MSOE played host to students participating in our Zoo Train Challenge for a workshop on structural considerations for water towers. To accommodate all of the teams in a format that allowed students a chance to discuss design concerns, MSOE ran sessions on Thursday and Friday this week. MSOE faculty provided a quick overview of several factors the students ought to consider. Following the presentation, MSOE engineering students joined the faculty in responding to student questions.
We had the first meeting of our Number Talks Workgroup on Wednesday at the Milwaukee Succeeds office. This was a chance for teams from our pilot schools as well as teachers from other schools working with Number Talks to share how things are going as they work to embed Number Talks as a regular practice within math lessons.
The coaches at both schools put together a plan for the first 20 days of school to kick off the practice at the start of the school year. Here’s how things are going…
- Having a 20 day plan allowed teachers to know where and how to get started.
- Coaches have been able to model Number Talks in class
- Student response to the practice has been positive, with several teachers reporting that students are excited about math and look forward to Number Talks
- Teachers are able to leverage the discourse practices of Number Talks in other subjects, or when reviewing student work
- 2-3 times per week seems to be the right frequency, with Number Talks used to build understanding of topics that have already been covered in other lessons.
- Students are able to verbalize their thinking which has helped teachers better assess their progress.
What’s they are running in to…
- Some teachers are comfortable doing Number Talks with smaller groups of students, but are still struggling in whole-group settings. This is particularly true in higher grades, where there is a wider spread of abilities and some students are less willing to share their ideas.
- The 20 day plan got teachers off to a good start, but they are now at a point where they need to figure out what problems to pose given the range of understanding among their students.
- Balancing where students are in their understanding (the basis for selecting Number Talks problems) and what the pacing guide for the curriculum tells teachers they should be covering at this point in the semester.
- A few of the teachers in our pilot groups are teaching new grades this semester and are still working to recognize where students are in their understanding.
- The ability to maintain a poker face in response to incorrect answers is a new skill.
- Figuring how to draw kids who are reluctant to share their thinking into the conversation.
What teachers could use help with…
- Guidance on finding the right entry point for students given their level of understanding
- Options for professional development focused on Number Talks
- Funding for additional resource materials
- How to help other teachers move past their existing routine to be open to Number Talks
- A quick reference with sentence starters for teachers to use during Number Talks.
Our next session is coming up on Wednesday, November 14. If you’d like to join us, let us know:
Building Computer Science Talent
Over the summer we met with Ryan Bennett from SafeNet Consulting and Ryan Osterberg from Brookfield Central to talk about the CS internship program they put together for high school students. That program leads teams of high school students to develop custom applications for other local non-profits. Over the past 2 years, they’ve developed an effective way to engage students in meaningful, high quality work. They have started a new non-profit, Code The Way, to carry on the effort and reach a broader pool of talent.
In the same way that having a real-world project helps sharpen the thinking of students, having a real-world program as a case study helped us talk through a number of the issues around developing CS talent in K-12.
We began the evening with an overview of the Code the Way program, how it is structured, and the key aspects of the approach that make it a valuable experience for students. Our initial set of small group discussions focused on the aspects of the approach participants found most compelling. Those key aspects fell into the following categories
- Building a pathway from high school to college
- Context matters (real-world projects)
- Encourages failing forward
- Changes the role of teachers/shifts traditional learning models
- Facilitated Learning
- Teachers don’t feel confident in teaching computer science and those trained gain confidence and leave
- Preparing students for future careers involves all students learning fundamentals of programming
- How do we develop basic technological literacy skills across the student experience
- The program/curriculum currently caters to top students. How do we reach all students?
- Having real world applications for community organizations is critical
- What other opportunities do we have available in the Milwaukee area for partnerships with corporations
We then moved on to talk through barriers for each of these areas and what we might do to move forward…
- Time available for professional development, collaboration
- Lack of incentives
- Institutional barriers
- Lack of platform to support collaboration
- Educational policy on CS curriculum
- Data on tech job growth (to make the case for resources)
- Connect with business priorities so they are invested in schools
- Incentives to continue up-skilling
- Mismatch between what’s being tested and what industry needs
- CS is not integrated with curriculum priorities
- Invite community leaders to an hour of code
- Help teachers know it is ok to fail
- Give teachers a chance to experience the learning module or lesson before going in front of students
- Recognize opportunities to integrate curriculum– saves on time and adds context
- College STEM/CS ambassadors
- Offer more coverage time for teachers so they can learn, explore, collaborate, etc.
- Prioritization of problem solving vs content (aka CS knowledge)
- If we want students to solve real problems, what content do they need to do so?
- Build partnerships/mentors from the “real world” who can inform/provide content, software, etc. which becomes the means to how students solve problems– thus balancing problem solving & content. So… tap into TEALS & leverage new partners
- Quick wins… Talk to TEALS, reach out to local business.
- School access– courses are offered within K-12
- Qualified instructors
- Paid or unpaid internships vs guaranteed income for students (who can’t afford to go without a summer job)
- Representation of diverse K-12 demographics
- Issues related to geography & transportation
- Centralized platform of program offerings
- District level talks of scope and sequence for CS for K-12
- Survey to identify CS offerings
- Paid internships & provide a pipeline for college & job (stipends/apprenticeships)
- Opening your doors to see what challenges you have on site. Provide opportunities for others to help/diverse help
- Privide transportation or bus passes; offer courses within students’ neighborhoods
- IT vs CS
- Reciprocal accountability
- Equity in service
- Institutional silos
- Lack of social responsibility
- Wanting only “cream of the crop”
- Focus on student’s stories
- Engage smaller businesses
- Talk up success, MPS through suburban districts
- Invite partners to see what is going on
- Understand the customer
- Strong message
- Adjust model to fit more kids
- Teach that failure is an option
Thanks again to The Commons for providing the space and to our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion:
Ryan Bennett — Senior Consultant, SafeNet Consulting
Dennis Brylow — Associate Professor, Computer Science, Marquette University
Karen Green — Computer Science Coach, Milwaukee Public Schools
Ryan Osterberg — Computer Science Teacher, Brookfield Central High School
Mark Zacher — Milwaukee Regional Manager, TEALS
You can find an overview of Code the Way here: http://learndeep.org/wp-content/uploads/Case_statement.pdf
The Milwaukee Tech Hub Education Workgroup is a team of community volunteers committed to addressing barriers that will prevent our emerging workforce from accessing opportunities that will allow them to secure and sustain employment in an era of unprecedented technological change. The group’s first deliverables were 1) a presentation to make “A Case for Change in K12”, and 2) web content that might help those charged with building a Computer Science program in schools. Please review these resources before the Collab Lab as they might help spur ideas during your small group discussions. If you have suggestions on how to improve these resources or have questions about the workgroup’s collective efforts, please email MTH.Education@gmail.com
Our Zoo Train challenge kicked off this morning with close to 70 students from 6 area high schools meeting at the Zoo. This year students are taking on the design of a replacement for the wooden water tower that services the Zoo’s steam locomotives. The tower has been in place since the train was first installed at the Zoo 60 years ago. At that time it was positioned between the two sets of tracks that run past the station. When safety requirements dictated four feet of clearance between the train and the tower it was moved to its present location, near the gate where riders exit.
On hand for the event were Davidson Ward, from the Coalition for Sustainable Rail (CSR), and Ken Ristow, who has worked as an engineer for the Zoo train for the past 20 years. Davidson provided background on CSR’s bio-fuel testing at the Zoo. CSR is working with the University of Minnesota to develop a fuel to replace coal for recreational steam railways like the Zoo’s. Ken was able to address what it’s like to work with the current water tower, where they’ve had to make do, and what they’d like to see improved. That includes the educational display which currently stands near the water tower.
Student teams had been given a set of guidelines for the project at the start of the semester, so they came well prepared with questions for us, CSR, and Zoo staff.
We were delighted to have Briggs & Stratton’s Concept Team host a design thinking workshop for students engaged in our Zoo Train Challenge. The Briggs team took the students through a crash course in design thinking following the model developed at Stanford’s D School.
