TED-Ed Lessons: Bite-Sized and Delicious Learning Snacks

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Photo by NEC Corporation of America via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Students love snacks, bite sized ones in particular, and as everyone knows, that usually means cookies.

But if you’re a teacher and opposed to putting the sweet and sugary before your kids, then what are you to do? Carrots and cauliflower?

Perhaps, but you can do even better. There is, in fact, a truly delicious, healthy, bite-sized snack that you can not only put before your students, but that your students are sure to like.

That snack goes by the name of the TED-Ed Lesson.

And what is a TED-Ed Lesson? At its core, it’s a 3-5 minute animated video that focuses on topics ranging from chemistry to Shakespeare to origami. Each animation is created by TED-Ed in collaboration with an educator, an insanely talented scriptwriter and an equally talented animator.


A typical TED-Ed video looks like this one I authored with the TED-Ed team entitled “Why is the U.S. Constitution so Hard to Amend?”

However, TED-Ed Lessons are way more than just a video.

The "Think" section that accompanies a TED-ED Lesson provides the opportunity for students to answer important questions related to the video. In addition, the "Dig Deeper" section provides access to relevant supplemental resources that support deeper engagement with the lesson subject. Finally, the "Discuss" section provides a space for students to talk about the issues raised in the lesson. Some lessons have guided discussions created by the lesson creator, but all have the opportunity for viewers to start and engage on their own.

In my classroom, I use TED-Ed lessons whenever I find a place for them in my world history, US history, and US government curricula. Generally, this means my students see one every three-to-four weeks.

When introducing a TED-Ed lesson I provide a brief introduction and then show the video. The whole class then works together to answer the "Think" questions. I then employ Twitter to have students tweet a well-crafted question to friends and family. The question appears in the Discuss section of the lesson. My Discuss section question provided students with a chance to tweet, “Do you think that millennials and those who follow will be more inclined than previous generations to amend the Constitution?” We use the responses they receive to continue the discussion the next day with many more perspectives added to the conversation.

Additionally, TED-Ed lessons provide an opportunity for flipped learning with students doing the lesson as homework and arriving in class armed and ready for digging deeper. And, of course, the videos are excellent resources for students to review before exams.

Given all this, you can  imagine the extent to which my students have enjoyed and otherwise devoured all of the TED-Ed Lessons that I have put before them.

Finally, while I teach social studies, TED-Ed lessons contain equally great content for teachers and students in the areas of science and technology, literature, language, mathematics, psychology, business, economics, and more. Check them out!

I am looking forward to hearing, in the comment section located at the end of this article, about the extent to which your students have gobbled up the delicious, healthy, bite-sized snacks of knowledge found at ed.ted.com.