Tuesday, December 13, 2016

An Incredible Ted-Ed Weekend for Innovative Educators

I am just coming back from a completely amazing #TedEdWeekend in NYC. I met 26 other Ted-Ed Innovators (TIEs), 3rd cohort and was blown away by their brilliance and humbleness. Each had a story that was completely unique, from Malaysian Maggie, who learned English from listening to American music as a child to Anthony from "Johnsonville," who failed four grades before dropping out of high school and getting his GED. Everyone's journey was unique, and we were all brought together through TED-Ed, an idea branched off from TED, and created by TED Fellow Logan Smalley. Thirty of us were selected from a pool of a few thousand (again, we were blown away by this...being blown away seemed to be the theme of the weekend), and had been "meeting" via several video conferences to discuss our individual TED-Ed projects. The goal was to help us to prepare our pitches for our finalized projects, which we were to give on the TED-Ed stage at 330 Hudson Street.

Friday night, I met my roommate. I was blessed with Delene McCoy from Arkansas, who made me laugh the second I walked in the door by realizing she had to close the bathroom door to let me in...close quarters in NYC!! She was the best roommate I could ask for! I am so happy to have gotten to know her. We got our amazing #swagbags, including a handwritten not from Sting (not Sting, as I thought, and we laughed about that, too.) I settled in, comfortably, awaiting to meet the other people in our group.
photo by Anthony
photo by Christie
Cohorts from Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Jerusalem, Pakistan, Africa, Ireland, Hawaii, and more all got together Friday night at Terra (shout out to my friend Mary for the suggestion!) and chatted and got to know one another in person over drinks and delicious Italian food. The weather was crisp and the chatting was loud as we walked back and went to bed excitedly, to await the next morning's agenda.

We walked over to the Cadillac House in the morning for breakfast (where you can have meetings in their cars!) and had a surprise visit from the head of TED, Chris Anderson. Chris inspired us to no end, telling us that there are now "4 R's to learn in school: Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic, and Rhetoric," and that "Ideas want to spread. They want to be free."
photo by Saad
Then we went to the TED-Ed stage and watched an incredible group of kids give their TED Talks. For me, this is when I realized that this is why I do what I do; for the kids! It's all about them, and giving them the power to express themselves and learn along the way...and teach US!!! ALL kids were fantastic - I don't even know how to begin to say how impressive these students were, but the two that stood out to me were:

There my mind was blown, yet again.

Two surprise famous TED talkers also spoke with students.


Personally, this was exciting because my famous blogger BFF's famous poet daughter loves Sarah Kay!
After some talks, we went to a presentation by LittleBits, award-winning magnetic building blocks, which bring out the hidden engineer in you in the easiest possible way. Delene, Mbao and I enjoyed making things buzz and light up. There was even a challenge as well as a rock paper scissors competition!

The next highlight was a roundtable discussion with the founder of https://girlswhocode.com/Reshma Saujani, who spoke about how she founded Girls Who Code, and didn't even know how to code herself. Basically, she hit rock bottom and turned it all around for herself, empowering thousands of young women along the way. 

Here is an interesting and provocative video that she shared with us that was just so cool: 
And a Verizon ad about what a girl hears when you tell her she's pretty:
And finally the TED-Ed Mannequin Challenge! 
We headed out to dinner to Otto Pizzeria, a restaurant owned by Mario Batali (go RU!) and had delicious food and talk.

I sat near Tom Rielly, who is responsible for the TED Fellows program, among other things. I think he must have started as a stand-up comedian! We had great conversations, and the night ended when a table of gentlemen bought Prosecco for all of us, upon learning we were educators. Only in New York!!

That night, some of us saw family, saw the tree at Rockefeller Center, or practiced pitches.

The next day was for US, the TIEs. No longer did we hear the excited energy of the kids, it was us, and so we took the elevator up to the 11th floor at 330 Hudson and practiced our "elevator pitches."

We arrived to take some pictures on the TED-Ed stage and to have breakfast, and by then word buzzed around that we had someone who was going to do our make-up and hair for our profile picture. WHAT!? We just were so excited, I can't even tell you.

We spoke a bit and then headed to give our pitches. Each of us took the stage and spoke about our project, the one we applied with and then tweaked each time we spoke with our cohorts on the video conferences. They were awesome! It was amazing to see this group speak about their ideas and goals, and wow! Mind blown, yet again.
After the pitches and a fantastic Mexican lunch at TED-Ed HQ, we learned about animation. All I have to say is, more mind blowing. We were broken up into groups and taught how to use Stop Motion animation, which we all immediately wanted to use in our classrooms when we got home, as you can see below:
Here are the animation movies we made!animation link 1animation link 2animation link 3

We each had our head-shot, and then we ended the evening talking as a group about where we go from here and other things that I can't remember, as my head was spinning from this amazing weekend of learning and connecting and sharing. The whole TED-Ed team was unbelievably professional, and everything went so smoothly--if something was wrong, I can tell you we did not know about it. The interns were equally incredible!

It was definitely hard to say goodbye at the end, but I know it's not forever. We bonded as a group and will stay connected. 

Delene and I could not end the weekend in NYC without making it to Broadway to see Beautiful, the musical about Carole King. It was absolutely incredible and perhaps my favorite Broadway musical to date. 
This was an unimaginable weekend that I will never forget. I'm excited to start on my project, which is called Students Teaching Students. I envision students all over the world creating videos for other students using the TED-Ed Lessons. In my mind, I see students working hard to create lessons that are shared and watched throughout the world. Kids and adults do TED Talks, why should only adults teach the lessons? It's a lofty goal for me, and I will track the progress eventually. 

Want to know more about TED-Ed? Here's some more info. 

If you haven't started a TED-Ed Club, now is definitely the time! Logan's goal, to have a TED-Ed Club in every school, is no so far away. Kids will learn presentation literacy and so much more. As David Saunders said in our follow-up video conference today, public speaking is no longer about memorizing and restating a poem. THIS is what it's about!

Learn how to be a TED-Ed Innovative Educator here.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like an amazing weekend! I am so happy you had this opportunity-You are incredible!-Bruchy

Lisa Winer said...

Love you Bruchy!!