Boston EdTalks Fifth Annual Convening

Boston EdTalks celebrated its fifth annual convening on May 5, 2016. The event is a gathering of teachers who make short presentations about the intersection of great strategy, passion, and relationships for and with their students. EdTalks celebrates great teachers and gives them a platform from which to share their innovative ideas, classroom practices, and solutions to challenges they face in their schools.

Teachers – potential presenters – propose discussion ideas to a panel of peer teachers and are selected through a rigorous vetting process. Some presenters talk about great unique teaching methods, like using the alphabet to help grade school children learn complex math, or how to incorporate #blacklivesmatter into middle school curriculum,  and how to inspire high school students to become entrepreneurs. Other topics focus on bigger picture issues, like getting more teachers of color to stay in the classroom, why teacher salaries matter, or what it’s like to be a founding member of a new charter school.

Empowering Mathematical Minds: The Making of Math Champions

Jeffrey Parks and Michael O’Halloran, 3rd Grade Teachers at Everett Elementary School, Boston Public Schools
R U A Math Solving Champion? That’s the question third graders are asking themselves at the Everett Elementary school as they work to solve math problems with a deep understanding of numbers and operations. Students coach each other through a process designed to help them learn the concepts and higher order thinking skills that will enable them to solve any math problem they encounter...with enthusiasm!

The Think Space: Educating the Heart & the Mind for Success in the Classroom and Beyond

Colleen Galvin Labbe, Kindergarten Teacher at Lee Academy Pilot, Boston Public Schools
Did you know that one in four children in the United States will witness or experience a traumatic event before they turn four? This is a problem that reaches into all classrooms. Teachers need to find ways to help students develop the social and emotional skills that help them not only cope, but rise to high expectations both in and out of the classroom.

What We Believe: Building Teacher-Driven Innovation through Collaboration

Alice Laramore, 7th Grade English Language Arts Teacher at Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School, Boston Public Schools, with Marcus Penny, 7th & 8th Grade Science Teacher, Katharine Atkins-Pattenson, 7th Grade Humanities Teacher, Katy Ramón, 8th Grade Math Teacher, and Randyl Wilkerson, 6th Grade Humanities Teacher, at Gardner Pilot Academy, Boston Public Schools
Have you ever attended a work meeting that didn’t work for you? The Writing Is Thinking team is comprised of Boston Public School teachers who collaborate to build authentic professional development that addresses our students’ needs and meets us where we are as professionals. Our collaboration works because we as a team are aligned around a mission, vision, and foundational beliefs that direct and energize our work together, and it has yielded results for students, families, and teachers. The Writing Is Thinking team proves that alignment around a fine-tuned set of foundational beliefs cultivates intentional, powerful, teacher-driven collaboration and student gain. Learn more about our work at

Twitter Chats and EdCamps: Innovations in Professional Learning

Abbey Dick, 10th grade English and AP English Language and Composition Teacher at Malden High School, Malden Public Schools
How do teachers improve their teaching? Historically, teachers are offered professional development courses that may or may not affect their daily practice. Sometimes these one-size-fits-all workshops do not lead to meaningful change for teachers. Twitter and EdCamps are just two examples of ways that teachers are driving their own professional learning to get the ideas, solutions, and support they need, when they need it. Now, differentiation and personalization of learning are not just for students, but for teachers, too.

Part 1

Part 2

What if? Targeted Literacy Instruction within a Rigorous Curriculum

Nicole Tabolt Da Silva and Caitlin MacLeod-Bluver, 9th & 10th Grade ESL at Boston International Newcomers Academy, Boston Public Schools, with Juliet Buesing, 10th Grade Humanities and 11th & 12th Grade AP English Language & Composition Teacher at Urban Science Academy, Boston Public Schools
There is a literacy crisis in high school classrooms across the city - too many students lack the basic reading and writing skills that will allow them to succeed in and outside of school. As teachers, this can feel daunting - how do we fill the gaps some of our students have in fundamental literacy skills while also teaching demanding grade-level content?  We have created some programs on a small scale in our Advanced Placement and English as a Second Language classes, but we hope to instill urgency about rethinking literacy instruction at the secondary level across the city.

Voices of Activism: Creating Empathy & Breaking Barriers

Jennifer Staysniak, High School History Teacher at Mount Alvernia High School, Newton
A student’s observation that activism seemed to be a thing of the past catalyzed a project that brought high school students into local organizations that work for social justice. Students collected oral histories, built a website (, and answered the question, “What is activism?” What began as a small project turned into a much more powerful experience that challenged students’ misconceptions and let them find their own responsibility, hope, and call to action.

Special Thanks to Jeremy Collier, K-5 music teacher at UP Academy Holland for being a wonderful emcee for tonight’s event, to 2015 EdTalks presenter Ben Leddy for his help coaching and preparing presenters; Joe Trudeau, SmartSource, for his tips on visual presentations; Laura Godine, Senior Director of Professional Advisor Relations for her innovative improv training for all of us; and to all the teachers from The Boston Foundation’s Teacher Advisory Board for their inspirational vision of tonight’s program and for selecting and coaching presenters.