Posted on November 8, 2015
Last Wednesday when our preschool and elementary students took the day off from school, the faculty participated in the 2015 Schools of the Future conference for public and private educators. In its sixth year, the conference is co-sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Association of Independent Schools and the Hawaiʻi Department of Education. About 1,500 attended the two-day conference at the Convention Center. I am proud of the following presenters from the preschool and elementary, about a third of the Mid-Pacific contingency whose proposals were accepted for the conference: preschool faculty Leslie Gleim, Robynne Migita, and Jordan Guillory, and elementary faculty Chris Bailie, Tiffany Byrne, Pam Jenkins, and Jill Johnson. Mid-Pacific was a strong presence at this future-oriented gathering of educators -- twelve presentations from our preschool through high school, plus a student exhibit from the middle school. The conference theme centered on the importance of social-emotional learning, innovation, and a reminder to every educator about the call to teaching and our commitment to meeting the needs of all children.
Our preschool presenters each led three different presentations: the architecture of project study in early learning (Leslie Gleim); the use of found materials to support the thinking of young learners (Jordan Guillory), and the documentation of learning as a means of professional research (Robynne Migita). Interestingly, each of their topics has direct application to all ages of learners, from preschool to secondary education. Whatʻs striking about these presentations of early learning is the capability of our youngest students to observe, theorize, and represent their understanding with guidance from early childhood specialists like our entire preschool team.The demand for examples of high quality teaching and learning for early learning (preschool through second grade) is evident at these conferences.
The elementary faculty co-presented on the topic of inquiry as a way of knowing to an audience of about 100. Inquiry is the approach we have implemented in the elementary for nearly twenty years, which continues the foundational Reggio-Emilia approach in the preschool. Leslie Gleim explained the concept of "provocations" intended to stimulate curiosity, wonder, and questions. Provocations range from questions to images to sound to an experience throughout a project. Jill Johnson addressed "immersion" in her art class. Immersion is just as the term suggests -- students enter into deep learning through reading (analysis of text and image), research trips, listening to experts, experiments, and replications of experiences. The example she used is the current space study for her students in grades 1-5 integrating science and art. Pam Jenkins explained the phase called "constructing meaning" via a math example. Fifth graders experimented with the concept of volume to determine equivalencies between 3-dimensional shapes. Chris Bailie described "synthesis" as bringing together newly acquired knowledge and being able to present their understanding to an audience. This presentation or "publication" can take multiple forms, from reading and speaking to demonstrations and artistic forms. Tiffany Byrne addressed the importance of reflection as the throughline for all inquiry learning -- thinking about their thinking (metacognition). She showed examples of student reflection in the e-portfolios from a previous inquiry on wetlands in multiage 3-4. Pam Jenkins concluded the presentation with an explanation of the fifth grade capstone as the demonstration of a studentʻs understanding about the inquiry process.
Arlene Holzman and Michael Hangai (high school math faculty) prepared a presentation recounting their collaborative efforts over a year to bridge learning in the elementary and high school in their respective classes. The study of statistics made better sense to the younger students because of the teaching and explanations by high school students. We are hoping that more collaborations across school divisions will increase using the model presented by Arlene Holzman and Michael Hangai.
All in all, a day of deeper learning for our teachers and conference participants.
Note: The annual Christmas Holiday student performance is December 17 at 10:00am in Bakken Auditorium. The new time was changed keeping our children in mind (our younger children have had a harder time with evening performances). You may have missed the new time, so please note on your calendar.
E Kūlia Kākou! Letʻs strive and aspire together!
For our children,
Edna L. Hussey, Ed.D.