Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bringing TED Talks Into My Classroom

     Who doesn't love a good TED Talk?  Something compelling about TED Talks is how they are able to weave in life lessons through the power of story.  This summer, I really got into TED Talks, and having conversations with Evan Robb about them got ideas churning in my head.
      This summer, I ultimately decided that I wanted my students in my "Cougar Focus" class to deliver TED Talks.  Cougar Focus is a micro block that our school has where students build on their skills in Math and English.  My English Cougar Focus is filled with some incredible students that I taught last year, and I knew would be willing to play along with this idea I had.
       So how did I do it?  Hopefully these steps will be helpful!

1. Watch Some TED Talks - Almost none of my students knew what I TED Talk was when this journey began.  So I started by showing them lots of different TED Talks.  I started with humorous ones to help hook them and steadily moved to others.
The Agony of Trying to Unsubscribe
Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator
Dare To Disagree
How To Order Pizza Like A Lawyer
Every Kid Needs A Champion

2. Reflect On Each TED Talk - After watching each video, I would ask the student what was the life lesson?  What story or stories did the person use to teach this lesson?  Were there things you liked about the talk?  Were there things you didn't like about the talk?

3. Pick A Life Lesson - I had my students spend some time picking three life lessons they could give a TED Talk on.  Then I asked them to narrow it down to one.  I have my students sitting in groups, so if they were struggling to narrow the scope, I told them to ask group members to help them choose.

4. Pick A Story - Give students time to think about a story to help teach that life lesson.

5. Give Students Time - Some would say it is a big risk giving students almost a month (I see them twice a week for thirty-five minutes) to work on this.  And I would say they are right.  There are some students that I have to constantly remind to get back on task.  However, I firmly believe this risk is worth the reward.  I have been amazed by some of the drafts I have seen.  If I had rushed this assignment, I doubt the Talks would be as good as I believe they will be.

6. Get A Red Dot - When I told students I would be ordering a red circle carpet like the ones they use in TED Talks, the students got a real sense of how seriously I was taking this, and they started to buy into it more as well.  It wasn't that we were doing something "like" a TED Talk.  We are DOING TED Talks!

7. Reserve The Auditorium - Yeah... I still need to do this #procrastination + #busyness.  But giving them a space to really have that feeling that what they are doing is important is powerful.

8. Let Your Students Shine - After all the learning and practice, schedule students to give their TED Talks and let the class celebrate each student at the end!

    I am very excited about what the TED Talks have in store for our class.  I am incredibly proud of the work my students have done, and I cannot wait to listen to their talks!

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