Year 1 Session 4 (1/8/21)

Hello Aim Academy Families,

What a week. We are grateful for the joy that the Eagles bring to school every day, especially at this watershed moment in our country’s history. Whether it is the enthusiasm an Eagle displays after they have mastered a Khan unit, or the aurora of creativity that surrounds the studio as the Eagles design, create and play their own game— these moments never fail to bring light to our lives, notwithstanding anything else going on outside the studio.

This week saw the start of Session 4. On Monday morning, the Eagles discussed our new overarching question which will guide us through the rest of the school year— “Are Heroes made or born?” The initial debate was lively— one Eagle argued that Heroes are born to do great things, while another said that people are made to be Heroes after they overcome challenges. We look forward to posing hard questions to the Eagles that will encourage them to think deeply about this in the weeks and months to come.

Monday also brought forth brand new Houses! However, this sorting ceremony was different, as the Sorting Hat sorted the Eagles into 5 Houses. This stirred much commotion and excitement within the studio, as 3 Houses now share one room and 2 Houses share another. Abi and Lucy make up the Snow Leopards. Luke and Salomon make up the Knights. Hailey and Logan make up the Owls. Neva and Ethan make up the Dragons. Israel and Layna make up the Tigers. With a brand new House Points Menu that levels the playing field for all ages— the Houses ended the week in a close race for the House Cup.

New Year, New Session, New Quest! The Aim Academy Eagles kicked off the Game Design quest by discussing our Session Question— do you play to win or have fun? After a riveting discussion, they played a classic game of luck (Bingo). Lastly, they were challenged to create and play their own games of luck. The Eagles enthusiastically rose up to this challenge— some created games involving playing cards, while others drew a game board and incorporated dice. Another Eagle’s game was played using their custom hand drawn cards. Needless to say— the Eagles were visibly excited to play test their new games with their fellow travelers. 

Tuesday brought with it brand new committees and leadership positions. These include the Supplies Committee, Spark Hero and the Excellence Committee. The one-person Supplies Committee oversees the stock of critical items for our studio— such as paper towels, soap and tape. If we are below the required threshold for one of these items, the Supplies Committee will research the cheapest option online and purchase it for the studio (with the help of a Guide). The Spark Hero serves as an example, ally and mentor to the other members of the Spark (formerly Montessori) community as well as the studio at large. The Excellence Committee conducts daily audits of two randomly selected Eagles after Core Skills to ensure that each sticker they earned for the day was legitimately earned. If an Eagle misrepresents their work by taking more stickers than they actually earned, they lose 10 stickers off of their sticker chart, an Eagle Buck and 25 House Points. The Excellence Committee also conducts weekly check-ins with every committee and leadership position to ensure that the Standards of Excellence are being upheld.

“With great freedom, comes great responsibility.” On Wednesday, the Aim Academy Attributes were re-launched. These include responsibility, courage, humility, creativity, independence, honesty, kindness, perseverance, selflessness and gratitude. This session, the studio will be focusing on responsibility. Whether it is managing time responsibly in Core Skills, upholding the Standards of Excellence for a leadership position or keeping track of personal belongings— responsibility serves as the foundation for our learner driven community. This has been identified as an area of growth for several of our Eagles— and it will look different for each one of them.

The second day of the Game Design quest brought forth two entirely different challenges— the tag game design challenge and the video game design challenge. On Wednesdays, Eagles choose between two options:

1) Create and play test their own “physical” game outside (tag, ball, imaginary, teambuilding, etc…)
2) Design a video game using Google’s CS First Video Game Design course ( and Scratch, a block-based coding platform designed by computer scientists at MIT. 

Following afternoon Brain Break on Wednesday, the Play Lab was opened for the first time— resulting in much excitement across the studio! The Play Lab contains several popular board games— such as Candyland, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, Risk, Settlers of Catan and Mouse Trap as well as other types of games such as Apples to Apples Junior, Jenga, Twister, UNO, Battleship and Charades for Kids (plus many, many more). The point of the Play Lab is to test out as many games as possible, so the Eagles can discover which features they would ultimately like to include in the game that they create for the Exhibition. To earn tokens for the Play Lab (as well as “play” nickels for the upcoming field trip to the Sandy Nickelcade), Eagles complete the aforementioned game design challenge and turn them into the Excellence Committee for inspection. 

What separates the Play Lab from a fun playdate, and where the deep learning comes into play, is in the Game Rubric that the Eagles complete afterwards. In filling out the rubric, the Eagles rate the game using a 1–3 scale among several key areas— rules, appearances/aesthetics, challenge/balance, audience, length and purpose. Within each of these categories, there are several subcategories or “goals of the game” that the Eagles rate. At the bottom, the Eagles list the specific features they want to incorporate into their own games. 

Thursday saw the Eagles take their first trip to the tumbling gym. We had the place all to ourselves! After stretching, Mr. Vaughn guided them through several different tumbling exercises— such as the somersault, cartwheel, back handspring and roundoff. For each exercise, he demonstrated correct technique and helped Eagles break down the exercise into pieces. For the latter half, the Eagles went to the other side of the gym where they practiced parkour moves such as attacking the wall, kong jumps, parkour rolls and precision jumping. They ended their time in the gym by playing a game of pirate tag! The Eagles are very much looking forward to honing their tumbling and parkour skills next week.

After the gym, the Eagles took on a screenwriting challenge for Movie Making. In their Houses, the Eagles brainstormed a scene that contained a few lines of dialogue and copied it down on a piece of paper in true screenwriting format. On the top of the page— they wrote whether their screen was EXT. or INT. (exterior or interior), followed by the precise location of the scene and ending with DAY or NIGHT. Thursday ended with the studio singing Happy Birthday to Mr. Lance!

Town Hall topics on Friday included people not picking up their trash, the markers being unorganized and the noise level being too loud during Core Skills. One Eagle recognized that the final topic is brought up nearly every week. She recounted the familiar pattern for discussions on the topic— everyone agrees that it is too loud during Core Skills with several people distracting themselves and each other. She continued by saying that these discussions always end with everyone agreeing to hold each other accountable in the following week. Yet— she said— they end up talking about it again at Town Hall the following Friday. Her call to action was acknowledged by the studio, as they recommitted to doing better in this area in the week to come. 

Please join us for a Parent Check-in. These will be taking place after school over the course of the next two weeks. We hope to discuss your Eagle(s) journey thus far and answer any questions that you may have. You may sign up for a time slot using the link below:

Friendly reminder that the photos from this week will be posted to the Bloomz app!

We are excited to see what creative, engaging and inspiring games the Eagles design this session!

Kind regards,
Mr. Lance and Mr. Daniel

Hi, I'm Lance Stewart.

I'm the founder and Head of School at Aim Academy.

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