Collab Lab 10 Recap

Building Resilience

Over the course of our Collab Labs this year, we’ve often heard that well crafted, collaborative, authentic learning experience provide students a safe place to fail and recover and through that, build resilience.  At Collab Lab 10, we focused on resilience directly, asking the following questions:

  • What do you see that worries you?
  • What drives that behavior?
  • What strategies do you use to overcome that?

Our discussions ranged from students dealing with trauma to those who’s main source of stress is continual pressure to perform at a high level.

Sheri Marlin from the Waters Foundation was able to join us again, and provided a couple of causal loop diagrams as part of our reflection at the end of the session:

  • Trust/Resilience : Increased levels of trust lead to increased resilience. Increased resilience leads to an increased ability to trust.
  • Environment/Resilience: A supportive environment leads to increased resilience. Increased resilience helps create a more supportive environment for others

As part of the wrap up, Lori Lange from Beloit Memorial High School shared the story of the laundry program she put together to develop the capacities of special ed students and help address a basic need of those that are economically disadvantaged.  It’s a great story of students working together to build resilience. You can read more here:

Thanks to all of our participants for joining us for another great evening of discussion. Notes from our breakout groups are below.

Group 1

What do you see that worries you?

  • Wandering halls — unfocused
  • So focused on discipline that there is no self-discipline
  • Focus on trauma misses developing resilience
  • Adults losing their ability to be resilient in front of kids
  • Absence of consequences
  • Compassion fatigue
  • How to teach it?
  • Reactive — social norm is don’t worry until it is too late
  • Kids have to stay in resilience mode constantly
  • Trauma — complexity of trauma/lack of support systems
  • What do you “bounce back” to?
  • Facade of perfection (self told stories)

What drives (resilient) behavior?

  • Resilience is a muscle
  • Adapting
  • Knowing when to use strategies
  • Survival instinct
  • Past failure and recovery
  • Self talk – resilient people have a unique ability to control thoughts, beliefs and attitudes
  • Good support — relationships — trust
  • Mentoring — modeling — role models
  • Infant bonding
  • Coping vs resilience
    • peer pressure
    • fate?
    • social norms
    • unexpected change
  • Reading history
  • Perspective
  • Family stories (immigration)
  • Exposure — expectation — hope — dreaming
  • Knowing healthy ways to cope
  • Sense of constancy
  • Diet — sleep — routine
  • Purpose
  • Faith

What strategies do you use to overcome that?

  • Develop a common understanding of resilience
    • from ambiguous to concrete
  • Self discovery
  • Providing experiences — not teaching “it”
  • Pedagogy of confidence– building on students’ life stories
    • “Learning to Walk” — “trial and learn”
  • Design thinking
    • providing experience
    • healthy risk taking vs risk adverse
  • Catching kids being resilience — name it
  • Creating safe space — language
  • Trusting relationships — time/space
  • Community
    • multi-age interactions
  • Perspectives
    • avoid over managing
    • discovery
    • sharing experiences
  • Modeling mentoring
  • Re-teach coping strategies
  • Remove barriers to healthy coping strategies
  • Brave space vs safe space
  • Accountability/Voice

Group 2

What do you see that worries you?

  • Lack of understanding of level of stress
  • We don’t use failure as a teaching tool
    • “You didn’t fail, you are just not there yet!”
  • Life events – conflict at home/in community
  • Meet people’s basic needs (kids →families)
    • not happening
    • laundry program (in Beloit HS to meet that need)
  • No emergency room for mental health
  • Increased occurrence of trauma among youth
  • Rigidity of the classroom
  • Lack of connection/dependable suppport
  • Teacher burnout
  • Lack of purpose in life

What drives that (worrisome) behavior?

  • Institutional roadblocks
    • teachers can do it anyway with leadership support
  • Erosion of supports
  • Culture
    • preconceived notions
    • us vs them
    • political climate
  • Structural poverty
  • Violence as a taught behavior
  • Food desert
  • State pressure on school districts to perform
  • State testing!
  • Parent expectations
  • incarceration of minority men

What Strategies do you use to overcome that?

  • Bike program
  • Boundary program
  • Mental health clinic in the school (may cause problems at home)
  • Empowerment
    • resources access
    • break through co-dependency
  • Peer examples/role models
  • Student ownership of changing one’s circumstances
  • Separating by gender
    • break through stereotypes (STEM)
  • Trauma informed care at the school
    • reduce expulsion numbers
  • Teach children to rely on each other
  • Build context to relate to in “why” decisions
  • Accommodate different learning styles

Group 3

What do you see that worries you?

  • Lack of motivation (students, parents, teachers)
  • Unhealthy coping — cutting
  • Kindness is getting lost (cooperation/caring)
  • Inability to connect
  • Lack of history/common experience
  • Disconnect from culture
  • Frustration with how to reach kids
    • How to connect
  • Self validation vs validation from others
  • Inequity
  • Lack of caring for kids
  • Sense that no one cares/I am heard
  • Sadness/anxiety
  • Kids don’t move
  • Integration of social/emotional health
  • Relevance– lack experience/context

What drives that (worrisome) behavior?

  • Lack of skills/understanding
  • Parents are lost
  • Use of social media
  • Sitting all day for classes
  • Liability of going out on a limb
  • Teachers lack skills for trauma informed care
  • Teacher/students from different cultures
  • Empathy fatigue
  • Who can I ask for help
  • Teachers are forced to triage
  • Parents don’t value education
  • Too much stress in personal life
  • Survival — all I see is failure
  • Pressure for material goods
  • Divorce — parents are overworked
    • single moms working 2-3 jobs
  • Kids aren’t safe alone
  • Lack of opportunities to fail well
  • Low expectations
  • Parents in survival mode
  • Mismatch between teacher evaluations and what is important (to do for students)
  • Kids pushed through system
  • Grades
  • Fear of talking about emotions

What strategies do you use to overcome that?

  • Mindfulness
  • PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports)
  • 4 days of instruction, 1 day job embed
  • Bring awareness of trauma
  • Awareness of different situations
  • Support from outside to take the load off of teachers
  • Understand why students struggle
  • Use research — let kids experience failure
  • Alternative evaluations
  • Exercise/physical activity
  • Community service
  • Policies adapt to community
  • Self care/set boundaries
    • start early
  • Care of others/empathy
  • Building community
  • Having system support

Makerspace Challenge: Pitch Night

Makerspace ChallengeTuesday was pitch night at 88.9 for The Commons. The Betty Brinn/Learn Deep team shared their vision of CSA-farm-box meets up-cycling. The solution looks to offer schools a subscription service that delivers a mystery box of materials for use in a makerspace on a monthly basis.  Great idea, go team!

We have an idea on how to make this happen in Milwaukee. If you’re interested, let us know.


Recap: MJDS Innovation Hub tour

Tour Q & A
Questions from participants on the wall of the Big Idea Room.

A big thanks to Brian King for opening up the MJDS Innovation Hub for our visit and willingness to entertain all questions that could fit on the wall.

Thanks also to Quentin Allums from Mad Genie who came out before the tour with his 360° camera.  Quentin showed a group of MJDS students how to capture still and video images for video and VR and with some occasional advise, turned them loose to capture the Innovation Hub.  A first look at what they produced is here:


Collab Lab 9 Recap & Notes

Collab Lab 9 360 Selfie
360 Selfie under the guidance of Quentin Allums at the close of Collab Lab 9

Collab Lab 9 focused on evaluating success of makerspaces and FabLabs.  We used three questions to guide the discussion:

  • What does success look like?
  • What makes it difficult to assess?
  • How can those barriers be addressed?

Our discussion groups came up with these three big ideas to take home:

  • We have to learn to be comfortable with failure (and willing to model it for our students).
  • Makerspaces are a tool for developing a mindset
  • Successful makerspaces are the definition of individualized learning — teachers have the opportunity for one on one interaction with students, students are able to follow their passions.

And as a bonus: If students aren’t having fun, you aren’t there yet.

Links to things people heard about at Collab Lab 9:

April 20th: Tour of Milwaukee Jewish Day School’s Innovation Hub

April 27th: Betty Brinn’s Making in Education Community of Practice

May 11th: Collab Lab 10: Building Resilience supports making across the curriculum with STEAM based project learning set to NEXT Generation Science, Art & Design, and North American Association for Environmental Education Standards.  Scaffolding cognitive learning with discovery,’s eLearning DESIGNopiedia introduces skills and integrates K12 classrooms with apps, virtual field trips, TEDed courses, free data sets, mapping, and science interactives bringing our youth into the future of lifelong learning.

21st Century Classrooms
Outdoor Classrooms

Mark Keane’s architecture classes for high school students:

Draw to Build I & II
UWM SARUP now offers two dual enrollment Architecture courses for juniors and seniors in high school.  They can be accessed via Youth Options or PLA. Contact Prof. Keane for more information:  Here’s a brief piece on the course featuring Collab Lab attendee Cindy McClinn and her students:

Notes from breakout groups:

Group 1: We have to learn to be comfortable with failure (and willing to model it for our students)

What does success look like?

Dewy — Congnition — Metacognition
Mistakes & Failure
Outputs:  What does it look like? What does it sound like?
Growth Mindset
Common Process

What makes it difficult to assess?

