Category Archives: Presentations

How to Choose Your Dissertation Topic


The doctoral (Ed.D.) program I was a part of at the University of Hawaii Mānoa is currently on their third cohort so one of my colleagues asked me to talk to them about how I chose my dissertation and how I created my own frame for writing.

The presentation is here.  Cohort III 180224

The first three slides are a series of questions to ask in order to choose a dissertation.

  1. What is your puna?Find your spring, your puna, the source of your passion. . .talk from that place, positionality. How do you position yourself so that this is what nurtures you? Find the source of the waiwai. For me, it was professional development, birthing programs that throughout my career gave me the most strength so that is what I did in my dissertation. I created the alana project which was a culture based PD course built around writing project structures.
  2. What is your kuleana?Why are you doing this? Who are you doing this for? Who is your community? How do know what your community needs? What is your kuleana within this community? Kuleana is complex. Embrace that complexity. Every indigenous person lives in complexity. We survive history, geography, politics, social inequalities. . .complexity. In order for me to continue to fulfill my kuleana to my moʻopuna, to the seven generations of moʻos, the complexity has to happen on the ground and I need to know before I even start that I will be stepping forward and responding in a space that I do not control, so how do I embrace that complexity in order to auamo kuleana? My kuleana is to my moʻos and how do I nurture teachers that are worthy of my moʻos and what I dream for them.
  3. Is this moʻo worthy?Is your project a part of your moʻokūʻauhau? Is this a moʻolelo you want to tell? Is this worthy of your moʻopuna? If yes, move forward. If no, don’t force it. E kaʻahele i ka māʻawe i ka pono. Travel on the good trail, the trail of goodness, righteousness (pono)
  4. The last slide is about why I had to make a different frame to tell my story. Intentional transformation.”There is a need to be intentional in order to be both transformative and rigorous” Graham Smith

    Careful, purposeful preparation ʻAʻohe ulu e loaʻa i ka pōkole o ka lou No breadfruit can be reached when the picking stick is too short. So at the point when the tool is not right, use/create a better tool – the birth of the moʻo frame came from both intentionality and frustration in using too short of a stick.


Keiki are ʻOno


Relationship building with students is a huge “this we believe” in middle school philosophy, but what we are saying is that Hawaiian ways of creating relationships is different in that it privileges Hawaiian thinking and aligns with Na Hopena Aʻo

What makes these activities more focused on the outcomes of a strengthened sense of belonging, responsibility, excellence, aloha, total well being and Hawaiʻi is that we focus on strengths-based – especially the strengths they bring from home and share with us. We also choose activities that see ʻāina (land and sea) as community, as identity, as sense of belonging, as kuleana, and as part of our well-being for living in Hawaiʻi. Finally, we see ʻohana (in the large definition) as part of students’ superpowers and their sense of hā. Attaching our slides and the directions for the activities we did with participants. The Na Hopena Aʻo link above holds the video that is on the slides.

Keiki are ʻOno H2

Keiki are Ono

Update: the thing with using student teachers is that some veteran teachers, even our own mentors, feel like these are just students, and therefore, what do they have to offer? But I have larger plans for these student teachers and I loop up with them to set these plans in motion. My intention is to create new teachers that are already on their way to being teacher leaders, so the more I can push them forward (see my blog post on throwing the babies out), the stronger our teacher work force will be. They hold mana, just that not everyone recognizes it. Not a problem. But don’t act shocked when they are ready to take over your department.

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Unleashing the Mana


As Hawaiians, of course we use moʻolelo as a GPS for surviving and thriving in this world. We are all moʻolelo. Here is my presentation to PAMLA Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association 2017 at Chaminade University. I was a last minute add because one of the English professors at UHWO reached out to see if I could offer up a paper in one of the open sections so I saw that Folklore and Mythology was open. This is the moʻolelo of how I used a moʻolelo ka wā kahiko to inform how I was going to create the lashings for the kauhale I was building (middle level secondary teacher education).

It was called Unleashing the Mana from the Goddesses: Lessons from Pele and Hiʻiaka. My notes are here.

The cool part was that one of the professors from Ohio that came specifically to hear my paper talked about it in the evening forum on tales from Kahiki and succinctly said that I would connect with their work because I was talking about teaching teacher preparation in a Hawaiian way which was pretty spot on.


House of English


My language arts methods students read a chapter from Jim Burke’s English Teacher’s Companion and were asked to talk about their own “House of English” as a way to speak aloud (thus giving their words mana or power) their own beliefs on “what is English?” They are young. They will student teach next semester. However, Burke says, and I agree, that our own “House of English” continues to shift and settle and strengthen the longer we teach, so these young ones must start now to speak their growing truth so that when the hard days of pressure and compliance come to take their identity away (and those days will come), they are  and ready to stand and withstand because they know who they are and what they believe. They must be aware of their own beliefs now so that they have a lens to ʻike, not just their own information and wisdom, but also their line of sight.

Here is my House of English. I wish I could link to their presentations too because it was much more fabulous but they own it. Not me. We all cried and laughed together. We were together to bear witness to the magic and my heart is full. That’s more than enough.

What is your House of English?

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Teach for Aloha: a (k)new framework for change

pcc17This is not a new idea. This is just being formed by my three years at UHWO and some other presentations. I connected this to the long term planning goals  of UHWO, it is attached to the many years of CBE research and it is tied to what I am trying to teach and how I learn from my students. I have had some of them for three years now, so it is really about the story of their journey and my experimentation based on gut instinct and 23 years in the classroom.

The PDF is herePCC 2017PCC Notes

WiPCE 2017


I am headed to the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education 2017 in Toronto at the end of this month to talk about nurturing cultural humility in our pre-service teachers. It is a combination of creating a third space within my classroom, using cultural humility and culturally responsive practices to model what I want my students to do in their own placements in the school. Finally, use deep reflection and ancestral knowledge as a way to tap into the kinds of lifelong reflection on practice necessary to nurture cultural humility in these young teachers. I am still working on those questions that will bring about the kinds of reflection that I want, but the semester is coming up in August so I will be able to continue to research. In the meantime, I am sharing my slides here.

WiPCE 2017 presentation.pptx

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The Mo’olelo of Alana

Alana is a culture-based education professional development class that focuses on moenaha, culture-based education practices and teachers teaching teachers. This is my presentation on the creation of this program.


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Mandala Presentation

This presentation was done at the MISO 2013 conference on Maui. With the emphasis on critical thinking in Common Core, the exercise of creating a mandala helps students think metaphorically and deepens their ability to analyze. The original book that explains this process is Drawing Your Own Conclusions by Fran Claggett


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I’ve Got an App for That

Here are some resources that were given to my staff at our last tech day. It just is to show that there are different apps along the SAMR continuum to use for common classroom activities like journaling for understanding, writing, conferencing, etc.

The butterfly slide is for teachers to learn from each other about what they are using and why.


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