TED.com As An Academic Resource Part 2

TED.com and TED Talks have been an incredibly valuable academic resource for me this school year. Here are the TED Talks that we have shown in our middle school Digital Literacy classes this year and why we chose them. (I co-teach Digital Literacy with Allendale Columbia School Librarian, Judy Van Alstyne.)

Hasan Elahi: FBI, here I am!

Courtesy of TED.com

“When Hasan Elahi’s name was added (by mistake) to the US government’s watch list, he fought the assault on his privacy by turning his life inside-out for all the world to see.”

Common Sense Media provides great materials for teachers and students about the concept of a digital footprint. Hasan Elahi’s talk fit in with the message we were trying to convey to the 8th grade.  I love how he shows another view of what a digital footprint could be and how you can have a say about what is out there about you. It’s also pretty entertaining!

Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story

Courtesy of TED.com

“Andrew Stanton has made you laugh and cry. The writer behind the three “Toy Story” movies and the writer/director of “WALL-E,” he releases his new film, “John Carter,” in March.”

We used this talk to introduce the art of storytelling during an interdisciplinary unit with 8th grade English students. Andrew Stanton tells a good story and delivers a great talk.

**Warning** The beginning of this talk contains a “Not Safe For School” joke. After 1:10, it is safe for students. We edited that part out before we showed it.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Courtesy of TED.com

“Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.”

I know that this TED talk is the most watched ever, but how many students have seen it? In my opinion we don’t include students enough in conversations about their education. What do students think when they hear Sir Ken Robinson’s talk? I included this talk as an option for the 8th graders as we were exploring project ideas. I wanted them to start thinking about their education and how they could start to look for some topics they would be interested in exploring.

Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree

Courtesy of TED.com

“The former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns — like conflict avoidance and selective blindness — that lead managers and organizations astray.”

I love this talk because it gets right to the heart of improvement and learning. We asked students several times this year to give each other constructive feedback, and they are terrible at it. Everything they say to each other is nice and supportive, but not constructive. When someone does offer constructive feedback there is so much tension and defensiveness that nothing is gained. Constructive feedback is welcome on this topic.

How have you used TED.com in the classes you teach or at the businesses for which you work? What are your favorite talks and how have you used them?


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