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Working with Community Partners for student success – Recap & Notes

How can organizations and educators effectively collaborate for greater student success?

Our December Collab Lab conversations explored the benefits, needs and hurdles of collaboration on student learning experiences. One of the major hurdles for teachers to be able to create truly engaging real world experiences with students is the challenge of involving the appropriate outside expertise at the appropriate time in a student’s project. And if the student is encouraged to determine when that additional expertise would be helpful, things get even more messy. But since we all recognize the value of bringing in that outside perspective, what are some (proven) approaches that teachers could adopt as they venture in the world of student driven learning experiences?

Our December 2021 Collab Lab  (what’s a Collab Lab?) provided an opportunity to explore how we might leverage outside resources and begin establishing relationships to shift the use of ‘mentors’ from a 30 minute ‘song and dance’ to a meaningful semester long mentor relationship that draws out the best in each student?

After taking some time to to explore the participant’s own experience with collaboration, either as an educator or as a community partner, we asked the starting question to some great conversations: How can we create the circumstance for effective collaboration amongst teachers and (supportive individuals at) community organizations?

Common themes highlighted by all groups were:

  1. Communication, including feedback, is a major factor in successful collaboration when it comes to blending learning inside and outside the classroom;
  2. Commitment to the relationship and a plan for ongoing involvement;
  3. Flexibility of participation on a week by week basis (‘school’ is a messy workplace);
  4. Clarity around who is available as a partner and what kind of input and commitment is offered;

Nothing too stunning, and in fact these are core aspects of any successful and sustaining collaboration in the business world and public-private partnerships. What is unique is that these conversations provided an opportunity for educators and community members in non-profit and corporate settings to hear from each other what makes (common) sense to pursue if we are serious about working together for the greater benefit of the students in Milwaukee. What makes this more challenging? The complex environment we’ve created that we call ‘school’.

This list is not claiming to be complete, but it does provide several worthwhile entry points for further exploration if we want to come together in an (STEM) ecosystem to gradually implement the type of learning that we know 21st century students need exposure to if we want to develop the talent our communities are in desperate need of. A great starting point for further exploration of ‘what’s possible’! 

 

Interested in this type of conversation and being part of creating the shift in education we need?

Join our Collaborative Learning Community ‘inspirEd‘ and become part of creating the future of education.

 

What should effective partnerships offer teacher, students and partners? 

Here is what the attendees uncovered:

Teachers Partners Students
setting expectations of what’s possible setting expectations of what’s possible continuous learning made possible
involving partners enriches the curriculum enables partner to better meet funder standards getting out of the classroom in a meaningful way
It addresses the need for funds for activities (and PD) offer culturally responsive practices

opportunity for hands on activities, leading to exposure to careers

having a list of partners to pull from exposure for educators and students stimulating creativity and curiosity
Receive feedback from partner receive feedback from educators active engagement in the learning: “I wonder….?”
continuity & longitudinal experiences flexibility to work with school/grade needs

accountability to learning outcomes

sustaining relationships through transitions plan of action for building ongoing relationships more than one-time experiences
willingness to try Connect with the greater community – schools, families open-ended-ness of learning and exploring
pre-planning events open, collaborative communication engagement with people and community
ideas for what to include in teaching through learning experiences who are the partners and when are they available? opportunity to explore the Why?
community involvement in learning experiences clear idea of the goal of partnering with teachers STEM and business careers exposure
sharing experience with ‘being involved’ sharing experience with ‘being involved’ sharing experience with ‘being involved’
exposure to work, careers, etc. exposure needs and challenge of teaching exposure to mentors, work and concepts
  meaningful volunteer opportunities builds hope and ability to dream about their place in the community
  hearing from others what an organization might do for the community  
  talent recruiting  

 

What is needed to develop an effective collaboration for student success?

There are a lot of good intentions among those early to recognize that collaboration with teachers in real world focused student projects present great benefit and opportunity. But how do we practically get to a place where we can start realizing those benefits?

The attendees have the following suggestions:

Teacher Partner Student
access to partners access to teachers Access to mentors ‘from the real world’
budget available budget for interaction at middle/high school level learning takes time
curriculum alignment available time to volunteer training 
available time to devote experience with mentoring (middle school) students set behavior goals (accountability)
Training (pbl, technology, management) individual commitment to engage for the duration of a student project how to drive their full engagement
management support  administration/upper management support and involvement commitment to learn
transportation and other logistical resources time  co-teaching
commitment to support  alignment to learning standards alignment to learning standards
motivation a coordinators cross curricular / interdisciplinary activities
energy growth mindset growth mindset
set of goals for collaboration patience class visits
a list of ‘what’s possible’    
willingness to take risks    
Patience    
growth mindset    

 

What gets in the way of successful collaboration ?

We all can imagine the sorts of things that get in the way of teachers doing their best teaching and community partners staying committed over time. What stood out for me was 

A lack of advocating for the benefits of hands-on learning experiences through stories of student success, both in the school context and in the community partner organization.

 

Here is the list our conversation participants developed

Teacher Partner Student
understanding of different learning styles understand (student) learning styles learning styles
experience with different teaching strategies funding in support of real world learning and your employee participation in it available time (none!)
funding do you have an overall engagement strategy motivation to learn
time how much time can you afford to dedicate? learning to get and receive feedback
understanding the audience understanding your audience (teachers) and their familiarity level with modern business language/disability
getting feedback giving and getting feedback about what works background knowledge
limited network / contact list matchmaking of relevant expertise need of deeper processing (time to process and follow through)
awareness of available resources and opportunities logistics Reflection
miscommunication miscommunication hierarchy of needs
logistics lack of knowledge  relatability
Creating the stories of ‘why’ one-sided decision making  
unwilling to showcase opportunity willingness to make involvement mutually beneficial  
Professional Development (related to pbl/domain/tech) admin involvement  
expectations for students and partners corporate structure  
  restrictive funds  

 

Would you like to join these conversations with teachers and community partners?

Consider participating in upcoming Collab Labs. Every 2nd Thursday of the month during the school year. RSVP on our Collab Lab page

Not a member of inspirEd yet? Join the Collaborative Learning Community ‘inspirEd‘ and continue this and other conversations with your peers from across Milwaukee and beyond who are experimenting with and sharing what works for our students.

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks again to MSOE’s STEM Center for hosting Collab Labs this season and to our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion:

Bev Bryant – Park Naturalist at Wehr Nature Center

Catrina Crane – Director of Workforce & Business Solutions, Menomenee Valley Partners

Elizabeth Taylor – Director of STEM, MSOE

Graciela Hernandez  – Senior Universal Banker with Summit Credit Union

Natalia Hernandez – Outreach Specialist, the Harbor District

Adjusting to Coronavirus

From the beginning, our approach has been to give educators and folks from the broader community the chance to come together to explore and move forward ideas about how to engage students in meaningful collaborative work that builds connections across Milwaukee’s many silos.  We also recognized that the best way to build the relationships and  trust that allows effective collaboration is for people to have the chance to meet and work together in person.

Unfortunately, this in-person, network focused approach to the spread of ideas is just what we don’t want in this time of cornoavirus. We’re making a number of adjustments to keep things moving forward while keeping our network and the students they work with safe.

Collab Labs

Collab Lab 34: Tapping industry expertise will be held as a Twitter chat at #CollabLabChat on Thursday April 9th from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

Collab Lab 35: Re/connect has been postponed to Thursday August 13th

Zoo Train Challenge

Review sessions at the UWM and Marquette’s 3D visualization labs, as well as the the session scheduled with Operating Engineers Local 420 have been cancelled.

The final design review scheduled for April 28th at MSOE has also been cancelled. We will work with the Milwaukee County Zoo and participating schools to explore alternatives for students to share their designs to rework the coal handling process for the Zoo’s steam locomotives.

Fabrication of a new water tower for the Zoo’s steam locomotives based on the designs from last year’s challenge has been postponed until fall.

MPS STEM Studio

The STEM Studio sessions with MPS teachers working to design real world projects that engage students in computational thinking are on hold until teachers return to work.

Making use of this time

We’re exploring opportunities to help keep things moving for you. Let us know what challenges you see ahead and let’s see if we can’t find some new opportunities out of the present chaos, in our one question survey here.

2018-19 Collab Labs

Collab Labs are back for a 3rd season

We’ve set the schedule for this year’s Collab Labs.  In Collaboration with SafeNet Consulting, we’re kicking off the season on October 11th with a look at developing computer science talent. Through the continued support of The Commons, we’ll be back in Ward 4– now with street car service (well, tracks).

Here’s the schedule:

Dec 08

Collab Lab 51: Student Driven Issues

Thursday December 8 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Feb 09

Collab Lab 52: Infusing the Arts

Thursday February 9, 2023 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Mar 09

Collab Lab 53: Sharing Student Work & Stories

Thursday March 9, 2023 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Apr 13

Collab Lab 54: What we Learned from a Day at the Waters

Thursday April 13, 2023 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
May 11

Collab Lab 55: Re/Connect

Thursday May 11, 2023 @ 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Collab Lab 20: High School STEM Internships– Creating a culture for talent development

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’ll dig in to the opportunities for, and barriers to, creating effective STEM internships for high school students–  what it takes to create internship experiences that students value, how we raise the visibility/number of internships available in a broader range of STEM fields, and what does it look like when the goal of an internship program is talent development rather than simply low cost labor.

Come share ideas with your colleagues at public, private, and charter schools from across greater Milwaukee, as well as some folks outside of K12 who offer an interesting perspective on the topic.

Agenda

5:30 – 6:00 Grab something to eat and drink, say hello

6:00 – 8:30 Let’s learn from each other.

Food and beverage will be provided. There is no charge for participation but space is limited!

 

Featured Participants

Among others, you’ll have a chance to talk with:

Tamera Coleman–  Internship Coordinator, Milwaukee Public Schools

Tamera is responsible for the development and implementation of a viable internship program at the district level. Tamera spends time facilitating student learning by assisting students to secure appropriate internships to enhance overall academic experience while learning essential skills. Tamera also initiates and builds partnerships with employers to develop student opportunities for endeavors locally. Tamera is also a proud MPS alumni, a mother of 2 young children, a wife of an educator and a Milwaukee native truly committed to youth empowerment.

 

Matthew Hunt– College & Career Readiness Specialist, New Berlin High School

Matt previously worked as an Account Manager in the Professional Services Division of Aerotek, the largest staffing firm in the country, where he worked with businesses across multiple industries to help them find talent in Accounting/Finance, Supply Chain, Marketing, Customer Service, and Administrative Support. He later served as a School Counselor at New Berlin West for 3 years and took a leadership role with the district’s Career and Service Based Learning Program. During the 2017-18 school year, Matt transitioned into a newly created role as the District’s College and Career Readiness Specialist and now manages Youth Apprenticeship and Internship programs at both New Berlin West and New Berlin Eisenhower high schools.

 

Ariana Radowicz– University Relations, Rockwell Automation

Ariana leads recruitment for Rockwell Automation’s high school internship programs as well as their scholarship/specialty programs. She also participates in ADVANCE, the company’s young professionals employee resource group and works to build a diverse pipeline of students for Rockwell’s early career programs.

 

Molly Schuld– Science Teacher, Ronald Reagan High School

Molly is a science teacher and a personal & professional skills teacher at Ronald Reagan High School. She came to Milwaukee through Teach For America and has now been teaching in Milwaukee Public Schools for four years. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Education in Educational Policy and Leadership.

Molly also serves as the Ronald Reagan High School’s NAF Director for the Academy of Health Sciences, which involves connecting students to career-based learning experiences in the community. She secures STEM internship opportunities for Reagan’s upperclassmen in Milwaukee-area. Molly has also developed and continues to lead several programs including Reagan’s International Travel Program, SMART Team, and Girls In Technology Program.

 

Laura Schmidt, Strategic Advisor to the Superintendent – School District of New Berlin

Laura has an MBA (Leadership Studies) from Marquette University. She worked for 15 years for Northwestern Mutual and was responsible for enterprise software, usability testing, and technology research.  She served as the Executive Director of an Education Foundation for 4 years before joining the School District of New Berlin as a consultant.  She represents the Superintendent in local, regional and state efforts designed to support a strong talent pipeline for the benefit of students as well as the state’s economy. She holds a Scaled Agilist certification to inform strategic planning and implementation efforts.

 

Erica Steele– Manager, Workforce Development,  Froedtert Health

Erica Steele is the Manager of Workforce Development at Froedtert Health focused on driving innovative workforce strategies internally and externally to grow and diversify the healthcare talent pipeline to meet current and future industry needs. This includes collaborating and partnering with educational institutions, workforce agencies, community based organizations,  internal stakeholders, and others to identify, engage, train and create pathways for talent to enter and advance in the healthcare field. She provides subject matter expertise on the topics of workforce development, education/training, program development and management, volunteer management, public speaking and fund development.

 

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

       

      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

         

         

         

         

         

         

        Collab Lab 13: Recap & Notes

        Problem Finding

        Bring King joined us for Collab Lab 13 to walk us through an exercise to identify problems worth solving at attendees’ schools.  The idea was to give participants the feel for a process they could use with their students to identify challenges students could take on as authentic learning experiences.  Thanks also go out to David Howell (MSOE/Epiphany Consulting) who, with Brian, helped us pull together the process (below).

        Our participants look to take the process back to their schools to see what their students might come up with.  We’re scheduling a follow up meeting at the beginning of December to re-group and share feedback from the process, see what problems students are willing to take on and, and share ideas about how to help the students dive into a problem solving exercise.  If you are interested in joining in, let us know:

           

          The Process:

          Step 1: Rapid Fire Problem Finding

          • Break into teams of 4 to 8 participants
          • On their own, each participant writes as many “problems at your school” as they can think of on note cards– one note card per problem
          • Collect all the note cards and put them into the bag o’ problems

          Step 2: Mix and Redistribute the Cards

          • Shuffle the cards and distribute them equally between the teams
          • Each team categorizes and notes duplicates
          • Each team prepares a categorized list of problems to share with the entire group on a white board or large Post-it sheet.

          Mixing the cards ensures that members are exposed to ideas from outside of their own team

          Step 3: Large Group Sharing

          • Each team reports on the problems on their list
          • Teams share anything noteworthy about their process
          • The team may refine the categorization and list based on feedback from the group

          Step 3a: Optional — Identify More Problems.

          If the teams had a hard time coming up with an initial set of problems, prompt for additional ones to consider by asking

          • Are there categories of problems that are missing?
          • Are we missing the problems of any groups at the school (teachers, staff, administration, parents, students, neighbors) or subgroups of those (new students, minorities, impoverished students, etc.)?

          Step 4: Drilling Down

          In teams, but remaining all together in the room, consider the following questions:

          • Are there any problems on the wall that are actually dilemmas?
          • Are there any problems on the wall that aren’t actually problems?
          • Are there any problems on the wall that would benefit from re-articulation?
          • How might we “triage” these problems?
          • Is it realistic for you/your group to actually solve the problem?
          • Are there new problems to articulate based on your reading of all the problems?

          Each team then drafts a revised list:

          • Based on the drill down questions, narrow to 3-4 issues and write them on a white board or large Post-it note.
          • Put a circled D or circled P next to each issue to identify it as a problem or dilemma
          • Record any problems/dilemmas that need further clarification before decision/asking
          • Each group shares their revised list

          Middle School Math Work Group: October 9th Session– Recap & Notes

          Causal Loop Diagram for middle school math performan
          Our revised diagram highlighting key factors and adding a couple of new ones.

          This was the first working session for a group of educators focused on middle school math that is part of a collaborative effort with Milwaukee Succeeds. We began our October 9th session with a silent discussion: using post-it notes to determine what is missing on the causal map, and dots to determine what three factors have the most impact on student learning.  Our goal in doing so is build a model that can help us chart a course to improved student performance.

          Reflections

          At the end of our first session we challenged the group with a reading assignment (Making Number Talks Matter: Developing Mathematical Practices and Deepening Understanding) and to experiment with meaningful discourse in their math classes.  The group took a bit of time to reflect on what worked, what was challenging, and ways to we get past that.

          What stuck with you

          • Process is important (engaging in routines and creating common language)
          • Temptations to resist (not putting words into students mouths)
          • Mindset check, reminder on what really does help a student
          • Actually prod student confusion, and allow students that space

          If you had a chance to experiment, were you able to? What worked and what didn’t work?

          • Peer-peer convos, non-verbal responses, but students have a hard time explaining what they really mean beyond the algorithm
          • Number talks: intentionally planning these talks
          • Multiple ways of talking about the numbers
          • Thought patterns, find out where the kids are at
          • Kids ping-pong off each other to see each other ideas and ways of thinking about things
          • Kids being so ingrained in rote-memorization, have a hard time getting out of that, and that there isn’t only one way of finding the answer to the math problem

          Exercise in meaningful discourse

          For the bulk of the evening, Kevin McLeod from UWM’s Department of Mathematical Sciences led the group through a discourse session on a single math problem appropriate for middle school students. This helped provide context for the higher level conversation which ran in parallel around the reasoning behind the process. The problem and his notes are available to download here.