Spreading Ideas That Matter


The concept behind TED is spreading ideas that matter, and it's always inspired my own teaching philosophy. Every time I plan a lesson, I always ask myself: does this matter? (It's really easy to answer this question with "no" when looking at a canned curriculum by the way). But because I'm a rebel at heart and learned early in my teaching career to follow my own intuition, I asked my 7th and 8th grade classes to create our own TED Talk Conference (inspired by some great teachers like Heather Wolpert-Gawron & Steve Haberlin). 

First we studied a variety of TED Talks (that I let students choose) together using Laura Randazzo's free analysis worksheet here. Then I created my own specific analysis worksheets, such as watching only the first 15 seconds of several TED Talks to determine what makes a great hook and watching TED Talks for use of visuals only to determine effectiveness and relevance. The next task was creation. 

At the end of the two weeks, each of my wonderfully awkward tweens took the stage. Some were commanding (bullying, domestic violence, homelessness), and some were wise beyond their years (how bicycling can save the planet & how racism impacts incarceration rates), but all were totally engaging. I filmed all of them and shared each video so students could reflect on their skills as a speaker and leader. 

We did this at the end of the year, and on my last day at the school, I gave my own TED Talk to the class inspired by them and what I learned from being a middle school teacher in a high poverty & trauma school. The authenticity behind that talk had my students quieter than they had ever been when I was talking. I created it using Animoto and Spreaker

The project specifics (directions, research outline, analysis worksheets, rubric, and reflection) can be downloaded for free here


Ashley Peak

Teacher & traveler seeking bright sides and adventures. I recently left my position as a Title 1 middle school teacher in Spokane, WA for a position in Manizales, Colombia teaching English and Geography at a bilingual private school. I'm passionate about education in action, the power of literature, and traveling the world. Optimism Rampage is a place for me to reflect on the adventure. β€œStuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. see the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that . Shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.” -Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451