Monthly Archives: December 2014

Websites that Sell Using Stories


Our genre this year is Storytelling.  Our Overarching Question:  When doe a Hero submit to authority?

During Session Three, we focused on creating  websites that sell using stories, a critical 21st Century skill for any entrepreneur, artist or free agent that wants to sell a product or offer a service.   We also explored the customer as a source of authority for a business, and how an entrepreneur, artist or free agent can decide which customers to serve and which customers to reject.

Eagles practiced blogging, writing drip emails and choosing the powerful words and images to help move a prospective customer through the five steps of a Sales Funnel:

  1. Increasing awareness and desire
  2. Offering a benefit
  3. Qualifying
  4. Answering objections; and
  5. Closing.

Eagles also learned to storyboard as a way of rapid prototyping and rated several free website creation programs, as each team went through multiple rounds of critique preparing to:

  • Market a real product or service for a real business; or
  • Pitch a “must have” item for the studio; or
  • Sell something during Socrates’ time (which fits into this session’s Civilization focus.)

In the end, only those websites that were approved by each team made it to the final round.  Can you predict which of the websites below won?

Justice, Federal Style


After an excitement packed week of trying, acquitting and executing Socrates, a group of Middle School and Launchpad Eagles earned one of the first tours offered of Austin’s new $107 million Federal Courthouse, to see modern justice firsthand.

Court 1

Below, two Eagles who hope to avoid becoming  customers of the judicial process, toast: “Taxpayer money well spent!”

courthouse 2

Cambridge Style Oral Exams and the Acton Academy Biology Quest


So how do you assure that independent scholars have mastered enough of a complex subject?  That was the dilemma we faced when evaluating a four week deep dive that our Launchpad Eagles took in Biology.

One squad of Launchpadders devoured a thousand page textbook; the rest watched forty Crash Course Biology videos.  Both groups held twice weekly Socratic discussions on the material.  The goal was to gain enough deep questions, history, vocabulary and perspective to design spring Biology Quests for Middle School and Elementary Eagles.

Still, how could we be sure the experiment had been successful?  Yes, the LP Eagles had to complete a 2500 word exploration of the life of a Biology Hero, but that wasn’t enough, and a multiple choice test would have been inadequate to test the deep understanding we needed.

Our solution was to invite Andrea Nolting, a University of Texas PhD candidate in Science and Colorado School of Mines graduate, for a Cambridge style oral exam, similar in form to the examination she would soon face to earn a PhD degree.

Her conclusions:

“I was impressed with the knowledge the students had gained in such a short time. They grasped the majority of the concepts/topics I discussed with them. To the whole, after the first couple of minutes, they did well conversing with an ‘outside adult’ and were able to explain their opinions and ideas clearly.

It was a pleasure to speak with students so passionate about learning, even when science may not be a favorite subject. I tried to make a point to ask several students what their favorite and least favorite subjects were, and why. The answers were often profound- i.e one student felt a connection with Norman Borlaug, and fell in love with the science of plants- she thought about how she too can utilize agricultural processes to help fed the world’s hungry. It was refreshing to see young individuals with such grand and life-altering aspirations.”

Well done Launchpad Eagles!

Just in: Socrates found “Not Guilty,” but drinks hemlock anyway.

soc 6soc 2 soc 3 soc 4 soc 5

Despite strong arguments from Lycon, Antyus and Meletus, Socrates and his former student Crito persuaded Athenians to find the infamous philosopher “not guilty” of impiety toward  the Gods and corrupting the youth of Athens.

soc 1

Citizens struggled with the verdict, requiring over an hour of feisty debate and three separate votes to free Socrates.

soc 7 soc 8

Despite the decision, powerful forces tricked Socrates and his student Crito into drinking hemlock, a martyrdom that serves as both an inspiration and a warning to those who dare to speak truth to power.



Eagle Buck Nuances

eagle badge 4.23.14

Eagle Bucks allow our young heroes to hold each other accountable when community standards or individual rights are violated. Roughhouse in the studio and it costs you an Eagle Buck.  Interrupt my “flow” and I can ask you for another Eagle Buck.

Today in a closing discussion, Eagles reflected on “lessons learned” from using Eagle Bucks to encourage high standards of self governance.  Below are some of our Eagle’s  tips if  you want to install a similar system in your business, home or learning community:

  1.  Eagle Bucks can be used to defend your rights, but using them will not increase your standing in the learning community. Social standing in a community comes from using your gifts, working hard and being kind – not from enforcing rules. In other words, Eagles Bucks are a way to communicate, not a source of power.
  2.  Eagle Bucks help set clear boundaries for community life. Run in the studio, and any Eagle can and should as for an Eagle Buck.   Eagle Bucks also protect an individual’s personal space, but this is a private matter.  If you see someone violating the rights of another, leave it to that Eagle to solve the problem ( unless bullying or coercion are involved.)
  3.  If you are younger or new to the group, asking someone older and more established for an Eagle Buck probably isn’t a good idea. Let someone with more social status draw the line,  especially if it’s a trivial misstep. Unless, of course, the violation is serious and clear cut. Then calling out an Eagle with more status will elevate you for having the courage to “speak truth to power.”
  4.  If you want to stop a slide in studio behavior, convince several people to agree to tighten up the standards and announce it as a group to the studio. This way, asking for Eagle Bucks will be seen as helping the Tribe rather than a petty act.
  5.  You don’t need Eagle Bucks for close friends. If you ask a close friend to stop bothering you, he or she will respect you enough to listen.   A real friend will ask you for an Eagle Buck to improve your behavior, but only if you give them explicit  permission to do so.   You should see a friend asking for an Eagle Buck as an act of kindness, if you want to be held to high standards.
  6.  Eagles Bucks do not work well for revenge or solving a serious relational problem. If you find yourself in a tit-for-tat battle or becoming angry, call for a face to face dispute resolution instead of continuing to ask for Eagle Bucks.
  7.  If you are an established leader in the studio, you have a special responsibility to use Eagle Bucks to communicate your commitment to high community standards.  If you see a line being crossed – especially by a younger Eagle – you have a duty to ask for an Eagle Buck, using a voice and words that say – “You are better than this.”