6 TED Talks for Middle and High School Students
TED Talks are conferences of speakers on various topics. Some are inspirational; some are educational; some are just for fun. If you haven’t used TED Talks in your classroom, I think you are really missing out. Check out their website here. There are so many topics that you are sure to be able to find a few that relate to your subject throughout the year. Here is a list of six TED Talks that I think would be good for middle or high school students. There is one math related, but most are just information that I think teens can benefit from hearing.
If your students are needing a little bit of math inspiration, Arthur Benjamin might just be your answer. This 15 minute video is just fun to watch and my students have always enjoyed it. Benjamin displays amazing mental math skills while he computes 3-digit squares, guesses birthdays, and solves equations. Even if you have those students that just “can’t get excited about math”, this video is sure to impress. If you (or your students) are interested in sharpening your mental math skills, Secrets of Mental Math also by Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer is a great investment. Nobody paid me to recommend the book, my husband and I just really enjoy it (engineer nerd alert!) and it really does show you how to easily multiply and divide two and 3 digit numbers, square numbers, etc. It might be a good book to a math class library for early finishers!
At just 15 years old, Tavi Gevinson had a hard time finding strong female role models, so she decided to create a space where girls could come together to “figure it out”. Her website, Rookie, is a place where teenage girls to go to find answers to things like “how to look like you weren’t crying in just five minutes”, but also to find strong, inspiring female characters, teens, and women they can really look up to and be inspired by. Tavi talks about how so many teenage girls think they have to have it all “figured out” and how most don’t (I know I sure didn’t!). This would be a great video to show a class that has a majority of girls or girls that you know could benefit from a self-esteem boost.
First of all, this 12-year-old is a better public speaker than most adults I’ve seen. So, just showing it to show your students that they, too, can be good public speakers. Thomas Suarez has created
several apps for the iPhone. In this short (less than 5 minutes) video, he talks a little bit about how he got started and how he learned to write apps. This would be good for an English class that focuses on public speaking or a computer science class that is starting to learn computer coding.
This video is super short (about 3 minutes). I actually wish it was longer because he has some good data for teenagers. In this video, Professor Ornish talks about the importance of a healthy diet. He shows medical scans and graphs to show just how powerful a healthy diet can be in reversing some diseases. Teenagers are at that age when they are starting to make their own food choices and this would be a great start to a conversation on the importance of choosing good foods.
Tim Urban is a procrastinator, but he argues that so are you. Everyone is a procrastinator according
to Urban. In this humorous video he talks about his vision of what is going on in the mind when someone is procrastinating. He argues that the problem isn’t procrastinating when there is a deadline, but when there isn’t a deadline, as in many things in life (saving for retirement, going to visit relatives, etc.). He also gives an interesting take on how to put a “deadline” on life to maybe spark initiative. This would be good for any teenager to watch, really. Or adults for that matter!
This one is just fun. We’ve all gotten spam emails and we get annoyed and delete them. But, did you ever think about what would happen if you replied? Well, James Vietch did and this hilarious video is what ensued. No real educational or inspirational content, but sometimes you just need a little fun!
There are over 2,000 TED Talks, so if these don’t interest you, I’m sure you can browse the site and find something that does! When I show videos or movies in class, I find it helpful to have a worksheet or handout to go along with the video. Nothing too rigorous, but something to make sure students stay awake, alert, and pay attention. After all, if I am taking class time to show them the material, then I must think it’s important enough for them to pay attention. If you would like a handout to use with these (or any) TED Talks, check out this free one.