2015 LRNG Innovators Challenge



Sitka, AK
Island Institute and the Sitka School District

Story Lab is a program of the Island Institute, a Sitka-based organization which works to generate and share ideas, skills, and expressions to empower resilient coastal communities. Building on the Sitka Story Lab’s work encouraging creative expression among young Alaskans, ages 7-19, this project will help to formalize the connection between Story Lab and the schools and build capacity for programs centered on storytelling, creative writing, and imaginative play. Sitka Story Lab’s goal is to support youth to become passionate, creative adults, eager to express themselves and to turn their dreams into action.


Greetings from East LA

East Los Angeles, CA
East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy at Esteban Torres High School and Public Matters

Greetings from East LA is a collaborative community asset mapping and participatory design project where students from the East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy at Esteban Torres High School create an East LA version of the “Map of the Stars” found in more affluent areas of Los Angeles. Students will work inside and outside of school with an interdisciplinary team of artists, an architect/ social impact designer, urban planning professor, linked learning educator and a community journalist. The project explores and documents people and places in East Los Angeles, while responding to representation and equity.


The Word Lab: Young Voices, Big Ideas

Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz County Office of Education Young Writers Program and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

The Word Lab is an extended-day program for students in elementary and middle schools to work together to strengthen their writing skills, develop themes and formats for their writing, publish their work, and see their work displayed and sold in local bookshops. The Word Lab is a partnership between Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s Young Writers Program and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and brings together students, local artists and professionals, college students, business leaders, and educators to arouse youth voice and perspective, create art, and build community.



Indianapolis, IN
Warren Central High School, Herron School of Art and Design, and Arts for Learning

Creating with Confidence: Design Thinking for Public Art aims to support students at Warren Central High School, on the eastside of Indianapolis, as they build a stronger community by engaging local residents in design-thinking activities that lead to the creation of public art. By employing this approach, the students will design meaningful visual works of art for their school’s campus, as well as another accessible location in Warren Township. They will also learn from practicing artists and professional teaching artists more about how to involve residents of their community in a public art project to enhance neighborhood identity and foster a real spirit of place.


From Classroom To Community Spaces: Cultivating Voices That Matter Through Arts Literacy

Minneapolis, MN
TruArtSpeaks, Minnesota Writing Project, and the Walker Art Center

This partnership seeks to bring in-school and out-of-school learning together through a collaboration of teachers and artists who prioritize creating space for the development of youth voices at the intersection of social justice, literacy, and arts. By designing a high school course together, From Classroom to Community Spaces will develop a curriculum anchored in contemporary African American literature, utilizing elements of Hip Hop and Spoken Word culture. Moving fluidly between the high school campus and local art space, this collaboration will meet the interests of students, provide equitable access to relevant coursework for students, and provide a space for students to develop their own voices in dialogue with contemporary African American texts and issues.


KC Storytellers Project

Kansas City, MO
Greater Kansas City Writing Project and KC Wordshop

KC Storytellers gives high school students a chance to share and experience each other's real stories through story-slam events in Kansas City, dismantling student assumptions and negative attitudes about each other by building our community through the stories we share. KC Storytellers teams up with Louder than a Bomb-KC to transform our city through the powerful stories that students are burning to tell. KC Storytellers celebrates the human experience of our city's young people and in the sharing of these experiences diminishes racial and cultural barriers while building bridges toward understanding and overcoming challenges.


Bridging Borders: STEM Writing & Girls Tech Camps

Las Cruces, NM
Borderlands Writing Project

Bridging borders between in- and outside-of-school environments, between writing and the STEM disciplines, as well as between girls and technology, this project helps youth in grades 6-12 to improve their writing, to prompt creativity, and to support practice with tools of scientific inquiry. Participating girls will select a focal project based on their own interests—from creating robots and doing chemical experiments to video-gaming and applying quantitative reasoning to real world problems—while being connected to female mentors. Camp activities and school-based workshops will scaffold thinking related to students’ projects which will then be shared with the larger community.



Brooklyn, NY
Eyebeam and the Academy of Innovative Technology

Playable Fashion is designed to introduce youth to the concepts and techniques needed to create their own games and custom wearable game controllers, inspired by their own personal narratives. Sitting at the intersection between fashion, technology, and gaming, the overall goal of the program is to help teens develop the tools and knowledge they need to become the makers, not just the consumers, of games, coding, wearable fashion, and technology. In addition, by combining critical skill development in technology—and by providing a participatory means for applying this within the intersection of game design and wearable technology—Playable Fashion gives students the grounding to continue their STEAM learning and to understand the many career possibilities that this knowledge offers.


