Check out our Kauai Robotics students in the news. Congratulations, team! You are awesome!
Tell the HTA Ohana a little bit about yourself, Brian: I am originally from Pennsylvania. I moved to Hawaii in 2001. I met my amazing wife Monica here on Oahu only to find out later she was also from Pennsylvania, so when people ask “Did you marry a local girl?” I can say, yes, just not Hawaiian Local:) Monica and I started dating 2/2/2 and we got married on 7/7/7. I think she planned this just so I wouldn’t forget the dates! We have 3 incredible daughters: Brooke is in 4th grade, Makenzie is in 2nd grade, and Allison is in preschool. I love teaching and living in Hawaii. Perhaps when I get tan I might think about living somewhere else:)
Can you share a bit about your academic background? I earned my Bachelor’s degree from East Stroudsburg University in PA and my Masters degree from the University of Hawaii.
What made you interested in teaching? I am from a huge family. My Mom is the oldest of 10 children, and I am the oldest Grandchild, so growing up I had a ridiculous amount of cousins. When I started college I didn’t know what I wanted to do. After my first semester at school, my Aunt Eileen said to me “You really have fun with all your cousins, why don’t you take some teaching classes. The rest is history!
What is your first memory associated with teaching? My first year teaching in Hawaii, I taught 4th grade. That is the year students are taught Hawaiian studies along with their other subjects, but I couldn’t even say the name of the street I lived on! How was I supposed to teach Hawaiian studies? The first two weeks were rough, and I noticed the teacher next to me, Mrs. Matsumoto, was teaching her kids how to play the ukulele. I felt bad for my kids. I felt like they were getting ripped off, so I came up with an idea. Mrs. Matsumoto was getting ready to retire and was not a huge fan of Physical Education, so I proposed that she teach my kids Hawaiian Studies, and I would teach her kids PE. She loved the idea, and I realized that networking with your peers is awesome!
What do you find most challenging and rewarding about being a teacher? I really enjoy working with students. I appreciate the struggle they go through and you can’t buy the feeling I get when students finally understand something, even shouting out “I GET IT!” The biggest challenge is the students who say “I don’t get it,” but never harass me until they understand it.
Hobby? I do a lot of mental whittling.
Song? Major Lazer- Light It Up (favorite right now)
Book? Words scare me, but I just got Blue Ocean Strategy
Travel Destination? Anywhere I could swim with a whale shark.
Quote? Of all the people I know...you are one of them.
If you were to summarize “YOU” in only one sentence, what would that sentence be? If you are around me, we will be laughing!
Is there anything else you would like the HTA Ohana to know about you? This is my real hair.
I’ve been a student at HTA since 5th grade, and I can honestly say that HTA has made a difference in my life. During my junior year Advisory, we had these projects called “Genius Hour” projects. The point of the Genius Hour projects was to encourage students to explore their passion and interests, so for my project I decided to learn how to make a beat. When I first started, I had no idea what to do. I didn’t know where to start. However I researched and watched videos and taught myself how to make a song. I didn’t even know how to make a basic chord at the time!
When I think of character, I think about how a person might handle certain difficult situations or how a person reacts to challenges. HTA has helped me build character by teaching me more about responsibility and perseverance through projects like the Genius Hour project. Since HTA has a lot of flexibility built in, it could be easy fall behind but it is also easy to catch up again because our teachers are committed and really want to teach students rather than just going through the motions. I can tell they care deeply for their student and hope to make an impact on their lives.
A lot of the things that my teachers have taught me can be applied to real life. Mr. Glasser and Mr. Carvalho have really taught me that we won’t always get second chances, so I need to do my very best on the first try. Another one of my teachers Mr. Weida taught me the importance of time management and understanding what is really important in life.
My parents are so happy that I am an HTA student. I know they have peace of mind because they know I am growing academically and growing personally, too. After graduating from HTA, I envision myself going to college for music producing. I am a little scared going into this new part of my life but I do feel confident because I know that HTA has done a good job preparing me for college and independence.
Tell the HTA Ohana a little bit about yourself, Kristie: My husband and I have known each other since 9th grade, and have been married for 14 years. I have two boys, Zandyr (11) and Ayden (9), a dog named Duke and a cat named Gizmo. We have lived on Maui for 10 years, and are eagerly awaiting the completion of our brand new home which should be done in June. We love playing at the beach, in the water, running, hiking, and adventuring together.
Can you share a bit about your academic background? I started college as a pre-med student when I was a high school junior. I completed my associate's degree in general sciences with a focus in pre-med right after I graduated from High School, I was accepted to the University of Washington School of Medicine. I wasn’t excited, and I decided to change my mind and attended Pacific Lutheran University for Political Science. I ended up majoring in Secondary Education, with minors in History, English, and Visual Arts. I went straight into a Master of Education program at the University of Washington. I continued on with schooling, completing my Educational Specialist Degree in the area of Teacher Leadership from Walden University.
What made you interested in teaching? To be honest, I decided to become a teacher because I hated high school. I was just another face in the crowd and was constantly dismissed because I came from a single parent family. Granted I was a bit of a punk kid and tried my best to stand out, but regardless of my grades or brightly dyed hair, I was still invisible. I made the decision to start teaching because I wanted to make sure that young people knew they were valued and could honestly make a difference, regardless of their background, their family, or where they came from.
What is your first memory associated with teaching? I was a very ambitious new teacher, spending hours upon hours in the classroom. One of my first memories was spending the entire weekend decorating my classroom as an ‘Indian’ Marketplace. The outside door to the classroom was decorated like the Taj Mahal and students entered a large butcher paper archway into the classroom, where they were greeted with extravagant pillows, Indian decor, souvenirs, pictures of famous people, and a station to read about The Untouchables. I was so excited Monday morning for my 9th-grade students to come and ‘experience’ India. However, they hated it! As soon as they saw my room they started grumbling - I had other students shutting down. I realized that day that it didn’t matter how excited I was about something. I needed the students to be excited and to ‘own’ their learning experiences. It was a heartbreaking, but rewarding experience.
What do you find most challenging and rewarding about being a teacher? I care about my students - every single one of them. I work really hard to build relationships with them the first couple weeks of school, and I have found that this is rewarding and also challenging. I know that through relationships and trust I can get students to dig deeper into content, take risks with their learning, and make mistakes. It also helps me to be my sarcastic self with them because they know that I only pick on them because I care. Some relationships are forged more quickly than others; however, at the end seeing my students reach their goals, graduate, or attain other accomplishments along the way makes the stressful moments worth it.
Hobby? Lifting Heavy Things
Song? This is Halloween
Book? Classic Tales of Horror
Travel Destination? Maui :)
Quote? If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough.
If you were to summarize “YOU” in only one sentence, what would that sentence be? I thrive in chaos.
Tell the HTA Ohana a little bit about yourself, Jessica: I was born and raised on the North Shore of O`ahu and currently live in Kahuku. In my free time I enjoy going to the beach, yoga, running, volunteering with community service projects and serving on several community boards. I also spend time working with my husband, Hilton, who is a professional artist, raising my son Deco, and playing with my dog Kia.
Can you share a bit about your academic background? I received my B.A. in Political Science and a Women's Studies Certificate from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and my M.A. in Secondary Social Studies from the University of Phoenix. It was through my master’s program at the University of Phoenix where I was first introduced to blended learning and educational technology. I taught all of the History subjects at Kalaheo High School before joining HTA in 2012. Prior to teaching at Kalaheo from 2008 to 2012, I was a Substitute Teacher at various public high and middle schools here on O`ahu for several years. I am N.C.L.B. Highly Qualified in Social Studies and a Google Certified Educator for Levels I and II. I am especially grateful for the years of experience I have teaching at HTA, which have provided me with some of the most enriching and “game changing” professional development experiences I’ve ever had.
What made you interested in teaching?I only knew that I wanted to make a positive difference in the world growing up and, after dabbling in teaching as a substitute teacher, I knew that this was my path towards doing so.
What is your first memory associated with teaching? I remember the first time I stepped into a classroom as a substitute teacher for a Special Education Art class. I was not provided with a lesson plan, so I came up with one that had students express emotion through artistic expression. I got the impression that that was exactly what some of them needed in their lives at that moment. Seeing the small impact that one unscripted lesson had on the students got me hooked on teaching.
What do you find most challenging and rewarding about being a teacher? The most challenging thing about teaching is never being/feeling completely satisfied or done. The most rewarding thing is working with the students. They make all of the hard work worth it.
