FAQ: Noble Impact Educators Summit 2016

FAQ: Noble Impact Educators Summit 2016


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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What is the Noble Impact Educators Summit?

The inaugural Noble Impact Educators Summit is a three-day professional development event for educators and school administrators to reimagine what education could be. Powered by Noble Impact and presented by the Arkansas Department of Career Education, the Summit will convene educators, whether they be teachers or administrators, to collaborate, tackle problems, and propose solutions for key education issues, while also taking a deep dive into interactive sessions focused on facilitation, classroom culture, entrepreneurship education, digital tools, and storytelling. Together, we can rewire education.

 

How can I register?

Early registration is open now. To register, visit our ticketing page to get your tickets today. For those interested in reserving a seat the day of, registration begins at 4 p.m. July 27th.  

 

Where does it take place?

The Summit will launch at the Clinton School of Public Service on July 27th, starting at 5 p.m. On July 28th, the Summit will be hosted at the Arkansas Innovation Hub, from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. On July 29th, the Summit will be located at the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

 

Is there a cost to attend the Summit?

Regular registration is $225 and available via Eventbrite. Career and Technical Education (CTE) educators, though, are eligible for complimentary registration, courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Education. Email summit@nobleimpact.org to obtain a CTE educator promo code.

 

How do I get there?

The Summit takes place in Little Rock, AR at three venues: the Clinton School of Public Service (Day 1), the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub (Day 2), and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce (Day 3). See the embedded map below for location information.

 

We recommend traveling with the METRO Streetcar. Click to view the schedule and stops

Are there hotel benefits?

Yes, we have made accommodations with the Holiday Inn Little Rock Presidential Downtown hotel to offer a discount for our attendees.

Holiday Inn Presidential ($99.00/night)
600 Interstate 30 Little Rock, AR 72202

Homewood Suites by Hilton ($144.00/night)
400 River Market Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72201



 

Transportation/parking?

Downtown Parking Map

For the METRO Streetcar schedule and additional information visit: rrmetro.org.

Will meals be provided?

Coffee and pastries will be provided every morning of the Summit.

Lunch, too, will be provided each day of the Summit. If you have dietary restrictions, please email summit@nobleimpact.org with your dietary needs or preferences.

Dinner will not be provided. We highly recommend that you try out some of our favorite restaurants downtown.

Summit Agenda

CTE Educators: Get Free Registration to Noble Summit!

CTE Educators: Get Free Registration to Noble Summit!

We’re excited to announce that the Noble Impact Educators Summit, powered by Noble Impact and presented by the Arkansas Department of Career Education, is available free of charge to all Arkansas Career and Technical Education (CTE) educators. Join us this July 27-29 for an unforgettable professional development experience!

Registration, typically $225, is complimentary for the first 100 Arkansas CTE educators to sign up. Email summit@nobleimpact.org now to obtain your complimentary registration code.

With just three weeks left until the Summit, now is the time to sign up. Key benefits for teachers include:

  • Professional development credit
  • Three days of collaborative problem-solving
  • Sessions on apprenticeships, digital portfolios, and classroom culture
  • Complimentary registration and swag bag
  • An opportunity to pilot an educational solution at your school

The Noble Impact Educators Summit, a three-day professional development event where educators will challenge one another to rewire education for purpose and relevance, is kicking off this July 27-29, 2016 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Summit will convene educators to collaborate, tackle problems, and propose solutions for key educational issues, while also taking a deep dive into interactive sessions focused on facilitation, classroom culture, entrepreneurship education, digital tools, and storytelling. It will feature a roster of outstanding educators, students, and education advocates to Little Rock to speak about how we can improve education for all students. And teachers will receive professional development credit for attending.

Thank you to the Arkansas Department of Career Education for providing complimentary access to the Educators Summit for 100 CTE educators this summer!

Learn more about the Educators Summit at nobleimpact.org/summit or on our blog.

Email summit@nobleimpact.org to receive your complimentary registration code. Hurry! Offer limited to first 100 registrants!

Join Us at the Noble Impact Educators Summit!

Join Us at the Noble Impact Educators Summit!

The Noble Impact Educators Summit, a three-day professional development event where educators will challenge one another to rewire education for purpose and relevance, is kicking off this July 27-29, 2016 — will you be there?


Register for the Noble Impact Educators Summit at nobleimpact.org/summit.

Powered by Noble Impact and presented by the Arkansas Department of Career Education, the Summit will convene educators to collaborate, tackle problems, and propose solutions for key educational issues, while also taking a deep dive into interactive sessions focused on facilitation, classroom culture, entrepreneurship education, digital tools, and storytelling.

