Writing to Learn
We are in the middle of the second week of the second quarter. Students and teachers have a better sense of their strengths and growth areas. Identifying student needs and providing supports to address the needs is a large part of our day-to-day action plan and is an ongoing process.
In terms of academic content and skills, as a school, we are focused on writing instruction and learning. It is understood that writing is an overarching skill and endures from year to year. Being able to articulate ones thinking in a written form is an essential skill that will help our students progress to the next level. In order to better understand where we are in writing instruction, all grade levels are focused on advancing our fluency in the use of formative assessments and the data teams structure. This is a specific structure that teachers use during their weekly Articulation meetings.
During weekly Articulation meetings, teachers, in each grade level, discuss the patterns and trends in the written work students produce. Teachers assign written practice, assess the student product against criteria and a writing rubric, then bring the student work to Articulation. We look at the patterns and trends of learning for each student based on the work produced. We then discuss what the next steps will be including the writing assignment for the following week. Teachers are also learning more about the connection between writing prompts, criteria, rubrics, and self-assessments to student progress. By continuously looking at student work we are able to understand how students are progressing in their writing skills. This kind of data analysis then helps us to surface effective practices as teachers collaboratively plan for instruction.
The main goal in writing instruction for elementary schools, is for students to be able to express their opinion and then to practice developing their expository writing skills. Expository writing means that they are able to share, explain what they are learning, have learned, and what they understand in a written format. It's writing about learning. Our students practice expressing their opinions; write to tell a story; write to inform; write to explain; write to share their research and understanding; and will eventually write to contradict the thinking and positions of others. Our upper grade students need to use evidence in order to support their positions and conclusions. And of course they need to explain, explain, explain. Developing one's writing skill takes time, practice, and feedback.
As a school team, we have many opportunities to further our writing skills as we continue to write our WASC Self-Study report. This is a team collaboration in thinking and writing and is a vital part to our school renewal efforts.
If you'd like to help support your child's writing progress at home, you may want to have them keep a journal. They can write daily, about whatever they choose. They can write about a family event. Or, they can even write about the mundane.
The possibilities are endless! Please do not feel the need to go out and purchase a book of writing prompts. Simply ask your child their thoughts on any topic.
Thank you for continuing to be a part of our school community!
Welcome back or welcome to Hokulani Elementary! It will be yet another exciting year.
Every year new school initiatives are added. A few years ago, Reading Wonders and Stepping Stones were added as curricular tools for literacy and mathematics. Subtle shifts in teaching methods also occurred as we move towards increasing our proficiency in collaborative practices. We know that learning is social and that having students work together to share their perspectives, problem-solve, and understand the thinking of others will help broaden their understanding across the board.
Last year, we re-envisioned our purpose, our "North." The result is the revised Vision and Mission Statements. While some organizations and schools brand their message by having posters and other visuals, we will brand our mission through our thoughts and actions. The statement I shared with our faculty is that we need to live our vision and mission in addition to being able to state it. Our wish list is that our students love to learn, know that they are impacting their thinking and the thinking of others, and that they are actively building a strong academic foundation. To accomplish this requires coordination, communication, training, and support.
Our entire school staff will be participating in the accreditation process with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This is a school renewal process and we are learning about our strengths and our growth areas for we are all reflective lifelong learners. Through this process, instructional and support staff are having conversations about how we serve our students and families, how we support and collaborate with each other, and how all of our actions are communicated and systematized. It's an exciting time!
We are slowly integrating technology in our instruction and learning. Our third, fourth, and fifth graders have access to a Chromebook in their classrooms. This will be our first year as a partial 1:1 school and we will continue to evaluate the impact and redesign our technology plan. Our Kinder and First grade students use iPads. While we are not 1:1 with iPads, there are amply number of devices in the classrooms for teachers and students to utilize centers. Our second graders will have access to Chromebooks as well. It won't be 1:1 but there will be enough for the teachers to offer center or work stations. They will slowly learn to use these devices while accessing Kid Biz, IXL, Wonders, ILE, and other supports and interventions as needed. Of course when new initiatives are rolled out, we also need to provide support for our teachers. In-service from the State level come to work with our teachers monthly. We also have a Tech Team comprised of college students who are majoring in computer technology to support our teachers. Our early adopters will access professional development through local conferences and workshops. They will then share with their colleagues. This is year another example of a community learning, working, and moving together.
