Maui HTA Gardening Club members met with Professor Cynthia at her UH Master Gardener Lab on Friday. This was her culminating activity for her budding HTA student gardeners, who she has guided and advised for the past semester. This initiative started when Mr. Wu needed more ideas for engaging student clubs for our very first year at our Learning Center. Previously, we had no real "home" as we were just renting classroom space from Maui Community School for Adults. But our new space is located in the heart of Wailuku town, a sort of concrete jungle with very little green space. In fact, the only view we have out of our Learning Center is one of the municipal parking lot.
We wanted to make our students feel welcome and to introduce some greenery to our school. On the side of our building is a dirt corridor and soon dreams and images of flowers and plants sprung up. What can grow there? Especially with the shadow of our six-story building blocking most of the day's sun. The first step is to ask the experts. I have worked with Nancy Ooki of 4-H Youth Development Programs at UH Manoa Extension, Maui County so I inquired if an expert can come analyze the situation. I was pleasantly surprised that I was connected with Dr. Cynthia Nazario-Leary, PhD in Urban Horticulture. How lucky! She graciously agreed to come inspect our site and we came up with possibilities. We decided on a raised garden and came up a list of plants that might do well with the indirect and infrequent sunshine.
With approval from our new landlords, redwood, hardware, and soil were purchased and students were put in charge of building the 8'x8' planter. A few math lessons were thrown in. All the work was done by students, as was the planting. Dr. Cynthia continued her training and leading of our student gardeners to ensure success of the garden. She planned and delivered lessons on plant physiology and needs, soil science, and the scientific method. Students were soon charting their plants growth from germination to, hopefully, maturity! We'll see...
Jun Wu, HTA Maui Middle School Teacher
45 minutes. That’s how long it takes our class to walk to the library and back. And believe me, we hustle!
My sophomore English class had a problem that may sound familiar to you. Students wanted hot new books from diverse authors. And I, their teacher, wanted to spend more class time reading than walking. There was a clear solution. We needed to start a classroom library. But this was also a problem. Where would we get the funds for our project?
Funding: The White Whale.
Call me Captain Ahab. I’ve been hunting the white whale of “funding” year after year. If you’re a teacher, a student, or a parent you know that the projects we dream of for school can often seem out of reach. We need funds (something, anything!) to get big ideas off the ground. But grant proposals need skill to write, fundraisers need an invested audience to attend, and enthusiasm needs momentum to stay alive. And all of these approaches take TIME. That’s why, when someone finds a path to funding, we’re likely to holler about it from the mountain tops! Allow me to holler at your for a second.
DonorsChoose Really, Really Works. Really!
I first heard about DonorsChoose from a fellow teacher (who was hollering from the mountain tops). Her project required a class set of ipads… and it had just been funded. The project sounded amazing. The ipads were shiny and new. My colleague had captured the elusive rainbow unicorn of funding. She was a superstar! Of course my first thought was, there’s no way I could ever do that.
But when my students started suggesting books for our imaginary classroom library, I knew I had to try every path possible to make it happen. I’m telling you, DonorsChoose worked for my class. I posted our project on DonorsChoose.org and within a week, it was funded!
What Do You Need?
The steps were easy: Tell us about your students, tell us about your project, tell us what you need. I told the truth. My students are a pack of weirdos who believe in ancient unicorn fossils (archaeologists on the internet said it was true!) and they want fresh, diverse books to fuel their weirdness. The request was simple: We need books!
DonorsChoose gave me a link to share on Facebook. I kept my fingers crossed as I picked through the discard bin at the library over the weekend (hey, sometimes there’s a diamond in the rough!)
Four Days Later
Four days later our project was fully funded. I received an email of congratulations and high fives from my friends at school. It turns out a donor from California saw my project and wanted to help. Then, a foundation matched her donation. Before I could say “bookshelves” the books had been ordered. They’re set to arrive in a few short weeks. I posted a huge “THANK YOU!” from me and my class to our fabulous donors.
So If You Have a Big Idea...
Today, right now, this very minute, I urge you to make a post on DonorsChoose. And when your project is funded, give me a holler!
Chrissy Layton, High School English Teacher
Hawaii Technology Academy (HTA), the state’s largest public charter school, is partnering with the Hawaiian Humane Society to provide a better future for dogs in need of adoption. HTA Middle School students will be visiting the Hawaiian Humane Society to donate dog bandanas that they hand-sewed in math class. Jackie Vallejo-San Agustin, HTA Middle School Math teacher, incorporated this service learning trip into her math lesson on scaling figures.
HTA Middle School students looked at existing dog bandana sizes and found that most had a height-to-length ratio of 1:3. They also found out that dogs wearing bandanas were more likely to get adopted. Students then chose their own fabric and by using proportions, calculated how the dimensions of the bandana. They drew their bandanas to scale on paper, indicated the scale, and found the area to determine the minimum amount of fabric needed for their pattern. Lastly, they found out how much their final product deviated from their plan by calculating the percent change of the dimensions. After learning how to hand stitch, the students sewed some final touches on their dog bandanas, making them ready to be delivered to local animal shelters. What a way to review the concepts of proportions, scaling, percent of change, and area of figures!
“I believe in taking a hands-on approach to learning. The students really enjoyed this project because they were able to apply various different math concepts that they knew but also learn a new skill- sewing, “ says HTA teacher, Jackie Vallejo-San Agustin.
Through this project, HTA students are truly applying the school’s core values of collaboration, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and character. “Making concepts relevant to the real-world and allowing the students to display creativity in their work are effective teaching strategies,” says Leigh Fitzgerald, HTA’s Executive Director. Fitzgerald continues, “I am always proud to see young people making a positive impact on their community as well.
Hawaii Technology Academy is a tuition-free public charter school, with students in grades K-12 across the state. HTA’s blended learning model empowers students to succeed through face-to-face instruction, virtual instruction, and independent learning. To learn more about the future of learning, please visit myhta.org.
Science, technology, engineering, art, and math- that's the theme for the family-friendly event that HTA is hosting on Thursday, April 13th from 5:00-7:00 PM at the Oahu Learning Center. Students, teachers, and community members will be hosting hands-on demonstrations and activities surrounding the principles of S.T.E.A.M HTA's S.T.E.A.M Night is free and open to the public. The HTA Robotics Team will be selling food and drinks and accepting donations to go toward their competition expenses. This will be a fun night of learning for the whole family. Here are some activities that you will see at HTA's S.T.E.A.M Night:
Kristen Wolf, Director of Communications at Hawaii Technology Academy