Director’s Message

“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
School Director

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alaka’i O Kaua’i!

Did you know you can help Alaka’i O Kaua’i grow and provide additional resources by just doing the things you’re already doing every day?

We call this “passive fundraising.” Through Amazon Smile, you can buy items for the same exact price, and Amazon will send us a portion of their proceeds each time you shop with them. Every little bit counts! Please help us take advantage of the opportunity to earn funds! See below for details and make sure your purchases make a difference! Please help us build a better school for our keiki with the opportunity to earn funds from everyday purchases! We sincerely appreciate everything our Alaka’i Ohana can do to help!

See below for the simple steps for using Amazon Smile and see how easy it really is!

Amazon Smile

  • Shop on smile.amazon.com
  • Under the search bar on Amazon Smile’s site, it will say “Supporting.” This is where you’ll choose Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • If you purchase under the regular amazon.com, those purchases will not be donated to the school. It has to be through smile.amazon.com.

Director’s Message

Aloha, Alaka’i O Kaua’i families,

We love to see learning “al fresco” at Alaka’i O Kaua’i.

Why is learning outside so important? An article titled The Benefits of Learning Outside the Classroom states that direct experience outdoors is more motivating and has more impact and credibility.

The results from learning outside the classroom can be instantaneous as well as active and, therefore, impact behavior as well as tap into the learning styles of the more kinesthetic learner.

Through skilled teaching, interpretation or facilitation, learning outside the classroom can readily become a stimulating source of fascination, personal growth and can lead to breakthroughs in learning.

Active learning readily develops the learning skills of inquiry, experiment, feedback, reflection, review, communication, problem solving, an enterprising attitude and cooperative learning.

Quality learning experiences in “real” situations have the capacity to raise achievement across a range of subjects and to develop better personal and social skills. When these experiences are well planned, safely managed, and personalized to meet the needs of every child, they can do the following:

  • Improve academic achievement
  • Provide a bridge to higher order learning
  • Develop skills and independence in a widening range of environments
  • Make learning more engaging and relevant to young people
  • Develop active citizens and stewards of the environment
  • Nurture creativity
  • Provide opportunities for informal learning through play
  • Reduce behavior problems and improve attendance
  • Stimulate, inspire and improve motivation
  • Develop the ability to deal with uncertainty
  • Provide challenge and the opportunity to take acceptable levels of risk
  • Improve young people’s attitudes

Mahalo!

Frederick A. Birkett, Ed.M
School Director

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alaka’i O Kaua’i!

Did you know you can help Alaka’i O Kaua’i grow and provide additional resources by just doing the things you’re already doing every day?

We call this “passive fundraising.” Through Amazon Smile, you can buy items for the same exact price, and Amazon will send us a portion of their proceeds each time you shop with them. Every little bit counts! Please help us take advantage of the opportunity to earn funds! See below for details and make sure your purchases make a difference! Please help us build a better school for our keiki with the opportunity to earn funds from everyday purchases! We sincerely appreciate everything our Alaka’i Ohana can do to help!

See below for the simple steps for using Amazon Smile and see how easy it really is!

Amazon Smile

  • Shop on smile.amazon.com
  • Under the search bar on Amazon Smile’s site, it will say “Supporting.” This is where you’ll choose Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • If you purchase under the regular amazon.com, those purchases will not be donated to the school. It has to be through smile.amazon.com.

Director’s Message

Aloha, Alaka’i O Kaua’i families,

Many of our facilitators are parents too!

After a weekly Zoom meeting with all Alaka’i O Kaua’i facilitators, I had this thought on my mind. I’d recently read an article in Chalk Beat, a webmag that focuses on teacher issues, about a woman who is both caregiver of two school-age children as well as a 5th grade teacher online:

School buildings are closed, but it’s still been a busy couple of weeks for Noriko Nakada, a Los Angeles middle school teacher.

She’s been attending virtual faculty meetings, receiving district training for remote instruction, and grading student essays online. On Monday, she held a class via Zoom for about 45 minutes, in which she checked in on her students’ mental health and introduced National Poetry Month. About 100 of her 170 students logged in.

Nearby through it all are her own two children, who are out of school as well. Figuring out how to teach online while making sure they’re occupied has been its own challenge.

At first we tried to make it clear if mom or dad have headphones and are staring at the computer, it means you can’t bug them,” Nakada said. “The 8-year-old can get that, but the 5-year-old has a hard time. Everyone is doing their best, and none of it’s going to be pretty,” she said.

