Jump, walk, run, and hula hoop to fitness - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

Jump, walk, run, and hula hoop to fitness

Posted on February 16, 2009

by Dr. Edna Hussey on February 16, 2009

Organized chaos. It was an incredible sight to behold! Last week's annual Jump Rope for Heart event in the gym, organized by p.e. teacher Pam Jenkins for the elementary school, was a testament to what can happen when students are provided the best possible physical education. Before the event, students had been learning about the importance of maintaining healthy habits through diet and exercise. Ask your child. They know just how much movement is needed daily, and they know why the heart needs to keep pumping! 220 kindergartners through fifth graders exercised their way through several "stations" where students demonstrated their versatility and athleticism using jump ropes, hula hoops, elastic rope bands, and leg tethers (a short rope with a small ball attached to one end is tethered to one leg while the student swings the rope and jumps over the ball). Students skipped rope alone or with a partner to the fast-paced mix of music put together by "d.j." Diane Koshi. If you looked carefully, you would have been touched by the kindergarten and fifth grade buddies exercising together. Earlier in the day, the preschoolers enjoyed their own Jump Rope for Heart program in the dining room -- jumping over lines of rope on the floor, bouncing on a small trampoline, hopping from one floor circle mat to another, and hula-hooping.  Students from Ms. Byrne's multiage third and fourth grades demonstrated what to do at each station and spotted the preschoolers carefully. Many thanks to the parents who provided beverages and healthy snacks and who assisted with the set-up and clean-up after both events. We'll know in a few weeks the total amount that the preschool and elementary students raised for the American Heart Association. In the meantime, encourage your children to keep up the aerobic exercise on the bright green jump ropes each student received. And it's not a bad idea for mom and dad to join in!

Congratulations to MPI! We received nearly $50,000 through the Schools of the Future project with oversight by the Hawaii Community Foundation to begin our work in better preparing our students to succeed in a 21st century world. In the grant proposal, we outlined MPI's 5-year vision:
Inquiry will be understood and practiced as a habit of mind or disposition of learning that underpins curriculum and instruction.  Inquiry projects will be directly connected to local, national, and global issues, with the intent of providing opportunities for students to participate in meaningful problem solving. Students and teachers will work collaboratively in groups across grade levels in the elementary, middle, and high school. Every classroom will also be able to partner with other schools in Hawaii, in other states or countries to develop these inquiry projects. Students will need to be aware of the moral and ethical implications when using various forms of public media. The documentation and assessment of student learning, K-5, will be captured in electronic portfolios, which will enable the recording of learning-in-process and student "performances" in class presentations, physical education, art, and music.

As you can see, we have been taking steps toward achieving this vision through the inquiry-based practices that have been well established in the preschool and elementary. We will be providing information throughout this process about what this new vision for the school means. For the preschool and elementary, it means continuing to deepen and strengthen our inquiry-based curriculum and practices.

During the faculty professional development day this past Friday, the preschool team met with Dr. George Forman, our Reggio Emilia consultant in New Hampshire, during a webcam session right here in the Wilcox Tech Lab. The elementary faculty discussed inquiry practices then met in smaller groups to continue revisions of the reading and writing performance continua and the drafting of a new inquiry continuum. In the afternoon, the faculty and staff from the preschool, elementary, and middle school met in the dining room to learn more about their respective programs. Teachers gathered in smaller groups composed of representatives from each grade level to discuss students' learning skills and practices, how teachers support these practices, and what teachers deem are the essential learning skills and practices.

Clearly there are many similarities in the approaches and curricular focus across the grade levels. Moreover, there is a sense of deep knowledge and respect that all the different faculties have about the students with whom they work. The teachers have agreed to future meetings and to work more intentionally in ensuring continuity from preschool to elementary to middle school. One of the big ideas is to support cross-class observations -- informal visits to each other's classrooms -- to better understand the nature of the age group and content area.  As the school begins to implement the plans in our Schools of the Future grant proposal, you will be hearing more about our work, which will most definitely be inquiry-based schoolwide.

Students in grades 1 through 5 enjoyed an impressive performance of the middle school theatre production, Honk!, an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's famous tale, The Ugly Duckling. Although some of the dialogue and lyrics mixed with clever puns and sophisticated humor may have bypassed our students, the acting, singing, and dancing most certainly engaged even the youngest students in the audience. The faculty enjoyed seeing several of our former elementary students in the production. And our preschoolers did attend a special 15-minute performance of the opening and closing numbers.

Just a quick reminder about Grandparents' Day on March 6: We mailed invitations to all grandparents whose addresses were provided to us on a form parents completed as part of the summer packet. However, if your child's grandparent(s) did not receive a special invitation, please contact Kelli Tokuyama in our school office. If your child does not have a grandparent or the grandparent cannot attend, parents may attend or perhaps another special family member. Again, please call the school office with the name(s) of the persons attending. The event will begin at 8:30am in your child's classroom. The program will be in Bakken auditorium at 10:00am. Grandparents' Day festivities will end around 10:30am. We will provide bus shuttle service between the parking areas and the elementary school. Please look for detailed information about Grandparents' Day in an Intranet memo next week.  

On this Presidents' Day, we are grateful for the leadership and service all past presidents have provided our country, and we offer President Obama our support during his term of office. No one person could ever shoulder the challenges facing our country and the world today -- it truly takes a national effort and a good leader at the helm.

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey