Arts, Common Core, and a first-year Department teacher meet at Honolulu Museum


When the Department offered “A Day at the Museum,” a professional development course on integrating art with Hawaii Common Core standards, first-year DOE teacher Sheldon Konno jumped at the chance to participate. He wasn’t the only one — about 50 teachers spent a day rotating through different sessions with staff at the Honolulu Museum of Art.

sheldon konno

First-year teacher at Waianae Elementary Sheldon Konno, seen here with his halau.


“I love how we’re incorporating math and science, and even English Language Arts with our descriptions of the art pieces,” said Konno.

Using the concept of OIDC — Observe, Interpret, Describe and Connect — teachers participated in a variety of hands-on experiences designed to give them ideas about how to use visual arts in their teaching. In one exercise, teachers were asked to analyze an oil painting by artist Hubert Vos from 1898 called, “Study of Hawaiian Fish.” (Below.) Educators were challenged to describe what they saw in the piece and connect that with classroom exercises.

Konno grew up in Kalihi and Mililani, and is a graduate of the College of Education at the University of Hawaii. He had no idea his first DOE teaching job would take him to the Leeward Coast, but he’s embraced it.

“I love the sense of community at Waianae Elementary,” says Konno. “I love how we have celebrations for our students.”

Konno said he appreciates the Department’s focus on emphasizing teacher mentors and professional development (PD) in an effort to elevate the practice.

“I teach general education, special ed and also have an inclusion class, and having these PD opportunities to expand our horizons is wonderful,” he says.

Following a Day at the Museum, Konno was asked by Waianae Elementary Principal Wendy Takahashi to lead a faculty meeting about fine arts. He is an alaka‘i (leader) in Halau Hula He Makana O Aloha, as well as a third-degree black belt in judo, and often leans on his fine arts background to help get his students to think out of the box to hit their benchmarks in the Hawaii Common Core​.

Konno is a proponent of the Hawaii Common Core, noting that it’s “reassuring” to know that all teachers are teaching toward the same goals.

“You have to be open-minded and flexible,” he says. “If you’re not, it’s going to be tough. Go with the flow, adapt, and most of all, trust your colleagues, your teams, and your academic coaches.”

Art is a powerful pathway into the Hawaii Common Core. Arts education develops skills in communicating, critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity — skills needed for success in college and careers.

The Department’s curriculum office will send a copy of Vos’ work to all schools with Hawaii Common Core lesson applications across disciplines (English Language Arts, science, and fine arts), much as it did in another collaboration with the museum using Juliette May Frasier’s “Lei Sellers” for a Common Core poster.

The museum has been a tremendous partner with the Department, providing educational tours and opening its lending library to teachers so they can borrow artifacts from around the world to share with students in the classroom. Learn more about the Honolulu Museum’s teacher resources here.

Contact Information

Communications and Community Affairs Office

Phone: 808-586-3232


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