Posted on September 22, 2013
School of the Future. Five years ago, Mid-Pacific Institute and seventeen other Hawai`i independent and private schools having varying enrollments, missions, and educational programs were identified as schools of the future, not because we were already offering progressive programs or state-of-the-art technology to students. Rather, each of the schools committed to the challenge of changing our educational mindset in areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment to more effectively prepare our students for the expectations and experiences they will encounter upon graduation from high school when they transition into college, enter into the work force, and become active members of the citizenry. The grant amount awarded each year to Mid-Pacific -- $75,000 -- has gone a long way to support schoolwide and grade-level efforts to achieve our goals. As a school we have made significant strides in PS-12 conversations about why we teach and how we teach. We have just begun dialogue schoolwide discussing what we teach -- it is no easy task to bring together nearly 150 faculty members who teach a range of ages and content areas! In my experience, these conversations addressing pedagogy need to occur often. In addition, we have pioneered Hawaiiʻs first 1:1 program using iPads. In the second year of iPad implementation, weʻve gotten over the novelty, and instead of being star-struck, weʻre becoming much more discerning about how best to use the device and apps so that student learning is foregrounded. We are thinking more innovatively about technology at the service of learning and the betterment of the community. These progressions are the reason why we have named our efforts at Mid-Pacific Kupu Hou, meaning to sprout and grow anew.
At the elementary, one of our Kupu Hou goals this year is to really understand the learning that transpires when using the iPad. Our faculty in-service at the beginning of the year before students arrived was to understand how particular apps make thinking visible. With the help of a consultant we were able to bring in with SOTF funding, and with whom we had done earlier work on inquiry and comprehension of non-fiction/informational text, we looked at evidence of student learning documented in certain apps, the ability for students to direct more of their learning, and platforms for students to engage in non-evaluative discussions. Technology engages all students to participate and engage more deeply in learning.
Our students are showing us more often their proficiency with the "language" of iPad. They are intuitive in their use, often unhampered by the preponderance of images on a screen. Their visual acuity when reading a screen (the meaning of "reading" here to be taken anything to do with making sense of an image) is sophisticated. They can read icons with ease, able to infer meaning so much better than I can! The real challenge in learning is not their technology proficiency but their decision-making skills with regard to ethical use, such as attributing information that comes from different sources other than your own thinking, or understanding that their thinking can now be easily shared with known and unknown audiences. Students are now learning that the ease with which they can access and share information also increases responsibility for their actions and decision-making using technology.
Throughout the year youʻll be hearing more and more about how our students are using technology and how we are addressing our Kupu Hou goals. Iʻve only briefly explained one of several elementary goals in this blog (and there are shared goals the entire school will be working on as well -- changing assessment practices across the school and developing the Next Generation Science and Technology Standards program.)
Keep reading these weekly blogs and the teachersʻ blogs -- each week is another episode in our ongoing story of meaningful change and growth within our classrooms.
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey