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Ideas Worth Spreading – Twenty Amazing Speakers

Yaw Adutwum

Yaw Adutwum
Talk title: Accountability and expectations: changing students’ performance
An educator and community activist born in Ghana, Yaw is the founder and CEO of the New Designs Charter School in South Los Angeles. Yaw recognized that while students in south Los Angeles had strong intellectual ability, they lacked motivation and academic self-esteem. He has designed school programs that boost morale and provide students a powerful foundation in mathematics, science, technology and the arts.

Tom Vander Ark
Talk title: Innovations in education
Tom Vander Ark is CEO of Open Education Solutions, an organization which provides blended learning services. He is a partner in Learn Capital, a venture capital firm investing in learning content, platforms, and services aimed at transforming educational engagement, access, and effectiveness. A prolific writer and speaker, Tom has published thousands of articles and blogs. He chairs the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and serves on the board of LA’s Promise and Strive for College. Tom received the Distinguished Achievement Medal.

Peter Barsuk
Talk title: Architectural design that transforms learning
Peter is an architect at Gensler, with over nineteen years of experience in education and green building design. As an education practice area Director, he is charged with incorporating the latest research, technology, and thought leadership into the design and delivery of Gensler’s projects.  A passionate environmentalist, Peter encourages resource conservation through design thinking, both in the office and local community through lectures, the formulation of grass roots initiatives and volunteer committees.  Peter is the former Board Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council, Los Angeles Chapter, and has recently started a South Bay Branch of USGBC focused on promoting sustainability in the local, built environment.

John Bennett
Talk title: Why math instruction is unnecessary
John Bennett is a math teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area and a home-schooling father of four. An outspoken advocate of education reform, he has presented lectures and workshops throughout California. He uses logic puzzles and strategy games in the classroom (and at home) to supplement the traditional mathematics curriculum. John has authored three volumes of Pentagrid Puzzles, a new puzzle form he created to challenge deductive logic and visual-spatial reasoning.

Jon Bischke
Talk title: The learning and reputation graph
Jon Bischke is an experienced entrepreneur focused on the intersection of education and technology. He has been on the founding team of five companies, including LearnOutLoud.com and eduFire.com, a leading video platform for online education. Jon is the founder of RG Labs, a company that helps people make better decisions about people. His current work explores the creation of a learning graph, abstracting what a person knows and their relative level of mastery, and a reputation graph which distills what people think of a person, graphs that could be used in combination as a measure of one’s knowledge and employability.

Paulo Blikstein
Talk title: One Fabrication Lab per School: the FabLab@School project
Paulo Blikstein is Assistant Professor at Stanford University School of Education. Blikstein’s research focus on how new technologies can deeply transform the learning of science, engineering, and mathematics. He creates and researches cutting-edge technologies for use in inner-city schools, such as computer modeling, robotics, and rapid prototyping, creating constructionist learning environments in which children learn science and mathematics by building sophisticated projects and devices. A recipient of the prestigious NSF Early Career Award, Blikstein holds a PhD. from Northwestern University, an MSc. from the MIT Media Lab, and a B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering from the University of São Paulo.

Sean Bouchard
Talk title: Chocolate Covered Broccoli: Building Better Games
Sean Bouchard is a game designer and developer. He’s currently working with the University of Southern California’s Game Innovation Lab on the Collegeology Games project, which seeks to produce a suite of digital and non-digital games which help to improve college access for under-served youth. Sean also works with the indie game studio Crater House on small-scale experimental games. He’s also worked as a programmer at the Institute for Creative Technology, examining the therapeutic potential of virtual worlds. His focus is on narrative design and motivating social interaction through game mechanics.

Hall Davidson
Talk title: The Teacher with a Thousand Brains
Hall Davidson Director, Discovery Channel Network Educator, has been a teacher since 1971. He left the classroom to teach math on television in an Emmy-award winning program. He’s produced a PBS television series on education, technology, parenting and theater, contributed articles to national education publications, co-authored TechWorks, an internationally distributed classroom technology kit, and founded Kitzu.org, a free online kit that encourages project-based learning using media.. In 2011, Hall received the prestigious “Make IT Happen” award for his innovation, leadership and commitment to educational technology.

Scott Doorley
Talk title: Designing communication as an emergent skill
Scott Doorley is Director of the Environments Lab at the d.school at Stanford University. He has many years of experience in the motion picture industry and has held almost every imaginable position in film production, from art direction to producing to acting and more for CBS, Fox, and ESPN. He is currently a practicing digital media artist and founder of the Dacha Art Collective; his work has been exhibited at the San Jose Museum of Art, the ZeroOne Festival and at San Francisco’s Grey Area Foundation for the Arts.

David Dwyer
Talk title: Hybrid High – 24/7 school to improve graduation rates
David Dwyer is the first holder of the newly endowed Katzman-Ernst Chair in Educational Entrepreneurship, Technology and Innovation at the University of Southern California. He was most recently Co-Founder and COO at KD Learning, where he developed an imaginative virtual world for children 6-12 years of age, providing them an opportunity to interact, master numerous games, and engage in creative and altruistic activities. From 2000 to 2002 he was Director of Education Technologies at Apple Computer. As an Apple Distinguished Scientist, he has collaborated with leading research institutions to demonstrate technical innovations in education settings, and advised education policy leaders.

