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Leveraging technology in education to accelerate a more innovative, resilient and sustainable Hawai’i.

Check in to The HSTE Blog often for news, updates, events, and information related to HSTE and ISTE! Posts are by the Board and Members alike! Want to comment? Log in to your HSTE membership account.

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  • 24 Oct 2021 2:58 PM | Sarah Milianta-Laffin (Administrator)

    Author: Dagan Bernstein - Hawai'i Island Educator & HSTE Board Member

    It was 3:30 am when I finally logged off Zoom. I checked the mug on my desk and it remained filled with the lukewarm coffee leftover from at least an hour ago. Still energized from the 3-4 cups I had consumed since 9:30 the previous night, the spectrum of colors scribbled on my iPad looked like a kaleidoscope.

    This is what professional development looks like in the year 2021. A potentially unhealthy mix of odd time zones and way too much caffeine. But it is not all poor sleep patterns and poor beverage choices. Video conferencing technology has provided educators the opportunity to connect with others from all around the world that they would have never been able to meet. In the last year alone I’ve collaborated with people from Estonia, Sweden, Finland, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda, and many more. Sometimes all in the course of one night, and always from the comfort of my own home.

    However, this is not about the potential for Hawaiʻi educators to develop their pedagogy through online professional development or the appeal of connecting with new people. It is about the opportunity presented in these online spaces for Hawaiʻi-based educators to share their perspective. A perspective that is rooted in relationships, ‘āina, and community.

    Initially, it was not clear to me that my voice had value in these global conversations. But over time I have realized that I have something unique to offer in these discussions. That I have a kuleana to both share my thinking and to make sure that I am honoring the people and place of Hawaiʻi as the source of my knowledge. I have also recognized that to fully hold space with this kuleana there is additional work that I have to do to unpack my own identity as a white settler in this pae ʻāina. This means I have to ask some deep questions about my role in this power structure.

    The first step is to examine my impact as a white settler in a colonized land. I have to acknowledge the damage done to Kānaka Maoli through colonization, as well as how I may be perpetuating the pain and inequities through my own narrow lens as a white educator. While this has been uncomfortable, I have leaned into the discomfort with the goal of being able to recognize my blind spots and to understand the steps I can take to dismantle the Euro-centric narrative of learning in our Hawaiʻi classrooms.

    I would like to offer some of my experiences that have helped me to re-center myself.

    • Practice kilo (observation) when participating in ʻāina-based learning experiences

    • Connect with and learn from the ʻāina and ʻāina-based educators in order to seek to better understand ancestral/indigenous knowledge

    • Reflect on how this knowledge can be used to change a system that privileges the holders of power

    • Humble myself to my limitations as one who is privileged by the system

    Through this re-centering, I have re-evaluated my curriculum, content, and pedagogies. Iʻve asked myself, how am I perpetuating a history of control and power through the manner in which I structure my teaching? How are students, particularly Black, Brown, and Indigenous students not given voice and agency in the classroom? And what are the specific actions I am taking that may or may not be supporting student agency?

    The answer to all these questions comes back to a concept that is the center of all Hawaiian cultural practices–aloha ʻāina. During this process of understanding my kuleana, I have actively sought out teachers around me that are rooted in Hawaiian-based cultural practices. This has allowed me the opportunity to observe how they operate within the systems of oppression that have been forced upon them.

    When I began reflecting on my experiences with online professional development during the past year I thought I would primarily be focusing on the strategies I have gained as an educator. But I have gone much deeper. It is not just my pedagogy and practice as an educator that has changed. I have been given a new lens to view the world around me, and my place in it. 

    I have developed a new strategy because this lens has provided me with a voice. A voice as a Hawaiʻi-based educator that reminds me I have a kuleana to live and share the tenants of Aloha ʻĀina. And the knowledge that with this voice I must help to teach others how they can shape learning across Hawaiʻi and across the world.

