Freedom in Learning

Journey Academy heroes embrace their freedom, keeping in mind the true source of our freedom as we have read in Galatians 3, the promise of God through our faith in Jesus. During our Socratic discussions, the heroes affirmed their choice to believe that Jesus lives in us, and so to act like Jesus.

So when given choices such as:

Would you like your friends to tell you the truth even though it would make you sad? Or would you like your friends to not tell you the truth so you would feel good about yourself? 

… They all decided that they would rather have their friends tell them the truth because they believed their friends are trying to help them make better choices.

How do you feel when a friend is better at something than you? Would stay away from them? Or learn from them?

…. All but one believed they could learn from their friends, thus convincing the one that learning would be better than walking away with the assurance that this choice would help them improve themselves.

What do you do when you make mistakes? Try again? Try something different? Ask someone to help you? 

… Although they differed in their choices, they all agreed that their mistakes would not hinder them from attaining their goals.

And the heroes are true to their word, for they have demonstrated and proved, on several occasions in the past, to genuinely make these choices with a strong growth mindset.


Our heroes increase their motivation to learn because they have the freedom to make choices. And it’s no surprise that being 21st-century learners and digital natives, our early learners choose to reap the benefits of digital learning. They crave for the abundant resources accessible to them through technology, as they work on core skills on Lexia or Dreambox, peruse countless books on Epic, Starfall, or Kids a-z, discover deep sea creatures in the Mariana Trench from the National Geographic website, and build a submarine and a submersible based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ocean Explorer. Technology empowers our heroes to develop skills in becoming self-directed independent learners. Even at an early age, they are able to manage projects, which they often create for themselves without adult input, while taking the responsibility to improve their work, assist and lead others, and produce results that exceed expectations.


As we continue our Marine Science Quest, our heroes were enamored with deep-sea explorations that they decided they needed to build their very own submarine to further probe the ocean zones. They were determined to equip it with windows to view the ocean creatures and a periscope to replicate the submarine they found in their research and to make sure it could withstand the pressure that awaits them in the depths of the ocean.


Recreating symbiotic relationships in the ocean using modeling clay and recycled materials drew creativity, artistry, and resourcefulness from our heroes. They were overflowing with ideas and eagerness to materialize what they have learned and envisioned during our marine explorations.



Throughout the Marine Science Quest, our heroes are determined to make a positive impact on the ocean. They were inspired after talking to Dr. Mike Gil from the National Science Foundation during a video call from the University of California, who told them astounding stories about his adventures as a marine biologist. They have also been very passionate about helping keep our oceans clean by reusing many materials for our projects. Ms. Lauren from the Kent County Department of Public Works helped the heroes watch our waste.

As we reached the end of the third chapter in Galatians, at the end of week 3 of the Marine Science Quest, our heroes were encouraged and inspired believing that we are all children of God, not because of our good works and efforts, but through faith in Jesus (Galatians 3:26). All the heroes agreed that children of God “act nice, help others, and most importantly, love their enemies.” And as children of God, the heroes resolved to persevere and never give up by putting in more effort to improve their work and themselves, learning from mistakes and from friends, and celebrating both successes and failures.

Weekly Update

During one of our launches this week, our heroes were told the story of a young woman who was facing a difficult dilemma in work. Though this woman (Jeanette) loved her job, a physical disability was preventing her from walking well. Every time she paced down the hallway at her workplace, she was in severe pain. As a result, the woman resorted to e-mailing her fellow employees for group projects and events.

While e-mailing seemed to be doing the trick, the manager of the company was not pleased with this Jeanette’s actions. He believed that personal contact was the best form of communication, and would not listen to her when she tried to explain herself. She tried on several occasions, but nothing seemed to work. So, each and every day, Jeanette went home feeling sad and discouraged.

When I asked our heroes what Jeanette should do, the majority of them agreed that there were other ways Jeanette could problem-solve in her situation. She could pray about her boss, she could talk to her boss’ authority, or she could make phone calls instead of sending e-mails (to name a few).

As I left our discussion, I felt encouraged by our heroes’ ability to think through a problem like the one posed to them. Though this was someone else’s story, we all face situations in life where we need critical thinking and problem-solving skills. At Journey Academy, our heroes are thinking through these situations, learning how to problem-solve, and developing skills they can apply to any challenge in life. We truly have world-changers here!

Other Noteworthy Moments this Week:

  • This week, our heroes studied coral reefs during our Marine Science project time! They had fun creating their own models, and learning how coral reefs are unique from one another.

  • On Thursday, 3 of our heroes pitched a new idea: for the remaining 3 weeks of our quest, they will be offering a “Read Aloud” option to heroes in the studio. Whoever wishes to participate, can listen to them read the book Wonder during the last Core Skills period of the day. If heroes set a “Stretch Goal” (a challenging goal) and complete a book review for this read, they will be able to attend a class trip to see the movie (coming to theatres in November)!


Discussions This Week Included:

  • Words have the power of life and death. Do your words produce life?

  • When you are setting a goal, do you usually prioritize based on the difficulty of the challenge, what sounds the most fun, or based on how much you want to grow in a specific area?

