Highlights from TEDxPhiladelphiaEd 2011 by Kevin Jarrett - Tech Learning

Highlights from TEDxPhiladelphiaEd 2011 by Kevin Jarrett

Cross posted on Welcome to NCS Tech The first TED talk I ever saw was "Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense." †It blew me away (in fact, I still use that video with my 4th grade students). Before long,
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Cross-posted on Welcome to NCS-Tech!

The first TED talk I ever saw was "Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense." †It blew me away (in fact, I still use that video with my 4th grade students). Before long, I was enamored with all things "TED," literally spending hours browsing and watching talk after talk after talk.

WHAT was this "TED" thing about? WHO were these people, these sages on the stage? WHY were they speaking? WHAT was their mission?

Ideas Worth Spreading†... their own words ... pretty much sums it up. Amid cries of elitism, a spinoff initiative, "TEDx" was born. Described in this brilliant video,TEDx events are essentially "mini-TEDs" that are locally-planned and much less exclusive (though they are still invitation-only). TEDx's quickly began appearing all over the world. In†March 2009, there were just two. By June 2010, 610 had been held. Less than a year later, by March 2011, 1,579 TEDx events had occurred worldwide. (Source:†http://bit.ly/i9D1g3.) The really cool part? Some of those TEDx's were education-focused. Unfortunately, the †TEDx application process seems to some people roughly†analogous†to finding one of these: ...with demand far outstripping supply. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend TEDxNYEd in 2010. When I heard that TEDxPhiladelphiaEd was happening during ISTE 2011, I knew I had to apply. So I did. Unfortunately, I didn't make the cut. As friends and colleagues tweeted excitedly about their acceptance notifications, I chalked my rejection up to experience and forgot about it, planning instead to spend my day at EduBloggerCon. But when my EdCamp Philly colleague Kristen Swanson (one of the event's speakers) said I could attend as her guest, I jumped at the chance. On the day of the event, discussing the event with friends and colleagues, particularly two who were NOT attending ... I was†surprised by the pushback. One said they preferred to attend EduBloggerCon†so they could†"talk and learn, not sit and listen." Another said they felt, for them, TEDx looked like the "same old, same old." While I understand where both of these people are coming from, think they missed an incredible opportunity. It is true that†TEDxPhiladelphiaEd†was a "sit and listen" event. It was not, however, by any stretch of the imagination, the "same old, same old!" Some of †my favorite moments (there were so many, I can't possibly list them all): Hearing Barbara Chandler Allen tell us about her work with†FreshArtists.org, her project connecting K-12 inner-city kids to art and philanthropy - their artwork donated to local businesses and organizations†grateful†to†receive it and proud to showcase it. Hearing Matt McGinnis, CEO of †a startup called Inkling, demonstrate his company's interactive textbook running on an iPad. Try it yourself†(iTunes link). Some feel this was simply a commercial for an upcoming product. I disagree. Looked like pure, unadulterated innovation to me! Listening to Sinnea Douglas, a high school senior at the Science Leadership Academy, command the stage with her powerful poem, "When I Become a Teacher." I can't think of a higher compliment a student can bestow on a school and her teachers than to say she has been inspired to become an educator herself. Learning about classroom management and making a difference in students' lives with child psychologist Dr.†Stewart Pisecco. My takeaway from his talk: if you think you can't make a difference - even if you're seemingly the only person in the student's corner - you not only CAN ... you MUST. And last, but certainly not least, watching my colleague and friend†Kristen Swanson†powerfully share the vision and story behind EdCamp Philly, an unconference that has†spawned a nationwide movement toward participant-directed professional development. Others have come before us - EduBloggerCon, Teachmeet - but we tapped into something special, something visceral - SOMETHING has inspired all those teachers to have their own edcamps. The phrase 'standing on the shoulders of giants' is popular these days, and TED is a living, breathing embodiment of that philosophy. I'll probably never be able to attend an actual TED conference, but that's okay. TEDx's are just fine. :) What I love about TEDx is the scale. TEDx presenters - all of them - are giants in their field, though some don't know it yet. They are gentle giants ... approachable ... ordinary people like you and me who are doing extraordinary things. I'll close with this thought: the true power of TED and TEDx is the network. †The organizers of EdCamp Philly, inspired, as a group, after meeting and "finding each other" at†BarCamp Philly,†came together around a simple idea: facilitate a gathering of like-minded educators interested in bettering themselves and the schools where they teach. The result: a phenomenon with the potential to change the way professional development is done in school districts nationwide. David Logan, in one of the first (if not THE first) TEDx events, said this in his TEDx talk about tribal leadership†(I encourage you to watch the entire presentation): So ... will your tribes change the world? -kj- p.s. pictures I took at the event, some of which were used in the official TEDxPhildelphiaEd blog, can be found in this set on my Flickr stream.

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