We kicked off our 6th season of Collab Labs on last week with a return to in-person sessions, this year at MSOE’s We Energies STEM Center. The session provided an opportunity to share a bit more about the water projects developed by our Learn Deep Fellows and hear from them how things are progressing as they implement those projects with their students. The first project focuses on student interviews about what “clean water” means to individuals work on water related issues, systems, technology, or infrastructure. To support that work our discussion focused on interviews — what we want students to get out of them, and what both students and interviewees need to make that a productive experience.
What do we want students to get out of interviews?
Our discussion started with the question “What we want students to get out of interviews with adults in the community?” Across the four discussion groups several key themes emerged:
Develop interview skills and techniques
Learn how to be an effective listener
Practice, research, prepare
Create appropriate questions and be able to ask follow up questions based on the conversation
Record responses, building conversation
Interview skills (asking questions, recording responses, building conversation, etc.)
Research skills (asking questions, citing sources, etc.)
Understand something more about the person they are interviewing & where they are coming from
We want them to be inspired by our stories
Exposure to different life stories & histories
Recognition that learning is ongoing
Exposure to different careers
They will become knowledgeable about various career paths
How their current learning experience connects to life after K-12
They can discover the relevance of the topic to their lives
Understand something more about the topic at hand
Understand the cultural significance of water
Real life integration & connection
Learn about different careers (involving water in this case)
Students gain knowledge about water, climate change, global warming and how they are interconnected
Students will understand the value of freshwater and civic responsibility
Students will learn 21st century skills
Students will gain knowledge about water politics, exercise their citizenship and take action
Cutting across all of these ideas is a goal articulated by one of the groups– the chance to expose students to what they might not know, whether that is career opportunities, uses of water, or the path that an interviewee took to the interesting work they do today.
What do students need?
Our discussion groups found broad agreement on what students need to make effective use of interviews
Know who they are interviewing
Context – who am I interviewing
Research the interviewee/topic of discussion
Background knowledge of the interview subject/their work/expertise
Time to think about and prepare questions in advance
Comfort and awareness of space
Low stakes practice opportunities
How to ask authentic questions
How to listen with intent
With the technology they will use to conduct the interview
Drafting interview questions
How to check for understanding
Clarify both ways
Feedback for both practice and live interview sessions
Interview subjects (perhaps via follow-up survey)
Interview opportunities that work for students/interviewees — e.g. in person, or virtual
What do interviewees need?
The key concern heard across groups is that interviewees recognize who they are speaking with:
Understand the age of the kids (their level of knowledge and how to talk with them)
Understand the purpose of the interviews
Learning goals/needs of students
Other needs include:
Be prepared to ask the students questions
What they should include (their story/path)
Advance knowledge of questions that will be asked during the interview
The opportunity for interviewees to ask follow up questions/provide their feedback.
As our Learn Deep Fellows kick off their first project this fall, we’re recruiting candidates who can meet in person or on-line for an interview with one of the teams of students from MPS and Glendale/River Hills middle schools involved in the effort. Students participating in the project will explore what “clean” means to those who use or value water for specific purposes. This could include anyone concerned or excited about water quality, access, or technology, green infrastructure, urban agriculture, the health of the Great Lakes or Milwaukee watersheds, or other water issues.
For students, its a chance to understand both how water is used across the community, as well as the broad range of careers and interests that intersect with water access, use, delivery, and treatment. From the interviews collected, students will share stories of what clean water means to Milwaukeeans.
If you’d like to participate as an interview candidate, or know someone who make a good one, we’re collecting contact info and availability in a Google form here: https://bit.ly/LDFwaterInterviews
Season six of our Collab Lab Series kicks off on October 14th. This year we’ll be back in-person at a new location– MSOE’s STEM Center. The center was host to our STEM Studio sessions with the Learn Deep Fellows in August. The ample whiteboard space and standing tables of the Center’s Lab work well for collaborative efforts, and on-street parking should be much simpler.
Collab Lab 42, our first session of the season will focus on the series of water related projects the Learn Deep Fellows developed over the course of the STEM Studio sessions that they will run over the course of the 2021-22 school year. Subsequent sessions will provide further occasions to explore with the Fellows the challenges and opportunities that come with engaging students in hands-on collaborative work focused on real-world challenges.
November – Prototyping/testing ideas December – Working with community partners February – Student experience March – Connecting projects across grade levels April – Fellows experience (what have we learned/how do we want to adjust) May – Welcome Cohort II
Collab Labs will run from 5:30 to 8:00 pm on the 2nd Thursday of each month from October to May, with the exception of January. They are free to attend, but space is limited, so we’ll ask you to register ahead of time.
We’ll be following MSOE’s Covid protocols for on campus meetings. At this point, that includes masks for all attendees, regardless of vaccination status. As that policy changes, we’ll provide updated information in the details for each session.
Our Learn Deep Fellows wrapped up the STEM Studio workshop on Friday with a presentation and discussion of their projects to colleagues and program partners. The projects developed over the course of the past two weeks focus on water, but are aimed at the much larger goals the fellows have for their students– that they can see a broad range of career possibilities, that they can see themselves as creators and that they think of themselves as someone who can make a difference in their community. Those three goals led to a sequence of three projects which flow together over the course of the school year.
Our Water Our Stories
Students will talk with each other, people in their lives, and others in the broader community involved in the provision or use of water and tell the stories of what clean water means to our community.
Our Water, Our Design
Students will collaborate to design and build a prototype or model of a device to test water for qualities they care about.
Our Water, Our Community
Students will identify a location in their community, how it uses or is impacted by water, the issues posed by the current systems, and propose an equitable, sustainable solution.
Across the arc of the three projects, Fellows identified points in each project where students can collaborate with and support the work of their peers at other schools. While the timing will vary by school, Fellows will get students involved in the first project come October. We’ll be working to build up pool of interview candidates that represent a broad range of perspectives on water and how it is used. If you’d like to participate as an interviewee, we have a sign up form for you here: https://bit.ly/LDFwaterInterviews
The STEM Studio sessions for our Learn Deep Fellows kicked off today at MSOE. Over this week and next our Fellows will work together with input and support from community partners to design of real-word challenges focused on water. Today’s work began with a focus on goals Fellows have for the program. Through repeated cycles of asking “Why?” we saw those goals grow from tactical hopes for the skills students or teachers might development to visions our Fellows have for their students — that they can see themselves as creators, citizens, individuals who can make a difference in their community. We’ll use those much loftier goals drive the vision for projects knowing that we can hit the initial, tactical ambitions along the way.
We are grateful to MSOE’s We Energies STEM Center for hosting us over the next two weeks and look forward to covering any available surface with ideas and plans to engage students over the coming school year.
We’re excited to announce our inaugural cohort of Learn Deep Fellows! Both the participating teachers and their schools reflect the energy, passion and diversity that is Milwaukee. We look forward to learning with and from these teachers how to design Learning Experiences for every student in Milwaukee. They will be supported in their work by a great group of community partners from higher-ed, industry, and non-profits. That work kicks off in a couple of weeks with a workshop to surface ideas for innovative and challenging collaborative projects focused on water.
With a drum roll, please welcome:
Andrew S. Douglas Middle School (MPS)
Michelle Young – 6th, 7th, 8th grade; GE Innovation Lab
Stanley Levells – 7th & 8th grade Math
Audubon Technology & Communication Middle School (MPS)
Adrian Wade – 6th, 7th, 8th grade; GE Innovation Lab Instructor (6 – 12 schoolwide)
Last Week’s Collab Lab gave us a chance to share some updates on two projects we have running with students and the impacts we’ve see running those in a distance learning environment. That set up a longer conversation about what educators need as they look to engage their students in a real-world challenge.
Several of the concerns we talked through were issues prior to the pandemic:
How can I connect and work with local professionals who can offer domain expertise?
How can I figure out who I need to know in Milwaukee (beyond domain experts) to execute the project?
How do I get students to the point of figuring out what they want to explore?
How do I assemble a real audience for students to present to?
How do I get students to recognize that their teacher is not the audience?
How do I give students the experience of doing work in the real world?
Distance learning has imposed new concerns in taking on new challenges. Chief among these is gaining student engagement, but educators also struggle as the find effective ways to use distance learning technology. That this is so new to educators means that everyone is trying to figure things out at the same time. There is no colleague or expert to turn to for a definitive answer.
This, and the conversations that continued after we wrapped up the formal discussion, suggests to us that the key need for educators who want to engage their students in real-world work, particularly in a time of distance learning, is a network of colleagues who can offer support, ideas, and connections.
We kicked off our 5th season of Collab Labs on Zoom last week with a discussion focused on what educators were running into in the early weeks of the school year. We started the conversation by asking about what folks are seeing themselves or hearing from other educators:
Stakeholder involvement pushes teachers and school leadership to learn fast
When we lose control, we latch on to what we can control, e.. following the rules
Star testing on Chromebooks without reliable internet/devices does not work
If students aren’t in synchronous session they miss out
How do you reach the students who don’t come back to engage? Students feel they are so far behind that they can’t catch up.
teachers are overwhelmed, too many subjects to go deep, how do you check for understanding?
One week before start of school, we were told we will be using PBL with our students.
Lack of student perseverance – checking out when it gets to be too difficult
how do you replicate observation in the classroom?
fear of making mistakes?
students go to community centers during the day– how do they help kids when kids have so much work to do. The partners need to understand what is useful to learning.
frustrated trying to get content across, frustrated with attendance. Cuts across city & suburban districts.
kids at same grade level show up at same daycare, all with different assignments.
That prompted some further discussion around getting above a tactical level…
we’re still trying to deliver curriculum rather than learning.
Rethink what is accountability?
how to use tech tools to level the playing field and create empathy among students?
how to use synchronous and a-synchronous teaching in a structured way.
…and what teachers/schools need to make this work:
creating ‘digital citizen culture’ for using technology to learn together
Why is presence needed for learning?
How do we use tools strategically
How does a person demonstrate learning?
How does a person demonstrate learning?
Lots of time up front how to use tools of virtual platform.
We wrapped up with the recognition that post Covid, schools will end up somewhere new:
Systems have been cobbled together overtime. Now we are starting fresh. Can we think about how we ought to fix this?
Can we create a new framework for learning experiences that gives students a choice of opportunities to pursue?
Over the summer we were able to pull teachers from Golda Meir’s Middle School and Escuela Vieau together on Zoom with partners from Sweetwater, Caravela IoT, and MMSD for the design phase of our STEM Studio Adopt a Storm Drain project. We used a modified version of a customer journey map to map out the experience we wanted students to have, touch points with community partners, and connections back to curriculum standards. The project will kick off in the next few weeks as participating teachers have students monitor storm drains near their school or home to begin the research work that will prepare them to take on one of the following challenges:
How can we reduce the volume of litter and debris that collects near storm drains?
How can we leverage IoT sensors to detect when litter and debris has collected at a storm drain?
How can we safely remove litter and debris that has collected at a storm drain?
With teachers, curriculum specialists, and partners in on the design process from the beginning, we were able to map out an approach for a collaborative multi-disciplinary effort that will also give students a chance to explore computational tools. The program guide produced for the project provides an overview of the project structure, timing of project events, and links to resources the team wanted students to be able to leverage. That includes a simple model of waste collecting near, and washing down a storm drain we put together using Starlogo Nova that students can manipulate and revise.
This STEM Studio effort is made possible by a grant from Northwestern Mutual
We’ve been meeting weekly with students and staff from Golda Meir and Washington High School since we kicked things off this summer. The teams put together a quick survey that went out to students at both schools to capture issues their peers ran into during the first week of school. Those results confirmed a lot of what we heard from students over the summer, with a large percentages of students reporting issues connecting for class, getting their assignments, or having distance learning technology work as expected with at least one class.
The team from Golda is now working on two parallel paths– the first has been to define a process where students can step in to offer help. Most calls now run through a tech lead at the school. She’s been logging the types of issues folks are calling about so that we can get a sense of the volume of support requests. She will also be handing off a sample of those calls for students on the tech team to respond to. This will help us understand how well the support process envisioned works, and what students will need to have in place to respond to help requests.
While those experiments are running, we are using the Lean Startup Canvas to capture the team’s vision for effort. Our first pass focused on defining the customer, identifying what customer problems the team will address, the unique advantages a student-led team brings to bear, and the value proposition for the endeavor. At this week’s meeting we’ll take what we’ve learned from student’s experiments taking support requests to flesh out and refine the model in greater detail. Stay tuned!