Collab Lab 27: Recap & Notes

See Math Everywhere

We had a record crowd for Collab Lab 27, where we explored ways to enable kids and parents find creative and playful ways to engage in math throughout Milwaukee. The focus for the session started with an idea Mary Langmyer raised coming out of our December Collab Lab– what would it look like if we could see math everywhere in Milwaukee? We worked with Mary to put together a vision statement, and started talking to folks we wanted to pull in to help figure this out.

Mary introduced the evening’s topic and several of her sources of inspiration. We then had attendees form groups that each contained a mix of educators and community partners. Their first task was a brainstorming activity to capture ideas what seeing math everywhere might look like.

Each group was then asked to pick an idea to develop. We had them flesh out details, get some feedback from other attendees, and then outline what it would take to move the idea forward. Here’s what the groups came up with.

Estimation on Location

A scavenger hunt to estimate distances, times, quantities, percents age, etc. of neighborhood landmarks.

  • Where: School, library, neighborhood, grocery store, parks, pools
  • Who: Teacher, librarian, community organization, leader, parents, students, pedestrians
  • When: How about now? How many windows are in this building?
  • Partners: Libraries, schools, neighborhood associations, businesses, MCTS
  • Resources: Basics, like paper, volunteers, data, tracking, use a Google form or app if you want to get fancy.
  • Testing it out: School, library, south shore park

Fort MKE

Engage neighborhoods in construction of forts from re-cycled material

  • What: Everyone likes a fort; recycled/refurbished material; visual appeal of design; potential metrics– capacity, dimensions, quantity of material used, location coordinates
  • Why: Build community locally and across the city; teach math and engineering design, and communication skills
  • Where: Parks or schools– activate anywhere (access/equity)
  • Who: Kids in Milwaukee; 3 levels, for elementary, middle, and high school students. High school students might take on as a service learning project for a homeless shelter
  • When: Summer
  • Prize: Top design becomes an interactive exhibit at Discovery World (with membership for participating kids and families?)
  • Partners: MIAD, Rockwell, Northwestern Mutual, MSOE, Discovery World, Milwaukee County Parks, neighborhood associations
  • Resources: Recycled building materials, marketing materials
  • Funding: Sponsorship from partners
  • Test: Pilot in fall of 2019 with 2 schools

Family Road Trip – Go With Math

Math related activities for families planning a road trip

  • What: Budgeting of time and money – miles, maps, calculations
    • pre planning/investigating multiple trips; ranking
    • spreadsheet tracking
    • estimation and comparison with actual outcome
    • create simulation/game/scenarios of chance
    • create an app for others
    • environmental impact/cost
  • Why: Apply math, critical thinking real life, dream, plus plan and budgeting for the unexpected
  • Where: Could be anywhere!
  • Who: Anyone, any age– a family activity
  • When: Summer project with family or as project within school
  • Partners: travel agent, gas stations, visit MKE, tourist attractions, restaurants, transit, banks
  • Resources: Online travel planning ; spreadsheet app/program
  • Funding: Donors choose/go fund me; online research sites for sustainability

Fitness App Hackathon

A STEM challenge for Milwaukee area students to develop a fitness app

  • What: Hackathon to develop an app to track steps, heart rate, milage, weight goals; Once launched, users can hit fitness goals to unlock discounts at local establishments
  • Who: Collaboration with MSOE and YMCA
  • Where: Host the hackathon at MSOE
  • Partners: MSOE, YMCA, MPS, Learn Deep, area accelerators; MKE retailers and vendors
  • Resources: CYSI; local incubators; Vroom; MSOE students/faculty; YES! (Young Enterprising Society)

What does it take to dye the Milwaukee river?

What’s the math around dying the Milwaukee river green?

