Spreading Number Talks

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

Assumptions

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.

Support

  • Overt support of building leadership
  • Community Partners (Learn Deep, Milwaukee Succeeds, UWM)

Resources

  • 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

Tools

  • A shared set of tools teachers can use in their practice:
    • Common Terms
    • Sentence Starters
    • Anchor Charts
    • etc.

Collaborative Feedback Processes

  • In-building
  • Cross-school/district

 

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.

 

Tools

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:

https://sites.google.com/milwaukee.k12.wi.us/gefvideos/math-resources

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

In-Building

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.

Cross-school/District

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.

Strong Start Math Project — June 18-29
Early Math Seminar — July 30 – August 3

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.

 

Next Steps

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.

Collab Lab 20: Recap & Notes

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)

Round 1

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:

Potential Careers

  • 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)

Logistics

  • 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

  • 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/Support

  • 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

Teaching Skills

  • 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

Round 2

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:

Teaching Skills

Problem:

  • Conflicting priorities of K-12 educators, industry, and curriculum

Driving factors/barriers:

  • Lack of regional coordination
  • Lack of frequent and effective collaboration
  • Culture of STEM education
  • Educators are at capacity

Models:

  • 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)

Parties Involved:

  • Students
  • Educators
  • Industry
  • Parents

 

Exposure

Problem:

  • Students lack exposure to career based learning experiences

Driving factors/barriers:

  • Lack of staff buy-in
    • Curriculum incorporation
    • Knowledge of industry
  • Lack of clear District/Industry connections

Models:

  • Staff PD
    • Industry
    • Curriculum support
  • Look at successful districts/schools

Parties Involved:

  • Top down involvement (administration to teachers)
  • Industry
  • Post secondary educators/administration

Equity/Support

Problem:

  • Lack of equitable & accessible resources allocated to students in need of most support

Barriers: 

  • [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

Solution:

  • 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

Collab Lab 19: Recap & Notes

Collab Lab 19Our 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

Self Worth

  • 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
  • Empathy
  • Empower kids to speak their voice

Skills

  • Access to people/institutions/jobs that need their skills
  • Exposure to job opportunities and skills
  • Practical skills
  • Transferable skills

Assets/Broadened Perspectives

  • 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

Relationships

  • Role models
  • Connections to their city & community
  • Mentors
  • 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

Authentic Learning

  • 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
  • Employment
  • 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:

Relationships

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.

Goals:

  • Break down silos
  • Build relationships
  • inter-generational teaching

Timing:

  • Fall semester– study/understand the neighborhoods
  • January to June– (student led) planning for event

Potential partners:

  • Artists Working in Education
  • Adam Carr
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Story Corps
  • ExFabula

Authentic Learning

Student Led High Interest Fair

  • Open-ended, cross-curricular. student-driven assignment
  • All students
  • Goals:
    • 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
  • Partners:
    • Industry experts
    • Community members (invited by students)

Self Worth

  • 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
  • Reinforcement
    • Positive phone calls
    • 1st day high fives
    • Children’s saving accounts

Assumptions

  • 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

 

 

Middle School Math Workgroup – February 26th Recap & Notes

The focus for our workgroup is now shifting to explore how we can speed the adoption of meaningful discourse/Number Talks within schools.  If we want to scale an effective practice, we need to get beyond simply asking (or telling) teachers to use the practice because it is effective. As teachers plan their lessons, they need to balance a number of competing forces. For Number Talks to be part of their solution, we need to understand those forces, and set up the conditions where the regular inclusion of Number Talks becomes the easy choice for them to make.  This will be the focus of our two day workshop at the Systems Thinking Institute next week.

Our February workgroup meeting was a chance to start down this path.

We began our session with a clip from Clayton Christensen, the Harvard professor who coined the term “disruptive innovation”. In this clip, he describes work he and his colleagues did to get a handle on why so many milkshakes are sold to commuters in the morning.  The key insight was not to look at the demographics of the buyer, but asking what problem they were buying the milkshake to solve — the “Job to be Done”.  In the case of this group of commuters, the Job to be Done was to give them something to do on a long commute, not leave them hungry by 10:00 in the morning, and not make a mess on the way.  As Christensen puts it, by understanding the requirements of the Job to be Done, we can craft solutions that allow customers to pull the solution into their lives.

To start down the path to understand the forces that guide the decisions teachers make when planning a lesson, Danielle Robinson, the Math Interventionist for Brown Street Academy led our group through an exploration of the hopes and fears they hold around Number Talks.

Our big question: How can we facilitate meaningful math discourse in our classroom?

What do you hope will happen when you implement math discourse in your classroom?

  • Kids help teach each other, and are excited about learning
  • Increased conceptual understanding
  • Increased student to student relationships
  • Build confidence in their math identity
  • Teachers would have better understanding of math learning process
  • Evidence-based conversations
  • Students make their own connections
  • Increased student engagement
  • Students learning multiple strategies from each other
  • Disagreement and testing new ideas
  • Teachers utilize feedback/take in student reactions
  • School-level, better attention paid to increased comprehension of math principles
  • Collect evidence
  • Inter-grade coherence
  • Raises the visibility of ah-ha moments for students
  • Coherence between subjects
  • Equity
  • Build community (students feel safe enough to share their thinking)
  • Students build relationships with each other
  • Learn to disagree respectfully

What do you fear will happen when you implement discourse in your classroom?

  • Non-stop discourse
  • Students get off-topic
  • If a teacher can’t properly define meaningful/productive discourse
  • Teacher will not value discourse/only values certain students discourse
  • Loss of Equity of voice
  • Teacher compliance vs. fidelity
  • If a principal wants discourse in a building, but how do they support
  • Fear of lacking support in the school
  • Students not becoming fluent in skills
  • Discourse time inconsistent with test time, basically how do you test learning
  • Difficult to measure the results of math discourse
  • Grading can be difficult, in terms of what a teacher values

Danielle asked the group to pick key hopes and fears for meaningful discourse and graph how they expected what they hoped for/feared would change over time.  Across the group, the top fears centered on classroom management issues. The top hope was that students would share their thinking rather than just their answers.

Testing this process with the workgroup has given us a sense of what we might expect in our Institute Workshop. In that longer session we’ll be working with Danielle to further explore the factors that drive teachers’ decisions around the practices they incorporate.  We’ll look for common themes and identify measures one might that can make meaningful discourse a solution teachers want to pull into their lesson plans.

 

 

Collab Lab 17: Recap & Notes

Healthy Food Passport — Connecting Students to Food & Culture

Collab Lab 17 was a chance to further develop an idea that came out of our December session. One of the three projects proposed would engage students in real world issues around obesity and nutrition–  the Healthy Food Passport.  Participants in our December Lab noted that the specifics of the program would vary by age group, but the goal is to have students research a culture or cuisine and then craft a healthy version of the selected dish. Even better would be to have the students grow the ingredients. Inspired by the notion that “Food is how culture talks”, the team envisions a food fair where families are invited to sample the dishes, and stories about the dish may be shared.

Through the project, the team aims for students to gain an understanding the food production process (e.g. where food comes from), help build family connections to the school and increase exposure to different fruits and vegetables.

At this session, we used a version of the Lean Startup Canvas to guide our thinking and capture our assumptions about the goals for the project, and how it might be structured.  We started the process with a discussion of the problems we are trying to address through the project, and then stepped through the remaining sections of the canvas.  We closed with a discussion around the importance of starting with validation of the key assumption– that the problems we identified matter to the students engaged in the project.  The end result is available here:

 


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

Shelley Jurewicz,  Executive Director of FaB (Food and Beverage) Wisconsin

Marisa Wall Riepenhoff, Vice President of Education SHARP Literacy

 

For an overview of the Learn Startup Canvas, visit https://medium.com/@steve_mullen/an-introduction-to-lean-canvas-5c17c469d3e0

 

Collab Lab 16: Recap & Notes

First, a bit of background…

In our conversations around makerspaces over the past year and half, we’ve heard several concerns around the cost of materials for student projects, and the effort involved to secure material donations.

Schools need material for student projects but:

  • They have limited budgets
  • It’s time consuming to track down potential donors
  • They can’t always find donors for what they need

There are a parallel set of concerns on the industry side. Companies are willing to donate material for use in schools but:

  • They don’t know always know what is useful
  • They don’t know who needs it
  • They don’t have a simple means to do so

We started exploring a model for getting excess material from industry available for use in area schools last January when we partnered with Betty Brinn to sponsor a challenge through The Commons.  That work continued over the summer and fall as we experimented with pulling equipment from Gooodwill’s E-Cycling stream for tear down events to recover useful parts.

The challenge of getting excess materials to educators has been addressed in the Bay Area through a non-profit called the Resources Area For Teaching (RAFT).  While they do a great job at pulling material in and packaging it up, the relationships that develop with donor companies are with RAFT.  Given all the efforts we see to help schools develop relationships with area firms and career based learning experiences (CBLEs), we see that as the wrong model for Milwaukee.

We’d like to see schools use up-cycling as another point of engagement with the companies around them.  The idea is to develop a network exchange model, where participants have access to materials their counterparts are able to pull in. That network could include not just K12 schools, but libraries, museums, and other organizations who can provide or use up-cycled materials for student projects.

In a network model, we need a way to create a view of inventory that is spread across nodes.  It turns out that a couple of the leading thinkers on network resource planning live in western Wisconsin. They have developed an open source platform that facilitates the kind of network we envision.  We’ve paired them up with a team of MSOE students who are working to tailor the application to see how it would work for us.  We’re starting with the simple stuff– let me see who is in the network, and what is available.

The model we proposed looks like this:

  • Non-Profit consortium
  • Supported by membership fees
  • Members issued credits used to purchase material
  • Members set pricing (in credits) for material/services they offer
  • Consortium sets membership fees/credit pricing
  • Supported by open source NRP platform

And now, the recap…

Up-cycling discussion at Collab Lab 16During Collab Lab 16, we walked participants through our model and had them beat up the idea in both small group discussions and a sharing out of key points to all participants.

Participants listed the following as key questions/concerns for each player in the model:

Donors

  • Liability for downstream use
  • Transportation/Logisticcs
  • Visibility of need — how do we know who needs what?
  • Impact on student learning

Aggregators/Distributors of Donated Material

  • Liabilty
  • Compensation
  • Sustainable model
  • Space limitations within schools

Recipients

  • Getting the right stuff
  • Equitable cost structure
  • Ensuring equal access
  • Growing the network/community collaboration (share recipes)

We then prompted the discussion groups to think through experiments that could help validate potential solutions to these concerns.  That generated:

  • A commitment from Digital Bridges to provide laptops for a tear down event at one of the schools participating, and to document the lessons learned from the process.
  • Involve students in understanding how to acquire donated material by having them explore potential relationships with area firms.
  • Start the network, learn and grow:
    • Start with a simple catalog
    • Let participants work out transportation of materials
    • Skip the distributor role for now
    • 4 column spreadsheet for catalog
    • Promotion to potential network nodes
    • Communicate to actual users.
    • Next Steps

Quick & Dirty Has/Wants Directory

We like the idea of prototyping with a shared spreadsheet that can serve as a directory of folks at schools and other organizations that have material or skills that may be useful to others, or have something they are looking for and could use help finding it.   Here it is: https://tinyurl.com/y7uas8h3

Feel free to add/edit/share.  We added attendees from schools as editors, but the link is set to view only for everyone else.  If you’d like access, let us know.

School/Donor Interviews

We also want a better understanding of how schools work with companies who make material donations on an ongoing basis.  If you have a such a relationship, we’d like to sit down with you and your contact at the company to walk through your current process, talk through what works, and what gets in the way, and what would help make the process better.  If you’d like to bring along a student who is, or would like to be involved in the process, we’d more than welcome that.  We have time to schedule six of these discussions between now and the first week of March.  If you’d like to be included, let us know.


 


Thanks again to The Commons for providing the space, and to everyone who joined us for the insight they brought to the discussion.  We had several folks from outside of K12 join us (thank you). For those who asked how you could find them, here you go:

Rachel Arbit — Senior Director of Programs, SHARP Literacy

Ben Dembroski — Open Lab Manager, MIAD

Kelly Ellis — CEO, Einstein Project

Jeff Hanson — Executive Director, Digital Bridge

Lisa Perkins — Re-Creation Station

Owen Raisch — Associate Director, Student Run Business Program, Marquette University

 

 

 

Collab Lab 15: Recap & Notes

How can we provide K12 students with opportunities to explore real world healthcare issues that have meaning for them?

