Project Based Learning Alakai O Kauai

5 Ways PBL Facilitates Lifelong Learning

We are hearing more and more each day about the changing world of work and what type of skills will define the success of today’s students and future professionals. Outside of education, it’s often called upskilling. In education, we often refer to lifelong learning. Either way, experts agree that an individual’s ability to learn, continuously and adaptively, may define one’s success more than any other employability skills in this ever-changing, tech-infused and globalized economy.

Educators have always professed the priority of creating lifelong learners. But what does this really look like and how can we create learning environments that truly foster this? Project-based learning is poised well to inherently teach learners to become persistent and growth-oriented lifelong learners, among many other advantages.

How does PBL do this? Well, it’s at the core of how PBL functions. Here are a few of those ways:

Real-World Learning

First and foremost, PBL focuses on learners addressing real-world challenges, issues or problems. This immediately creates both relevance and authenticity. The relevancy of working on work that matters demonstrates to students that their school work is related to what others in the real world do and how it applies to their futures, skill development and agency. We talk about problem solving as a foundational skill and it is. However, the problems need to be real. We don’t have to solve them, but students have to continually try to tackle them. This is what all of us do in our professional lives and how new opportunities, jobs, innovations and more advance each day. PBL’s focus on authenticity (or being real world), as a core design principle, creates this real-world learning environment. A project can be authentic in several ways and often in combination. It can have an authentic context, it can involve the use of real-world processes and tools, it can have a real impact on others, and a project can have personal authenticity when it speaks to learners’ own concerns, interests, cultures, identities and issues in their lives.

Sustained Inquiry

This is a core design principle in high quality PBL. To inquire is to seek information or to investigate; it’s a more active, in-depth process than just looking something up in a book or online. The inquiry process takes time, which means a gold standard project lasts more than a few days. In PBL, inquiry is iterative; when confronted with a challenging problem or question, students ask questions, find resources to help answer them, then ask deeper questions, and the process repeats until a satisfactory solution or answer is developed. Projects can incorporate different information sources, mixing the traditional idea of research, reading a book or searching a website, with more real world, field-based interviews with experts, service providers and users. Learners also might inquire into the needs of the users of a product they’re creating in a project, or the audience for a piece of writing or multimedia.

Public Opportunities

In this pursuit of creating lifelong learners, we need to allow learners to experience the true power of learning and the real impact of their work. This is where producing public work, seen by multiple audiences or even users, comes into play.

When people see or even use our work, it creates significance in us. It means one’s work matters. It means learning matters. It means we matter. When audiences see, appreciate, experience, engage in and even possibly benefit from our work we naturally are more engaged, more likely to see the true power of learning. Ultimately, sharing our work publicly provides the opportunity for one to develop their personal brand. It’s the process of sharing one’s high-quality work and getting feedback. This is what we’ll do professionally for the rest of our lives. Lifelong work produces lifelong learning. We buy-in, we have conversations, we consider others’ opinions and ideas; all this while gaining confidence, portfolio, skills, a resume and valuable networking opportunities.

Student Voice & Choice

We hear words like agency, ownership, advocacy, leadership, git and mindset. These are great. And these are really traits of a lifelong learner. But how do we create the environment and means to make these a reality? Having a say in a project creates a sense of ownership in learners; they care more about the project and work harder. If learners are not able to use their judgment when solving a problem and answering a driving question, the project just feels like doing an exercise or following a set of directions. Learners can have input and (some) control over many aspects of a project, from the questions they generate to the resources they will use to find answers to their questions, to the tasks and roles they will take on as team members, to the products they will create. More advanced learners may go even further and select the topic and nature of the project itself; they can write their own driving question and decide how they want to investigate it, demonstrate what they have learned, and how they will share their work. High-quality projects also allow students to assume real roles and responsibilities in the production of their work. Think of things like project coordinator, media coordinator, tech coordinator or dozens of other roles. We don’t create roles for roles’ sake, but rather to move work forward efficiently and allow those involved to specialize a bit (become experts).

The Power of Learning (To Love What You Do)

We’ve all heard the saying that if you “love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” This may be the most powerful aspect of deeper learning like PBL. Facilitators have always wanted their learners to love learning for learning’s sake. But our traditional system has focused learners more on grades, points or even punitive approaches vs. training them to love learning. PBL, done well, creates the opportunity for learners to focus on the work, the challenge and even the final product. All of these, as well as the opportunity to engage with their peers, their community and the larger world, focus them on the true power of learning. The impact and significance of our work is what drives all of us professionally throughout our lives. When learners produce high-quality and professional projects that are experienced or used by others, addressing real-world issues and products like that of their professional counterparts, they too have that awakening, the internal and external factors that drive us to work, succeed, improve, grow, reach and stretch. We have allowed them to view work and learning differently.

There’s Always More

The beauty of high-quality PBL is that it truly does all the things simultaneously that we think are important in learning. Whether it’s collaboration, metacognition, skill acquisition, social-emotional learning, technology integration, personalized learning or more, PBL can deliver. But with all that being said, nothing may be more important to our learners’ future and sustained success than that of being lifelong learners.

Project Based Learning Alakai O Kauai

5 Ways PBL Facilitates Lifelong Learning

We are hearing more and more each day about the changing world of work and what type of skills will define the success of today’s students and future professionals. Outside of education, it’s often called upskilling. In education, we often refer to lifelong learning. Either way, experts agree that an individual’s ability to learn, continuously and adaptively, may define one’s success more than any other employability skills in this ever-changing, tech-infused and globalized economy.

Educators have always professed the priority of creating lifelong learners. But what does this really look like and how can we create learning environments that truly foster this? Project-based learning is poised well to inherently teach learners to become persistent and growth-oriented lifelong learners, among many other advantages.

How does PBL do this? Well, it’s at the core of how PBL functions. Here are a few of those ways:

Real-World Learning

First and foremost, PBL focuses on learners addressing real-world challenges, issues or problems. This immediately creates both relevance and authenticity. The relevancy of working on work that matters demonstrates to students that their school work is related to what others in the real world do and how it applies to their futures, skill development and agency. We talk about problem solving as a foundational skill and it is. However, the problems need to be real. We don’t have to solve them, but students have to continually try to tackle them. This is what all of us do in our professional lives and how new opportunities, jobs, innovations and more advance each day. PBL’s focus on authenticity (or being real world), as a core design principle, creates this real-world learning environment. A project can be authentic in several ways and often in combination. It can have an authentic context, it can involve the use of real-world processes and tools, it can have a real impact on others, and a project can have personal authenticity when it speaks to learners’ own concerns, interests, cultures, identities and issues in their lives.

Sustained Inquiry

This is a core design principle in high quality PBL. To inquire is to seek information or to investigate; it’s a more active, in-depth process than just looking something up in a book or online. The inquiry process takes time, which means a gold standard project lasts more than a few days. In PBL, inquiry is iterative; when confronted with a challenging problem or question, students ask questions, find resources to help answer them, then ask deeper questions, and the process repeats until a satisfactory solution or answer is developed. Projects can incorporate different information sources, mixing the traditional idea of research, reading a book or searching a website, with more real world, field-based interviews with experts, service providers and users. Learners also might inquire into the needs of the users of a product they’re creating in a project, or the audience for a piece of writing or multimedia.

Public Opportunities

In this pursuit of creating lifelong learners, we need to allow learners to experience the true power of learning and the real impact of their work. This is where producing public work, seen by multiple audiences or even users, comes into play.

When people see or even use our work, it creates significance in us. It means one’s work matters. It means learning matters. It means we matter. When audiences see, appreciate, experience, engage in and even possibly benefit from our work we naturally are more engaged, more likely to see the true power of learning. Ultimately, sharing our work publicly provides the opportunity for one to develop their personal brand. It’s the process of sharing one’s high-quality work and getting feedback. This is what we’ll do professionally for the rest of our lives. Lifelong work produces lifelong learning. We buy-in, we have conversations, we consider others’ opinions and ideas; all this while gaining confidence, portfolio, skills, a resume and valuable networking opportunities.

Student Voice & Choice

We hear words like agency, ownership, advocacy, leadership, git and mindset. These are great. And these are really traits of a lifelong learner. But how do we create the environment and means to make these a reality? Having a say in a project creates a sense of ownership in learners; they care more about the project and work harder. If learners are not able to use their judgment when solving a problem and answering a driving question, the project just feels like doing an exercise or following a set of directions. Learners can have input and (some) control over many aspects of a project, from the questions they generate to the resources they will use to find answers to their questions, to the tasks and roles they will take on as team members, to the products they will create. More advanced learners may go even further and select the topic and nature of the project itself; they can write their own driving question and decide how they want to investigate it, demonstrate what they have learned, and how they will share their work. High-quality projects also allow students to assume real roles and responsibilities in the production of their work. Think of things like project coordinator, media coordinator, tech coordinator or dozens of other roles. We don’t create roles for roles’ sake, but rather to move work forward efficiently and allow those involved to specialize a bit (become experts).

The Power of Learning (To Love What You Do)

We’ve all heard the saying that if you “love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” This may be the most powerful aspect of deeper learning like PBL. Facilitators have always wanted their learners to love learning for learning’s sake. But our traditional system has focused learners more on grades, points or even punitive approaches vs. training them to love learning. PBL, done well, creates the opportunity for learners to focus on the work, the challenge and even the final product. All of these, as well as the opportunity to engage with their peers, their community and the larger world, focus them on the true power of learning. The impact and significance of our work is what drives all of us professionally throughout our lives. When learners produce high-quality and professional projects that are experienced or used by others, addressing real-world issues and products like that of their professional counterparts, they too have that awakening, the internal and external factors that drive us to work, succeed, improve, grow, reach and stretch. We have allowed them to view work and learning differently.

There’s Always More

The beauty of high-quality PBL is that it truly does all the things simultaneously that we think are important in learning. Whether it’s collaboration, metacognition, skill acquisition, social-emotional learning, technology integration, personalized learning or more, PBL can deliver. But with all that being said, nothing may be more important to our learners’ future and sustained success than that of being lifelong learners.

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.

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.

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 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.”

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 Presentation of Learning

Alaka’i O Kaua’i Kindergarten Presentations of Learning: Making Musical Instruments

Project-based learning is thriving in Miss Casey Zoppa’s kindergarten class. Their driving question was “How can we as sound engineers build instruments?” We asked Ms. Z for some highlights of this exciting project. Read her insights below, and then be sure to check out the video of the kindergarteners making some beautiful noise in their Presentations of Learning (POLs).

What inspired this project?

That’s easy! This year I have a class of sixteen boys and six girls. The only thing that most of them have in common is the fact that they all are very loud and love music. We very quickly decided making noise was one of the things that brought us together.

What was a surprising result of this project?

The surprising result was how much the kids loved learning about the science of noise. They weren’t just interested in making the instruments themselves. They loved learning about sound waves and how our brains receive them and code them into messages that we understand.

Also, it was amazing watching them collect recycled materials and turn them into a variety of beautiful instruments.

What were some of the most interesting observations learners made?

While studying and making instruments, the learners realized that the different ways instruments are made created their different noises. They also realized even though we can re-create the instruments, we couldn’t actually make them yet. They learned that professionals who make instruments take time and slowly work with tools to create the instruments.

Check out this video to see the kindergarteners making music in their Presentation of Learning:

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 Charter School

Third Grade PBL: Making a Podcast

Driving Question: How can we create a podcast for Alaka’i O Kaua’i that effectively shares the vibrancy of our learning with our community?

Learners found inspiration while listening to several other podcasts in class and learned concepts in each subject. Podcasts for children that brought us inspiration were as follows:

Throughout the project-based learning, experts in our community helped. Bandwagon Music Center owner Jeremy Hartshorn visited to show our class how to record vocals and music. Then we went on a field trip to KONG Radio, where hosts Ron Wiley, Lexi Jones, and Marc Valentin taught the third graders the importance of broadcasting, showed them how to edit vocals, and aired them singing a song on the radio.

Learners covered many Common Core standards while creating the podcast. One of the main ones was in “Speaking and Listening: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas 3.5: Students can create interesting and understandable audio recordings of stories or poems and add visual displays when appropriate for certain facts or details.”

Alaka’i O Kaua’i focuses on the development of the whole child, including the academic, social, and emotional aspect of learning. A core belief here is that learning is more relevant to children when it engages them in projects that help solve problems important to them and their community. It is our hope that this project-based learning opportunity to create a podcast will help learners understand the value of sharing ideas in the 21st century. Whether it be with our small community or other areas of the world, making connections is a wonderful part of the human experience.

Together, the third graders recorded facts and jokes that pertain to island life, stories and poems that they have written, interviews that they conducted, and multiplication jingles that I wrote earlier in my teaching career.

We hope you are enlightened, entertained, and informed as you listen to the Alaka’i O Kaua’i podcast.

