Thursday, 28 April 2016


After a wealth of education experiences and warm welcome from so many people, we left the final school and returned to our apartment, packed our bags and headed for Paris via LAX. 

We made heaps of new education friends, re-connected with existing ones, got some really challenging ideas and were able to offer help and connections to some who could benefit from this.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


‘Iolani School

This is a private K-12 school which is like St Kentigern on steroids, and is how the other half goes to school.
We went there to see their Maker Space - a four story purposed designed $20M Maker Space. The ground floor is pure Maker Space meets hard materials meets Auckland Uni Product Accelerator. It has laser cutters, fabricators, every kind of big expensive doohicky imaginable. Imagine a school with a water powered steel cutter.

Not a place I would go and boast about our 2 tiny 3D printers!
About 150 kids a week go through this building in class sizes of about 15 with 2 teachers around all the time.

The second floor was a space aged Library which also contains the archives.
The Library seating left the Koru Lounge for dead!

And then we visited Tusitala…. Wow. The woman in the picture is their Donna. Her full time job is to look after visitors. To the school? No. To just this building. She’s happy because the Tusitala furniture is all on wheels so it’s easy for her to re-configure.
There is a chef who looks after the commestibles.
The TV trolleys in their Tusitala will give Garth Screen and Trolley Envy. A bit hard to tell from the pic how large they are. Let’s just settle for enormous.

The 3rd floor is where you take the robots you’ve built to battle it out and has break rooms and lots of space to do things with the things you’ve made.

The 4th floor is robotics central and also has the most amazing hydroponic roof gardens for their garden to table project.

Original post RG Burt

Wa'a Talks

In the afternoon we went on to visit Kaimuki High School where we had another beautiful welcome, were given absolutely gorgeous leis and met more people who had watched the Mālama Honua Landing at Pt England Beach. The kaiako or “kumu” cried when we gave her one of our Hei Matou o Maui, the hooks Donna secured for us from the Carver before we came away. What a blessing those turned out to be! Hawaiians who received them were particularly moved.

We were taken upstairs through the school to hear the wa’a talks. We were honoured guests, seated at the front, as proud young Hawaiian learners ran PLD for teachers, telling them how their lives had been changed by sailing on the wa’a. Rather like our Ambassadors. Very real and powerful.

The two facilitating teachers then encouraged the 60 or so staff present from around Honolulu, to include or integrate the wa’a in their teaching, rather like we would experience at PLD on Te Aō Māori.

Streaming Maths

Our good friend and fellow Googler Brendan Brennan, who put together much of this itinerary for us, works here at this school as a Maths Teacher.

The morning we visited, he was courageously 360º live-streaming his maths teaching and his learners’ responses. -Way to go Brendan!

The school was founded on and continues to follow John Dewey’s principles and the original classroom blocks were designed by him. They look rather like NZ 1950’s blocks but with better verandahs and opening french doors where we have push out windows.

Facilities are not flash as the University is unwilling to put more funding into them. Relationships between teacher unions, the Charter school staff and university can be challenging. Charter schools get less funding than state schools, so although this school has very bright learners, the school is not well off. 

For all this, by following John Dewey’s methods, they get the highest scores in the state once the kids get to Y10. A bit like our kura, the teaching method does not lend itself to good scores in the junior classes, but if everyone holds their nerve and keeps with the programme, it all “comes right” or better than right by Y10. Interesting support for an excellent liberal arts programme. 

The maths we saw was organised around clever questioning and looked like what the NZ Numeracy Project hoped to achieve but never quite managed. Gotta say though, we only saw it and heard it from Maths Specialists, -so maybe the Herald , supported by Stuart McNaughton during the week, was right!

Original post by RG Burt

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Get Crackin'

After walking past the Crackin' Kitchen for a couple of days we had to go in and try it for ourselves.

Seafood with a difference - no plates and diners are dressed in big bibs before the meal is delivered. The waiter covered the table with paper and brought out our orders in buckets, which were upended in front of us. From there it was a case of on with the rubber gloves and 'get cracking'.
Photos had to be taken in advance as there were no clean fingers to use a camera with once you took the plunge.
Very delicious and it went everywhere.  


Our next education visit was to the Marine Education Training Centre on Sand Island.
This is where our friends from Mālama Honua hang out along with their va’a or waka.
Once we signed in, our 1st visit was over the historic vessel Hawai’iloa along with one of the early navigator companions of Nainoa, “Uncle Billy”.