Song? Upside Down - Jack Johnson
Book? Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport
Travel Destination? Brazil
Quote? “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” - Nelson Mandela
If you were to summarize “YOU” in only one sentence, what would that sentence be? My heart smiles when people show kindness, love and compassion towards other living beings and the earth, and I feel the weight on my shoulders when they do not.
Aloha HTA ‘Ohana:
On behalf of the faculty and administration at HTA, we welcome you to the 2017-2018 school year. Hawaii Technology Academy strives to empower students to succeed through our blended learning experience – face-to-face, virtual and independent. We are confident that blended learning offers students at all grade levels the opportunity to find personal, academic and social growth through an innovative approach to teaching and learning. One that centers around the 5 C’s of 21st Century Learning for our Core Values:
This year, we focus on the “C” of Character. At a unique school like HTA, students, teachers and parents all partner together in the education of our children. The way we demonstrate character in our daily activities and interactions greatly impacts the success of our learning community.
By focusing on character as we educate our students, every assignment and every interaction opens up the opportunity to build and shape the future, not only for our students but also the larger community of the State of Hawaii. It is in that process of building and demonstrating character that we collectively bring HTA’s vision to life - the vision of being “a community embracing the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.”
It takes strength of character on the part of every member of our community - teachers, staff members, Learning Coaches, and students - to ensure that HTA is a place where students are empowered to succeed on a social, emotional and academic level. An investment in the character of each and every student at HTA is truly an investment in our future.
We look forward to the character building opportunities that await our community in the 2017-2018 school year and thank you for joining our ‘ohana.
Organization. Some people are born with an innate ability to manage the “stuff of life” that never fails to accumulate, seemingly out of nowhere. Others are more inclined to turn a blind eye and hope that the organization fairy pays an unexpected visit, sweeping away the piles of unwanted or unneeded paraphernalia. Regardless of where you may fall on the spectrum, organization is a key component of creating and sustaining a functional home learning space.
By the very nature of a blended learning program, where the three components of face-to-face, virtual, and independent learning are combined to create a comprehensive educational experience, HTA students will spend more time in their home learning spaces than in their respective Learning Centers. The home learning space should be conducive to focused learning, both virtually and independently. Creating an organized space, where there is a place for everything and everything has its place, is easier than you might think - and HTA is here to help with tips for organizing your home learning supplies and materials.
Though HTA does not require families to provide an extensive list of school supplies to the individual classrooms at the beginning of each year, don’t ignore those early school supply sales just yet! The standard items like scissors, pens, pencils, crayons, etc. are all essential supplies for your home learning space. Since a significant proportion of learning will take place in the home learning space, that space becomes a classroom of sorts, complete with lined paper, workbooks, and plenty of glue sticks for the little ones! So how does one organize all of the supplies - not to mention the books and materials that are shipped to complete assignments and experiments? Check out these ideas:
Organizing Books and Workbooks:
Organizing Supplies and Manipulatives:
The ideas for storage are endless. It matters less HOW you choose to store books and supplies. It matters more that you choose a method that works for you.
Remember, an organized home learning space is a functional one. If you have any ideas, add them to the comments. Sharing ideas with members of the HTA Ohana leads to greater success as an HTA community!
HTA is widely considered to be a leader in the blended learning model of education - a model that combines face-to-face instruction, virtual instruction, and independent learning. HTA’s blended learning program uses technology to seamlessly connect students to certified teachers, regardless of where the students’ learning spaces may be. Some might wonder how a blended learning model, in which students experience fewer hours of face-to-face time with their teachers each week, can provide the high level of relational teaching and connectedness that parents value in a traditional brick and mortar school. Here at HTA we have seen that one of the many real benefits of a technology driven community has been a marked increase in the human element of education - that personal touch that many parents consider so vital in the overall education of their children. This is where tech meets tradition at HTA, and our families have reaped the benefits!
At HTA, synchronous learning in virtual classrooms, along with adaptive teacher-created curriculum delivered through online platforms for independent learning, complement face-to-face time. This creates a comprehensive education program that combines the best of both traditional and cutting-edge, technological worlds. Our students receive targeted instruction because teachers are able to personalize learning through technology and the flexible scheduling that is inherent in a blended learning model. Suddenly the limited face-to-face time that teachers have with students increases its value, and classes are engaging and purposeful. Virtual classrooms and independent learning allow for the more traditional, direct dissemination of information to also take place outside of the school's four walls. This paves the way for an abundance of collaborative, hands-on learning activities to take precedence in HTA’s face-to-face classes.