    Dagan Bernstein

  • 22 Aug 2021 9:34 AM | Shane Asselstine (Administrator)

    Author: Celeste Endo | Technology Teacher/Coordinator | Queen Ka‘ahumanu Elementary

    Last year, a whole lotta good people worked extra hard to pass SB242 and woot woot did y'all hear that Governor Ige signed ACT 158 into law?! Cheehoo!! This ensures that all K-12 Hawai‘i students will be given the opportunity to learn computer science. To prepare, many teachers have been taking Computer Science (CS) Fundamentals PD Courses led by Shane Asselstine and the Pearl City-Waipahu Complex Area (PWCA) team. Anyone who doesn’t think we can teach CS in all schools by 2024-2025, has got to see and understand this team’s promising vision.

    Gratefully, I was a part of CS Fundamentals Training in Cohort 5 and got to learn from brilliant everyday heroic teachers! We were just one of seven sub-groups of teachers across the state of Hawai‘i that went through training together. PWCA teachers were the role models in our Cohort 5 who came with CS skills and were totally schooling the rest of us! Wowee, during planning time, the PCWA teachers came prepared with plans they just had to tweak a bit for their respective schools, while many of the rest of us struggled to plan from scratch! 

    Page 4 of the Code.org Curriculum Guide (link requires a verified Code.org teacher accountsays, “We design curriculum with the idea that the instructor will act as the lead learner.” The code.org Lead Learner mindset is that one person doesn’t have to know everything, we totally are learning from each other! 

    We learned from PWCA that we need to work with stakeholders. Admin needs to understand the impact of CS. Educators need to realize how we can be CS lead learners. Families need to understand how to support their children and teens in CS endeavors. Our youth needs to be convinced of computer science’s relevance to their lives. 

    Another big take away from CS Fundamentals is realizing the importance of Unplugged activities. With the challenge of not enough time, I skipped teaching most Unplugged lessons. Now I realize that the unplugged serves as scaffolding for students to better grasp CS concepts.

    This reminded me of a ladder I saw on Twitter that started me wondering. What if we gifted our haumana a vision of a Lead Learner Ladder on our computer science quest? To help my school ‘ohana visualize what we are embarking on, I tried to create a ladder in usually user-friendly canva.com, but totally failed! It was too hard. Then I tried another method and found value in unplugged paper, pencil, & pens.

    Recently I got to witness one of life’s miracles. Within a few weeks, my baby nephew had gone from crawling to walking. Yet it was no magic wand that helped him bravely step ahead. It was a tremendous effort from him and those who love him. It took consistent practice, praise for doing well, and feedback to correct mistakes. He may stumble and fall, yet with a “no scared ‘em go gettum” attitude, he picks himself up and keeps on going. Just like my nephew learning to walk, with the help of many Computer Science supporters we will keep trying and grow from our CS experiences.

    Since taking the CS Fundamentals Training in Cohort 5, my school has found a way to schedule the 20 weeks needed for upper grade code.org lessons that includes Unplugged! Once other grade levels and the whole faculty see the computer science presentation, they will buy in and become a part of our Lead Learner Ladder interactive chant. These are small steps yet hopefully we will help to move our haumana up the ladder together.

    We can all strive to be lead learners and hopefully many will be courageous to step up. It might feel like baby steps at times, yet every step is one step toward growth. As we start a new school year, this child at heart is looking forward to joining the legion of lead learners moving up the ladder together and creating small steps along the way.


    Celeste Endo

  • 30 Jan 2021 5:16 PM | Sarah Milianta-Laffin (Administrator)

    Who: All Hawai’i educators!

    What: Submit a lesson where the student is the Lead Learner!
    • Lesson Plans and Activities should meet the ISTE Standard of Facilitator: Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings

    • Winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card to support their classroom needs

    • Winners will share during a Peer-to-Peer Power Sessions


    • Submit your lesson plans and activities by February 14, 2021 at midnight

    • Winner will be announced soon after!


    Why?  It’s important now more than ever to collaborate with each other, share what we are doing, and see what’s possible.

