Electives & Special Areas

TED Talks All Students Should See

I have lost many hours to the “suggested for you” videos listed on the right side of ted.com. There are times that I believe that their algorithm is broken . . . Really? Do you think I would be interested in “How I became part sea urchin”? More often, however, they nail it. Why, yes, I definitely want to know about the “Power of time off”. I’ll forward it to my boss.
I have curated a number of TED Talks that should be seen by children and adults, for different reasons. Some are inspirational; some are informative; all are engaging. They are best watched as a child-adult team as the prompt to a deeper discussion. This is not to say that there aren’t other talks that should be viewed. In fact, there are many. These are the ones that struck me today . . . as I work from home . . . isolated from all human contact. In a different mood, I might make a different list.
Elementary Students
Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter
Why I picked it: 

Brene Brown: Empathy
Topic: Social-Emotional Skills
Why I picked it: This is kind of a cheat. Here’s the link to her full Ted Talk: Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability. This clip, however, is a brilliant description of empathy, in contrast to sympathy.

Derek Sivers: Weird, or just different
Topic: Bias
Why I picked it: A quick, three-minute video that shows how normal in one place, seems odd in another . . . not right, wrong, or weird . . . just different. 

Thomas Suarez: A 12-year old app developer
Topic: App coding by a 12-year-old
Why I picked it: I love stories from kids who, motivated by inquiry, teach themselves how to do something we consider to be ‘adult’ activities. Our students are capable of so much more than we give them credit for.
David Gallo: Underwater astonishment
Topic: Beauty and Awe
Why I picked it: David uses actual footage of underwater explorers to demonstrate the colorful beauty of the unknown world underwater.

Secondary Student
Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen
Topic: Effective communication
Why I picked it: Julian provides seven deadly sins of speaking and 4 ‘cornerstones’ of powerful speech. His talk goes far beyond rhetorical technique (although it’s included) to focus on the nature behind the spirit of our speech.

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story
Topic: Bias and stereotypes
Why I picked it: This should be mandatory viewing for all human beings old enough to absorb the message of tolerance, acceptance and implicit bias.

Beau Lotto and Amy O’Toole: Science is for everyone, kids included
Topic: Young children are as insightful as professional scientists.
Why I picked it: Beau draws the connection between play and the scientific method and tells the story of a science research study conducted by elementary students and eventually published by a scientific journal.

Clint Smith: The danger of silence
Topic: Having the courage to speak out against injustice.
Why I picked it: Clint speaks powerfully on the importance and strength of using your voice to speak your truth and combat injustice and inequity.

Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator
Topic: Self-regulation
Why I picked it: This entertaining talk makes sense of what goes on inside the mind of those of us who procrastinate. Unfortunately, he provides no answers, but the dissection of the phenomenon helps to purposefully procrastinate less.

Bonus: 3 TED Talks for Teachers
Drew Dudley: Everyday Leadership
Topic: Our power to impact people’s lives.
Why I picked it: This should resonate with all teachers. We have an impact on our students every day. Sometimes we realize it, and sometimes we don’t. We create ‘Lollipop Moments’ for kids, parents, and colleagues.

Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion
Topic: Teaching
Why I picked it: The late Rita Pierson inspires in this talk about the challenge of teaching, a teacher’s passion for children and the potential impact we have on thousands of lives.

Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from children
Topic: Empowering children
Why I picked it: Self-possessed ‘child prodigy’ encourages adults not only to not underestimate young people but to emulate them in several ways.
What are some of your favorite Ted Talks? Post them in the comments below with a quick reason why love them.


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