ELS studio week of February 24

This week the heroes have started a new quest: Process Drama.

The heroes are practicing three different plays, where every hero can have a speaking part if they want. Each day the heroes are learning acting games. They have acted like animals,  practiced showing emotions, projecting their voices and created short stories to act out. The ES studio has come over and worked with the heroes in different teams to figure out props, handbills, food, set design, lighting and back stage support,

Wednesday the heroes went for their first gymnastics class.  They did flexible exercises, somersaults, jumping on the trampoline, and jumping into the foam pit, to name a few activities.

Is it possible that next week is the first week of March? Wow!

Have a great weekend.


New Quest! Improv and Theater Jobs in ES!

Week 24: February 24 – 28

New Quest! Improv and Theater Jobs in ES!



The first week of the Process Drama/Improv Quest is off and running!  In addition to the excitement of the quest, the growth mindset that the heroes demonstrated as they set their session goals blew me away! They continue to move closer to their yearly goals, and a handful of yearly goals have already been blown out of the water!


In Writer’s Workshop, the heroes are writing the content for a playbill to pass along to the Playbill Designer Team. This week, the billing page was completed.



After reading through the theater job classified ad, each ES and ESL hero selected their top three job choices. When theater jobs were hired and posted, the heroes began meeting with their theater committee groups and carrying out their responsibilities for week 1. The committee meetings are off to a great start!



GR Gymnastics! Every Wednesday this quest, the heroes have the exciting opportunity to go to GR Gymnastics. Coach Tammy led a muscle-working gymnastics session that the heroes thoroughly enjoyed.



With the goal in mind to help younger heroes discover what leading a discussion looks like, the ES heroes have made a schedule for this quest with 6 close discussions being led by ES heroes. Another great opportunity to demonstrate leadership!



Warm-up games and long list of improv games! The heroes will choose 5-7 of these games to play/perform at the exhibition. We have just begun to scratch the surface of improv games.


Some of the improv games we have played so far:

  • Gibberish Interpreter
  • Let Me Help!
  • Fortunately, Unfortunately
  • One-Word-at-a-Time Story
  • Emotional Scenes
  • What’s on the Radio?
  • Helping Hands
  • 2 Ways to Die
  • Exaggeration Game
  • Where Is It?


Improv Rules

1) Say “Yes and”. Take the idea that is offered and run with it the direction it wants to go in the scene.

2) Make statements. Don’t ask questions.

3) There are no mistakes. Everyone onstage is a genius.

4) Listen, watch, concentrate. Be in the scene not in your head.

5) Give and take. You can look good if you make your partner look good. Focus on teamwork. 


Welcome back to the “Journey Academy Heroes’ Podcast!” This week, our topic is improv. The heroes are enjoying the process of creating a short weekly podcast. Our goal is to get every ES hero on a rotation. This week, we added prelude background music. The heroes liked the “opps” off-mic recording at the end, so even though we can edit the ending out, the heroes wanted the last few seconds left in for kicks and giggles! Enjoy!

Music: preview of “Energetic Ukulele” by Royalty Free Music Awwkwards



Have you asked your hero:

  • How do you feel about the goals that you set for session 5?
  • How can checklists help you in your work at home and school?
  • Did you decide to set a weekly schedule for your programs?
  • What improv rule is the most challenging for you so far while you participate in improv games? Which rule are you great at applying in the improv scenes?
  • What was your favorite part of GR Gymnastics this week? What gymnastics skill do you want to get better at?
  • What was the most difficult aspect of the playbill billing page to create?


See you next week!

ELS studio week of Feb 10

The heroes spent this week fine tuning their marble runs, cars and chop bag inventions.

Thank you to all the parents who came for exhibition.

Have a safe and restful break  See everyone February 24th.

ES Exhibition and Speech Week!

Week 23: February 9 – 13

Exhibition and Speech Week!


