Posted on April 6, 2014
The transition from Spring Break to school routines was so smooth, it was hard to believe students were ever away for two weeks. Students stood at the gate, just as eager to begin school as they were in August. The faculty and I can attest to the studentsʻ excitement about seeing friends and swapping spring-break adventures. The teachersʻ recent classroom blogs this week describe business as usual, which means enactive learning, depth of student thinking, a variety of experiences, and fun.
Hereʻs one: A multi-talented group from the Hawaii Opera Theatre performed a child-friendly version of The Mikado, a comic opera by the famous duo Gilbert and Sullivan, for students in grade 3-5. The dining room, transformed into a stage suggested by a simple curtain, became the setting for the hour-long performance. Several students dressed in costume and became characters in the opera, while the rest of the audience participated by singing the refrain of a musical number. Though some of the wit and humor may have escaped the students, they seemed to enjoy the theatrics, while the faculty and I enjoyed the play on language.
In our approach to inquiry learning, the goal for our students is to do something with their research -- to raise awareness of an issue, to advocate for a cause, or to take action. These actions or stances teach students about taking an active role as global citizens, coaxing them beyond the school setting and into the global community. The fifth graders have been testing their inquiry skills, developed over nearly 8 years for those who began in our Reggio-Emilia inspired preschool, in independent projects of their own choosing and design. One group held a wildly popular shave ice sale on Friday, proceeds going to a non-profit to save the rare pink dolphins, the largest freshwater dolphins found in river systems in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela. Weʻll be hearing more about our fifth gradersʻ projects; the presentations will be April 17 in the evening.
(Donʻt forget opportunities for you to get involved in some community projects organized by our students. Canned food donations for the Hawaiian Humane Society this Wednesday through Friday, and the following week, canned food drive for the needy in our island community. Donations will go to the St. Pius X food pantry in Mānoa.)
Even our faculty engages in ongoing research of their work with children. The preschool faculty meets every Friday. At a recent meeting, they analyzed a collection of preschoolersʻ "writing" -- notes, drawings, letters -- and discussed the thinking made visible in these artifacts. Placed along a continuum of development for which the preschool faculty is developing, based on their analysis of student work, we are uncovering the multiple ways in which our youngest children are understanding about the facility of "text."
Weʻre thrilled to see the children back on campus! We think you are, too. ;-)
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey