1. Session 2. Week 5.

Week 5 marked the culmination of Session 2 and with that, the Discovery Studio’s second Exhibition of Learning, The Real-Time Lemonade Stand-Off! The early part of the week was focused on preparing their work to be at a level worthy of public exhibition and boy did these Eagles pull through!  They were tasked with finalizing their company image, mission statement and marketing pitches as well as purchasing all of the necessary materials to set up their stand and prepare their goods for sale.  The Eagles showed off the skills they cultivated over the session including imaging and branding, cost/risk strategies, gathering and utilizing market research, among others. This was the largest Exhibition of Learning to date as the studio hosted not only Discovery family and friends, but Spark parents as well!

After the Lemonade Stand-Off wrapped up, the Eagles joined Ms. Rebecca for a reflection discussion surrounding the various art projects created over Sessions 1 & 2.  Various media, supplies and focal points were discussed before the Eagles answered questions such as:

  • What was your favorite part of the process?
  • How did you respond to “mistakes”?
  • Would you do anything differently with your piece?
  • Do you consider yourself an artist?

There were some powerful takeaways from the group after 10 weeks of very intentional, engaged work with Ms. Rebecca.


Perfect Austin weather helped to wrap up the session of Ultimate Football in PD. With both teams competing so hard throughout the past four weeks, it was only fitting that the final game ended in a draw!


The journey back in time and around the world saw the Eagles transported to the Far East to learn about Ancient China.  They were told the story of Lei Zu and the Silkworm- how silk was discovered and its impact on Chinese culture and economy, and about her husband, Huang Di, who united surrounding villages to grow his dynasty.  They learned about the rice fields and the hard work, often in very difficult conditions, it took to sow the seeds and harvest the crop.

These stories prompted deep discussions surrounding whether or not the principle of a dynasty is fair, and does the answer change if the family or leader is great and fair, or cruel and selfish?  They also tackled whether or not children worked harder in Ancient China or today- was it more challenging cooking breakfast over a fire, or reading a badge book?  Mastering 20 math skills or spending a cold day harvesting rice?

At the end of a strong last week, the Eagles were ready for their next adventure with The Expedition School on a trip to Westcave Preserve!  They have been hard at work all session, not only on their Core Skills, Quest, Writers’ Workshop and Civilization, but also on their Hiking and Geology Badges.  This field outing consisted of learning about watersheds and how the geological features were formed.  They conducted field observations of various rock, stalactites and stalagmites as well as wrote, directed and performed short skits surrounding the principles of Leave No Trace.  Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to earn their badges!

Finally, we hope all our families enjoyed this break to spend time with family and friends celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday.  We are so grateful to be able to work with each of you and be part of everyone’s own Hero’s Journey.  Onward to a short but meaningful Session 3!


Year 1. Session 2. Week 4

Week 4 started with a launch to honor Veteran’s Day. Eagles first watched this video and reflected on which freedoms guaranteed by our constitution they value most: the right to vote, freedom of religion, or free speech? After sharing, they watched this video about a veteran who continued to represent the United States and they debated the following questions:

What inspires you more about Bradley’s life?

  • His Service and Sacrifice in the Navy
  • His resilience to not let his injuries and disability limit his life
  • His desire to “keep fighting, keep serving, keep representing the US”

If you were a Veteran, how would you want others to celebrate/remember this day?

  • A personal phone call or letter
  • A parade/larger celebration of this day (NY’s is the biggest and Austin has one, too)
  • Something else?

Their call to action was to write a thank you note to a veteran they know, or to write a letter to all veterans that Ms. Samantha will deliver to the local VA Clinic.

On Tuesday the Eagles were supported again by Writing Buddies during Writers’ Workshop. These meetings gave the young authors the time and space they needed to think deeply about their stories, to identify gaps in their narratives, and to have real interactions with an audience. Thank you, Writing Buddies! During the last week of the session, Eagles will submit their stories to be published and placed in the Ascent library.


This week in E-Ship, Eagles dug into learning about the costs and risks of running a business. First, they acted out a play called “Sally the Seller” where they got to experience unit economics, then they learned how to calculate unit economics (sunk costs, variable costs, fixed-period costs, revenue and profit) for their businesses.  They practiced this important math with their snack mix recipes and held their second Real-Time Stand Off to practice for their upcoming Exhibition. Eagles practiced setting up their booths, selling their products, and tracking their sales. They calculated revenue and profit at the end of the stand-off and reflected on the experience!

This “stand-off ” was particularly exciting for the Eagles because Mr. Phil’s family visited the studio! His wedding was on Saturday and as part of the wedding festivities, his family visited Ascent and served as customers for their Costs and Risks Snack Stand-Off! Congratulations, Mr. Phil and Ms. Haley!


In Civilization this week, the Eagles traveled to the Indus Valley to learn about how these ancient civilizations used rivers as roads and all about the citadels. They also learned about the mystery of Mohenjo-daro and imagined what might have happened to the people who lived there. Using their Discussion Rules of Engagement, they debated the following questions:

What type of transportation helped its society more: boats on rivers in the time of ancient Mesopotamia and India, or cars in our modern society? Why?

To be great, does a civilization need a great individual to unite cities like Sargon did for Upper and Lower Egypt, or does it just need a great collection of individual citizens within it?

Once it warmed up on Friday, Eagles working towards their Hiking Badges participated in a neighborhood walk where they practiced making keen observations and practicing safety!



This week also marked many new freedoms for the Eagles that come with great responsibility! The first Eagle-led Town Hall was this week and these heroes demonstrated, yet again, that they are determined to build the best learner-driven environment.


It often goes without saying, but Core Skills time in the Discovery Studio is such a focused and intentional time that adults who visit Ascent, often remark about how surprised they are to see so many young people completely engrossed in their work all at once. These young people have created something amazing. Their culture is strong because of their hard work and because of the care they put into their environment.


Looking forward to a powerful end to a wonderful session next week!


Year 1. Session 2. Week 3.

As most weeks do, Week 3 began with a focused session of intentional Core Skills.  The Eagles were tasked with identifying which specific badges they were working towards while setting their goals for the day.  By the end of the week, the Eagles submitted and earned SIX new badges towards their badge plans!  This, on top of ten prior badges that were reviewed and approved, provided quite a spark of motivation in the studio around progression through IXL/Khan, Lexia, Spelling City, Typing Club and others.  Everyone is excited to carry the momentum through to week 4!


The imaginative, creative fiction works the Eagles have been drafting continued this week in Writers’ Workshop with a focus on Word Choice.  Tuesday’s session was kicked off with a TED Ed video highlighting the use of metaphors and similes to put the reader in the shoes of the character.  It described a character named Billie who, well, let’s just say wasn’t feeling too well at school that day:

    “Billie’s legs are noodles. The ends of her hair are poison needles. Her tongue is a bristly sponge, and her eyes are bags of bleach.”

The author’s word choice makes the audience feel almost as nauseated as Billie herself.  With word choice top of mind, and with the help of a few gracious Writing Buddies (thank you!), the Eagles were back hard at work bringing their stories to life!

Once again the clock was dialed back while the Eagles took a trip through time and around the globe.  This week’s Civilization witnessed the unified ‘Old Kingdom’ of Egypt and their burial rituals, the Sumerian dictator King Sargon and his rise to power, as well as a King Hammurabi and his code of laws.  Debated topics ranged from asking priests to spend royal riches on an expensive mummification to save yourself in the afterlife or risk of being rejected from the afterlife by not being mummified, instead using the money to feed the hungry people of the kingdom, to deciding if you would rather live in a free city-state that was self-managed but did not progress because it was constantly fighting other city-states, or live under a dictator like King Sargon who conquered and was ruling your city-state from afar, but put a stop to the fighting.  We can’t wait to see where our travels through time take us next week!

Ultimate Football continued on during the week and this sport has provided a few new challenges to the Eagles in the form of determining equitable playing time.  Only five people from each team are allowed on the field at a given time, so how do you figure out who gets to play (and how much) when everyone wants to be out there?  Tuesday’s scrimmage was cut a bit short to gather in a Socratic Discussion surrounding that very topic.  There was a lot of frustration around the group but great ideas were debated and the session ended with each team working through their own substitution strategies.  Typically, Thursdays are split with one team in PD while the other works with Mrs. Rebecca in Art, however Mother Nature had other plans in store.  The schedule was adjusted due to the rain so while one group was doing art, the other was working through their hour of Core Skills.  The rain subsided just as the typical hour of Core Skills would be getting underway. Since each group got their Core Skills in, an impromptu, `1combined PD kicked off giving the Eagles a chance to put their strategies to work earlier than expected! The response was a complete 180 and it was just remarkable to see so much growth in such a short amount of time.  The game flowed seamlessly with substitutes enthusiastically cheering on their competing teammates and Eagles running off the field to allow their peers into the game with words of encouragement and high fives.  It was a game to remember!


The four Ascent lemonade companies were back at the entrepreneurial grind this week, navigating their way through markets, competition and behavioral economics in preparation for their first live Lemonade Stand-Off!  Market research and surveys were conducted through the week to help determine potential preferences and help set prices on each serving of lemonade.  At the end of the week, a mystery investor, encouraged about the future prospects of the lemonade industry, provided each team with $10 Studio Bucks to purchase material for their competition later that day.  Each team was rewarded with any profits made during the competition. The team with the most profit earned won an additional $10 Studio Buck bonus investment from the investor to use in future competitions!


We also had the opportunity to celebrate another Eagle getting one year older this week!

What a great week! Here are some questions to help get the conversations going at home:

  1. What was your greatest lesson learned during Quest this week? How did you team work together? How will contribute to your team next week?
  2. Which badge were you most focused on last week? Which one(s) will you focus on next week?
  3. Are you working towards a Field Badge? Which one and why?
  4. What is your favorite part of the day: Civilization, Core Skills, Quest, Writers’ Workshop, PD, or Art?

Year 1. Session 2. Week 2.

The Eagles started the last week of October with a quiet Monday morning of intentional Core Skills. They launched into the day with a video about Stephen Hawking and a discussion about perseverance in the face of struggle and how this hero changed the world, using his terrifying diagnosis as a means for motivation. Doctors didn’t think he would live past his 25th birthday, so he got to work. Eagles grappled with questions on what motivates them on their journeys and they shared reflections on times they motivated themselves and times they received help from others. They were then prompted to write a motivating note to themselves on a sticky pad to be placed somewhere they’ll see often. The notes include messages such as “You can do it!” and “Keep going!”


On Tuesday and Thursday, Eagles continued drafting their stories in Writers’ Workshop and were challenged to think more about how illustrations impact a reader’s experience and ways they can make their stories more memorable.

Kimery Duda, the founder of the Expedition School joined the Eagles this week for their Tuesday morning launch of the next two Field Study Badges: Hiking and Geology! Eagles first learned about Alexander von Humboldt (geologist turned explorer) and discussed his character traits as a hero. Then, Kimery led them in a game of observations and discussed what it means to be a keen observer in nature. She also discussed hiking/backcountry safety and the history of Westcave Preserve (the location of our next Field Day!).

Due to the first frost of the year, P.D. was canceled this week and was replaced by extra Core Skills. Half the group listened to music and worked on papier-mache sculptures with Ms. Rebecca while the other half stayed warm, curled up on comfy furniture with their Chromebooks in hand and their headphones on. Later that day, the Eagles organized a costume contest to celebrate Halloween!

In E-Ship this week, the Eagle-led companies focused on company image by exploring different marketing styles and brands. They worked hard to create their company image and on Friday competed in a swag and sign competition where they put their hard work on display!


In Civilization this week, Eagles traveled to Egypt where they learned about King Namer and the earliest forms of writing. They debated the importance of certain contributions to civilization and grappled with the impact of written history.

On Friday the Eagles wrapped-up the week by sharing highlights, lowlights, and character callouts!

Year 1. Session 2. Week 1.