With that as background, students walked through a process to:
- Understand the concerns of Zoo staff who interact with the water tower used to service the Zoo’s steam locomotives
- Define a key problem that would be the focus of their efforts
- Generate ideas for potential solutions
- Create a prototype to demonstrate their concept.
Beyond sparking some initial thinking, the session served as a great chance for teachers leading student teams to connect around how they look to run the project.
The session wrapped up with a chance to explore some Briggs & Stratton designs in virtual reality and a great deal of pizza.
Collab Labs are back for a 3rd season
We’ve set the schedule for this year’s Collab Labs. In Collaboration with SafeNet Consulting, we’re kicking off the season on October 11th with a look at developing computer science talent. Through the continued support of The Commons, we’ll be back in Ward 4– now with street car service (well, tracks).
Here’s the schedule:
When we mentioned our interest in exploring the stories students might tell about lunch at their school, Emily Schober and Joal Clohisy jumped at the chance to try something out before the end of the school year. Prince of Peace was already planning a switch from pre-packaged food that kitchen staff would simply re-heat, to healthier food that would be prepared on site. They were able to pull a group of about 20 students together, and over the course of a few weeks we worked with them to:
- Identify issues around school lunch that were important to them
- Develop ideas to address concerns they have
- Tell the stories of those ideas in slide presentation
The ideas that came out of that that effort ran from creating healthy versions of favorite family recipes, to calls for an improved culture within the lunchroom– showing courtesy to lunch staff, helping to keep the room clean, and allowing students to sit with friends rather than strictly by classroom. Today they had a chance to take teachers and staff through their presentations.
Goals for 2018-19 School Year
Our workgroup met Tuesday evening to walk through our goals for the 2018-19 school year which are focused on getting Number Talks to take root within schools.
- Validate assumptions about what needs to be in place for Number Talks to take root and spread within a school
- Pilot effort with Brown Street Academy and Prince of Peace
- Recruit and prepare additional educators in round 2 schools
- Develop community of practitioners that can support pilot and round 2 schools
Our assumptions about what needs to be in place for Number Talks to take root and spread within a school come out of our workshop at the Systems Thinking Institute in March, and our ongoing work with educators involved with the project.
- Overt support of building leadership
- Community Partners (Learn Deep, Milwaukee Succeeds, UWM)
- In-building expertise/support for Number Talks in a role that can serve classroom teachers
- Willing cohort of teachers
- Time for in-building collaboration
- Cross-school network of practitioners willing to share problems and ideas
- Peer-based professional development
- A shared set of tools teachers can use in their practice:
- Common Terms
- Sentence Starters
- Anchor Charts
Collaborative Feedback Processes
Pilot School Criteria
Our assumptions about what is required for Number Talks to take root and spread, guide our criteria for where it makes sense to pilot the effort:
- Supportive Building Leadership
- In-school resource in a role that can support colleagues working to establish Number Talks as a regular practice.
- 3+ teachers willing to establish Number Talks as a regular practice within their classrooms from the start of the school year.
- Participants willing to collaborate across school/district boundaries
We’re excited to be able to pilot the effort with Brown Street Academy (MPS) and Prince of Peace Elementary School (Seton Schools), and will be working with both schools over the summer to prepare for a fall start.
A number of the tools teachers planning to implement Number Talks are looking for were produced and archived as part of the GE Foundation project within MPS. These include:
- Sentence Stems
- Discussion Prompts
- Math Strategies
- Planning Guide
- Teacher Moves
These tools, and others are available on the project’s legacy site:
In our work this year, we also saw the need for a couple of additional tools– first, what we’ve been calling a Strategy Map– a quick guide for teachers that, for a given Number Talk, gives them a sense of the types of strategies they might see, common errors, and for those common errors, strategies a teacher can use to allow students to recognize and correct the error. We’ll explore what these might look like over the summer.
We’ve also heard a need for a tool that can allow a teacher easily note where a student is in their thinking or level of comfort with a strategy that does not disrupt the flow of the discussion. A simple checklist may suffice and we’ll look to test out some options within our pilot schools.
Collaborative Feedback Process
For teachers to quickly develop competence and comfort in a new practice, effective, timely feedback is key. We envision a process that borrows from Scrum, an agile methodology used in software development. The idea here is a quick daily meeting that allows team members working on a common project (in this case Number Talks) to communicate where they are, where they are headed, and what they need help with. Our suggestion is to do these on the same frequency as Number Talks, 3-5 days a week.
For the 2018-19 school year, our workgroup meetings will shift towards peer-based professional development. We look to continue the schedule of meeting every 4 to 6 weeks, but the focus will be on what teachers see, learn, and need help with as they use number talks in their lessons. We’ll expand the group to include not only the teachers at our pilot schools working with number talks, but teachers at other schools that are using the practice on their own, or from schools that are looking for more widespread use.
Role of Community Resources
Throughout the year, we’ve had help from Kevin McLeod and Gabriella Pinter from UWM’s Mathematics program. UWM has a couple of professional development opportunities this summer, that Brown Street teachers will take advantage of in preparation for the work they will be doing next fall.
We touched briefly on the potential to connect after school programming at the Boys & Girls Clubs to the work schools are doing around Number Talks, as well as leveraging the Milwaukee Area Math Council to reach additional teachers interested in bringing the practice into their schools.
Metrics & Evaluation
As we look to scale the use of Number Talks within schools, we see the need for two sets of metrics. The first, is focused on the spread of the practice:
- Number of teachers using Number Talks as a regular practice
- Number of schools with teachers using Number Talks as a regular practice
- Number of students participating in Number Talks on a regular basis
- Frequency of Number Talks for teaches, schools and students
The second set of metrics is aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of the program. There we can look not just at test scores, but
- Movement along learning trajectories/where students are in their thinking
- Level of participation in discussions
- Improvements in classroom culture
UWM’s Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding Program put together a workbook of tools that MPS might use to assess them impact of Systems Thinking in Schools. They see that Systems Thinking training ought to have impacts beyond simple mastery of of the ideas. As those ideas are put to use by students and staff the impact should be felt in the culture of the school, how students deal with conflict, etc. Given that number talks establish a pattern of respectful discourse where the students’ ideas are valued, we expect the practice to show impacts beyond understanding in math, and that a similar approach could be useful in assessing the effectiveness of Number Talks.
As we look forward to our fall pilots with Brown Street Academy and Prince of Peace, we’re moving on to what we need to get done over the summer:
- Get the resources/tools in place for pilot teachers
- Identify schools/teacher leads for who are interested in following the pilot efforts/participating in next year’s work group series
- Confirm roles for community resources
- Solidify the evaluation process
- Secure funding to support the effort
If you’d like to join or support the effort, please let us know.
At the end of March, we met with a group of group of students from Reagan High School who were working in or looking for internships in STEM fields. We heard three key concerns:
- Students want a chance to exercise the skills they’ve been developing
Students want the internship to be a chance to learn
- Outside a few narrow fields, STEM internship opportunities for high school students are difficult to find
- If students don’t get a chance to grow and learn, an internship is “just a job”, and those take a lot less effort to find.
In our May session we explored several issues around creating effective STEM internships for high school students. We began the evening with a review of what we heard from the Reagan students, and identified a few additional issues:
- Internships are a new norm for K-12 schools (which have been focused on college prep)
- Lack of buy-in around career readiness from industry, schools, and students
- A reliance on university students for internships may be misinformed, particularly when it comes to computer programming
- High level of on-going coordination required
- It’s difficult for companies to identify schools with strong programs (from which to recruit)
With this as background, we asked participants to inventory the problems to be addressed, and with the help of a couple of volunteers, sorted those responses into the following groups:
- Schools not doing enough to introduce the world of possibilities to students
- Where do we find the resources to support students who want internships
- High school students as seniors still only know basic STEM careers (doctor, nurse, engineer)
- Students need summer pay
- Students do not have transportation
- Companies not willing to work with MPS schools
- Companies not looking to the “experts” in the schools to assist w/career experiences
- Let’s not forget about the MPS HS kids not in Reagan, King, Riverside
- Internship logistics– not appealing or logistically difficult for minors/teens
- If internships don’t work, what are other options?
