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Exhibition Program

Education: Lesson Plans

Activism and Healing: Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe, a Hawaiian Island

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grade level: 5–8 | subject–history and social studies

Time needed

two 45-minute classes


Students work with the narrative texts and visual materials on A Voyage to Health, the online exhibition about Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe, one of the Hawaiian Islands. In Class 1, students will identify events that occurred between 1778 and the present in the Hawaiian Islands, focusing on the island of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe, in order to create a class timeline of the events. Through the lens of an essential question related to their course of study, they will explain the consequences of those events for the island and its inhabitants and identify those responsible for the events: Europeans, the U.S. government, or Native Hawaiians. In Class 2, students will consider how differing perspectives result in differing interpretations of events and will speculate on the purposes of those responsible for the events identified in Class 1, using the timeline and through mini-debates. To conclude, they will write a paragraph in response to the essential question related to their course of study.

  • learning outcomes
    Students will be able to:
    • Identify events within the exhibition text and photo captions.
    • Organize these events to create a timeline of the history of the Hawaiian Islands, 1778 to the present, focused on the island of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe.
    • Explain consequences leading from these events, identify those responsible for the events, and speculate on their purposes.
    • Express opposing viewpoints through mini-debates.
    • Analyze the events depicted in the exhibition text to write a paragraph that answers an essential question that reflects the goals of the specific course in which they are enrolled (examples provided in Class 1, Step 8)
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  • background information

    The online exhibition A Voyage to Health explores the relationship between the physical health of the land and the spiritual and cultural health of its native inhabitants. By examining events and their consequences on the island of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe, the exhibition depicts the deterioration of the island due to actions taken by outsiders, first Europeans and then representatives of the U.S. government, the subsequent (and ultimately successful) protests by Native Hawaiians, and the recent revival of the ancient Polynesian wayfinding, or long-distance, open-ocean voyaging without instrumentation in double-hulled canoes. This revival is part of a wider revival of native beliefs, observances, and practices being passed on to younger generations in an effort to heal the land and its people. Teachers are encouraged to preview all sections of the online exhibition.

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  • vocabulary

    The following terms from the A Voyage to Health online exhibition may be introduced or incorporated during class activities as needed:

    navigation, voyaging, heritage, migrating, observatory, solar and lunar calendars, planetarium, latitude, North Star, Southern Cross, horizon, constellations, colonizers, missionaries, annexation, occupation, foreign species, ecological balance, martial law, petroglyphs, ordnance, feral, civil suit, mandated, eradicate, title, cultural reserve, perpetuation, subsistence, sovereign, catalyst, renaissance, holistic, rejuvenation, self-determination, instrumentation, circumnavigate, sustainable