Teacher/Educator thinking
Tasks — What is authenticity?
Questions are unwelcome
Grade based system
Lack of experience with failure/open tasks
Kids are trained to think about school in “school” ways
Behaviorist vs Constructivist

How can those barriers be addressed?

Common processes
Digital modeling
Community involvement
What is making?

Group 2: Makerspaces are a tool for developing a mindset

What does success look like?

Passion for a career path
Meaningful collaboration
Focused engagement on task
Problem solving
Equality of ideas/contributions
Success is nurtured and progressive
Teachers as facilitators & learners
Learning through experimentation
High level of resilience to change
Authentic experiences
Makerspaces is a process/culture

What makes it difficult to assess?

Traditional buildings
Lack of exposure/access to tech
“Accounting mindset” of leadership
How do I manage the learning process?
How do I track learning that takes place 24 x 7?
Gather the info that leadership needs
Kids don’t know how to self-assess/be accountable for their learning
There is not time to teach anything that doesn’t lead to a 22 on the ACT
Don’t know how to reach outside businesses for real higher level learning
Teacher education is not continuous and focused on designing engaging project opportunities
Tine to do something other than standardized tests


Group 3: Successful makerspaces are the definition of individualized learning — teachers have the opportunity for one on one interaction with students, students are able to follow their passions

What does success look like?

Start with purpose– of the space; of the school
For who?  Student, teacher, school, community
Attendance up
Increased engagement– students and teachers
Curiosity is sparked
Students (and teachers) are not afraid to fail
Becomes part of the culture of the the school/community
It is demonstrated
Ability to transfer and apply the skills learned
Hit high standards
Finding one’s self
Be able to adapt/be responsible
Kids set their own expectations
Compliance does not equal success
Integrated with curriculum
Other teachers are comfortable using the space
Students understand how to be life long learners
Teachers have an individual connection with students

What makes it difficult to assess?

Who is asking– district, school, parent, student
Long time frame required to see the results
Figuring out what is important
Pressure for standardized testing
Students are handed off to someone else (for the makerspace work)
Changing expectations
Getting teachers to adopt a new role– mentor/guide

How can those barriers be addressed?

Agreement on what you want to see happen
Ask how the community can help
Ask students for self evaluations
Classroom teachers should work with students within a makerspace (rather than handing them off)
Show off the results of student efforts

Makerspace Challenge: Thinking Through a Solution

Last night at The Commons, the Betty Brinn/Learn Deep team pinned down a persona for their beachhead customer– now known as “Steve” who manages the makerspace for an area school. The key problems faced by Steve:

  • “I don’t always know where to go to get the materials I need.”
  • “It takes a lot of time to track down where to find supplies (if I don’t already know where to get them).”
  • “I have to pick up everything myself.”
  • “I have to do this for all of the teachers that want to use my makerspace.”
  • “At times, I want to be inspired by the material (so I don’t know what I want until I can see and touch it)”.

The team was able to use that set of problems to filter the ideas generated last week to just those that addressed these key issues.  It also led to the creation of a second persona — “Orlando”, who has excess material, but also,his own problems to solve:

  • “I have usable stuff that now costs me money to dispose of”
  • “I don’t know who would want what I hope to get rid of”
  • “I don’t like the fact that my scrap ends up in a landfill”
  • “I worry about liability issues if others come on-site to sift through my scrap to take what is of use to them.”

This week’s work:  Confirm the assumptions about the problems faced by Orlando, and clarify the vision for a potential solution– what’s the minimum viable product, and what might it look like when fully realized?


Innovation in Action Tours

We’re introducing something new:

Following on the success of our monthly Collab Lab community discussion events, we’re introducing a hands-on opportunity to explore the ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ of maker spaces as they relate to the introduction of forms of authentic learning for K12 students.  Our first tour will visit the  Milwaukee Jewish Day School’s Innovation Hub on Thursday, April 20th from 4-6pm. We will explore how that vision guided various design decisions they’ve made along the way– in terms of how the space is configured as well as how it is used.

MJDS Innovation Hub

Details and registration information for our first visit are here.  Stay tuned for what we have coming up next.

Collab Lab 8 Recap & Notes

Collab Lab 8
Collab Lab 8 focused on integrating the arts across disciplines.  We used three questions to guide the discussion:

  • What capabilities do arts educators bring to schools?
  • How might those capabilities be leveraged across disciplines?
  • How can can we get started?

