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Ipu Waiwai at Makaha Elementary


isisHawaii’s project – Ipu Waiwai – Storing the Wealth of Learning (IPU) – is alive and well at Makaha Elementary School! IPU (a project funded by the U.S. Department of Education Native Hawaiian Education Program) provided training and resources for public school teachers (grades 4-6) in the Nanakuli/Wai‘anae district to better engage students and increase academic achievement through standards aligned culture- and project-based instruction.

Special education teachers, Gregg Nakamura, and Eugene Pascual (Makaha Elementary), used iPads, iPods and mobile applications provided by IPU to engage students (inclusion class) in learning about Hawaiian land divisions (ahupua‘a) and why the ancient Hawaiians were so successful in managing their resources without modern technology. Other participating IPU teachers: Spencer Harris (Makaha ES), Josette Germano (Nanaikapono ES), Lisa Barton and Amanda Weyrick (Waianae ES).

To juxtapose 21st century learning with gaining a deeper understanding about the ancient Hawaiian wisdom, students used iPad applications to design “virtual ahupua‘a” models, create video clips, design brochures and play games to reinforce the science and environmental concepts that still apply today.

The students also built physical ahupua‘a models and were able to showcase their projects at the year-end Makaha Farm Open House. By sharing their projects with the visiting public, students were able to practice their communication skills and understanding by articulating what they had learned.

Another culminating event was a field trip to the Waikalua Loko Fishpond in Kaneohe. This activity represented the first trip out of the valley for some of the children. Students learned about its living history and could compare their models to an actual fishpond. They, in turn, gave back to the community and helped preservation efforts by removing invasive plants and seaweed.

IPU provided a successful learning experience for both mainstream and special needs students. Both teachers and students were empowered by their newfound technology skills. IPU also impacted student engagement, classroom behavior and increased student confidence. Kudos to all the participating teachers, supportive administrators and community partners for making this project such a success!


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