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Showing posts from 2016

Using Ohana in Education

Source:  I donʻt know how to cite this. Just look for it on youtube.
What is Sacred: Jason Momoa talks about what is sacred in his own life, how he learns from his children, his mother, his wife, and how he creates the education that his children need.
Connections to Current/Future Work: Aside from his being a beautiful man, let's really just talk about how we reach out to the lessons that students come with from their own ohana and honor that as sacred in our own curriculum.

Writing to Tell a Story

Source:  Meyer, M. (2014). Hoea ea: Land education and food sovereignty in Hawaii. Environmental Education Research 20:1, pp. 98-101. 
What is Sacred:
I really hate writing. I am struggling to finish an overdue article and the word count is SOOOOO long for me. I write poems. My dissertation was under 75 pages and they accepted it and published it. So when I keep getting told that I need to publish articles, ugh. I just want to teach.
But this short article by Manu Meyer gives me a little more hope. It is a very short article that tells the story of the work that her colleagues do. Her job is just to put her name on it and tell the story. 
Maybe I can do that. Just tell the story. Can I do it in poetry form?
Connection to Current/Future Work: Write, dammit. 

The Mask You Live In

It's the end of fall semester, my grades are in. This normally means that I need to start reading again. What happened to my daily reading? I got caught up in all the other things I needed to do like battle traffic, go observe lessons, grade papers, sleep. So this is my day to start it up again and I just spent an hour and a half watching this. It was time well spent.
Source:  Siebel Newsom, J. (Producer, Director). (2015). The mask you live in [Motion picture]. United States: The Representation Project. 
What is Sacred: This documentary is currently streaming on Netflix. This documentary follows young men and boys as they struggle to navigate the hyper masculinity that is American society. It talks about how to raise a "healthier" generation of young men. The consequences of not doing so will continue to create a society where we outlive our children. 
Connections to Current/Future Work:
I definitely want to use this as one of my film study pieces for my introduction to m…

Recognize the Invisible Students and Love Them

This video has been on the Facebook feed and it is shocking and disturbing. For me, it just explained my lens in a very dramatic way. It helps me to explain to my student teachers  why I bring up certain students in a middle/secondary classroom. Even if my students felt like they did a great job, and they almost always do a great job in this journey, I notice the invisible students that seem to fly under the radar. I point out the students in their classrooms that I want them to notice too.  I don't know how to explain it. Just watch the video and stop reading this.

I watched it and could not keep my eyes off of the blond boy with the headphones. He kept catching my eye. I lost track of the main character. There needs to be more of us in education who hone in on those students, and love them fierce.

Holographic Epistemology

Source: Meyer, M. (2013). Holographic epistemology: Native common sense. China Media Research 9(2), pp. 94-101. 
What is Sacred: First, Manulani Aluli Meyer is my mentor. She helped me to formulate my masters thesis at the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo before she left to do work in Aotearoa. The fact that we are both at the University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu at this time cannot be circumstance or chance. Therefore, I continue to work with her and I continue to learn with her as part of my own journey toward conscientization (Friere). She is one who speaks in prophecy so it is not always simple to interpret, but this article keeps giving me pause. My understanding is right at the edge. Perhaps I need to first break down my mis-understandings before I can move to connection. 
The title is holographic epistemology. As an English teacher who is really a poor reader, I always need to break things down into familiar terms. In other words, I need to make "maps" of language (Hayakawa, 193…

Creating a Circle of Mana Wahine

Source: Friedman, A. (2016, October 28). Can't find a mentor? Look to your peers. New York Magazine. Retrieved from
What is Sacred: This article is really about the lack of older female mentors, which is not necessarily true in education, but true in other careers. The author's point, though, is to look for peers and create your own what I call mana wahine circle, also known as critical friends. 
Her advice:  get vulnerablerecognize that some problems are generation-specificamplify each other (amen)find your peers in other fieldsrecommend each otherplay a long game (peer mentoring is about mutual investment in the long run)Connections to My Current/Future Work:

It's not really a connection, just a confirmation of what I knew. Also, that as I get older and have more years in my own career, I need to remember that I need to invest in people that follow, which I try to do. 

