Ma ka hana ka 'ike (in working, one learns)
This was an extremely exciting week in Mpx! The highlight was certainly traveling to a public elementary school to help set up hydroponic gardening bins so the students there may learn about sustainability as well as grow their own food. The students at Fern Elementary school have little or no project-based learning experience. Their teachers were so impressed with our students, who brought tools, knowledge, and charisma to their campus that day. Every elementary student was engaged and excited to learn about hydroponics and to have a garden of their own. What the Mpx students did that day was incredibly special, for education and sustainability for our entire community!
In Humanities, the students are making good progress on their Animal Farm whiteboard-animation project in conjunction with their Russian Revolution curriculum unit. The students are analyzing the literary concept of allegory and creating an original animation using their iPads to explain their new knowledge.
The highlight of this week was most certainly welcoming parents into the "classroom". It was great for dozens of parents to come to school to observe the students working on their hydroponic gardens in the Sustainability Station, but it was even greater for the students to teach their parents a thing or two about modern farming! Enjoy some of the photos from the visit below.
This was an action packed week for the Mid-Pacific Exploratory ninth graders! But, when it comes to project-based/experiential learning, what week isn't action packed?
In Humanities, the students scrambled to complete their "revenge plays". The assignment was to bring the element of revenge from their reading of The Spanish Tragedy to modern teen-life through a short play. I required the students to use the school's new laser cutter to fashion puppets for their plays rather than act on camera themselves. Whenever new technology is available, I like to introduce the students to it. It isn't always easy, but there is value in experimenting with it! With that project finally out of the way, we can now progress onto our next: The students are wrapping up reading Animal Farm and are researching different aspects of the Russian Revolution. The students will compile their research and create an original "whiteboard" animation to show their comprehension.
In Humanities-Stem, the students worked on creating proper water chemistry, transplanting their seedlings into their hydroponic gardens, and creating growing guides for their crops. The students also experienced their 3rd culinary lesson when the experts from KCC's Culinary School came to the classroom to discuss flavors, tastes, and food preservation. The students got to taste their pickled creations from a few weeks ago, as well as their kimchee creations from last week. The students seemed to really grasp that food shouldn't be wasted as there are many ways to prevent food from spoiling. By preserving their own food, the students understand that they aren't as reliant on the grocery stores, harbors, or shipping lanes. Lastly, the students field tripped to Mari's Gardens. They did recon for their Apple App project. And, they also seeded new crops, harvested various types of lettuce, and packaged them for both Safeway and an executive chef in Waikiki. The students learned about consumer demand and quality control.
In the joined Humanities-Stem project this week, the students "moved in" to the Sustainability Station located behind the quad. Their student-designed and constructed hydroponic gardens have found their official home and are now awaiting crops (which are seedlings under the lights in the classroom, and will be ready to transfer into the gardens when they're a tad bit bigger)! If you are on campus, please stop by the Sustainability Station to see the teams' completed constructions!
The students are also learning what to do with their crops. What is the good of growing your own food if you don't know how to prepare it? Experts from KCC's Culinary school came to our classroom to give a lesson on preventing crop waste, aka preservation. The students made kimchee.
In Humanities, the students are enjoying reading and discussing Animal Farm, which serves as the foundation for our unit on the Russian Revolution. They are wrapping up their plays, still (using the laser cutter proved to be a bit more time consuming/daunting that originally planned, but tis new technology! The students are better off having learned from it).
The students are truly juggling at the moment! This is the time of year where old things are progressing and new things are beginning! The year-long project continues with planting, water chemistry, and app development. In Humanities, we are closing one unit (Renaissance) and beginning another (Russian Revolution). The students are handling the tasks very well!
In the year-long project, the students are enjoying some mini-culinary lessons from the staff from KCC's esteemed culinary program. The students are using their hydroponic gardens to grow food, it is important that they know what to do with their bounty and also how to prevent wasting any of it (hence our lessons in pickling/preservation). This week, the students will have another culinary lesson. Here is a photo of their first lesson a couple of weeks ago:
In Humanities, the students are using the laser cutter to create balsa wood "puppets" for their revenge-themed plays. The plays the students create will be uploaded to our class YouTube channel and will be viewed by many, including you parents! The end goal is to get viewers, feedback, and to explain a lesson. Using the laser cutter:
In Humanities this week, the students worked to finish writing their plays. Like, The Spanish Tragedy (which they are wrapping up reading and annotating this weekend), the plays will have the theme of revenge. The groups are having a good time, so far, writing together. Next week, they will peer edit each other's scripts, and work on creating their characters. The school recently acquired a laser cutter. I feel that the more cutting edge technology our Mpx students are exposed to, the better, as their future careers may involve such or something similar. The students will use the laser cutter to create "puppet" characters for their revenge plays.