We then had the outstanding privilege of a sunset sail on Hikianalia. This more than made up for missing out on sailing on her in the Waitemata last year! How cool to do this off O’ahu in her home harbour.

On the way we learned lots about the va’a from Na’alehu and “Uncle Bob” the navigators, as well as learning about the shoreline and local geographic features. I loved hearing tales of sailing to different tricky destinations like Rapanui & Tahiti.
To say I loved it, is rather mild. Definitely my idea of an extremely great time!

Original post: RG Burt

The Dorothy

This deserved a post of its own.

Tara and Miki took us to a lunch place, Ginger Cafe, serving very tasty vegan food.

The headline special, "The Dorothy" caught my eye!

Kamehameha Schools

Tuesday 26 April
Kamehameha Schools
Holoua Stender, Executive Vice President of Education 
Phyllis Unebasami, Managing Director, Ho`olaukoa Educational Systems and Strategies
Kamehameha Schools

Kamehameha Schools is in some ways a misleading name in that although this enterprise runs three beautiful K-12 Campuses, and many pre-schools, it’s actually the name of the Enterprise that holds the land, investments and and businesses that Princess Pauahi left in trust for 5 trustees to administer. 

This $11B enterprise has clearly stated purposes:

Kamehameha Schools’ endowment exists to support our educational mission to fulfill Pauahi’s desire of creating educational opportunities in perpetuity to improve the capability and well-being of people of Hawaiian ancestry.

Pauahi’s estate encompasses more than 363,000 acres throughout Hawai‘i — approximately 169,000 acres zoned for agriculture, 189,158 acres in conservation, 15,000 acres in commercial and 3,000 residential acres — and generates income to serve more than 48,000 learners and caregivers per year.
All Kamehameha Schools’ land-based and investment decisions are filtered through a set of five core principles — culture, community, education, economics, and environment. This balanced approach to decision-making ensures the perpetuation of Pauahi’s legacy, her lands and the execution of her will.

We had an absolutely delightful breakfast meeting with Phyllis and Holoua in an engagement that was brought about by Prof Michael Fullan, who we also expect to visit on this trip.
We discovered that we have much in common, with real desire to bring about practice change for better outcomes for Polynesian learners and similar but different struggles in trying to bring this about.

KS have a support type relationship with other ‘native schools’ as their trust deed has set the mission stated above. Consequently they have a relationship with Nanakuli (where we were the day before) and it may be that we could have future involvement in their effort to bring greater success and better outcomes to their indigenous population, many of whom suffer significant disparity.
KS are most like our Integrated Schools, but with a far larger endowment.

The campuses are beautiful and have everything. Like Sacred Heart College in NZ, the kids get great facilities, good education and only pay $500 p.a. because the endowment supports the cost of education. The Honolulu campus is on a mountainside above the city and enjoys one of the best views in Hawai’i.

The principal, Earl, has just won a position as Superintendent of Stanford School District and Dorothy thinks I should apply for the job here! I think I’d better make sure I get back to Pt England on time!

Sunshine in Hawaii

After visiting Ānuenue, Miki handed us off to Dr Tara O'Neill, (who has also visited Pt England School) and we were taken to the College of Education at the University of Hawai’i. 

We met interesting lecturers and noticed they were translating our Sunshine Books into Hawai’ian language for their Kula. 

It is always intriguing seeing what other people have on their book shelves.

So now we have the job of connecting them with Dame Wendy Pye, who owns Sunshine Books and supports Manaiakalani, to see if she would be happy to translate them properly and support their Kula with Sunshine Online.

Maker Movement

Ke Kula Kaiapuni 'O Ānuenue

Miki Tomita, who spent time at Pt England for the Mālama Honua visit, was our escort for the 2nd day of school visits.
Ānuenue is the equivalent of  a New Zealand Wharekura, i.e. it's an immersion school and goes from K-12.
The principal, Glen is a lovely calm elder statesman in the place, where we were shown around by Vice Principal Baba.

Their inclusion of traditional crafts, built to honour parents and grandparents, along with their commitment to land and gardening was a real challenge to us.
When it comes to digital pedagogy, we are achieving a great deal, without the $1M grant for technology, most of these folks got.

By and large, our buildings are superior in build quality and design. Something our welfare state and government can be very proud of. This state has so much money it isn’t funny, but the way property taxes in poor areas have to fund school buildings causes so much inequity.
Never have we seen such run down school facilities in such close proximity (i.e. 3 city blocks) to really rich and fancy ones. It would be like Pt England built like St. Kentigern College, 4 blocks away from Ruapotaka looking as though it were in Papua New Guinea!

Anyway, back to Ānuenue, -they are like the days of the early kura movement, making the best of what they have, working in funny old buildings, beautifying the lands around them. Many native Hawai’ians choose to send their kids here and you can see and feel the love all around you. Like other Hawai’ian schools, the welcome is warm, but in the main the classroom is the domain of the class teacher and people don’t wander in and out like we do. 

These guys are interested some of our stuff, including the questions we use to run our parent meetings.  Along with other schools we visited, they are also keen to have Google Hang-outs with some of our classes.

All the kids in this class were making different kinds of Mothers’ Day or Grandmothers’ gifts, by traditional means. Some were weaving, some were polishing stones, some were sanding and polishing shells. All of them were to be presented with love to someone special.

Like the early days of the kura movement, they have few resources, and a massive problem with assessments not being in the language of instruction.

Like our kura, the kids do poorly in tests till they reach the equivalent of our Y10 and then they just take off and do really well, so the parents have to hold their nerve and not shift them out to mainstream at Y6, (like some of ours do).

And then there’s the gardens………... see photos above...
Different grade levels are responsible for different parts of the gardening process.

Original post by RG Burt

Fish for Breakfast

Tuesday morning saw us out on the street very early again awaiting our host for the day, Phyllis Unebasami, Managing Director, Ho`olaukoa Educational Systems and Strategies for Kamehameha Schools. Phyllis arranged for us to meet over breakfast with Holoua Stender, Executive Vice President of Education for Kamehameha Schools.

Phyllis drove us to a place we would never have found as tourists, Nico’s fish market
I had the most amazing fish omelette in lovely waterside surroundings, albeit a working fish market.

Our common interest that brought us together was working with Michael Fullan, and so the conversation over breakfast centered around his most recent work with communities and his input into Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii.

We also learnt more about the Kamehameha Schools and that while this enterprise runs three beautiful K - 12 Campuses, and many pre-schools, it’s the name of the Enterprise that holds the land, investments and and businesses that Princess Pauahi left in trust for 5 trustees to administer. In 2016 this is an $11 Billion enterprise.

“Kamehameha Schools’ endowment exists to support our educational mission to fulfill Pauahi’s desire of creating educational opportunities in perpetuity to improve the capability and well-being of people of Hawaiian ancestry.”

After breakfast we were headed to the main campus to learn more….

Monday, 25 April 2016

Tāku Reo Rangatira

At midday it was a pleasure to be taken to a school that felt like home!  We were welcomed with food, with conversation, with singing and got to spend time in the classrooms. This is a school where the community has to work hard to accelerate learning outcomes as the learners have challenging life circumstances and varied entry points into schooling.

As we arrived during lunchtime we were taken into a workroom and school parents brought us each a plate of home-made food, some of it straight out of an umu. While we ate together we talked about the journey the school and principal Lisa Ann Higa were on. I took photos of the vision planning and PLD that was on the walls and shared them in the embedded slide show at the foot of this post.

Nānākuli Elementary School services the Hawaiian Homesteads of Nānākuli Valley and Princess Kahanu Estates. In addition to instruction in English, a Hawaiian Language Immersion strand provides instruction in the Hawaiian language. We visited the immersion unit and were greeted beautifully. 

The teacher, Kai Mana, loves his kids and they love him (and said so).

There  was some excitement here because these kids had been involved in the Google Hang-Outs around the Mālama Honua Landing at Pt England beach. They were using their MacBook Airs to create logos for the school values in Google Draw and the children were keen to show us and to talk about their learning with us - in English!

With the adults the conversation inevitably turned to their language and the pride the school and learners feel in being able to contribute to the strengthening of their native language which had been in danger of being lost. I was reminded of the song we sing about this, Tāku Reo Rangatira.

Before we left we had a time together under the trees (no aircon blasting out in this school!) where we sang to each other.

Learning Innovation

Our second visit was a bonus as it was not on our original itinerary. We went down the road to Mililani Waena Elementary School and the management team, in the absence of the principal Dale Castro, at very short notice put together an amazing learning experience for us.  We spent time with Sean Takashima , Catherine Upton and Barron Iwamura  - the VPs - who shared with us the school Vision, Mission and Beliefs about learning.

