Course Description


Intersections: Weaving Place, Story, and Documentation in the Early Years

Every place has history that impacts who was there, who is there still, and the nature of our relationships to where we live. This year’s Summer Institute asks early childhood educators to re-examine their thinking around assessment and to explore how to connect learning with the rich lived experiences of people in the context of communities and aina.

Typically, our educator “hat” can lead teachers to narrowly observe, assess and document with an accountability mindset that misses the deeper possibilities. We hope to meaningfully engage in sensemaking and reconceptualizing possibilities to draw from the strengths of our lives in relationship with aina.

Join us this week as we embark on a ground up experience as learners, starting at the Waikalua Loko I’a and listening with stories as told by the aina and people of a treasured place. The day will provide a focal point to engage in collective research, inquiry, and narrative creation as well as exploring ways to document, represent, and share our learning from places we live.

On our final day we will return to the fishpond and reflect on how the stories that emerge in our time together can be collected and shared in ways that empower, strengthen, and nurture relationships between children, families, educators, and communities, while also making children’s learning visible and valued.

Guest Speaker:  Dr. Will Parnell

Our special guest, Dr. Will Parnell, is an internationally recognized scholar and teacher educator and professor of early childhood education at Portland State University. Among his many gifts, Will helps educators explore how to make listening and learning visible and valued, especially through the creative repurposing of reused materials. His current interests center on meaning-making through arts-based narrative-building processes that inform classroom practices and place-noticing. Will has written numerous articles focusing on children, teachers, and parents? lived experiences and is co-editor and author of three books including, Making Meaning in Early Childhood Research and Disrupting Research in Early Childhood Education. 

Learner Outcomes

This summer’s institute will enable participants to:

  • Examine the intersection between stories, place, documentation and representation.
  • Reflect on our identities as people first and learners beyond the expectations of educational institutions.
  • Refine the ability to “place-notice” and be more present to listen and learn from the histories and contemporary stories of place.
  • Experience learning through pedagogical approaches consistent with experiences that support deep and meaningful co-learning relationships for children, families, teachers
  • Investigate issues of histories, ecologies, sustainability and unintended consequences of modern sciences.
  • Experiment with documenting the process of learning as well as the content.
  • Explore the use of diverse materials and forms of representation to document the situated, shared experiences of children, families, communities, educators, and place.
  • Honor children’s desire to form relationships with people and places they inhabit, and the positive educational and life outcomes of educational experiences that support children’s identity formation as culturally and geographically situated beings.
  • Reflect beyond the traditional notions of documentation and assessment that solely provide evidence of addressing learning goals and implications for practice. Explore documentation practices as a way to make meaning of life and learning together in communities of practice.



For course-related questions, please contact Jaime Lum at 808-956-2376 at ece@hawaii.edu.

For registration questions, please email ochelp@hawaii.edu.

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