A few of our facilitators are parents facing individual challenges in how to balance the two roles. Please take the time to read their stories, which should help you realize how difficult it is to be a teacher, and maybe take a moment to send them an email thanking them for what they do for your child(ren).

It’s no secret that being a teacher is a challenging job. Parenting is as well. At this moment so many parents have suddenly become their children’s teachers. I have found this a struggle for myself, although I have always been in the teacher role. Facilitating my class from home as well as teaching my two rambunctious boys has been fun but also challenging. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to balance all my responsibilities between these two important roles. It has felt like a constant power struggle at times, but at these times I remember why I chose to become an educator in the first place. I have the opportunity to lead so many children in my lifetime, and I treat them as if they are my own. Every year I get the chance to make a positive impact on “my children,” to encourage them to engage in lifelong learning, to build great friendships, and overall to grow into the best humans they can be!

—Ms. Bailey Raines (Kindergarten)

“As a teacher and a parent, during this distant learning enrichment experience, it takes a lot of patience and time to make sure the learners, as well as my own children, are getting their needs met.

The balance is delicate but attainable.

The shift went from “work” on a timetable of 8:15 to 3:00 to “work all day and night.” Just adjusted to needs. My learners’ parents may text or email at any time. I usually respond immediately, unless I am meeting my own children’s needs academically and social-emotionally.

I’ve given a timeframe of 24 hours to respond to parents’ correspondence on weekdays and 48 hours on weekends. This seems to work well.

The adjustment is new but workable.

This is the new normal in 2020.

—Ms. Donna Daum (5th/6th grade teacher)

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to recognize the hard work all our facilitators have put into educating our children during the 2019-2020 school year, but especially now, when many of our facilitators are doing double-duty — and doing it well! I am sure each facilitator would appreciate a thank-you email to feel your appreciation for their hard work.

Mahalo!

Frederick A. Birkett, Ed.M
School Director

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alaka’i O Kaua’i!

Did you know you can help Alaka’i O Kaua’i grow and provide additional resources by just doing the things you’re already doing every day?

We call this “passive fundraising.” Through Amazon Smile, you can buy items for the same exact price, and Amazon will send us a portion of their proceeds each time you shop with them. Every little bit counts! Please help us take advantage of the opportunity to earn funds! See below for details and make sure your purchases make a difference! Please help us build a better school for our keiki with the opportunity to earn funds from everyday purchases! We sincerely appreciate everything our Alaka’i Ohana can do to help!

See below for the simple steps for using Amazon Smile and see how easy it really is!

Amazon Smile

  • Shop on smile.amazon.com
  • Under the search bar on Amazon Smile’s site, it will say “Supporting.” This is where you’ll choose Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • If you purchase under the regular amazon.com, those purchases will not be donated to the school. It has to be through smile.amazon.com.

Director’s Message

Aloha, Alaka`i O Kaua`i Families,

We have approximately three weeks left to provide online instruction to our learners before the official end of the school year. This will truly be a school year to remember for all of us. I am certain after all is said and done and we are finally able to reflect on the year 2020, everyone will have a story to tell.

Recently I came across an article in the New York Times where children from around the world wrote about their day-to-day activities at home during this pandemic. An 11-year-old from South Korea wrote a short story about how he spends his day. He wrote: “I wish the pandemic would be over soon. At first, I felt happy not going to school, but now I want to go back to school. I miss chatting with my friends in person. I miss playing soccer every day. After my parents go to work at their respective hospitals, I take online classes. Then I eat lunch, like kimchi fried rice and stew and sliced apples. Twice a week, I go to the playground near my house. I play by myself for about 20 minutes, because I am an only child. There isn’t much to do, but it feels good to get a bit of fresh air. When I come home, I use a lot of sanitizer from the pumps placed inside our apartment elevator. I also wash my hands for a long time—not for three or four seconds like before the outbreak. I scrub all the surfaces of my hands and clean under my nails. I also change my clothes. I am so used to wearing a mask now that I sometimes forget to take it off.”

I highlight the above story to encourage Alaka`i O Kaua`i school learners to write a short story about what life has been like for them at home during this pandemic. It appears, based on the latest information from our Hawaii Governor, that the imposed lockdown might ease up little by little so that eventually we get back to living a life we are all used to. It would be good to hear from each other and read your story. Maybe eventually a book can be written on what we have all experienced as an Alaka`i O Kaua`i school community.

Mahalo!

Frederick A. Birkett, Ed.M
School Director

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alaka’i O Kaua’i!

Did you know you can help Alaka’i O Kaua’i grow and provide additional resources by just doing the things you’re already doing every day?

