Was it Mark Twain who said something about it being easy to write a long story and hard to write a short one? No? Somebody smart and something like that. For my first-ever TEDx talk, the strict 18-minute limit was a stern master. I worked five times harder getting the talk down to 18 minutes than I ever have on a longer talk. I rushed it a bit and actually ended with a couple of minutes to spare. I was so worried about running over that I had a contingency plan to cut the last couple slides, but I had not prepared those extra, enforcing remarks in case I had extra time. But the response from the audience was very positive, and I was happy to go first and then watch the rest.
What a great experience, and thanks to the team at Colorado Academy and Denver Public Schools for inviting me! I was honored to be in a diverse, all-star line-up of presenters. (Convener for CA, Bill Wolf-Tinsman and his colleague Dani Goldstein are presenting at the Martin Institute Summer Conference in June.) Here were some of my other notes from the day in case you want to link up with these other great educators:
Co Berry, a design-thinking consultant, spoke about embedding design thinking into education. She has a growing group of schools she is working with, including Colorado Academy, to help them use design thinking to break out of their traditional molds. CA teacher Paul Kim, who I met on my EdJourney, followed her. Paul is breaking all kinds of molds, using design thinking to launch student engagement. He re-wrote 20 years of teaching history and has embedded things like how to design a bicycle into the curriculum…and the students love it.
Chris Barnes from High Mountain Institute talked about the need for students and schools to take some risk; that without taking risks students will never get to practice those real-world skills we are trying to teach them. Some stats he threw out: high school rock climbing courses result in ½ as many student injuries as cheerleading, ¼ as many as high school soccer, and 1/24th as many as high school football. Yet we wring our hands much harder about students going off campus to do something slightly less traditional like rock climbing. Very good point.
Jen Holliday is a parent and board chair at Highline Academy Charter and spoke about multiculturalism. She admonished that “food and festivals, holidays and heros” do not make a multicultural program, and in fact, can enhance stereotypes. VERY good point. Her daughter goes to the Denver Green School (which I visited on EdJourney; HIGHEST respect for their team and program) where they studied the Westward Expansion, not through the worldview of the white settlers and not through the eyes of the Native Americans. They studied it through the eyes of the buffalo! You can’t buy teaching talent that comes up with stuff like that! (Jeff Buck, one of the leaders of DGS will be presenting at the Martin Institute Summer Conference as well.)
There were poets, cowboy leaders, and a Yo-Yo champion who happens to teach game simulation at KIPP Academy. What a great day, and free to all, including the live stream. Once my own video is posted of course I will re-post it here. Thanks again to CA for the invitation.