Alakai O Kauai Presentation of Learning

1st Grade Presentation of Learning: Healthy Earth, Healthy Me

Before the break, Ms. Joeanne’s first grade class hosted their Presentation of Learning for Healthy Earth, Healthy Me. Their driving question was “How can we help keep our environment and ourselves healthy?”

Children began their investigation by going on a walking tour over the grounds of Alaka’i O Kaua’i with Mr. Jon. They investigated, observed, compared, and recorded things found in nature. Next, they went on a field study to Hokuala Organic Farm in Lihue. They identified what plants need for survival. They distinguished the different structures of plants. They investigated, compared, and discussed how the structures, parts of the plants, help them survive and grow. They noticed that plants have different-looking structures, and even some of the same plants have differences. They learned that getting fruits and vegetables harvested on a local farm could be healthier than going to a store.

These two field trips led learners to wonder about dirt. They collected and investigated soil samples from various locations around Kaua’i. Through experimentation, they noticed the similarities and differences of the various soils. The learners used simple tools, such as magnifying glasses, to sort and separate the particles of the soil. They observed the separation of the different layers in the soil, read books about soil, and learned what helps soil be healthy. Learners discovered the importance of worms and composting as opposed to throwing everything into a landfill. Composting helps grow healthy food for us and helps produce less methane gas in landfills, which contributes to global warming, and it causes less leachate, which contributes to ground water pollution.

As a cumulating activity, learners created posters encouraging others to compost their food scraps. The posters were distributed to local businesses for display. Additionally, the first grade learners gave a PowerPoint presentation to their families and other learners at Alaka’i O Kaua’i, encouraging them to compost food scraps at snack and lunchtime. An added bonus was when a volunteer from Kauai Worms came to Alaka’i O Kaua’i and provided information on how to establish and maintain a worm-composting bin. The children loved examining the worms and playing in the dirt. An awesome conclusion to our Project-Based Learning on Healthy Earth, Healthy Me!

Mrs. Joeanne Mick's first grade class recently held a Presentation of Learning for their Healthy Earth Healthy Me PBL…

Posted by Alaka'i O Kaua'i on Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Project Based Learning at Alakai O Kauai

Alaka`i O Kaua`i Learners Present Their Project-Based Learning

We ended the month of February with our 5th and 6th graders displaying what they learned about Native Americans and how to make pop-up books through the use of mathematical concepts.

5th grade, Ms. Collette Oguin

Ms. Collette Oguin’s 5th graders studied the lives of indigenous Americans in the 1400s-1600s and how the geography of North America shaped the development of their societies. Through their Presentation of Learning, our 5th graders displayed the deep learning they’ve been doing in class. We are proud of our inquisitive, hardworking keiki!

6th grade, Ms. Donna Daum

Our 6th graders had a strong interest in creating flip-books, and we discovered how creative the learners could be! Research brought about engineering designs that they could use to build pop-up books. How fun! They followed step-by-step directions tirelessly, finding out what worked and what didn’t. They would design and redesign over and over again to get just the right angles and proportions for the pages to pop out correctly. They learned so much while having so much fun! They came up with the idea that these books should be marketed to a younger audience. Then they realized that because we also do so much math together, maybe we could share some of the math concepts with the other learners within the fun pop-up book! What an amazing project!

Alakai O Kauai Gardening

Kindergarten Project-Based Learning in the Garden!

Our kindergarteners are in the midst of a project-based learning unit on gardening. They’re learning what’s needed to create a successful garden and what plants need to thrive.

Our driving question is “How can we make our garden into a beautiful reality?”

Through many hands-on activities, learners are mapping and constructing a bird’s-eye-view picture of our orchard. They have learned to identify plants in the garden and worked together to make garden signs. We introduced learners to the insects and other creatures they will find in the garden and their characteristics.

Through a reflection and presentation process, learners will work together to make group decisions in planning a classroom garden tour for our Presentation of Learning.

Learners will review characteristics of mature produce and discover how to harvest different types of fruits. They have learned about the parts of plants and their functions and will use the garden to teach a hands-on plant-based activity at our upcoming POL.

Presentation of Learning

Kindergarten POLs

The week of Oct. 1 in kindergarten, we did our first community helpers Presentation of Learning (POL). We are so proud of our kindergarteners! They worked so hard the past month to learn all about the community helpers.

In this POL, the learners got to pick who they wanted to be when they grow up. The goal was that the learners be able to articulate who they were, what tools they would use, and how they help the community.