Mililani Waena is a Character Counts school. They promote the 6 Pillars of Character -- Trustworthiness, Responsibility, Respect, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. We have seen this in action at Pt England school when Michelle George introduced it to her class.

Despite the cultural, socio economic and geographic differences, there was an instant connection with the learning and teaching happening in this school. These children all have a MacBook Air as their personal learning device (they received a $1 million grant to purchase technology!) and the school has a strategic approach to implementing digital learning environments. We greatly appreciated their open invitation to walk into classrooms and talk to children about their learning. This turned out to be one of the few occasions this happened during the week. Teachers were co-teaching and had created modern learning environments out of traditional learning spaces. This slide will look very familiar to Manaiakalani teachers.

I particularly enjoyed hearing about the specialist position they have created titled “Learning Innovation Specialist”. It sounded very similar to roles I have occupied.  While it clearly involves leading technical innovation, the role is better defined and empowered by using “learning” rather than “digital” terms.

It was testing week in Hawaiian schools, including OECD tests for PISA, so everywhere we went during the week we encountered quiet areas where children were sitting in rows writing exams. Mililani Waena has a set of scooters for testing week that children can use to let off steam after taking an exam!

Cross posted here

Germ-Free Waste

To be fair, this post could have been shared in 140 characters, but I share it here to add to my collection of amusing photos from dunnies around the world.  

“Not quite sure how the coating against germs works - I’m thinking it provides more protection for the metal underneath than for the hands that touch it? Regardless, I used the trusty foot technique to flush!”

(that was 214 characters)

From USS Arizons Memorial

Where Eagles Soar

Our first school visit in Hawaii was to Hale Kula Elementary School (soon to be officially known as Daniel Inouye Elementary School) on the Schofield Barracks Army Installation and began bright and early with a 6:00 am pickup by our wonderful tour guide Brendan Brennan.  We had quite an eventful start to the day, but more about that in Russell's post!
We were warmly greeted and hosted at the school by Principal Jan Iwase and her leadership team.

A highlight of the school was seeing Learn, Create, Share in action through the eyes of a group of children who were keen to share their Project Based Learning with us.

Nyla had been working on a way to build a better product and chose the disposable coffee pods that have become ubiquitous in American homes. She was designing a reusable, biodegradable filter that could be used instead of the plastic environmentally unfriendly items in current use. We saw the prototypes she had created and the movie she made at home while she tested it out on the family.

 This movie was shared on the school’s YouTube channel.

Teachers will be interested to see how this project template was designed by the teacher in a shared Google Doc to support the learning, including colour-coded staging points for when each step of the process was due to be complete.

This school is high decile but has an interesting point in common with us. The children move in and out of the school at a significant rate.  Most of the 970 students are dependents of military personnel assigned to Hawaii and so move around a lot, making transition and deployment issues unique challenges for the school. From our own experience of transience we understand that this means the school has a short space of time to transition learners into the school community and to accelerate learning before they move on.

The circumstances of our visit did tempt me to title this post “Foreign Nationals”, but I didn’t want to detract from the quality learning experience we had at this school.  We had been pre-warned to carry our passports as we would be entering a military base, but this was not sufficient.  Brendan had obtained clearance in advance but it was only satisfactory for him as a US citizen.  We were given a very curt dismissal at the gate and told that as “Foreign Nationals” we were denied access.  This was disconcerting to say the least, compounded by the soldier on duty radioing all the other gates as we backed out to warn them to be on guard for Foreign Nationals attempting to enter by another gate!

Brendan drove us a block away and then contacted the school to let them know what had happened.  Fast forward half an hour of anxious conversation... the school located a staff member who was military personal.  She drove out to meet us down the road. We both got in her car and she drove us through an entrance gate without a problem. Not so for Brendan.  He drove back through, carrying the correct paper work for his own entry and was delayed while his vehicle was given a thorough search. Apparently they even looked for the Foreign Nationals under the car bonnet - which is quite flattering really!

Daniel Inouye Elementary School

Monday 25 April
Visit to Hale Kula Elementary on Schofield Military Base (now known as Daniel Inouye Elementary School)
Principal Jan Iwase

7:30 a.m. Denied access as foreigners with no armed services sponsor onto a US Military Base. We were told very firmly that we were unacceptable in our current state. Brendan, our good friend, guide and organiser no doubt found this frustrating and embarrassing as people were waiting for us in the school, but was carefully compliant and immediately began working on “Plan B”

8:00 a.m. Brendan has Plan B organised for us to visit a school down the road, when Jan, (principal from Hale Kula) calls to say she has a military sponsor for us.

