Posted on May 20, 2023
In the true spirit of deeper learning, students took center stage in their Presentations of Learning this past week and will continue with a few more class presentations in the last week of school. Itʻs important to understand that preceding these presentations have been months of discussions, observations, research trips, reading, writing, constructions, the essential question integrated in other content areas such as art and music. Each grade level began with their own essential question -- What is community (kindergarten)? How does a community thrive and sustained (multiage grades 3-4)? What is balance?(multiage grades 1-2) --and each class followed its own unique journey inspired by the essential question, guided by their own questions and curiosities along the way. Undoubtedly a collaborative, student-driven journey of learning. Throughout the week, parents have been in their childʻs classroom to hear not only their childʻs presentation, but also other studentsʻ presentations.
Hereʻs what I want you to notice: Inquiry/Deeper Learning is the approach and mindset in the preschool and elementary. Every classroom. The consistency across the grade levels is noteworthy. Learning is made visible.
Four multiage 1-2 classes each developed unique understanding of balance as a concept through the metaphysical aspects of science, environment, culture, and emotional well being.
There are multiple ways to convey learning. These first and second graders composed poetry and expository pieces, drew and painted, gathered artifacts, constructed digital representations, read aloud, and answered parent questions.
To probe their essential about how a community thrives and is sustained, this class of third and fourth graders designed and constructed cities using maker-space tools, each city addressing issues of sustainability and civics. Preceding these city constructions were hours of discussion and reflective writing about how people make laws and govern themselves.
In the kindergartnersʻ exploration of the concept of community, small groups created imaginary, fantastical worlds. A transparent volcano filled with sea creatures. A heart-shaped island with snow at one end and tropical weather on the opposite end, covered in heart glitter. A mountain with one side spewing lava and another end emitting fresh water. And other imaginative worlds.
Inquiries take on a slightly different approach by the time students are in the fifth grade. Fifth graders determine their own essential question based on a personal interest and set to work on exploring facets of their questions. After several months of the inquiry process -- reading, writing, interviewing experts, even conducting their own research visits, students prepared a presentation to an audience of parents and other family members.
Students spoke with confidence without reading from notes, referring to artifacts they constructed to explain a part of their presentation, fielding questions, with the intent of raising awareness, advocating for a state on an issue, or taking action. Essential questions on homelessness, democracy, personal passions (e.g., rock climbing, skating, surfing), water pollution, the impact video games. And many other intriguing topics.
Just as we began the school year in August altogether during Convocation -- preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, we gathered again for the end-of-year Convocation ceremony. It was Kahuʻs last Convocation after serving the Mid-Pacific community for 11 years. He was honored by the faculty and students with lei and song. This Tuesday morning, the preschool and elementary will bid him a warm mahalo and a hui hou.