Year 1. Session 5. Week 4.

While the school week may have ended prematurely, the Ascent Discovery Eagles sure made the most out of their time spent in the studio!  If the week had to be summed up in one word, it would have to be intentionality.  From their focus in Core Skills and Quest, to their hard work & fun during PD/Art, to washing their hands and keeping their studio clean, everything was done with a purpose.


This week, the studio collectively managed to have one of their strongest weeks of Core Skills thus far!  Out of a possible 130 hours (number of learners x number of hours) of dedicated Core Skills time scheduled, the Eagles logged over 110+ hours of time tracked on software programs.  That efficiency rate of 85% does not even take into account time spent reading Badge and Non-Badge books or working on the three new Discovery Badges introduced this session that are able to be worked on during Core Skills!  There were more than a few mentions of finding flow during takeaways throughout the week and it’s easy to see why.

Quest continued this week by journeying back from the depths and into the open ocean.  Observation skills were put to the test as the Eagles watched various live streams from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and recorded information they noticed about various fish before heading out to the patio to study similarities and differences of two different species in person!  A black drum and sardines were available for the learners to explore in order to sketch and label the various parts of the fish before wrapping up the day by further exploring the black drum through a group dissection.  Questions arose during the dissection and a few heroes stepped up to the plate to research and share their findings with the group.  Here’s a sample of the questions they are curious about:

  • Why are there teeth in the back of the fish’s mouth?
  • What is the green organ that looks similar to the heart?
  • What is the swim bladder for?

Looking forward to seeing what they found out!


Monster Ball Soccer resumed this week in what has been an amazing display of grit and sportsmanship.  This group is so focused on putting their best foot forward each time they step onto the field, yet their competitiveness never overshadows the grace and sportsmanship they exhibit each time they play.  They constantly and consistently lift each other up, shouting out players not only from their own team but from the opposing team after each and every game!

Tuesday was a special day as the Spark and Discovery studios came together for the  Celebration of Colors (Holi)!  This experience focused on the community bringing color into our lives! First, each member of the community made room for the color (the good) in their lives by identifying a habit they wished to leave behind in the past, writing it on a slip of paper and quietly reflecting by tossing the habit into a fire and ushering in a new day full of happiness, fun and COLOR!!!


Year 1. Session 5. Week 3.

Just like that, the Eagles are halfway through Session 5- time flies when exploring all the oceans have to discover!  This week saw the learners venture to the deepest depths of the ocean to learn how life not only survives but even thrives!  They also continued fleshing out their Science-based Fiction stories and began preparing their individual deep-dive presentations for what is shaping up to be an exciting Exhibition of Learning at the end of the session!


In an environment with very little light, immense pressure and bone-chilling temperatures, how does life survive?  Thanks to adaptations that species have made throughout history, they have made changes that allow them not only to survive but flourish as well.   The Eagles learned about adaptations made by deep-sea dwellers such as bio-luminescence, camouflaging, size/shape and many more.  They then identified different adaptations they’ve had to make both in the studio and at home in order to be more successful.  What types of adaptations have you and your family made in order to make your days more successful?

In addition to the adaptations made for survival sake, many of these creatures have noticeable physical differences resulting in some pretty terrifying features!  The Heroes then took on the topics of fear and the unknown:

  • Are fears discovered or created?
  • Is the unknown scary?
  • How will you overcome fears you face right now on your own Hero’s Journey?


Writers’ Workshop

The Science-based Fiction stories continued to evolve this week as the Eagles learned the value of “Showing” versus “Telling” through Mentor Texts like The Twits by Roald Dahl and The Magic School Bus: On the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole.   In The Twits, Dahl goes into extreme detail discussing a man’s dirty beard by talking though the various foods found within it and exactly what happens as he takes a bite of a condiment-laden meal.  The author is painting a picture for the reader, filling in all of the tiny gaps rather then just saying “The man had a dirty beard” and letting them come up with that image all on their own.

2010 The Twits

After visiting examples in each story, the Eagles went back to their drafts with the challenge of finding at least two sentences in which they told the reader something and changing the language into something that would show the reader what it was that they wanted to communicate.  We can wait to see the final versions of what are sure to be very vivid stories!


This week in Civ, the studio traveled from Rome to India where the importance of the Ganges River system was discussed, the caste system was introduced and Buddhism was born.  Questions debated included:

  • Who was more responsible for the “untouchables” having such difficult lives, the upper class Indians living during the same time, or the earliest Indians, who started stories about how untouchables should live?
  • Is it natural to have upper, lower, and middle classes in society or is it just a product of some people taking advantage of others?
  • What would you do if you vowed to lead a life guided by non-violence yet were told by a neighboring invader that they would attack your town in 48 hours unless you gave up your land?