Featured Speakers

#NobleTalks Speakers

#NobleTalks Speakers. From top left, as listed below:
Jahana Hayes, José Vilson, Rainbow Chen, Patrick Jones, Lisa Gelobter, and Jacob Johnston.

We’re honored to welcome a roster of outstanding educators, students, and education advocates to Little Rock to speak about how we can improve education for all students. Our lineup of featured speakers includes:

  • Jahana Hayes, 2016 National Teacher of the Year
  • José Vilson, Founder of EduColor and NY-based Mathematics Teacher
  • Rainbow Chen, Student Representative, Vermont State Board of Education
  • Patrick Jones, YouTube Math Tutor and Author of “Calculus for Dummies”
  • Lisa Gelobter, Chief Digital Service Officer, U.S. Department of Education
  • Jacob Johnston, Student Entrepreneur and Co-founder, Landme.org

Throughout the conference, we’re also excited to highlight Noble Impact scholars as speakers on the third day of the Summit, which will showcase student outcomes from within our programs.

Schedule of Events

Noble Impact Educators Summit Schedule of Events

Taking place across three venues — the Clinton School of Public Service, the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce — the Summit kicks off on Wednesday, July 27th, with #NobleTalks, a curated series of talks given by national innovators about inspiring educational moments and achievements. The second day will be focused around a team-based CTE Civic Innovation Challenge, where teachers and community members will collaborate to tackle problems and propose solutions for key education issues proposed by the Arkansas Department of Career Education. On the third and final day of the Summit, teachers will take a deep dive into interactive sessions focused on classroom culture, apprenticeships, digital tools, entrepreneurship education, and facilitation methods.

The Summit will be unlike any other professional development you’ve experienced. Teachers will be presented with opportunities to connect with local business leaders and entrepreneurs, visit Noble Impact’s Innovation Studio, and attend student presentations that result from the Noble Impact classroom experience. Our aim with the Noble Impact Educators Summit is to amplify teacher voice while providing tools to help students reach their full potential.


Register for the Noble Impact Educators Summit at nobleimpact.org/summit.

Noble Impact Educators Summit is a three-day professional development event for educators and school administrators to reimagine what education could be. The summit will take place in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 27-29, 2016. See you there!

Noble Impact Educators Summit: Why Arkansas, Why Now?

Noble Impact Educators Summit: Why Arkansas, Why Now?

This year, Noble Impact is launching its inaugural professional development conference, the Noble Impact Educators Summit, taking place this summer (July 27-29). It’s been three years in the making, and for each of us at Noble, it’s been a personal journey, one that I hope many educators and innovators will join this summer.

Register for the Noble Impact Educators Summit at nobleimpact.org/summit.
I moved to Little Rock in July of 2008 to attend the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. It was the best educational decision I’ve ever made.

Old Arkansas License Place
Arkansas, formerly known as the “Land of Opportunity”

Since that move, I’ve come to realize how special Little Rock is and what opportunities the state of Arkansas has to offer. Before being called “The Natural State”, Arkansas was called “The Land of Opportunity,” and I identify with the latter.

Over the past 15 years in and out of the education and entrepreneurship sectors, I’ve had the opportunity to attend many different conferences. These experiences run the gamut… from Fast Company in San Francisco to Gardner-Carney Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs to SXSWedu in Austin and even the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. All these conferences were awesome in their own right.

When we decided to create our own “conference,” we reflected as a team on our different experiences at past events… what we liked, what we didn’t like, what inspired us, what bored us. After much deliberation and planning, we have come up with what I believe is an offering for Arkansas teachers that will prove to be a transformational experience. In the same way design and development agency Few has coined its annual Made by Few conference experience as “Not your traditional tech conference,” #NobleSummit will not be your traditional education conference!

Little Rock: The New Center of Education Innovation

TIME Magazine Arkansas WInthrop RockefellerLittle Rock has been in the news lately, and it hasn’t been positive in regards to public education. However, I think we have a unique opportunity staring us in the face. Social change is at the core of Little Rock, deeply rooted through the lens of the “Little Rock Nine” and onto the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center. Our entrepreneurship culture is growing, innovation is happening, and we have an opportunity to continue this movement for teachers, through our Summit.

Our inaugural Noble Impact Educators Summit is focused on solving problems and emphatically not just complaining about them. The Summit will engage teachers, community leaders, and students in what former Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller called every citizen to do: “…Participate in the search for solutions.”