  • Which of the following best helps you when achieving a challenging goal?

    • Getting Clarity- Spending time with God and prioritizing your steps

    • Generating Energy- Thinking with a Growth Mindset & using positivity

    • Increasing productivity- Getting rid of distractions and getting into flow

  • Do you believe it is our responsibility to help protect coral reefs from being harmed?

  • Should humans spend time creating and maintaining marine taxonomy?


How would you define freedom?

Great things come from hard work and perseverance, and this week, our the elementary/middle school heroes pushed themselves hard! On Monday, we switched up goal-setting so that each hero set goals for the entire week. This gave some of our heroes a better vision of what they wanted to accomplish long-term, and how their goals each day would help them get there.


In addition to goal-setting for the entire week at once, our heroes also began checking in with their running buddies more often. Overall, they are working to raise the bar of excellence at Journey Academy. Although they work hard, we want to encourage a culture of excellence that is always striving for more-to be better and to do more.


To be your best, it is important to have a strong community to support you, so in addition to pushing ourselves harder this week, our heroes also completed a few team-building exercises. Our heroes evaluated how their different personality types work together, and also completed challenges together during our quest on Marine Science. This week’s focus was on how weather patterns have an effect on ocean life. Not only did our heroes learn about types weather and their impact on the climate and wildlife, but they also became weather forecasters and used their newfound knowledge to chart their own weather patterns.


On Thursday, our heroes also had the pleasure of speaking online with a Marine Scientist in California, Dr. Mike Gil. This was a really cool experience as Mike shared his knowledge of the ocean and told stories of his own Hero’s Journey.

Next week, we will dive even deeper into Marine Science as we explore the coral reefs!


Discussion Questions this Week Included:

  • How would you define freedom?

  • What is 1 area you really want to grow in during Core Skills?

  • Who is someone in your life that you appreciate?

  • If someone were correcting you, would you rather have them point out your mistake, talk about their own, or ask you a question to help guide you?

  • What is the difference between finding an answer to a question and researching?

  • How can you tell if a source is reliable?

Learning through Play

In our early learners studio, our heroes are learning exponentially as they engage in self-education through play. They learn to solve problems, persist through challenges, build vocabulary skills, and gain background knowledge in many content areas. Each hero is intrinsically motivated to meet challenging goals in developing language, mathematics, and writing skills without pressure, judgment, or intrusion. They are free to play with ideas, learn from mistakes, and develop passions.

Our heroes are becoming quite the experts in marine science. Learning about coral reefs inspired our heroes to create their very own “underwater city!” As they research various types of corals to add to our reef, they also added “undiscovered” species and name them like real marine biologists. They are eager to take their turn to be our marine scientist of the day and share with their friends about their favorite marine animal, a book about the ocean, and all they know about the marine science.

The heroes discover endless possibilities through process art. They have the freedom to discover art for themselves. They are able to try new things, experiment with the materials, and generate ideas through the experience.

Learning math with our elementary and middle school (EMS) buddies really made learning fun for our young heroes. They were motivated to show their EMS friends what they could do. They also learned from just watching and listening as their EMS buddies naturally and unconsciously scaffolded math concepts and processes to help stretch and build math skills. The EMS heroes also benefitted from their interactions with our early learners heroes as they practiced leadership and nurturance. Our EMS buddies demonstrated kindness and compassion towards their ELS buddies.

All our heroes are challenging themselves and developing executive functioning skills through play. Play provides the freedom to be curious, be creative, and be self-aware. And all for the fun of learning through play, they push their limits to solve problems, cross boundaries, and reach mastery.

Diving into Marine Science!

Genesis 1:26

26 Then God said, “Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]; and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, and over the entire earth, and over everything that creeps and crawls on the earth.”

God has given us each the responsibility to care for our world, and this week, we were excited to begin learning a little more! Our heroes began their journey as Marine Scientists, discovering how our world is created. Over the course of the next 5 weeks, our heroes will continue learning about our world, the oceans, weather, the food web, and what they can do to help. For our final exhibition, our heroes will then take you on a tour through their Journey Academy Marine Science Museum!!
As part of this quest, our scientists will complete weekly challenges to help them prepare to be your tour guides. Some of these challenges include experiments, creating a coral reef, exploring a question (about the ocean) they are interested in, dissecting a shark, adopting a sea animal, and building a sea creature model. Each week, they will complete a new challenge as well as a set of Jeopardy Prep Questions for our “Under The Sea Jeopardy” at the end of this quest. Some milestones your scientist will conquer on this quest include:
Week 1:
  • Completing the “Krill Challenge” on the Open Ocean
  • Completing the Krill Level Under The Sea Jeopardy Prep. Questions
Week 2:
  • Completing the “Crab Challenge” on weather patterns and natural disasters
  • Completing the Crab Level Under The Sea Jeopardy Prep. Questions
Week 3:
  • Completing the “Octopus Challenge” on Coral Reefs
  • Completing the Octopus Level Under The Sea Jeopardy Prep. Questions
Week 4:
  • Completing the “Shark Challenge” on Ocean Creatures
  • Completing the Shark Level Under The Sea Jeopardy Prep. Questions
Week 5:
  • Completing the “Tuna Challenge” on The Deep Sea
  • Complete the Tuna Level Under The Sea Jeopardy Prep. Questions
Week 6:
  • Completing the “Whale Challenge on Caring for Our Oceans
  • Completing the Whale Level Under The Sea Jeopardy Prep. Questions
Our heroes have been eager to complete their first challenge and explore the ocean this week! I am excited to see them learn even more!