The Workshop School Productions Project

Philadelphia, PA
The Workshop School, PhillyCAM and Scribe Video Center

What happens when students are trained to create professional quality media and film to represent the stories of their lives? In this project, the high school students at The Workshop School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania explore the use of animation, film, music, documentary, and other multimedia to showcase the stories of their educational experiences and of their lives in- and outside-of-school. Working with two local non-profit media and film groups, students become experts in cutting edge technology as well as the skills needed to become effective multimodal storytellers. Students will then use that expertise to teach new students. The work of the students will be shown at formal showcases organized by students as well as submitted to established outlets.


Uncaged: How Do You Define Freedom? Connected Learning and the Juvenile Justice System

Nashville, TN
Nashville Public Library and the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center

The Nashville Public Library and the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center, a juvenile detention facility, will partner so that male residents, ages 13-19, can explore different layers of freedom by creating digital media projects designed to be self-reflective stories of how they define freedom. We will offer production-centered opportunities for the teens to learn, develop their interests, and have immediate exposure to additional support network opportunities they can embrace when they leave Woodland Hills. In order to reduce recidivism successfully, this project aims to support youth through a stronger sense of self, a confidence in newly developed skills that help cultivate interests, and a lasting and expanding sense of community connections.


Rafting Adventure for Teens (RAFT)

Vergennes, VT
Addison Northwest Supervisory Union and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum


Rafting Adventure for Teens (RAFT) will combine elements of literature, building and design, metal working, and history into a grand adventure that will take place at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum campus. Designed to support students moving from middle into high school, youth will follow their interests and passions and co-create a semester long community-based learning experience connecting summer adventures to their learning and transitions in the fall. The project will culminate with an opportunity for the students to share their work at the World Canals Conference.

2014 LRNG Innovators Challenge



Silver City, NM
Laura Larisch, Scott Knight, Mark Cantrell, Steve Blake, Dave Chandler

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Aldo Leopold Public Charter School in rural New Mexico will offer a community-wide extended day program and an eight week summer program focused on STEM education. Students in grades 6-12 will have the opportunity to join After School STEM Labs, and the summer STEM Labs will also afford students the opportunity to devote longer segments of time to learning, skill building, projects, and products. An end of summer community showcase is planned to celebrate student work and efforts.


Castle Hill: Students led community rescue

Bronx, NY
Martin Sanders, James O’Neill, Khalia Wesiner, Reggie Howard, Danielle Filipiack


This project will allow Castle Hill Middle School students to develop their capacity as civic agents and will build opportunities that will allow them to gain greater understanding of the social and political issues impacting them and their communities. Students will conduct critical community inquiry projects that combine Common Core literacy skills with their interests. Ultimately, the team will work to create an online platform where different groups of young researchers can come together to share their research and resulting multimedia products and plan new projects.



Petaluma, CA
Laura Bradley, Isaac Raya, Emily Dunnagan


KTV, a student- and teacher-run morning show at Kenilworth Junior High airs for ten minutes at the start of the school day. This project envisions expanding the brief time and access students have in the studio to learn and build stronger skill sets around broadcast journalism, media production, and communication. By shifting Digital Arts/ Media Production from an early morning club to an elective course in a space with professional equipment and the time to explore, more students will be able to participate, nurture interests, and strengthen skill sets in areas such as film and photography, graphic design and production, and script writing.


A Real World History In The City

Washington, DC
Cosby Hunt, Suzanne Katz, Aleta Margolis, Robyn Sperling

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Real World History, a multifaceted, production-centered course designed to help high school students across Washington, DC build literacy, research, and critical thinking skills by modeling the habits and practices of historians. Divided in two semesters, students spend the first part of the year learning interviewing and research methods, and the final half of the year in a hands-on internship at one of sixteen historical sites. Center for Inspired Teaching, the organizational home for the Real World History course, works to make learning an engaging, relevant and rigorous endeavor for young people.


Through International Community Voices Immigrant Students Have More To Say

New York, NY
Jane Higgins, Nick Deming, JoAnn DiLauro, James Nine, Glencora Roberts, Paul Allison, Renee Ehle


This project will bring a group of fifteen immigrant teens together with teachers and New York City Writing Project teacher-consultants to create an online community called International Community Voices. The online space will be housed on YouthVoices.net and will be used to share students’ interest-driven projects aimed at building their English Language capacity and academic skills. In the two phases of the project, educators will develop tasks for students to complete that combine academic and interest-driven learning, and host an after-school program for 15 students of varying ages and levels of literacy to create multimedia projects, share them, and earn badges. Students will interact collaboratively with leaders and each other as peers and mentors while having the time to strengthen language development and academic learning while engaging in meaningful play.


Learning Studio Is In Session 

Saint Paul, MN
Marc Patton, Kent Sall, Billy Chan


This project centers around the creation of a learning studio in Eastern Heights, an elementary school geared toward a school-wide focus on personalized learning. The learning studio will serve as a small, differentiated connected learning space and would ultimately replace the traditional library and media center as a place where students can explore interests, conduct research, and create presentations.


S.T.E.M. for G.O.O.D

Pittsburgh, PA
Dr. Michelle Zuckerman-Parker, Dr. Laura Roop, Dr. Fritz Yambrach, Shelly Brown, Mahender Mandala, S. Andrea Sundaram


Central Catholic High School will create a micro-network of educators, entrepreneurs, and middle and high school students focused on STEM, design, and communication to design and develop assistive devices and products to improve the quality of life for Veterans returning from war with disabilities. Educators will participate in professional learning to create a community of practice and support for students entering their plans and prototypes in a regionally sponsored competition. The aim is to instill an ethos of empathy, excitement, and passion for learning, where science, engineering, creativity, and caring intersect.


Maker Rings: The bling in team building

Rock Tavern, NY
Kate Fox, Edward Helbig, Gaye Sable, Harry Sweet


The Birch School seeks to develop collectives and networks that embrace play and discovery, and believes in the educational benefit of working, tinkering, and making collaboratively. To that end, they have designed “Maker Rings,” small groups of five to seven students that will work together on a bi-weekly basis and engage as an authentic community. Mentors will design a portable maker space to store and utilize resources, and will facilitate team building challenges and skill-strengthening activities using tools of collaboration, creation, and social media.


Making Our World Is A World Of Creativity

Charlotte, NC
Steve Fulton, Randy Kurstin, Erin Pfahler, Mary Kendrick, Cindy Urbanski, Lil Brannon


The Making Our Worlds team will demonstrate how student energy, imagination, and concern for their community can be harnessed to address issues of interest to them and their families. They will create an innovative space for students to follow their interests as makers of the language arts: digital storytelling, filmmaking, poetry, music, visual design, and more. Students will engage in creative dialogue within a network of connected classrooms, engage with the greater community, and position themselves as digital citizens by sharing their language arts “makes” through an online platform.



Riverside, CA
Norma Rodriguez, Tuesday Ramunni, Kristin Karrow, Kristi Forsythe, Mindie Driskel, Esther Garcia


Students at Liberty Elementary School will have the opportunity to work on their interest-based “passion projects” in three designated areas or “stations” around the campus: the Maker Station, the Green Screen Production Station, and a Garden to Cultivate Learning through nature. The project will implement and highlight personalized learning, giving students rewarding hands on experience with digital technology, engineering and construction, and science exploration.



Greenville, NC
William Banks, Stephanie West-Puckett, Michael Flinchbaugh, Monica Jacobs


The J.H. Rose High School team will build upon Project Connect, an existing program that engages students in production-centered, multimodal inquiry that fosters and deepens student interests, by creating “pop-up” maker spaces. These maker spaces will increase student time and opportunities for connected, production-centered learning. Teachers will gain professional development supporting the idea of making as pedagogy, students will continue to explore creating diverse digital products, and community members will be engaged by serving as maker-space mentors.



Los Angeles, CA
Antero Garcia, Mark Gomez, Andre Hargunani


At the Critical Design and Gaming School in South Central LA, an educator-led team will offer both in school and after school opportunities for production and game-play. Teachers will support interest-driven game design within the formal schooling context by developing a teacher “player professional development” model. The team will also launch a game design center for afterschool and weekend youth and community engagement. Community involvement will also be addressed by the development of biannual “game jams” that celebrate youth game design.


Tilden Talks

Chicago, IL
Maragaret Conway, Sharon Holmes, Kelsey Leonard, Suzanne McBride, Dawn Ramos, Luke Sequiera, Krista Wortendyke, Kathleen Tieri, Maurice Swinney, Mindy Faber


Tilden Talks will allow students participating in Tilden High School’s community journalism ELA literacy units to have opportunities to apply what they’ve learned in informal and after school settings. By piloting a new connected learning strategy, Chicago students will have the resources to deepen their engagement in civic and social media production, and will develop roles as “critical investigators,” able to inform their communities and networks. The team will build learning pathways in community journalism through Tilden Talks, an online, student-led multimedia journal.



Shaun Mitchell, Kim Herzog, Megan Zabilansky, Kate Bedard, Jennifer von Wahlde, Paula Fortuna, Bryan Ripley Crandall



The Bantu philosophy, Ubuntu, which means “I can be me because of who we are together” speaks to building strong communities. The We, Too, Are Connecticut team envisions a variation called Digital Ubuntu, or “We can be us, digitally, because of how we compose together with 21st Century tools.” A year-long, inter-district collaboration, the project will bring together more than one hundred students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to exchange knowledge about writing in digital spaces, and produce personalized inquiry-based digital products shaped around the following units of instruction: TedTalks, Digital Scrapbooks, and Podcasting and Ethnography.