Monthly Archives: February 2018

From Comic Books to Tolstoy


We love to encourage a love of reading in Eagles, even if it starts with a comic book.

Eagles who begin with Calvin and Hobbes before long pick up Harry Potter and eventually are deep into War and Peace or Anna Karenina.

In order to qualify for a Deep Book badge, a book must be  nominated and approved by Eagles, who follow a protocol for identifying “life-changing and world-changing books.”  Here’s the latest Deep Book list from Middle School and Launchpad.

Encourage curiosity.  Allow choice.  Celebrate excellence in a self-paced environment.  Three of the secrets of a learner-driven community, serving heroes who someday will change the world.

Who is the Ultimate Authority in the Natural World?

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During Session Four, Eagles stepped into the shoes of over thirty Biology heroes, experiencing firsthand the courage it takes to demolish scientific paradigms in a search for truth, and move from the discovery phase of science to invention and then to innovation to transform ideas into tangible advances.

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At the Biology Quest Exhibition, we celebrated the evolutionary creativity Eagles showed in delivering experiments about Cells, Plants, Animals, Humans and Biospheres, while exploring whether an apprenticeship with a paradigm buster, a puzzle solver or a data gathering type of scientist seemed to best match each Eagle’s passions.

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Eagles also took part in a Biology Bee to show how much they had learned about the natural world.

After all, the goal of learning about science at Acton Academy isn’t to simply repeat some tired historical experiments or memorize facts, but to use deep insights into nature as a way to change the world.

Three Cheers for Six Hours of College Credit


Let’s face it.  Freshman college Biology often serves as a “weed out” course designed to identify those who aren’t prepared for rigorous university-level work.

So, it was a risky challenge for our Launchpadders to attempt to earn six hours of college credit in five weeks, while still maintaining full responsibility for reading deep books, writing a difficult genre piece, keeping up with Khan Academy math and civilization and tackling real world Acton MBA challenges for their Next Great Adventure.

At first, Launchpadders took the CLEP test preparation in stride, digging into Khan Academy, Bozeman, Crash Course and Modern States videos, all while devouring a college-level biology textbook.  After a practice test or two, the intensity picked up as deep Socratic discussions and Eagle led review sessions were added.

This morning, eight brave Launchpadders headed for the testing center, credentials in hand.  When the test results came in, four of the eight had passed with flying colors and the other four within 1 to 3 points of passing

Yes, traditional tests often are a collection of useless minutia.  Yes, there are far better ways of learning how biology can advance your Hero’s Journey than a standardized test.  But now our Launchpadders know they can deliver first-rate university work – in their spare time.

Three cheers for the heroes of Launchpad!

Patience is Rewarded

We struggle mightily with middle school studio culture day to day.

Sometimes it helps to realize that no matter how many times we misstep, an Acton studio works in the long run. Period.

Today we received this note from a parent:

I was reviewing an independent essay my son wrote for an academic audition. What 8th grader can whip out a 500 word piece like that in one day, completely unguided and without any pre-draft collaboration, while surrounded by a big group of middle school friends? 

 Acton Academy has prepared him for life in ways that other schools would never consider. The fact that he’s been able to traverse the bureaucracy, identify the deliverables, use Google Docs and scanners to compile everything together, and submit on time without almost any help is truly remarkable.

Hats off.

Later, his uncle added:  Not exaggerating, that essay would get a perfect score on the GMAT essay section.

Be patient.  Acton Academy works in the long run.