Gann Academy hosts TEDxWalthamED (The Jewish Advocate)

April 7, 2017
WALTHAM - Gann Academy teacher Sharona Goder-Peled organized a day of lectures on innovative teaching approaches that view students as complex, multi-faceted beings for "TEDxWalthamED: Blurring the Lines Between Disciplines," held here on April 2. More than 100 people attended.

"TEDxWalthamED was an amazing event," Goder-Peled said. "The speakers were inspiring and they all talked about innovative ways that we, as educators, can engage with students in the classroom every day. The talks also addressed how educators can address our students' social-emotional needs, not just academic."

"This event is a great example of how Gann faculty and staff are encouraged to develop their own intellectual interests," she said. "Everyone at Gann is thrilled we hosted it."

Gann Head of School Rabbi Marc Baker said the event fit in beautifully with Jewish tradition, with its "emphasis on big ideas and questions about what it means to be human," he said.

"The Jewish people have always had a passion for lifelong learning for the sake of learning," he said. "The themes that our TEDx speakers addressed speak to the big questions with which we are engaged at Gann Academy every day - how do we go beyond the confines of textbooks to prepare our students to analyze the world, create new structures, and connect communities?"

"I would love for educators and others who work with kids to connect with each other and continue these important conversations," GoderPeled said.
The presenters comprised Joelle Renstrom of BU, on using science fiction to analyze the world and teach students how to be change agents; Jamie Byron, co-founder of a stattup that sells "intelligent" indoor vegetable gardens, on integrating nature-based learning into the curriculum; Jennifer Greif Green and Melissa Holt, also of BU, on recognizing subder forms of bullying and the need for more nuanced interventions; Kathryn D. Boger of McLean Hospital on a day in the life of a young person suffering from anxiety and what adults can do to help; and Christopher Robichaud of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, on using simulations - inspired by role-playing games - to teach students how to solve ethical dilemmas.

"TEDxWalthamED delivers to our kids the impottant message that all of us - teachers included - are life-long learners," Rabbi Baker said.
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