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.