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[Do You Know TED?] | 3 Ways to Use TED-Ed in the Classroom

Apr 12, 2019

No, I'm not talking about the guy down the street. Or the big, fluffy [inappropriate] teddy bear. Not even your favorite character from How I Met Your Mother. I'm talking about TED with a [capital] T E D. 

Tell me, have you ever heard of TED talks?

Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you have. 

These beauties are short, usually powerful talks used to spread ideas and spark the inquisitive mind. They cover almost every topic under the sun you could think of. 

Now, have you ever heard of TED-Ed?

Maybe [or maybe not] a little less familiar, but TED-Ed is an education platform with the same mission of sparking new ideas, only the target here are teachers and students [ahem, YOU and your crew!].

So, why use TED in the classroom, you ask?

Consider the goal of 21st century education. We are not just teaching students to bestow knowledge upon them so that they can then pass a test. This is the old school way of teaching and learning. 

Education in the 21st century is all about preparing students for knowledge work. Students need to be prepared to think critically, solve problems, and collaborate with others in order to deal with the challenges of their time. 

Related: How to Bring Travel + Culture to the Classroom

Ok, so how do we get students to develop these essential 21st century skills? 

We challenge them with ideas. We spark their curiosity. We engage them in conversation and debate.

This is why I am a such a fan of TED and this platform I'm bringing to you today. Because it is with this tool that we can begin to make this talk a reality.

So now that I'm all pumped up about this [and hopefully you are moving in that direction too], I want to share with you [3] ways to use this platform for 21st century teaching and learning.

[1] Get animated.

When you go and check out TED-Ed you will find [thousands of] video-based animation lessons to take advantage of. These lessons not only include awesome video content to help you teach a concept, but also comprehension questions, discussion questions, and additional related resources for you and your students to explore in order to extend learning. 

These animations are designed based on the ideas and teachings of other educators, so this is a prime example of worldwide teacher collaboration at its finest. You can even customize the lessons for your students and add in your own interactive questions throughout the videos. 

Yes ya'll, this tool is customizable. 🙌🏻

It's engaging. It's relevant. It's collaborative. It's a 21st century tool for learning. 

[2] Make it relatable.

Check out TED-Ed Student Talks. Let me back up by first saying that the TED-Ed platform has a feature which allows both you and your students to share big ideas via TED-style talks. TED-Ed Student Talks is a collection of these student talks, presented BY students FOR students.

I'm a huge fan of sharing the responsibility of teaching with students. What I mean is, I love love love when students are able to stand in front of their peers and bring home a concept or share an idea for other students to learn from. I believe that students can sometimes be much more receptive to learning from the words and ideas of their peers, as opposed to only the teacher.

Learning from someone we can relate to is powerful, don't you agree?

So, with TED-Ed Student Talks you can bring this kind of student-led learning environment to your classroom. You can give students an opportunity to draw inspiration from other kids just like them all around the world.

Andddd [drum roll please] to make this learning opportunity even more impactful, I created a TED-Ed Student Talk graphic organizer for you to use with your students as you watch. 

Oh, by the way, it's yours fo' freeeeee!

Now, [detour] I'm putting a pause on things here for a sec so I can tell you about how I used this organizer in my classroom.

I had the opportunity to try this out with a group of 5th graders at the international school I work at. Let me just say, [for them] it was challenging.... but it was also SO worth the challenge.

I'll preface by saying [again] my experience in using this was at an international school, with a group of students who all spoke English as a second language, many of them just learning the language within the last couple of years. 

For this reason, it was challenging for them because (a) the student in the particular Student Talk we watched was using a lot of academic vocabulary, which my students pointed out were "big words" and (b) the speaker spoke as a native English speaker speaks... i.e. a little fast for what my students are used to.

But to be honest, this was all the more reason for them to get exposure to this type of activity. It was a challenge for them, yes, but that's the awesome part of learning in a classroom with a teacher at your disposal...you can confront challenges head on and work through them together to come out a little wiser in the end.

And that's exactly what we did.

I quickly realized that I would need to scaffold and slow things down in order to make the activity more accessible. I paraphrased when needed and encouraged students to take the ideas and throw them back at me using their own words, in order to aid with their comprehension. We talked through the organizer and worked together to make connections, each student drawing off of what each other was saying to reach new conclusions.

Ya'll, it. was. magic.

I could almost literally see the wheels moving in their brains as they listened and talked about the ideas from the Student Talk. 

Plus, the student speaker in the talk was a perfect example of a student role model I want these students exposed to. The type of role model that can influence them to grow as student leaders themselves.

And guess what? The next day, when I brought out a new Student Talk to give it another whirl, THEY WERE EXCITED. 

You know why? Because this type of learning is engaging. It's meaningful. It's relatable. It provides challenge and forces them to work their brains. And whether they admit it or not, kids love to feel themselves growing smarter.

I would LOVE to see the magic that could happen if these students practiced this everyday, or at least a few times a week. 

Ok, enough detouring. I've got one more way you can consider using the TED-Ed platform in your classroom, and I think it might call for breaking down some comfort zones... :)

[3] Give it to the students.

The TED-Ed platform offers plenty of opportunity for you to put the learning in the hands of your students. So go ahead, pass that ball to their side of the court.

As I mentioned earlier, the lessons on the platform are customizable, which means you can add to and edit video questions and discussions, as well as assign these customized lessons to your students. Students can then learn and respond to the content independently. You can keep track of their progress and manage student interaction with the content directly through the features of the platform.

Besides autonomous learning, TED-Ed has one more SUPER cool possibility for you to consider to really help your students shine as leaders [and break down those comfort zones!].

We've already talked about watching and learning from student TED-style talks led by other students around the world, but did you know YOUR students can create their own and share them as well?

Yep, talk about some major leadership skills.

Help your students zero in on an idea they feel passionate about and one which sparks their curiosity. Then utilize the TED-Ed curriculum and resource library to help them bring their Student Talk to life and share it with other students around the world.

There are a ton of options and resources available for you to make this a reality for your students and its all available in the TED-Ed platform.

Oh, and in case you [my teacher leader friend] are interested, YOU can create an educator TED-style talk as well! 

Go ahead, you get to inspire right alongside your students, how awesome is that?!

This, my friend, is what it means to get out there and teach the world! 

>>>Wanna save this post for later? Just save it to your favorite Pinterest board and you'll have access to it forever and always :)


>>>>Skip to the bottom, did ya? No worries! In a nutshell, this post was all about how to use the TED-Ed platform for 21st century teaching and learning in your classroom.

I also shared a brand new, FREE [that's the best kind, right?] resource for you to put TED-Ed Student Talks in action with your students. Go download it now!

Are you a 21st Century? Join the growing community of teachers who are just like you!

If you are passionate about teaching 21st century themes and skills in your classroom and want access to resources to help you do so, join the 21c Club!



Are you passionate about teaching 21st century themes and skills in your classroom?