By using technology to streamline many of the time consuming processes of the traditional education model, students and parents receive a more personalized education experience. Students who need more support or more enrichment are just a Google Hangout away from personalized teaching and learning. Even our parent Learning Coaches, who have an active role - a partnership - in the education of their children, benefit from the timely interaction and support a technology driven learning community can provide. The traditional desire for effective parent-teacher communication is satisfied even more effectively through technology. No more waiting for those returned phone calls or emails! Parents have the opportunity to interact daily with teachers in the student’s Personalized Learning Profile (PLP), a digital collection of goals, reflections, artifacts, data, and evidence that tells each student’s unique story. This leads to an authentic parent-teacher partnership in which the parents and teachers are working together to support and enhance the student’s overall learning. A blended learning model, where tech meets tradition, is truly the future of learning!
One overarching goal that transcends educational models is that students, throughout the course of their education, would become college and career ready. By the nature of our blended learning program, HTA students develop strong communication and organization skills necessary for success in college and beyond. Although it might seem like technology would create a physical barrier between humans, in many cases the purposeful and meaningful use of technology at HTA actually enhances communication and teacher-student-parent interaction. Students who may struggle in the area of oral communication seem to flourish in the virtual setting! Parents also report that they feel more supported and connected because the use of technology for daily communication is so ingrained in the culture of a blended learning school like HTA.
Children who have been brought up during this age of digital technology - digital natives - thrive in our technology-based program. It is no surprise that many students at HTA have a passion for technology outside of its application to their academic work. Though this emphasis on technology differs, in many ways, from the traditional school setting, a blended learning program maintains the value and appeal of the traditional educational model. Since students work online from home part of the week, they have ample time to also pursue their passions outside of school. The traditional idea of developing well-rounded, multi-dimensional students is only enhanced when tech meets tradition in a school like HTA! In a blended learning model, virtual teaching and independent learning comes with flexibility that allows students additional time to be athletes, artists, and involved in community organizations, instead of being bound to the physical restrictions of a five day per week, brick and mortar school.
Blended learning is truly the future of learning, and we are proud that Hawaii Technology Academy is pioneering this education model here in Hawaii. It’s no wonder that HTA is Hawaii’s largest public charter school, serving over 1,000 students across Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai!
Are you seeking a different kind of school? A place where flexibility and accountability go hand in hand? A place where tech meets tradition? Discover Hawaii Technology Academy - a community embracing the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.
When it comes to learning spaces, there is no one size fits all. From cozy apartments to expansive compounds, living spaces come in as many sizes and shapes as the humans who occupy them. While creating a dedicated learning space in a large home certainly allows for many options, it is also quite easy to establish a functional learning zone in even the smallest of spaces by keeping these three essential “S’s” in mind: site, storage, and students.
When a home’s space is limited, the natural inclination is to allow a student to work in his or her bedroom. However, the importance of removing the learning zone from the bedroom cannot be underestimated. Asking a student to remain focused in the same room that houses toys, games, clothes, and any number of entertainment options (not to mention a cozy bed and pillows) is like trying to fit ten pounds of rice into a five pound bag. This is especially true for middle and high school students.
Whether it be the kitchen table, a small desk in the hallway, or a functional closet outfitted with a desk-height shelf, a quiet learning site separate from the distractions of the bedroom will lead to greater concentration and dedication to the task of learning. Take a few moments to look around your home. Is there an empty corner somewhere that could fit a small corner table? Can your living room be rearranged so that a desk can be added behind the sofa? Does your hallway seem just wide enough to add a narrow work table of sorts? Is that linen closet only half full? While the kitchen is always an option, any space can become a learning space with a bit of creativity and a trip to the local thrift store!
Make no doubt about it, storage is vital to the home learning space. Having the necessary supplies and manipulatives on hand and easily accessible is essential to independent learning. There is nothing worse than preparing to begin a science experiment with your student and realizing that you have no idea where you’ve placed the magnifying glass that was shipped to you! Storing materials and supplies in a centralized, organized space will go a long way toward ensuring that daily lessons are completed in a timely manner.
In a small space with limited storage, take a few moments to look up - and then look down. Look up. Do you have wall space available? An empty wall with a shelf installed strategically at the Learning Coach’s height is perfect for hands-on manipulatives that are strictly reserved for lesson time. Do you have an entertainment center in your living room? Baskets placed on top become storage areas by subject. Now look down - can you slide a storage container under the couch? If so, label it “science supplies” and never again wonder where you’ve stored the magnet you’ll need two months from now. Is your learning space in the kitchen? That low cabinet that you have to strain your back to access is the perfect storage space for little ones who are independent and eager enough to access their own supplies.
The ideas and options for storage are so extensive that an entire article in the “Plan Your Space” summer series will be devoted to this very topic. When it comes to storage in small spaces, keep it simple but functional. Aim for organization over beauty. The more organized and accessible your manipulatives and supplies, the smoother your independent learning days will be.
Here is the good news - if you are the Learning Coach of a school-aged student, you already have this “S” covered. A ready and willing student is all the better! Did you know that there is a strong correlation between student engagement and student achievement? This correlation remains strong for all grade levels and across all subject areas. Engaging students in the process of planning the learning space can help students take greater ownership of the learning process, experience greater success, and build excitement for the year to come.
Spend time with your student planning the site and storage for the year ahead. Make it an event to look forward to by scheduling a family night to plan your space, complete with special snacks and treats! This time spent preparing for the school year ahead will go a long way toward your student enjoying big learning in small spaces for months to come.
We, at HTA, value our Learning Coaches as vital partners in the education of children. We are committed to providing ongoing support as you plan and create your student’s learning zone. Small, medium, or large - the learning space is vital to a student’s success in a blended learning environment. Thank you for letting HTA partner with you as you continue the important task of of creating a functional learning place in your own unique space.
We would love to see photos of your family’s planning night on social media! Share them by using the hashtag #hta_PlanYourSpace and tag HTA on Instagram (@htacharter), Facebook (@HawaiiTechnologyAcademyHTA), or Twitter (@htacharter).
HTA has a new online place to help you “Plan Your Space!” Follow HTA’s new Home Learning Spaces Pinterest Board for ideas for creating functional learning spaces. Be sure to check back weekly as we update the board to coordinate ideas with our “Plan Your Space” articles. https://www.pinterest.com/htacharter/home-learning-spaces/
1 Dyer, Kathy. "Research Proof Points – Better Student Engagement Improves Student Learning #Edchat". Teach. Learn. Grow.. N.p., 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.
Summer. The word conjures up images of sandy beaches, cookouts, volleyball games, and time spent with friends and family enjoying all that our beautiful Hawaiian islands have to offer. Though May has just disappeared from the top of the calendar, here at HTA we are already thinking of how to make our top-notch program even more amazing for the 2017-2018 school year. This includes finding new ways to help our families thrive in the blended learning model that HTA offers.
We know that our HTA Ohana loves the flexibility that face-to-face, virtual, and independent learning offers. That flexibility comes with additional areas of responsibility for teachers, students, and Learning Coaches alike. One such area for our students and Learning Coaches is the home learning space. The importance of the home learning space to the overall success of a student cannot be underestimated, and though we are only now checking off the early days of June, it’s never too early to begin thinking about your home learning space!
HTA offers a true partnership between teachers and parent Learning Coaches. True to our commitment to this partnership, we are excited about helping our families create home learning spaces that will suit the unique budgets and homes of individual families.
For the next seven weeks, join us on social media and our Honu Heartbeat blog as we provide tips and tricks for creating functional home learning spaces for students. Each week, we will be offering new ideas to inspire you as you begin thinking about the “how,” “what” and “where” of your home learning space. Later this summer, we will offer you the opportunity to share your space (#hta_ShareYourSpace) on our social media platforms, with the opportunity to win HTA swag, like hats and t-shirts.
Follow us on Facebook (@hawaiitechnologyacademyHTA) and Instagram(@htacharter) so you won’t miss out on these helpful posts - and feel free to share your ideas with the entire HTA Ohana, too! This summer, let HTA inspire you to plan your space (#hta_PlanYourSpace) as you prepare for the exciting year of learning ahead.