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Shorewood High School senior’s creative writing program has global reach

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “I am juicy, gooey, hot, cheesy and heaven in your mouth. What am I?” the teacher asked.

Hands shot in the air and 10 children bounced up and down in their seats. “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!” they squealed.

The children, ages 8 to 12, were practicing giving their teacher descriptive words about their favorite food item without saying its name. 

It’s just one small piece of a curriculum created by 17-year-old Katie Eder.

Four years ago, Eder’s sister started tutoring kids in math, and she wanted to follow in her big sister’s footsteps. There was one problem — Katie is bad at math.

But the thing she is good at is writing, and Eder couldn’t find anywhere that offered tutoring for children, so she approached Milwaukee’s COA Youth and Family Center to allow her to teach creative writing.

They took a chance on the 13-year-old and agreed — and the result was Kids Tales, a program to empower children, often in low-income areas or in juvenile detention centers, to use creative writing to discover their voice and share their story.

Teenagers, and only teenagers, volunteer to teach children for a week and guide them as they write their own short story, working on brainstorming and plot and character development. Once the stories are completed, they are put into a book, making each child a published author.

The Shorewood High School senior said it isn’t uncommon for participants to tell her it felt like the first time their stories could be heard and that their voices mattered.

 “I didn’t have an understanding exactly about the impacts that it would have,” Eder said. “I thought, OK this is something I could just keep for myself …  but it’s also something that has a real impact and can make a difference.”

Wisconsin’s History Teacher of the Year has Strayed from Using Textbooks

history teacherNorthwest Now: Rhonda Watton has progressively gone away from relying on textbooks to teach her social studies students at Templeton Middle School, relying most on primary accounts of history to teach, a method that has earned her the accolade of Wisconsin’s History Teacher of the Year.

Watton has been a teacher for 25 years, beginning in the Milwaukee Public Schools in 1992 and spending the past 20 years in the Hamilton School District.

Her love of history was sparked by college professors at Carthage College in Kenosha.

“They made history come alive for me; it really was interactive classes and they had different ways of presenting the material,” Watton said. “Some of it was through literature, some was through film and plenty of discussion.”

This teaching style struck Watton so much as a student that she made it her own as a teacher.

“The use of primary source documents in the classroom and not just teaching out of a history book, which is someone’s secondary source interpretation of what went on, is important,” Watton said.

Elmbrook School District again named best in state by Niche website

Brookfield Elm Grove Now: For the second-straight year, the Elmbrook School District has come out on top after Niche.com crunched numbers and data across the state.

Niche is a national consumer ranking website. The website’s rankings take a number of factors into account, such as academic data, school resources, student and parent reviews and more.

Academics were weighed heavily, accounting for 50 percent of Niche’s rankings. Culture & Diversity, Health & Safety, Parent/Student Surveys on Overall Experience and Teachers Grade each accounted for 10 percent. Resources & Facilities accounted for 5 percent and Clubs & Activities and Sports accounted for 2.5 percent each.

In total, Niche analyzed 10,364 public school districts across the country. Academic grades were based on data obtained from the U.S. Department of Education.

Milwaukee Public Schools reps visit Northwoods fab labs

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News Watch 12: Sparks flew in front of Valencia Carthen’s eyes, sparking inspiration to take back home.

“The first thing you learn as a brand new teacher is steal, steal, steal the best ideas,” Carthen said.

The Milwaukee Washington High School principal was getting ready to unpack her school district’s first fab lab equipment Friday. Thursday, she and 12 other Milwaukee Public Schools members checked out several Northwoods labs with 3D printers, laser engravers, and routers.

“I had a small idea, which I thought was a big idea, but just going on this tour… The sky’s the limit for these kids,” Carthen said.

The tour through Northland Pines, Three Lakes, and Florence happened after a conversation between State Representative Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver. The two agreed small and big districts need to work together.

“A lot of times people think the rural schools just won’t have access to different resources, but they’ve shown us what they can do with what they have,” Dr. Driver said. “So, now my folks are going back and we’re all thinking like, OK, we can do this.”

State Representatives Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander), Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), and Felzkowski made a point of visiting Three Lakes. In 2014, it became the first K-12 district in the state to get a fab lab.

“This is where future education is heading,” Three Lakes senior Jack Connelly said.

Connelly and his team showed off their creation to lawmakers and school representatives. They also explained their goal of forming a business.

“I have no doubt in my mind that any student is capable of replicating what we’ve done here,” Connelly said. “The reason I know that is because I didn’t think I could do this six months ago.”

Since Three Lakes’ successful launch two and a half years ago, about 150 school districts statewide have built or signed on to build fab labs.

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MPS students gear up for Galapagos Islands adventure

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MilwaukeeNNS.org: At the beginning of the school year, Molly Schuld, a science teacher at Reagan College Preparatory High School, dreamed of taking students on a trip to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador. Now it appears that her dream will come true.

“I care about three things: my students, science and traveling,” Schuld said. “I never really thought before about how I could put those three things together. But when this idea came across to me via a flier in my mailbox, I just thought to myself, ‘How could I say no to this?’”

Schuld received approval from Milwaukee Public Schools for the trip, and students have raised more than $22,000, including nearly $3,000 through GoFundMe. In addition, participating students have been making monthly payments toward the trip, using money from work, savings and donations from their families.

“We are all so incredibly appreciative of the support we have received from everyone in the community,” Schuld said. “This trip is going to broaden the cultural knowledge of these students and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the amount of effort they have put into making this happen.”

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