Monday, March 25, 2013

Expert Learners Make Their Own Destiny

"We started the project out just about a year ago. Originally we were planning to send a simple, perhaps silly, song to a school in Belgium; well we may have gotten a little passionate about this “simple” song. But the main point is that yes, the Water Project is something we all felt extremely passionate to finish and to show someone the message we were trying to convey." 
Sachi, Expert Learner from Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu, HI

Water Music Video

from Melvina Kurashige on Vimeo.

Melvina Kurishige

Melvina Kurashige teaches Japanese at Mid-Pacific Institute (MPI) in Honolulu, HI. She connected with Caitlin Krause, a teacher at St. John’s International School in Belgium who was teaching a project about water to her 8th graders. She wanted to connect with other 8th graders with another class in another country. The project was connected to St. John's International School's Big Ideas Week theme about water.
"Their water song project was a self-directed project based on students’ passions. It was done entirely outside of class time… before school, lunch, after school, weekends and vacations."
Melvina believes her learners are Expert Learners: learners who have a passion, a dream with every step they take. There were nine Expert Learners who took the water project to the next level. They tied in Haiku and poetry writing and collaborated with Ken Makuakane, a local Hawaiian musician who helped them with song writing. They found other friends who wanted to meet before and after school including weekends and vacations. They brought their own passions together to record and video their poem as a song.

Ken Makuakane was an inspiration to the learners. He helped them to look at water  metaphorically. Their final song was actually the second song they wrote. Ken and Melvina asked them to tie in teen issues to make connections with water and then the learners wrote pages and pages. Learners were moved by how water could become a metaphor in their life as teens. They were invited to present at the School of the Future Conference.
"I honestly thought this has been one of the most amazing times in my life. Just the experience as a whole. All the great friendships made, the journey taken, the genius shown and the masterpieces created. One big part of this climb, was presenting, at the school of the future conference. This part was truly great. I thought it was amazing, how teachers really wanted to hear what children think, do, and wonder, how many people came, even how well it was planned and carried out."  Kai, Expert Learner at MPI

Not only did these Expert Learners create a video but they created another video below reflecting on the process.

"There are many factors that drove us to keep up this project for a year. Actually, there is probably a different reason for each and everyone one of us. My part in the project was the artistic portion. We had planned for me and another member (Preston) to animate/draw parts to add to the finished project: a video. But basically, my passion in life is art. I draw it, I read and watch it, you could even say I breathe it. My role in this project drove me to finish it; to see my art brought to life (animation) and somehow convey the message to others that yes, you do matter. The thought of that maybe my art may warm someone’s heart somewhere out there really was why I wanted to finish this project." SachiThey performed the song at chapel with Ken Makuakane. While they sang the song, two of the learners drew on flip charts behind them. Nick Payne, a Graphic Facilitator from Belgium inspired their Visual Thinking ( Check out Nick's website about visual thinking and his Scribble School  (

"All their ideas were intrinsically motivated. I really was just the adult there. They created this song project all on their own!"  Melvina

"It just showed me there are so many opportunities out there and so many people who are willing to help and listen. You have just got to find your passion and it will drive you. The importance of passion in our project was enormous. It is what kept us together and moving forward. It's what created this cause.  We all had a passion for something we could contribute to this project. Whether it be, music, public speaking, connections, or even visual art skills, we all could put in our part to make a better team and end product. One of the major points about the Water project is that it was completely drawn and lead by our dreams, goals and passions. We, as students and as individuals, created this project and with help of a few truly remarkable, incredible people,  we have been given the opportunity to reach our dreams, find our passions and pursue our goals. One thing stands alone everywhere you look. There's the famous, the rich, and the important. It all started with a passion. Everything can be achieved with passion, opportunity and drive. You make your own destiny." Kai

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