  • What: On the (now past) occasion of dying the Milwaukee river green, have students estimate how much dye is actually required.
  • Why: Apply concepts of volume, concentration, and flow rate to a real-life problem
  • Where: Competition at the Fiserv Forum where teams present their calculations. Winning team gets to participate in the ceremony to dye the river.
  • Who: MPS middle and high school students
  • When: NBA Playoffs for 2020?
  • Partners: Bucks, City of Milwaukee, DNR, Brewers, DNC, local universities
  • Resources: River measurement estimates (with which to calculate volume; data on dye concentration levels/coverage
  • Funding: Sponsors to fund Fiserv event; food & beverage donations
  • Test: Get the data from 2019 event; model the problem in a classroom to calculate volume and use food coloring to estimate concentration levels

Milwaukee’s Movable Bridges

Math explorations while waiting for a bridge to lower

  • Where: Milwaukee River bridges along Plankinton Avenue and Water Street
  • What: Younger kids – count the number of boats going past; older kids — geometry of bridges (height, angle when raised, shape), velocity, duration of events — boats passing, bridge raising/lowering; how can this process be made more efficient for everyone impacted?
  • When: Anytime, or while waiting for a bridge
  • Why: We have a captive audience that needs to do something during the wait time.
  • Who: Drivers, walkers, bikers, public transit riders, boaters
  • When: Spring/Summer (to supplement summer learning)
  • Partners: Milwaukee Public Works, Vroom, Google field trips
  • Resources: Signage by bridges
  • Funding: City, summer/after school programs
  • Test: social media challenge; summer to do list from school

Math-a-thon

Math races for a cause

  • What: Create a math race for your favorite cause where participants look at
    • estimation
    • measurement
    • conversions
    • functions
    • substitution
    • geometry – angles, slopes
    • speed/velocity
    • rate of change
    • averages
    • variables
  • Why: See math everywhere– Students determine purpose and type of race (bike, walk, marathon)
  • Where: Milwaukee area with evidence of math and interest (animals, vets, immigration, etc.)
  • Who: 6th-12th grades
  • When: Winter/spring of 2020
  • Partners: City (route feedback, viability); Existing races/walks; fundraisers, organizers, MPS
  • Resources: Classrooms/teachers
  • Funding: Contest, racing funding
  • Test: Plan southside mural tour with 3rd-5th graders for winter of 2019. Show results to potential partner organizations to sponsor an event during the summer of 2020

Smoothies for Mathies

Play with ratios by playing with food

  • What: Smoothie cards that are placed next to ingredients within grocery stores with activities focused on cost, nutrition, and quantities.
    • Substitutions, pie charts, percentages
    • Include prompts for families — what is the most cost effective, nutritious, etc.
  • Why: Access– we all eat, practical knowledge, adaptable recipe, nutrition, creativity, trying new foods/combinations
  • Where: Grocery stores, fruit stands, farmers’ markets, gas stations, anywhere food is sold
  • Who: Shoppers, stores– could be categorized by goal, e.g. more fiber, ethnic food, weight loss, body building
  • When: anytime/seasonal recipes
  • Partners: Aldi, Sendiks, Outpost, Pic N Save, other local stores, Fondy food center, Riverwest Community Food Center
  • Resources: Nutritionist, cook book authors, chefs, graphic designers, MIAD, printers, distribution/display maintenance
  • Funding: grants, advertising/promotion, brands pay for printing, food entrepreneurs for product placement; UW extension, WIC community outreach.
  • Test: individual store, easy to duplicate if successful; community stores

If you want to bake a pizza you must first invent the universe

An after school program to grow and prepare food

  • When: After school
  • Where: Neighborhood center
  • Why: People eat every day. If you are seeing math in something you do everyday, you’re learning math (in addition to nutrition and health)
  • Who: Students
    • Elementary School – garden
    • Middle School – Grocery store
    • High School – Test kitchen
  • How: Chez Panisse in Berkeley, grants, neighborhood center, partner
  • Partners: Grocery store, farm, restaurant, CSA school PTO, neighborhood center, Discovery World,

Build a Business

Student run business as exposure for applied math

  • What: Understanding economics of building a business; competition w/startup funding and showcase of ideas.
  • Why: Teach students fundamental math skills used in a business
    • pricing
    • costs
    • strategies
    • marketing, etc.
  • Where: After school program
  • Who: Middle and high school students
  • When: During school (equity); after school
  • Partners: Banks, JA, area entrepreneurs, foundations, sporting teams
  • Barriers: Time, funding for startups, curriculum, scalability
  • Resources: Leighton (MPS Rec), interested teachers/school districts, Universities, business schools, B-school students
  • Testing: 1-2 MPS After School summer programs/CLC site

Thanks!

