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Socratic Method

ASKING GREAT QUESTIONS YOUR CHILD WILL LOVE TO ANSWER

Acton Academy Mesilla Valley

ASKING GREAT QUESTIONS YOUR CHILD WILL LOVE TO ANSWER

Laura Sandefer

February 24, 2013

There are two ways to kill an after school discussion:

1)    Ask, “How was your day?”

2)   Ask, “What did you learn today?”

I’ve used both of these. My children told me to stop. Charlie said, “Mom, the last thing I want to talk about after school is what I learned. We’ve been talking about it all day.”

This is a time to use the Acton Academy strategy at home. Asking good questions is the basis of the Socratic Method. It works for parents, too.

Here is a cheat sheet for you:

1)    Refrain from open-ended questions such as “What do you think about…..”

Instead, ask a question with A/B options. For example, “What part of the day was more challenging for you today, project time or core skills time?” You then have the opening to dig deeper. “Was it the discussion that was challenging or the actual work?” or “Which of your goals is the most difficult for you this week?”

2)    Ask your child to rate his or her experience.

“On a scale of 1-5, how was your day?” From here, the discussion flows because you can take the rating and ask, “What would have made it better?” or “If you could change one thing in your day, what would it be?” or “Is it the mornings or afternoons you like better?” or “Is it your friends or the school work that contribute most to your rating of your day?”

3)    Create a simple scenario that forces a decision or a choice to be made. Ask your child what he or she would do.

“Imagine that you were in charge of the school day but there was one requirement: you had to take one thing out of the schedule. What would you take out? Why?” or,

“Imagine that we are going to create our own school. What is the one part of Acton you would make sure we included?”

In addition to these ideas for creating questions that will be answered, we have two favorite conversation starters for our dinner time:

1)    High/Low: Family members take turns sharing their “high” of the day and their “low” of the day.

2)    Two truths and a lie: Each person says two truths and one lie about his or her day. The others try to guess which statement is the lie. (This idea came from the Stakers, I believe.)

Once the questions are asked, the next skill is to listen openly without an agenda and without judgment. This can be extremely challenging but it is where the fun really begins. I hope you’ll share your tips and stories, too.

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Parent Resources

ACTON ACADEMY MAKING THE NATIONAL EDUCATION DISCUSSION

Acton Academy Mesilla Valley

ACTON ACADEMY MAKING THE NATIONAL EDUCATION DISCUSSION

Laura Sandefer

February 13, 2013

Michael Horn of Innosight Institute visited Acton Academy this week. It was a thrill to have him in our midst and let him see the Acton method in practice. After he left he texted Heather Staker who was touring the nation speaking on blended learning and said: “I see why you moved your children here.” I hold the highest esteem for Heather and Michael’s work.

The following blog is an excellent read on blended learning for you to enjoy. It’s rewarding to see Acton Academy being noted within this important national discussion:

http://www.innosightinstitute.org/education-blog/which-way-for-k12-blended-learning-part-1-boarding-the-mayflower/

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Parent Resources

FEELING FULL?

Acton Academy Mesilla Valley

FEELING FULL?

Laura Sandefer

February 7, 2013

I created this particular blogging space as a resource for parents in the Acton Academy community seeking a deeper understanding of what their children were experiencing at school. What is the “Acton method” and how would it look and feel at home?

My earliest posts addressed the surprising truths of the learning experience at Acton. Since then I have shared my ups and downs as a parent seeking to use a more Socratic and less “helicopter-style” of being with my children.

In the spirit of finding a balance between enough and too much information, I now tip my hat to the two spaces in which the best food for fodder is being served to you daily and weekly:

Our elementary school site: https://sites.google.com/site/actonacademystudents/

Our middle school blog: http://eaglesofacton.wordpress.com/

This space will remain live and I will post things I believe are worthy of your time. I trust you will email or call me whenever you want to spend time together talking about this fascinating journey upon which we have together embarked.

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Parent Resources

PARENTS PONDERING SARCASM

Acton Academy Mesilla Valley

PARENTS PONDERING SARCASM

Laura Sandefer

February 6, 2013

When asked what they would like us to know about our communication with them, the children said:

  • Remember that we’re all on the same team.
  • Stop for a moment and think about the other person before you respond.
  • If you are in a bad mood, it’s better to hold your tongue.
  • Speak honestly and clearly, but not harshly.
  • Never forget that you have a deep influence on others.
  • Ask yourself, “Where did that come from?”

Yesterday, when we came together as parents of the Acton Eagles, we breathed deeply and asked each other:

What is sarcasm? Is it ever okay to be sarcastic? When? What about snarkiness? Humor or scars revealed? Does the giver or receiver of a message define whether it is a hurtful one?

I thank you for the open and lively discussion.

The Eagles are bravely and honestly working through these same questions. Learning to be in relationship with self and others is a lifelong process. At Acton we give a great amount of space and time to such stretching. As reflected in the children’s list of things they want us to remember, we have much to learn from these young souls. I continue to be grateful for the learning I experience in this community.

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Socratic Method

CONSCIOUS LISTENING

Acton Academy Mesilla Valley

CONSCIOUS LISTENING

Laura Sandefer

February 1, 2013

Each week the guides at Acton are focusing on one Socratic skill. Last week we focused on “being concise.” This week we chose “listening openly.”

I believe this may be the most transformative skill we can practice as a parent: consciously and openly listening to our children. The following TED talk takes 7 minutes to watch. It is one of those that creeps into your thinking and just might change your world:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSohjlYQI2A

Enjoy.

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