We will do this through our Civic Innovation Challenge format, in which we present teachers and community leaders with an opportunity to tackle pressing issues in the Arkansas education landscape.

2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes
2016 National Teacher of the Year
Jahana Hayes receives honor from
President Barack Obama

We are committed to providing Arkansas teachers a voice in this search, and we will begin that commitment on Wednesday night, July 27th with our #NobleTalks opening event.

Launching at the Clinton School, we will hear from powerful student and teacher voices, including high school senior, Rainbow Chen, who is a voting member on the Vermont Board of Education. We will also hear from the 2016 National Teacher of The Year Jahana Hayes and EduColor founder José Vilson, and YouTube math tutor Patrick Jones. This will begin a three-day experience that will inspire, motivate, and charge teachers to impact Arkansas education with their own stories and solutions.

This is our state, and yes, it is naturally beautiful. But I came here for opportunity, and it presented itself through a great public service education. Now, it’s time for us, at Noble Impact, to create the best opportunity for teachers to express their thoughts, harness their insight, and act on what could make an impact in the great state of Arkansas. It is time for us, too, to open up access to opportunity for the students we serve.

There is no “Why not?” in this equation… there is only here and now. It’s time. See you in July.

Register for the Noble Impact Educators Summit at nobleimpact.org/summit.

Noble Impact Educators Summit is a three-day professional development event for educators and school administrators to reimagine what education could be. The summit will take place in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 27-29, 2016. See you there!

Header image courtesy of Sandra Owens

Announcing the Inaugural Noble Impact Educators Summit!

Announcing the Inaugural Noble Impact Educators Summit!

Over the past two years, we’ve learned quite a bit in our classrooms, where Noble Impact scholars pursue their passions and interests in search for purpose and relevance every day. We’ve also worked with hundreds of educators to share best practices and beef up our own skills. Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of our inaugural Noble Impact Educators Summit, a three-day professional development event for educators and school administrators to reimagine what education could be. The summit will take place in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 27-29, 2016. Sign up on our summit website to receive more information once the speakers and schedule are announced, and stay tuned to the Twitter hashtag #NobleSummit!

Our vision for the Educators Summit is that we’ll be able to convene educators, whether they be teachers or administrators, to collaborate, tackle problems, and propose solutions for key education issues, while also taking a deep dive into interactive sessions focused on facilitation, classroom culture, entrepreneurship education, digital tools, and storytelling.

Noble Impact facilitates PD at EAST Initiative's Summer Seminar 2015.
Noble Impact facilitates PD at EAST Initiative’s Summer Seminar 2015.
We want to provide a space where educators can share conversations, meet new people, and listen to each other’s stories. In all reality, when I go to professional development events, swapping business cards or sharing lunches proven to be the most valuable; those are the relationships that continue on.

Everyone likes experiences that energize them and challenges them to think differently or in new ways about certain topics and issues — a lot of teacher professional development opportunities lack that engagement. In fact, only 29% of teachers are satisfied with current professional development.

Last week, attending SXSWedu, an Austin-based education conference, I was hyper-engaged. There were panels, hands-on activities, networking events, pitch competitions, happy hours, parties, coffee sessions, breakfast gatherings, and Wifi-enabled lounge spaces. These are the types of thought-provoking and energizing activities that kept my colleague and me going. We were constantly facing a change of content style, location, or activity. The conference kept us sharp and on our toes!

For the past year, the Noble Impact team has been brewing on ideas… What if every teacher and administrator could experience the level of engagement I just described? What if we hosted an experience that facilitated relationship-building while also offering great content and tools for educators to bring back to their classrooms and schools? What if we gathered amazing teachers to collaborate and share new methods and ideas that work? What if students took part in professional development?

Noble Impact Civic Innovation Challenge Brainstorming with Post-It Notes
Collaboration and problem-solving are big in our classrooms and will also drive our PD.
We’re proud to unveil our plans for the Noble Impact Educators Summit, where all of the above will take place. Teachers will be presented with opportunities to connect with local business leaders and entrepreneurs, visit Noble Impact’s Innovation Studio, and attend student presentations that result from the Noble Impact classroom experience. We hope the Noble Impact Educators Summit will amplify teacher voice while providing tools to help students reach their full potential.

If you’re an educator engaged in the conversation around the future of education, we’d like to see you at the summit! Sign up on our website for more information as it becomes available. And in the meantime, pencil us in for July 27-29, 2016. We look forward to seeing you!

Special thanks to Noble Impact 301 scholar Dakota Felder, who developed and designed the Noble Impact Educators Summit website as part of his Noble Impact apprenticeship at Little Rock-based design and development agency Few. You might recall from past posts that he’s also the great mind behind the Noble Impact brochure!

SXSWedu Takeaways From An Education Newbie

SXSWedu Takeaways From An Education Newbie

Last year, I made a career switch to education, joining Noble Impact, because education has had a profound impact on me as a first-generation college student.

With my new role, I’ve taken on an immense amount of learning opportunities including attending dozens of educators summit and professional development events; hosting student programming with the team; and conducting research both at a sector level and within Noble Impact’s own initiatives.

Being a newbie in education, this year was my first time to attend SXSWedu, one of the most well-reputed and fastest-growing education conferences in the nation. Though I had attended its predecessor, SXSW, a series of Music, Film, and Interactive festivals, edu was a whole new beast for me. I have to say, I’m quite pleased with the experience. As I transition to SXSW, which starts the day after SXSWedu ends, I’ll be ruminating on the key takeaways SXSW’s education-obsessed cousin event invoked in me around diversity, professional development, and technology.

Educators Have Meaningful Discourse About Diversity

SXSW Finding the Medium Panel
Education equity was such a present topic at SXSWedu that it slightly derailed, but also enhanced (in the end), this panel about teacher voice.
All over the web and in the news, I’m continually appalled by the amount of racist, sexist, classist, and generally offensive and ignorant behavior that goes on in America. In the past months alone, multiple peaceful protesters were attacked at political rallies, Asian children were mocked on the Oscars’ stage, and Navajo beliefs were written into Harry Potter plots, much to the dismay of many Native American communities.

Just today in Little Rock, a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt was pulled from the gift shop at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum about African American history and culture in Arkansas, reportedly because “being a state agency, the museum must represent all Arkansans.” Interesting, because the last time I checked, the mission of the center was to “collect, preserve, interpret and celebrate Arkansas’s African American history, culture, and community from 1870 to the present, and to inform and educate the public about African American’s achievements – especially in business, politics, and the arts.” The Mosaic does an exceptional job of that… when it’s not being censored, apparently.

All over the place, I hear people insisting that these injustices, based on skin tones, sexual preferences, economic background, don’t exist. At SXSWedu, though, it was a topic that came up in nearly every session I attended, whether it was the focus or not.

I have an inkling of a hypothesis that educators — who spend time every day in classroom, where a projected 51.5% of K-12 students are non-white, a majority for the first school year in American history — might be the group of people who are talking most about diversity and inclusion within their industry. I don’t have those stats, but my experience at SXSWedu at least was that it was a topic atop many people’s minds. It’s an ongoing theme I’ve seen at other conferences and events, too, which surprised me, because it sometimes feels like most of America is oblivious to the inequity that still exists in our country.

Teacher Training Can Be Awesome

Noble Impact at SXSWedu
Noble Impact co-founder Chad Williamson and I stormed SXSWedu to learn all the best that’s going on in education.
Only 29% of teachers are satisfied with current professional development (endearingly called PD, I’ve learned). That’s a stat I picked up from a SXSWedu session focused on redesigning teacher PD.

We often talk a lot about redesigning the student experience: Flipping the classroom, personalizing curriculum, implementing project-based learning. But what about teachers? They’re humans, too! And sitting in a conference hall for 8 hours straight, listening to lectures, is certainly not anyone’s idea of fun.

SXSWedu itself proved to me that ongoing teacher PD can be fun and engaging. This is one of only a few teacher training events I’ve attended in the past year, where I’ve legitimately had fun. There were all types of sessions — panels, team-based workshops, 15-minute talks, solution-driven summits. The only thing I’d add is more students… we talk about student voice, but there was a major lack of it, which is chronic across all PD and educator’s events. If we’re serving students, let’s have them there to contribute thoughts and ideas!

This summer, I should note, Noble Impact is launching its own inaugural educator’s professional development summit, and we hope to build it around the things we believe to be important in the classroom… Stay tuned for more! And in the meantime, try to spice up any PD you go to by suggesting some SXSWedu-style engagement!

Technology Is A Means, Not An End

SXSWedu YouTube's Top Teachers
Even a panel about teachers on YouTube wasn’t about technology in the end!
Lastly, but not least, I was pleasantly surprised that though SXSW-organized events are focused on innovation, most of the conversation at SXSWedu was not explicitly about technology. The two — innovation and technology — are often lumped together. But not at SXSWedu.

Even at panels in which I expected the focus to be around the wonders of technology and the Internet, such as the one about top educators on YouTube, the session content was focused on solving educational problems.

In the technology and media sectors, where I hail from, we often get caught up with the latest technologies for technology’s sake: “Oh my gosh, I can get notifications on my wrist with this watch! Holy moly, I can send a message and it disappears after reading? YAS. Wait, I can put on these goggles and feel like I’m across the world? Neat!” Ok, they’re all fun ideas, but are we utilizing them to solve problems? Or just dilly-dally our lives away?

I didn’t see a sense of technology ogling much at SXSWedu, except maybe among some of the technology providers. Educators, though, get straight to the point: How am I going to use this in my classroom? How does it enhance my students’ experiences? What are the key educational outcomes? Now, that’s some pragmatism I can get behind.

Were You At SXSWedu?

What about you? Did you attend SXSWedu 2016? If so, tweet us your thoughts on what you found interesting: @ericaswallow and @nobleimpact. Until next year!

Header image courtesy of official SXSW photographer Jessy Ann Huff. All other photos by Noble Impact.

How High Schoolers Are Using Lean Startup

How High Schoolers Are Using Lean Startup

Lean Startup Conference LogoThis video was produced by the Lean Startup Conference, where Noble Impact VP of Product Erica Swallow gave an IGNITE talk about Lean Startup in the high school ecosystem. Learn more about Lean Startup in the high school setting in the blog post she penned leading up to the speech.

High schools across the nation are implementing Lean Startup methodology in entrepreneurship, business, and marketing courses. Erica Swallow, VP of Product at education non-profit Noble Impact, at the 2015 Lean Startup Conference, shared the story of how her team is empowering students to get out of the building and solve the problems they see in their communities. See the video recording of her five-minute, lightning-style IGNITE talk below! (IGNITE talks, by the way, are five minutes total, with 20 slides, 15 seconds each. Phew!)

Learn more about how Noble Impact uses Lean Startup in the classroom in Erica’s more extensive blog post.

How Lean Startup Is Changing High School Education

How Lean Startup Is Changing High School Education

Lean Startup Conference LogoThis post originally appeared on the Lean Startup Company blog, where Noble Impact VP of Product Erica Swallow guest blogged about Lean Startup in the high school ecosystem in anticipation of her IGNITE talk at the 2015 Lean Startup Conference.

All across the world, educators are seeking ways to better engage students and prepare them for life after high school. In poll after poll, students tell us that their education doesn’t seem relevant; they don’t see a purpose behind the daily grind, the homework, the standardized tests.

For some, Lean Startup is a part of the solution.

The Problem

So, what is it about high school that disengages students? Take a look at most high school classrooms across America, and you’ll find the answer. Students sit chair behind chair, desk behind desk, in a seemingly endless matrix, wall to wall, while at the front of the room, a teacher commands the class and delivers content, only stopping to answer the occasional question.

Teamwork is practically unheard of, and students are asked to memorize formulas and historical dates to regurgitate on tests that will rank them within their class, school, and the entire national education system.

Students aren’t ignorant, though – they see the difference between the education system and what the “real world” looks like. They want an education that will set them up for success in life after high school, not one that will deflate their creativity year-by-year, until their only hope is to graduate and go to college or get a job.

We must give students a better system, one that is deserving of their time, efforts, and talents.

Coaching Up the Classroom

Noble Impact Scholars

Noble Impact scholars choose words that
resonate with them about the entrepreneurial journey.

What would it look like if we flipped the classroom equation and put students at the center of their education? What if we challenged students to determine the course of their own educational journeys, to customize it based on their interests and the problems they ultimately want to solve in the world? Instead of teachers, we’d act more as coaches, facilitators of learning.

Students at Noble Impact take a purposed-based approach to their work, and they frequently ask, “Why?” We train students to dig deep – whether they are in the classroom, at one of our out-of-school events, or at home – to question the purpose behind what they’re doing. When students see the purpose in their work, they find relevance, and they’re excited to contribute.

The Lean Canvas and Lean Startup methodology have been invaluable tools for those exercises.

Applying Lean Startup to the High School Setting

Greta Kresse and Olivia Fitzgibbon Noble Impact Scholars

Noble Impact scholars Greta Kresse and Olivia Fitzgibbon white board
at an event about challenging the existing opportunity gap in education.

Lean Startup as a business development philosophy prioritizes speed and learning over perfection – it asks the entrepreneur to define success in terms of “learning how to solve the customer’s problem,” as Eric Ries, author of “The Lean Startup,” puts it.

Lean Startup, then, is a natural fit in a project-based learning environment, where students are challenged to work on projects in line with their interests and the problems they want to solve. Lean Startup teaches students to focus on people, to understand what a customer is and how to solve his or her problems.

