Initiatives for Educational Innovation Summer Institute 2007

January 30, 2007

By Flinn Foundation

You are invited to take an in-depth look and hands-on experience with four promising educational innovations set within a larger context of how we go about evaluating new ideas and integrating them into our work with students. Over the course of the week (Sunday, July 15, 7 PM & Friday, July 20, 1 PM at Phoenix Country Day School) participants will spend a day immersed in the promises and possibilities of each of the innovations: systems thinking, digital storytelling, geographic information systems, and wellness.

  • Systems thinking is concerned with the nature of change and the construction of dynamic models that enable us to design and test theories. Teachers use systems thinking with students to model everything from population growth to Romeo and Juliet.
  • Digital storytelling combines the ancient art of telling stories with the increasing ease of access to video, audio and graphics technologies. Digital storytelling provides opportunities for addressing multiple learning styles and engaging students in collaborative projects.
  • Geographic information systems (GIS) merge maps and data to provide us with powerful tools for studying our town, country and planet. Classroom applications provide students with the opportunity to investigate the world with the same data used by scientists.
  • Wellness refers to a growing collection of approaches that address how we stay healthy and balanced in our increasingly fast-paced and stressful world. Teachers are finding it increasingly important to incorporate this perspective to support themselves and their students.

Each day’s experience with systems thinking, digital storytelling, and GIS will include stories of student involvement, opportunities to work with the tools, and a chance to create something of your own. The wellness component, while similar, will focus a bit more on your needs as an educator and adult and bring are treat-like feeling to the Institute. While theoretical issues will arise, the emphasis will be on direct application with students and other facets of school life. The facilitators, all of whom have been involved with public education, have extensive experience in their particular innovations. They include:

  • Jennifer Hirsh, Waters Foundation Systems Thinking in Schools instructor
  • Stacy Behmer, elementary and middle school teacher who has specialized in digital storytelling
  • David Smith, curriculum developer for the MyWorld project at Northwestern University
  • Dr. Jagdish Dave, psychologist and educator

Accompanying the experience will be an ongoing dialogue, again with an eye to the practical, about the process of innovation itself. One of the essential messages of the Institute will be that innovation is, first, of ourselves, and second, of the world around us.

The week-long event will provide 35 hours of continuing education credit. The fee for attendance is $150,which includes lunch and materials. For more information and to register, visit the Institute’s web page at or contact: Eric Neufer, Initiatives for Educational Innovation, Phoenix Country Day School, 3901 E. Stanford Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253; 602-381-3048;