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

    Collab Lab 13: Problem Finding

    Collab Lab 13: Problem Finding

    Getting your students involved in problem solving is a lot more useful when you’ve found a good problem to solve.

    We’re kicking off our second season of Collab Labs with a hands-on session. Together, we’ll walk through simple process to identify a problem or two worth solving at your school and send you home with the tools to try out the process with some of your students.  Wondering what a problem worth solving looks like?

    Brian King pointed us to this wonderful example:

    Join us for a chance to connect and share ideas with your colleagues at public, private, and charter schools from across greater Milwaukee who want to engage their students in authentic learning experiences.


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

    6:00 – 8:30 Let’s find some interesting problems to work on.

    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:

    Brian King

    Brain King

    Educator/Maker/Skill Acquirer
    Former Head of School and Director of Innovation at Milwaukee Jewish Day School

    A lawyer, educator and maker, Brian recently spearheaded the educational transformation at Milwaukee Jewish Day School from a traditional school to one focused on student-owned learning, learning through inquiry and making. The transformation included building a new Innovation Hub to complement the school’s approach to teaching and learning.


    Cynthia Short

    Cynthia ShortCynthia is an experience researcher, strategist and designer. Evolving from her background in User Experience, and her work in and across a variety of industries, in recent years Cindi has worked to push the evolution of Experience Design and its application and practice not only in the business sector, but into unsuspecting processes and areas, including entrepreneurship, social system design education and community development.

    Dale Truding

    Dale Truding

    A designer, a collaborator and an initiator, Dr. Dale Truding is a future-focused leader who has worked in eight different states and designed two schools that have been recognized nationally. She has worked in collaboration with educational scholars throughout the world who support student-owned learning and help to create educational models that support students finding problems, seeking solutions and taking action to improve the quality of life both locally and globally.

    Dr. Truding has her doctoral degree in gaming and second language acquisition. She has spent forty-eight years of her career mentoring teachers and school leaders to become lead learners and model the skills, habits and attitudes needed for all students to be prepared for the world of today and tomorrow.


    Paula Kaiser
    Paula Kaiser

    Founder and Director of Coaching at Activate Pathways
    Director of Development at Norris Academy
    Director of Coaching at Epiphany Learning

    Paula has taught in classrooms, led schools through the implementation of personalized learning as an Instructional Coach, and witnessed district-wide change as a Personalized Learning Coordinator. Paula’s first hand experience of the power of student-centric learning allows her to guide schools and districts through successful implementation and mindset change. At Norris Academy, she is responsible for the strategic development of the Academy utilizing design theory to research, prototype, implement and evaluate innovative approaches to learning.


    We’re sorry he can’t be there for the session, but thanks go out to David Howell (MSOE/Epiphany Consulting) who, with Brian, helped us pull together the process we’ll run through.

    The Collab Lab will be held in the innovation space at Ward 4, 333 North Plankinton Avenue, Milwaukee, WI.  Space provided courtesy of The Commons.


    2023-24 Collab Labs

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