We want to give a HUGE “Shout Out” to our friends at Blendtec for donating one of their amazing blenders for use in our kitchen and cooking classes! We are thrilled to have this new addition to our kitchen appliances. Let’s get blending! #willitblend #blendtec
Hello, Parents of AAI Students!
We wanted to post immunization requirement information on our blog for ease of access. See blow the documents from the Utah Department of Health (only seventh-grade flyers provided). Also attached is a Questions and Answers for parents providing immunization records to the school.
Utah Department of Health 2016 7th Grade Immunization Requirements (English)
Utah Department of Health 2016 7th Grade Immunization Requirements (Spanish)
Utah Department of Health Questions & Answers on Immunizations for School
See bottom of post for all clickable links referenced in the letter below.
- Monthly Calendar: https://aaiutah.org/events/2016-08/
- Bell Schedule: https://aaiutah.org/aai-bell-schedules/
Electives Class Survey
We have created a survey to gather insight regarding your elective preferences and to better help us in future elective class creation. Please have your student(s) click on the appropriate link below and complete survey.
- Grades 7 to 8: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7_8_AAIelective
- Grades 9 to 12: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9_11_AAIelective
AAI Sneak Peek Tours
Do you want to get the inside scoop on Daybreak’s newest charter school? The American Academy of Innovation is offering sneak peek tours of the building each Thursday at 10 am until the school opens its doors this fall. The tours will be guided by a school administrator or board member.
Space is limited to ten adult guests per week while under construction and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Long pants and closed-toe shoes are required for entrance onto the construction site. Hard hats will be provided.
Schedule your tour today by emailing your interest and contact information to Jenny Williams at email@example.com.
The American Academy of Innovation, serving grades 6 to 12, combines academic rigor with career technology skills and international partnerships to prepare students for success in a global marketplace. Students are prepared through instruction using project-based learning, participation in mentoring projects with international university partners, and continuous enrollment in career and technological education classes. Please visit our website at aaiutah.org for more information.
Initial List of AAI Electives
We have developed an initial list of electives that we will be able to offer the students of AAI! Please note, this is not a complete list and the list is subject to change based on student need and demand.
- Art Exploration
- Advanced Art
- Team Sports
- Lifetime Fitness
- Recreational Physical Education
- Sports Psychology
- Computer Tech
- Creative Writing
- Stories On the Big Screen
- Indoor Farming
- Animal Science
- Food Science
- Happiness (Positive Psychology)
- Computer Programming
- Financial Freedom
- Mysterious Universe (Astronomy)
- 3D Modeling / Animation
- More to come!
By German Lopez
This article has two objectives; the first is to answer some questions related to one of the most important aspects of education, “knowledge”, a concept that translates unto different terms such as curriculum, core standards, programs, expectations, skills, etc. The second objective is to briefly describe the way American Academy of Innovation will approach these concepts.
To start we should ask ourselves the following questions: What is “curriculum”? Who dictates and who applies curriculum? What are the differences between standards and curriculum? Are charter schools obligated to follow such standards?
To be able to understand the scope of these questions, we will refer to different sources and in effect to what the State and federal regulations have established on this topic. Additionally, we will refer to the interpretation given by that same authority, for later reflection on the limitations and prerogatives we have as a Charter School.
Generally speaking, Core or Educational Standards are expectations set by said authority on skills and concepts that need to be taught and students need to achieve to safeguard their success.
New Utah Core Standards: According to the Utah State Office of Education “The new Utah Core Standards in English language arts and mathematics, based on the Common Core State Standards, establish a framework for high quality instruction. They help Utah teachers ensure academic achievement for Utah students by defining the essential knowledge, concepts, and skills to be mastered at each grade level or within critical content areas. They define what students should know and be able to do to as they move on to post-secondary training, college, or a career. Teachers and local school boards continue to control the curriculum choices that reflect local values. The Utah Core Standards do not dictate curriculum. The Utah Core Standards set clear, grade-level expectations in math and language arts for students, parents, and teachers” 
In other words, the Common Core State Standards are merely a clear set of expectations and curriculum standards for the knowledge and skills students need to acquire in English/language arts and mathematics at each grade level to prepare students to graduate college and be career ready. The standards establish what students need to learn, but they do not dictate how teachers should teach.