  • 02 Mar 2019 12:17 PM | Michael Fricano II

    With a new year and a new Board we thought it was time to make a few updates for the HSTE organization! The new HSTE Board met for it's annual Board Retreat on January 28, 2019. One of our top agenda items was to refresh HSTE's Vision and Mission statements to align better with ISTE and our 2019 goals and beyond!

    Here's HSTE's new Vision and Mission statements!

    HSTE Vision

    Leverage technology in education to accelerate a more innovative, resilient, and sustainable Hawaii.

    HSTE Mission

    HSTE inspires educators to use technology to innovate teaching and learning, encourage best practices, and solve tough education problems. Through shared knowledge and a supportive community, we strive to empower learners and create equitable technology access.

    Our new Vision and Mission statements can also be found on our "About HSTE" page. We have even more updates and changes coming in 2019, so stay tuned!

  • 02 Mar 2019 10:50 AM | Michael Fricano II

    Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are one of the hottest new EdTech trends in education!

    The Top 5 EdTech Trends 2019 - AI, AR, VR, and more!

    2019 EdTech Trends: Here's What 10 Thought Leaders Think

    What Gartner's Top Tech Trends of 2019 Mean for Education

    One of HSTE's goals for 2019 and beyond is to help provide our membership and educator's across the state of Hawaii with more professional development opportunities. Kicking off 2019 we're offering our first opportunity: HSTE AR & VR Educator Workshop!

    The AR & VR Educator Workshop is a full day, deep dive into one of the hottest new EdTech trends, Augmented and Virtual Reality. Attendees will explore a variety of AR & VR applications and creation tools for all grade levels and all subjects! You'll also spend time learning how to apply the SAMR model and the ISTE Standards towards the use of AR & VR in your classroom through a lesson design process.

    Included with registration:


  • 23 Apr 2018 5:36 PM | Deborah Orlik

    Each month we're bringing you a new Technology-related tip or trick for your classroom! Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. Let us know if you've tried it out and what you think.  We're excited to hear from you!

    Looking for technology to integrate into your ELA Classroom?

    I'm always looking for ways to bring technology into my English class so when I found Inky, I felt like I had found a little slice of heaven! Ink Script was created by Inkle Studios, the developers of interaction fiction apps like 80 Days and the Sorcery! series. Ink Script is open source and can be used with the downloadable application called Inky.  Ink Script is compatible with Unity, so you can write interactive fiction that can then be published via Unity to Steam and the mobile app stores. 

    If your students can download and install software on their computers, Inky is the free editing app that they want.  If you are Chromebook, there is an online version (inklewriter) for you here. (https://writer.inklestudios.com/)

    The first excellent thing about Inky is that it is “play as you write” so, like Alice (with drag ’n drop in the left panel and Java in the right panel), Inky shows whatever you are typing in the left panel and what it will look like to your user on the right panel.  That right panel is completely interactive so you can test your game as much as you want as you are writing. Play as you write.

    Second, Inky tells you that you’ve made a mistake right away.  As I’m writing my story, if I’ve left something undone or a connection unconnected, Inky highlights that for me and tells me what it needs me to do.  It’s talking to me!

    There are lots of cool Inky things but those are the two that attracted me.... in addition to being free, that is.

    If you love teaching your students how to write and they enjoy Choose Your Own Adventure stories [or they love text-based video games (Zork, anyone?)] they will love writing their own stories with Inky or InkleWriter.  

    P.S.  If you have younger kids in your classroom, there's a story-writing website that is really cute here.  

  • 02 Apr 2018 12:32 PM | Michael Fricano II

    Bobby Widhalm, Board Member

    Spring is a time of new and exciting beginnings- welcome to Bobby Widhalm, our new and exciting addition to the HSTE Board! Bobby, who grew up in Denver, Colorado, currently works with the Professional Development and Educational Research Institute (PDERI) at the Hawaii Department of Education. His past work experiences include working at Dole Middle School, Moanalua High School, and at the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support (OCISS). He attended Colorado School of Mines to pursue a Mechanical Engineering Degree and then attended University of Denver, where he received his teaching credentials. His family members include Stacie, his wife, Joseph and Mickaellah, his step children. Bobby’s hobbies include tinkering with technology (coding, making, etc.), watching (too much) TV and movies

    Learn more about Bobby in his Q&A:

    Q : How long have you been at (your current role/position/location)?

