Project Based Learing

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Culture: Project-Based Learning

Spend even just a few moments inquiring about the Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi approach to education, and one of the first things you’ll hear about is project-based learning, or PBL. It’s at the core of our approach to school and a proven asset to education.

So what is project-based learning? In PBL, learners actively explore real-world challenges to acquire deeper knowledge of the subject at hand. Research shows that learners increasingly retain and enjoy what they’re learning when PBL is done well.

This educational model helps students learn the valuable collaboration, academic, and problem-solving skills our global economy will demand from them. Through the PBL method, learners tackle engaging projects about real-world issues that require critical thought, inquiry, and synthesis, and culminate in regular Presentations of Learning (or POLs) to their peers, facilitators, community members, and parents.

The PBL model requires learners to research, collaborate, and carefully weigh information and evidence in a nuanced problem-solving environment. It teaches learners to accept feedback, create solutions, and present their findings in a high-performance context — preparing them for the rigors of the 21st-century economy and the challenges of a global world.

PBL provides the following benefits:

  • PBL makes school more engaging: In PBL, students are active, not passive. Projects engage their hearts and minds and provide real-world relevance for learning.
  • PBL improves learning: At the completion of a project, learners understand content more deeply, remember what they learn, and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with PBL are better able to apply to new situations what they know and can do.
  • PBL builds skills for college, career, and life: Learners are preparing for life in a world where success requires more than basic knowledge and skills. In a project, students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively.
  • PBL helps address standards: Common Core and other current education standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, as well as the development of success skills like critical thinking/problem-solving, collaboration, communication in a variety of media, and speaking and presentation skills. PBL helps learners effectively meet these goals.
  • PBL embraces technology: Kids enjoy using a variety of tech tools that are a perfect fit for PBL. With technology, facilitators and learners not only find resources and information they need; they also collaborate more effectively and connect with experts, partners, and audiences.
  • PBL makes teaching more enjoyable and rewarding: Projects allow facilitators to work closely with active, engaged learners doing high-quality, meaningful work. In many cases, facilitators rediscover the joy of learning alongside kids.
  • PBL connects kids and schools with communities and the real world: Through PBL, learners have opportunities to solve real problems and address actual issues, and as such they learn more about interacting with adults and organizations, are exposed to workplaces, and can identify and develop career interests.

In short, project-based learning is at the core of the Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi model because we believe it is at the heart of how kids learn best. Time and again, we’ve seen how PBL helps learners develop academic skills, build leadership skills and character, and lay the foundation for promising careers.

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Virtual Reality Lab

Virtual Reality Lab Available

VIRTUAL REALITY LAB

VR is perfect for kids who are thriving in the virtual environment. It offers them a way to gain physical presence. They can go for a walk together, visit an art gallery together, go to the movies and so on and so on.” – Ramon Hamilton, VR Developer, Facilitator

Would your learner/learners be interested in attending a weekly Virtual Reality Lab hosted by WorldOver International (another Maker Learning School)? Lab activities include games, socialization, and exploring WorldOver’s unique VR space — which consists of a nature center, art gallery, movie theater, classrooms, coloring room, and more. The VR Lab is an excellent way for learners to experience the innovative possibilities of virtual reality in an educational setting and help shape the future design of the VR space.

Some things to consider:

  • Each learner would need to purchase a VR headset. The base version of the required headset is the Oculus Quest 2, 128GB version.
  • To use the headsets, each user will also be required to have their own Facebook account. If the user does not have one, a parent account can be used. Alternatively, you can create a new account to be used just for the VR headset. Headsets are directly activated via those Facebook accounts, and there is no workaround at the moment.

WorldOver is excited to offer this opportunity to our learners — if there is enough interest. Please provide contact information to WorldOver and your children’s names and ages. Let’s see if we can make this happen! Send WorldOver an email (info@worldover.org) and they will be in touch with your family.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i learners chalkboard welcome

Exploring Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School Culture: Habit 6 of the 7 Habits

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of articles on the pillars of Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School’s educational philosophy and approach.

Whether in the classroom, the workplace, relationships, or life in general, learning to compromise can be an important and helpful tool. However, what if there were a way to even further enrich and strengthen our communication and interactions?

That’s what’s behind Habit #6: Synergize.

Synergy brings into focus the old adage that “two heads are better than one.” Instead of merely striking a compromise, synergy allows us to creatively collaborate with others and find new solutions to problems. The essence of synergy is to value and respect our differences, build on strengths, and compensate for weaknesses.

In Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School culture, when learners are incorporating this habit into their lives, they’re learning to work in groups and building and reinforcing a mind-set that says, “I get along well with others — even people who are different from me.” That lays the foundation to a long-lasting collaborative approach to life in a multicultural and interdependent world.

There are a couple of helpful steps to know if you’re in synergy:

  • You have a change of heart.
  • You feel new energy and excitement.
  • You see things in a new way.
  • You feel that the relationship has transformed.
  • You end up with an idea or a result that’s better than what either of you started with.

One of the most important keys to synergizing is learning to trust, and that trust is built through communication.

Take, for example, these three levels of communication and the associated levels of trust:

  • Defensive communication comes out of low-trust situations. It’s characterized by defensiveness, protectiveness, and legalistic language that prepares for the eventuality that things may go wrong, and that people may become resentful. Such communication isn’t effective and produces only win/lose or lose/lose outcomes.
  • Respectful communication is characterized by honesty, authenticity, and respect that produces a low form of win/win, a compromise where one plus one equals one-and-a-half.
  • Synergistic communication means that one plus one may equal 8, 16, or even 1,600. The situation produced is better than any originally proposed.

When we learn to see our individual differences as strengths instead of weaknesses, we are well on our way to learning to synergize.

Join us next week as we explore the seventh and final habit: Sharpen the Saw.

For more information on the 7 Habits and other leadership resources, click here to visit the FranklinCovey website.

Project Based Learing

Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi Culture: Project-Based Learning

Spend even just a few moments inquiring about the Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi approach to education, and one of the first things you’ll hear about is project-based learning, or PBL. It’s at the core of our approach to school and a proven asset to education.

So what is project-based learning? In PBL, learners actively explore real-world challenges to acquire deeper knowledge of the subject at hand. Research shows that learners increasingly retain and enjoy what they’re learning when PBL is done well.

This educational model helps students learn the valuable collaboration, academic, and problem-solving skills our global economy will demand from them. Through the PBL method, learners tackle engaging projects about real-world issues that require critical thought, inquiry, and synthesis, and culminate in regular Presentations of Learning (or POLs) to their peers, facilitators, community members, and parents.

The PBL model requires learners to research, collaborate, and carefully weigh information and evidence in a nuanced problem-solving environment. It teaches learners to accept feedback, create solutions, and present their findings in a high-performance context — preparing them for the rigors of the 21st-century economy and the challenges of a global world.

PBL provides the following benefits:

  • PBL makes school more engaging: In PBL, students are active, not passive. Projects engage their hearts and minds and provide real-world relevance for learning.
  • PBL improves learning: At the completion of a project, learners understand content more deeply, remember what they learn, and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with PBL are better able to apply to new situations what they know and can do.
  • PBL builds skills for college, career, and life: Learners are preparing for life in a world where success requires more than basic knowledge and skills. In a project, students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively.
  • PBL helps address standards: Common Core and other current education standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, as well as the development of success skills like critical thinking/problem-solving, collaboration, communication in a variety of media, and speaking and presentation skills. PBL helps learners effectively meet these goals.
  • PBL embraces technology: Kids enjoy using a variety of tech tools that are a perfect fit for PBL. With technology, facilitators and learners not only find resources and information they need; they also collaborate more effectively and connect with experts, partners, and audiences.
  • PBL makes teaching more enjoyable and rewarding: Projects allow facilitators to work closely with active, engaged learners doing high-quality, meaningful work. In many cases, facilitators rediscover the joy of learning alongside kids.
  • PBL connects kids and schools with communities and the real world: Through PBL, learners have opportunities to solve real problems and address actual issues, and as such they learn more about interacting with adults and organizations, are exposed to workplaces, and can identify and develop career interests.

In short, project-based learning is at the core of the Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi model because we believe it is at the heart of how kids learn best. Time and again, we’ve seen how PBL helps learners develop academic skills, build leadership skills and character, and lay the foundation for promising careers.

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Virtual Reality Lab

Virtual Reality Lab Available

VIRTUAL REALITY LAB

VR is perfect for kids who are thriving in the virtual environment. It offers them a way to gain physical presence. They can go for a walk together, visit an art gallery together, go to the movies and so on and so on.” – Ramon Hamilton, VR Developer, Facilitator

Would your learner/learners be interested in attending a weekly Virtual Reality Lab hosted by WorldOver International (another Maker Learning School)? Lab activities include games, socialization, and exploring WorldOver’s unique VR space — which consists of a nature center, art gallery, movie theater, classrooms, coloring room, and more. The VR Lab is an excellent way for learners to experience the innovative possibilities of virtual reality in an educational setting and help shape the future design of the VR space.

Some things to consider:

  • Each learner would need to purchase a VR headset. The base version of the required headset is the Oculus Quest 2, 128GB version.
  • To use the headsets, each user will also be required to have their own Facebook account. If the user does not have one, a parent account can be used. Alternatively, you can create a new account to be used just for the VR headset. Headsets are directly activated via those Facebook accounts, and there is no workaround at the moment.

WorldOver is excited to offer this opportunity to our learners — if there is enough interest. Please provide contact information to WorldOver and your children’s names and ages. Let’s see if we can make this happen! Send WorldOver an email (info@worldover.org) and they will be in touch with your family.

Alakai O Kauai Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Friday, September 24
We will be hosting our second annual “Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Ninja Warrior” competition on Friday, September 24th for any interested learner. The participants attempt to traverse across an obstacle course on campus that features both of our playgrounds! It is open to any interested keiki in Kindergarten through Grade Six and runs throughout the school day.

Friday, October 1
Wala’au Meeting from 10am – 11am

Wednesday, October 6
School Photos – Photo Spectrum from 9am – 12pm

Wednesday, October 6
No Hoa O’ Alaka’i, Friends of Alaka’i PTN Meeting from 5pm – 6pm

Alakai learners enroll

See what our families are saying about Alaka’i O Kaua’i!

Monday Message Alakai O Kauai

Exploring Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School Culture: Habit 5 of the 7 Habits

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of articles on the pillars of Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School’s educational philosophy and approach.

They say communication is key, but if we lack understanding in our relationships and interactions, how can we ever hope to truly, clearly communicate?

This week, we’re examining Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood.

Many of us often seek first to be understood; we want to get our point across. But in doing so, it’s easy to ignore the other person completely, pretend that we’re listening, selectively hear certain parts of the conversation or attentively focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely. And so, what happens is that we filter everything through our life experiences and decide what someone means before they’ve even finished.

But is that the most effective communication?

Our listening tends to fall into four categories:

  1. Ignoring: We’re not listening at all.
  2. Pretending: We may say “uh-huh, right,” but we’re not really tuned in.
  3. Selective listening: We hear part of what the person says, but the rest of the time we’re distracted.
  4. Attentive listening: We’re actively listening, paying attention but not taking our listening to the ultimate level — empathetic listening.

Dr. Stephen Covey defined empathetic listening as listening with the intent to truly understand. To really understand, we need to get inside another person’s frame of reference, and see the world from their point of view. Our listening also needs to be driven by an authentic desire to understand the other person and to build trust with them.

As part of the Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School educational model, we encourage learners to incorporate the following practices into their communication:

  • I listen to other people’s ideas and feelings.
  • I try to see things from their viewpoints.
  • I listen to others without interrupting.
  • I am confident in voicing my ideas.
  • I look people in the eyes when talking.

When we listen with the intent to understand others, instead of simply with the intent to reply, we begin true communication and relationship-building. Seeking to understand takes kindness; seeking to be understood takes courage. Effectiveness in our communication thrives in a balance of the two.

Join us next week as we explore Habit #6: Synergize.

For more information on the 7 Habits and other leadership resources, click here to visit the FranklinCovey website.

Virtual Reality Lab

Virtual Reality Lab Available

VIRTUAL REALITY LAB

VR is perfect for kids who are thriving in the virtual environment. It offers them a way to gain physical presence. They can go for a walk together, visit an art gallery together, go to the movies and so on and so on.” – Ramon Hamilton, VR Developer, Facilitator

Would your learner/learners be interested in attending a weekly Virtual Reality Lab hosted by WorldOver International (another Maker Learning School)? Lab activities include games, socialization, and exploring WorldOver’s unique VR space — which consists of a nature center, art gallery, movie theater, classrooms, coloring room, and more. The VR Lab is an excellent way for learners to experience the innovative possibilities of virtual reality in an educational setting and help shape the future design of the VR space.

Some things to consider:

  • Each learner would need to purchase a VR headset. The base version of the required headset is the Oculus Quest 2, 128GB version.
  • To use the headsets, each user will also be required to have their own Facebook account. If the user does not have one, a parent account can be used. Alternatively, you can create a new account to be used just for the VR headset. Headsets are directly activated via those Facebook accounts, and there is no workaround at the moment.

WorldOver is excited to offer this opportunity to our learners — if there is enough interest. Please provide contact information to WorldOver and your children’s names and ages. Let’s see if we can make this happen! Send WorldOver an email (info@worldover.org) and they will be in touch with your family.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i learners mosaic art ocean turtle

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Culture: Whole-Child Development

Last week we introduced the importance of social-emotional learning at Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School. Social-emotional learning is integral to our whole-child educational approach.

A whole-child mind-set means that we are focused on far more than teaching to tests or holding up state standards as the be-all, end-all of education. We believe in focusing on the whole child and promoting social-emotional learning, because education is about more than test scores.

Whole-child development empowers kids to be creative, engaged citizens. With that in mind, we believe it’s our responsibility to nurture learners’ creative abilities to express themselves, understand others, and navigate complex information so they can confidently solve the problems of an ever-changing world.

So when we say we focus on “whole child” development, what do we mean? We’re talking about an approach to project-based learning that emphasizes the following deeper-learning approaches:

Mastery of Core Academic Content: Learners lay their academic foundation in subjects such as reading, writing, arts, math, and science, understanding essential principles and procedures, recalling facts, and drawing on their knowledge to complete tasks.

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: Our learners understand how to construct effective arguments using their critical, analytical, and creative skills. They develop the know-how to come up with solutions to complex problems.

Collaboration: Learners embrace teamwork and consider multiple viewpoints to cooperate and achieve shared goals.

Effective Communication: Learners communicate effectively in writing and oral presentations. They structure information in meaningful ways, listen to and give feedback, and construct messages for particular audiences.

Self-Directed Learning: Learners develop the ability to set goals, monitor their own progress, and reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement. They learn to see setbacks as opportunities to grow and be more adaptive.

Growth Mind-set: Learners with a growth mind-set believe in themselves. They trust their abilities and believe their hard work will pay off; they persist to overcome obstacles. In the process, they also learn from and support each other and see the relevance of their schoolwork to the real world and their own future success.

Coupled with vibrant project-based education and social-emotional learning, all these elements work together to empower kids to overcome any challenge that comes their way academically; but more than that, they build the character to succeed in the 21st century.

Alakai O Kauai Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Friday, September 17th
Fire Knife Dancing Performance

Monday, September 20
Board Meeting from 5pm – 6pm

Friday, September 24
We will be hosting our second annual “Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Ninja Warrior” competition on Friday, September 24th for any interested learner. The participants attempt to traverse across an obstacle course on campus that features both of our playgrounds! It is open to any interested keiki in Kindergarten through Grade Six and runs throughout the school day.

Friday, October 1
Wala’au Meeting from 10am – 11am

Wednesday, October 6
School Photos – Photo Spectrum from 9am – 12pm

Wednesday, October 6
No Hoa O’ Alaka’i, Friends of Alaka’i PTN Meeting from 5pm – 6pm

Alakai learners enroll

See what our families are saying about Alaka’i O Kaua’i!

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i Charter School Culture

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Culture: Partnering with Home and Community

At Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School, we don’t believe that education happens solely within the four walls of a school. On the contrary, we believe education that produces well-rounded children is a result of synergy and collaboration between the school, the home, and the community.

That is why it is so important to us to build strong partnerships between families and communities. Parents and community partners are key resources to supporting learners’ success, which is why Alaka’i O Kaua’i actively and consistently involves parents, finding ways to support them and extend learners’ education at home.

Through our relationships with various community partners, we are able to provide learning experiences that broaden kids’ perspectives, not to mention often give back to the community. Strong community partnerships are a win-win.

There are several ways we promote parent involvement. We strongly encourage parents to volunteer at their learners’ school during the year, with opportunities including classroom volunteering, tutoring, attending board of directors meetings, participating in events, and more. We also encourage parents to take an active role in their children’s learning.

Other community-related partnerships we encourage and facilitate include partnering with industry professionals, business leaders, government and civic leaders, community leaders, nonprofit leaders, higher-education partners, entrepreneurs, and more. Fostering these relationships provides learners with a wealth of knowledge, advice, and insight, in addition to access to real-world learning opportunities and experiences.

Collaboration is at the heart of Alaka’i O Kaua’i’s project-based learning model. When synergy is found between learners, families, and communities, something really special happens — the foundation is set for authentic learning that produces inspired leaders with promising futures.

Alakai O Kauai Monday Message

Exploring Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School Culture: Habit 4 of the 7 Habits

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of articles on the pillars of Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School’s educational philosophy and approach.

“In the long run, if it isn’t a win for both of us, we both lose. That’s why win-win is the only real alternative in interdependent realities.”

— Dr. Stephen Covey

This week, we’re examining Habit #4: Think Win-Win. Someone with a win-win mind-set sees life as a cooperative arena, instead of a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions, and means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying.

Why is this habit so vital to us at Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School? Because none of us lives in a vacuum. Every day, we interact with other people who have their own sets of passions, motivations, and priorities. So how do we successfully navigate the world as an individual among many other individuals?

Dr. Stephen Covey held that a person or organization approaching conflicts with a win-win attitude possesses three vital character traits:

  • Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments
  • Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others
  • Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone

Developing a win-win approach is also beneficial to our growth and maturity. As we seek to have win-win interactions and relationships, we develop our humility, better recognize the humanity of those around us, develop long-term perspectives, and also learn to become more assertive.

There are four steps that can help the win-win process be truly beneficial for all involved:

  • See the problem from others’ perspectives to understand their needs and concerns
  • Identify the key issues and concerns involved
  • Determine what results could make for a fully acceptable situation
  • Identify options for how to achieve those results.

Developing a win-win mind-set is an important step toward being a more collaborative individual, which is at the heart of what the Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School learning model is all about. Win-win is certainly a balancing act, but when we strike that balance everyone benefits.

Join us next week as we explore Habit #5: Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood.

For more information on the 7 Habits and other leadership resources, click here to visit the FranklinCovey website.

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i Charter School Culture

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Culture: Partnering with Home and Community

At Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School, we don’t believe that education happens solely within the four walls of a school. On the contrary, we believe education that produces well-rounded children is a result of synergy and collaboration between the school, the home, and the community.

That is why it is so important to us to build strong partnerships between families and communities. Parents and community partners are key resources to supporting learners’ success, which is why Alaka’i O Kaua’i actively and consistently involves parents, finding ways to support them and extend learners’ education at home.

Through our relationships with various community partners, we are able to provide learning experiences that broaden kids’ perspectives, not to mention often give back to the community. Strong community partnerships are a win-win.

There are several ways we promote parent involvement. We strongly encourage parents to volunteer at their learners’ school during the year, with opportunities including classroom volunteering, tutoring, attending board of directors meetings, participating in events, and more. We also encourage parents to take an active role in their children’s learning.

Other community-related partnerships we encourage and facilitate include partnering with industry professionals, business leaders, government and civic leaders, community leaders, nonprofit leaders, higher-education partners, entrepreneurs, and more. Fostering these relationships provides learners with a wealth of knowledge, advice, and insight, in addition to access to real-world learning opportunities and experiences.

Collaboration is at the heart of Alaka’i O Kaua’i’s project-based learning model. When synergy is found between learners, families, and communities, something really special happens — the foundation is set for authentic learning that produces inspired leaders with promising futures.

Alakai O Kauai Embrace the 7 Habits

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Culture: Components of Social-Emotional Learning — Optimism

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is one of the core elements of the Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School approach to education. Through social-emotional learning, learners understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

Academic achievement is only one aspect of a learner’s education at Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School. We also deeply value learners’ development of emotional intelligence, life skills, and community engagement, and we support these through the development of character strengths, as defined by Character Lab. Social-emotional learning develops strengths of heart, mind, and will.

Today, we want to discuss a character strength of will: optimism. Optimism is being hopeful about future outcomes combined with the agency to shape that future.

When we embody the character strength of optimism, the following things are true about us:

  1. We attribute problems to temporary, changeable causes rather than explaining them in terms that author Martin Seligman calls “the three Ps” – permanent, personal, and pervasive.
  2. We expect good things from others, the world, and the future.
  3. We can overcome obstacles to reach goals.

We can help learners build healthy optimism in the following ways:

  • Create a positive, stable, caring environment. We can create positive, stable environments where kids feel known and cared for.
  • Help learners develop more positive thinking patterns. For example, if a learner gets stuck and says, “I’m not good at this,” we encourage them to reposition the statement like this: “I need more practice or a new perspective to master this concept.” This takes consistent practice.
  • Give learners opportunities to learn from their mistakes. If learners experience failure and learn from that failure, they will develop resiliency when obstacles occur.

Character Lab CEO Angela Duckworth has said, “It stands to reason that even in our darkest moments, there will always be hope for humankind.”

That thought likely rings true for many of us as we survey a world gripped by multiple ongoing crises. We all need optimism, and we have a responsibility to help kids develop a healthy strength of optimism that will help them face the world.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i learners outside

Exploring Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School Culture: Habit 3 of the 7 Habits

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of articles on the pillars of Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School’s educational philosophy and approach. You can find more articles by clicking here.

This week, we look at Habit #3: Put First Things First. This habit, which all of us at Alaka`i O Kaua`i are working to put into practice, is about identifying and organizing one’s priorities. In essence, someone who puts first things first is saying, “I spend time on things that are most important. I set priorities, make a schedule, and follow a plan. I’m disciplined and organized.”

Dr. Stephen Covey said that “first things” are basically all those things that you value most in your life. So, you should manage your schedule according to your priorities to get all essential things done on time.

Skills that can be learned by putting first things first include:

  • Time management
  • Cultivating a strong work ethic, flexibility, and adaptability
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Self-management
  • Being accountable and responsible for actions and results
  • Cultivating analytical skills

An effective way to implement Habit #3, according to Covey, is breaking down activities into four quadrants of urgency and importance:

  • Quadrant 1: Urgent and important
  • Quadrant 2: Not urgent and important
  • Quadrant 3: Urgent and not important
  • Quadrant 4: Not urgent and not important

Covey suggests you become more aware of your internal drive, values, and goals. This makes it easier to say “yes” to the actions that are based on these factors. This way, values and goals are less often overruled by (non-important) urgent matters. Remember that whenever you say “yes” to one thing, you will no longer have time for something else. Time is the most valuable and least replaceable of all resources. Things that appear urgent will most likely trigger a “yes” if you are asked to help out. It’s useful to understand that saying “no” is also a legitimate option.

By identifying what’s most important to you, and where your passions lie, you can more easily learn to put first things first.

Join us next week as we explore Habit #4: Think Win-Win.

For more information on the 7 Habits and other leadership resources, click here to visit the FranklinCovey website.

Alakai O Kauai Mud Kitchen

Inspiration: Mud Kitchen Fun!

By Nicole Huguenin
Director of Arts Integration and Play Maker, Maker Learning Network

Remember: Kids are 100% washable!

Are you running out of ideas to entertain your bright learners at home? We have just the thing for you: Why not build your family’s very own mud kitchen?

Mud kitchens are so much fun for your kids! Not only do they completely engage children and provide you with some much-needed extra time, but they also encourage the following:

  • Exploration
  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Social Skills
  • Role-Playing
  • Fine Motor Skills
  • Math
  • Sensory Play
  • Wonder and Joy

Did you know that dirt is healthy for your kids? Find out “The Dirt on Dirt” and the many health benefits of mud!

How to Make a Mud Kitchen

Mud kitchens can be as simple as a bowl, a stick, some dirt, and some water. They can also be a little more elaborate. Click here for our collection of mud kitchen ideas on Pinterest! Let your child’s imagination guide them in their mud kitchen adventures.

Mud Kitchen Supply Ideas

Items for mud kitchens need not be new. They can be things from around the house, or you can ask friends and relatives if they have any. Thrift stores are also a great place to find things for mud kitchens. See what you can find from this list:

  • Cupcake Tins
  • Wooden Spoons
  • Mashers
  • Whisks
  • Spatulas
  • Metal Bowls
  • Wooden Bowls
  • Sifter
  • Small Pans
  • Mortar and Pestle
  • Colanders
  • Ladles
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Rolling Pin
  • Pots and Pans
  • Expired Spices
  • Dried or Old Flowers

Remember: “Kids are 100% washable!” —Lisa Latimer, iLEAD Agua Dulce School Director

Have fun! #GETMUDDY

Be sure to share your mud kitchen photos with us here!

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Culture: Components of Social-Emotional Learning — Growth Mindset

At Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School, we believe when kids learn how to face challenges, they grow into leaders. As part of our emphasis on social-emotional learning (SEL), we believe it’s important to develop what we call a growth mindset.

Let’s do a quick test. Do you tend to agree or disagree with the following statements?

  • My intelligence is something I can’t change very much.
  • I’m a certain kind of person, and there isn’t much I can do to change that.
  • I often get frustrated when I get feedback on my performance.
  • Trying new things is stressful, and I avoid it.

How we respond to these statements reveals whether we have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Many children are raised and exposed to situations that create a fixed mindset, which may seem harmless on the surface, but actually creates long-term challenges for them in school and in life, when they fear failure and tend to avoid challenges.

Conversely, children who have a growth mindset are more likely to learn from their mistakes, tackle challenges head-on, and be motivated to succeed.

Some contrasting statements may be helpful for bringing this into focus:

  • A fixed mindset says: “Failure is the limit of my abilities.”
  • A growth mindset says: “Failure is an opportunity to grow.”

 

  • A fixed mindset says: “I’m either good at it or I’m not.”
  • A growth mindset says: “I can learn to do anything I want.”

 

  • A fixed mindset says: “My abilities are unchanging.”
  • A growth mindset says: “Challenges help me grow.”

 

  • A fixed mindset says: “My potential is predetermined.”
  • A growth mindset says: “My effort and attitude determine my abilities.”

 

  • A fixed mindset says: “Feedback and criticism are personal.”
  • A growth mindset says: “Feedback is constructive.”

 

  • A fixed mindset: “I stick to what I know.”
  • A growth mindset says: “I like to try new things.”

 

The development of a healthy growth mindset is all about helping kids realize and embrace their potential and equipping them to be empowered and fueled by challenges, rather than hindered by them.

A growth mindset will intrinsically motivate children to improve, learn, and grow in school and all other areas of their lives.

Writing in Scientific American, psychologist Carol S. Dweck unpacked “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids” and the importance of fostering a growth mindset, stressing the importance of seeing success as the result of hard work instead of simply inborn talent.

“When we gave everyone hard problems anyway, those praised for being smart became discouraged, doubting their ability,” she wrote. “In contrast, students praised for their hard work did not lose confidence when faced with the harder questions, and their performance improved markedly on the easier problems that followed” (emphasis ours).

Make no mistake, it is good to praise our children for their strengths and talents, but it is crucial to encourage them to see challenges as opportunities and to value their efforts. If they can learn and embrace this at school age, there’s no telling what they may achieve.

Watch: On Growth Mindset

Project Based Learing

Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi Culture: Project-Based Learning

Spend even just a few moments inquiring about the Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi approach to education, and one of the first things you’ll hear about is project-based learning, or PBL. It’s at the core of our approach to school and a proven asset to education.

So what is project-based learning? In PBL, learners actively explore real-world challenges to acquire deeper knowledge of the subject at hand. Research shows that learners increasingly retain and enjoy what they’re learning when PBL is done well.

This educational model helps students learn the valuable collaboration, academic, and problem-solving skills our global economy will demand from them. Through the PBL method, learners tackle engaging projects about real-world issues that require critical thought, inquiry, and synthesis, and culminate in regular Presentations of Learning (or POLs) to their peers, facilitators, community members, and parents.

The PBL model requires learners to research, collaborate, and carefully weigh information and evidence in a nuanced problem-solving environment. It teaches learners to accept feedback, create solutions, and present their findings in a high-performance context — preparing them for the rigors of the 21st-century economy and the challenges of a global world.

PBL provides the following benefits:

  • PBL makes school more engaging: In PBL, students are active, not passive. Projects engage their hearts and minds and provide real-world relevance for learning.
  • PBL improves learning: At the completion of a project, learners understand content more deeply, remember what they learn, and retain it longer than is often the case with traditional instruction. Because of this, students who gain content knowledge with PBL are better able to apply to new situations what they know and can do.
  • PBL builds skills for college, career, and life: Learners are preparing for life in a world where success requires more than basic knowledge and skills. In a project, students learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively.
  • PBL helps address standards: Common Core and other current education standards emphasize real-world application of knowledge and skills, as well as the development of success skills like critical thinking/problem-solving, collaboration, communication in a variety of media, and speaking and presentation skills. PBL helps learners effectively meet these goals.
  • PBL embraces technology: Kids enjoy using a variety of tech tools that are a perfect fit for PBL. With technology, facilitators and learners not only find resources and information they need; they also collaborate more effectively and connect with experts, partners, and audiences.
  • PBL makes teaching more enjoyable and rewarding: Projects allow facilitators to work closely with active, engaged learners doing high-quality, meaningful work. In many cases, facilitators rediscover the joy of learning alongside kids.
  • PBL connects kids and schools with communities and the real world: Through PBL, learners have opportunities to solve real problems and address actual issues, and as such they learn more about interacting with adults and organizations, are exposed to workplaces, and can identify and develop career interests.

In short, project-based learning is at the core of the Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi model because we believe it is at the heart of how kids learn best. Time and again, we’ve seen how PBL helps learners develop academic skills, build leadership skills and character, and lay the foundation for promising careers.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i learners celebrate Na Kupu Lau

Exploring Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School Culture: Habit 2 of the 7 Habits

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of articles on the pillars of Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School’s educational philosophy and approach. You can find more articles by clicking here.

When was the last time you went on a trip to a new place without first looking up directions? Unless you have a superhuman sense of direction, you searched for how to get where you were going, whether on your phone or an old-school paper map. That’s what this week’s habit is all about.

Last week, we discussed the first of the 7 Habits: Be Proactive. A proactive person believes in taking responsibility for their lives and investing their time and energy on things within their control — and not losing sleep over the things they can’t control.

But how does one successfully lead a proactive life? Part of the answer lies in Habit #2: Begin With the End in Mind. Starting a proactive journey is difficult if you don’t know where you are trying to go. Beginning with the end in mind is very much like consulting a road map.

In short, to begin with the end in mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of the desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing one’s proactive muscles to make things happen.

To reinforce a mind-set of beginning with the end in mind, Dr. Stephen Covey encouraged developing what he called a personal mission statement. It focuses on what you want to be and do. It is your plan for success. It reaffirms who you are, puts your goals in focus, and moves your ideas into the real world. Your mission statement makes you the leader of your own life.

So what does it look like for learners to embrace a Habit 2 mind-set and develop their personal mission statements? Helpful steps include reminding themselves of the following:

  • I plan ahead and set goals for myself.
  • I am prepared at all times.
  • I think about how the choices I make now will affect my future.
  • I think about the positive or negative consequences of my actions before I act.

Do you know why Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School’s focus on developing children who are free thinkers fits so well with the 7 Habits? Because, for instance, Habit 2 is based on imagination — the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. When children are empowered to imagine what can be, the results can be incredibly inspiring.

Join us next week as we explore Habit #3: Put First Things First.

For more information on the 7 Habits and other leadership resources, click here to visit the FranklinCovey website.

Monday Message Alakai O Kauai

Exploring Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School Culture: Habit 1 of the 7 Habits

Last week, we introduced a vital element of Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School’s approach to education — The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Learning and practicing the 7 Habits has been instrumental to our learners’ success living out the Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School motto of “free to think, inspired to lead” — not to mention how it helps our staff thrive.

This week, we’re continuing to unpack the habits with Habit #1: Be Proactive. In short, being proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control, proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control.

In general, most of us fall into one of two categories: Either we’re reactive to situations in life, affected by factors outside of ourselves and believing we have no control over situations — or we are proactive, realizing that we are “response-able” and that we have freedom to choose our responses. A proactive individual peppers their language with “I can” and “I will,” while a reactive person falls back on “I can’t” or “if only.”

In short, proactive people focus their efforts on what Dr. Stephen Covey calls their Circle of Influence. They work on the things they can do something about, like health or problems at work. On the flip side, reactive people focus their efforts in the Circle of Concern — things over which they have little or no control.

It has been amazing to see how understanding these concepts empowers Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School learners to take charge and command over both their education and their lives. We’ve seen time and again how it trickles down to every aspect of their lives, and that is at the heart of the Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School model: developing the whole child so that they are equipped to live with purpose and intent.

As Dr. Covey said, “The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct, and learn from it.” When children learn to apply this in an academic setting, it can only spread to every other area of life.

Next week, we’ll continue exploring what makes the Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School approach to education so innovative, explaining Habit #2: Begin With the End in Mind.

For more information on the 7 Habits and other leadership resources, click here to visit the FranklinCovey website.

Alakai O Kauai Embrace the 7 Habits

Exploring Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School Culture: The 7 Habits

We’re happy to introduce a new series of articles in the Monday Message, aimed at unpacking some of the essentials of the Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School educational model.

Our educational model is driven by much more than simply making sure children are good students. Rather, it’s focused on equipping them to be lifelong learners who are fully developed and prepared to lead in the 21st century.

Whether you’ve been part of the Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School family for a while or are fairly new, you’ve most likely heard a lot of talk about “The 7 Habits” and how important they are to what we do. Stephen Covey’s best-selling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has been deeply influential in the shaping of our approach to project-based learning, as well as our staff development. We are constantly inspired by how we see our learners put the 7 Habits into action.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll expand on each of the habits, how they relate to learning at Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School, and even practical ways you can incorporate them into your daily life.

To get things started, though, we wanted to take today to introduce the 7 Habits.

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive: Being proactive is about taking responsibility for your life. Proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can control instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which they have little or no control.
  • Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind: At the heart of this is beginning each day, task, or project with a clear vision of one’s desired direction and destination, and then continuing by flexing proactive muscles to make things happen.
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First: This is where Habits 1 and 2 come together. It happens day in and day out, moment by moment, and deals with many of the questions addressed in the field of time management. Habit 3 is about life management, as well — your purpose, values, roles, and priorities.
  • Habit 4: Think Win-Win: This habit presents life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. A win-win approach means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying.
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood: This habit can help transform communication. Too often, many of us can listen with the intent to reply, not to understand. We can filter everything we hear through our life experiences and our frame of reference. Consequently, we decide prematurely what the other person means before they finish communicating.
  • Habit 6: Synergize: This is the habit of creative cooperation. It’s a process of teamwork, open-mindedness, and the adventure of finding new solutions to old problems. It thrives on the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw: Living a life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew yourself. To “sharpen the saw” means to preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have — you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Coming up next week, we’ll dive into the first habit, Be Proactive, discussing what it looks like in practical terms and how you can make it part of your life.

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Alakai O Kauai learners in boat on land

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Culture: Social Intelligence

In the Alaka’i O Kaua’i approach to project-based learning, which produces well-rounded kids, social intelligence is a key component of whole-child development.

What do we mean by social intelligence? It’s a person’s ability to interact well with others. It’s often simply called people skills, or tact. It isn’t necessarily a natural-born characteristic, but it can be learned. It involves situational awareness, understanding of social dynamics, and self-awareness.

In a nutshell, it’s the ability to recognize our emotions, exert control over them, show empathy for others, handle conflict well, and make good choices. By helping kids develop social intelligence, we empower them to build stronger relationships and lay the groundwork for bright futures.

Social intelligence isn’t static; it continually develops throughout one’s life. It’s never too late to sharpen it, and children are especially ready to learn. Educating children on healthy communication helps them to be a friend who is empathetic, generous, kind, and a good listener. There are four main characteristics of social intelligence:

Empathy: Empathy determines how well one relates to other people’s thoughts and emotions. Empathetic people consider and understand diverse perspectives, even if they don’t share the same ideas. They can pick up on a person’s mood and adjust their reactions accordingly.

Respect: Mutual understanding calls for a degree of respect. Respecting others can mean adapting communication styles to fit their needs, or finding a healthy compromise.

Behavior: This component concerns how people carry themselves in social situations. Are their actions appropriate for the setting? Do they make others feel relaxed or uncomfortable? A person must be able to adapt when necessary while maintaining their core values.

Self-efficacy: This characteristic refers to how a person judges themselves on their capacity to perform particular tasks. If someone has a stable sense of self-efficacy concerning social intelligence, they’re confident in their social abilities.

These skills are reinforced in school, but the foundations are set at home, which is one reason why Alaka’i O Kaua’i believes in strong parent/guardian involvement in the educational process.

We can do the following to develop our social intelligence:

  • Pay close attention to what and who are around us
  • Work on increasing our emotional intelligence
  • Respect cultural differences
  • Practice active listening
  • Appreciate the important people in our lives

Much like the other components of the Alaka’i O Kaua’i approach to education, the development of social intelligence builds strengths in kids, as well as sharpening all the other pillars of social-emotional and project-based learning — resulting in well-rounded kids who are ready for whatever challenges life may bring.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i

Together Tuesdays: Share Your Photos and Stories!

Dear Alaka’i O Kaua’i community,

Once a month, we share a new Together Tuesdays video. Click here to submit your photos or short videos for the next edition! Submissions received by the Friday before each edition are eligible to be included.*

We can’t wait to see your contributions!

If you have any questions, simply reply to stories@makerlearning.net.

Sincerely,

The Maker Learning Network Team (formerly iLEAD Schools Development)

*If you send us a photo or video, we will consider this approval for use on our school websites and social media accounts. Please do not include images of video conference screens showing learners.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i learners mosaic art ocean turtle

Alaka’i O Kaua’i 3rd Graders Protect Oceans through Project-Based Learning

By Michael Niehoff
Education Content Coordinator, iLEAD Schools

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, our oceans cover 70 percent of our planet. Oceans affect our weather, air, food and all life on the planet. Due to carbon emissions, plastics, oil and other human waste, our oceans’ health is degrading at an alarming rate. In an effort to combat this phenomenon, Alaka’i O Kaua’i facilitator Ashley Giunta and her 3rd graders accepted a challenge.

Their driving question, according to Giunta, was “How can we protect endangered species in our area?” Giunta and her learners wanted to bring awareness to the estimated eight million tons of plastic dumped into the world’s oceans every year and how this directly affects their local endangered sea turtle population.

In partnership with the Kauai Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Giunta and her learners spent weeks collecting 270 pounds of plastic from their local beaches and ultimately transformed the reclaimed plastic into an art exhibit.

Giunta said the impetus for the project came from a learner interest survey. “Many of our 3rd graders attended a local summer camp, Reef Guardians, and wanted to extend their learning,” Giunta said. Once the topic was chosen, Giunta customized project design elements from a similar project at PBLWorks and launched the project for her learners.

Giunta said the learners did initial research about the threats facing their local endangered sea turtle population. They recorded their scientific findings and compared them with data from other ecosystems around the world. Learners collaborated to discover why their local sea turtle population was no longer thriving and how they might take action to protect the species.

Giunta said the learners were also challenged to inspire their community to take action. “This is where the plastic art installation idea was born,” Giunta said.

In addition to the initial research, the beach cleanup work and the plans for the plastic art installation, learners also wrote letters to Congress advocating for wildlife protection and produced individual reports on other local endangered species, including the green sea turtle, hoary bat, monk seal, nene goose, and shearwater bird, among others. The learners wrote informational and persuasive writing pieces, did a virtual field trip to a bird sanctuary in Kilauea and planted an ohia tree on campus.

Giunta said she was proud of all the work the learners completed and how committed they were to the entire endeavor.

“They learned how to use their voices and to advocate,” Giunta said. “They also learned how things like art can serve as a symbol for change and awareness.”

Giunta said one powerful element of the project was their partnership with Surfrider, which helped the learners fully realize the impact of plastics on the oceans and the planet. The learners even had the opportunity to add their findings to the Surfrider Foundation worldwide database.

“From Surfrider, we learned about ocean-friendly gardens, restaurants, household products, and how we can reduce our carbon footprint by just changing a few routines in our own lives,” Giunta said. “The students were even challenged to pack a no-waste lunch and were rewarded for their efforts.”

Giunta said the feedback from the entire school and community has been overwhelming. The community has embraced the learners’ public work by displaying the art at the Warehouse in Koloa, along with purchasing over 400 greeting cards featuring the artwork. All funds are being donated to help local organizations who work to save endangered species.

In addition to the tremendous impact on the community, Giunta said the most powerful aspect has been that the learners want to continue this work long after the project is over. Many learners are extending their learning and commitment by registering for Reef Guardians Camp this summer, by taking weekly beach hikes to collect plastics and other litter, by challenging one another to bring no-waste lunches and snacks to school and by continuing to upcycle plastics and other found items.

“Our learners have been inspired by this work and are making permanent changes,” Giunta said. “And our entire community has taken notice. I think our school was so inspired that they might make this a tradition.”

Alaka'i O Kaua'i 2nd graders with Ms. Mick

Alaka’i O Kaua’i 2nd Graders Embrace the 7 Habits Every Day

By Michael Niehoff
Education Content Coordinator, iLEAD Schools

For educators, an important part of the role is establishing classroom expectations and culture. Some educators develop their own systems, some implement a school-wide plan, and others use practices developed outside of education. Regardless of which approach an educator chooses, the question always remains: How do we encourage all our learners to adopt classroom expectations and culture?

Alaka’i O Kaua’i 2nd grade facilitator Joeanne Mick, who along with the rest of her school community embraces Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has arrived at an effective answer.

While many educators introduce the norms at the beginning of the year and periodically remind the class, Mick instead makes the 7 Habits a yearlong project. According to Mick, the election year of 2020 inspired the following driving question: “How can I be a responsible citizen and help others be responsible citizens?”

The result was more than a project. According to Mick, it became an effort to continually learn and use the 7 Habits. Mick said she wanted all her learners to reflect on what it means to be an active and engaged citizen in the classroom, at school, in the local community, in Hawaii and even globally.

“I wanted them to have a deeper understanding that led from learning words to taking action,” Mick said. “The 7 Habits are really a philosophy, a mind-set and a way of life. I wanted them to see them that way.”

In Mick’s classroom, the 7 Habits have taken on a life of their own. In January 2021, the learners established an economy, a voting system and an entire culture based on the 7 Habits. There is now a learner store — stocked with family-provided merchandise — that allows learners to purchase items with currency known as Mick Money, which they earn in class for such accomplishments as completing assignments on time, being ready to work and volunteering inside and outside of class. From this income, each learner must pay 25 percent on rent and 15 percent on taxes, and the rest can be spent at the store. The learners earn a dollar a day for attending and can earn additional income for serving the classroom and community.

“The learners are really getting it,” Mick said. “They are asking to do extra jobs, such as sweeping the sidewalks, to earn extra money.”

In addition to the classroom economy and other systems, the learners’ 7 Habits work has extended to field trips, partnerships with outside nonprofit organizations like Surfrider Foundation, creating slideshow presentations like the one below and even creating a puppet show they’ll soon present the 7 Habits to the entire school.

Mick said parents have been enthusiastic about the 7 Habits work and have seen the impact on their children. They love that the learners have taken ownership of the classroom and the store. She said they are often impressed with the learners’ level of responsibility.

“The learners understand what each habit means and how to set goals for themselves,” Mick said.

Recently the learners memorized the song “Leader in Me” and have now decided to record their own version. With Mick’s support, they even recently paid the royalties to use the song.

Educational aid Whitney Backus said she, too, has enjoyed seeing the learners embrace the 7 Habits and has found herself doing a lot of self-reflection as well. “I love that we are doing this the entire year,” Backus said. “It helps my life and my support of the learners.”

Others have seen the growth in the learners over multiple years. iLEAD Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Linda Krystek, who has worked closely with Alaka’i O Kaua’i from its first year, noted that Mick’s class includes many learners who were part of the school’s founding kindergarten class.

“It’s exciting to see how these young learners have grown into school leaders while developing 21st-century skills,” Krystek said. “By incorporating social-emotional learning into project-based learning, these 2nd graders have developed into articulate, self-directed learners.”

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Director DJ Adams is also proud of the work that Mick and her learners are doing. According to Adams, through the efforts of the learners, the 7 Habits are now firmly embedded into the culture of the school.

“Through their presentations and continuous efforts, these learners have created true cultural change at our unique school,” Adams said.

In addition to the upcoming puppet show and other year-end activities, these 2nd graders are going to finish the school year with one more event with Surfriders focused on cleaning up their local beaches.

Mick said that she is learning a great deal about the 7 Habits herself. “I am learning to delve deep into the 7 Habits and see what they really mean to me as an adult, a facilitator and a citizen every day.”

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i

Together Tuesdays: Share Your Photos and Stories!

Dear Alaka’i O Kaua’i community,

Once a month, we share a new Together Tuesdays video. Click here to submit your photos or short videos for the next edition! Submissions received by the Friday before each edition are eligible to be included.*

We can’t wait to see your contributions!

If you have any questions, simply reply to stories@makerlearning.net.

Sincerely,

The Maker Learning Network Team (formerly iLEAD Schools Development)

*If you send us a photo or video, we will consider this approval for use on our school websites and social media accounts. Please do not include images of video conference screens showing learners.

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i learners mosaic art ocean turtle

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Culture: Whole-Child Development

Last week we introduced the importance of social-emotional learning at Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School. Social-emotional learning is integral to our whole-child educational approach.

A whole-child mind-set means that we are focused on far more than teaching to tests or holding up state standards as the be-all, end-all of education. We believe in focusing on the whole child and promoting social-emotional learning, because education is about more than test scores.

Whole-child development empowers kids to be creative, engaged citizens. With that in mind, we believe it’s our responsibility to nurture learners’ creative abilities to express themselves, understand others, and navigate complex information so they can confidently solve the problems of an ever-changing world.

So when we say we focus on “whole child” development, what do we mean? We’re talking about an approach to project-based learning that emphasizes the following deeper-learning approaches:

Mastery of Core Academic Content: Learners lay their academic foundation in subjects such as reading, writing, arts, math, and science, understanding essential principles and procedures, recalling facts, and drawing on their knowledge to complete tasks.

Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving: Our learners understand how to construct effective arguments using their critical, analytical, and creative skills. They develop the know-how to come up with solutions to complex problems.

Collaboration: Learners embrace teamwork and consider multiple viewpoints to cooperate and achieve shared goals.

Effective Communication: Learners communicate effectively in writing and oral presentations. They structure information in meaningful ways, listen to and give feedback, and construct messages for particular audiences.

Self-Directed Learning: Learners develop the ability to set goals, monitor their own progress, and reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement. They learn to see setbacks as opportunities to grow and be more adaptive.

Growth Mind-set: Learners with a growth mind-set believe in themselves. They trust their abilities and believe their hard work will pay off; they persist to overcome obstacles. In the process, they also learn from and support each other and see the relevance of their schoolwork to the real world and their own future success.

Coupled with vibrant project-based education and social-emotional learning, all these elements work together to empower kids to overcome any challenge that comes their way academically; but more than that, they build the character to succeed in the 21st century.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i

Together Tuesdays: Share Your Photos and Stories!

Dear Alaka’i O Kaua’i community,

Once a month, we share a new Together Tuesdays video. Click here to submit your photos or short videos for the next edition! Submissions received by the Friday before each edition are eligible to be included.*

We can’t wait to see your contributions!

If you have any questions, simply reply to stories@makerlearning.net.

Sincerely,

The Maker Learning Network Team (formerly iLEAD Schools Development)

*If you send us a photo or video, we will consider this approval for use on our school websites and social media accounts. Please do not include images of video conference screens showing learners.

Alakai O Kauai campus and learners

Shop Amazon for FREE Fund-raising for Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi!

Amazon Smile pageDid you know you can help Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi 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 Alakaʻi 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 Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • Start shopping on smile.amazon.com so that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Alakaʻi O Kauaʻi.
  • 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.

Alakai O Kauai learners in boat on land

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School Culture: Social-Emotional Learning

In our approach to education at Alaka’i O Kaua’i Charter School, we emphasize methods that foster learners’ social-emotional learning. Social-emotional learning is the process through which learners understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, and establish and maintain positive relationships to make responsible decisions.

We believe it’s vital to help learners develop skills such as social awareness, self-management, regulation of emotions, and self-awareness so they can weave these abilities through every facet of their lives. When emotional intelligence is nurtured and developed, it can inspire creativity and increased engagement.

Over the coming weeks, we will explore nine pillars of social-emotional learning (SEL) at Alaka’i O Kaua’i:

  • Social intelligence
  • Optimism
  • Gratitude
  • Purpose
  • Growth mind-set
  • Self-control
  • Curiosity
  • Zest
  • Grit

But why is SEL so important?

To adapt to an increasingly globalized economy, education must emphasize more than rote knowledge. We believe learners should be empathetic, critical thinkers who thoughtfully engage with the world around them. Modern employers prize these skills in the workplace, and research suggests employees with more highly developed social-emotional strengths earn more and are more productive.

Additionally, focusing on non-cognitive skills may further improve reading, writing, and mathematics performance in kids, according to the nonpartisan think tank Economic Policy Institute.

We measure and report SEL progress as part of every project, individualized learning plan goal, and Report of Progress. We have also developed SEL and academic rigor rubrics that add a well-balanced approach to academics and reflective practice for facilitators, learners, families, and administrators. Other elements of our SEL implementation, practice, and assessment include our Learner-Led Conferences (LLCs), Presentations of Learning (POLs), Passion Projects, Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs), Advisory Program, Morning Meetings, learner-led ambassador groups, and restorative approaches to discipline.

PBL expert and iLEAD partner Thom Markham summed up why social-emotional learning is so vital. “Navigating a changing world demands a communicative, creative, and collaborative person with a flexible, empathetic, resilient, and persistent temperament,” he said. “It’s time to make a change to our mind-set and be far more intentional about teaching the dispositions and personality attributes that lead to better work ethic, more engagement, improved relationships, a greater sense of well-being — and better projects.”

At Alaka’i O Kaua’i, our goal is nothing less.

Alaka'i O Kaua'i

Together Tuesdays: Share Your Photos and Stories!

Dear Alaka’i O Kaua’i community,

Once a month, we share a new Together Tuesdays video. Click here to submit your photos or short videos for the next edition! Submissions received by the Friday before each edition are eligible to be included.*

We can’t wait to see your contributions!

If you have any questions, simply reply to stories@makerlearning.net.

Sincerely,

The Maker Learning Network Team (formerly iLEAD Schools Development)

*If you send us a photo or video, we will consider this approval for use on our school websites and social media accounts. Please do not include images of video conference screens showing learners.