Jan 27, 2021
Today, Tom is virtually sitting down with Trace Pickering, the Executive Director of Iowa BIG — one of Getting Smart’s favorite learning programs in the country!
Trace has a background in community building, has served as the Associate Superintendent of Cedar Rapids Community School District, and has also served as the Associate Director of Education Reimagined. Trace has a legacy of empowering people to pursue interesting and important projects while bringing together an entire community.
In this conversation, Tom and Trace discuss the power of community-connected projects, how to scale a program like Iowa BIG, and how to create a culture of project-based learning. Trace also shares about the genesis of Iowa BIG, some incredible student-led projects that have come out of Iowa BIG, and his thoughts on why community-centered learning is more important than ever.
[:09] About today’s episode with Trace Pickering.
[:55] Tom Vander Ark welcomes Trace to the podcast!
[1:05] Did Trace grow up in Iowa?
[1:16] Trace and Tom go into the “Way-back Machine” to 12 years ago after the Cedar River covered Cedar Rapids in a flood. Trace shares his reflections from what he learned in the process of a local newspaper inviting him to host a series of community conversations about what was next for Cedar Rapids. He also shares how this series of community conversations led to the creation of Iowa BIG.
[6:54] Trace explains what Iowa BIG is, what its mission is, and how long it has been running.
[8:46] How does this work for students? How many high schools do they work with?
[9:23] Trace shares about how Iowa BIG is learner-centered and how the projects work around this.
[11:54] Do many or all of the student projects at Iowa BIG revolve around the concept of “community as classroom”?
[12:22] The idea that students should do work that matters to them and their community is really central to every project that’s co-constructed at Iowa BIG.
[12:42] Trace shares a recent example of an incredible student project that helped out the community in the midst of the pandemic.
[17:05] Trace shares how they incorporated communication expectations into that project and how the organizing students developed and demonstrated communication standards as part of the project.
[19:07] Trace shares how they incorporate science and math learning into these community projects and shares a specific example of an amazing student project.
[21:50] Trace gives advice to those who want to start up a similar program and become more learner-centered.
[23:48] Tom offers further suggestions on how you could begin to implement a similar program.
[24:11] What would an Iowa BIG ecosystem look like? What if all high schools were learner-centered?
[26:57] Does Trace feel that this sort of work is more important than ever in this current landscape?
[29:09] Where to learn more about Iowa BIG and the work that Trace Pickering is doing.
[30:01] Tom thanks Trace for joining the podcast!
Mentioned in This Episode:
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