Robots, Asia, Heroes, Oh My!

Why go to River Oak Academy? Because you get to play with robots, taste test foods from Asia, and make contact with your heroes. The word fun doesn't begin to describe session two. The year is not even half over and yet it feels like learners have done and learned as much as some do in one school year. Enjoy the slideshow at the bottom of the page with pictures from this session.


Learn to Learn Genre: Learners explored the art of letter writing. Our young heroes got the opportunity to learn more about their heroes and write personal letters to them.

Civilization: The continent of Asia was our focus for session two. We learned about the history and culture of many countries from the biggest continent in the world. Learners discussed gender disparities, conflicts between countries, water shortages, etc., bringing to light how fortunate they are to live here.


Core Skills: All learners are continuing to work hard on their badge plans.


Fridays: Learners worked hard with Ms. Dinah to prepare for a Halloween concert where they all had the opportunity to peform a song of their choice. Ms. Gina has been encouraging learners to get in touch with their creative side by using clay to make original artwork. Learn to Do Learners embarked on a journey to learn the basics of coding that culminates in a real-life exploration of the world of robotics. Saying they had fun with this quest is a huge understatement. Learners completed a course on Code.org and then jumped into robotics where they got to play with Lego Mindstorms. They worked in groups of three to code their own robots. During this quest, learners gained a better understanding of the technology around us.

Learn to Be

  • We often say that Learners have plenty of freedom to earn but, as with all freedom, it comes with great responsibility. We discussed the difference between zoo and wild animals. Their difference is not about genes, natural abilities, or physical gifts. The difference between the two is the way they developed. One approach is easy, safe, and repetitive and leads to a low chance of survival and an equally stunted level of skill. The other is difficult and random, filled with obstacles and struggle but prepares them for survival. Learners were asked to think about their learning and which animal they find similarities. What kind of animal would they like to be?


  • Givers, takers, and matchers was a powerful discussion. Takers are self-focused and put their own interests ahead of others’ needs. They try to gain as much as possible from their interactions while contributing as little as they can in return.Matchers like to preserve an equal balance of giving and taking. Their mindset is: “If you take from me, I’ll take from you. If you give to me, I’ll give to you.”Givers are others-focused, and tend to provide support to others with no strings attached. They ask themselves, “How can I add value for this person? What can I contribute? Research has proven time and time again that the highest performers are givers. Unfortunately, givers tend to be the worst performers as well. They’re at a disadvantage across a wide range of occupations, because they sacrifice their own success to help others succeed, according to research. At ROA, we value and nurture giving hearts and is necessary for earning many of our Learning to Be badges. Givers succeed because their giving leads to quality relationships, which benefit them in the long run. With such strong relationships, it’s no wonder givers are also happier people than takers. But If being a giver creates stronger relationships why are some givers at the bottom of the success ladder, while others are at the top?


  • At the beginning of the 1st session, every Learner had the opportunity to set the rules of engagement and choose which one to improve. ROE has been a challenge this session and bringing awareness to the lack thereof was helpful to understand how others are affected by other’s actions, though unintentional.Rules of Engagement, in some nations, has the status of guidance to military forces, while in other nations, ROE is lawful commands. At ROA, we value and hold our discussions sacred. Breaking any of the ROEs causes damaging interruption to the flow of listening and thinking. These times of focused engagement, discussing ideas with respect and courage, are some of the most valuable learning moments in our day.


  • We discussed Tribal Stages based on Tribal Leadership, a book by Dave Logan. We’ve all heard that we are “the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” That we are “a product of our environment.” This is a valid thought but Tribal Leadership focuses on the reverse idea: a change of an individual also affects their environment. 3 lessons learned about tribal development and how to enhance it:

  1. In the 21st century, tribes are still the most powerful social units in which we operate.

  2. Tribal progression depends on the quality of connections between its members.

  3. To change a group, you need to work with individuals first.

  • One morning, MS launched about gossip in circle and about "the stories that are not ours to tell". Many kids gossip to learn how much power and influence they hold over their peers. Through spreading rumors, they learn the power of words and how sharing certain secrets can impact others. Our learners explained how gossip can hurt feelings, break trust and even change the relationship friends have when they are around each other. Tough subject, but our learners now understand how important privacy is, and how stopping rumors or addressing gossip helps friends to trust them and enjoy more productive conversation.


  • We launched one morning on feedback because the previous day was the first time that all the learners had read their 360 review surveys from the previous week. A few had reacted defensively and wanted to know who had written the specific feedback but Journey Tracker has been coded in a way where feedback given remains anonymous even to us guides. For a few, it was a moment of realization of what they hadn’t been aware of and took it as a means to grow. Later, as they had some time to think that there might be some truth to the feedback they had received that they may not have been aware of, they were more receptive to the thought of regularly giving and receiving feedback to/from one another.


Looking Forward


Our young heroes are accomplishing so much so fast. We can't wait to see what's next for them. Watching them grow brings me joy. I can't help but come back to our overarching question, "Is joy created or found?" This session I watched as our learners found joy in mistakes and successes, but also admired how they create their own joy by inventing games and projects. Here's to more joy!


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