Curriculum includes the material and content that is used to teach the standards. In many dictionaries, curriculum is often defined as the courses, programs or syllabus offered by a school, but depending on how broadly educators, administrators, parents or students define or employ such concepts, the term curriculum typically refers to the knowledge and skills students are expected to learn, which includes the learning standards or learning objectives they are expected to meet. The manner in which such concepts or knowledge will be achieved translates unto the the units and lessons that teachers teach; the assignments and projects given to students; the books, materials, videos, presentations, and readings used in a course, and the tests, assessments, and other methods used to evaluate student learning. The truth is that at the end of the equation, teachers are the ones who apply the term curriculum as their specific learning standards, including lessons, assignments, and materials used to organize, assess and teach a particular subject. 2
Who chooses/adopts state standards and curriculum? As per law, the Utah Constitution designates to the Utah State School Board the responsibility to choose state standards. Local school boards and the Utah Legislature do not. The Core Curriculum Standards should enable students to: (a) communicate effectively, both verbally and through written communication; (b) apply mathematics; and (c) access, analyze, and apply information. The Utah Code spells out local school board control of materials. 
It is essential to understand that it is not the District or the State Office of Education or Federal Government who selects our curriculum or everyday lesson content, but the American Academy of Innovation Charter School Board, the school administration and the individual teachers. This curriculum generally includes the textbook and programs chosen to teach the everyday lesson content for delivering the standards.
As a charter school and by law, American Academy of Innovation will design its school programs and select instructional material and methods of teaching, which should be supported by commonly accepted scientific standards of evidence, that are considered most appropriate to meet core curriculum with the expectation that each program will enhance or help achieve mastery of the core curriculum standards. Teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms, as well as select the instructional material they feel is most appropriate for their students.
With regard to State Assessments and Graduation requirements the State Code 53A-3-402, define the norm and which will be adapted to our charter: AAI as a local school board shall: (a) implement the core curriculum utilizing instructional material that best correlates to the core curriculum and graduation requirements; (b) administer tests, required by the State Board of Education, which measure the progress of each student, and coordinate with the State Board of Education to assess results and create plans to improve the student’s progress that shall be submitted to the State Office of Education for approval.
Assessments are a key component that will help students, teachers, parents and administrators to check for understanding and to measure progress. As part of our method, AAI has its own Assessment Department that will help all to evaluate success on a continual basis. By applying the experiential learning method combined with direct instruction, American Academy of Innovation will strive to prepare students to master the assessments required by the Utah State code which are: New College and Career ready Assessments given to all 8th -11th grade students (ACT and companion assessments, Explore and Plan). SAGE a comprehensive assessment system for Utah. It includes teacher resources and tools for teachers to develop their own assessments (formative), fall and winter computer adaptive assessments with two writing prompts (interim) and spring computer adaptive assessments with two writing prompts (summative). SAGE is unique to Utah and is developed by Utah educators.
It is relevant to note that the Utah Core Standards were built using international data in the benchmarking process, which goes along well with our school mission to adopt the International benchmarking.
American Academy of Innovation will strive to identify students’ specific learning styles and then use a variety of methods to teach each skill and concept while building responsibility and ownership of education in students as they learn to find resources and develop techniques that help them learn using the methods best suited to their individual needs
American Academy of Innovation is unique in its overall educational approach. We will strive not just to achieve the Utah Score Standards but to exceed such expectations. Our purpose is to increase choice in learning opportunities and to improve student learning, as required by Utah Code 53A-1a-503. The unique blend of a strong academic program using experiential learning combined with CTE courses to develop 21st Century Skills, and the international partnerships, will prepare students for success in the global market place.
Overall, AAI will empower students with the tools (knowledge, skills and competencies) they need to succeed throughout their lifetime.
by Shane Clark
The educational model currently used in most public school classrooms was made for a different time. Devised for a primarily industrial economy over a century ago, the current system isn’t actually broken (as some would say), but it is terribly outdated. Rather than simply turning out workers as their primary mission, American schools must now address the needs of an information technology-based economy. We need public schools to create thinkers, leaders, problem-solvers, and entrepreneurs. It is for this purpose that the American Academy of Innovation (AAI) was created.
One of AAI’s core philosophies is helping students to acquire what business and education leaders have referred to as 21st Century Skills. These skills include three primary areas – learning skills, literacy skills, and life skills. In several important studies, 21st Century Skills are those attributes that employers have said are most badly needed in the workers of tomorrow.
