Ted Talks in Middle School

Have you seen a Ted Talk yet?  If not, you should check them out.  The topics are wide ranging and most are very entertaining.  They have also started to include students, through the Ted Ed Clubs.  You can see some Ted Talks that are useful in the classroom at Ted-Ed.com.

ted talks logo

My gifted and talented students have been working on their own Ted Talks this year.  We watched a number of different Ted Talks to see what can be done.  Some were a person, speaking on stage, with an audience and a video screen behind them.  Some were a powerpoint with a voice over.  A few were a powerpoint with music and no voice over.

The students have been brainstorming topics they would like to talk about.  They settled on their ideas after plenty of discussion with their peers.  Then the research began.  They all learned so much.  The topics include: endangered species, major league sports, “Can we really touch something?”, the hurdy-gurdy, and quantum physics.  Yes, those are all real topics chosen by real middle school students!

As we move toward the finish line, each student has to decide how he or she wants to perform the Ted Talk.  Some prefer to give it live – we’ll all sit down together and listen to the students who stand up front to talk.  Some want to be video taped while they speak – we’re using a flip video camera for those.  Still others are doing the powerpoint with a voiceover.  Camtasia is helpful in those instances.

As we work through these various performances, students are working both independently and collaboratively.  One of my students volunteered to be the expert in recording from the computer using Camtasia.  All questions about how to record or edit are directed to him.  A few others have become expert in powerpoint.  When a student needs help adding music, or changing backgrounds, these students have stepped in to help.

It was so gratifying to see the group working in the computer lab today.  I walked in, it was silent except for one student (obviously recording his Ted Talk).  When he finished, another student complimented him on his recording, and someone else offered to help edit it.

Having attended several events where graduating college seniors and interns gave speeches, I find it even more important for our students to learn how to do proper presentations.  The speeches I saw at these events were awkward, unrehearsed and rambling.  My goal with our Ted Talks is to help my students avoid those type of performances.

One thought on “Ted Talks in Middle School

  1. mikiren says:

    this sounds like such a great idea! i would love for this to happen at my school – i can’t give a serious speech for my life! my dad loves the ted talks, and i can see why now :3

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