So much excited energy ran through Journey this week! Along with exhibition week comes a noticeable height in ownership, accountability, goal reaching, teamwork, and meaningful self-reflection. The list of effort, perseverance, and growth runs miles long, and I am thrilled to share some of these reasons to celebrate with you.


The heroes re-evaluated the responsibilities continuum and discovered that they could move more responsibilities to the “Heroes” side.


A hero led a discussion about how to make the world better by not littering. The heroes are working on leading more discussions and taking on more of this responsibility.


Presenting self-evaluations of this past session to fellow heroes followed by an opportunity for heroes to ask questions of each presenter.


Final Rube Goldberg machine in progress! Some groups has to start over and re-plan their section of the machine. One very challenging part of this machine was trying to join the separate sections into one continuous chain-reaction.


 Failures and successes are part of the process. Through failed attempts, the heroes practiced problem solving skills and teamwork as they sought after how to fix the “sticky” areas.


As a book review, a hero chose the board game method. When version one of the board game needed improvement, edits were made, and the game was tested again. Practicing problem solving and a growth mindset! Fellow heroes are so supportive in the entire process.


More nuggets of gold from this week:

  • Many session goals were reached this week as the heroes cranked out an extra dose of focus and concentration.
  • The heroes worked diligently to finish and strengthen their how-to speeches for the exhibition.


At the exhibition, the heroes demonstrated bravery as they tested out their Rube Goldberg machine to a live audience. They proved the difficulty of creating one continuous chain reaction machine.




Individual strengths and passions of each hero shined as they pushed through their nerves and presented their How-To speeches to the audience. Great grit, heroes!


Announcing the official “Journey Academy Heroes’ Podcast!” This week’s topic is “Green lighting.” Similar to how a green traffic light gives you the go-ahead for driving through an intersection, “green lighting” gives the go-ahead for projects, and in our case, our science binder. We green lighted (or some would say “green lit”) by fixing grammar and spelling errors in order to give the writing the go-ahead for displaying at the exhibition.



Have you asked your hero:

  • What are some things that you are most proud of from this session?
  • What are some things that you want to improve next quest?
  • What are you most proud of from the exhibition?
  • How did the ES heroes practice teamwork during this Rube Goldberg quest?
  • In what ways did you get distracted from your work this quest?
  • What are you curious about with the Improv Quest after break?

See you next week!

In Part

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.

Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

(1 Corinthians 13:12)

I know; in part.  As I approach fifty four years on this earth, more and more I see that I know less than I thought I knew.  In this state, I am coming to really value questions. In Washington D.C. my mentor Bernie Glaze had a handwritten poster on her wall, “Learning begins with questions.”  She always leaned in to the journey of a question.  I follow in her footsteps.  

This value of questions goes back to my dad, who looked up to Peter Falk’s television character in the 1970’s, Lieutenant Columbo.  Columbo’s consistent deployment of questions led to success in solving the weekly mysteries that he faced on channel 8.  Though at times, my dad drove my sisters and I batty with his questions, I see now the method and efficacy in his madness.  Unsurprisingly, I find myself more and more like my father’s favorite lieutenant.  

One of the reasons I feel comfortable at Journey Academy is that this family of heroes values questions too.  Questions lead heroes on their journeys.  The Acton Academy Network places a high value on questions leading learning.  In fact, their handbook for guides directs guides to never answer a question  As you can imagine (despite my embrace of questions), I am still learning how to respond with other questions, with examples and models for heroes to consider as well as with resources that might respond to the heroes’ questions. Here’s a page from the Acton Academy Network’s handbook for guides that I’ve leaned on as I learn to embrace this disposition to question heroes rather than direct them.  The rationale here is to help heroes become independent learners with a growth mindset, able to respond to the questions they face on their journeys. 

This will be an on-going quest for me.  I believe in the goal of creating independent learners who can self-regulate.  And that “why” will keep me persevering in highlighting questions.  I will continue to wonder about how to disciple with directive guidance while maintaining a value for questions.

