I am excited and feel validated that Daniel K. Inouye Elementary is moving in the right direction. We are a school with 98% military-impacted, transient students who change schools multiple times during their school career. We are responsible to ensure that our students are learning grade level content. However, rather than teaching through textbooks and worksheets, our teachers are committed to making learning meaningful for students, and we are focusing on project based learning and social-emotional learning to positively impact our students and give them the skills and strategies that can help them to be successful wherever they move to. It is not just about high test scores; it is about learning that "sticks."
Second graders have learned so much from their garden and even built their own compost bin. Parents marveled at how well these students communicated their knowledge.
Third graders learned a lot about the history of our community and created websites and Flipgrids to share information so those moving to Schofield would feel more welcomed and connected to their community.
This past school year, we began with a cohort of teachers - about 1/3 of our staff - who were committed to implementing project-based learning with their students. These teachers supported each other via a professional learning community where they shared successes, challenges, and resources. PBL is a shift in mindset from teacher-directed to student-centered learning, and teachers shared that they found it difficult at first to let students struggle. In the end, though, students were able to explore, discover, create, and share about what they had learned at a PBL Student Showcase. It was such a success, and now that students and our school community have experienced PBL, there is no turning back. We are already planning for PBL next year with a school-wide driving question, "How can we make a difference?"
Ted Dintersmith shares that in his travels to visit schools in all 50 states, he saw that "transformational teachers are those who help their students develop four important areas of expertise, the PEAK principles": Purpose, Essentials, Agency, Knowledge. We believe we are on the right path as we implement PBL at Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School. In an article, Ted Dintersmith shares that he is now working specifically with North Dakota and Hawaii! Ted, consider this an open invitation to visit our school when you return to our state. It would be an honor!