Instead of sitting in chairs all day long, students are asked to “get out of the building” to do customer research, define a problem, build MVPs (minimum viable products), and validate the assumptions their business models rely upon. Students aren’t used to adults handing over the reigns, but with the right facilitation, students can and do shine when they’re asked to build, measure, and learn.

Building Noble Impact Initiatives

At Noble Impact, students work in many different environments with Lean Startup methodology, both in the classroom and beyond.

Last year, in partnership with the Clinton School of Public Service, for example, we launched the country’s first-ever High School Startup Weekend, devoted solely to high school entrepreneurs. With 80 student participants in grades 9-12, the event saw ideas that included an online homework management tool, a portable storage locker company for outdoor events, a nail polish pen, and a “don’t forget your cell phone” smartwatch app, among others.

Innovation isn’t just an after-hours affair, though. Students also work on business ideas in class using Lean. At eStem Public Charter Schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, for example, Noble Impact scholars work with local businesses and on their own ideas, interviewing customers, mocking up MVP ideas, and actually building their own businesses. In fact, we currently expose Lean Startup to students in grades 5-12 and will soon expand all the way to kindergarten.

Bolstering High School Entrepreneurs

Sydney Brazil Noble Impact Entrepreneur

High school entrepreneur Sydney Brazil founded her own “donut holery”
called The Hole Thing through her Noble Impact coursework.

High school entrepreneurs are treated as rare creatures in our society, probably because we crush the creativity out of them in their day-to-day schoolwork. I get to work with a lot of fresh minds through Noble Impact, though, and we teach them that anyone can contribute to society or solve a problem, as long as they’re willing to put in the work and research.

I’ve had particular glee watching one entrepreneur, Sydney Brazil, flourish in our entrepreneurial environment. She used Lean Canvas to turn her idea for a donut hole business into a reality by founding The Hole Thing, Little Rock, Arkansas’s first “donut holery.” She makes the most delicious donut holes to ever grace the earth, from lemon lavender to chocolate chip cookie.

She started her journey much like any other entrepreneur twice her age (she was 15 when she got started) – she built a business plan, pitched at some local startup pitch competitions, caught the eye of potential partners, and launched a minimum viable product. Instead of buying a store location and setting up shop, Sydney went lean. Her MVP came in the form of a partnership with local restaurant Copper Grill, in which her company’s donut holes appeared on the restaurant’s dessert menu, alongside their house ice cream. Copper Grill also let Sydney use their professional grade kitchen to prepare the holes. The partnership enabled her to test her concept for donut holes, see if there was actually demand, and collect sales data about which donut holes were selling better. Build, measure, learn.

In Sydney’s words, the “grown up business community” has completely embraced her, Copper Grill and beyond. That’s what excites me as an education reformer. We need more connectivity between students and their communities, because business leaders and mentors are the ones who open up opportunities for students to learn and get experience. When a student has an idea for an MVP through a Lean Canvas exercise, it is local community that can help make that plan a reality.

Lean Startup Around the Country

Hawken School Entrepreneurship Educators Workshop

Entrepreneur and educator Jeanine Esposito presents a Business Model Canvas
at Hawken School’s summer entrepreneurship educators workshop.

Noble Impact isn’t the only organization teaching Lean Startup in the K-12 education system.

DECA, one of the largest co-curricular student club organizations, rolled out the Lean Canvas this school year for all of its state and national competitions related to entrepreneurship. Students used to write full 20+ page business plans, and now they’re going lean.

Likewise, educators at Hawken School, a private PS-12 school in Gates Mills, Ohio, is one of the first organizations I’ve worked with that not only teaches students about Lean Startup, but also trains teachers from across the country how to use and teach Lean Startup in their own schools. This summer, Hawken educators Doris Korda and Tim Desmond held the first-ever Hawken School Educators Workship for Entrepreneurial Studies at Babson College and made sure that each educator left having built at least one Lean Business Model Canvas.

Preparing Students For Their Futures

I strongly believe that it is our duty as world citizens to make sure that our children have the best education possible, so that they are prepared to thrive in an ever-changing society after they leave the halls of their hometown high schools.

From what I’ve witnessed, there are educators all across this country, focused on changing the education system, so that our students are prepared to not only thrive in, but also change the world.

Lean Startup, for many students, is the catalyst that gets them engaged and on that path. I encourage all educators to give it a try and to consider what it means when we ask students to take the reigns of their own educational journey. To build, to measure, to learn, and to rise to their fullest potential.

What If Students Were Encouraged To Be Innovation Junkies?

What If Students Were Encouraged To Be Innovation Junkies?

Have you ever thought about what we expect of students, and what they expect of themselves? If so, imagine if the expectation for students was to be innovators, instead of simply learners and knowledge sponges. What if we encouraged students to change the ratio, flip the equation, disrupt the system? What if the basis of our education system was built on the concept of enacting innovation?

Opening this year’s Business Innovation Factory Summit (also known as BIF2015), BIF founder Saul Kaplan declared the event the gathering of the innovation junkies, saying that in the past “the stories have been incredible, as have the 500 plus innovation junkies who are here.” Now there’s an intriguing phrase. Innovation junkies.

Over the two days I spent at BIF2015, I embraced the innovation junky title. Storytellers — as BIF calls its presenters — spoke about topics that ranged from brain surgery, expressive art, social identity, and education to blockchains, opera, game development, and prison. The premise of the summit is that “a good story can change the world,” that by listening and telling good stories, we soak in the inspiration and impetus to go out there and make a difference.

Students As Innovation Junkies

At Noble Impact, like at BIF, we believe in storytelling and impact. During the first weeks of class across all Noble courses, scholars are challenged to share their personal stories with their classmates — to define who they are, what they’ve been through and accomplished, what they care about and why, where they’re heading, and how they’re going to get there. Much like BIF storytellers, they’re asked to leave a piece of themselves on the stage, to be their authentic selves.

Big Piph and Bradley Poindexter Noble Impact Apprenticeship
Hip-hop artist Big Piph speaks with Noble Impact scholar Bradley Poindexter about the apprenticeship they’re collaborating on through Noble Impact.
Noble courses, too, push students to work on projects within and outside the classroom that are aligned with their interests and aspirations. Scholars are asked to seek out opportunities to provide value in their communities, while also learning important skills that will push them towards their goals. Scholars grow throughout the course to consistently ask how they can help solve the problems they see around them.

Noble Scholar and spoken word poet Bradley Poindexter, a senior at eStem High School, for example, is apprenticing with hip-hop artist and philanthropist Big Piph, focused on show production. The two are working on Big Piph’s next show, and I’ve heard it through the grapevine that Poindexter may either have some stage time or be producing a show of his own. Either way, it’s exciting to see Poindexter working on a project in line with his passion for poetry, spoken word, and music, alongside an incredible mentor. This is what education should look like everywhere.

Going back to the thought of “innovation junkies,” it occurs to me that that’s what we’re doing at Noble Impact: Getting students hooked on innovative thinking. And on collaboration.

BIF Food For Thought

Tampon Run Mobile Game Screenshots

Teen coder Sophie Houser introduced her mobile game, Tampon Run, at BIF, showcasing the introduction that aims to break the taboo of talking about menstruation.

If any BIF talk embodied this idea of encouraging today’s students to think disruptively, it was that of Sophie Houser, a student herself, and one of two teenage coders behind the eight-bit, side-scrolling web and mobile game Tampon Run, which was created to combat the taboo of talking about menstruation. Houser and fellow developer Andrea Gonzalez met at Girls Who Code, an organization that aims to help close the gender gap in tech by teaching girls how to code.

Houser and Gonzalez are certainly innovators. Just take a look at their introduction to the game (which gamers see before getting started):

“Most women menstruate for a large portion of their lives. It is, by all means, normal. Yet most people, women and men alike, feel uncomfortable talking about anything having to do with menstruation. The taboo that surrounds it teaches women that a normal and natural bodily function is embarrassing and crude.

“Tampon Run is a way of discussing the taboo in an accessible way. Instead of holding a gun, the runner holds tampons, and instead of shooting enemies, the runner throws tampons at them.

“Although the concept of the video game may be strange, it’s stranger that our society has accepted and normalized guns and violence through video games, yet we still find tampons and menstruation unspeakable. Hopefully one day menstruation will be as normal, in not more so, than guns and violence have become in our society; Normal enough to place in a video game without a second thought.”

Articulate and analytical, these first few screens that gamers see (screenshots above) address a very real problem: That women are shamed and ostracized for having a period, a natural body function. In fact, during her BIF talk, Houser spoke to a number of stats about women around the world and how the stigma behind menstruation holds them back from attending school or interacting with others during their period. She shared stories of students in her own school being traumatized from white-jean-leaks and that first-period-menstruation-product-purchase.

Houser recalls that she even felt embarrassed suggesting a tampon game for the duo’s Girls Who Code project. The program’s all-girls environment, though, provided a bit of support for her to finally speak up. When the two approached their instructor, the idea needed to be vetted through the “higher ups” just to make sure it was an acceptable topic. Though it was deemed controversial early on, the organization encouraged the girls to continue forward.

At this point in Houser’s story, I let out a big sigh — I was so happy the students were encouraged to create, rather than reprimanded for their concept. Speaking of encouraging versus reprimanding, another story was abuzz at BIF: The recent incident where 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed built a clock to impress his teacher and was instead arrested, because the teacher confused it for a bomb. Inventiveness deserves encouragement, not arrest. I was pleased when leaders, such as Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg, stood up to invite the young inventor to the White House and Facebook headquarters. I am proud, too, that my alma mater, MIT, which Mohamed identifies as his top school of choice, invited him for a visit, as well.

Religious, ethnic, gender, and other types of profiling should not be commonplace in society. What message are we sending to young girl in this nation? To young Muslims in America?

The Next Generation Of Innovation Junkies

The message we’re sending to our youth should be that everybody is capable of contributing to their society, of learning something incredible, of being inventive, of innovating.

BIF storytelling Jaime Casap, who serves as chief education evangelist at Google, shared during his talk that he believes all people are problem-solvers. When people challenge him on that notion, he points to his one-year-old as an example, saying that she problem-solves all day. Giving a prime example, he added that she recently solved the problem of: “How can I get the contents of this Sharpie onto that wall?”

Random Collisions with Unusual Suspects at BIF
BIF2015 attendees take part in the tradition of having “random collisions with unusual suspects,” or #RCUS, during break times.
As adults, we’re given the freedom to travel to distant lands to attend conferences about innovation and changing the world — Providence, Rhode Island and BIF, you were great this week! But as children, we’re relegated to sitting in a classroom and listening to an adult tell us what we need to know.

What if we challenged students to be the adults we all aspire to be? To take on titles like “innovation junky” and make a hobby out of seeking out information about and stories of how people are improving the world? To insert themselves into new situations with new people and then attempt to make sense of it all?

I’m just thinking out loud here, but I have a feeling that if students knew how much fun we’re having as professionals, as “innovation junkies,” they’d wanna get to the innovation much sooner than we’re currently enabling! Just a thought to chew on… What do you think?

Thank you BIF2015 for the adventure!

Header image and last image courtesy of Stephanie Alvarez Ewens of BIF

Little Rock Nine Minnijean Brown Trickey Challenges Students On Race, Education Equity

Little Rock Nine Minnijean Brown Trickey Challenges Students On Race, Education Equity

Minnijean Brown Trickey, civil rights activist and member of the “Little Rock Nine,” joined a room of Noble Impact scholars this month to discuss the opportunity gap that persists in education for minority and marginalized students. As part of the “Little Rock Nine,” Minnijean was one of nine African-American students who broke the color barrier at Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

The day began with an address from Minnijean Brown Trickey and fellow civil rights activist and daughter Spirit Trickey to 50+ students in the Noble Impact program. (See the full interview here.) Students, then, were challenged to collaborate in small teams to identify and produce solutions for problems in education related to the opportunity gap. The event was part of Noble Impact’s civic innovation programming, which puts students in the driver’s seat to solve problems that affect their lives and communities, while providing them with frameworks, mentors, and feedback to guide the process.

The day ended with all teams presenting their ideas for change to a panel of community members, which included:

  • Minnijean Brown Trickey, Civil Rights Activity and “Little Rock Nine” member
  • Skip Rutherford, Dean of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service
  • Angela Galvis Schnuerle, Little Rock attorney and Partner of the Immigration Law Center
  • Jason Hamilton, Executive Director of Arkansas Commitment

From school funding and zoning to mental health services, ideas for solving the opportunity gap in education were plenty. We look forward to supporting students as they continue growing their thoughts on achieving education equity.

Minnijean Brown Trickey and Spirit Trickey with Noble Impact Opportunity Gap Event
Minnijean Brown Trickey is interviewed by daughter and civil rights activist Spirit Trickey

Noble Impact would like to give a special thanks to Retrocat Media for filming the day; the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center for providing the beautiful space the event was held in; the Little Rock Central Historic Site for providing resources and support to make the event a reality; Education Pioneers for sending fellows to engage with the students; and all of the students, community leaders, and volunteers who provided time and valuable ideas towards this worthy cause.

To learn more about the event, visit http://opportunitygap.eventbrite.com. You can also find pictures from the event on Noble Impact’s Facebook Page and watch the full interview with Minnijean Brown Trickey on Noble Impact’s YouTube channel.