Carla Atwood Hartman
Talk title: Come Add Your Voice to an Eames Card!
Carla Atwood Hartman, granddaughter of Charles and Ray Eames, has been the Director of Education for the Eames Office since 2004. She collaborates with museums, schools, and the public to extend the creative legacy of Charles and Ray Eames through interactive programming and exhibitions, publications, and product development. While much of her current work focuses on the Eameses, she also loves to use chairs—a singular collecting passion—as teaching tools about design and the design process. Prior to playing at the Eames Office, she enjoyed nine years of museum experience in architecture, design and graphics at the Denver Art Museum.

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
Talk title: Embodied brains, social minds: How admiration inspires purposeful learning
Mary-Helen Immordino-Yang is a neuroscientist and human development psychologist. In her work she studies the neural, psychophysiological and psychological bases of emotion, social interaction and culture and their implications for development and schools. A former junior high school teacher, Mary-Helen earned her doctorate at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. She is an Assistant Professor of Education at the USC’s Rossier School of Education and Assistant Professor of Psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute. She’s also the inaugural recipient of the Award for Transforming Education through Neuroscience.

Mike Matthews
Talk title: A Child’s Right To Learn
Mike Matthews has been an educator for 25 years. He began his career as a teacher. He became a school principal at the tender age of 29, and later became principal of Malibu High School, a school he build from the ground up. In 2006 he helped to start a private company called Extreme Learning, to offer after-school learning programs to California schools that didn’t meet state academic standards, serving more than 4,000 students. Mike was chosen by the Manhattan Beach Unified School District (MBUSD) Board of Trustees as superintendent of schools for the Manhattan Beach School District in 2010. He holds a BA and MA from Stanford University and a doctorate in education from Pepperdine University.

Jackie Merrill
Talk title: Not a talk, but a spellbinding story
“Being a Spellbinder is not just a nice addition to my life – it has, in fact transformed it, shifted and re-defined my priorities,” says Jackie Merrill. She is chairman of the board of Spellbinders, a volunteer organization founded as an inter-generational program. The Spellbinder organization brings elders into the public schools as storytellers, and in so doing restores elders to their traditional role, where they stand with grace and authority, honored as guardians of wisdom and keepers of the stories. Jackie tells stories on the theme of heroes and heroines, sharing her wisdom with children.

Barry Ptolemy
Talk title: Transcendent Man: a documentary about inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil
At age twelve, Barry Ptolemy worked and studied closely alongside director Steven Spielberg on the set of E.T., The Extra Terrestrial and became a filmmaker himself. After attending USC film school, Barry’s interest in the sciences led him to read Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near, upon which he based his first feature film, Transcendent Man. He also directed the commercial “We Are The World 25 For Haiti” featuring Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones – the commercial aired during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies. Barry was recently hailed as one of the new “power directors” by Los Angeles Confidential magazine.

Karen Hunter Quartz
Talk title: Empowering the student to be an independent learner
Karen Quartz is the Director of Research and Communications at UCLA’s Center X, and Director of Research and Development at the UCLA Community School, a K-12 public school in Local District 4 of the Los Angeles Unified School District. She earned her Ph.D. in Education from UCLA in 1994 and has served as a researcher at the University of California, San Diego and UCLA’s Institute for Democracy. Karen’s interests and scholarship focus on the career development and retention of urban educators, the use of research to improve practice, and the creation of small democratic schools.

Mark Slavkin
Talk title: Holding Schools Accountable for the Creativity of their Students
Mark Slavkin is Vice President for Education at the Music Center Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County, where he directs programs aimed at advancing arts education in schools across L.A. County. Mark serves on the Executive Committee for “Arts for All,” a coalition bringing the arts back to the core K-12 curriculum. Mark has served on the national Annenberg Challenge and on the Getty Education Institute for the Arts.

Thomas Suarez
Talk title: iPhone application developer…and 6th grader
Thomas Suarez is a 6th grade student at a middle school in the South Bay. Tom been fascinated by computers and technology since before kindergarten.  Recently, he’s been focused on the development of applications for the iPhone, and has established his own company, CarrotCorp. His most successful ap is one he terms “an anti-Justin-Bieber game” called “Bustin Jieber”. “It’s is a variation on the Whac-a-Mole theme,” he explains.

Melanie West
Talk title: Visual and auditory learning – how to teach it
Melanie West is an educational psychologist and the author of The Right Side of Learning. She specializes in designing techniques that stimulate both sides of the brain, to keep children in emotional and neurological balance while learning. She firmly believes that in a world of left-brain curricula, some of the most intelligent and creative thinkers are underachieving and misunderstood. Melanie’s mission is to show parents and teachers alike that there is no such thing as an average student.

Scott Witthoft
Talk title: Cultivating innovative behavior using design
Engineer, designer, and artist Scott Witthoft is a member of the faculty of d.school, Stanford University’s hub for innovators. He’s an alumnus of the Graduate Joint Program in Design at Stanford, the Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Texas at Austin. Scott dedicated much of his early career to the field of forensic structural engineering, investigating “just about every type of possible failure” in buildings, bridges, tanks, and tunnels, and developing new applications for nondestructive testing methods. Scott’s interests include capturing craft within the burgeoning do-it-yourself design movement, and the physical and philosophical implications of the current direction toward localized manufacturing.