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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Thursday, March 3, 2005

Learning shared during visits to other classrooms

By Treena Shapiro
Advertiser Education Writer

Last month, all the students at Moanalua Middle School visited different classrooms to teach each other what they've learned this year in class.

Lessons learned

Why it's important: By having integrated teams with both regular and special-education classes, teachers and administrators were thrilled to see struggling students rise to the occasion, while the audiences were very supportive. "It's so important that we expose students to all types of situations," coordinator Linda Kekina said.

How they do it: After they are grouped into teams, the students decide what kind of presentations they want to do. For three days, the teams rotate through the various classrooms, where students, staff and visiting parents evaluate them based on the state's standards for oral presentations.

Keys to success: Moanalua Middle School goes out of its way to find structures like Project Showcase. "The more structures you have in place that all the teachers and all the students understand and recognize, really the more fun they have with it and the more familiarity it breeds," Kekina said.

To make sure each of the 850 students had a chance to perform, roughly 30 classes each period were dedicated to the presentations.

"The logistics have been worthy of NASA," said middle school coordinator Linda Kekina, on the third day of Project Showcase.

The presentations were varied. Students discussed class projects, recited speeches or created games to engage their audiences.

"This is a demonstration of student learning," Kekina explained. "The purpose of it is to share with our school community, with each other, what we're doing, in all the different teams."

The scheduling of the presentations took students out of their comfort zones. "It's a completely strange classroom. They've never been there before. They probably don't know any of the kids in the class," Kekina said.

One team donned colonial dress to discuss the Revolutionary War. The "King of England" handed out fake money to the class, then found various reasons to tax the students, such as for using the chairs.

"The kids in the audience just loved it," Kekina said.

Another team discussed the way the novel "My Brother Sam Is Dead" was incorporated into several different subjects as team members shared their projects, including quilting squares for math, computer-generated graphs of rainfall in colonial cities and travel brochures revealing the highlights of each colony.

Mari Okahara, an eighth-grader on that team, enjoyed the interdisciplinary study. "It's fun because it's all about one subject. It's not 10 different things," she said.

She also liked working on the project itself. "I think it's fun because you get out of class and you get to work with new people because these aren't people we'd normally work with," she said.

Students evaluating the presentations said they were looking for good eye contact, evidence the students knew what they were talking about and organization.

Eighth-grader Sam Knuth thought the "My Brother Sam Is Dead" presentation was successful. For his own presentation, he recited Mercutio's "Queen Mab" speech from "Romeo and Juliet."

Why? "It was long and it was a challenge," he said.

Reach Treena Shapiro at 525-8014 or tshapiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.