Amber Makaiau wins national award for social studies curriculum design

Amber Makaiau
Amber Makaiau

Dr. Amber Makaiau, director of Curriculum and Research at the UHM Uehiro Academy for Philosophy and Ethics in Education and associate specialist at the College of Education Institute for Teacher Education (ITE) Secondary Program won the “C3 Teachers’s Inquiry Challenge” for social studies curriculum design.

The purpose of the challenge is to support and reward social studies educators using the Inquiry Design Model™ (IDM). The challenge was co-sponsored by C3 Teachers and the Social Studies Assessment, Curriculum, and Instruction Collaborative, which is part of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“This national prize is really a testament to all of the hard work that the Kailua High School social studies department, the University of Hawaii ITE Secondary Program, and the Hawaii National Geographic Alliance put into planning and carrying out the C3 BioBlitz inquiry with Kailua High School students last May,” said Makaiau. “It is a true acknowledgement that what we are doing with social studies curriculum and instruction is not only on the right path, but leading the way for other educators in our nation. I’m so proud of our collaborative effort, and I’m looking forward to continuing this collaboration in the 2016-17 school year.”

The award includes a $500 prize, and Makaiau’s inquiry will be published on C3 Teachers website and shared using a creative commons license with teachers across the U.S. and world. Makaiau has previously published curriculum and research with C3 Teachers, including an instructional brief about Cultivating and Nurturing Collaborative Civic Spaces.

More about Dr. Amber Strong Makaiau

Makaiau graduated with BA in Psychology and Education from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1999. Deeply affected by her undergraduate fieldwork in California’s public schools Dr. Makaiau returned home to Hawaii to cultivate a teaching practice emphasizing social justice, multicultural, culturally responsive, and student-centered approaches to education. While working on her Masters in Education and Teaching from the University of Hawai’i, Dr. Makaiau was introduced to Philosophy for Children (p4c) Hawaii by Dr. Thomas Jackson.

Attracted to the way in which the p4c strategies effectively translated her theoretical beliefs about education into actual classroom practices, Dr. Makaiau spent the next ten years teaching and researching the impact of p4c Hawaii in her position as a HI DOE secondary social studies classroom teacher. p4c Hawaii proved to be an extremely successful approach to teaching and learning for Dr. Makaiau and her students. Her students consistently scored well on national achievement tests, and reported enjoying learning in her classes. In recognition of their combined accomplishments Dr. Makaiau achieved National Board Certification in 2006, the Hawaii International Education Week, Honolulu Advertiser 2004 Outstanding Global Educator Award, the Oceanic Outstanding Educator Award in 2005, and the 2011 Teaching Tolerance Award for Excellence in Culturally Responsive Teaching. In 2010 Dr. Makaiau completed her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa. Her current projects include carrying out multicultural, social justice, and democratic approaches to pre-service social studies teacher education, using self-study research methodologies to promote international collaboration, and developing the emergent field of deliberative pedagogy. Makaiau continues to present her work locally, at international and national conferences, write, and advocate for the betterment of education in Hawaii and beyond.

Source: A College of Arts and Humanities news story and a College of Education news story