Thanks again to Mary Langmyer for her enthusiasm and work to pull the session together, and The Commons for providing the space for this month’s Collab Lab. Thanks also to Monique Liston from Ubuntu Research who brought her grad students to both lend a hand and participate in the session.

For those of you that want to connect with or learn more about some of the math folks and resources from the Collab Lab:

Mary Langmyer is on Twitter @mlangmyer
Chris Nho with Chicago Public Schools and Public Math is on Twitter @nhoskee
Synovia Moss at Medical College of Wisconsin coordinates Vroom for our area
Gabriella Pinter at UWM runs math circles for teachers and students

Marquette Engineering Visualization Lab Visit

Teams from Menomonee Falls High School and Elmbrook’s Launch program were able to meet us at Marquette’s Visualization Lab (MARVL) to walk through their models for a new water tower at the Zoo train depot. Chris Larke, the Visual Technology Specialist for the College of Engineering set up the demonstration to include exploded views of the models with supporting documentation arrayed in the background.

To explore the models, and conduct a mini-review, we donned 3D glasses to view stereoscopic images projected on four walls within what staff call “The Cave”.

After a review of both models and a chance for students to drive the presentation, Mark Federle, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, was kind enough to give us a tour of the Olin Engineering building. Thanks Mark and Chris for all that went in to putting this together!

Collab Lab 25 Recap

Water: How can we engage students in authentic learning experiences related to water and water technologies?

Beyond the facts that Milwaukee sits next to a whole lot of water and spans several watersheds, it is home to more than 200 water technology companies. This creates an opportunity not just to explore physical connections to water and the environment, but to tap into expertise around how water is used and managed.  At our February Collab Lab, we pulled together individuals from area organizations engaged water technology and issues from a variety of perspectives. We then sat them down with educators to flesh out some ideas and make the connections that can help bring those ideas to life.

 

Amber DuChateau was kind enough to step in as a guest facilitator.  She guided our discussion groups through a process that began with participants sharing what drives their work and what excites them now about what they’re working on.  From our perspective, the really interesting work in schools is driven by teachers passions.  This method of introduction provides a chance for them to connect with others who share their enthusiasm.

 

Our search for opportunities began with a brainstorming process within each discussion group.  We asked each table to generate ideas for potential projects using one or more of these strategies:

  • Mix and match — What would it look like to combine exciting work from 2 or 3 members of your table?
  • Shift context — What does it look like to take exciting work and put it in a different location, class (art music, language arts, history, business), age group?
  • Empower students — what does it look like when students drive the questions, act as mentors to younger students, lead the project
  • Distribute the work — what changes if you had 10 classes chipping in, what does it look like if you have 100?
  • Extend the scope — what changes if you can rely on the skills of students/teachers in other classes?

That process gave us a list of ideas that included:

  • What constitutes “healthy water”
  • How does water flow through the curriculum
    • gardens
    • aquaponics (our focus for Collab Lab 22)
    • connecting questions (inquiry) to answers (outcomes)
  • How is water made?
  • Connect Sweet Water’s Adopt a Storm Drain project to schools
  • First Lego League + Computational Thinking + Water problems
  • Water Poetry (with presentation of work)
  • Test presentations of water related work before visitors to Discovery World
  • Tell the story of a drop of water
  • Tell the story of a drop of water through water bracelets (each token on a bracelet tells part of the story)
  • Enlist students in UWM’s School of Freshwater Science as mentors to MPS Science teachers working with Project GUTS
  • Tell the story of the Habitat Hotels constructed for the Harbor District by Bradley Tech students
  • Extend STEMhero‘s curriculum to connect students to look at water usage of businesses near schools

With those ideas in hand, each group moved on to select one idea and create a vision for what that might look like.  Here’s where they landed:

Project Idea 1: Adopt a Storm Drain +

Goal

Students adopt one or more storm drains near their school.  Students understand the function of storm drains, how pollution can enter the system, and be swept into area streams and Lake Michigan.  Inspired by this understanding, they work to keep their storm drain(s) free from garbage that may be swept into the drain and out into area waterways.

Key Issues

  • Scalability– how can this effort spread
  • What education levels to target?

Potential Partners

  • Sweet Water
  • Green Schools Consortium

Project Idea 2: If I Were a Drop of Water

Goal

Engage student physically, mentally, and emotionally to understand the flow of a drop of water from where it lands in Milwaukee and its journey to Lake Michigan.  Use a multidisciplinary approach to help students build these stories, which are then presented to an audience from the wider community.

Where/Who/When

Across the watersheds which cover Milwaukee in grades 6-12.  Pilot the effort in 7th or 8th grade. Prep for the effort in the fall, get students outside in the spring to follow the path of water from their chosen source to the lake.

What’s Needed to Move Forward

  • Identify locations to use as starting point for water journey
    • Tap local expertise to do so (building connections between schools and partners)
  • Do a test run of the water journey with teachers
  • Map the work envisioned back to curriculum standards

How to get Started

  • Reach out to science curriculum specialists to help identify schools who might be willing to pilot
  • Run the idea past local experts to identify source locations that would allow students to follow interesting journeys

Project Idea 3: What Constitutes Healthy Water?

Goals

  • Incorporate actual water issues for Milwaukee– lead, lake levels, etc.
  • Include water quality into multidisciplinary curriculum

How to get Started

  • Identify a client (big or small) for the work
    • Miller
    • Summerfest
    • MMSD
    • Colectivo
  • Craft a project to engage students in work to explore/address the client’s concerns around water.

Thanks again to The Commons for providing the space, to Amber for facilitating, and our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion:

Brenda Coley – Co-Executive Director, Milwaukee Water Commons
Jake Fincher – Stormwater Program Manager, Sweet Water
Tony Giron – Community Engagement Manager, Harbor District Milwaukee
Justin Hegarty, P.E., LEED A.P., Executive Director, Reflo
Kelly Ibarra – Teacher Success Lead, STEMhero
Cate Rahmlow – Director of Sector Strategy Development, WEDC
Rochelle Sandrin – Science Curriculum Specialist, Milwaukee Public Schools
Liz Sutton, Outreach Manager, UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences

Collab Lab 24 Recap

Maps as a Point of Engagement

The idea for session came out of conversations we had last summer with Donna Genzmer and Kate Madison faculty members at UWM.  Kate and Donna run UWM’s  Power of Data Teacher Workshops. The Power of Data (POD) Project offers a 35 hour professional development program in mid-June that helps secondary teachers enhance existing lessons with Geospatial Inquiry.  Through NSF funding the program is both free for teachers and offers a stipend to participants.  We thought it would be useful to offer teachers interested in exploring how to leverage maps/Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools a chance to explore some ideas, and connect with resources early in the year so they might better be able to leverage the PODs training.

Milwaukee has a wealth of GIS talent at area universities, industries, and non-profits.  Our featured participants brought a broad range of expertise and practical knowledge in the use of GIS/spatial data analysis across a variety of domains.  We structured the session to allow participants to share their interests in exposing students to spatial data, explore ideas for potential projects, and solicit advice for how to make that happen.

That covered some pretty broad territory:

  • Neighborhood asset mapping
  • Macro economic data to map micro space
  • Conservation/spatial learning re Zoo animals
  • Connections to Math (social justice)
  • Viable composting sites
  • Linking environmental issues through maps
  • Past/present/future of place
  • Location of “good” landlords/housing
  • Location of bird houses
  • Parent pickup
  • Crime geography/address social justice
  • Locations for mobile maker space visits
  • Place of residence w/respect to school
  • Invasive/native plant distribution
  • Land and resource usemap
  • Suburban/urban agriculture
  • Watershed education
  • Green infrastructure
  • Food deserts
  • Location for community gardens
  • Data visualization
  • Develop GIS Apps w/IT/GIS skills
  • Freshwater connections
  • Connect people to water resources
  • Rainwater flow
  • Safety
  • Waste stream
  • Climate
  • Location of Companies

 

Upcoming workshops:

Milwaukee Community Map

Tuesday February 19th
4:30 to 5:30 PM
[email protected] – 908 S. 5th Street, Milwaukee
details 

PODS Workshops

UWM POD Workshop #1
June 3 — 7, 2019, UWM Library

UWM POD Workshop #2
June 17 — 21, 2019, UWM Library

details


Thanks again to The Commons for providing the space and to Marvin and our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion:

Emily Champagne – GIS Supervisor, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD)
Donna Genzmer, GISP – Director, Cartography & GIS Center, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Auriana Gilliland-Lloyd – Conservation Assistant, Bonobo & Congo Biodiversity Initiative, Zoological Society of Milwaukee
Lawrence Hoffman – GIS Program Manager, Groundwork Milwaukee
Beth Haskovec – Program Officer, LISC Milwaukee
Kate Madison – Policy Analyst, UWM’s Center for Economic Development
Dr. Aleksandra Snowden Ph.D. – Assistant Professor Social & Cultural Sciences, Marquette University
Michael Timm – Reflo/Milwaukee Community Map

Looking Back

It’s been almost three years since we started talking with folks about the change coming to education, the implications should Milwaukee lag behind, and what might be done to help move things along. We put together a brief manifesto that called for for connecting area educators who are doing interesting work to learn from each other, applying ideas from lean entrepenuriship and agile development to help educators seed the pace at which they are able to develop and implement innovative practices, and raising the visibility of that work.

Those early conversations led to a short series of workshops we ran in August of 2016.  We took what we learned there to kick off our Collab Lab series in earnest that October, with a session focused on maker spaces and Fab Labs. Our friends at The Commons were kind enough to loan us use of  space in Ward 4 for our initial pilots and the 21 Collab Labs that have followed as we reach the midpoint of our 3rd season.

Our roster of attendees now includes more than 400 individuals from public, private, and charter schools, universities, non-profits and area companies. The focus for a growing number of sessions have been topics which partners including Milwaukee Succeeds, M7, Marquette, UWM and other area organizations have asked us to cover. In January we’ll host our 24th Collab Lab in collaboration with faculty from UWM who have NSF funding to help teachers develop curriculum that leverages spatial data. The aim of this session is to identify projects on which schools might collaborate and help educators connect with expertise within the community well in advance of the UWM training so they can come well prepared to take full advantage of it.

Our hope when we started was to use the sessions to identify ideas that collaborative efforts could help move things forward. This has proved to be the case and we’ve run a number of experiments in different areas. Most notable of these have been around how we might develop an upcycling network to get excess material from industry available for use in school maker spaces. Our goal is to set this up as a network of student run business that can help build connections not just between schools, but between schools and the firms that surround them. Our efforts there include work with a number of schools and partners, among them MSOE, MIAD, The Commons, Goodwill, Discovery World, Betty Brinn, SHARP Literacy, and COA Youth & Family Centers.

Other experiments over the past couple of years have led to two major initiatives– an effort with Milwaukee Succeeds to address the dismal math performance in Milwaukee schools, and a set of engineering challenges for the Milwaukee County Zoo. Our math initiative is illustrative of our bottom up approach to driving change. We’ve been working with teachers and staff from MPS, private, and charter schools, with help from UWM faculty to understand what teachers need to make meaningful discourse a regular part of their math lessons– a practice that not only helps students build understanding of math concepts, but helps create a positive classroom environment and gives teachers a chance to experience more of the “Aha!” moments that energize them.

