Alakai presents project-based learning experts

KOLOA — A free program on project-based learning is scheduled 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School.

Alakai O Kauai, a free public charter school at Kahili Mountain Park serving kindergarten through fifth-grade keiki, is welcoming Dr. Thom Markham and Dr. Angie Nastovska to guide the school’s project-based and social-emotional learning initiatives.

Project-based learning, or PBL, is at the core of the school’s mission, said Dr. Kani “Dr. B” Blackwell, who was instrumental in launching the school last year and is Alakai’s most recent governing board chair.

The PBL approach to education equips students “to tackle deeply engaging projects about real-world issues that require critical thought, inquiry and synthesis,” said Blackwell.

It requires students to accept feedback, create solutions and present their findings in a way that prepares them for the challenges of a 21st-century, global economy, a release said.

“Our school’s educational philosophy is premised on nurturing the whole child and on blending academic rigor with meaningful engagement, sustained inquiry and social-emotional learning principles,” Blackwell said. “This revolutionary model helps our keiki learn essential collaboration, academic and problem-solving skills, and we are so fortunate to have experts like Thom and Angie on our team.”

Markham is the founder and CEO of PBL Global and has authored two best-selling books on project-based learning. He has worked with more than 350 schools and in excess of 6,000 educators to implement PBL principles across the world. Markham is an advisory board member of iLEAD Schools Development, which is working with Alakai to develop curriculum and infrastructure.

Nastovska, an educator with more than 14 years of experience, serves as director of humanities and innovation for iLEAD Schools.

“We’re committed to ensuring our Alakai students learn how to lead, how to be self-directed, and how to develop their own emotional IQ, and our project-based, social-emotional and deeper-learning principles are an integral part of that process,” the school press release said.

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