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Showing posts from 2015

Not Everything Needs to Be Completed

I wrote a proposal to the HAMS (Hawaii association of middle schools) held in October of 2014. I really was writing the proposal in order to model how simple it was to write a proposal and present at a local conference for my staff. I knew that they had a lot to share and wanted to encourage them to venture beyond their classrooms to start presenting locally and nationally.
To write a proposal for a conference, decide on your passion. That is what I did. It wasn't anything new or exciting, but blogging was my passion and my lens was that blogging could bring back the literacy of our Hawaiian people in the same way that newspapers, the Hawaiian newspapers of old, made Hawaiians the most literate peoples in the world.  
I have not made this my life work, but I still believe it to be true.  Not everything needs to be completed. Maybe someday the opportunity will come back to create a network of writers. Someday. 

Time To an Indigenous Woman

Time to an Indigenous woman has to do with efficiency - the close management of time as a precious commodity, like water. I only know this because I was raised by my grandmother, a pure Hawaiian woman who could not keep still. Instead of watching us ride our bikes on the side of the road in Lahaina, Maui, she would pick up a coconut frond that fell down and start sweeping the bike path. When we played in the waves at Sand Box, she would be scouring the beach for shells and beach glass, hardened plastic beach toys that she would gather up and take back with us for her shell garden alongside her house. 
So I see my need to zone out, to just stare at Netflix mindlessly or read a book on my iPad as a waste of time. Is it Western to waste time or just moloā (lazy)? It is now 10:12 p.m. and I belittle myself for wasting the day. There is so much left to do. I have articles to write, a syllabus to complete, reservations to make, research to do. I forget that I graded all of my papers for th…

Lest We Forget

We are in the middle second quarter slump. Students are being tested, Thanksgiving, which gives us a perfect window to Christmas is three longs weeks away. So lest we forget the magic of teaching, here is a little mana'o that will wake us up because if you don't believe in the magic, it will disappear.

Check out The Magic of Letters an essay by Chameli Waiba on NPR's This I Believe. The series only lasted four years and ended in 2009, but there are poignant essays here on people's beliefs and it showcases the power of the personal essay.

Access Primary Sources Through

The public libraries and our Library of Congress epitomize what true freedom looks like, feels like, sounds like, smells like, tastes like. I love the power of finding a resource that I perhaps didn't even know I wanted. There is something adventurous about that kind of discovery and with the Library of Congress with their collection of 5 million digitized items, that is so much energy flowing through the computer I'm giddy. 
If you want to feel the power of learning, go to There are several things I really like about their home page:
The search feature resembles Google rather than having to know how certain pieces were categorized by librarians in the past.The 9 "buckets," "drawers" - I'm not sure what they are officially called, are easy to use. They are: digital collection; prints and photographs, historic newspapers, performing arts, veterans history, sound recordings, film, maps and manuscriptsTeaching civics, argument writing, policy? con…

Best Practices for Teaching Hawai'i Students Effectively

As the start of a new semester begins and the new professors start their classes (yours truly included), let us take a little time to remember a bit of advice from Kumu Noe Noe. Based on my sitting through new faculty orientation, I found that most of us that are starting at the University system are not from here. E olu olu (please, kindly) practice a little cultural humility by starting with these ten best practices below. A little bit of aloha goes a long way and you will see that our local students will come out of their "cages" and thrive. Have a wonderful semester!

Ten Best Practices for Effective Teaching To Students From Hawai‘i By Noe Noe Wong-Wilson
Names are an integral part of a person’s genealogy and identity.Ask each student what name they prefer to be called. Learn to pronounce their names properly.Inform your students how you would like to be addressed. The name you choose to be called sets up your relationship with the students.  Many local and Hawaiian studen…

Start the Year Off by Creating Real Relationships

John McCarthy writes about Igniting Student Engagement, all things worthy of being pinned in my Teaching 101 Pinterest, but I just wanted to focus on one of his concepts, "be real," and "Hawaiian-ize" it for our community of students. He talks about connecting skills and content to students' interests and really that is the key. Content shouldn't happen until the teacher has created a true relationship with the student first.

Creating a relationship with each student could take two months, and what is wrong with that? Other skills, expectations, content can happen, but by getting to know the students by understanding what family knowledge they come to school with, by humbling yourself, even if you are the teacher with all your degrees, so that you can learn from the students is the highest priority for the new school year and the best way to motivate students. When you can connect your content and skills to the knowledge and skills and interests of the stu…

What Will You Do?

Critical Thinking in Every Content Area

G. Randy Kasten in espouses critical thinking as a necessary skill in the age of spin. He says:
Every educator is in a position to teach students how to gather information, evaluate it, screen out distractions and think for themselves. Because critical thinking is so important, some believe that every educator has not only the opportunities, but also the obligation to incorporate critical thinking into his or her subject area. This helps students evaluate prepackaged conclusions and clears a path for original thoughts.
According to the author, the inexperience and naivete of students makes them easy targets for misinformation, misunderstandings and misalignment. The onus is on the teachers of all content areas to continue to develop critical thinking skills for our students.

I was observing in a 6th grade lower math class the other day and the teacher was showing them graphs and asking them to talk about what the graph was supposed to be showing and whether it was mislead…

Bringing Back Old Strategies

“Let’s Get Higher Scores on These New Assessments” by Timothy Shanahan in The Reading Teacher, March 2015 (Vol. 68, #6, p. 459-463), available for purchase at
Timothy Shanahan in The Reading Teacher identifies three things that we need to teach well in order to prepare students for standardized assessments:
Strategies for figuring out unknown wordsMaking sense of sentencesSilent reading for understanding There are old strategies connected to these that have been out of fashion but with the intense demand for higher order thinking skills with Common Core, perhaps it's time to dust off those techniques that I used to use for preparing my AP language students: study of latin root words (etymology) - MUGS (mechanics, usage and grammar) bell ringers and time for reading for understanding and critique.
What needs to be let go in order to allow this? What can never be forgotten?

Moving on from Failure

What did I seriously learn about myself? 

I hate following plans. Daily doesn't work for me. I am a writer who hates to write when I am forced to write.I really am not writing for anyone but myself so I can absolve myself.