Tej Acton Academy

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Nearing the end… of Session 2

Quest : Entomology

As you know, our learners have been discovering the world of entomology in the past few weeks. Recently, they eagerly watched their caterpillars each day and could not withhold their excitement to see them turn into butterflies. Luckily, by the time they came in on Monday morning last week, the caterpillars had undergone the big change — we finally had butterflies! Unfortunately, a few of our butterflies did not survive despite being well taken care of, but our learners still found this to be an opportunity to study the butterfly’s structure. On the other hand, our ants have been making the best out of their situation in our ant farm, truly impressing our Warriors! Additionally, one of the best parts about working with our learners is seeing how open they are to suggesting additional ways to learn. For example, while we were learning about butterflies, one learner suggested that we look up Mystery Doug. Together, we watched the video, “Why are butterflies so colorful?”, and the Warriors were super excited afterwards! This proved to us even more just how one addition to our lesson plan can really shape the Warriors’ experiences in learning. Whether it be incorporating a video, sharing a personal story, or even making a game out of a lesson, we as parents, family members, or supportive figures in a child’s life have so many cool options that may not have been possible when we were their age.

In order to make entomology more realistic for the Warriors, we showed them two videos of female entomologists from England and the U.S. They were truly amazed at how entomologists are able to study insect’s bodies while also ensuring that they do not ruin our crops. Our learners also received the opportunity to play pretend entomologists by going outside in our neighborhood and trying to find some insects that live here. Check out the photos of our explorers! The highlight of this small expedition for them was seeing a small butterfly perch on a bench by the playground right as we were leaving. 

Lastly, with Exhibition coming up around the corner, our Warriors are excited to show their families all that they have learned. In fact, the biggest problem that they seem to have is cutting down the content so it fits within the time allotted for Exhibition! 

Writer’s Workshop

As our Warriors continue learning about memoirs, they have also become better editors! We introduced A.R.M.S. (Add, Remove, Move or Substitute) to them in an effort to have them understand how to revise their own stories. Additionally, the Warriors watched videos on punctuation, grammar, and prepositions while also learning how to be better editors. They watched a video on different types of peer editors, and afterwards, we asked them which person they related to the most when they were editing someone else’s paper. In doing so, they felt that they improved on their abilities to give and receive feedback, which is an extremely important skill! Overall, in the past few weeks, they have discovered the importance of going back and reviewing one’s work while also valuing mistakes as areas of growth. Since we only have three Warriors in our studio at this time, we decided it would be best for them to have group editing sessions to allow them to hear from two peers and incorporate any changes that they see fit. Creating this open space for everyone to read their works out aloud has allowed the Warriors to feel more comfortable doing so as we eventually prepare for Exhibition. As for this week, we continued editing and also read the book, Girl’s Like Spaghetti, which was very informative for the learners as they were able to find out the different meanings for punctuation. 

Civilization 

This session we also got the opportunity to start civilization discussions with our Warriors. We started with a very powerful question- what can we learn from past civilizations? Their mistakes? Their achievements? Or is it just to satisfy our curiosity? 

Our Warriors concluded after some Socratic discussion that the correct outlook would be to spark curiosity about our history and to learn from it. This is not like our time as school Warriors when we had to memorize facts just to regurgitate them on a test to be later forgotten. Our learners very quickly picked up the spirit of this civilization topic. The first 15 minutes are spent reading one chapter from the book – The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer followed by 15-20 minutes of socratic discussions where they get an opportunity to solidify their learning by critically thinking and giving their point of views. Their is a lot of opportunity to bring in creativity into the learning process as well. 

After reading one of the earlier sections titled Codes of Hammurabi, we asked our Warriors if they agreed with all the codes and why. We then placed them in different contexts asking them to imagine they were living in that time. Would their answer change if they were a farmer in Babylonia vs a doctor? Our Warriors definitely step-up when they get an opportunity to take a stance. I am always struck by how clear they are in their thinking of what is just and unjust! 

The most exciting part of this challenge for both Warriors and Guides was when they put themselves in the shoes of Hammurabi and wrote speeches to convince their subjects about the rules they had made. They really got into character when they decided as a group (and on their own) to make the king’s robe with their jackets, use the play structure and platform at our playground as the king’s stage, and play music during the king’s entry. This activity made learning from History a blast!

Our last civilization discussion we had was about the far-east civilization of China. In that chapter, it was mentioned they were the first people to give medicine to the world. That prompted a question- what would you choose if you have to pick only one of four things for survival- medicine, food, water or shelter. Each of our Warriors picked either food or water. We decided to build on their reasoning by planning a formal debate about the question the next day. Learners were given time to research the question and provide supporting points to their answers. Both sides came prepared for a fight the next day with a quick 20 minute first round followed by a second round for rebuttal. This brought to light the integration of our learning design where students touched on the topics of science and communication through civilization!

Sanskrit

Sanskrit has been exciting and engaging for our learners. They have been proactive in expressing their areas of interest in this beautiful language by so far focusing on vowels, vocabulary, and conversational Sanskrit. I never thought it would be possible for children at such a young age to learn a language in a student-driven format, but with their tribe of learners and their guides’ support, they have never ceased to amaze. 

Our Warriors decided to increase their Sanskrit vocabulary by translating items they encounter in daily life, classroom materials, or colors. In our learner-driven format, the Warriors write down their chosen words for the day and use several specialty Sanskrit websites for translation assistance.

Conversational Sanskrit was introduced to our learners the same way any child first learns a language- by just listening. Shown a series of online educational videos in Sanskrit, our Warriors took the initiative to watch, pause, grab a pen and paper and jot down any words they picked up in order to be later translated. Working in a group allowed them to progress quickly through these exercises without any instruction or challenges from the Guides. It was awesome to see their excitement as they translated one new word after another in order to decode entire sentences. What an organic and powerful way to learn a language!

I believe my observations would be eye opening for most parents. Being naturally curious. children are self-motivated to learn if presented an interesting problem, and provided the proper tools and guidance. Having an awesome group to learn with is also not so bad. This session is another testament to them taking ownership of their own learning. 

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