A Year of Inspiring, Empowering & Engaging

Wrapping up its second year, WeThinkBig continues to explore and expand efforts to support educational innovation and partnerships between the learning and business communities.
The past year was filled with successes and new opportunities for collaboration. In addition to its signature “pop up” professional development programs, WTB brought new models of business and education collaboration to greater Madison — engaging business people, educators and students in exploring new and deeper ways of learning together.

WeThinkBig’s novel approach and its work with those “making a difference” have not gone unnoticed, garnering attention from both local and national media.

This recognition, and the promise of what working together as a community to advance teaching and learning can accomplish, have created a great foundation for WTB’s important work in the year ahead!


Sparks! Innovation Showcase series – Hosted a series of themed, informal after-work gatherings around town to inspire, provide resources and help educators meet and support each other, featuring 15 innovative practitioners who shared their ideas and programs with over 160 educators from the region.
Taste of Tech Series – Expanded hands-on programs to introduce educators to new technologies and involve the business community in professional development for educators:

  • Happy Hour of Code Parties – 44 participants (35 teachers & 9 business coaches) explored coding, classroom applications, and tips and ideas in a fun social setting.
  • Camp MAD Media Digital Literacy Summer Camp for Educators – 72 participants, 8 volunteer instructors, 7 major partners helped educators expand their digital literacy and explore animation, podcasting, coding, maker-mindset, virtual reality and game theory as engaging new techniques for learning.

The Next “Big” Idea – Introduced new ideas and models for educational collaboration and excellence:

  • Startup Weekend for Education – Brought the first-ever Startup Weekend for Education to Wisconsin, attracting over 100 attendees, including 44 registrants, 37 business volunteers and two dozen innovation supporters for a 54-hour marathon of team building, education-focused creative problem solving, prototype development and business pitch competition.
  • Cities of LRNG Model – Introduced the MacArthur Foundation-initiated “Cities of Learning” model of connected learning as a way to connect, unite and enhance learning experiences throughout the community to nearly 50 community organizations.

Fostering Community – Continued conversations with educators, students, administrators, education students, early career and retired professionals, parents, community leaders and other key stakeholders in the region.

  • Managed the TeachersNet and Madison Education Group communities
  • Co-created the Tech Education Alliance
  • Created Happy Innovators Workshop for launch of WPT Educator Innovation Network


  • Expanded “Pop Up” Professional Development Programs in restaurants, libraries, museums and other accessible locations to introduce and unite local community resources and experts with educators’ needs (Sparks! Innovation Showcase, Taste of Tech Series, Camp Mad Media)
  • Expanded infrastructure for local communities of practice and networks of educators, business & professional folks and community leaders (Teachers Net; Madison Education Group; WPT Education Innovation Network)
  • Introduced the “Cities of Learning/LRNG.ORG” initiative to 50 education and community organization representatives as a way to link and enhance meaningful learning opportunities throughout the community.
  • Continued Hour of Code introduction events for educators; catalyzed new annual “Wisconsin Code Week” by DPI to celebrate coding in WI.
  • Brought first-ever “Startup Weekend – EDU” to Wisconsin to foster collaboration and educational innovation.
  • WeThinkBig CEO Kathe Crowley Conn honored by Madison Magazine as 2016 “M List” Teachers & Mentors Awardee for contributions to education and the community.
  • Co-founded the Tech Ed Alliance, a consortium of 25+ organizations and programs sharing resources and working together to support digital access and education in our community.
  • Successfully nominated local education leader Dr. Patricia Deklotz to win the award and be nationally recognized as Education Week’s “Leaders to Learn From” for Innovation, putting Wisconsin on the national map for innovation in education.


“WeThinkBig is such an important organization because it provides us teachers the space to come together, meet face to face, and discuss different topics.”

“Great program. Very nice to have professionals in the field teaching us. Their expertise helps us see the importance of the process.” 

“Collegial conversations that happen at events like these are where impactful ideas come from.” 

“My head is on fire with ideas I will definitely use!”

“It’s the content you had already wanted to teach, but it’s more motivating, more interesting, and it has a purpose.”

“This is so much fun! It can be really motivating to students!”

“Amazing! Connecting me with the cutting edge of educational methods!”

“What a FUN day! Thank you so much for getting us together for this experience. I love being a part of your network.”

“It was evident to me that our work as partners strengthens our service to Wisconsin educators.”

“Such a powerful experience that will set the groundwork for my classroom.

 By being exposed to a variety of ed techniques, I am able to build units that use deeper 21st century thinking skills.

Click here for a more in-depth look at the 2016-2017 Year in Review!

Translate »