I’ve written several posts about TED Talks, the series of talks given by “big thinkers” that are available online. In fact, I’ve created The Best Teacher Resources For “TED Talks.”

Yesterday, I saw that Richard Byrne posted an excellent piece, 15 TED Talks for Teachers to Watch Before 2010. I’d strongly encourage you to visit that post and, in addition, subscribe to his blog if you haven’t done so already.

Richard’s post inspired me to make a post sharing the TED Talks that I use with my classes (though I may not necessarily show the entire talk in class) and how I use them. Some TED Talks are great for teachers, but not so helpful for students. And, though most of them are very stimulating, I think some of them can also be a bit boring.

Please share in the comments section which TED videos you actually use in the classroom.

Here are my choices for The “Best” TED Talks (Well, Really, The Ones I Use With My Classes):

I’ve had my Theory of Knowledge (TOK) students watch the Ted Talks  “The Raspyni Brothers juggle and jest” and Lennart Green does close-up card magic. I have them first identify how the jugglers and the card “magician” made what they did and the objects they used look “new” to viewers  and, secondly, discuss how mathematicians, historians, artists and scientists use those same techniques to study the world. Students share some brilliant stuff.

I’ve used Joachim de Posada says, Don’t eat the marshmallow yet with all my classes. It’s been a key part of the lessons on self-control I do with my mainstream ninth-grade English class and my Intermediate English class. You can read more about that lesson at “I Like This Lesson Because It Make Me Have a Longer Temper” (Part One). I use it with my Theory of Knowledge class as an example of the Human Sciences — how experiments are done to learn about human behavior.

Jay Walker on the world’s English mania is a short talk, but I only use small parts of it. He has portions showing how some people in China are learning it — huge classes repeating what the instructor says. I ask my students if that’s the way they would like to learn English, and, obviously, they all say no. I use it as a way to get them thinking and sharing about what strategies help them learn best (and why), and which ones help least (and why).

Mallika Sarabhai: Dance to change the world uses dance and art for social change. It’s a neat way to introduce a discussion with my TOK class on the different roles art can have in society.

Evelyn Glennie shows how to listen is a deaf percussionist. Her presentation and performance challenges my TOK students to reflect on how the different senses contribute to our appreciation and understanding of music.

Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives has some good pieces that I’m using in my TOK class when we discuss morals and ethics.

Peter Donnelly shows how stats fool juries is useful to demonstrate how statistics and data can be manipulated. I use it in my TOK class when we discuss experiments in the Natural and Human sciences.

Ron Eglash on African fractals
is one I use with TOK when we are discussing…fractals.

I showed parts of “On The Surprising Science of Motivation,” Daniel Pink’s talk, to my mainstream ninth-grade English class after I eliminated the “points” system in our class.  I was able to do it within one week of the beginning of this school year after they showed me they had good self-control (you can read about how it used that classroom management plan last year in (Have You Ever Taught A Class That Got “Out Of Control”?). Pink basically says that extrinsic rewards do work — for mechanical work that doesn’t require much higher-order thinking. But he says research says that it will not work for anything that requires higher-order thinking skills and creativity. It helped students understand why we were moving off the points system and, I believe, helped them feel more positive about their learning. I’ll write a future post that describes this lesson in more detail.

Beau Lotto: Optical illusions show how we see and Al Seckel on TED.com are good ones to use when teaching that we can’t always believe what our eyes are “telling us.” These are good for our exploration of Perception in my TOK class.

Kary Mullis celebrates the experiment is, I think, not one of the better TED Talks, but he tells a couple of short stories that are useful in helping students understand the scientific method.

When we study the Natural Sciences in my TOK class, I do a unit on the science of love. Helen Fisher studies the brain in love is a good video for students to watch as part of that study.

David Hanson: Robots that “show emotion” is useful in our TOK units on emotions and on science.

Feedback is always welcome.

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You might also want to explore the 400 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.