On Feb. 5, 2013, faculty from Punahou’s Junior School and Academy attended professional development workshops on topics that ranged from the uses of 3-D printing to exploring the K – 1 theme of “Interdependence and Needs” through integrated arts. Seventy teachers who volunteered individually and in teams created 52 presentations on this day, which is dedicated to sharing and exchanging teaching methods among Punahou educators and organized by the School’s Institute for Teaching, Learning and Instructional Innovation.
In a workshop titled "Project-Based Learning in Reality," fourth-grade teacher Kris Schwengel talked about how his students are learning a broad range of skills — including math, science, arts and communication — to solve real-life problems such as designing the ideal swimming pool for their teacher's family. Not only do they study engineering questions such as water volume and architectural design, the students also sharpen listening and analytical skills by interviewing real "clients," namely Schwengel's family members. After feeding their data into software programs like Google SketchUp, the students produce scaled models of real products.
"This is really a complex math and engineering challenge," said Schwengel to his listeners. "But the kids do not consider this math, they consider this swimming pool design."
Music teacher Karen Drozd discussed her use of multimedia resources to make diverse cultural lessons real for her elementary-age students. From video tutorials on techniques such as ‘ukulele picking to studying the geographies of the countries whose musical traditions she teaches, the "virtual learning environment" bridges local and global perspectives. It also offers a much more colorful, experiential framework for traditional method and theory-based music curriculum.
Academy English teacher Tim Dyke brought a personal dimension to his presentation by sharing lessons learned from more than 25 years of teaching. Between the laughter that his humorous list of "fallibilities and mistakes" solicited from the audience, there was an atmosphere of collective understanding as colleagues identified with the unique challenges that mark each teacher's individual journey.
As Director of Instruction Bruce Schauble noted in his welcoming remarks, Punahou is proud to nurture a "collaborative community of investigation" that offers rich opportunities to constantly improve one's craft. Curriculum Day is a chance to "spark and share passion and enthusiasm among each other and create value at Punahou and in the world," he said.