@ ARROW ACADEMY
Thank you for your interest in Arrow Academy!
We are honored you are here to learn more about us.
This page will walk you through our learning design, introduce you to our school culture, and give you an opportunity to meet our team. We encourage you to click on links as you encounter them.
(And grab a pen and paper for questions, while you're at it! We would be happy to answer any questions you have! Just send us an email!)
WE ARE AN ACTON ACADEMY.
First, we invite you to watch this virtual tour video created by the founders of Acton Academy, Laura and Jeff Sandefer.
Please learn more about the Sandefers by visiting this website to read Laura’s bio and seeing Jeff in action by watching his TEDx video. You might be interested to listen to this podcast that Jeff did with Jesse McCarthy of MontessoriEducation.com.
Laura wrote this informative and helpful book about Acton Academy: Courage to Grow. (You can download to your Kindle for only 99 cents!) We have a number of paper copies to give away — please let us know if you would like one of those.
21st CENTURY LEARNING IS HAPPENING HERE.
After going through the information above, you have likely realized something special is happening here and we are quite different from programs using traditional education.
If you aren’t sure what 21st Century Learning is, we invite you to read this Forbes article explaining that. There are quite a few differences between “modern” learning and traditional learning, with the key one being that the focus is on skill development rather than information regurgitation: process over content.
The content is viewed as the vehicle on the road to developing mastery in important skills like: critical thinking, resolving conflict, problem solving, and project management to name a few.
Thankfully we are not relying on “curriculum development” as it happens in traditional schools where a committee of government-appointed people discuss how to change the curriculum. It is not surprising that this method means that curriculum only changes over decades but we are in a fast-paced technologically driven society where things change much, much faster than that. We are able to keep up to those changes!
WE HAVE “STUDIOS” AND “GUIDES!”
Some of the terminology we use is a little different than at other schools.
We don't have teachers at Arrow Academy. Instead, we have guides. The term "guide" reflects what we believe adults in our learning environment should do - guide, coach, and reflect, but never direct, lecture, or command. We refer to our classrooms as "studios" because these are spaces that allow for inspiration and exploration, much like an artist's studio or inventor's workshop. And we often use the term "hero" to identify our learners, as we frequently refer to the concept of the Hero's Journey as our learners develop their character and gifts.
In the beginning of this interview video with Acton Academy learners, they explain the role of guides in the learning process at an Acton Academy.
In terms of programming, we offer a Spark Studio, Elementary Studio, and Middle School studio open for the 2021-2022 school year. You can learn more about each of our studios here. Our high school, or Launchpad, will open as our learners grow.
So who are the people behind Arrow Academy? Take a look at our stories here.
You can see pictures of our learning space by clicking here, or by following us on Facebook or Instagram.
OUR LEARNING DESIGN IN ACTION.
This is a good time to look at how modern learning happens here.
Our school year is organized into seven sessions/“sprints,” with each sprint lasting five to six weeks. During each sessions, heroes undertake a Quest: a series of challenges, connected by a narrative, leading up to an exhibition of the completed work. The Quests are project-based in nature. Each sprint also focuses on a specific character trait, which is tied into the Quests and daily Socratic discussions.
On that note, our calendar is different and it is important you have a look at that to make sure it works with your family. We use a “modified” school-year calendar that incorporates education best-practice to improve student well-being by including more frequent breaks throughout the year as well as a shorter summer. We love this calendar! It’s great not having a big learning gap in the summer — and we don’t count down days until the next break because they happen so frequently. (We also love being able to travel off-season like in October and the end of May.) Due to the way our independent learning program is set up, it is okay if your family wants to spend time away for vacations or important events. You can still continue your learning on the road!
You can see the start and end dates of each of the sessions below:
"Onboarding Week"/Welcome Week: August 30th-September 4th
Session 1: September 7th-October 8th
Session 2: October 18th-November 19th
Session 3 ("Mini-Session"): November 29th-December 17th
Session 4: January 10th-February 11th
Session 5: February 21st-April 1st
Session 6: April 18th-May 27th
Session 7 ("Mini-Session"): June 6th-June 24th
School hours for all programs will be from 8:30am-3:00pm. Morning drop-off begins at 8:10am. After school programs will be offered based on student interest. We are located near a few day care options for families that need before and after school care.
See what a typical week of learning at Arrow Academy looks like. (This is a general schedule for our Elementary Studio.) Of course, we allow for some flexibility in our schedule as goals change and ideas grow.
You can see that the morning is focused on academics: math, reading, writing, and spelling. We refer to these as our "Core Skills". As mentioned in the Acton Academy video at the very top of this page, we use a variety of tools for the academics including game-based software, group problem-solving challenges, and hands-on materials.
The afternoons are when we work on the art of writing in our Writer's Workshops and project-based learning (“Quest”). Those projects hit all the major areas of learning like: art, music, history, the sciences — chemistry, physics, biology, life, environment, and specific technology like coding, robotics, software development, or graphic design.
Here are a couple examples of quests from other Acton Academies in our network:
LEARNING TO LEARN, DO, AND BE.
You won’t find grades or report cards at our school.
Young heroes celebrate the mastery of tools, skills and character by earning badges, assembling portfolios and taking part in public exhibitions.
Parents use badges to track academic progress in Core Skills like reading, writing, math and spelling and character development in “Learn to Be” Badges.
Electronic and hard copy Portfolios capture rough drafts, photos, video and other creative work.
Public exhibitions at the end of most Quests allow young heroes to present work to experts, customers or the public for a real world test.
Our learners and guides use a software program unique to Acton Academy to track progress and see what the daily, weekly, and “session” plans are in real time. Parents/Guardians may use this software with their learners to view session progress and reflect on learning goals together.
WE ARE TRULY LEARNER-DRIVEN
Everyone in our program has a significant role to play here. Each learner and guide has a responsibility to be a contributing member, committing to the process of supporting each other in their learning goals.
Our learners “audit” each other’s work, dive into deep learning and also deep conversations that sometimes might be tough. We value the messiness that comes with making mistakes or not getting something quite right — we view mistakes more like experiments that lead us to necessary corrections and improvements.
Our learners, through the democratic process, suggest changes to the system if they feel those are warranted, work in groups to dig into tricky problems, and learn how to support each other even when that feels hard. Over time, we see growth in their character, grit, and ability to persevere.
The learners here enjoy independent learning, are autonomous, show a willingness to collaborate and problem solve, and want to take on responsibility.