The depths the Eagles go to in these discussions are so powerful to be a part of and it’s so inspiring to listen to them take a stand on their opinion yet be open to the viewpoints of their peers!


Ms. Marina from Creative Action helped “chaperone” the Eagles on a trip though a “haunted house” they created.  The group has been so engaged and willing to immerse themselves in the stories and world’s they’ve created!



Year 1. Session 5. Week 2.

Week two kicked off with a visit from the Expedition School guides, launching the group into a discussion about the upcoming trip to Port Aransas at the end of the session!  The Eagles will tackle Environmental Stewardship, Birding and Marine Science challenges over the course of the session to prepare for their final field challenges which will allow them to earn these coveted field badges.

To continue our tradition of inviting Heroes to our studio, Mrs. Mica May joined the the Eagles on Wednesday morning to share her own Hero’s Journey story with the group!  The Eagles were on the edge of their seats as she shared stories of how she discovered her entrepreneurial spirit making homemade perfumes at age 6, how she met her husband, started working in web design and ultimately translated those skills into starting her very own design business- May Designs!  She talked about up and downs, lessons learned and those special people who stood beside her as she navigated the challenges that would arise along the way.  We are so grateful to Mica for sharing her story to the studio as it was truly an inspiration to us all!


This week in Quest, the ocean explorers traveled to coral reefs!  These bio-diverse areas are home to more than 25% of all known marine fish species, yet more than half of them are threatened by human activity.  The Eagles uncovered more of what makes these places so special by crafting of their very own 3D coral reefs out of all kinds of materials.  They also learned about different types of symbiotic relationships (commensalism, mutualism and parasitism), discussion how relationships at home and in the studio can reflect those found in nature.  Their final topic for the week focused on a hero named Carl Linneaus who is known as “The Father of Modern Taxonomy.” Linneaus made it his life’s calling to systematize and organize all life on Earth, but was biological classification discovered or created?  The Eagles tackled this, and many other big questions throughout the week!


Writers’ Workshop this week focused on putting pencil to paper to start working on those first drafts!  Through the use of mentor texts, the learners discussed ways to weave science-based facts into their stories in interesting and engaging ways.  They took this newfound insight back to the mind maps and fact sheets they created in the first week in order to help develop their own stories!


Ms. Marina from Creative Action was back in the studio to take the learners on a journey through Process Drama.  They are working through a variety of group games to break down the different components of the craft, such as the significance of staying in character, continuing the story through “yes, and..” rather than “no, but..” language, and embracing the strange silliness that can arise while making the environment to feel as safe as possible to confidently express one’s self through dramatic performance.  It’s been a fun week and the magic is only just beginning!


This week wrapped up with a very important ceremony, as the three newest Eagles who have joined the studio over the past two sessions officially signed their name to the Studio Contract!  This contract was written by the Eagles as a set of promises to themselves and one another on how they will best support their growth within the studio.  The newest Eagles went through the contract line-by-line with the rest of the group over the course of several discussions, asking questions and diving deeper into any line that could use additional clarity.  They have fully embraced the Studio Contract and Discussion Rules of Engagement.  It’s wonderful to have these amazing new members as part of the community and we look forward to watch them as they embark on their own Hero’s Journey!


Year 1. Session 5. Week 1.

It’s hard to believe the fifth session of year one has arrived. The Discovery Eagles brought serious momentum and energy with them back to the studio from Session 4!  This session kicks off an aquatic adventure as the Eagles dive into Marine Science for Quest and create picture books for the “Adventures Under the Sea” compendium to be published at the end of Writers’ Workshop.  Creative Action has joined the studio for the session, guiding the Eagles through Process Drama as they become agents of change for the CIA (Courage in Action) during Art!  The travels through history continue in Civ, which will take the heroes West from Greece to the Americas before traveling back across the Atlantic to discover one of the greatest empires to ever exist!  And to ensure their physical muscles are not neglected during all of the mental flexing, the Eagles will be taking on various challenges with the Mega Ball, beginning with Monster Ball Soccer!

Writers’ Workshop

This Writers’ Workshop is focused on Science-based Fiction where the Eagles are tasked with creating a fictional story supported by interesting facts about the sea or life within the sea.  They will have the opportunity to create their own characters and settings- perhaps a voracious Vampire Squid or in the deepest, darkest depths of the Mariana Trench- but must include ten real facts to support their story.  The final product will take the form of a picture book which will live in the Ascent Academy library for years to come!  This week saw the Eagles begin their research, swimming through books and online resources to find a fascinating component on which to base their story.  They then compiled everything that popped in their heads onto Mind Maps, which will help consolidate their ideas moving forward. They then told one another what they uncovered in a Speed Sharing setting!


On Wednesday, the Eagles embarked on a journey as Earth Explorers for NASA to discover the many secrets and wonders of the ocean.  They’ll travel in teams from the shore, learning about currents, salinity, waves (tsunamis!) and the Coriolis Effect, before continuing their adventures through coral reefs, the depths of the ocean floor, and the open ocean itself. At the end of the end of the quest, they’ll dig into issues and challenges our oceans are facing in the present day.

Each team will travel together for two days per week completing challenges as they move along, but beginning next Friday (and each subsequent one) the Eagles will break off from their teams to conduct an Independent Deep Dive into the one question they find most fascinating about our oceans.

The culmination of the session will find the teams competing in an “Under the Sea Jeopardy” with the winning team representing the studio at the Exhibition of Learning for “Are You More Curious Than a Discovery Eagle?” This is your chance to begin brushing up on your Marine Science early if you dare to step-up and challenge the winning team during the Exhibition!


Alex Agent 11 and Marina Agent 89 from Creative Action The CIA joined the studio to take the Eagles on a trip through time to study the efforts and actions of heroes through history.  The Eagles explored what it was like to be in the shoes of Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai and others through powerful improv exercises.  They underwent an intense four-day crash course to become full-fledged agents of Courage in Action and everyone successfully completed the training!



The wet weather didn’t slow down these athletes as they battled the elements and one another in two intense games of Monster Ball Soccer!  Everyone had a blast while being encouraging and uplifting to both their teammates and opponents alike.  These young heroes sit together after each hard-fought game to praise each another for their efforts on the field.  They constantly inspire everyone around them!


Looking forward to a powerful session of learning!

End of Session 4 and Looking Forward to Session 5

The last two weeks of Session 4 saw many examples of Eagles finishing strong!


During Weeks 4 and 5, Eagles had the opportunity to hear from two experts in the architecture world. The first was Brittany Taylor, an Ascent Parent. She is passionate about landscape architecture and shared her Hero’s Journey story with our heroes before they began the process of designing the exterior of their “dream Acton Academy building.” She shared about her love for the environment and the many ways to help animal and plant life by designing appropriately. In Week 5, heroes were working diligently to finish their 3D models when Architect, Mr. Kevin Gallaugher from Dick Clark + Associates, came to share his Hero’s Journey story along with his expertise! He brought designs with him and demonstrated taking an idea through the design process to completion. After his story, Mr. Gallaugher stayed to advise each team of architects. It was a powerful learning experience for all.

In preparation for the Exhibition, many Eagles opted to stay after school during our “After-Hours Architecture Office.” With intense focus, many designs were finished and then taken to a new level of excellence.

The Architecture portion of the Session 4 Exhibition included all of the work on display: sketches, blueprints, scale challenges, and the final 3D models for each group. Two architects joined us for this experience as judges for the Exhibition, Mr. Gallaugher (who was excited to see the end results!) and Mr. Brien Strelau from the Michael Hsu
Office of Architecture. The architects kindly and carefully judged the work, deciding on the winners of two pre-established categories (Eagles were aware of these and working toward them all session); Most Innovative and Most Likely To Be Built. After the Exhibition, one of our guests shared his insightful feedback that included:

  • Very dramatic tall space, with an exciting adventure to walk up the stairs.  Excitement and adventure are great things for a school!
  • Great model, and great attention to landscape.  It’s very nice that people walk past the trees to get into the building, and have a river to enjoy.   It shows you care a lot about the outside environment.
  • Very thorough and well thought out design, with great mix of fun with the bubble domes, and nice use of materials in your model.
  • I love the ball stuck in the tree!  Shows you’re being very realistic and having fun, too.  Very nice rough sketch of the front of the school – it’s important to be loose and free and a little messy sometimes to get ideas out.


Writers’ Workshop

To wrap up Creative Instructions, Eagles were busy these past few weeks play testing each other’s instructions and adding thoughtful details where needed. Through the many smoothies, bracelets, and drawings came much clarity and intention. At the Exhibition, final instructions were on display in the “Test Kitchen” for guests to test and give feedback to the instructions for our studio blog (to be published next week!), Home Activities for Independent Learners.


Field Program

Throughout the session, many Eagles pushed themselves to work hard on their Field Badges for this session: Rock Climbing and First Aid! Challenges throughout the session included building a personal First Aid kit, learning to tie new knots, finger-strengthening exercises, and push-ups! On their Expedition Field Day, Eagles participated in a First Aid Class at the Oak Springs Fire Department, and then demonstrated their skills in tending to wounds. Using fake blood and real gauze, the Eagles paired up to tend to their patients. After the First Aid Class, they traveled to Crux Climbing gym to try their climbing skills on some tough routes! They “sent” them, alright, and we have the pictures to prove it! The most powerful part of the day? Eagles in climbing teams cheering each other on and respecting each team member’s personal limits.

Looking Forward: 

On Tuesday, Session 5 was launched with a discussion about adventure. After watching a clip from The Hobbit, Eagles were asked:

“What would you absolutely bring with you if you thought you would be leaving on an adventure, not knowing when or if you would return?” 

“What would you absolutely want from your fellow travelers, if you were joining a group of adventurers, a fellowship, for the first time?”

This session, the Discovery Eagles are going on a lot of adventures together! They’re traveling back in time to Rome and the Americas in Civilization (and many other exciting places), they’re traveling to the deepest depths of the ocean in Quest, and they’re traveling off campus to address the litter problem in Austin! Finally, at the end of the session, we’ll go on an overnight adventure to the beach! Here’s to new adventures! 

Year 1. Session 4. Weeks 2 & 3.

Week 2

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 20, 2020, marked the 25th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as ‘a day on, not a day off,’ MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.” –


The Ascent Eagles learned more this week about Dr. King’s work as they dove deeper into determining how exactly they want to serve their community during this week’s Service Learning launch. During the launch they discussed the following questions:

When you see or hear of heroes who have changed the world through service, does it:

  1. Inspire you to do the same;
  2. Make you curious about how you could serve;
  3. Make you Excited to find a calling and give back in your own way,
  4. Or something else?

What is the best way to honor Dr. King’s legacy? 

In the coming weeks, the learners will decide what to move forward with to provide stewardship and support, creating the world that ought to be.

In the beginning of the week the Eagles had a visit from Mr. Adam with The Expedition School to launch their upcoming Field Badges for the session: Rock Climbing and First Aid!  They will learn beginning skills such as tying knots and belaying couple with strength exercises. They will explore heroes in climbing and the world’s best rock climbing locales, all on the path to discover potential passions and callings.

Throughout their work on their First Aid badge, the Eagles will learn health basics like why we need to wear sunscreen, what would happen if we didn’t drink water and what happens during a heart attack.  They will also learn the Red Cross First Aid Steps and create their own personal First Aid kits.  This session’s Field Program will culminate with a day at Crux Climbing Gym and a trip to the local Fire Department to fulfill the final requirements of each badge!

The Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture Quest continued along this week as the heroes wrapped up their research before moving into the sketching (drafting) phase.  As architects, they have been challenged to produce both floor plan and elevation sketches for a “Dream Acton Academy” building before moving on to labeled blueprints drawn to scale.  They will have this upcoming week to put their finishing touches on their sketches and blueprints before moving into the construction of their scale models.

Technical Writing introduced a few new tools to assist the Eagles with their instructions for their individual home activity, such as storyboards and WeVideo!  The excitement is palpable in the studio during these time blocks as they work to hone their instructions for baking, smoothie-making, knitting, slime-concocting and everything in between.  Next week their instructions will be put to the test by their peers as they each work through another’s set of instructions to see if they can recreate the activity at hand!

The energy was also high while the Eagles continued working with Ms. Indigo in Art and during kickball in PD!


Week 3

The studio fought to stave off the sickness bug that seemed to be floating around during the short week.  Those that remained were focused on the task at hand and those who returned jumped back in with vigor and excitement as the studio used some additional time to focus on Writers’ Workshop and the Architecture Quest!

The Eagles welcomed Ms. Abby, an Elementary Guide from Acton Washington D.C., into their studio as she was visiting this week to observe the incredible culture this young group has created!  She’ll be returning back to her school with new takeaways and best practices to share with her studio while leaving Ascent Academy with some new tools to utilize as well.

With week three under wraps, the Eagles move toward week four with an eye on preparing their WW and Quest work for another exciting exhibition as well as making a final push toward completing Core Skill and Badge goals before the session wraps up.  Everyone is excited to see the results of a session of hard work!

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!


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