Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Getting to the Core with Ted Talks

It is not a secret that I love Ted Talks.  I think my first one was Angela Duckworth's talk about grit and I was immediately hooked.    What I didn't realize is that my students were binging on them as much as I was.  With this new tool, students who were interested in a specific topic could hear from experts in the field.  Some of my AP Psychology students described how they Googled a psychology term in the book and found Talks on them.  It was a huge relief to me to no longer have to be the sole "expert in the room" (and I was no expert!).  However, this was before we were a 1:1 GAFE school so kids who didn't have the Internet at home were limited in their ability to watch the Talks.

I was working with an English Teacher this year and she described how she is going to use a few talks during her rhetoric unit.  I created this Google Document that allows students to choose their own videos, find augmentative language, and to support their ideas.  The Learning Targets listed in the beginning of the document are linked to CCSS Reading Standards 2 and 8.  I also found another Google Document created by Kenny Silva on SmartBlogs on Education.

I started to think of other applications for this Video Reflection outside of English Class.


TED has compiled some great playlists on their website and on YouTube. Some of the lists are curated by the TED team and others are done by guests, like David Blaine and Bono.  Teachers could link the playlists to their class content easily and allow students to explore on their own or direct them to a collection with a defined theme, like Alexis Ohanian's Intenet collection.

The playlists on YouTube are more general but could be used in a similar way.  I am not as a fan of this because it's not organized as neatly but YouTube is so easy to use on mobile devices it is hard to discount it all together.

For those who are looking for the curated collections that were once on Netflix, Quora did the work for you since Netflix took off all the TED content in March 2016.


Quora also had an interesting thread about why people dislike TED.  One of the primary reasons outlined in the discussion is TED can make a person feel like an expert on the topic.  The writers argue that TED talks should be a place to start not a place to end when starting to learn about information.  This reminded me of the well-planned unit on Research created by Odell Education.  Students use the playlists to Explore a Topic and find one specific detail to research more deeply.


TED presenters often present a radical idea within a branch of a larger topic.  This allows students to also compare two different viewpoints on the same topic.  Angela Duckworth's talk on Grit was featured on the Ted Radio Hour's show about Success.  The same episode also featured talks from Tony Robbins, Ron Gutman,  Mike Rowe, Alain de Botton. Each speaker presents a different claim about the definition of success and how to achieve it.  This would be a great way to explore how different authors explore a similar topic (Potential Learning Target - I can analyze how authors interpret and emphasize different evidence when presenting sources on the same topic - CCRA.R.9). Students could make a copy of the Google Form for each video source then combine a final synthesis argument.

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