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 literally have the top mentors in the world at your fingertips. In English, we are learning about 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. I don’t have to have all the answers. 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 the 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.

Posted in Homework, Reminders

February Calendars Are Up!


Your February Calendars for English and History are now posted. Stay up to date with what we are doing in class this month. Get fired up for some more persuasive writing, work with dystopian/fantasy novels, writing roulette, and of course your “Tu Recuerdo” project that’s coming up real soon!

I’ll see your beautiful faces Monday!

Love always,

Miss Bagwell

P.S. 7th and 8th grade don’t forget about your projects due Monday!

Posted in Reminders, Weekly Reflection

Teaching the U.S. Declaration of Independence in Guatemala

In social studies this past week we reviewed the Declaration of Independence as well as the American Revolution. As a class, we tackled some difficult questions about the rights of the government and the rights of the governed.

The World’s Greatest Break-Up Letter

We started class with reading the Declaration of Independence as a break-up letter and asking ourselves a few essential questions:

  1. Why was the Declaration of Independence necessary for the colonies to write?
  2. Who delivered the Declaration to King George and what must that have felt like?
  3. How might King George have felt?

We then analyzed two different perspectives: the colonists and King George. For the colonists’ perspective we watched a video “It’s Too Late to Apologize” and for King George’s perspective, we listened to “You’ll Be Back” from the Hamilton soundtrack. We discussed the position King George was in and whether or not the colonists were wrong for revolting.

Was the American Revolution a Civil War?

We asked ourselves an important question:

Did the colonists have the right to go to war with Britain? 

We discussed the idea that had France not recognized the colonist’s independence, then the American Revolution could have very well been considered a Civil War. Had the colonies not been recognized as being independent of Britain then the American Revolution could have been considered a British Civil War. This brought us to our discussion on the somewhat recent resignation of Otto Pérez Molina, the former Guatemalan president who was overthrown by the citizens of Guatemalan in 2015. While this political upheaval didn’t result in a war in Guatemala, it did begin a political revolution. As a class, we cross-referenced the similarities and differences between the 18th century American colonists and 21st Guatemalans.

What if I don’t agree with all of the Declaration of Independence? 

We ended our discussion of the Declaration with reviewing the basic principles outlined in the document. Students reviewed the four basic principles of the document and had to decide if they agreed with those principles of not. For each principle, the student was given a choice to sign off on the sections they agreed with. To our surprise, only a few students agreed with every principle. The rest of the students wanted more information before they were willing to give certain principles their “okay”.

Overall, it was a good start to the school year in 8th grade U.S. history. In the upcoming weeks, we will be learning about Washington, Adams, and their presidencies.

Get pumped for some more from the Hamilton soundtrack!

Miss Bagwell