“Project-based learning (PBL) is an inquiry-based process designed around important questions or problems that need to be answered or solved. Throughout the process, students are compelled to acquire core knowledge and other information necessary to answer the questions or solve the problems. The overall process leads to deeper learning and enduring understanding.”
– Thom Markham, Project-Based Learning Design and Coaching Guide
As you know, Alaka`i O Kaua`i is a charter school with a focus on project-based learning. The quote above defines PBL as atmosphere of deeper learning with a level of understanding about a concept being taught. This year, your child has been involved in many different PBL activities, which is why many of you chose our school.
As I reflect on our school year, which is coming to a close this week, I am grateful I was able to witness firsthand the wonderful projects your children created. I was pleasantly surprised to see learners able to describe the projects they’d been working on for weeks with knowledge and understanding not usually seen by learners at such an early grade. Many families were able to see and hear the children explain what they learned from many different projects they worked on over the past year.
One of my favorite memories is when approximately 30 of our 5th and 6th grade learners were able to gain an understanding and appreciation of how a ukulele is made. They were given an opportunity over a three-hour period of time to make and design their own ukuleles. What impressed me the most was to see how each and every one of our learners enjoyed the process of building their own ukuleles from scratch, with the assistance of teachers from a charter school on the Big Island and a University of Hawaii professor. This process of building their own ukuleles represents the foundation of project-based learning, which is the hallmark and foundation of Alaka`i O Kaua`i. The pictures below show how engaged all of our learners were as they collaborated and worked together on this project.
I am grateful for the authentic learning experiences our learners have had this school year.
Frederick A. Birkett, Ed.M