We call this “passive fundraising.” Through Amazon Smile, you can buy items for the same exact price, and Amazon will send us a portion of their proceeds each time you shop with them. Every little bit counts! Please help us take advantage of the opportunity to earn funds! See below for details and make sure your purchases make a difference! Please help us build a better school for our keiki with the opportunity to earn funds from everyday purchases! We sincerely appreciate everything our Alaka’i Ohana can do to help!

See below for the simple steps for using Amazon Smile and see how easy it really is!

Amazon Smile

  • Shop on smile.amazon.com
  • Under the search bar on Amazon Smile’s site, it will say “Supporting.” This is where you’ll choose Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • If you purchase under the regular amazon.com, those purchases will not be donated to the school. It has to be through smile.amazon.com.

Distance Learning Enrichment Survey

Aloha, Alaka’i O Kaua’i families,

We are requesting your participation in a brief survey so we can gain insight into your perception of our school’s effectiveness during distance learning enrichment. We need your feedback in order to continually improve in our mission to provide high-quality learning enrichment experiences that inspire our lifelong learners. Please click here to complete the survey (one time per child).

Your responses will remain confidential. The survey will be open through May 6 and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete. Thank you in advance for your valuable responses.

Mahalo!

Fred Birkett
School Director

Director’s Message

Aloha, Alaka`i O Kaua`i Families,

Our facilitators continue providing your children wonderful online enrichment and support.

This week I want to take a moment to recognize our Special Education Coordinator, Ms. Myra VanOrnun-Deyden. Myra has been working with all of our learners during this past school year, with a special emphasis on learners who need support based on their Individual Education Plans (IEP). I asked Myra to provide me with a narrative on how she continues to support her learners online. Please read her comments below:

“This has been an exciting and challenging time in my 35+ year career as an educator. I am excited that I am finally allowed some creativity in planning for special education enrichment. I am able and encouraged to ensure happiness and participation in fun, academically oriented activities that are not metered out in timed increments to measure ‘progress’ but instead are aimed at enrichment. I am excited that my families can be more involved in their child’s learning, and that learning can take place in a much more relaxed home environment. Finally, I am excited that I’m now allowed time to focus on the child and not the paperwork and able to focus on the positive effects my teaching has on each child.”

At Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School, we believe in providing a “Free and Appropriate Education” for all learners who attend our school. Through the dedicated work of Myra and our facilitators and whole team, we are grateful to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of our learners.

With gratitude,

Frederick A. Birkett, Ed.M
School Director

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alaka’i O Kaua’i!

Did you know you can help Alaka’i O Kaua’i grow and provide additional resources by just doing the things you’re already doing every day?

We call this “passive fundraising.” Through Amazon Smile, you can buy items for the same exact price, and Amazon will send us a portion of their proceeds each time you shop with them. Every little bit counts! Please help us take advantage of the opportunity to earn funds! See below for details and make sure your purchases make a difference! Please help us build a better school for our keiki with the opportunity to earn funds from everyday purchases! We sincerely appreciate everything our Alaka’i Ohana can do to help!

See below for the simple steps for using Amazon Smile and see how easy it really is!

Amazon Smile

  • Shop on smile.amazon.com
  • Under the search bar on Amazon Smile’s site, it will say “Supporting.” This is where you’ll choose Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alaka’i O Kaua’i.
  • If you purchase under the regular amazon.com, those purchases will not be donated to the school. It has to be through smile.amazon.com.

Kindergarteners Focus on Manners

Our kindergarteners spent the past week focusing on manners! During their Zoom meeting on Monday, Mrs. Raines read a book on manners called “Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green.” She asked the learners to choose one habit they would like to focus on using at home that week. Examples included saying “please” and “thank you,” chewing with their mouths shut, using an inside voice, and sharing with their siblings.

On Friday, Mrs. Raines asked the learners how well they did, and most were excited to announce they’d practiced their manners over the week. The learners also shared show-and-tell items.

Our kindergarteners have enjoyed seeing each other in our times of sharing some normalcy, such as listening to Mrs. Raines reading and sharing during show-and-tell. Each week, Mrs. Raines focuses on a different topic that allows the learners to use their imaginations to develop key skills that are important to them.

4th Graders Create Projects on Women in History!

Each of Ms. Kate’s 4th graders has been researching a woman in history and creating a video in which they conduct the STEM project that goes with it. We have seen stomp rockets for Sally Ride, paper airplanes for Amelia Earhart, and push cars for Princess Diana!

