Goodie Ideation EDU Recap: High-Impact Ways To Improve Math + Reading Skills in Low Performing K-12 Schools

Goodie Ideation EDU Recap: High-Impact Ways To Improve Math + Reading Skills in Low Performing K-12 Schools


Our Mission

Amidst the hustle and bustle of a busy day in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market, Goodie Nation hosted the inaugural Goodie Ideation session for 2016 at General Assembly with a focus on developing ideas to solve problems in local education. Attendees were taught how to formulate effective ideas for social impact while also addressing the dire need for improving student academic success in Atlanta . Specifically, their challenge was to create high-impact ways to increase math and reading skills by 30 percent of 100K students in low-performing K-12 schools by 2017.
According to the Georgia Department of Education Cohort Graduation Rate statistics, only 72.6 percent of students in Ga graduate within four years from the time they enter as Freshmen through graduation. Of that figure, 79.7{73d994cfe2ff8b0a610e87f383cee97a4b5b8ef0e12626b1a91565c29f75a33f} consists of Caucasian students while African-Americans and Hispanics represent 65.3{73d994cfe2ff8b0a610e87f383cee97a4b5b8ef0e12626b1a91565c29f75a33f} and 64{73d994cfe2ff8b0a610e87f383cee97a4b5b8ef0e12626b1a91565c29f75a33f} respectively.  

Setting the Stage for Innovation

The two-hour workshop, lead by Goodie Nation founders Joey Womack III and Justin Dawkins, taught our process of coming up with crazy social impact ideas that can be put into motion successfully. Unlike a traditional business-oriented workshop, the Goodie Ideation process stretched the participants out of their comfort zones by confronting them  with a big challenge and breaking it down into manageable pieces. It began by first focusing on underlying problems. Next, we asked them to get intimate with the people experiencing these problems. Afterward, participants were able to develop big ideas to solve them.
Students learned the Goodie Ideation method, the first phase within the 4-part Goodie Innovation process. Armed with the seven steps to identify big ideas to solve tough challenges, we invited these aspiring change-makers to do the following:

  1. Set the Challenge:  Select an overarching problem and set objectives  with a measurable goal and deadline to improve the problem. The challenge statement shouldn’t seem reasonable.
  2. Root Cause Analysis:  Ask why the problem exists and explore the deep-seated reasons of its existence.
  3. User Persona Creation:  Creating a personality based on the person experiencing the problem.
  4. Journey Mapping: Envision and take a walk in the affected individual’s typical day.
  5. Intervention Point: Identify key moments in the person’s day that would allow the most impact
  6. Brainstorming:  Think of big influential ideas while considering the of the previous steps
  7. Visualizing the Story: Take a moment to think of what the headline would be if the idea was publicized.

Caregivers, teachers, educational activists, collaborators, technology innovators and more made up the mix of ideators who came to learn the process and provide their talents to solve the challenge. One participant was drawn to the event by his own desire to learn and to encourage youth to do the same. “I feel like education is a cornerstone with respect to advancement in general. I like to see kids excited about learning,” said Milton Walker, a participant with a background in the technology industry.
At the conclusion of the class, Milton and other participants left with really cool innovative ideas ready to be passed onto to tech designers and developers through their own channels or via Goodie Hack on March 4-6, 2016.

The Process of Progress

After covering the [process of Goodie Innovation], Joey explained why ideators fail for a number of reasons. One reason is because often, the focus is more on the solution rather than the problems.. This is important to highlight because Joey bluntly stated, “No one cares about what you are giving them, they care about their problems.”
Then, he immediately challenged the ideators to envision themselves in the minds of the people experiencing the problems in order to build tailor-made solutions.“It’s a simple process but hard to grasp if one is too passionate about his or her idea,” said Joey. Milton agreed with the process. “Reflecting on someone’s life even if you don’t know them, it puts you in their mindset from the inside out that you might not see otherwise,” said Milton. Honing in on the character profile seemed to help him and others think outside their own box. “If you walk through the problem and broaden your mindset from a 16-year-old’s day-to-day problems, you tailor [ideas] to the problem [he or she] has,” said Milton.
In short, only once you’ve felt the affected individual’s pain, then you can create a solution that addresses that person’s problem effectively. As a result, individuals throughout the course identified 36 root cause problems that plague K-12 student learning. Here are just a few reasons why K-12 students aren’t performing so well in math and reading:

  • Uninspired Curriculum:  Students lack motivation because school isn’t interesting or engaging.
  • Lack of after-school support guidance: Little-to-no resources available exist to assist or mentor students after the school day ends.
  • Contextual relevance: The lessons aren’t explained in a way that students can see clear correlation to real life situations.
  • Culturally relevant education: Students aren’t taught in ways that relate to their cultural background or surrounding environment.
  • Out-of-date teaching methods: Archaic methods that worked for students in days past are no longer relevant to the needs, understanding or behavior of today’s students.


stirring up a pot of talented people and delving into the spicy life of our user persona, participants covered a lot of ground with just two hours of in-depth  thinking, creativity and collaboration. Twenty-three big ideas were generated thanks to the interest and commitment of these local change-makers. Here are just a few of the solutions crafted by our participating ideators:

  • Milton Walker: Gamify the classroom by picking teams and asking/answering questions to address issues with uninspiring curriculum.
  • Racchit Thapliyal: Invite influencers like athletes, celebrities and others that students admire for inspiration and mentorship to address the lack of after-school guidance.
  • Eamon Penland: Discuss current events using trending social media to generate nightly readings for students to enhance contextual relevance
  • Melissa St. Joy: Provide cultural professional development with interactive resources that allow teachers to  continue to stay connected to the diverse communities they serve, addressing the need for culturally relevant education.
  • Angela Wood: Implement after-school innovation and ideation clubs lead by teachers to solve problems in K-12 education to modernize out-of-date teaching methods.


Do Good. Make an Impact.

Now that our ideators have come up with some great concepts to address real problems, it’s time to make these solutions a reality. There’s nothing worse than having a great discussion about something and then fail to take action afterward. We encourage you to go beyond just talk about it. Come out to Goodie Hack March 2016 to move these ideas forward using your talent and expertise! We’re looking for developers, creatives, marketing, communication, salespeople and more! Lend a hand, brain or whatever skills you have to support Atlanta’s youth to improve math and reading skills in low-performing K-12 schools!
We want to know: What are your thoughts on why students are failing math and reading? Comment below.  Don’t miss out on the next Goodie Ideation workshop!