Preparing for my TEDx talk was hard work but also exhilarating. It forced me to synthesize my ideas and explore how to clearly communicate them to my audience. I practiced nine times with different groups of people (you know who you are, thank you!) and received feedback from each of those practice sessions that made the final product better. The format of the TEDx event forced to me face my anxiety about high-stakes public speaking and, especially on the day of the talk, to use breath to maintain a level of calm while my body kept trying to kick into flight or flight mode.

Finally giving my TEDx talk was a peak life experience! I am grateful that I succeeded in giving the talk that I wanted to give. The stories I shared were from my life, but I also drew ideas and guidance from other sources. The inspiring book “Houston, We Have a Narrative” by Randy Olson encouraged me to include stories in my talk, and his emphasis on the importance of an “and, but, therefore” narrative structure influenced my organization.

My background is in biochemistry, not educational psychology, and what I know about learning has been influenced by reading books that summarize recent advances in research about learning. “Make it Stick” by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel helped me realize the deep importance of recall and reflection. I recommend starting with their chapter 8, where they synthesize the main themes of the book, and then reading the other chapters. Another influential book, which emphasizes different key points, is “How Learning Works” by Susan Ambrose and coauthors. If you are an educator, you will especially appreciate their focus on putting educational knowledge gained through research into practice in the classroom.

Some of my practice audiences were curious about the communication book I mentioned when talking about my book group. We spent a year working through “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg. The workshop I attended after my first year at MSU Denver was about Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL).

Finally, my knowledge of Open Educational Resources (OER) has been enhanced through work with OpenStax out of Rice University ( and the Open Textbook Network (, which is housed at the University of Minnesota and manages the Open Textbook Library ( On my OER examples slide I included Libretexts (, which provides a free online platform for faculty to customize OER for their courses along with a wealth of collected OER content that anyone can use. I also have an image from the PhET simulations out of CU Boulder, which are some of my favorite OER to use with my general chemistry students ( At the end of the talk I mention OER library guides as a great way to find resources for finding OER. One nice example is the guide created by librarian Ellen Metter at the Auraria library ( I have also learned an incredible amount through serving on the Colorado Department of Higher Education OER Council and appreciate the State of Colorado’s support of OER for the benefit of Colorado students.