Rather than simply memorizing facts or learning to successfully take tests, AAI will teach students how:
- To think, both critically and creatively
- To collaborate, both as a leader and as part of a team
- To communicate, both in speaking and in writing
- To be technically literate—not only to be familiar with what technology is, but also with how to select the right tech-based tools to solve specific problems
- To research a subject or a problem thoroughly
- To take initiative and direct their own learning, with an eye toward creating a lifelong love of education
- To interact with mentors, teachers, and business leaders to learn about how to be successful in an ever-changing and exciting world
Having these skills will create both confidence and competence in AAI graduates. Students with 21st Century Skills not only know what to do in theory, but have used these skills for real-world applications during project-based learning and in conjunction with skilled mentors. They have led a team, designed a project, researched a problem, devised a budget, delivered a presentation, and worked across academic disciplines. In short, our hope is that most AAI students will be better prepared for whatever life throws at them than students in traditional schools.
Whether a student moves from AAI to a four-year college, to a skilled trade school or directly into the workforce, they will be prepared to learn quickly, utilize technology, communicate important information, be a part of a team and lead others. If this education approach is interesting to you, we’d invite you to request more information about AAI, attend a parent meeting, and keep up to date with the building of the school. We’re excited to make a difference in our community and lives of our students in the years to come.
Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as “learning through reflection on doing”. In this process which students develop knowledge, skills, and values from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting. This concept is many times used as Project- based learning or PBL.
According to the Buck Institute of Education, “There is forty years of accumulated evidence that the instructional strategies and procedures that make up standards-focused Project-based Learning (PBL) is effective in building deep content understanding, raising academic achievement, and encouraging student motivation to learn”
This type of learning can be more effective for most students than traditional instruction for teaching mathematics, economics, science, social science, and clinical medical skills, and for careers in the allied health occupations. “After completing a project, students remember what they learn and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with PBL are better able to apply what they know and can do to new situations”.
This method can be more effective than traditional instruction in increasing academic achievement. “Today’s students, more than ever, often find school to be boring and meaningless. In experiential, students are active, not passive; a project engages their hearts and minds and provides real-world relevance for learning.”
Experiential learning can be more effective than traditional instruction for long-term retention, skill development, and satisfaction of students and teachers. “Allowing teachers to work more closely with active, engaged students doing high-quality, meaningful work, and in many cases to rediscover the joy of learning alongside their students”.
This method can be more effective than traditional instruction for preparing students to integrate and explain concepts. “The Common Core and other present-day standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, and the development of the 21st-century competencies such as critical thinking, communication in a variety of media, and collaboration. PBL provides an effective way to address such standards”.
AAI will improve students’ mastery of 21st Century skills. “In the 21st-century workplace, success requires more than basic knowledge and skills. At AAI, students will not only understand content more deeply but also learn how to take responsibility and build confidence, solve problems, work collaboratively, communicate ideas, and be creative innovators.
The chosen curriculum and programs proposed are modeled on other schools that use Experiential Learning and 21st Century Skills, particularly Western Hawai’i Explorations Academy. Established as the first charter high school in Hawaii, and the first charter school to open in the state in August 2000, it consistently ranks among Hawaii’s highest performing public secondary schools on the Hawai`i State Assessment. The innovative project-based learning curriculum has gained national recognition from the George Lucas Educational Foundation (2001 and 2007), Intel and Scholastic Schools of Distinction (2005), and Blue Ribbon Lighthouse Schools (2005).
While American Academy of Innovation will not be replicating the exact program of Western Hawaii Explorations Academy, in order to utilize the international university partnerships, teachers will be trained to implement this method of instruction.
 “Research.” Project-based Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2014”, Vernon, D. T. & Blake, R. L. (1993). Does problem-based learning work? A meta-analysis of evaluative research. AcademicMedicine, 68(7), 550-63.
Mergendoller, J.R., Maxwell, N., & Bellisimo, Y. (2006). The effectiveness of problem based instruction: A Comparative Study of Instructional Methods and Student Characteristics. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(2), 49-69. Retrieved from http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/ijpbl/vol1/iss2/5/.
 Walker, A. & Leary, H. (2008) “A Problem Based Learning Meta Analysis: Differences Across Problem Types, Implementation Types, Disciplines, and Assessment Levels,” Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 3(1), 12-43. Retrieved from http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/ijpbl/vol3/iss1/3.
 Capon, N, & Kuhn, D. (2004). What’s so good about problem-based learning? Cognition and Instruction, 22, 61-79.