Communication is key right now, and Ms. Kate’s learners are making the best out of this situation!

 

5th and 6th Graders Make Progress in Science and Writing!

Ms. Donna Daum’s 5th and 6th graders are continuing their Edmentum online enrichment and making real progress! Many learners are taking an interest as Ms. Daum posts the top three learners’ progress each week.

The learners are also in PowerSchool and beginning science enrichment opportunities.

Our 5th graders have lessons in ecology, photosynthesis, ecosystems, and biomes.

Our 6th graders have lessons on energy, including light and sound.

In addition, learners are writing positive stories using the phrase “What if…” to spin any situation into a positive one!

Learners are adjusting well to Zoom and are becoming more comfortable with working online.

Keeping Our Learning Community Connected from Home

Our learners are having a wonderful time of online learning enrichment and connecting with one another online.

Ms. Jamilee Jimenez’s class is so grateful to continue to connect with one another and learn!

Educational Assistant Erika Bates met with her third grade small reading group class on Zoom. Before the meeting, Miss Bates challenged learners to write creative stories. She read her story to the group and then the learners shared their stories. Giving creative challenges like this one is what learners need to stay motivated and to keep their brains sharp during this time at home.

Mrs. JoeAnne Mick challenged first grade learners to make something out of three paper tubes. She sent them a package with school supplies plus the paper tubes and an encouraging note. Learners made towers, games, binoculars and cell phones, which they shared on Zoom. Her class also had a spelling bee on Zoom. Learners were happy to see one another and connect!

Director’s Message

Aloha, Alaka’i O Kaua’i Families,

Tuesday, April 7, 2020, is the official Hawaii statewide start date for all schools to provide online educational enrichment. Unlike many of the public charter and traditional schools in our state, we come to online enrichment with the advantage of a relationship with iLEAD Schools, who provide support services to Alaka’i O Kaua’i.

iLEAD has online programs currently supporting ten schools across the United States. Our facilitators have spent the last two weeks receiving training, resources, and daily support from iLEAD to prepare to provide your children with a top-notch online education.

Since all facilitators have different educational styles, you should not try to compare one to another, especially if you have two children in your household at different grade levels. Most important will be the quality of the enrichment opportunities your child receives.

It is my hope that your children enjoy this experience. With approximately seven weeks left in the school year, our goal is to help your children finish strong academically. Let’s enjoy the rest of the school year with opportunities for growth for us all.

Mahalo!

Fred Birkett
School Director

Online Learning Success

Welcome to PowerSchool, an Online Enrichment Opportunity for Alaka’i O Kaua’i

Welcome to your Online Learning Enrichment Experience: PowerSchool! We are excited to provide enrichment opportunities to our learners on this platform.

If you are experiencing difficulty, please see the instructions here. To submit a request for help, please submit a Learner Technology Support ticket here.

PowerSchool Parent Training

Click here for a template to organize your learning enrichment opportunities.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have.

5 Ways to Set Up for Online Learning Enrichment Success!

Originally published by iLEAD Online

Online learning enrichment has many benefits. Flexibility in where and when you learn and the ability to design your own learning space are two of them. But successful online learning enrichment requires some thought. Unlike a traditional classroom, online learning enrichment requires learners to take more ownership of what and how they learn. For many, this is a big shift and takes some adjustment. Read below for some tips on how to make the transition easier and have a successful experience.

Set Up a Designated Enrichment Space

Where will you learn? Even if this answer may change from time to time, it’s important to set up a designated space in your home or where you plan to spend the most time.

For younger learners, think about a space where parent and learner can be together comfortably. A nook in the kitchen or living room with a small storage bin will do. Keep it simple. Minimize distraction. Make it fun and comfortable for both child and adult.

For teens, think about a space where you are really comfortable and feel like your best self. However, distraction is a problem. Do not set up your enrichment space near your TV or where you play video games. Your brain is already programmed in that space. Think about flexible seating options so you can mix it up through the day. If you have them accessible, hang a bulletin board or wall calendar for you to keep track of important things. Have snacks and water handy. Make it a place you really want to be every day. Check HERE for some inspiration.

Supplies to have at your enrichment space:

  • Pencils, pens, highlighter
  • Notebook for notes (one for each course or one large one organized by tabs)
  • Planner or calendar
  • Computer
  • Printer (optional)
  • Sticky notes
  • Something to do that doesn’t distract you from enrichment. A fidget spinner, jar of play dough, stress ball, or doodle pad are all great ideas.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy, and you don’t have to buy anything. Think about what you already have, and make it work for you!

Set Your Schedule

Plan out your learning enrichment times. Work with your parent/guardian and facilitator to brainstorm what will work best for you. Make sure to check each enrichment opportunity in PowerSchool for live virtual workshops and other events that you may want to schedule in.

Eliminate Distractions

It is so easy to get distracted when learning online.

StayFocused is a free Chrome extension that allows you to block certain websites, set time limits on others, and track your time. Limiting the time you spend on YouTube, Facebook, and other fun sites to 10 minutes gives you a quick brain break and then reminds you to get back to learning enrichment. Make sure you have Google Chrome installed as your internet browser, and then click HERE to install. Then change your settings by clicking the icon in the upper right-hand toolbar and finding the settings link.

What other distractions do you want to eliminate? Make a list of possible distractions and and then brainstorm some specific ways to stay focused below.

  • List possible distractions:
  • List ways to stay focused:

Gather Your Technology

You don’t need much to learn online. A laptop or desktop will do. It can also be helpful to have a mouse (our wrists were not designed to use a touchpad all day every day). Using a mouse can eliminate wear and tear on your body. A printer may come in handy if you prefer to print out your assignments and write them by hand. You will also need steady WiFi. Contact your facilitator if you need support getting a laptop or WiFi for learning enrichment.

Set up your virtual learning enrichment space (AKA your computer)

Suggested Bookmarks

Suggested Chrome Extensions

  • Grammarly (helps you correct your spelling and grammar with one click of a button)
  • HERE are 10 more we love!

Google

We recommend learners have a Google Account. This allows them access to email, Google Drive, and more. Learners can use Google Docs for their enrichment. You can register for an account for free, or request one through the school.

Learn on the Go!

PowerSchool has an app for Apple devices. Click HERE to download to your iPhone or iPad. This is great if you want to check discussion boards, do some reading, or submit an assignment when you are not around your computer.

Use Accountability

Here are some things to think about to ensure you have lots of support:

  • Meeting with your parent/guardian: Set a regular (weekly or monthly) meeting time to go over your learning enrichment with your parent(s)/guardian. Talk about what you are doing really well and enjoying and where you want to grow. Brainstorm ways you and your parent can collaborate to meet your goals.
  • Meeting with your facilitator: Your facilitator is here to help you be successful in school and life. Make sure to reach out wherever you need support. They can help you brainstorm solutions and offer resources.
  • There are lots of online enrichment learners just like you! Reach out to your peers to find someone to connect with.
  • Reward yourself! Whether it is little rewards throughout the day (a gummy bear for every assignment completed) or big rewards, creating a system of external rewards helps keep you motivated.
  • Make checklists. Log in every morning to make a list of everything you want to do that day for learning enrichment. Here are some suggested daily to-dos for success:
    • Read your checklist from the previous day. Transfer over any tasks you did not complete to today’s checklist.
    • Check email and respond to each important one received.
    • Check announcements. Write down things you want to do.
    • Check for feedback and comments from your facilitators.
    • Check calendar.
    • Check agenda for that week.
    • Make a list of all learning enrichment, discussions, and projects you want to participate in today.
Remote Learning Alakai O Kauai

Organizing Your Remote Learning Schedule

After you have organized a space that works well for your child to access enrichment opportunities remotely, what’s next? Let’s talk about organizing your learner’s day! We’ve provided sample daily schedules here, including one that’s great for working families. Take a look, and you can start to work toward a routine that suits your family’s needs. Be kind to yourselves and have fun while you navigate this new approach to learning enrichment, and remember: we’re here to support you along the way!

Sample-Daily-Schedules

Online Enrichment Resources

Are you looking for some fun, enriching activities and learning opportunities for your kids? Take a look at the resources below!

Learning Enrichment Resources

Additional Free Online Resources for Extension Activities

Outdoor Learning and Challenges

  • iLEAD Through Play is the perfect place to learn about nature and join in on some fun challenges!

Digital Citizenships

Addressing Children’s Feelings about the Current Health Climate

Home Schooling Answers

Additional Free Enrichment Resources: Home Schooling Answers

For additional resources for learning enrichment at home at all grade levels, visit homeschoolinganswers.com. Home Schooling Answers is brought to you by veteran homeschool professional educators from nonprofit iLEAD Education and Maker Learning Network. This is provided as a public service to the community at large worldwide who find themselves suddenly homeschooling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources here are carefully curated for the parent who needs support fast, and they are compiled as a simplified way to design your homeschooling journey and begin today. We will be regularly adding to and updating the site with new resources during the pandemic.