We thought we’d try and find some. Last night we pulled educators from across the area together with healthcare researchers and professionals. We asked Brian King, a Collab Lab regular and former Director of Innovation for the Milwaukee Jewish Day School to facilitate.  Brian’s work with students to develop and launch student run projects with a social purpose help make him the right person to guide the group through what we wanted to accomplish. In short, to generate ideas for projects that:

  • are meaningful to students;
  • allow for the participation of students from multiple schools/districts;
  • allow teachers and students build connections to the broader community.

The thinking here is to get beyond programs that may link a single school or small group of students to a single organization.  Those connections can still happen through any of the project ideas that came out of the process.  We see a better chance to scale up the number of these connections with more open-ended projects that can grow and evolve as schools find their own ways to participate based on the interests of students, drawing in new community partners at the same time.

Participants started the evening with some Post-It Note brainstorming on the top five health related issues faced by school-age children. Three volunteers grouped these by topic.  We talked through each cluster, did a bit of rearranging and pulled out our blue dots for a vote on which topics were most important.

The result was three topics that would become the focus for the next stage of our work:

  • Stress/Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • Obesity/Nutrition
Photo of Brian facilitating Collab Lab 15
Brian at work facilitating

Brian split the workshop participants into three groups to sketch out what a prototype program around each issue might look like.  The groups talked through our threshold considerations:

  • What aspects of your group’s issue would be most engaging for kids to explore?
  • Which aspects of this issue could kids realistically research or effect change?

And then addressed our guiding questions for their prototype:

  • Who are the students you would involve?
  • What goal(s) do you have for them?
  • What would they do?
  • Where/when would this happen?
  • Who are the partners you’d need to bring your project to life?

Here’s what we came up with…

Stress/Mental Health

Challenge: Screen Free for 24 hours

Recognizing that the use of social media can amplify the stress of school, this project challenges both students and staff to go screen free for 24 hours.  In preparation for the challenge, students/staff would lay down the ground rules for what counts as a screen, and develop plans to address tasks they currently use a screen to complete– how will we report attendance, how will students let their parents know they are ready to be picked up?

Both students and staff would document how they expect to react to a screen free day, the choices they made during the day when they otherwise may have used a screen, and a post challenge assessment of what it felt like.  The project will require the cooperation and support of student’s families. Media coverage could help spur participants to live up to the challenge and encourage other schools to participate.

 

Physical Health

Design & Build an Adventure Playground

This project would partner high school students with those in elementary grades to design and build playground that will encourage positive risk taking and problem solving.  Perhaps guided by a community planning organization, the high school students would work with a group of younger students to determine what the younger students would find engaging.

To complete the work, the project envisions connecting students to mentors who can help them with selecting a location, design, engineering, construction, marketing, and considerations for students with special needs.  The team also envisioned connecting the group to mentors who could help tie the project to curriculum goals and understand the impact of design decisions on the level and type of physical activity users of the playground were likely to engage in.

 

Obesity/Nutrition

Healthy Food Passport

The specifics of the program would vary by age group. but the goal is to have students research a culture or cuisine and then craft a healthy version of the selected dish. Bonus points if the students grow the ingredients.  Inspired by the notion that “Food is how culture talks”, the team envisions a food fair where families are invited to sample the dishes, and stories about the dish may be shared.

Through the project, the team aims for students to gain an understanding the food production process (e.g. where food comes from), help build family connections to the school and increase exposure to different fruits and vegetables.

 

Interested in helping move one of these projects forward?

If you’d like to get together with others to flesh out one of these projects in greater detail let us know.


Screen Free for 24 HoursDesign & Build an Adventure PlaygroundHealthy Food Passport


During the school dayA weekday eveningA Saturday morningA Saturday afternoonA Sunday morning


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

Christopher J Simenz, PhD, NSCA CSCS*D- Clinical Professor,
Department of Physical Therapy- Programs in Exercise Science, Marquette University

Jennifer Tarcin – Menomonee Falls High School Healthcare Academy Coordinator; Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Community Memorial Hospital Healthcare Career Academy Faculty Liaison

Jonathan Wertz — Director of Clinical Risk Management, Medical College of Wisconsin

Kristina Kaljo, PhD — Assistant Professor and Co-Director for the Third-Year Obstetrics and Gynecology Medical Student Clerkship, Medical College of Wisconsin

 

Laying the groundwork for Forensic Illustration

Sometimes things just seem to fall into place

Over the summer we took a group of makers from area schools, Betty Brinn, and MIAD down to Goodwill’s E-Cycling facility for a tour of the facility and to do a bit of shopping.  After seeing the kind of material that comes through the E-Cycling program, we sat down with their folks to talk through the types of equipment that would have parts that could be useful to makers.  It didn’t take much time for Goodwill to set aside a pallet full of material for us to play with.

In August we held a pallet party at MIAD for a small group of educators and students to take apart equipment (typewriters, sewing machines, DVD players, old phones, etc.) that had come through Goodwill’s E-Cycling program.  The goal was to find the parts that would be useful in school makerspaces and return the un-used material to Goodwill’s recycling stream.  At the time, Ben Dembroski, our host at MIAD, suggested that it would interesting to see if we could engage Milwaukee area students to document how to take different pieces of equipment apart and where the useful parts are.

In September we took the equipment we had left to Maker Faire where we were mobbed for three days by kids wanting to take stuff apart. A number of educators who stopped by the booth asked if we could do something like this at their school.

In October we connected with Sharp Literacy, a local non-profit that uses the visual arts to build literacy and math skills.  Some of the schools Sharp is working in are looking at ways to incorporate makerspace activity.  They were intrigued by the idea of having students take apart equipment and illustrate it’s function within the device. AKA Forensic Illustration, AKA the first installment of Ben’s student-produced guide for how to take things apart.

We brought everyone together over lunch at MIAD and hatched a plan. We  bring the equipment, MIAD provides student interns to help coach tear-down and illustration work, Sharp Literacy opens time in their program for the effort and works with the students to guide the process. We hope to cap off the project with a tour of at MIAD where students can show off their work. Useful parts can stay at the school or go to another school that can use them; the rest get recycled.

Last Tuesday we went out to Thurston Woods where students took apart DVD drives, a circular saw, printer, keyboard, camera, and a few other odds and ends in our collection.  Today we were out at Browning Elementary to do more of the same.  We were thrilled to see the students dive in and work together with little more instruction than “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey”.

We knew from our experience at Maker Faire that students can get deeply engaged taking things apart.  Our goal for these two sessions was to get a sense of the time required to take apart different pieces of equipment, and what the students found most interesting.  We’ll use what we’ve learned so far to craft the approach we take when we kick off the forensic illustration project next semester.

 

 

 

 

Collab Lab 14: Recap & Notes

We put together our November session with help from Susan Koen and Stacey Duchrow from Milwaukee 7’s Regional Talent Partnership.  In their work to help develop the talent pipeline for industry in southeastern Wisconsin, they see a number of systemic issues that get in the way of effective career based learning experiences for students.  We set up the session with the aim of mapping out factors which contribute to successful CBLE’s and identifying the key places where collaborative efforts might make a difference.

For this session, we split the attendees across 5 tables, where each participant shared their thoughts on key goals, and came together as a team to share those the felt were most important with the entire group.  These included:

  • Help students find their passion
  • Students/Mentors develop relationships that allow them to know each other as a person
  • Students Stay in School
  • Students are able to build 21st Century skills
  • Teachers are prepared and energized

We followed this with a second round of where participants shared their thoughts on key factors which help reach those goals or stand in the way.  Again, each table came to a consensus on on the key factors to share out with the larger group.  These include:

  • Students are prepared for CBLEs
  • Students have a voice in their learning
  • Students have access to a number of diverse experiences
  • Students have the resources (transportation, etc,) to accept CBLE opportuntities
  • An organization wide culture within schools supports CBLEs (as opposed to a focus on college preparedness)
  • Teachers have the resources they need to deliver on their end of CBLEs
  • Policies (state & district) support CBLEs
  • Leadership embraces 21st Century skills
  • The level of collective will (in support of CBLEs)
  • CBLE is part of general conciousness
  • Employers recognize the benefit of CBLEs
  • Teachers’s ability to connect curriculum to CBLEs
  • Schools/industry have a common understanding of what a partnership requires
  • All stakeholders have an equal voice
  • Employers have program in place to support CBLE
  • Teachers are prepared to be coaches
  • Schools/partners have dedicated resources to make CBLEs work

As we talked through each of these factors in turn, we built up a map that gave us a first draft how these factors influence each other, and thereby, the goals we have for CBLEs.  We ended the session by having the participants identify, by placing dot stickers on our map, the factors they felt were most important.  The key items for the group as a whole:

  • An organization wide culture within schools supports CBLEs (as opposed to a focus on college preparedness)
  • Schools/partners have dedicated resources to make CBLEs work
  • Schools/industry have a common understanding of what a partnership requires

Next Steps

We’ll be working with Milwaukee 7 to pull together follow on sessions to drill into each of the top three factors and from that, identify where collaborative efforts could make a difference. Interested in participating in one of these sessions?  Let us know:


During the school dayA weekday eveningA Saturday morningA Saturday afternoonA Sunday morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Middle School Math Workgroup: November 13th Session – Recap & Notes

Gabriella Pinter from UWM’s mathematics department joined us for our November 13th session. Gabriella runs a Math Circles program at UWM for middle and high school students (http://uwm.edu/news/math-circle-taps-kids-creativity-in-problem-solving/) as well as a second program for area K12 teachers. She gave our group a minds-on experience of the process.

The Math Circles approach is to explore a problem (which may or may not have a known answer) to see where the ideas lead, test whether a solution can be proven, and see what new questions those discoveries raise.  As with meaningful discourse, it allows students to collaboratively build their understanding of the problem at hand, drives students to think carefully about what they do and do not know, and, as the problem is discussed, makes that thinking visible not only to the teacher but the other students in the room.

For our exercise, Gabriella asked us to play a game within a 4 x 4 grid. The rules of the game are pretty simple: You may put a single diagonal line running from corner to corner in any cell of the grid, so long as neither end point of that diagonal touches an end point of a diagonal in any adjoining cell. Go.

It doesn’t take long for the question to surface– how many diagonals can one place in the grid? The group’s consensus, 10.

How about a 3 x 3 grid? 6.

2 x 2 Grid? 3.

1 x 1 grid? Well yeah, 1.

5 x 5? 15…. Are you sure?

 

Well it looks like we have a pattern of triangular numbers…

Grid Size 0 1 2 3 4 5
Diagonals 0 1 3 6 10 15

Take the last number of diagonals, add to it the next grid size, get the next number of diagonals:

0 + 1 = 1

1 + 2 = 3

3 + 3 = 6

6 + 4 = 10

10 + 5 = 15

So we have a pattern and that looks like a pretty good rule.  Is it a proof? er…. maybe?

What else have we seen?  Well, each diagonal we place uses up two potential end points on the grid.  On a 4 x 4 grid, if we mark these potential end points as alternating rows of blue and red dots, starting with blue, we will have 3 rows of 5 blue dots and 2 rows of 5 red dots.  With that pattern, every diagonal must touch a red dot.  There are only 10 red dots, seems like a pretty good proof that 10 is the limit for a 4 x 4 grid.

Ok, what about a 5 x 5 grid?  Now, for both blue and red dots, we have 3 rows of 6, and therefore an upper limit of 18 diagonals.  So what is possible 15, which we found, 18 which is clearly the upper limit, or something in between?  Please tell us how you found 16.

……………………..

The wonderful thing to see in this process was how Gabriella slowly released a little bit more of the problem to explore just as the group thought it had arrived at an answer.  It was a very effective way of keeping engagement and interest high by continually adjusting the bounds of the problem to a point just beyond what we knew.

Gabriella pointed us to www.mathpickle.com which has a wonderful collection of problems to explore for any grade level.

Up next for the group, math journals.


The Middle School Math Workgroup is a collaborative effort with Milwaukee Succeeds to explore practices which drive student performance and share ideas and experiences about bringing those practices into the classroom.