2-Day Workshops — March 30-31, 2017

Immerse yourself in two days of learning, collaborating and fun. Participants will commit to one of the two-day workshops described below.

Please note, you may register for one of the two-day workshops without having participated on the one-day institute on March 29th.  However, participation in all three days is encouraged!


“To become engaged in a systems thinking activity is to become an active participant in sustaining connections in the system that is the world.”
–Lynn Pence, Curriculum and Technology Integrator 


Workshop Descriptions

Systems Thinking for Educators: Developing Capacity for Thinking, Learning and Leading

— Facilitator: Sheri Marlin, Chief Learning Officer, Waters Foundation Systems Thinking in Education

Systems thinking is a core competency for developing critical thinking skills. It provides a set of analytical tools, concepts, and habits that help deal with complex situations by looking at the potential consequences of our actions and identifying leverage points that enable us to make better decisions.  When integrated into day-to-day instruction, the tools and habits of systems thinking help students make their thinking more visible, allowing teachers to assess their understanding of new learning in real time.

mke-picThis workshop will introduce how systems thinking connects to other effective teaching and learning practices and school improvement efforts, using classroom examples and applications.

Participants will develop skills and knowledge in the use of systems thinking concepts, habits and tools. They will also experience, practice and discuss interactive, inquiry-based instructional strategies that support designated curricular standards and utilize systems thinking.

This workshop is geared toward educators new to systems thinking or those looking to further their understanding.


Educators’ Test Drive of the Lean Canvas

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

learn-deep-newThe 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 use a variant known as the Lean Canvas to design a collaborative project that will give students experience using the capabilities of a Makerspace (rapid prototyping and fabrication). We’ll help you get your assumptions about both the goals for such a project and the solution you envision into the Lean Canvas. You’ll work in teams through the initial validation of both the problem and solution. This will include opportunities to get feedback from high school teachers and students who are familiar with the capabilities of Makerspaces and what it is like to run a project using such a facility. Finally, we’ll work together to use that feedback to improve your team’s initial solution.

This workshop is educator focused but open to all.


Science and Systems: Learning Through Nature

— Facilitator: Beth Fetterley Heller, Senior Director, Education and Strategic Planning Urban Ecology Center
Get outside … Breathe crisp air … Learn!  Nature, whether in an urban pocket park or rp_sleddingvast wilderness, provides people of allages benefits that include improved concentration, health and learning. Ecosystem exploration within green space is a rich context for students and teachers to learn science and deepen their learning practices. In this workshop, participants will become familiar with approaches to nature-based science education activities and systems thinking tools that can be used in the smallest of green spaces. Please bring comfortable walking shoes and clothes that will keep you warm outdoors for up to 30 minutes.

This workshop is educator focused but open to all.


Complexity and Systems Thinking Tools in the Classroom

—  Facilitator: Timothy Ehlinger, Director, W.C. Kohler Partnership for Sustainability and Peacebuilding, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

This workshop will guide participants through a series of exercises that engage systems thinking tools to address complex social, economic and ecological challenges.  Seven different exercises will be undertaken to explore a systems understanding of an issue chosen by workshop participants (e.g. childhood obesity). These exercises will build upon one another to construct a systems map that allows for creating a holistic lens for viewing the challenge. Each of these activities involve active learning, getting participants out of their seats and moving while collaborating with their peers. The goal of this workshop is for participants to leave with exercises and skills to take back to their classroom environment that can be integrated into lesson plans regardless of content area or age group.


This workshop is educator focused but open to all.


Developing Systemic Leadership in Education

— Facilitator: Mary Scheetz, Former Director, Waters Foundation Systems Thinking in Educationiceberg-wksht-graphs-BubblesBW

Schools and districts are dynamic, complex systems.  Leadership in these systems extends beyond administrative and management tasks, and requires an understanding that structure creates behavior. Using kinesthetic activities and visual tools, participants will identify, discuss and practice strategies focused on the development of systemic structures to increase communication, collaboration and shared leadership focused on productivity.  The habits of systems thinking will serve as a guide for goal setting and action planning.

This workshop is geared toward school leaders.


Systems Thinking for Business and Community Organizations

— Facilitator: Tracy Benson, President, Waters Foundation Systems Thinking in Schools

A systems thinking point of view encourages leaders to step back and see the whole picture, rather than focusing
on just its parts. When individuals have a clear and deep understanding of their columbia-iceberg-3departments, divisions or organizations as whole systems, they are better equipped to identify leverage actions that lead to improvements and desired outcomes. This session will introduce systems thinking concepts, habits and tools that can help your organization develop the following: positive and productive organizational cultures; effective communication and collaboration skills; and decision-making and problem-solving approaches that benefit your organization.

Participants will learn and practice strategies for working together that will help inform the quality of their day-to-day interactions and propel desirable organizational outcomes.

This workshop is geared toward business and community members/leaders.



Workshops run from 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. each day and all locations are close to downtown.  More information will be provided after registration begins.




Questions? We’d love to hear from you!

Please email us for more information.