We have pilots running now with Brown Street Academy and LaCausa, where math coaches at each school are working with teachers who have chosen to make Number Talks a regular part of their routine. We launched those efforts this fall after spending much of last year working to understand what would need to be in place for teachers to feel comfortable with the practice. That support includes a community of like minded practitioners willing to help each other out, so we pull a group together every six weeks at Milwaukee Succeeds to do just that. That group includes teachers from other schools who are working with Number Talks now, or want to embed the practice in their school next year. Our January meeting with that group will be a planning session to lay out what needs to happen between now and September for schools that want to start in on the effort or expand the number of teachers involved.

Our Zoo Train initiative came together in collaboration with the Coalition for Sustainable Rail, which has been working with the Milwaukee County Zoo to test a bio-fuel on the Zoo’s steam locomotives. They would like to test the fuel on a Zoo scale locomotive of modern design.  We’d like Milwaukee area students to design and build it.

This year we have 65 students from six area high schools working to design a replacement for the wooden water tower that services the Zoo’s steam locomotives. We’ve paired the teams with near-peer mentors who are engineering majors at area universities, and given the schools a pool of industry experts to tap for help. Over the course of this effort we are also creating opportunities for students to get on-site experiences that can inform their designs. This has included a design thinking workshop hosted by Briggs & Stratton, and a structural design workshop at MSOE.

On December 10th, MSOE hosted the Conceptual Design Review for the water tower challenge. Teams presented their design concepts to panels comprised of Zoo train staff, civil engineers and railroad historians. UWM will play host for the detailed design review in May. The design approach selected there will be the focus of a summer workshop for high school students at MATC where they will produce detailed engineering drawings. We’ll distribute the fabrication work across area schools next fall.

Our goal in all of this it to develop a process where schools can collaborate with university and industry partners, as well as each other, to take on complex work that has value to the community. Having a well defined project with a lofty goal has made it very easy for both schools and partners to say yes. This summer we’ll work with teachers to put together the next challenge– an automated coal handling system for the train. That will follow a parallel sequence with the design phase starting next fall. After that, it’s a caboose, perhaps a passenger car, and then we start in on a new steam locomotive.

Throughout all of this, we have been consistently amazed by the ease with which we can find educators doing great things, willing to share what they know, and try something new. We have also found no shortage of people from area organizations who want to help– they simply need to know where and how. This is a really interesting time. Education is shifting and those who see the change coming are excited by the opportunity to work together to help speed it along.  We are grateful both for the opportunity to be a part of this and for all of the support, feedback, and ideas an amazing group of people have provided us.

— Pete & Joost

 

 

 

Number Talks Workgroup – December Recap

Number Talks Quick Reference CardThis month we joined the Milwaukee Area Math Council at City Lights Brewery for conversation about math and math education. We were also able to distribute copies of the latest version of our Number Talks quick reference card, which Milwaukee Succeeds had printed for us.  We’ll have the final version laminated, but we’re taking advantage of a mix-up when the printer forgot to laminate these.

The unlaminated versions make it much easier for a teacher to highlight key things they want to pay attention to or write additional prompts. We’ll check back early next year with the teachers these have gone out to to see how they may have modified them and what other feedback they may have before we finalize the design.

If you would like to get a couple of the quick reference cards for yourself or colleagues, let us know. We’d love to hear what you think.

 

I'd like to test drive the Number Talks Quick Reference card.

Number Talks Workgroup – November Recap

Wednesday night’s meeting of our Number Talks workgroup was focused on addressing two issues raised at our last session– producing a quick reference card for Number Talks that teachers new to the practice could use to help guide discussions, and second, helping teachers understand how to select Number Talks given the range in abilities they see within their classroom.

Quick Reference Card

After our October session, we created a draft version of the quick reference card, which coaches from Brown Street Academy and La Causa were able to share with their teachers.  From the feedback received from teachers and some ideas that came up in last night’s discussion, we made a couple of revisions and sent it back out for feedback. If all looks good, we’ll work with Milwaukee Succeeds to print and laminate a stack of these we can share with teachers working with Number Talks.

 

Choosing Number Talks

The First 20 Day plans used by Brown Street and La Causa teachers laid out a set of Number Talks for the start of the semester. This allowed teachers to get comfortable with the routine at the start of the year without having to give a lot of thought as to which problem sets would be most useful for their students.  Since one of the goals of Number Talks is to build understanding where students may have missed something, teachers can’t simply choose problems based on the pacing guide for the curriculum, and instead, need to target number talks around the gaps in understanding that students have.

We began our discussion with the hypothesis that if we identified a set of common misunderstandings, we could match those to one or more math strategies that help illuminate the misunderstanding.  Since our references for Number Talk problem sets are keyed to the strategies that are useful in solving the problems, that would allow teachers to follow a path from misunderstanding to strategy to problem set.

As we talked through the approach, however, it became clear that mapping this out in a way that accounts for both the misunderstanding and the skills teachers are trying to build (getting away from counting on, for example) would result in a complex index.  Further, even if one could produce such an index, if teachers simply followed that by rote, it would not help them build the skills that allow them to recognize where a student is and the best exercises to guide students’ understanding.

At this point, we took a step back. We want teachers to get practice choosing number talks and for them to understand the signs that led to a good choice. We also wanted to ensure that they had the right feedback to develop their skills in charting the thinking of students during Number Talks. Here’s the approach we settled on to test out over the next several weeks.

  1.  The coach will work with grade level teachers to select one or two strategies to focus on for the coming month from Math Strategies guides for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division produced by MPS as part of a GE Foundation grant.
  2. For each strategy identified as a focus for the current month, grade level teachers will pull a sets of Number Talk problems from the  guides produced by Boston Public Schools which groups Number Talk problem sets by the math strategies they are likely to invoke. Three guides cover first, second, and third-fifth grade.  Since the schools we’re working with have kids with a wide range of skills, teachers will focus on problems appropriate for where their students are.
  3. Grade level teachers will select their own problem sets, but as a team, will select at least a couple that will be used by each of their grade level colleagues
  4. Teachers will document student thinking on chart paper rather than smart/white boards so they may easily be shared at grade level meetings with the math coach.  These meetings will provide a venue to walk through how student’s thinking was charted, which number talks worked well given where students are, and how those observations can help guide the selection of the next round of problem sets.

As we stepped through this approach, we also recognized the need to list a few signs for teachers that Number Talks are going well:

  • Students were willing to talk
  • Students were willing to take risks
  • Students tried a new strategy
  • Discourse was respectful
  • The problems were just right— not too easy and not too hard

This resulted in the “Pats on the back” section of the quick reference card.

One other big decision came out of the discussion– we shifted the time and venue for our December 12th meeting to join the Milwaukee Area Math Council at City Lights Brewing at 6:00 pm.  Join us if you can.


If you’d like to become part of our Number Talks workgroup us, let us know:

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Collab Lab 22: Recap & Notes

Collab Lab 22 was focused on how can schools leverage a greenhouse/aquaponics facility to provide a rich set of authentic learning experiences for students.  We structured the session as small group discussions focused on goals, the opportunities presented when these facilities are available to students, and what needs to be in place for educators to move forward.

Here’s what we came up with:

Goals

  • Develop authentic learning experiences
    • learn how to think systematically
  • Create a micro-economy
  • Tie into multiple areas within STEAM
  • Create tangible applications to drive student engagement
  • Pull in a new audience (of students)
  • Create a focus/spur for community development
  • Show students and colleagues what is possible
  • Create memorable, hands-on experiences for students
  • Aid local pantry
  • Develop a common language
  • Develop systems awareness
    • Circle of life– acquire food; manage waste; your role
  • Develop productive, self sustaining responsible adults– personal and work ethics
  • Collaborate for learning and greater benefit to community
  • Sustainable educational program
  • Included in educational curriculum standards
  • Equitable access to learning
  • Build literacy for the value of science

Key Takeaway:  The goal(s) for the facility should drive design

 

Opportunities

  • Cash crops
  • Allow students can see what one plant can provide
  • Build transferable skills
    • scientific illustration
    • ecosystems
    • problem solving
    • environmental law/policy
    • public speaking
    • making decisions
  • Tap into kids’ passions
  • Experiential learning — e.g. things break
  • Therapeutic effects/mindfulness
  • Chance for students to see small successes
  • Chance for students to collaborate with peers they would not otherwise interact with
  • Learn culinary skills/safe food handling
  • Build a connection to food/compassion for food systems
  • See something new
  • Experiment with sensors and controls
    • Live monitoring of system: pH, water usage, temperature
    • Build numeracy skills
  • Ag marketing apprenticeship
  • Healthy eating
  • Cooking with kids
  • Community engagement
  • Add meaning to field trips
    • Water/ponds in Milwaukee
  • Tie in to solar energy
  • Public policy implications
  • Develop aquaponics curriculum to build understanding of
    • systems thing
    • food production
    • scientific literacy
  • Inventory of best practices to share and collaborate
  • Accessible exposure to systems– e.g. turn the facility into a demonstration of a closed loop system
  • Composting to teach waste management
  • Start in elementary level to create mindset and culture

 

What is needed to move forward

  • Cultural norms
  • Buy-in from risk management, facilities & maintenance at the district level.
  • A teacher champion (and a backup)
  • A student champion
  • To be around people who know how to do this
  • Broad understanding of the value to students
  • A network of schools working with greenhouses/aquaponics
  • Revenue to cover costs/justify program (reduced need for field trips)
  • Build the case for academic ROI
  • Knowing how to measure behavioral outcomes
  • Regulatory knowledge– how to navigate contracts
  • Celebrate success
  • Space
  • To just start — learn from imperfections
  • Fundraising to expand/upgrade
  • Pioneers sharing their learning
  • Partners with knowledge, experience, funding
  • Colleagues who are motivated to take initiative
  • Tell the story– market the exciting things that are happening to the wider community
  • Create relationships to introduce accountability

 


Thanks again to The Commons for providing the space and to our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion:

Charles Uihlein – Teens Grow Greens
Joe Jenna – Waukesha West High School
Sam Rikkers – Tiny Earth
Matt Ray – Fernwood Montessori (MPS)

Number Talks Workgroup – October Meeting

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…

What’s working..

  • 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:

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Collab Lab 21: Recap & Notes

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

Collaboration

  • Building a pathway from high school to college

Pedagogy

  • Context matters (real-world projects)
  • Encourages failing forward
  • Changes the role of teachers/shifts traditional learning models
  • Facilitated Learning

Curriculum

  • 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

Equity

  • The program/curriculum currently caters to top students.  How do we reach all students?

Partnerships

  • 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…

Collaboration

Key Issues:

  • Time available for professional development, collaboration
  • Lack of incentives
  • Institutional barriers
  • Lack of platform to support collaboration

Strategy:

  • 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

Pedagogy

Key issues:

  • Time
  • Intimidating
  • Buy-in
  • Resources/training
  • Incentives to continue up-skilling
  • Mismatch between what’s being tested and what industry needs
  • CS is not integrated with curriculum priorities

Strategies

  • 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.

Curriculum

Key issues:

  • 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?

Strategy:

  • 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.

Equity

Key issues:

  • 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

Strategy:

  • 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

Partnerships

Key issues:

  • IT vs CS
  • Reciprocal accountability
  • Equity in service
  • Institutional silos
  • Lack of social responsibility
  • Wanting only “cream of the crop”

Strategies:

  • 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

Resouces:

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