In our Humanities-Stem venture, the students made excellent headway with their student-designed hydroponic systems. We are nearing construction completion! The students will begin to plant seedlings soon, create appropriate water chemistry in their grow beds, and then transfer the plants into their systems! Sustainable urban farming is happening soon!
To wrap up the week, the students interned at Mari's Gardens again. They worked to harvest butter lettuce and carrots, for part of the morning. The rest of the morning, the students re-toured the farm to collect information for an Apple Store app they will be creating this semester. The students have been working to understand all aspects of modern day farming, from crop choice to seeding to consumption and everything in between. It is only fitting for the students to take what they have learned and apply it to a real life product: a walking tour app for Mari's Gardens visitors, that will be the class' legacy as it will live on long past their Mpx days.
Students transporting their finished hydroponic frames to our Sustainability Station behind the quad
It was a lovely first week back from winter break. The students were introduced to their next challenge, become a playwright! They ended last semester heavy on the history of the Renaissance through History Day documentaries, in conjunction with their reading of The Spanish Tragedy. Now, the students will begin the semester heavy on the language arts through revenge plays, continuing with their reading of The Spanish Tragedy. The students will be airing their plays to an authentic audience, however they will be deciding in the coming week how to best purpose their video, through a moral message. The end of the week was not spent on a field trip or build day this week. Instead, the Sierra Club of Hawaii partnered with Mpx (both 9th and 10th grade) to bring a private screening of This Changes Everything, a documentary about climate change from the point of view most effected. As an educator, the most meaningful part of the movie screening was the question and answer portion of the event. The Sierra Club of Hawaii representative was bombarded with EXCELLENT questions from the Mpx 9 and 10 brigade. He told me, afterwards, that he has shown the film to both high schoolers and college students and "by far the Mid-Pacific students' Q&A was the best [he] has ever had".
That is a wrap! First semester has come and is now gone. I am very proud of the students' work and look forward to seeing more from them in 2016. Thank you for all of the parental support you provided not only to your child this semester but to us teachers. Mpx requires a lot of action on the students' part but also from you all!
This week the students delivered their semester Presentations of Learning. All of the PoLs were video tapped so the students may watch themselves and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, for growth. The playlist containing the videos is embedded below if you'd like to view your child's. Happy Holidays!
The semester is wrapping up nicely! The students have completed their Renaissance-themed History Day documentary films, which we will air during class next week to provide feedback and also vote on which ones will compete in the school-wide contest. The students are finishing up creating their Presentations of Learning, which they will present next week during class as a "semester final" for the course. Their presentations will show their teachers and peers exactly what they personally learned this semester in Mpx, whether it be content information or 21st century skills. The students have been asked to use a storyline in their presentation, so we look forward to their personalities shining through!
The students took their final field trip, for the semester, to Mari's Gardens today. They did such a great job with the tasks assigned to them. The students are understanding, more and more, how a modern farm requires so many irons in the fire in order to succeed. Their research work for the farm is coming along nicely, although 2nd semester will really see it come together. Today, the students examined the lettuce they planted on the last field trip. It is coming in nicely! Then, they examined carrots they planted in aquaponic beds during one of our first field trips. The carrots were supposed to be harvested and taken home by the students by now. But, they aren't ready. The students planted too many carrots in too close quarters, so they are not growing properly. Today, the students spent time thinning the carrots, leaving some behind to hopefully grow to maturity. The students didn't waste the carrots that they thinned. They either bagged them up to take home and eat as baby carrots, or they fed them to the farm's goats. Nothing goes to waste! The students also tended to the cucumbers that they had set up on a previous field trip. They emptied the aquaponic auto-pots of cucumbers that had already been harvested, so that the soil could be composted using worms and later re-used. They also planted cucumber seedlings. Lastly, the students checked out the "veggie lab" container that they had set up for microgreens and lettuce to grow on a previous field trip and admired how well they were growing!
Last week the students conducted great socratic circle discussions on their latest reading of The Spanish Tragedy. The students are challenged by the play and are increasingly comprehending. The beauty of the socratic circle discussions, is that the students can help each other through the tough spots, as well as freely share their opinions (like "OMG I can't believe that he did that!", haha). Some of our more reserved students are starting to come out of their shells during the socratic circle discussions and for that, I am most thankful and proud!
In Humanities, the students continued to make progress with their Renaissance historical work: History Day documentaries that will be entered into the school's contest.
In the Humanties-STEM joint venture, the teams are making great strides bringing their hydroponic designs to life. Also, the classes took another field trip to Mari's Gardens to continue to learn all the ins and outs of modern farming BY DOING. Each team has a specific topic that they are investigating while at the farm as well as through database research. The students really enjoyed transplanting Manoa Lettuce seedlings into hydroponic channels inside the greenhouse this time around.
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