New Ways to Learn with Mac at Punahou School
Students at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii, use Mac notebooks to research class assignments and show results in ways they never could before.The inspiration
At Punahou School — an independent K-12 college preparatory day school founded in 1841 by Congregational missionaries — no tradition is more honored than purposeful reinvention. Located in lower Manoa Valley, a residential area in the city of Honolulu, Hawaii, the school is famous for innovation and progressive educational thinking.
In 1998, that thinking led school administrators to recognize a need to adjust their curriculum to better prepare students for a working world that increasingly favored the technologically fluent. After looking closely at how technology was being introduced in other schools, they ran a successful pilot program that gave each of their fourth graders daylong classroom access to their own Mac notebooks. Teachers observed that students were more engaged when using the Mac, and they saw the effect as potentially transformative. With such promising results, school administrators decided to comprehensively integrate Mac as a learning tool throughout the curriculum for all grade levels.
The Mac has helped Punahou move away from structured learning and toward a more flexible, self-directed approach, where teachers encourage student interest and choices. Now teachers rarely lecture from the front of the classroom. Instead, they ask questions, then issue clear guidelines and expectations for students to meet. Either alone or in small groups, students research the topic on the Mac to come up with the information they need to answer each question.
But because learning at Punahou is always less about finding information than doing something interesting with it, students use the Mac, iLife, and iWork to demonstrate results to their teachers, other students, and even online. In addition to writing papers and taking tests, students deliver fully realized learning projects, complete with images, video, and sound. These include songs and podcasts recorded and edited in GarageBand; digital presentations and portfolios created in Keynote; videos for Punavision — the campus news program — edited in iMovie and Final Cut Pro; and even iOS apps built using Xcode.
Because the Mac and its applications are so easy to use and so closely integrated into the curriculum, teachers and students can focus on the quality and creative expression of learning, rather than on how to use the tools.
“The Macs in my classroom are completely indispensable.”
— Sandy Chang, Reading, Writing, and American History teacher, Punahou School