 Hmelo, C. (1998). Problem-based learning: Effects on the early acquisition of cognitive skill in medicine. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7, 173-208. [Abstract]
By German Lopez
In general schools use standardized tests for many purposes, such as determining if learners are ready for college (ACT); promoting, retaining in grade, or graduate students; diagnosing learning disabilities and to guide and control curriculum.
At American Academy of Innovation we know that to impact the students’ performance, it is better to have a systematic approach to formative and summative assessment. Formative assessments, are ongoing assessments, reviews, and observations in classroom, and can be used to improve instruction and for monitoring understanding. Summative assessment measure student competency and gauge progress toward content mastery and benchmarks. The goal of summative assessments is to judge students’ competency after an instructional phase is completed.
AAI considers that summative evaluations (test) are not good enough to serve as the sole or primary basis for important educational decisions, but the fact is that students will face standardized tests multiple times in their lives, so with that in mind AAI created the Assessment Department with the goal to identify learning styles and aptitudes of each student and to measure their progress. This department should use a collaborative approach with teachers to apply primarily summative assessments with the goal to also help teachers in designing and adjusting curriculum and alleviate the their load by creating and grading exams as well as keeping records for each student.
The following graph represents the manner on which the assessment department will works with faculty to monitor and communicate students’ progress.
The chart explains briefly the approach of the assessment process in the new school. Retention and understanding of knowledge will be determined using summative assessment, which will be given to all the students in every class to partially evaluate the effectiveness of the instruction and learning. The goal is to determine student competency after an instructional phase is completed and to see if students have mastered specific competencies as well as identify instructional areas requiring additional attention, to help students measure on retention of knowledge, understanding of knowledge and active use of knowledge with the intent to help them recognize and deal with their schooling process.
 Fisher, Douglas, and Nancy Frey. Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2007. Print.
January 1st 2016.
The vision of American Academy of Innovation is to extend the educational environment outside of the box and of the classroom; into the school, the home, the community and around the world. This is what we call “experiential learning”.
At AAI, students are active creators of knowledge, and the school is a center of a lifelong learning, where teachers and administrators will strive to offer every child a rich, rewarding, and unique learning experience in a way that should help students to balance their life, culturally, emotionally, physically and socially.
At American Academy of Innovation, teachers will be encouraged to adopt new practices that include the art and science of teaching and learning. They should envision that the essence of education is a close relationship between a knowledgeable, passionate and caring teacher, and a secure motivated student.
Teachers should envision that their most important role is to unlock the potential of each and every student by treating them as an individual. In order to get to know each of them, teachers must strive to comprehend their students’ potential, unique goals and needs, learning style, social and cultural background, interests, and abilities.
The teachers’ job is to inspire a love for learning and to counsel students as they grow and mature, helping them to integrate their social, emotional, artistic, physical and intellectual growth, so the union of these sometimes separate dimensions, yields the ability to have a balanced life and to seek, understand, and to use knowledge, to think critically, to make better decisions, to solve problems, and to add value to their personal lives, to the communities they are living at and in general, to the human kind.
In the traditional school, the primary role of a teacher is generally perceived as the master of a subject matter such as math, history, or science; the king or queen of the classroom, a good intended dictator who decides what is the best for the students under his/her authority.
At AAI, the teacher role is different, an individual teacher is no longer the sole owner and the holistic master of knowledge of all things to all students, but instead a teacher who is willing to learn along with his/her students, to give up his/her personal territorial instinct, and exchange that for a new way of working jointly with students, colleagues and community partners, not just domestically but internationally. One of the most important innovations in instructional organization at AAI is called “Team- Teaching”, where two or more educators share responsibility for the same group of students.
With this new approach, teachers will understand that at AAI, sharing and collaboration are essential elements that every student should have, and by doing that, teachers will be able to:
- Connect students to learners of many other cultures and countries, and to a set up a global mindset so needed in this time.
- Apply their strengths, interests, skills, and abilities to the greatest cause and effect, knowing that children won’t suffer from their weaknesses, because there is someone with a different set of abilities to back them up.
Teachers at AAI should motivate students to truly take responsibility for their own education by allowing students to develop their creativity skills and to experience project-base learning in a way to make sure learning occurs. By taking this role, teachers will:
- Turn students into passionate participants in the instructional process, by providing hands-on, participatory, educational adventures.
- In practice, the relationship between teachers and students will take the form of a different concept of instruction, challenging participants to take an active role in the learning process by applying the theory of abstract concepts into experiential projects.
- Teachers will become educational guides, facilitators, and co-learners; the curriculum will relate to their own life experiences, learning activities that will engage their natural curiosity, and assessments that will measure real accomplishments as an integral part of learning.
