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Posted February 19, 2015

And Then There Were 4

APS teacher John Simms of Harrison joins Krystal Irby of McKinley, Erin Mayer of Eubank and Dominic Pettine of Washington as presenters during TEDxABQEducation on March 27.

Four APS teachers will be among the presenters at TEDxABQEducation on Friday, March 27. Tickets are now on sale for the event celebrating education and innovation of learning.

  • John Simms of Harrison Middle School will present a talk titled, "Our Metaphors Abide: The Constructive, Humanizing Power of Reading the Word Before Readin the Word."
  • Erin Mayer, a teacher at Eubank Elementary, will present The Voice of the Kids!, focusing on teaching dynamically through transformational learning where students become their own best advocates and life-long learners.
  • Krystal Irby, a teacher at McKinley Middle School, plans to talk about how educators, parents and future employers need to keep up with technology and the changing needs of students.
  • Dominic Pettine of Washington Middle School will talk about how the digital age has empowered young people to change the world.

Both Irby and Mayer also are TIG/APS Education Foundation Innovation Award winners.

Mayer, who plans to have some of her students on stage with her, will talk about how she incorporates student voice throughout her teaching. Here’s a sampling of what her students have to say:

  • Teachers should integrate technology not only for learning about content but also to be used as a tool for us to show our learning.
  • Be Motivated!
  • Teachers need to be confident and never give up on us.
  • Make sure we learn by doing!
  • Give us tasks that reflect the real world. How many problems do you know in the real world that have a fill-in-the-blank answer or an answer key?
  • Teach in a variety of ways, charts, pictures, posters, models, and exemplars.
  • Show us learning in real life, take us places, and make us earn it. Involve our families, even though it is hard.

Irby will talk about how her students are communicating constantly, and faster than ever before, but not necessarily in the classroom.

"Believe it or not, our kids are learning all kinds of things about the world on their own outside of the classroom on their phones, tablets, and computers. How can we harness this intrinsic desire to learn in order to empower students to learn things their way at school?"

Her answer: Digital learning.

“In a digital learning environment, students use these tools to create, monitor their own progress, and engage with one another. They drive their own learning. Students have control not only of the time, place and pace of their own learning, but of the pathway as well.”

Pettine's talk will be about the disconnect between the way education is taught and the way students learn.

"Young people are passionate, energetic and creative. In other words, they have the exact qualities needed to change the world," Pettine said. "But currently most people in the American K-12 education system sit and wait eight hours a day doing work that matters only to the teacher, their grade, and the trash can."

Pettine said he made a commitment to have every assignment live beyond the classroom. "No student should ever ask the question, 'when will I use this,'" he said. "My 150 students know they are using what they are learning to change their community and world."

TEDxABQ, the independently organized, TED-licensed conference has showcased New Mexico's biggest ideas and most inspiring thinkers to sold-out audiences since 2010. TEDxABQ events highlight remarkable ideas from New Mexico’s most passionate artists, thinkers, innovators, farmers, and scientists, among others. The 2015 education event will delve into the innovative vision of education and lifelong learning over the next five years and the future of training and learning in New Mexico for upcoming decades and beyond.

Simms' talk will focus on the need for a paradigm shift in education to weather the storm of constant change. "We need world-first teaching methods grounded in representations of our perceived reality through visual and sensory metaphor," he said. "Put simply, we must begin within the picture and move into the text."

Simms will present a vision for education based on the lived experiences of learners and their artistic representations of those realities. "This moves us away from today’s institutional, one-size-fits-all approach, and puts the needs of our kids and their communities ahead of the needs of schools and their governing bureaucracies," he said. 

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