Camp Snowball Core Modules | Camp Snowball

Camp Snowball is carefully designed to provide a variety of in-depth learning opportunities. At the heart of your participation is a core module, which you will attend for approximately 14 hours over the course of the week. This is not “fly-by” learning. We want you to be able to go back home and really put your experiences from camp into practice.
We offer application-specific foundational workshops (applying tools and approaches to early learning, elementary, secondary, and leadership) where you will learn both the tools and how to use them in your particular context as well as more advanced workshops for those who are ready for more challenges.

And we’ll have some new core modules that will make this year’s theme come to life–from a core module on addressing issues of equity and social justice in education to social and emotional learning.

Stay tuned: we’ll be finalizing the core modules shortly–but here is a sampling of what you have to look forward to.


Challenging the Mental Models of Equity-Based Leadership
“Disparities (in income, health, employment, education) can’t be understood in isolation. They are embedded in systems in which there are many interactions and feedback loops.” (Professor john powell, Haas Institute, University of California, Berkeley Law School) In schools and districts, equity-based leadership is critical to overcoming racism and inequitable practices that stem from disparate beliefs about children. “Racism has effects on a systemic level even without individual racists or racist behaviors.” (Professor john powell) If we are to re-construct the educational system to ensure equity for all, becoming aware of our own mental models is a crucial first step. Mental Models are our deeply held assumptions and beliefs, or lenses, through which we understand the world and take action in it. They can be conscious—we see and recognize them and can question them; or unconscious—we are not even aware that they exist. The tools of systems thinking enable us to make our mental models visible and explicit allowing us to find ways to challenge and shift them in order to effect deep, transformational change. In this session, explore the mental models of equity-based leadership and the qualities that exemplify it. Identify related leverage actions and what we each of us can do to create classroom, school, and district cultures that deliver on the promise of public education for all. Throughout the session, time will be allotted for the collaborative development of individual and group action plans. Leaders at the classroom, school, district and community level, including students, educators, parents and community members are encouraged to participate. Participants will:

look at the current state of equity in schools
work together to identify mental models that are causing that current reality
develop strategies for how leaders can effect transformational change in their districts through shifts in thinking and in action.
Leading Change in School Systems
With the issues created for school systems by mandated reforms at the state and local levels, school district leaders must draw upon new sets of skills and experiences to manage and lead change initiatives. To align change with system needs and sustain it over time, we need to build staff/board partnerships capable of creating a shared vision for the district that drives adult behavior and enables success for all students. This module will focus on the system tools that can be used to assist board members and administrators in creating the learning organization necessary to achieve this shared vision. Board/staff teams are encouraged to participate in this module together. Participants will:

learn how the three-legged stool and five disciplines of organizational learning can be applied to this process.
use systems tools to engage in reflective conversation focused on an issue in their home systems.
learn how the tools of systems thinking can help a team understand levels of complexity and go deeper to create structures that truly support change efforts.
identify where and how systems tools can provide leverage for your own journey.
Leading and Learning in Early Childhood Education
The need for effective Early Childhood Education has never been as greater. Providing children with a positive first experience with school can jumpstart their love of learning for life. But the terrain is becoming more and more challenging to navigate. As a site administrator you need a core set of tools and approaches that you can apply to all your challenges—whether you are coordinating services for a family, concerned about increasing your center’s rating or helping a teacher with strategies for teaching language development or critical thinking. The tools of systems thinking and organizational learning can support your efforts. By broadening your perspective, it is possible to focus on larger issues affecting children, families and even policy and government. Looking at interconnections between home and school and building supportive relationships with parents and families serves everyone. Evaluating key indicators like staffing turnover, enrollment, stress levels and using that data to identify ways to build a more robust center becomes possible. This session builds your capacity to lead and learn in the early childhood environment. Addressing the needs of our youngest learners is teaching for the future. Participants will:

apply the tools of systems thinking and organizational learning to issues they need to address in early childhood education.
develop their leadership capaciities in ways that build a culture of learning at their sites.

Education for Sustainability

An Introduction to Education for Sustainability
How can we achieve economic prosperity, be responsible citizens, AND restore the health of the living systems upon which our lives depend? This module equips students, teachers, and school systems with the knowledge and ways of thinking we need to adopt to reach that goal. Through a set of activities that combine systems thinking, sustainable economics, and the science of sustainability, participants will:

increase their awareness and knowledge of sustainability concepts.
build a shared understanding of the core concepts, knowledge, skills, and attitudes that characterize education for sustainability.
work together to identify their strengths and gaps and to plan next steps.
Systems Thinking and Organizational Learning

(Schools That Learn)

An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Elementary Schools
Why is systems thinking a core competency in developing critical thinking skills? Because it provides a set of analytical tools, concepts, and habits that enable us to deal with complex situations by looking at the potential consequences of our actions and making better decisions. This module will introduce systems thinking and its connections to other effective teaching and learning practices, the Common Core State Standards, and school improvement efforts using examples and applications from elementary education. Participants will:

develop skills and knowledge in the use of systems thinking concepts and tools.
experience, practice, and apply these tools to practical situations, as a teacher or a learner.
use systems thinking tools to analyze complex issues and identify high-leverage interventions.
create and share a plan of application relevant to your work.
An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Secondary Schools
This module will cover the same tools, concepts, habits, and approaches as the “Introduction to Systems Thinking for Elementary Schools” module, but the applications and examples will be drawn from secondary school materials.

Shift your Instructional Perspective: Using Systems Thinking Habits to Strengthen and Support Lesson Planning
“Surfaces and tests assumptions. Checks results and changes actions if needed. Recognizes that a system’s structure generates its behavior…”

The Habits of a Systems Thinker are more than words to hang on the wall or something to teach students to recall. They can, in fact, improve instructional design and are a powerful tool for planning meaningful lessons. Students benefit when given strategic, explicit learning opportunities focused on cognitive processes. In this module, we will explore the challenges, strengths, and strategies related to providing this type of instructional experience. Participants will spend a significant portion of our time together generating ideas and materials for viable educational applications in a variety of settings.

Prerequisite: An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Elementary Schools or Secondary Schools or Systems Thinking Level 1.

Participants will:

Use the habits as a tool to improve current lessons
Generate ideas, plans, and materials to use in their classrooms
Create plans to implement critical thinking in their classrooms

Embracing the Power of Visual Tools: Next Steps in Systems Thinking
Expand your knowledge of systems thinking by adding more tools and concepts to your arsenal. Visual tools help us make our thinking explicit and show how we each see what’s happening in a particular situation. We can then inquire more deeply into the issues through directed conversations, leading to a more thorough understanding and more desirable outcomes. Pre-requisite: Introduction to Systems Thinking or equivalent. Participants will:

build interconnected causal loops.
create stock/flow maps.
be introduced to computer models and simulations.
Learning Through Play: Actively Experiencing Systems and Creating New Models for Deeper Understanding
How are elements in an ecosystem interconnected? What factors brought about a particular historical event? How do relationships between characters in a story change over time? What is the underlying structure of a mathematical system and how does it work? By creating dynamic models—ones that depict how behavior changes over time—students can increase their understanding of how these kinds of systems work and why. They can then use their models to explore how changing the structure of a system can produce different results. Participants will:

develop and test models using kinesthetic experiences and modeling software.
learn how the same model can represent systems in different disciplines, including math, science, social studies, and literature.
use models to explore “what if” scenarios and look for leverage to solve an identified issue.
work in age-level teams to discover how to weave dynamic modeling tools into curriculum units and relate them to the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.
develop an idea for implementation. For example:
fourth-grade students might develop a model about running a lemonade stand prior to starting a problem-based unit about running their own business.
after reading The Giver, sixth-grade students could create a population/resource model in order to explore how the dynamics in the story might have been different if the rules in the society were changed.
high school students could study the role infection epidemics played in the middle ages and model the impact that modern day diseases like H1N1 or SARS could have.
Youth Engagement>

Are You Ready for Your Future? For Students Only
Some adults spend a lot of time talking about student success and what they think it looks like. But as a student, what does it mean to you? Is it all about doing well on standardized tests or getting into a good college? Maybe it involves running a successful business, being a friend who can be counted on, or saving the planet? Or maybe it’s none of the above? However you define it, how can school help you reach your goals? Especially designed for students, this session explores that question using a variety of exercises and experiences to help you identify what contributes to your success and what hinders it. As a group, we’ll create a model to map our understandings. Then, we’ll look for leverage points for taking concrete actions that enable all students to be successful. Participants will:

share perspectives on what is needed for students to succeed in life and the systems that affect that success.
use the habits and tools of systems thinking to represent their conclusions.
gain insight into factors that support and hinder success from a systems perspective.
develop action ideas for systems change.