    A : I have been at PDERI as a State Office Teacher for almost four years.

    Q : What is your favorite food?

    A : It was pizza, but as I get older it really depends on my mood.

    Q : How did you first get involved in HSTE? What made you want to join?

    A :  After obtaining membership through Schools of the Future registration, I enjoyed the information from the newsletters/emails from HSTE.  So, when the opportunity to be part of the board, I volunteered.

    Q : Why do you think tech integration is important for students?

    A : Because we live in a technology integrated world, students should have the opportunity to engage with tools that can truly support and enhance their learning as well as learn how to effectively and ethically use and interact with such technology.

    Q : What is one thing you’ve done at your school that you’re proud of?

    A : At Moanalua High School, I was the advisor/coach of the robotics team, which participated in Botball, VEX, FIRST Robotics Competition, and Hawaii Underwater Robot Challenge.  We also hosted numerous First LEGO League and VEX competitions.

    Q : Any advice for other educators getting involved in technology integration?

    A : Failure only happens when you quit.  So try, fail, learn, and repeat.

    Q : What are some of the topics you explore in your sessions at conferences?

    A : I enjoy sharing how coding and spreadsheets can be used as a tool to define and solve problems.

    Q : Presenting at any future sessions coming up that we should know about? (Ex. SOTF Conference, ISTE Conference, etc.)

    A : I will be part of the Google SLAM at the next Schools of the Future.  Come check it out.

    Do you know of an educator you’d like to nominate for the HSTE Member Highlight series? If you’d like to nominate an educator, please fill out the following form: Google Form for future Member Highlights. If selected, the nominee will be contacted via email to answer a few questions for the highlight. Thank you for your submission! Contact info@hste.org with any questions.

  • 26 Mar 2018 3:38 PM | Deborah Orlik

    We're bring you a new HSTE blog series called "Classroom Highlights"! Each month we'll visit a new school or classroom to bring attention to the amazing teaching and learning that's happening across the state of Hawai'i. This month we're visiting with Deborah Orlik, a HSTE Board member at Hawaii Technology Academy.

    I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate technology into my Middle School ELA classroom.  Luckily, I ran into Altino cars last summer in Oahu (on Eventbrite). Oceanit sponsored several workshops for teachers - for free.  Can't beat that!

    Altino cars were made by some really smart folks in Korea. They took a cool toy car and imbedded an Arduino microprocessing unit. They added all sorts of sensors, LED lights, sounds, and whatnot.  And then we code that awesome little car using C.  If you are teaching Arduinos, this will be a walk in the C-park for your students.

    As the video shows, these 8th graders could not get enough of coding and re-coding and re-trying and trying again. It was everything you would like to see your writing students do:  draft after draft after draft.  Nurturing and harnessing that desire to "make it right" is a life-long journey for a middle school teacher, but the excitement in that class around the Altino cars and the coding was enough energy to light up Honolulu for a week!  So much fun!  Great learning!

    If you are interested in finding out more about Altino cars, you can email me at dorlik@myhta.org.  I can share the short story I used to connect the cars to our reading.

    Deborah Orlik is a current HSTE Board member. She is also an English and Language Arts teachers at Hawaii Technology Academy.

  • 11 Feb 2018 9:19 PM | Cecilia Chung (Administrator)

    Mapu Quitazol, HSTE Treasurer

    As we welcome a new month of the new year, we also welcome our new HSTE Treasurer to the Executive Board, Mapu Quitazol! Mapu, born and raised in Kona on Hawai`i Island, started and launched Women in Technology (WIT), based in Maui. WIT is a Hawaii statewide workforce initiative of the Maui Economic Development Board. Mapu attended college at Maui Community College, currently known as UH Maui College and majored in Business. In her line of work, she has worked with all schools on Maui, as well as Honoka`a High & Middle, Kealakehe, Keaau, Kauai High, and numerous middle and high schools on Oahu. Her hobbies include dancing hula, traveling, going to the beach, hiking with her family, and reading. She lives with her husband, Francis and daughters, Lilinoe and Haunani, as well as her dog, Bullet.

    Learn more about Mapu in her Q & A: 

    Q : Tell us about your work with Women In Technology. How long have you been working with Women in Technology?
    A : I started and launched the Women in Tech Program in 2000. Left in 2002 to pursue another career path and then returned to WIT in 2009. 

    Q : What is your inspiration and passion behind your line of work?
    A : My inspiration and passion comes from how our programs inspire our students. To see them enter our program from 6th grade and watch them grow into adults and see the career paths they take is inspiring. It’s a great feeling to hear them credit one of our many programs as the reason for them finding out who they are and how to achieve their goals. We have just recently expanded our program down to the elementary level. So it’s exciting to now watch them from littles and continue on to adulthood. 

    Q : If we were to catch you on a weekend, what would you most likely be doing?
    A : Chauffeuring my child to her dance classes or games, laundry or just lounging on the beach enjoying the day. 

    Q : What is your favorite food?
    A : Japanese or Italian 

    Q : If you could be any object in the world, what would you be and why?
    A : A camera. Because of the many places it gets to visit and the memories a camera captures is priceless. 

    Q : How did you first get involved in HSTE? What made you want to join?
    A : Through couple HSTE members. I wanted to join to meet and network with other educators from across the state. I believe meeting new people and hearing each others ideas help with keeping our programs fresh. 

    Q : Why do you think tech integration is important for students?
    A : I think it’s important because the world is full of technology. Tech is always evolving and changing every second. And because of this, our students need to feel comfortable with using technology and understand that they will need to keep learning and adapting to change in order to keep up with the job markets. 

    Q : What is one thing you’ve done in your line of work that you’re proud of?
    A : One of my proud moments is taking our signature all girls camp statewide. Excite Camp is a week long hands-on STEM camp for middle school girls. Purpose is to expose and excite our young ladies into a STEM career. I have been very grateful to find great STEM leaders who are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to come in and present about themselves or provide a hands-on activity. Excite Camp has ran for 17 years on Maui (I have had the pleasure to manage eight years) and has branched out statewide the last four years. It’s exciting when i receive emails from past campers asking if they can join us to be mentors. The last five years i have had returning campers as mentors. 

    Q : Any other info you’d like us to share?
    A : Thankful to have this opportunity to sit on a board with a wonderful group of minds.

    Do you know of an educator you’d like to nominate for the HSTE Member Highlight series? If you’d like to nominate an educator, please fill out the following form: Google Form for future Member Highlights. If selected, the nominee will be contacted via email to answer a few questions for the highlight. Thank you for your submission! Contact info@hste.org with any questions.

  • 07 Feb 2018 8:52 AM | Nathaniel Evslin

    We're bring you a new HSTE blog series called "Classroom Highlights"! Each month we'll visit a new school or classroom to bring attention to the amazing teaching and learning that's happening across the state of Hawai'i. This month we're visiting with Nathaniel Evslin, our current HSTE President, at Island School on Kaua'i.

    At Island School on Kaua'i I teach introduction to computer science. This class covers creating websites using HTML and CSS as well as introductory programming topics using Python. After students have learned the basics of creating a website, they go out and find a real client to create a website for. These clients are usually family or friends that need a website for a business. If the client likes the site they can then take it over. This works great for the students because it gives them a wider audience for the sites that they create and gives them the experience of working with a client. Students spend so much of the their school life only producing for the teacher, if they are given the opportunity to work with a wider audience they really step up the challenge.

    I think that bringing real world experience into the classroom is a wonderful way to bring out the best in the students. 

    Sample Sites from class:

    Nathaniel Evslin is the current HSTE Board President. He is also the Director of Technology and Deeper Learning at Island School on Kauai. 

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HSTE inspires educators to use technology to innovate teaching and learning, encourage best practices, and solve tough education problems. Through shared knowledge and a supportive community, we strive to empower learners and create equitable technology access.

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