- Companies moving out of the city
- Resources & funding both in education & industry
- Legal barriers– minors, health care specifically
- Transportation needs
- Business & school partnership
- Business support
- How do we educate employers on the importance of internships
- How to develop a mutually beneficial work relationship between employer and student
- AP Java or AP anything can’t be the gatekeeper to these opportunities
- Not having a dedicated person (100%) at each school focusing on career readiness
- One day field trips/job shadows get kids excited but are disconnected or not continued
- Students lose STEM engagement
- Helping our community understand the world of work has changed
- Exposure to different career fields
- Exposure to local companies/orgs
- How can we expose students to career based learning experiences so they know what they want to do/don’t waste time & $ post-secondary?
- Career based learning experiences in building
- Off-site experiences
- Job shadows
- High schoolers need a way to explore future options
- Students liking “engineering” but not wanting to further pursue as a career
- Kids go to college not knowing what they to study/do for a living
- Convincing students/parents to look at the bigger picture– experience vs test scores
- Expose kids to advanced topics earlier
- Internships/work experiences that offer meaningful ways to engage students in school
- How to increase significant student exposure to careers
- We want to grow MKE as tech hub but students have little to no tech exposure
- Real world work experience for teens
- Equity– females & underrepresented minorities in IT
- Kids need significant role models
- Generate a community culture of learning and support
- Family involvement (for support & buy-in)
- Increase talent pipeline
- Frequent, immediate, continuous check-in and support
- How do we monitor long-term investment and impact on interns
- Viewing high schoolers as capable of doing meaningful work
- To build a common system that supports students and industries
- Funding to allow access for every kid who wants to experience
- Develop human skills — robot-proof education
- Teachers not always equipped to assist w/career readiness
- Pre-employment skills building
- Shape curriculum to better match the real world
- Social-emotional skill building
- Students need employability skills
- Application of skills vs content knowledge
- Kids don’t have the soft skills employers seek
- Ensuring school coursework is relevant– tied to industry competencies
- Communicating K-12 → post-secondary →industry and adjusting as skills adaptively grow
- Stop treating tech like a science and more like an art
- Health care based research projects
- Project based internship programs– what does this look like in health care?
- Career readiness after leaving the academic environment
We chose three areas to focus on for the remainder of the session, and split into groups to explore each topic. Here’s what we came up with:
- Conflicting priorities of K-12 educators, industry, and curriculum
- Lack of regional coordination
- Lack of frequent and effective collaboration
- Culture of STEM education
- Educators are at capacity
- TEALS (Microsoft program to tap industry professionals to launch computer science programs in schools.
- SafeNet’s high school internship program (company treats program as a donation, students work on tech projects for non-profits)
- Students lack exposure to career based learning experiences
- Lack of staff buy-in
- Curriculum incorporation
- Knowledge of industry
- Lack of clear District/Industry connections
- Staff PD
- Curriculum support
- Look at successful districts/schools
- Top down involvement (administration to teachers)
- Post secondary educators/administration
- Lack of equitable & accessible resources allocated to students in need of most support
- [Lack of] Social & emotional support
- [Lack of] School based career support
- [Lack of] Student to student support
- [Lack of] Transportation
- No social capital
- [Lack of] Role models (who look like them)
- Achievement gap
- Positive feedback loop of near-peer mentors
- Partner with corporations and communities
- Change perception of what is professional
Thanks again to The Commons for providing the space, Brian King for facilitating, and to our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion:
Tamera Coleman– Internship Coordinator, Milwaukee Public Schools
Matthew Hunt– College & Career Readiness Specialist, New Berlin High School
Ariana Radowicz– University Relations, Rockwell Automation
Molly Schuld– Science Teacher, Ronald Reagan High School
Laura Schmidt, Strategic Advisor to the Superintendent – School District of New Berlin
Our April Collab Lab focused on the opportunities we can create for students by engaging partners in the neighborhoods which surround a school. The goal was to explore how we might: engage students in real-world projects with organizations, businesses, and community members in the neighborhoods which surround a school; leverage then enthusiasm and energy of students working on problems they care about; foster relationships that allow for sustainable engagement over the long term.