Session 2 was welcomed with tons of enthusiasm as the Eagles were excited to see their friends and get back to work!  The session was launched with a short video describing what it means to learn like a Jungle Tiger, setting the stage for embracing struggle in lieu of the comfort that comes with having things done for you.  With the launch of the E-Ship Build-a-Business Quest, Creative Writing for Writer’s Workshop and the introduction of Civilization, the Eagles will surely be pushed beyond their comfort zones with fun, new challenges this session.  Eagles are gearing up to embrace their inner Jungle Tiger and face these challenges head-on!

Expedition School Field Program – Pedernales River

The rain may have delayed Session 1’s Field Program Outing with the Expedition School, but we couldn’t have dreamed up a better day to spend outdoors on Tuesday!  The Eagles engaged in hands-on learning of kayaking skills and water ecology fundamentals relating to our local waterways.  Those who pursued the Kayaking and Water Ecology Field Badges learned advanced maneuvers, paddling techniques and conducted water quality testing.


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We want to get a big thank you to all of the Expedition School Field Guides and parents who volunteered their time to shuttle the group to and from the river!!

E-Ship: Build-a-Business Quest & Writers’ Workshop – Creative Writing

Eagles embarked on their session-long entrepreneurship quest of building a business from the ground up!  On this quest, groups of Eagles form companies that will sell lemonade and snack mix. They will be challenged to set up their organizations, determine their brand, conduct cost and risk analysis and calculate unit economics. Throughout the quest, they will participate in various real-time Lemonade Stand-Offs, culminating in a final Stand Off at the Exhibition.

This week, Eagles were challenged to determine a company name, mission statement and determine the roles each person will play within the organization. Upon completing these challenges this week, teams were tasked to create a duct tape wallet to keep the Studio Bucks they will be earning throughout the quest. They’ll need plenty of Studio Bucks (different from Hero Bucks) to purchase supplies and materials to sell at the upcoming Stand-Offs!


To wrap up Week 1’s quest challenges, each Eagle learned about 8 different entrepreneurial heroes including Dallas Crilley, a young author writing about the benefits of venturing into entrepreneurship at an early age, Moziah Bridges, a fashion designer who inked an exclusive deal with the NBA before entering high school, and tech icons Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  Many Eagles participated in the Children’s Business Fair over the weekend, which was a fun and inspiring launch to this quest. The community is excited to see each Eagles’ growth on their path to business success throughout the session!

This session’s Writers’ Workshop, Creative Fiction- has come out of the gates with a bang!  The Eagles were extremely focused on both WW days, with each completing their own Freytag’s Pyramid outlining the major components of their stories and beginning their first drafts.  Next week they will step into the shoes of an illustrator to use imagery as inspiration to make their stories more memorable.

PD – Ultimate Football

Session 1 wrapped up with the PD Olympics, paving the way for those new skills and strengths to be put to use!  The Eagles were introduced to Ultimate Football (think American Football meets Ultimate Frisbee!) on Thursday through skill development and conditioning.  They worked on hand-eye coordination through throwing and catching, agility with a cone drill and teamwork by navigating from one side of the field to the other within the framework of the Ultimate Football rules.  The session started out with a lot of energy, which should make Tuesday’s first scrimmage a blast for everyone involved!


It was a great first week of the session and we’re excited to see what Week 2 has in store for our heroes!

Year 1. Session 1. Week 6

It’s hard to believe the first session has wrapped up at Ascent as it seemed like only yesterday that the Discovery Eagles were being dropped off for their first day of school!  The growth shown by this group of young heroes, from their first team building challenge (Magic Tarp) on Day 1 to their wildly successful Exhibition of Learning this week, has been nothing short of inspiring!  Here’s a look back on a strong closing week to Session 1:

PD Olympics

The Eagles have been training hard all session working towards their PD Olympics that took place on Tuesday.  They participated in four events- Sit-ups, 40yd Dash, Elevators and a Half-mile Run, and had their results recorded by a wonderful group of volunteers.  The Eagles will test themselves again at the end of the school year to see just how far each of them has come along on their physical development goals.  A HUGE thanks goes out to all of our parent volunteers for their time and support!


Finalizing the Contract

On Monday the Eagles finalized their Studio Contract in time to sign it on Thursday at the Exhibition of Learning. For six weeks the Eagles spent many hours debating each line of the contract. They proposed new lines, explained their reasoning behind each proposal, listened to counter arguments and voted. They did not rush the process, nor did they take a single word lightly. It was clear that these young heroes understand the weight of their promises to each other and are seeking to build a happy, safe, and productive learning environment. After only six weeks together, this tribe has accomplished something great (see below for pictures of the contract signing).

Exhibition of Learning

Much of the week was spent in preparation for the Eagles’ Exhibition of Learning which took place on Thursday morning.  The Eagles determined the content of the exhibition, developed an itinerary and crafted a plan to pull it all together.  They worked diligently to get their studio space and materials ready to guide their parents, friends and family through their Core Skills work. They nominated a panel to answer questions from the audience and the panel spent the week preparing as well!

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Art/360 Reflection/Rhys’ Birthday

Session long art projects were wrapped up with Mrs. Rebecca and provided a great outlet for all of the energy carried over from the Exhibition.  Wonderful self-portraits and stills adorn the bookshelves, bringing an additional pop of color into the studio!

While one half of the group was finalizing their artwork, the other half had the opportunity to reflect on the first session and set intentions for their return in Session 2.  Each Eagle received their anonymous 360 feedback and then reflected on their feedback while setting personal growth goals for session 2.

The Eagles also got to celebrate another birthday this week!

Last Day of Session 1

Friday had originally been earmarked for a day on the Pedernales River in Johnson City with The Expedition School, however Mother Nature had other plans for the Eagles that day.  Spirits remained high despite the change of plans and the first cold day of the year- it was remarkable to see the level of focus these young minds possessed, especially given the circumstances! They were committed to finishing strong and quietly worked heads-down on their Core Skills and Writers’ Workshop for hours.

The first feeling of fall was celebrated with some warm tea on the deck and a cozy Game Time inside.

We hope everyone has a relaxing and restful break- see you in Session 2!!

Year 1. Session 1. Week 5

This week the Eagles launched with a discussion surrounding the TED Talk: How to Speak So People Want to Listen. They were asked to reflect on the following questions:

Which of the 7 deadly sins of speaking are you most guilty of?

Which do you think is the worst offense? Which one is worst for your community?

Which of the positive cornerstones should you focus on the most as a group?

Which one is most critical to creating a strong community?

Which is your strongest as a tribe?

Using the words here (7 deadly sins and the cornerstones) how will your ideal tribe communicate by the end of the year?

This launched the Eagles into a very important discussion on how they want to communicate as a tribe and it set the stage for on-going productive conflict resolutions, Socratic Discussions, and collaborations throughout the week.

Eagles were also introduced this week to the concept of a public exhibition. They first made a list of the questions they would need to answer in order to plan their exhibition and then started on a very detailed and well-thought through plan for their very first one at the end of the session!

Another new concept and system they learned about this week was peer-to-peer 360 feedback. At the end of the week, they were introduced to 360 surveys and spent over an hour giving direct feedback to their peers on how well each of them followed their temporary studio contract. This will happen at the end of each session going forward, and upon returning from break, the Eagles will complete a detailed self-reflection that includes a 360 survey goal based on their responses.

Since the focus this session is Build the Tribe, Eagles continued to be challenged with team building games. The two this week challenged them to, 1. Keep an inflated ball in the air for a certain amount of counts, and 2. Tape a shape to their forehead and find the fellow travelers with the same shape- no talking allowed! They completed their challenges with grace and loads of smiles.

In Writers’ Workshop, Eagle authors completed peer critiques and Community of Editors where they were challenged to identify their strengths in editing (inner punctuation, outer punctuation, capitalization, spelling/grammar, or Voice -their focus trait of the session) and sign-up to edit their peers’ letters in the Community of Editors with that particular focus.

This week was all about preparing for the upcoming PD olympics! On Tuesday, kickball anchored the day during which learners worked on a variety of skills after just having gone through a gate-to-gate team challenge. Thursday, a prep day, had the learners practicing for the other events coming up!

In Art the Eagles began painting! It was a bright sight to see!

Thank you to the parents who were able to come to our first Parent Coffee! Everyone is looking forward to celebrating a successful session at the end of the upcoming week!



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