Thanks to Nancy Blair for a wrap up process that helped us get down to the one big idea coming out of the discussions of each question.  Here’s what our discussion groups came up with:

What insights/capabilities do arts educators bring? (Raw materials)

  • Metaphor
  • Teaching life skills through the arts
  • Boost in self concept especially with low performing students
  • Accountability through feedback
  • Develops relationships
  • Gives students power to create and execute
  • Gives light and energy to students day
  • Symbiotic relationships teachers teaching kids teaching teachers.
  • Can reinforce/correlate with other subject areas (reading, math, art, social studies, science)
  • Inspiration, different way of seeing, Skills (how to)
  • Opportunity for collaboration through different points of view. (requires a structure)
  • Supports a project based approach to learning
  • Meaningful creation-problem solving
  • Art is about everything and nothing without context
  • Performance amazes the audienc
  • Knowledge of material
  • Manipulation of phenomena
  • Art is about “everything”
  • Art is nothing without context
  • Creativity within PBL
  • Balance between skill building and creativity
  • Leverage “taste” vs natural exploration
  • Creativity and learning or built-in
  • Creativity leads to understanding and “lateral moves”
  • Understand struggle and making “mistakes”
  • Content →skills  → engagement (motivation)!
  • Evaluate the accomplishment/competency
  • Creates engagement and motivation
  • Creates trust for problem based learning
  • Teacher is coach-role model-how do you learn from mistakes
  • Create time and space for students to guide their own learning.
  • Bust out of rigid traditional structure
  • Models personalized learning
  • Can teach the design cycle that can then be applied to individual interest area.
  • Rich feedback and critique
  • Arts are a way for communicating the inevitable-brings out tacit knowledge from students
  • Values what each student brings to the table.
  • Creativity
  • Questions
  • Ability to work in chaos
  • Embrace uncertainty
  • Different way of seeing
  • Healing
  • Willing to accept randomness
  • Provide permission to play
  • Make us human
  • To dream new view-what is work
  • Being vulnerable
  • Connection
  • Empathy/compassion
BIG IDEA: Art and Art Educators provide structure to build skill and catalyze creativity that connects to everything.

How can those be leveraged across the curriculum? (New ideas transferable to other parts of the school/curriculum)

  • Shared resources, space,
  • be scrappy
  • artist resource network
  • collaboration can pic up slack-partnership, creating innovative environment, inspiration, different levels of funding, New relationship, partnership,
  • change and inspire
  • adopting new technology
  • promote unplanned , unstructured learning opportunities
  • Arts educators are often isolated in schools-others don’t understand what you do
  • The more relationships can be built across departments the more advocacy can occur for project-based learning
  • Once relationships are established gaps can be bridged
  • Build a small group of teachers that can build consensus then it can spread.
  • Pick a sample project that can be shared with other teachers to peek their interest
  • Showcase the work so teachers can appreciate the students work
  • Take the opportunity to showcase the process as well as the product. (informance)
  • Some arts educators see arts integration as a threat or “arts light”: Have to be careful with approach.
  • Administration can offer time for art educators to collaborate with classroom teachers.
  • PD for leadership to make initiatives sustainable
  • Takes one or two energetic people in the building that want to take it on
  • Has to grow organically
  • The FabLab is a space where other disciplines could be reaching out
  • Break down silos
  • Usually doesn’t come from leadership
  • Just do it and see what happens-grab it through the children
  • Make products visible-provide exposure to peek someone’s interests
  • Make cool stuff and give it away
  • “Explore Like a Pirate”, a game application for the classroom
  • Show link between art/design to 21st century skills
  • Build the technical skills to apply to different content
  • Build the bridge between what the students are learning and the type of world the students will live in.
  • Build literacy skills across all subject areas: process and conception different.
  • Effective use of maker spaces-making things that are quality, sustainable, repairable
  • How can the arts to build a better future- a world that is want to live in
  • Create positive feedback between business and the arts-make a business case of the value and practical application of the arts.
  • Most problems are not rocket science –they are solvable
  • Opportunities for kids-Exposure to everything-allow them to engage with real world problem.
  • More opportunities to reach beyond the walls of the school –connection to the real world beyond the school world
BIG IDEA: Collaborate within and without to break down silos and open up connections and possibilities.

Where do we start? (Action)

  • Provide evidence to parents-_Youtube
  • Talk, share, network
  • Showcase event →work backwards to weekly (?) level
  • Make your own tutorial
  • Bring in an expert to critique
  • Use global audience network
  • Mobility – Teach in a different setting
  • Flash mob demos
  • Leverage MPS Year of the Arts
  • Field trips
  • Find ways to teach being comfortable with being uncomfortable
  • Cultivating patronage for the arts in schools
  • Funding is essential
  • Redefine patronage to extend support beyond current forms
  • Develop relationships with contributors at all levels-its up to us to determine where.
  • Use Informances to develop interest and curiosity
BIG IDEA: Inform, motivate and entice through shared products and processes to organically build support and resources.