My day at TEDxNYED

Yesterday I was able to go to TEDxNYED, an independently organized TED event with some great speakers from different spectrums of the education field in New York. I wish every teacher went to TED talks, it gets you inspired and pumped up to do something great after you finish listening. I really enjoyed every teacher I met yesterday, they were friendly, innovated and so excited to do what they did. With all this talk of teacher assessment in NY right now I wish that could be a form of teacher assessment in itself: did you attend TEDxNYEd (or watch it on livestream) and get pumped after hearing about innovating and creativity in schools? Awesome! This honestly says a lot more than the ridiculous, inaccurate teacher evaluations published publicly in some big time NY press.

I just wanted to highlight a few speakers I especially enjoyed:

Jose Luis Vilson explained the importance in redefining the teacher voice: a voice that balances emotion and reason, is confident, and continues to put students first.

Jim Groom gave a hilarious short talk filled with animated GIFs. I love animated GIFs. He also began ds106, a open online digital storytelling course, where students have done some really awesome stuff.

Sree Sreenivasan is the Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and he teaches in the digital media program, including social media and digital entrepreneurship. (took that bio straight from my program book!) I was excited to hear him speak because I really wanted to go to Columbia School of Journalism’s Social Media Weekend, but I didn’t for some reason or another (money? sold out? I don’t remember). His talk was about 10 minutes, so it certainly didn’t make up for an entire missed weekend but I was excited just the same. He made some excellent points about the realistic value of social media.

Tony Wagner spoke. His talk is really great, I actually saw a similar talk he made last week at the Skillshare Penny Conference via livestream. You can watch it here.

Bre Pettis, the founder of MakerBot, explained how schools don’t allow students to make things anymore. Classes that have been removed from our school like Shop and Home Ec, these were all opportunities for students to make things with their hands. (I had woodshop, but my brother doesn’t take it 10 years later. They let me play with jigsaws, wood burning pens and huge sanders at 12 years old… sweet!) He discussed how empowering it can be, especially as a child, to make something and also be able to fix it later. That is something a lot of kids aren’t able to do anymore.

Frank Noschese is a high school physics and chemistry teacher, and he’s moved away from that typical worksheet based high school science class that has zero relevance to student’s lives. I never took Physics because I knew I would have failed horribly, but I honestly would love to be part of Frank Noschese’s Physics class. The students are given a scenario and they come up with their questions and collect data based on what they want to learn about the situation. My favorite thing he showed: his students had two different robotic cars that went at different constant speeds and they had to calculate where they would meet in the 3 ft area of the hallway outside of class. (The classic two trains leaving the station problem you see on worksheets worldwide!) The students calculated their answer and placed a piece of tape on the ground where they thought the cars would collide. They let the cars go and they collided right on top of the piece of tape. I was excited just watching the video, the students all cheered and high-fived when the cars collided. Noschese also lets his kids come to class with problems on their own, for example they once saw a ridiculous commercial with Kobe Bryant running and jumping straight across a swimming pool to dunk a basket. Was this possible? He allowed this question to become the focus of his class lesson. As someone who has hated math my entire life: this really did look like a great time.

Some of the talks are already available on the livestream website. I assume the rest of the talks will be available later. Take some time today to watch a few! Also as a side note, if you have an iPad I really recommend the TED app. I love to watch talks before going to bed.

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