An open letter to my Boy 3, Tom Kalamapono

These young men are Pono'I and Pono B. My son is on the left. He is a freshman at Reed College in Oregon and I just saw a post on Instagram that he is feeling homesick. As a mother of a Native Hawaiian boy, this is alarming to me. The statistics on our Native Hawaiian students who get into universities or community colleges is pretty good. We can get them in. But the percentage of Native Hawaiian students who drop out after their freshman year is atrocious. We have about a 60% drop out rate after their freshman year. So this is just my letter to him.
Dear Pono,
I just got a newsletter in my inbox from Reed and I was drawn to the article written by Mylion Trulove, your Dean of Admission. He is the one that called and invited you and talked us through the process. 
This is what I found out. There were 5,705 applicants (including you) who applied. Maybe for some this was not their first choice, but I know that Reed was your first choice. They accepted 357 of you. I think Milyon pers…

Day 104 Neuroplasticity

Source:  Wilson, D. & Conyers, M. (2016, November 8). "The teenage brain is wired to learn - so make sure your students know it." Edutopiaspecial series. Retrieved at
What is Sacred:
I love the word neuroplasticity. It is future-focused, flexible, plastic, stretchy. I see synapses firing off rather than dead connections. It gives me hope in dark days because the concept of neuroplasticity means that our adolescent students have the capacity to change the structure and function of the brain through learning! That is POWERFUL and it is the impetus for us as teachers of middle-level and high school students to not sink into apathy, anger and quiet surrender. We must continue to teach with love and rage without which there is no hope (Friere). 

Here's the important messages that the authors want us to relay to our adolescent students: 
They have the capacity to become functionally sma…

Day 103: Protecting the Bottom Dogs

Source: Kamenetz, A. (2016, September 19). Sixth grade is tough; it helps to be 'top dog.' nprEd. Retrieved from
What is Sacred: This is a review and commentary on a much larger study published in the American Educational Research journal by Schwartz, A., Steifel, L., and Rothbart, M. The study uses a very large data set (n=9,000 students in 500 schools) to study the effects of top dog/bottom dog status on bullying, safety in school, belonging and academic achievement. What they are looking at is the effect on 6th graders of being a top dog in a K-8 school versus a bottom dog in a 6-12 school.
The results are that 6th graders report less bullying, feel safer in school and achieve better in K-8 schools.
I had an issue with the Kamenetz article, feeling that there was not …

Day 102: The Art of the Personal Essay

Source: Ahmed, R. (2016, September 15). Typecast as a terrorist. The Guardian. Retrieved from:
What is Sacred: Riz Ahmed is a British actor who gained some accolades in his documentary film Road to Guantanemo. He writes about his "otherness" and the common lessons he has learned from trying to get through the international airports as well as from trying to break into the American film industry not as another "Paki," but as a regular bloke. 
It turned out that there was no clear pathway for an actor of colour in the UK to go to stage three – to play “just a bloke”. Producers all said they wanted to work with me, but they had nothing I could feasibly act in. The stories that needed to be told in the multicultural mid-2000s were about the all-white mid-1700s, it seemed. I heard rumours that the Promised Land was not in Britain at all, but in Hollywood.
The reason for this is simple. America…

Day 83: The Homework Dilemma

Source: Kauffman, G. (2016, August 23). Should second-graders get homework? Maybe not, says Texas teacher. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
This elementary teacher is saying no to homework in a video to parents that has gone viral. Basically, the only homework her students will be bringing home are the things that they do not finish in class. Radical? No. Notable? Yes.

Connections to Current/Future Work:

Here is the thing about secondary teachers. Our content is our god. Our content, compared to all other content areas, is the most important content IN THE WORLD. I raise my hand as one of the guilty ones who gave my students half an hour of reading every night and defended it up and down because - "hey math teacher, don't complain to me that students in your class can't read. Research shows that students read better when they read, an…

Day 82: Teaching in Your Own Community

Will, M. (2016, August 18). Teacher diversity gap not easily closed, report warns. [Web log]. Teaching Now. Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
This article is a review of a report by the Brookings Institution on High hopes and harsh realities The real challenges to building a diverse workforce.

In a nutshell, the gap between what the students look like and what the teachers look like (racial mix/identity/culture) is not only out of sync, but even up to 2060, based on the predictions for African American and Hispanic students, the gap will continue at its current pace.

Connections to Current/Future Work:
I have been meeting with a lot of possible mentor teachers this past week, as well as having a meeting at Nanakuli High with a teacher interested in starting a teacher academy. After 23 years of teaching in my own community and ingraining myself in the life of that community, I moved to somewhere that is not my community to do this work. Funny thing is the meeti…

Day 74 Furniture, Floors, and Walls as Game Changers

I wish I took more pictures of my classroom when I was teaching. I would have been able to use that as a reflection of my thinking. What I know after all these years is that if my seats were in tombstone rows, it was the beginning of end of the year (aka testing season and alphabetical memorizing names and training students on my classroom procedures season). If I was in quads, it's facilitation of collaboration season, and if they were in a large U or debate rows, we are performing, fishbowling, sitting on the carpet in the middle or doing independent work. This short article shares one teacher's use of tables, floors, and walls in his high school Spanish classroom.

What is Sacred: I think it is always sacred when working teachers take the time to write about their process. Teachers like to learn from teachers. They like to hear about what is working for other practitioners. They like to hear confirmation of what they are already doing in print.
I like Johnson's &qu…

Day 73: Not What I'm Looking For

Source:  Aseron, J, Greymorning, S.N., Miller, A. & Wilde, S. (2013). Cultural safety circles and indigenou peoplesʻ perspectives: Inclusive practices for participation in higher education. Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 6(4), 409-416.
What is Sacred: The title is sacred. I had high hopes that I found my answer. 
Not quite. So here is what is sacred. The abstract, especially,  The application of Cultural Safety Circles can help provide a collective space where definitions for cultural and educational exchange can take place and be identified. It is through this application that a discussion is presented on how the inherent issue of cultural safety, as it pertains to participation in higher education, can be explored to a deeper understanding. Like the movie trailers that put their best stuff in the trailers and when you go to the movie, you are disappointed that the best thing about the movie was the trailer, you know that feeling. Yeah.

Connections to Current/Future Wo…

Day 72: Attendance

Foster, L. (2016, August 5). Builidng community with attendance questions. (Web log). Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
I guess I chose to read this because the picture of the Native American boarding schools kind of haunt me and I just wrote about the NMAI. We have the same type of pictures, but I also focused on being present and not absent, which then led me to this attendance article on the Edutopia blog.

This article is about using attendance as a community builder and a way to create a safe environment for students to really learn.

This teacher uses an attendance question to create an open space for sharing. It is not connected to curriculum and there are no right or wrong answers. What got me excited was the focus on the word attend.
When we trace back the meaning of attend through Old French (atendre) to its Latin root (attendere), we can see that when we attend, we are "stretchi…

Day 71 We Did Not Just Survive

Atalay, S. (2006). No sense of the struggle: Creating a context for survivance at the NMAI. The American India Quarterly, 30 (3,4), 597-618.

What is Sacred:
NMAI is the National Museum of the American Indian, one of our nation's free Smithsonian museums and my favorite place to grab lunch when in DC. It is a beautiful building at the end of the mall but I just flit in and out and don't read too closely. It feels like I am walking on graves sometimes.
This article is a loving critique of the NMAI from an Indigenous archeologist and focuses on the gaps in the story, specifically around survivance, versus just colonization and survival.

Survivance is defined by Gerald Vizenor as "more than survival, more than endurance or mere response; the stories of survivance are an active presence. . .The native stories of survivance are successive and natural estates; survivance is an active repudiation of dominance, tragedy, and victimry" (15).

Read his stories in Fugitive…

Day 70: Learning Value of Pokemon Go

Doran, L. & Davis, M.R. (2016, August 2). Educators weigh learning value of Pokemon Go. Education Week. Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
I don't know about sacred, but what I know for sure is that Pokemon Go has taken over my household. I am a proud non-user, however, my son and my husband will suddenly yell out, hey there's a (insert Pokemon name here) in the garage, etc. When my husband wants me to go to the store with him, it means that I need to co-pilot by spinning the icon at Poke stops.

So as a long time educator in middle and secondary, even if I do not play, I need to be able to understand the trends and memes and quickly incorporate this into the classroom as part of the curriculum as well as part of creating relationships, so I was interested in hearing what other educators had to say.

Connection to Current/Future Work:
I'm thinking that this definitely needs …

Day 69: The Skills That Must Be Taught

Kamentz, A. (2016, August 2). 3 things people can do in the classroom that robots can't. nprEd. Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
A 2013 study from Oxford University famously estimated that 47 percent of all jobs are in danger of automation. And earlier this year, the World Economic Forum said 5 million jobs might be gone in just the next four years. These changes create a huge challenge for schools and teachers. But there are also some intriguing indicators of the way forward. Kamentz puts it this way, the skills that must be taught, those skills that make us "unautomatable" in our work is the ability to:
Give a hug, solve a mystery, tell a story. Hug: empathy, collaboration, communication and leadership skills
Mystery: generating questions, curiosity, problem solving
Story: finding what's relevant, applying values, ethics, orals to a situation. Creating …

Day 43: 5 Powerful Questions to Own

Alber, R. (2013, October 31). 5 powerful questions teachers can ask students. [Web log]. Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
Now that I have been observing teachers, both veteran and new for over five years, I am hyper aware of the questions that I ask in my own classroom. Every time one of my students asks their class, "any questions?" or "understand?" and then moves on, I cringe just a little and vow to model better questions in class later that week. It does not help to scold them or point it out, I just think if better questions are important and if part of humility as a teacher is to ask questions out of mutual curiosity on thinking and not as assessment, that awareness has to come from the teachers themselves.

Still, students learning to be teachers need specific guidance and sometimes need neon signs to the watering hole, so thi…

Day 42: Busy is an Excuse

The point:

In this American society, we use busy-ness as an excuse but really, we are not bees. Our need to fill time is a fear of the alternative. Busy does not make us happy. So what is the alternative?

What is sacred:

the present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it's something we've chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.  I've always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. I suppose it's possible I'll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn't work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I'll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too s…

Day 41:The Obvious First Step to Behavior Management

My practicum students meet once a week for class and the last 10 minutes or so of class are spent in our kāko'o circle where students are able to bring a problem of practice up to their colleagues and we spend some time in supportive, problem solving conversations. This weekʻs POP was about getting students to stop blurting and yelling out answers.
Different students gave their input until I realized that the root of the problem might really be the first step to finding the solution. 
Here's the question I asked to my student: did you tell your students that you did not appreciate their behavior? 
Her answer:  long pause, slight grin. . ."no."
Me: well then, start there and have a conversation of what you would like to see instead.
Coincidentally, I got an article in my feeder and lo and behold, here is the first tip:
Here's a process along with a few starter ideas to move you in the right direction, whether you're an individual teacher or thinking about this…

Day 40 Deeper-Learning Outcomes

Source: Martinez, M. (2014, November 13). 6 Rules to break for better, deeper-learning outcomes. Edutopia. Retrieved by
What is Sacred: There are a bunch of short blog articles that I am using as practice for the annotated bibliographies I want my students in intro to teaching to do so this is the first one. Not hard reading, just a practice into reading about teaching.
This one is a break down of rules to break in order to allow deeper learning to happen. The post explains each thing more and links to the author's book. 
 There is an evolving research base that continues to validate what happens in the classroom when we reimagine teaching and learning to be more active and relevant. So go ahead and break rules, particularly those 20th-century rules that stop us from moving to a place where students not only tune in, but are empowered to self-direct their learning. How it Connects:
I'm trying to do severa…

Day 39 - Wobblers and Bouncers

Light, N. (2016, November 11). Wobble chairs, bouncy balls let students wiggle while they work. The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from

What is Sacred:
I don't know about sacred, but this article is about flexible seating, specifically using seating options other than the traditional chair or desk with table that some of the high schools still use. Instead, at about $70/chair, teachers are bringing in these wobble chairs. The article is about why they do that and what the results are.
1. It's not for every child, so if you got rid of all of your old chairs or stools, retrieve them back
2. It does help as a differentiation strategy for some students who need to fidget to think

Connections to my Current/Future Work:
I observed this particular chair at one of the Hawaii elementary schools. I was doing a lesson observation of one of my students and at the back of the room, there was one child with this chair. Everyone else…

Day 38: For Love of Words

Source: Bhabha, H. K. (2012). The location of culture. Routledge.

What is Sacred:
I am slowly going through this because it is too much to gorge. But the writing is beautiful and I am attracted to the beauty of prose. Here is a snippet from the beginning of chapter 8 DissemiNation. This chapter starts with his musings on his own migration.