technology integration

Reasons I Like TED Talks

I think, like most educators, I entered the teaching profession because I love learning and want to inspire that love of learning in students.  In the frenetic pace of daily life it is easy to get caught up in our “to do” lists and learning something new isn’t always at the top of the list.  TED Talks provide an oasis for learning that is manageable, but more so inspiring, making the time spent, time well spent.

If you aren’t familiar with TED Talks:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

Here is an example, Clint Smith: The danger of silence (4:18)

In list form, here are 5 Reasons I Like TED Talks:

  • The TED Talk motto is “ideas worth spreading.”
    How cool is that?  The TED Talk mission is to, “make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.”   TED Talks provide a food for thought resource, a place where you can hear a different perspective, challenge your thinking, and/or learn something new!
  • Talks are short.
    Most talks are under 20 minutes, with many falling under 10 minutes.  Who doesn’t have 10-20 minutes to spare every once in a while?
  • TED-Ed – Lessons Worth Sharing
    TED Talks have enormous potential for teaching and learning – introduction to a unit or lesson, information for research, or possibly a model for a student project!  One of TED’s initiatives is TED-Ed, lessons worth sharing.  There are two types of TED-Ed lessons: those created by educators in collaboration with screenwriters and animators to create a lesson, and those created by anyone who visits TED-Ed in which a YouTube video is supplemented with questions, discussion topics and other materials.  Check out their library of lessons.
  • Real World Connection
    As a classroom teacher, my goal was often to connect what we were doing in the classroom with the world beyond the classroom walls.  With speakers from around the world on countless topics, TED Talks are a great way to connect student learning to what is happening in the world!
  • Universal Design
    Click on any Ted Talk and you can immediately begin watching the video, but if you look to the lower-right of the bar beneath the video, you will see Subtitle and Transcript options.  This allows for the selection of subtitles in numerous languages, while the transcription is interactive in that text is underlined as it is spoken in the video.  Transcripts can also be translated to numerous languages.  These options make the videos widely accessible!
technology integration

Hour of Code

This week was Computer Science Education Week and it was marked by the 2nd annual Hour of Code.  The Hour of Code is a worldwide initiative meant to introduce students to computer science by having them engage in an hour of programming.

Why do we want our students to engage in an hour of programming as an introduction to computer science?   Aside from being fun, engaging and something that can be relevant across content areas,  there is a dire need for students to develop a skill set that includes computer science skills.

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. Yet U.S. universities are expected produce only enough qualified graduates to fill 29% of these jobs.

In his video to kick off the Hour of Code, President Obama emphasizes the need for our students to develop such a skill set that prepares them, and our nation, for the future:

We are fortunate to have a great Computer Science Department at MHS with wonderful course offerings in the numerous  areas.  During this week, Karen Kenney spearheaded an Hour of Code initiative within the department.  Initiatives like the Hour of Code are a great way to expose students to aspects of computer science, potentially piquing curiosity and introducing students to a hobby or career interest they can carry with them after high school.

There are many great tutorials that have been created for this week and beyond. While sharing these opportunities with students is important, I also found it beneficial as an educator to try a tutorial to see what the buzz about coding is all about.  Programming allows us to create, and when we create we have the potential to innovate and solve problems.  Programming permeates all disciplines, with people in numerous fields creating simulations, models, tutorials and web-based content to share and build knowledge in their fields.

If you’d like to try an hour (or even 15 minutes!) of coding, here are some great resources: