• InnovateK12 Team

Spring Sprint for Understanding

There are number of InnovateK12 member districts who ran sprint challenges this spring to engage their staff and students and answer some of their more pressing questions. Check out some of the questions and ideas below!

Eden Prairie High School ran a combined staff and student event for one week in April. It was their third event this year! The goal of the event was to seek the immediate input from their students on how they might stay connected as a community while learning from home.

Our staff and students are yearning for connection. We are initiating a spring sprint, asking students and staff “How might we stay connected this spring?” to support hope and innovation among our students and staff. We are a relationship-based community, and showing our continued commitment to this to our students and staff is more important than ever at this time.  However, we need the ideas of our community, to support innovation around how we re-imagine connection during this time.
Meagan Bennett, MTSS Facilitator, Eden Prairie High School

Here are a few of the top ideas that came out of the event:

  • Teachers will have the entire week's school work and lessons entered into Schoology so students have the chance to work ahead or do all the work in that week from one period each day.

  • I know our teachers are working hard and we appreciate them. It would be nice if there could be coordination between departments so that we don’t have multiple tests in one sitting. For example, the Math Department could have test day on Wednesday, and no other department could have a test on that day.

  • We could make other courses available on Schoology for students to explore other classes or self-study. It could be something interesting to be able to do while we are all staying at home and would allow students to make good use of more free time.

  • Today's situation may be hitting some people in our school very hard. It can be tough to not think about something that is talked about everywhere. Although school is important, we should also have time to de-stress and relax during this time. So a school-wide Kahoot or Online Game would be something to consider. Not only will this ultimately make us more connected during these times but also serve as a distraction from the craziness around us. 

  • To celebrate our seniors, we could make and deliver yards signs.  Something like: "A 2020 Eden Prairie High School Senior Lives Here! Congratulations to the class of 2020. Time for the eagles to take flight!" 

Edina Public Schools expanded the use of the innovation toolkit to include students for a spring sprint! Since their typical Senior May Term had been cancelled, innovation leaders determined that they could launch a challenge and give a voice to seniors in how to improve Distance Learning moving forward. The challenge required a little more than submitting an idea. Students had to form teams to submit an idea. In addition, they were required to first brainstorm and then submit their best idea.

The challenge? Seniors will brainstorm creative solutions for how in a social distancing/ distance learning world, Edina High School can maintain:

  • Academic rigor

  • Support for students

  • Relationships (student to student, student to teacher)

  • Wellness (for students and staff)

Check out the descriptions of some of the top ideas!

"We want to establish a distance learning environment with more structure to increase personal motivation which would improve engagement and result in better learning outcomes. Our team’s idea to creatively improve one of the focus areas during social distancing/distance learning is to implement a new weekly school schedule. Many students are struggling with declining motivation when trying to learn in the absence of the school community. While the current distance learning plan allows for flexibility, the lack of collaboration does not foster academic excellence. Insufficient structure makes it easy to get into the pattern of completing work merely to complete it, not to learn it. Our goal is to address this concern and boost academic performance."

"We are hoping that this fall, teachers and students will be able to partially regain the ability to meet together as a group, in order to do what has proved essential for learning complex ideas. Our proposal attempts to lay out a “hybrid learning model,” that combines both E-learning and In-person teaching. While our big idea mainly addresses the Academic Rigor focus area, it also benefits student relationships and student wellness. We believe to improve on the current E-learning model, it is essential to increase student interaction with teachers and peers, as well as create a system that promotes an interactive and sustainable learning environment. We propose using large areas (gyms, outside spaces, Fick, EPAC, etc) as group learning spaces. These spaces can be used as flexibly as teachers need and as students want. We want to ensure that important curriculum components such as tests, paideias, review sessions, opportunities to ask questions, etc. are attainable and safe for students and teachers. Through the implementation of the following multifaceted plan, we believe we will not only boost each student’s ability to learn, but student morale as well."

That's some solid intel there. Kudos to the Edina High School team for pivoting this spring and replacing Senior May Term with an engaging and fruitful event.

Sitka Schools launched two questions this spring for staff. One questions focused on the shift that teachers made this spring and what they would carry with them into the fall. Great success stories from teachers included having dedicated time to connect with students and families, increased use of communication and classwork organization tools, and the development of theme based video resources specialized for young children to learn coping skills. This type of question emphasizes celebration and can help identify positive stories from the staff and community.

As districts prepare for the fall, many are launching quick challenges to gather input and ideas from stakeholders. We look forward to working with you to plan your next challenge!