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  • materials

    Print All Materials

    • Teacher’s Timeline (PDF)
    • Timeline: Group Activity Cards (PDF, MS Word)
    Other materials and set-ups:
    • Student access to computers or other electronic devices in the classroom, a computer lab, or the school library/media center
    • Eleven pieces of chart paper for posting around the classroom and markers for student use
    • Four pieces of chart paper each labeled with one of four key events. (See blue text on Teacher’s Timeline.)
    • Internet access to A Voyage to Health online exhibition; or copies of the website printouts
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  • class 1 procedures
    1. Display the photograph of the aerial view of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe island, and introduce it to students as one of the islands of Hawai‘i.
    2. Tell students that the image is from the online exhibition called A Voyage to Health, which they will use to create a timeline of events on that island and to analyze the consequences of th0se events.
    3. Divide students into four or eight groups, depending on class size. Distribute Timeline: Group Activity Cards to each of the four groups according to their group numbers. If using eight groups, have two sets of the activity cards.
    4. Provide students the online access or printouts of A Voyage to Health, and have each group read through the exhibition text and photo captions to identify and note events that took place at the time of each of their dates on the note cards. Let them know that they will be filling in the other columns on the activity cards later.
    5. Check the work of each group and provide the group several copies of chart paper. Have students put each date and its related event(s) on the top of a piece of chart paper. See all events noted in Teacher’s Timeline.
    6. Post the four pieces of chart paper each prepared ahead of time and labeled with one of four key events (years 1778, 1810, 1900, and 1959 in blue text) from Teacher’s Timeline. Introduce each event briefly, modeling answering the question: What happened?
    7. Have the class work together to create a timeline around the room posting all of the pieces of chart paper, including those prepared by the teacher, in correct chronological order. Read through the timeline as a class.
    8. Choose an essential question that relates to your course and its objectives that will help students contextualize the information in the exhibition. See examples below. Introduce the question, and post it in the classroom. Tell students they should keep it in mind as they work on the next steps in the activity.
      1. How and why has the island of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe changed over time?
      2. How and why did the practices of the people of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe change over time?
      3. What can we learn from this example about the relationship between the physical health of the land and the physical health of the people who live there?
      4. What do the events on the island of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe tell us about the conflict that can occur between our civic ideals and government policy?
      5. What rights did the people of Kanaloa Kaho‘olawe lose and reclaim, and what methods did they use to do so?
      6. What role do the traditional practices of indigenous people play in our modern world?
    9. Tell students they are now going to look for the consequences of the events they have identified and who was responsible for the events. Model doing so for the four key events prepared ahead of time from Teacher’s Timeline using the following questions.
      • What was the result?
      • Who did it (Europeans, the U.S. government, or Hawaiians)?
    10. Have students go back to their groups and return to the exhibition in order to determine what consequences resulted from those events and who caused the events. Have them write their findings on their activity cards, check their work, and have students enter their findings on the appropriate pieces of chart paper in the class timeline. Consequences and responsible parties can be found on Teacher’s Timeline.
    11. Tell students that they will examine the consequences, the responsible parties, and the possible purposes of these events more closely in the next class.
    12. Class 1 Evaluation: Teachers may evaluate students’ understanding and learning progress through informal observation and the class timeline activity.
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  • class 2 procedures
    1. Review the additions to class timeline with the students, adding anything important that was missed by the students.
    2. Tell students that they will next be speculating on the possible purposes of those responsible for the events. Use the following questions to hold a brief discussion to help students consider how information and experiences can be interpreted differently depending on cultural perspective and frames of reference.
      • How does your age, gender, position in life, nationality, time in history, etc. affect how you view the world?
      • Why are there differing ideas of what is good for the world? How have these ideas changed over the course of history?
      • How and why might the goals of one group impede the goals or rights of another group?
    3. Model speculating on the possible purposes for the four key events prepared ahead of time from Teacher’s Timeline using the question: why might they have done it?
    4. Have the students in their groups consider possible purposes for their own events, writing their ideas on their activity cards and then on the timeline sheets.
    5. Divide students into groups of four, six, or eight, depending upon class size and seating, and mixing students from the original four or eight groups. Have half the students in each group take the part of Europeans and representatives of the U.S. government and the other half take the part of the native Hawaiians.
    6. Give each side five to ten minutes to prepare a defense of their actions (based on the timeline of events, consequences, and possible purposes) and then another five minutes for the two sides to hold a mini-debate in their group.
    7. Ask each group to summarize the essence of their debate for the rest of the class.
    8. Debrief as a class what they learned from their activities that relates to the essential question introduced in Class 1, Step 8.
    9. Have students write a paragraph in response to the essential question used in Class 1, Step 8. This can also be assigned as homework.
    10. Class 2 Evaluation: Teachers may assess students’ learning through informal observation, mini-debates and debriefing, and written paragraphs.
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  • extensions
    • Have students research local native populations: where did they live, how is the land used today, where do remaining members of the population live today, what has been the relationship between the U.S. government and the native population?
    • Have students research other indigenous protests in the U.S. or around the world: what precipitated them, who led them, what were the issues, how were they resolved?
    • Have students research other land restoration efforts: how was the land degraded, who was responsible, what is being done to restore the land, what are the desired outcomes of the efforts?
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  • Common Core State Standards

    English Language Arts

    Reading: Informational Text
    • Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
    • Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
    • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
    Speaking and Listening
    • Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    Literacy in History/Social Studies
    • Determine the central idea or information of a primary or secondary source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
    • Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
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  • NCSS Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
    • Explain how information and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of reference.
    People, Places, and Environments
    • Examine, interpret, and analyze physical and cultural patterns and their interactions, such as land use, settlement patterns, cultural transmission of customs and ideas, and ecosystem changes.
    • Describe ways that historical events have been influenced by, and have influenced, physical and human geographic factors in local, regional, national, and global settings.
    Individuals, Groups and Institutions
    • Identify and describe examples of tensions between belief systems and government policies and laws.
    Power, Authority, and Governance
    • Give examples and explain how governments attempt to achieve their stated ideals at home and abroad.
    Global Connections
    • Analyze examples of conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among groups, societies, and nations.
    Civic Ideals and Practices
    • Explain and analyze various forms of citizen action that influence public policy decisions.
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