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What happens when 5th graders run the classroom: A SOLE in action

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TED Blog

Two students in Mr. J's class laugh as they research TK. Photo: Natasha Scripture Two students in Mr. J’s class laugh as they teach themselves about Mercy Otis Warren and the American Revolution. Photo: Natasha Scripture

Eleven-year-olds running a classroom? That could sound outlandish to some elementary school teachers, but not to Joe Jamison, or “Mr. J” as he is affectionately called by his fifth-grade students at Lawrence Intermediate School in central New Jersey.

“I learn from my kids,” says Mr. J, as he dips his hand into a Philadelphia Eagles football helmet — otherwise known as the “helmet of fate” — and pulls out the name of the next group of students to give a presentation on Mercy Otis Warren, an American playwright and poet, not to mention one of the few female propagandists of the American Revolution, which Mr. J’s class is studying.

There is a feeling of excitement in the small classroom, decorated with inspirational quotes and bright educational paraphernalia. The kids sit at…

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Two educators, two very different visions, one question: How can tech help us rethink education in the developing world?

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TED Blog

Take two education activists with very different theories — and give them a chance to work together on a goal they both care about. That’s the thinking in the video above, the kick-off of Microsoft’s new Work Wonders project, which pairs up unlikely collaborators to spark new ideas. Watch as TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra joins forces with TEDx speaker Adam Braun to tackle a bold mission: Use technology to rethink education in severely underserved communities.

They’re a bit of an odd couple. Mitra, who created the School in the Cloud to enable kids to explore questions that matter to them on their own, believes that traditional schools are becoming more and more obsolete; meanwhile Braun, who founded Pencils of Promise to rally communities in the developing world to build schools, believes that traditional classrooms are the answer to opening up opportunity.

Above, watch the first in a series…

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TED Blog

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Stepping onto the TED or TEDx stage — or speaking in front of any group of people, for that matter — is truly nerve-wracking. Will you remember everything you wanted to say, or get so discombobulated that you skip over major points? Will the audience be receptive to your ideas, or will you notice a guy in row three nodding off to sleep?

Presentation expert Nancy Duarte, who gave the TED Talk “The secret structure of great talks,” has built her career helping people express their ideas in presentations. The author of Slide:ology and Resonate, Duarte has just released a new book through the Harvard Business Review: The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.

The TED Blog talked with Duarte in her California office about what makes a killer presentation, as well as about how giving her own TED Talk shaped her thoughts on presenting.

What would…

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