Posted in Weekly Reflection

6 Reasons Why My Students Watch a TED Talk Every Tuesday

1. It teaches my students the things that I can’t.

Thanks to TED, you have the top mentors in the world at your fingertips. In English, we are learning how our relationships with others impact our identity? Great. Let’s bring in Brené Brown and her talk on the power of vulnerability. Students can’t seem to get their work in on time? Well, you know what? Tim Urban will tell you all about the procrastination monster tormenting the rational decision maker inside your brain. The point is, I don’t have all the answers and that’s okay. What I do have are the world’s greatest leaders at my disposal. Every time we watch a TED talk in class my students are exposed to individuals who are experts in their fields. My goal as a teacher is to introduce my students to individuals who are changing the world so that they can go forward and do the same.

2. It feeds their curiosity.

While some of my students may deny that they actually like learning, the best moments are when we are watching a TED Talk and a student asks if we can pause to explore further into specific topics the TED Talk brought up. For example, today in 7th grade English we were watching a TED talk called Reinventing the Encyclopedia Game and my students learned for the first time about uncontacted tribes. They also learned that fireflies are actually beetles and that apparently 25% of all living organisms are beetles too. Statistically, we determined that that means 3 students in every class are beetles. (We’re taking a class vote soon to determine who those individuals are). Anyway, this talk led our class to explore further into BBC reports on uncontacted tribes. We discussed how these uncontacted tribes have no idea what exists beyond their huts, and how there are similarities to how these people are living and many of the dystopian novels my students are reading for class.

3. It challenges their way of thinking.

Last week, my students watched Jake Minton’s TED talk entitled Men and Children: The Final Frontier of Feminism. By watching this talk, my students were able to discuss the following questions:

How are women treated in your own culture?

Do you think men and women are treated equally? Why or why not?

What biases are there about what a man should be?

What types of unfairness do you witness in your everyday life at school, in your society, or in your culture?

Through these questions, we got to discuss gender roles and the boxes we often put each other in. Some of the points and questions students brought up included:

Why is it okay for girls growing up to like blue but boys can’t like pink?

How come in my culture there aren’t any stay-at-home dads?

If there are about the same amount of women and men in the world how come there are so many jobs like in politics that are all men or jobs like elementary school teachers that are all women?

Through this experience, my students began to challenge the societal norms that exist in their everyday lives and to question the way things are in their own society.

4. They are learning how to analyze and summarize works of non-fiction.

Teaching at an international school in Guatemala, TED Talks are a great way for my students to practice learning English at the academic level. For every video we watch, the students are given a “viewing guide” to help them analyze and digest the information they are taking in. They are bettering their note taking skills and they are practicing taking 15-20 minutes of information, identifying the main ideas and purpose, and summarizing that information into 4-5 sentences.

5. TED Talk Tuesday just rolls off the tongue.

This one is obvious….when you add alliteration to your lesson titles it’s going to make it a better day. On our first Tuesday of class, one of my students asked me “Miss, why are we having TED Talk Tuesday?” I looked at him, smiled, and with great enthusiasm said, “Because TED Talk Thursday sounded stupid!” When it rolls off the tongue, you are going to have more fun.

6. I want their learning to expand beyond the classroom.

TED Talks are the gatekeepers to deeper learning outside the classroom. I want my students to question and to dream. I want them to discover something about the world that they didn’t know before they walked into my class. I want my students to fall in love with learning and to never lose their curiosity. I want them to dare to be explorers and to always strive to surround themselves with people who will challenge them to be better than they were before. At the end of the day, I want my students to grow into the world changers I know they are destined to be.


5 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why My Students Watch a TED Talk Every Tuesday

  1. This is such a great idea! I’m curious how you got started teaching in Guatemala, as I taught there, too, until just recently.


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