Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Drumroll Please...

With TED Talks only two days away, kids are making last minute preparations. Some are very excited, some are very anxious and some are both. This is an exciting time for Harmony Team students. The culmination of their semester of 20% Time work occurs this week. For all of the hours they have spent researching, writing, building, testing, revamping, rethinking, revising, and publishing, they will finally get a chance to showcase their learning to an authentic audience.

Our TED Talks are open to school classes, district teachers and administrators, parents and community members. The talks will take place in our auditorium, on stage, with a projected visual (if the students choose to have one) and a microphone. Our talks should be very much like the TED Talks we have all seen online. We plan to videotape and publish all of the TED Talks right here on our blog. All of the groups will publish their own TED Talk videos on their student blogs as well.

As the teachers, our part of the TED Talk preparation was to make sure that all groups had their project ready to go, secure the auditorium, develop a schedule, link visuals to the schedule, and publicize it to the community and district. WE ARE READY! This is one of the real-life applications of the students' work and they are realizing that their learning does apply to their  immediate domain and the larger world around them. The audience could range anywhere from 50 (the number of students on our team) to 450 (the number of people the auditorium holds). We don't know what to expect as far as audience size, but it doesn't matter; the students will be discussing their learning with a REAL audience. This is not a project for school, this is a project for the world. 

All year we have tried to tie all of the kids' learning to the world around them. We have made connections with things in their lives, their community and their world. We believe that the best education is one that prepares them for the world in which they will live. The 20% Time projects are the most organized attempt at this real-world connection that we have made this year, but we have made these connections in their regular classes as well. These kiddos will remember these TED Talks for the rest of their lives. How many other classroom activities can we say that about? Not many. Not only did these projects teach them about the content they explored, it also taught them about how they learn, how they work with others, how to prioritize, how to persevere, and how to work in the world. While the kids may not think so right now, we think this will be life-changing learning for them.  - Don

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