Another dimension of guiding and questioning that excites me is Journey’s embrace of the Socratic discussion.  Often, this is employed in launches that start the day or restart the block of time after lunch.  This video from Acton Academy co-founder Jeff Sandefer helps to offer an overview.

And as I’ve spent this last week observing guides and heroes, I’ve gotten to notice some powerful practice involving questions and Socratic discussions.  In the ES studio, Miss Cheryl invited the heroes to take apart a VHS tape and discuss what they found.  In addition to wondering if people really watched stuff on this, they discovered how technology developed and changed over time.  In the ELS studio, Mrs. Denice invited heroes to identify and discuss the simple machines employed by Dick Van Dyke in an excerpt from Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang. To hear them joyfully wonder about fulcrums, gears, incline planes and wheels, was to hear learning.  No question about it.

In the end, at the heart of all this work are questions from guides and heroes.  From these questions come, engagement and learning.  And it’s this type of powerful practice that will fuel me on my hero’s quest here at Journey. Until we know as we are fully known, may we never stop asking questions as we journey onward. 

:: Dr. T ::

ELS Studio week of Feb 3

This week the heroes have been working on their marble run.  The task was for the marble to go from the top of the poster board to the bottom and be able to knock dominoes down.

On Monday the heroes drew their ideas, and their design.

The rest of the week the heroes built their marble runs and tested the dominoes. They checked their design and made changes or added parts.

Thursday and Friday the heroes also started adding information about the different parts of machines; inclined plane, pulley, lever and fulcrum, wheel and axle and gears.

The heroes are so excited to share their marble runs for exhibition.

new season in a hero’s journey

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

I’ll be honest; I’m new to this practice of heroes at Journey Academy.  Don’t get me wrong. I love it, but it still feels a little awkward in my vernacular.  I was raised with it being so big and virtuous and John Wayne-ish.  It has felt far from my experience as an introvert who listens first and then leads.   However as I started in my role as program director at Journey Academy, I’ve seen heroes on journeys. And I thought, I can do that.  In my first week, I am starting to get heroes.  

After a Monday of top-notch student-let tours, I found myself at Tuesday recess where Maddy, Reaghan and Evi offered to serve as guides on the walking trail.  They showed me the sledding hill, the deer skeleton as well as their favorite trees. I love to walk out in creation, so this invitation blessed my first days so much.  And this blessing was made possible by hospitable heroes who took the first step to welcome a stranger. I could be that kind of hero.    

Following the Thursday morning launch in ELS, I sat down next to Carter as he worked on Dreambox during the Core Skills block.  He turned to me, answering my questions about how he was working on math at his own pace. He explained his progress and what he still needed to do to earn his badge.  He made himself available and he taught me about his math learning. Heroic availability and the effort to explain. I could be that kind of hero.   

Later during Core Skills, Maddie and Liviet demonstrated their work with Lexia.  As they read, they would pause momentarily as they encountered new words. They asked each other questions as they looked for insight as well as ways to offer support.  I was struck by their willingness to stumble as well as discover with another hero.  Brene Brown calls this “wholeheartedness.”  Courageous heroes.  I could be that kind of hero.  

Jane hit some obstacles in her Rube Goldberg exhibition during Tuesday afternoon Quest time.  She shared with me about what she thought the problem was. In my first go at Journey’s Socratic guiding, I asked her questions.  I was overjoyed on Thursday to have her flag me down to share her solution. She had overcome. Holden was in the midst of navigating a disconnect in his group’s exhibition when he declared, “We’ll figure it out.” Carol Dweck calls this “growth mindset.”  The Bible calls this perseverance.  Persevering heroes.  I could be that kind of hero.  

