TED Talks: What Can Your Student Learn From Them?
You may have heard of TED Talks, but did you know that among the nearly 2,000 videos that have been viewed more than a billion times there are many your child will enjoy and learn from?
TED Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing was created just for parents, kids, and teachers. Many lessons were developed by TED staff from TED Talks, given by top experts in their fields. And it’s not limited to TED Talks: for instance, a number of lessons were created by teachers from YouTube videos, with clever animation to make them fun to watch.
There are thousands of lessons from 3 to 18 minutes long that can be created by anyone with the site’s tools. They are divided into 12 categories – the Arts, Economics, Health, Literature, Mathematics, Technology, Social Studies, Thinking & Learning, and more. You can filter lessons by length, and by elementary, middle, high school, and college levels.
For example, a lesson on “Why is Yawning Contagious?” has been viewed more than a million times. Even though there are cool theories, we still don’t know why we yawn. Did you know you’re more likely to pick up a yawn from someone you know, rather than a stranger? And that dogs yawn in reaction to a master’s yawn?
All the lessons include elements like these:
- When you click “Think,” you get multiple choice questions that test your understanding. And there are open-ended questions for writing answers. (Answers can be saved if you’ve set up a free account.)
- “Dig Deeper” has more resources to explore further: such as an article about yawning in chimpanzees.
- Finally, “Discuss” presents questions, and you can view comments that have already been posted.
The lesson, “How Playing an Instrument Benefits Your Brain” (525,000 views) takes a fascinating 4-minute journey inside the neuroscience of music-making. Just listening to music “lights up” the brain, but that’s nothing compared to the huge brain activity of playing music.
In fact, scientists believe playing an instrument “may allow musicians to solve problems more effectively and creatively.” Making music builds enhanced memory, strengthens the ability to think and plan, and to have deeper emotional capacity. Wow.
There are even TED Ed Clubs, which provide tools, tips, and information for starting your own club of TED-like talks that you and fellow students work on and perform.
So explore TED Ed. Have fun, and get smarter!
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Michael Solow has worked as a teacher, journalist, and commercial writer/creative director. Michael has also taught high school English and junior high math, gaining his teaching certification from Vassar College and a master's degree in the teaching of writing and literature from George Mason University. His writing has been published in the New York Times, the San Francisco Review of Books, TheMorningNews.org, and the Hemingway Review. He is the proud dad of two grown daughters and the happy husband of an elementary school librarian.