Monday, June 16, 2014

What PHA middle school has to offer

June 3, 2014
Dear Parents,                                                                                                                                                     

I spoke recently with the family of one of our sixth grade students about their plans for next year. While overall they were very pleased with their child’s experience at PHA, they admitted that they were thinking about moving their son to a large middle school. They expressed concern that because we don’t change classes every hour and don’t have lockers, her student might not be ready for high school.

Those parents were expressing very real concerns about the future of their child. They wanted the best for their child, yet they were distracted by their own expectations of what middle school is, like lockers and bell-schedules,  combined with what they had heard about the PHA program this year, and were on the verge of missing a golden opportunity for their child.

This year in middle school was about establishing a coherent, rigorous and viable instructional program that met the Utah State Standards. Kumu Ward, Kumu Irene, and Kumu Van Tassell rose to the challenge and in one year totally reformed the middle school and accomplished our goal. Next year, together with new staff members with Expeditionary Learning expertise in science and social studies, the team will continue to aggressively develop the PHA middle school program.

Middle School students at PHA:

·         Benefit from learning in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe, marked by kindness, respect, and responsibility.

·         Hold themselves and their peers to high expectations for quality work, commitment to learning, and character.

·         Take leadership in their schools and communities.

·         Complete projects that challenge them to do the work of professionals – scientists, historians, mathematicians, writers, and artists.

·         Work with experts and conduct field research to produce high-quality academic products that meet professional standards.

·         Contribute to their communities through meaningful service embedded in the curriculum.

·         Find joy in learning.

Research tells us that these are the skills and characteristics that teens need in order to be successful in today’s society. Today’s large middle schools with their changing classes, and fragmented and disconnected curriculum are hard pressed to keep track of all of their students, let alone guarantee all of them a high-quality educational experience.

At PHA, middle school students are Crew, not passengers. Students at PHA are not along for the ride. We engage our students so that they become self-motivated. When students graduate from PHA and move on to high school, they quickly make sense of lockers and bell schedules, but where they really shine is in the classroom. Their commitment to quality work and citizenship sets them apart from the crowd.

We appreciate your support and look forward to sharing the growth of our program, as well as the growth of your child. Have a great summer, and we’ll see you on the first day of school on July 28th.


Kumu Dirk

Monday, April 28, 2014

8th Grade Hawaii Travel Learning: Pizza Sales

Get Your Pizzas!
Only 19 Pizzas left!
Get them on Wednesday April 30th, 2014
We have:
Pepperoni- $10
Cheese- $10
Hawaiian- $12
Please help support 8th grade Hawaii travelers

Monday, April 14, 2014

Differentiation at the High End

“Our success is not only a measure of how many children we can help raise to performing at their grade level. It’s just as important about maintaining a steep growth curve for the children who come to us already at their grade level or beyond.”

We know that reading is the key to success in today’s world, and children who can’t read very well will struggle unnecessarily as they move through life. Whether it is the internet, television, books, bank loans, job applications or contracts, high levels of literacy are necessary for navigating our text-rich world.

For those of you who have been following our work closely this year, you’ll know that we have a commitment to get every child in our school reading on grade level. A lot of our children have arrived at PHA well below grade level. We support them with an urgency that belies the seriousness of our task.

What you may not be as aware of is our work supporting the many children who came to us at or above grade level: students who are already enthusiastic and able readers and writers. These are children who are already reading independently, who enjoy telling their own stories and use writing to explain what they know, children who come to school with favorite authors and their own preferences about what they enjoy reading. Although they are already “where they should be” academically our commitment to their growth is no less urgent.
There are a number of structures in the core PHA program that provide these students with the support that they need, and ensure that the support is delivered in a way that engages these enthusiastic learners in challenging high-level cognitive work on their level.
As I visited the classrooms yesterday on the first day back from spring vacation I observed children reading books independently that are leveled well above their grade levels. Students were connecting what they already knew about their science content with new above grade-level non-fiction text in order to make inferences about the learning to come. Other children were reading rich literature in Literature Circles, a structure where each of these high-level students had assumed a role with specific responsibilities. The group was working to synthesizing the content of the novel with the other non-fiction reading that they’d read that morning.
These structures are regular features of the PHA instructional program:
  • Synthesizing prior learning and new information
  • Drawing inferences
  • Daily access to above grade level text
  • Collaborative work and processing
  • Rich, structured, small and whole-class conversations
These routines allow our more academically advanced to students to explore their own ideas, push their thinking and engage in deep study of challenging academic content. The higher level thinking required of this kind of work is done with the careful support of a highly-qualified teacher trained to facilitate this kind of learning.
Everyone in the PHA Ohana should understand that we are committed to the learning of all subgroups of our children. We know that success in a rigorous academic program is the key to success in today’s world, and children who can’t read very well will struggle unnecessarily as they move through life. Even strong young readers, writers, and mathematicians have a lot to learn, and we are committed to the learning of every one of our children.

- Kumu Dirk

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tongan Heritage Day!

Good Morning Everyone! On March 7th, 2014 we celebrated Tongan Heritage Day. Kumu Sisi, the Tongan heritage teacher, taught her students cultural dances as well songs in Tongan. Here we have some of her younger students all dresses up ready to perform! Pictures below are some more of her students that performed.

This is Emma Olive, she danced a beautiful solo and had the crowd get up and dance with her.

These guys did a chant that had the crowd going wild, they were really tough and loud!

A big thank you to Kumu Sisi and the Tongan heritage class! We loved having your share your knowledge and traditions with all of us!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Taming of the Shrew performance

Utah Shakespeare Festival Presents the Taming of the Shrew
Back for another year!  Each year, from January through April, the Utah Shakespeare Festival hits the road with an educational outreach program for the schools in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. The highlight of the program is a 75 minute version of a Shakespearean play, including complete costumes, sets, and theatrical lighting. This year, the Utah Shakespeare Festival is presenting the Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare's uproarious comedy that brings together life, love, merriment and all things matrimonial in a fresh and delightful way.  This year there will be two showings:  April 7 (curtain at 7 pm) and April 8 (curtain at 10 am).

In conjunction with the April 8th performance, the Utah Cultural Celebration center will host an ARTrageous Tuesdays (click for more information about ARTrageous) program that will offer a fifteen-minute post-show discussion with the actors and workshops in stage combat, on performing Shakespeare’s text, and developing character through improvisation.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s production of Taming of the Shrew is part of Shakespeare in American Communities and Shakespeare for a New Generation. The presentation is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest, the West Valley City Arts Council, and Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks program.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tongan Relief Effort: Cyclone Ian

Cyclone Ian had hit Tonga approximately a month ago. Our school is trying our best to accumulate donations and send them over to Tonga for people that are in need.

Items that are needed:

-non-perishable goods

Please help and donate items and bring them to our school at:
 1755 west 1100 north
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116
Phone: (801) 363 1892

Thank You.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Celebrating our Asian Heritage

Burma.  Cambodia.  China. India.  Korea.  Pakistan.  Vietnam.  At Pacific Heritage Academy, students from Asian countries bring the beauty of the Orient to our school.  We are especially grateful for Kumu Euna and all of her hard work as she taught and prepared her students to share stories, essays, dances and beautiful craftsmanship with our school.

Kumu Euna's mother painted these Korean characters to decorate the backdrop for our stage.  So beautiful!

The fourth graders opened our celebration by weaving in, out, and around the audience with their impressive Chinese dragons.  Great work, crew!

Some of our students dressed in traditional clothing.

It was so much fun to watch our students shine as they performed traditional dances!

A special thank you to the guests who came and shared their talents with us!  Thank you also to the kumus and students who worked so hard to make Asian Heritage Day a success.
加油(This means "Way to Go!")