8:30 a.m. we make it onto base after displaying our beautiful NZ passports and from there on it’s like being back in Hawai’i. The manaaki is amazing. Gifts of leis, food, drink, -a really warm welcome.

This school is receiving a $33M property upgrade mostly courtesy of Dept of Defence, after President Obama realised as a result of parent pleas that Base Schools were in an embarrassingly shoddy condition.
The state contributes 20%.

As part of a state initiative these kids all got MacBook Airs 2 years ago.
This school has MLE’s in the new build (if the teachers choose to use them that way) and have blended learning going on although they have 1:1 potential. Their key question for us was ‘how did we get all our teachers onboard?’
As in much of the US they are talking about integration rather than fully digital learning.
The teachers in the MLE’s were taking the option of keeping them closed into cells, (much as our some of own teachers did when we first cut holes through the walls to create more flexible spaces.

This was where we saw the first of  many magnificent school gardens. We timed our visit well as children were harvesting their crops and eager to show what they had grown.

Five children came out of class to share their learning with us.

Nyla talked me through the challenge she was solving; waste created by plastic Keurig (K-Cup) Single Serve Cups that are used in fast coffee machines like Nespresso.
She shared her Google doc with us which was a prototype of Manaiakalani's Learn Create Share.

Like Pt England, these people have lived through construction, noise and dust for the last two years. Working hard with incredibly high turn-over of students because they are a military base school.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

About Time

The must have accessory for this trip is the Apple Watch.  I had been looking forward to visiting an Apple Store in the USA and buying it at half the price we get ripped off for purchasing one in New Zealand. And a trip to an Apple Store is always a tourist attraction in its own right.

So it was a surprise to discover that the Waikiki Apple store considers it quite a privilege to allow you to take one of their items home - even if you offer to pay!  Inducing
them to consider selling something to us was hard enough, but we pretty much had to force them to open their cupboards and admit they had a variety of styles and options available in the store. We did persist, and after quite some time were able to convince them that I was worthy of their product (actually not sure that I ever did that!) and walked out the happy possessor of a watch that has become the regulator of every step I take and bite I eat.

Oh, and it tells the time in as many time zones as I care to programme in.

Life's Interruptions

On Sunday morning we looked for a church service to attend. As we were slow starters our options were narrowed, but Google helpfully found a service within walking distance that was at a time we could make.

Waikiki Baptist Church was warm and welcoming and as the service got underway we realised that nearly everyone in the congregation was a tourist.  Only the pastor and the band, plus a few people making coffee and minding the creche, were locals.  It turns out that the locals attend an earlier service in the day and they held this later one for visitors in the area - they understand that tourists are not likely to be early risers!

It is never by chance when the message at a service we attend is on point, and the pastor chose for his text Mark 11:27 through to Mark 12:12 with the title “Life’s Interruptions”.  He expanded on the text talking about how God sometimes steps into our lives and interrupts the flow (maybe the groove, or the rut) we are in.

Coming in the first week of this wonderful journey of learning and RnR that we are on, this sermon was a timely reminder that the unexpected gift of the travelling fellowship has a hand in it far larger than the generous people who selected us .

We are grateful for this interruption and look forward to what comes from it over the next three months.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

A different lens

On Saturday we caught a bus out to Pearl Harbor Historic Sites (USS Arizona). Pearl Harbour is something we have learnt about at school, seen in movies, and heard about all our lives from others who have been there, but never visited ourselves. Whenever we have travelled to other places we have never been disappointed by visiting the actual site where events we have heard or read about actually occurred. And this was no exception.

Our years spent living in Papua New Guinea, a key battlefield in World War 2, opened our eyes to the horror and tragedy of war first hand. We were surrounded by artifacts of both the American and Japanese occupation and knew a lot about it from our time in Rabaul and Alotau.

This visit to the USS Arizona memorial provided a fresh lens and understanding of the way America was catapulted into the war. Their subsequent actions towards Japan, which as time passes and it all becomes distant history, have become increasingly hard to connect with in the light of 21st century values. But standing in the centre of the drama, admittedly with an audio track in one ear influencing one’s perception, the actions of the people involved at the time are a lot easier to understand and relate to than when I wrote that School C history assignment on the consequences of American involvement in the Pacific Theatre in WW2.

I highly recommend taking time out from lying on the beach to do this visit.