TED’s educational arm is launching TED-Ed Clubs, an effort to support students who research, write and present and record their own ideas in a TED talk format.
“The goal is to stimulate and celebrate the best ideas of students around the world,” said TED-Ed Director Logan Smalley. TED-Ed piloted the project with 100 schools, focusing mostly on middle and high school aged students. Most of the pilot schools started with TED-Ed clubs held during lunch or after school, but some teachers incorporated materials into the classroom. TED-Ed also offers free guiding materials for 13 club meetings, taking students through the step-by-step process of creating a TED talk.
“It's about sparking the question of what makes a great presentation, both content and how you present,” Smalley said. The program suggests starting with a meeting to talk about what students are passionate about. Each student pursues one idea over the next 13 weeks. In successive weeks students discuss the qualities of a great idea, research their topics, identify good and bad habits in presentations, give feedback to one another and ultimately give a TED-style talk, captured on video.
“Each meeting has a specific deliverable in terms of acquiring and thinking about a certain presentation skill,” Smalley said. The goal is to help students get comfortable with presenting their own ideas and taking ownership of something they’re passionate about. In the process they are researching, writing, working together and learn presentation literacy skills.
Jennifer Scheffer, a teacher and instructional technology specialist at Burlington High School in Massachusetts, ran a small club of five juniors and seniors who met at lunch. Their talks ranged from self-driving cars to creating energy out of anti-matter. “I found myself a lot of the times not saying much,” said Scheffer. “I’d love to do that in a regular classroom setting, but I think you have to have learners that are coming in with that intrinsic motivation.”