1-Day Institute — March 29, 2017

North Division High School
1011 W. Center Street

Milwaukee, WI  53206

The Institute offers a unique opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals and educators who are eager to learn the important role systems thinking can play in schools, businesses and nearly every facet of life.

Activities include:  

  • Lively discussions with fellow participants on innovative ways to expand systems thinking in K-12 education.
  • A variety of ‘field trip’ options to local schools to see the habits of systems thinking at work with students.
  • First-hand accounts from teachers who are using systems thinking to develop students’ perspectives and abilities to achieve lasting success.
  • Various informational sessions led by facilitators who are integrating systems thinking into local schools and businesses.

 Check out the Schedule!


8:00 a.m.                        Registration
8:30 a.m.                        Opening Session
10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.  Field Trips or Choice of 2 Mini-sessions
                                       (lunch provided)
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.    Closing Session


Optional evening “Meet and Greet” at 6:00 p.m. at Ward 4 (333 N Plankinton Ave #205) with light fare and drinks for all participants. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to network and share your insights from the day.

Please note, participants will choose between going on a Field Trip to see systems thinking in action or staying at North Division and participating in two mini-workshop sessions.  See more detailed information below regarding these options.

“Systems thinking takes your students to a whole other level of learning, and it hits so many standards all at once because it’s applicable to literally everything you do in the classroom.  Lessons that I’ve been teaching for year’s and year’s have truly been enhanced through systems thinking:  I saw better results in their reading, I saw better results in their math, and I knew it was because they were thinking in a different way.”
–Anna Geras, Elementary School Teacher

Field Trip

Do you have fond memories of the fun, excitement, learning and growth that you experienced on field trips as a student? Now you have the opportunity to experience it all over again!

Note: field trips are limited to 20 participants per site and will be filled on a first-come, first served basis.

Visit a Milwaukee Public School and see the benefits of systems thinking firsthand with real students and teachers. For each of the three options below, you will meet a building principal and speak with teachers and students about their systems thinking journey and how it has impacted learning and success.  School options:

yellow-school-bus-800pxHumboldt Park K4-Grade 8 Schoolrooted in the community … educating the world.  Humboldt Park is dedicated to the education of the whole student with a commitment to both academic and social growth.

Thurston Woods Campus — preparing students for the 21st century through rigorous instruction, research-based best practices and technology. Thurston Woods is committed to creating an engaging learning environment where all students can excel.

Ralph Waldo Emerson School — ensuring students develop the academic skills, character and intellectual habits necessary to succeed in college and the world beyond. Ralph Waldo Emerson School’s dedicated and qualified education team enthusiastically embraces diverse teaching methods and evidenced-based practices.

Or, you can visit the Urban Ecology Center, located in Washington Park, to discover how UEC has incorporated systems thinking tools into science education, community engagement, healthy neighborhoods and ecological revitalization. On this visit, participants will practice using the ladder of inference and learn about UEC’s approach to bringing systems habits into science education, organizational planning and decision-making. Explore ways that you and your students can get involved. Please bring questions and come prepared to walk outside for up to 20 minutes (weather permitting).

 Field trip spaces are limited, so register early!

Institute Mini-Sessions

mke-picBelow is the current list of mini-sessions that will take place at North Division High School.  Additional sessions may be added and participants will have the ability to update their preferences before March 29th.  Each participant will have the opportunity to participate in 2 sessions.   

We will continue to update this page as sessions are added.


Introduction to Systems Thinking

— Facilitator: Joan Yates, Vice President, Waters Foundation Systems Thinking in Education

Receive an introduction on how to use systems thinking in conjunction with other teaching and learning practices. Participants will develop knowledge of systems thinking concepts, habits and tools. An opportunity to experience, practice and discuss interactive and inquiry-based instructional strategies that support designated curricular standards and utilize systems thinking.


The Lean Canvas as a Tool for Educators

— Facilitators: Pete Reynolds and Joost Allard, Co-Founders, Learn Deep

The world of entrepreneurship has embraced variations of the Business Model Canvas as a tool and process to quickly surface the assumptions behind the model for a business. This allows entrepreneurs to focus their efforts on low-cost ways to validate those assumptions and create a solution that is both effective and sustainable. Participants will learn a variant known as the Lean Canvas and explore its uses as a tool for designing courses and units, and as an innovative solution to challenges in schools.


Using Systems Thinking to Return Sanity to Middle School Lunch Hour

— Facilitators: Susan Russell and Judy Stevenson, Teachers, Story School, MPS

Embark on a journey to restructure middle school lunch hour! Learn how systems thinking tools such as the Iceberg Model, Causal Loops, Connection Circles and BOTGs have enabled students to analyze problems in the middle school climate. Participants will also hear from students about the challenges and successes of implementing systems thinking into social lunch hour.


Telling Stories Through Systems

— Facilitator: Katie Cubberley, Associate Coordinator, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Masters of Sustainable Peacebuilding

Learn the storytelling ability of systems maps based upon research performed in Guatemala. Participants will learn how to read and explain a systems map, and then create a story based upon the information. The goal is to demonstrate how systems maps can be an effective communication tool in various sectors with diverse audiences.


Structures for Effective Collaboration: A Systems Thinker’s Approach

— Facilitator:  Mary Quinnan, Facilitator and Coach, Waters Foundation Systems Thinking in Education

We often take it for granted that everyone knows how to collaborate or lead collaborative efforts. But in reality, it’s often a skill that needs to be developed or improved. One of the basic tenets of systems thinking is that structure generates behavior.  In order for collaborative learning experiences to be useful and worthwhile, they need to be thoughtfully structured. This session will examine the essence of collaboration through the tools and Habits of a System Thinker and how the ladder of inference, causal links, BOTGs and stock-flow maps can be employed to generate structures that support collaboration.




Questions? We’d love to hear from you! Please email us for more information.