We led attendees through a process that started by listing the kinds of things we hoped students would gain though community engagement. We then pulled a couple of volunteers to sort through and categorize the ideas attendees had captured on Post-it notes. That gave us the following broad areas:
Towards a Better World
- A broader sense of what is possible
- Exposure to something bigger than themselves
- Passion for social justice
- An appreciation for society’s complexity
- Augmented horizon of how to imagine the future
- A sense of pride of ownership
- Confidence in themselves
- A sense of belonging
- Enable kids to feel like members of the community
- Deeper self-awareness
- Empower kids to speak their voice
- Access to people/institutions/jobs that need their skills
- Exposure to job opportunities and skills
- Practical skills
- Transferable skills
- Acceptance of people different from themselves
- Broad understanding of neighborhood assets
- Help break down racial divisions
- Awareness of the ASSETS of their communities, not just the deficits
- Awareness of what’s outside of their school/neighborhood
- Broader perspectives of the world around them
- Role models
- Connections to their city & community
- Help kids help others of all backgrounds
- Seeing corporations and professionals who care
- Recreation activity connections
- Connections to mentors/role models
- Comfort with community leaders, stakeholders
- Students gain trust that agencies really have their bests interests at heart
- A sense of community
- Students can feel connected to their school/community
- Finding a mentor outside the building
- A sense of commitment to the community
- Broader cultural awareness
- Connect to local community-based resources for them & their family (financial education, home ownership, arts, food assistance, play)
- Students gain confidence that adults across agencies want to work together, collaborate more than compete
- Relationships with people who work in the community
- Students can feel worthy of doing quality work
- Quality tutoring
- Time for activities they are passionate about
- Authentic transfer of educational outcomes/real-world application of learning
- Exposure to high interest books
- Work Experience
- Confidence to access civic processes
- A new challenge that requires determination
- Real world application of learning
- Projects with a purpose beyond a grade
- Access opportunity (jobs, resources, etc.)
- Connections to local businesses & corporations (career modeling, job shadow, potential mentors, part-time jobs)
- Creative problem solving skills
We identified three areas to dig into a bit deeper– Relationships, Authentic Learning, and Self Worth. Attendees split into groups to explore what a program that could provide these gains might look like. Here’s what they came up with:
North/South Travelling Classroom
The project envisions that school student councils at multiple schools would lead a march that takes students across both sides of I-94 ending in a barbecue/potluck in the Menomonee valley.
- Break down silos
- Build relationships
- inter-generational teaching
- Fall semester– study/understand the neighborhoods
- January to June– (student led) planning for event
- Artists Working in Education
- Adam Carr
- Reggie Jackson
- Story Corps
Student Led High Interest Fair
- Open-ended, cross-curricular. student-driven assignment
- All students
- Students will identify their own role/responsibility
- Students network/indetify community participants
- Students create their own content
- Students share content w/audience
- Takes place at school or community center in the evening
- Industry experts
- Community members (invited by students)
- Authentic learning experiential mentors
- Re-orientation to community engaged learning
- Two way experiences
- Participation “youth experts”
- Opportunities to (authentically) lead with adults
- Students see results (even when it is long term)
- Community based, e.g. park, garden, sport, youth council, school bank, server meals, seniors
- Problem solving– “How would you…?”
- Beyond Service Projects
- Long-term engagement/commitment by adults
- Demonstrate how their participation impacts projects
- Positive phone calls
- 1st day high fives
- Children’s saving accounts
- Occurs through school (as a conduit) because school may be one of the more stable institutions in students’ lives (school can be the catalyst)
- Any age– schools & organizations that are willing
- Need vehicle to match project ideas with partners
Thanks again to DevCodeCamp for providing the space, and to our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion:
Dr. Dan Bergen – Executive Director, Marquette Office of Community Engagement
Fr. Bill Johnson, SJ – Vice President of Strategic Growth, Cristo Rey Jesuit Milwaukee
Thomas Kiely – Director of Institute for Catholic Leadership, Marquette University
Katie Sparks – Director of Development, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee