Land and Literature Curriculum


The environment, land

  • Scientists are beginning to warn of the coming global environmental crisis. Potentially, this will affect your life and the lives of your children. The course should give you some awareness of this issue.
  • Without forcing you to give up your precious weekend time, the course should encourage you to become involved with organizations that mālama our local environment in some way.
  • The Hawaiian environment is unique, but under attack on many, many fronts. The semester should give you just a little awareness of some of the environmental threats to Hawai‘i, and why they are important to you.
  • The semester should allow you to develop a sense of place by encouraging you to write about and learn about your home.


It is very, very hard to be objective, to just write about or draw what is in front you, without adding in your personal colors. This is a valuable skill in art, in science, and in many other fields. The semester should

  • in the land journal give you some practice in neutral, objective description.
  • give you practice in responding to what you see in more personal ways, through poetry, journal entries and art.

Indigenous culture

To give us some context, we look at a few authors with a national and global perspective, such as Lopez and Dillard, but we look in particular at Hawaiian literature and orature because they show us a way of living in the environment that is ma‘a to this place, to Hawai‘i. The semester should

  • give you some vocabulary, though your research, that describes this place and the plants and creatures that evolved here. The first step in understanding something is learning its name.
  • expose you to some works of modern literature and traditional orature that offer us glimpses into other, non-western ways of looking at (and living in) our environment.
  • introduce you, through class speakers and extra credit opportunities, to people who are working to reclaim both land and traditional ways of looking at land.

Sentences / style

A major focus of your senior year is learning to write in a mature, sophisticated style. This includes occasional use of long sentences. The semester is designed to

  • expose you to a wide variety of individual styles, including some that make use of more complex sentence patterns than you might be used to using yourself.
  • give you some practice in composing longer sentences through exercises such as sentence combining and modeling.


A major focus of your senior year is learning to do a research paper. If you are going to go to college, you need this skill. This semester should

  • remind you of some things you probably already know about note taking, bibliography format, citations, plagiarism, and other aspects of research papers.
  • give you some practice in looking up information in books, magazines, newspapers and on-line and in writing up the results of your research.
  • give you lots of practice in writing in a neutral, objective mode.


Another focus of your senior year is learning to identify the reasons an author wrote a particular piece, the intended audience and the author’s attitude towards the subject. This is a challenging goal in this course because we focus on nonfiction and traditional orature (literature that was first passed down orally, not in a written form). Nevertheless, the semester should

  • expose you to a variety of literature and orature, among which are some pieces that allow us to look at an author’s intent, intended audience, and tone.
  • encourage you to be aware of your intended audience and tone in your own writing in your land journals and formal papers.


Course Syllabus

How to write with grace and mana

Land Journal Directions and Assignments


Research Notes Assignment
Black Elk / Rediscovery Analysis

How to register for and use Turnitin