Major program initiatives during 2015-16:

Intake & Listening Sessions – Met with and held over 85+ conversations with educators, students, administrators, education students, early career and retired professionals, parents, community leaders and other key stakeholders in the region.

Sparks! Innovation Showcase series – Created and hosted a monthly/weekly series of themed, informal after-work gatherings around town to inspire, provide resources and help educators meet and support each other, featuring 8 innovative practitioners sharing their ideas and programs with over 175 educators from the region.

  • Drawing Jam at the Children’s Museum
  • Amplifying Wonder: Digital Media Play Date
  • A Glimpse into the Future of Learning: Innovations in the Field
  • Keeping in Step with Innovation: Science of Dance & Movement
  • Growing Curious Minds in the Outdoor Classroom
  • Passionate Learners: Innovations in Engaging & Empowering Students
  • Blackout Poetry & Instagram Slam

Taste of Tech Series – Created programs to introduce educators to new technology and involve the business community in professional development for educators:

  • Happy Hour of Code Parties – 80 participants (48 teachers & 32 business coaches) explored coding, classroom applications and shared tips and ideas in a social setting.
  • EdTech Sampler Business Mixer – over 100 educators, entrepreneurs and 10 business leader presenters mingled and explored educator needs and locally-grown edtech solutions.
  • Camp MAD Media – 89 participants, 6 volunteer instructors, 4 major partners helped educators expand their digital literacy and explore coding, social media, animation and interactive programming as new techniques for learning.

Startup Weekend for Education – Brought the first-ever Startup Weekend for Education to Wisconsin, attracting over 100 attendees, including 44 registrants, 37 business volunteers and two dozen innovation supporters together for a 54-hour marathon of team building, education-focused creative problem solving, prototype development and business pitch competition.

First Year Accomplishments:

Created Hour of Code introduction events for educators; Catalyzed and supported efforts for new annual “Wisconsin Code Week” by DPI to celebrate coding in WI and support national Hour of Code.

Brought first-ever “Startup Weekend – EDU” to Wisconsin and launched successful SWEDU in Madison

Created “Underground” Professional Development Programs that support District efforts and unite local community resources and experts with educators’ needs (Sparks! Innovation Showcase, Taste of Tech Series, Camp Mad Media, EdTech Sampler)

Recruited business professional volunteer Coach Corps to assist in professional development for educators

Created needed infrastructure for local communities of practice and networks of educators, business & professional folks and community leaders (Teachers Net; Madison Education Group)

Quotes, Feedback, and Testimonials:

“I love Sparks Innovation Showcase!”

“I’m so glad to learn about a group geared toward supporting teachers!”

“Speakers have been amazing!”

“This was awesome!”

“By the end of the session, I felt more comfortable about trying something new” 100% Strongly Agree/Agree – Hour of Code Survey

“Did you use any Hour of Code activities with your students?” 73% Yes; with the remaining 27% “Planning to.”– Hour of Code Teacher Survey

“How likely is it that you would volunteer to be a coach again?” 100% Very Likely – Hour of Code Coach Survey

“Would you recommend volunteering to a colleague or friend?” 100% Yes — Hour of Code Coach Survey

“I learned something new and useful.” 100% Strongly Agree – Sparks Survey

“I am interested in educational innovation. — Strongly Agree” – response from teacher participants in every Camp Mad Media session

“Thank you for making space for and fostering innovation.” — MMSD Senior Administrator
“I think I enjoy it more than the teachers!” – Camp Mad Media Business Volunteer

“I wasn’t sure what I signed up for, but once I got here I knew I was going to make some great connections.” – Recent HS graduate at SWEDU

“Thank you for your awesome vision to address the ever apparent needs in education! Looking forward to continuing collaborations…” — Community Business Partner

“I am really glad I came.” – local Software Developer participant

“You and your team did a phenomenal job, and (our) team had a blast…

We would all like to work with you again…” – Student Organization Leader

“What a great weekend event showcasing the power of collaborative partnerships and amazing people.” – DPI Leader

“Yay to the rocking folks who are making us Madisonians dream big on behalf of education!” – Teacher SWEDU participant

WeThinkBig is dedicated to improving educational experiences for K-12 students by providing educators the inspiration, tools and partnerships they need to advance educational innovation in Wisconsin.