Kindness Club

Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School Introduces Kindness Club!

Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School is special because of our curriculum focus. The two main pillars of our curriculum are Project-Based Learning and Social-Emotional Learning. Last week, a new school club was formed to support the social-emotional needs of our learners. Our 4th grade facilitator, Ms. Kate, and a 4th grade parent, Mrs. Sally Nichols, have helped our learners start a new club called Kindness Club.

The Kindness Club is described as “an opportunity for all learners who are interested to meet during lunch to talk about what kindness is and how they can bring it into our school community daily, as well as create projects to serve those around us.”

Ms. G and Mrs. Nichols gave a presentation to invite learners to become involved in the Kindness Club.

Good results from this new Kindness Club have already manifested throughout our school as our learners left notes for their facilitators and peers expressing their appreciation for them.

National and State Testing

In approximately two weeks, we will begin the process of testing our learners to see how they measure up with other learners in the state of Hawaii, as well as nationally.

While Alaka`i O Kaua`i Charter School does not believe that standardized tests are the only way to measure the academic progress our learners are making, we understand that these state and national assessments are one of many indicators of their progress. Alaka’i O Kaua’i uses multiple measures of assessment to determine the growth our learners are making both academically and social-emotionally including MAP (Measures of Academic Progress), the Comprehensive Growth Card, to measure social-emotional development, and other site-based assessments.

Our first assessment will be the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), administered to our 4th grade learners only. It will be a one-day assessment. The test date is Thursday, Feb. 21. We have already sent letters to parents explaining the focus of this assessment. The next series of assessments will be our Hawaii State Assessments. They are called the Smarter Balanced Assessments, which will begin in May. These assessments will be given to learners in grades 3-5. We will be sending information home to all parents/guardians, with the exact dates of these assessments, as well as their purpose.

You play an important part in helping students give their best performance on these important tests. As you know, we have been busy preparing and reinforcing the skills necessary for students to demonstrate their learning. Even though the assessments are a snapshot—one single perspective – it is important that our students have every advantage to do their very best.

We don’t want to cause test anxiety, rather we want our students to be as prepared as possible.

The night before the test:

  1. Make sure your child goes to bed on time so he or she is well-rested.
  2. Keep your routine as normal as possible. Upsetting natural routines may make children feel insecure.
  3. Be positive and confident in the fact that you know your child will do his/her best.
  4. Plan ahead to avoid conflicts on the morning of the test.

The morning of the test:

  1. Get up a few minutes early to avoid rushing and make sure your child arrives at school on time.
  2. Have your child eat a nutritious breakfast. There is a strong correlation between eating breakfast and memory and cognitive functioning.
  3. Have your child dress comfortably.
  4. Be positive and communicate that this is your child’s chance to show what he/she knows. The most important thing you can do right before the test is to build confidence about doing his/her very best.

Alaka’i Kinder Music & Movement

We are very happy to share that our first music program has begun at Alaka’i O Kaua’i! Our very own Office Manager, Miss Claire, has started doing a weekly Kinder Music & Movement class with our Kindergarten classes. With a background in music, dance, and theater, Miss Claire is thrilled to share her love of the arts with our learners, starting with Kindergarten. This spring, she hopes to expand this new program to include more grade levels. Claire will also be working with the 5th-grade class on a new arrangement of our school song “The Best Day of My Life” and assist in teaching it to the whole school. If you have any instruments, shakers, rattles, drums, or music makers you’d like to donate to our music program, please bring them to the main office. Thank you!

Writers’ Workshop

Writer’s Workshop is the framework for writing instruction and practice that is used in our Alaka’i O Kaua’i K-6th classrooms. The curriculum that will be utilized is the Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing, where learners write frequently, for extended periods of time, and on topics of their own choosing. Using a workshop model format, which tailors and adapts instruction to specific learners and classrooms, writing instruction at Alaka’i O Kaua’i will include the following components:

  • Direct instruction/mini-lesson
  • Independent writing
  • Individual facilitator/learner conferences (during independent writing)
  • Shared writing experiences, particularly in the primary grades
  • Partner and small group work
  • Sharing

Trade books and mentor texts are often used during the Writers’ Workshop to model effective writing techniques, encourage learners to read as writers, and provide background knowledge. Facilitators will access prior knowledge through a connection, articulate and model the teaching point, engage the learners in the opportunity to practice, provide an opportunity for writers to share their work with each other, confer individually or in small groups, and differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners including subgroups.

Literacy Instruction at Alaka’i O Kaua’i

Dr. Seuss sums up the magic of reading in the following quote: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Learning to read for a variety of purposes is essential to success in school and to learning in general. As an elementary student, your child may be asked to read for pleasure, or they may be asked to read to learn new information. In both cases, solid reading skills are necessary for success.

At Alaka’i O Kaua’i, reading instruction is accomplished through student participation in Daily 5, which is a reader’s workshop format that fosters literacy independence in the elementary grades. Daily 5 is not a curriculum or basal program. It is a research-based instructional model for reading that marries explicit instruction in reading strategies with opportunities for students to practice each reading strategy, not only independently, but with peers, in small groups, and with a teacher. Daily 5 engages every student in meaningful literacy tasks that are proven to have the biggest impact on student reading and writing achievement. These tasks also foster children who love to read and write! Just walk into a classroom engaged in Daily 5 on any given morning and listen to the chorus of children who eagerly ask, “Teacher, can I read to you today?”

Students receive explicit whole group reading instruction through a daily teacher read-aloud of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction text. During this time, the teacher models best practices in reading to the students. These strategies and practices are chosen from the Literacy CAFE Menu. CAFE stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary.

Students are then given independent practice time to read and write, while the facilitator provides focused, intense instruction to individuals and small groups of students. The students are engaged in 5 different activities, which build their stamina as readers and writers.

These activities comprise Read to Self, Read with a Buddy, Listen to Reading, Work on Words, and Work on Writing. During the Read to Self block, students are building stamina as readers, choosing and reading books at their “just right” reading level. While participating in Read to Someone, they are practicing and sharing reading strategies, working on fluency and expression, and checking for understanding.

In Listen to Reading, students hear examples of good literature and fluent reading. They expand their listening and reading vocabularies, thus becoming better readers and writers. While they Work on Writing, students continue the work they have been doing during writer’s workshop, producing a piece of writing based on a strategy or genre being taught during mini-lessons. Lastly, Work on Words allows students to practice spelling patterns, memorize high-frequency words, and add to their knowledge and curiosity of unique and interesting vocabulary.

During reading conferences with individuals and groups, the facilitator gains valuable information about each child’s strengths and greatest needs as a reader, which helps her to better guide instruction. Conferring with students is a powerful tool for finding out what students are thinking as well as finding out what reading strategies they are employing.

Daily 5 is much more than a reading curriculum or management system, it is a structure that will enable students to develop the daily habits of reading, writing, and working with peers that will lead not only to a lifetime of independent literacy, but more importantly, a love of reading and writing!