- Students will work harder, taking a role in determining the form and content of their own schooling in coordination with the other teachers and administrators.
- Teachers will help students to create their unique learning plans and help them decide the ways in which they will demonstrate that they have, in fact, learned what they agreed to learn.
The day-to-day job of the teacher at AAI, rather than broadcasting content, will become one of designing and guiding students through engaging learning opportunities. At AAI the educator’s responsibility is to search out and construct meaningful educational experiences that allow students to solve real-world problems and show they have learned the big ideas, powerful skills, and habits of mind and heart that meet educational standards. The result is that the abstract, inert knowledge that students used to memorize from textbooks, will come alive as students participate in the creation and extension of their own new knowledge based on visual and kinesthetic activities.
At AAI, the fundamental job of teaching will no longer be to present facts to the students, but to help them learn how to build their own knowledge, by using facts to develop their own abilities to think critically, solve real-life problems, make informed judgments, and create knowledge that benefits both the students and society. Different from the responsibility of being primary information providers, teachers will have more time to spend working with small groups of students.
By German Lopez
High school students, by nature, have a strong need to belong to a group. A powerful concept that helps students socialize and belong to a group is called “integration” which is the act of bringing people of different cultures or ethnic groups into unrestricted and equal associations, such as school organizations. The concept of integration is influenced by a set of preconceived characteristics and mindsets, cultural roots, family environment, interactions with peers and faculty staff, and out-of classroom factors.
Some researchers state that student retention depends on the student’s ability to integrate and assimilate into the institution, and the question is: who is responsible for initiating, developing and maintaining such integration, the student, the family or the institutions?
Family may have the highest impact in developing students’ socialization skills due to the amount of time students spend at home during the first stages of their lives. Some researchers state that the responsibility of the integration rests on the school system, some believe it is the students’ responsibility, but others, such as Rendón, Jalomo, and Nora (2004), offer the concept of dual socialization, meaning that the institutions share responsibility in the successful cultural and social integration of students.
As of now, socialization issues have been related with the 1.3 million high school students’ dropouts in the U.S per year. Cases such as Vermont, which in 2006 had a 91.4% graduation rate, or Nevada, which in the same year had the lowest rate of 57.8% of students graduating; therefore, who impacts the results most in this phenomenon?
High school students face the integration dilemma in their own way. For some it is easy to overcome this challenge, but for others it is not. Tinto (1975) states that “persistence” is a key factor for student success. This translates to a student successfully integrating into the institution academically and socially. The question is how much time does it take for a student to get integrated? It will be a short transition for some students but for others will take more time; and minorities, who face an extra challenge with their cultural baggage, can be included in this group.
The fact is that institutions have many tools to generate opportunities to culturally integrate students in ways that not only recognize, but also embrace the cultural capital of each group of students.
Student organizations are perhaps the most common way students can form groups either organically or informally, that make cultural connections and promote inclusion. Kuh and Love (2004) show that students who made cultural connections through social groups that reflect their culture of origin were more likely to persist in higher education.
From what has been described, American Academy of Innovation may develop the theory of “triple socialization”, where families should be responsible for preparing students, AAI should be the one that initiate and promote the efforts, and students should be ultimately responsible for maintaining and developing these social skills. By doing this efficiently, the chances of socialization and integration, should improve significantly.
In American Academy of Innovation, we are aware of the roles that each party plays unto the equation, and it is our my goal to trigger the system that will expand integration throughout the formation of student organizations that foster activities that make cultural connections and reflect students’ culture and values; activities that have a sense of unity and friendship. The school faculty and staff will strive to create a culture of inclusion, tolerance and respect, which will help students to develop a sense of belonging and unity that will enrich their self-esteem. By doing this efficiently, the continuing socialization and integration, will be maintained as part of the school culture since the very beginning.
Allen, J., Robbins, S.B., Casillas, A., and I. Oh. 2006. Third-year college retention and transfer: Effects of academic performance, motivation, and social connectedness. Review of Higher Education, 49: 647-664
Kawakami, A.J. 1999. Sense of place, community, and identity: Bridging the gap between home and school for Hawaiian students. Education and Urban Society, 32(1): 18-40.
Tinto, V. 1975. Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 45(1): 89-125.
Rendón, L., and Jalomo, R. and A. Nora. 2004. Theoretical considerations in the study of minority student retention in higher education. In Reworking the student departure puzzle ed. J. M. Braxton. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press