Discussion Questions This Week Included:

  • Would you consider Jacques Cousteau a world-changer? Why or why not?
  • When should a hero submit to authority (This is also our question of the year)?
  • What are you most curious about in the world right now?
  • Are children more curious than adults? Why or why not?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how well do you use your time?
  • If you picked 1 discussion rule that was the MOST important in every conversation you have in life, which one would you choose?

Our Call to Action

The beginning of our second session filled our early learners studio with excitement and anticipation for new learning experiences. To start with, the heroes voted on a new favorite worship song to begin our day, God is on the Move by 7eventh Time Down. Immediately following worship, our heroes were eager to start our discussions by opening up their very own Bibles every morning to the book of Galatians, as we begin a verse by verse study during our morning launch. We have been discussing valuable lessons Paul wrote to the early churches, which also speaks to our early learners as we continue our hero’s journey. During one of our launches, the heroes made their decisions to believe in the gospel, that Jesus died for our sins because He loves us, and to never ever change our minds no matter what others might say. They made personal commitments to strive to please God in all they do. Galatians 1:15 truly spoke to our heroes as we meditated on the truth that even before we were born, God chose us and called us by his marvelous grace. As we read the part where Paul shared his past life destroying the church, one of the heroes pointed out that God chose Paul even though he did all those horrible things. Then another hero concluded that God chose Paul not because Paul was good, but because God is good! What a revelation for all our heroes to hear the truth that applies to us all, that God has called all of us, not because of any good that we do, but because of His goodness. One of the heroes commented that since God chose us before we were even born, we could not have done anything good yet to earn God’s favor. Many of our heroes shared that they believed that they were called by God to help others. Throughout the day, the heroes recognized God’s voice calling them to help friends and opportunities to please God. At the end of the day, during close, they shared the joy in their hearts as they heard God’s calling and obeyed by helping their friends.

A new session also meant a new quest, the marine science quest. Our heroes were full of enthusiasm as they read books about ocean life and shared all they know about sea creatures. And as we talk to our new ocean friends in our studio, who asked the heroes who made all the sea creatures and when God made them, the heroes quickly referred to their Bibles to look for answers. And they took to heart God’s calling in Genesis 1:26, Then God said: “Let us make human beings in our image… So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea.” So they couldn’t wait to get started on their new mission for this quest as marine scientists. They decided what role they would like to play to care for our oceans, either as inventors or explorers


Invention: Trash Picker Upper


Expedition: Ocean Awesomeness











Thus, project time has been a very busy time as the inventors invent many gadgets to help the ocean and explorers explore the ocean and all its wonders. Our main priority in caring for our ocean friends is keeping the ocean clean. So we use many recyclable materials and upcycle, using them to build our inventions and to create fun sea creature art. The heroes have been very conscientious about what they throw out and what they can use to for their projects.

Our marine scientists had fun exploring the different oceans around the world. We painted our world maps using watercolor paint while singing our continents and oceans of the world song.

The heroes put their hypotheses to the test during our experiments investigating ocean currents and surface currents.

Our heroes had a concert playing instruments made from recycled materials included in the musical recycling kit provided by the Kent County Department Of Public Works. Some heroes also made their own instruments using our recyclable materials.


Even the stories that our heroes authored during writer’s workshop were inspired by our marine science quest. Here is one story the heroes made as a group, using a new app we learned during our Art Prize field trip call Wimage. The program starts with choosing keywords for the story and provides images to inspire visual storytelling. The heroes took turns picking words, creating the images, and constructing sentences for our story. This is what they came up with :

Words: shark, ocean, dress, mouse, chick, Wimee (The Wimage mascot we met at Art Prize)

Once there was a shark wearing a dress. Wimee liked the dress. The dress got washed away in a jello ocean with the mouse and Wimee. The chick found the dress and wore it. The shark found the mouse and chased it around. Then, the mouse ate the shark. The End.

(Our hero who gave the word shark was not very happy with this beginning sentence, but later on, he joined the fun in making our silly story.)

Our marine science quest has inspired and motivated our heroes in all aspects of their learning. And the best is yet to come!

Marine Science Quest


Due Date

Mapping the oceans

Ocean current experiment

Surface current experiment

Recycled materials inventions & ocean art

October 13

Waves experiment

Saltwater density experiment

Paper model coral reefs

Favorite marine animal informational writing

October 20

Deep sea glasses

Deep sea papier-mache’

October 27

Sea creatures observations

Marine food web

November 3

Ocean problems and solutions

Adopt a marine animal

November 10

Independent deep dive presentation

Fish dissection

Exhibition planning

Oceans of the World brochure

November 16