Teachers are also increasing the integration of inquiry in their instruction and making instructional decisions based on a range of data. The dialogues and discussions teachers are having will help student understand concepts deeper. Connected to that is the work of our STEM Coach. After numerous successful years in the classroom, Mrs. Kaneshiro has stepped out to help support our increase in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) thinking and application. She is also our science fair lead. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Yoshinaga, Mrs. Oshiro, and Mr. Bruno will be coaching our VEX IQ teams as our robotics and engineering co-curricular programs resurface.
A new development this year is the enrichment wheel. During the summer, I was notified that our Japanese culture and language teacher would not be returning for the year. We have not been able to identify and select a candidate that was perfectly matched for Hokulani. Instead of Japanese this year, students will experience an enrichment wheel. Throughout this year, students K-5 will have a chance to learn about Coding, Inquiry through Science, and Conflict Resolution/Character Education. These classes will be taught by our non-classroom teachers. We continue to provide Hawaiian Studies, PE, and Music through the efforts of part-time teachers. The enrichment wheel will introduce students to current learning experiences, help support the socio-emotional component of human development, thereby helping us continue in our "Whole Child" journey. This is something we haven't tried but identify as things that are responsive to student needs.
One of our main fundraisers will kick off soon! I hope that you, your friends, and family can support our Give Aloha event in September.
Thank you for being part of the Hokulani School Community! We appreciate your support.
Hokulani School: A community positively impacting the world.
I am extremely proud to be the Lead Learner for Hokulani. It’s an extraordinary school community made up of dedicated, professional, and caring teachers and staff, intelligent and kind students, and supportive and helpful families. We are known for our academic achievements, but we are much more than that.
Everyone who is part of our community is expected to solve problems, think critically (while withholding judgment), care for and about others, work hard, do their best, and be responsible. We believe that everyone continues to grow emotionally, socially, intellectually, and academically. Therefore, our instructional methods shift to adjust to the needs of our learners. Teachers make instructional decisions based on data along with an understanding of the child.
Even though we have a recognized history of academic achievement, we know that our learners need to be prepared for an ever-changing world, which sometimes requires that we change too. In order to teach the Common Core State Standards, we started using McGraw-Hill Reading Wonders as our ELA curricular tool and Origo’s Stepping Stones for mathematics instruction in SY 2014-15. These curricular tools are supplemented through other resources such as Achieve 3000 (Kid Biz), IXL, and Reading A-Z. We continue to teach Science and social studies, which are often integrated with ELA, mathematics, and Art. Classroom teachers continue to provide instruction in Physical Education and we are fortunate to have access to Kanewai field where students can play and exercise. Other specialty classes we have are Hawaiian Studies (K-5) and Japanese Language and Culture (K-5).
Robert Heinlein says, When one teaches, two learn. We are fortunate to have strong partnerships with the University of Hawaii’s College of Education, School of Social Work, and Chaminade’s College of Education. Through our partnerships, we host numerous pre-service teachers and social work interns each semester. This provides the university students a chance to learn from professionals in the field, engage in collegial conversation, and provides opportunities to the mentor teachers who reflect on their practice. We also continue to participate in cultural exchanges with universities and their elementary schools in Japan. Learning is ongoing for all of us.
Finally, one of the things I am quite proud of is how the staff works collaboratively and cooperatively as we address the needs of our students. It’s a beautiful thing to witness teachers, educational assistants, parents, students, office staff, and community partners work side-by-side to continuously shape our school. We are all teachers and learners.
Hokulani is an extraordinary place where extraordinary individuals flourish.
Should you have additional questions please visit the other sections of our website or give us a call.
Our community is dedicated to building a strong foundation that fosters a love of learning that inspires everyone to reach their highest potential in an ever- changing world.