Monthly Archives: October 2009

Spelling Bee Resources

Picture 1Even with spell check on the computers, spelling is still an important skill for our students to master and celebrate. One way we celebrate our spellers is to send them to the district spelling bee in late January. However, even if your child is not “spelling bee” material, everyone can benefit from the resources sponsored by the Scripps National Spelling Bee folks.

Since we are an enrolled spelling bee school, we encourage our students and ohana to take advantage of all the resources available on the spelling website.

Site: (on the top right will be a log in area)

log-in ID:

password: ksmiddleschool

“Buzz” on over and check it out!

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An alternate to KWL

His eyes filled with wonder

KWL (what I know, what I want to learn, what I learned) is an old technique (Ogle, 1986) that basically informs you, the teacher, about what students already know about your topic unit, and what they want to learn. After the unit, they go back to their chart and tell you what they learned. Here’s the problem. In the middle school on, I find that KWL is a mood killer rather than a motivator. According to my KWL expert (my senior in high school), the problem is really that teachers pass out the KWL worksheet too early. He says, “how am I supposed to know what I want to learn if I don’t know what the possibilities are?”

His advice: teach a little bit of the topic first, like a movie trailer – just enough to tease out the WONDER. As a parent, that’s always my hope for my children, that the institution of SCHOOL will not kill my child’s natural wonder.

A workshop on non-fiction reading and writing with Stephanie Harvey offered an idea that sounds like an alternate to KWL. Let’s take a sample unit: slavery in America

1. Start with images – post the images around the room like a gallery walk. Students silently walk around the room, look at the images, then on post its with their name, they write a wonder statement and an inference statement, then put it near the photo.


I wonder how heavy these chains are and when they were used?

I infer that the shackles were not the only way that slaves were controlled by their owners.

This activity will also show you what kind of background knowledge the students are coming with.


2. Use picture books about the topic to form book clubs (literature circles) where students choose a kids book, they read it with their group and discuss it. Within three days, since the pieces are short, they’ll trade books. This gives them enough background information to tease out some “I wonders.”

Once they have a little bit of information, then they can do a KWL chart, or you can bring in your resource materials and let them do personal or group inquiry research.

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Hawaiian Word of the Day

LianaI realize that as teachers we are inundated with a plethora of musts:

  • must do. . .
  • must read. . .
  • must learn.  . .
  • must implement. . .
  • must revise. . .
  • must reflect. . .
  • must report. . .

Our own Liana Iaea Honda has a painless, fun way to increase our Hawaiian language learning (another “must”) through her blog: He Momi. Subscribe to her blog, put it on your feed reader and enjoy the stories that come from these words. From today’s blog:


1. earthquake, tremor.
2. light porous stone or pumice, as used for polishing canoes or for scraping off hair of pig or dog to be roasted.

In light of the ōlaʻi that have taken place in the Pacific Ocean recently, perhaps you can find some use of today’s word in your daily practice.  Ōlaʻi (with a macron over the o for stress) is an old word, as ōlaʻi are not a new phenomenon to Hawaiians.  Many ōlaʻi occur in our islands, particularly because of the activity generated by the still active volcano on Hawai’i Island.  I find it particularly interesting this word has a smaller word in it, la’i, that actually means calm or peaceful.  Perhaps this refers to the calmness that follows an earthquake, when you experience it.  I’m only speculating and using this connection as a tool to help me better remember the ōlaʻi.  As we make connections to certain words, that’s how we remember them, right?

Ōla’i ikaika loa i ‘ike ‘ole ‘ia kona lua – very strong earthquake, the like of which had never been seen before.

Halulu ka honua i ka ōla’i ē – The earth resounds because of the earthquake (from a chant by Edith Kanaka’ole)

Nei ka honua, he ōlaʻi ia
When the earth trembles, it is an earthquake.
(We know what it is by what it does)

Ua loa’a ʻelua ōla’i ma Vanuatu i kēia pule. – There were two earthquakes in Vanuatu this week.

Aia ke ōlaʻi ma Indonesia. – The earthquake was in Indonesia.

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Embedding Voicethreads

Thanks to Darrell Kim for showing Liana who showed me, your fabulous voicethread creations can be put into your KS blogs. Yeah! 🙂

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="300" wmode="transparent" /]

Here’s the link to take you to Darrell’s blog for directions: Embedding Voicethreads post

He’s just more eloquent. And while you’re there, check out Liana’s papa mālaaʻo a voicethread. Cute kēia.