Throughout the entire week, I have been struck by the gracious counsel of Matt Roefer.  Listening to his testimony about listening to the Lord’s prompting to start Journey Academy, I see the faithfulness of Matt and Dana in all that has been started.  I see how God is using this faithfulness to bring Him much glory. I see faithful heroes. And I pray that the Lord could fill me with His Spirit to be that kind of hero.   


One thing that I know about learning, we need to use it in our lives.  As I’ve learned from the Journey heroes this week, I want to put this into practice in the form of an invitation.  Join me at noon to walk the trail at recess following in Maddy’s, Reaghan’s and Evi’s footsteps.  Join me for a cup of coffee at 8:30a, just after drop-off. Join me for a cup of tea at 2:45p, just before pickup. Join me at the parent meeting on February 27 at 3:20p.   And when we do connect, I look forward to talking more about the journey together.

:: Dr. T ::

Engineering, Speech-Practicing, and Teamwork in ES

Week 22: February 3 – 7

Engineering, Speech-Practicing, and Teamwork in ES


The exhibition is next week! Pieces of the “puzzle” continue to come together as the heroes put forth loads of effort, focus, and collaboration. “How-to” speeches, their final Rube Goldberg machine, pursuing their session goals, and welcoming Dr. T took center stage this week. Be sure to listen to the audio interview with two heroes at the end of this post.

We are thrilled to welcome Dr. T to Journey! Noticing that Dr. T did not have a bookshelf for his books, the heroes set to work building him a temporary bookshelf. Pretty soon, design “A” required some re-engineering, so the heroes collaborated to strengthen their first design.



Tackling those session goals! Grit = long-suffering perseverance and courage.


In preparation for the “How-to” speeches, the heroes have been creating their visual aids.


This Friday and next Monday, the heroes presented/will present their “How-to” speeches before their studio peers. Feedback from each hero for each hero will provide helpful guidance for making adjustments before giving the speeches again at the exhibition. The speeches given Friday certainly reflected the heroes’ hard work with drafting, editing, rehearsing, and collaborating on their speeches. Three more speeches to go.


How long does VHS tape measure? How much video space does this amount of tape hold? How does that compare with a DVD? The heroes were shocked to discover that VHS tape is about 1,410 feet long! Predictions, before unraveling, ranged from 4 feet to 20 feet. Turns out, two pulleys were found inside each VHS!


Skip-Bo Golf game proved to be a blast! The lowest points win at the end of the game instead of the highest, like most games. Similarly, 1 Corinthians 1:18-20 shows us that through the cross, Jesus changed the rules of the game of life. No longer does power, fame, beauty, or money win at the end of our lives. Christ’s death on the cross seemed like foolishness to the world, but instead, Christ’s death enabled us to be saved from death. There are many more passages in the Bible that tell how God “changed the rules of the game of life.” See if you can find more examples.


Each partner group designed and built their section of the Rube Goldberg machine. Now, the heroes are problem solving to join the three sections together into one continuous machine. As the machine becomes longer, more failures arise. A growth mindset will continue to progress the heroes towards their goal!


Listen to this interview with two ES heroes about the Rube Goldberg quest and their final machine for the exhibition.


Have you asked your hero:

  • What session goals did you reach this week? What “big rock” priority goals do you have facing you for next week?
  • What parts of your Rube Goldberg machine failed this week? What changes could you make to fix those trouble spots?
  • How has the process been for you of connecting your Rube Goldberg machine to the other heroes’ machine(s)?
  • If 1,410 feet of VHS tape holds 4-6 hours of video and a DVD holds about the same amount of video, what do you think video storage devices will look like in the future?
  • What do you think about the change in the Aleks math program to have unlimited math quick table access?
  • This is week two with the new adjustments related to tracking your goals in Journey Tracker. How have these changes benefited you during Core Skill time?
  • Did you give your “How-to” speech on Friday? If so, what adjustments need to be made before you give it again at the exhibition? If not, how prepared do you feel to give your speech on Monday?

See you next week!