Project-based learning is a great way to showcase an individualized learning around what each learner finds interesting.

Bubble Bonanza

Bubble Bonanza PBL

Mrs. Ashley’s class just finished up their latest installment of Project-Based Learning, “Engineering Bubble Wands”. They presented their designs to the 1st and 2nd grade classes and then took them through the engineering design process, where they were given the opportunity to construct their very own wands.

They also experimented with different designs and created bubble formulas to help discover all the things bubbles can and cannot do. They wrapped up their presentation with their BUBBLE BONANZA showcase, where they took their classmates out to the field and blew them away with some of the biggest bubbles the learners have ever seen. Their Bubble Bonanza showcase was a great success for all!

Hands-On Science Learning

Our 5th grade class is fortunate enough to be located in the school’s science lab, and last week we took full advantage of this by having a full lab day. We studied physical and chemical changes, and in the spirit of Project-Based Learning we got our hands — and our room — dirty while experimenting with these concepts.

Learners performed experiments in which they observed chemical reactions, and cited the evidence of such a reaction. They created and observed gas bubbles, color change, change of state, heat creation, and more. We love learning in an environment which allows us to experience concepts, rather than just reading about them. This gives context to our learning, and it’s just plain fun!

Project Based Learning

Project-based Learning in First & Second Grade

Miss Kim and Miss Megan have begun their second unit in Project-Based Learning. First and second graders are learning about the world through their explorations with “Flat Stanley,” our literacy guide, a character from a series about a boy who was flattened and travels the world. Each child has the opportunity to send their own Flat Stanley to someone they know in another state or country, with a letter of their own composition. Learners get to choose where they send their Flat Stanley and which countries they want to learn about. Flat Stanley will then be sent back to the learner with a letter about the place he visited.

This project is a fun way for our learners to explore the world and discover different places through inquiry and interaction. We encourage first and second grade families talk to their kids at home about the country of their choosing and explore with them the locations that they are learning about.

Our learners will also be doing independent, hands-on projects that help them reflect on the places they are studying. Miss Kim and Miss Megan’s classes are looking for materials for the learners to build with as they explore their different locations. They will have the chance to build pyramids, buildings, monuments, and other structures with the following materials. If you have any of these items to donate, please bring to the school:

  • Shoe boxes
  • Pringle cans or paper towel/toilet paper rolls
  • Cardboard
  • Foil
  • Bottle caps
  • Juice Cartons

MAHALO!

Project Based Learning

Learning More About Project-Based Learning

Alakai’i O Kaua’i and iLEAD Schools are pleased to have Dr. Thom Markham, founder of PBL Global, visit our school this week to work with our staff on developing rigorous project-based learning (PBL) in every grade level.

Also, there are two opportunities to hear Dr. Markham’s presentation on Project-Based Learning this Tuesday, February 5th (see times below).

He will hold a “PBL Parent University” for families interested to learn more about project-based learning at our school in the morning, and provide an evening-time option for families and community at Chiefess Middle School.

We hope you can join us during one of these opportunities to learn about the “why” behind Project-Based Learning from one of the key leaders responsible for growing effectiveness of PBL as the pathway to deeper authentic learning. For more information, please contact Linda Krystek at linda.krystek@ileadschools.org.

Topics to be discussed will include:

  • Preparing young people to be ready for the world of 2020 and beyond
  • Developing skills as collaborators, problem solvers, design thinkers, and self-starters
  • Fostering curiosity, empathy, and resilience as core attitudes helping young people to flourish in learning and life

Presentations on PBL Tuesday, Feb. 5th:

  • 8:30-10 a.m. at the Alaka’i O Kaua’i Library
  • 5:30-7 p.m. at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School multi-purpose room

iLEAD Students Prepare for Launch to Space Station

A team of iLEAD students is preparing to send a science experiment aboard the SpaceX-16 Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled to launch on December 4.

The project is part of a partnership between iLEAD and DreamUp, the leading provider of space-based educational opportunities. The students’ experiment, which will be on the ISS for approximately four weeks, tests whether black coffee kills a type of bacteria found in everyday plaque on teeth in microgravity in the same way it does on Earth. This launch opportunity is made possible via DreamUp’s partnership with NanoRacks and its Space Act Agreement with NASA.

Click here to read more!

And click here to watch the livestream of the rocket launch on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 1:30 p.m. EST!