I have been a big fan of the TED talks for a while now. I think their combination of innovation, heart, imagination and information is unmatched in our age of pessimism, misinformation and discouragement. Given that, imagine my elation when my sister and brother-in-law turned me on to TED-ED, the TED site dedicated to teachers. Let me break down all the greatness that is TED-ED first, then highlight a few videos I think will be useful for your classroom discussion on race.
TED-ED does a few things:
- There are (currently, continually being updated) 209 videos on 11 different subjects ranging from the Arts to Math, Technology and Science, from Health to Literature and from Social Studies to Business and Economics. Some of these are straight talks with slides, lots of them are animated in fun and engaging ways. You can search by clicking on your desired subject and scroll through the videos, you can browse by series (i.e. “Inventions that Shaped History”) in which a very neatly designed page pulls up with the series in different boxes. You click on the series you want to explore and the box expands to show you the videos encased within that series. The other series move to the right of the page, facilitating easy back and forth and scroll through. You can also browse by your own search terms.
- Once you have pulled up your desired video, comes one of the greatest things about TED-ED: embedded lesson plans. Simply click the ‘Quick Quiz’ text to the right of the video and multiple choice or true/false questions are pulled up on the screen. Your students simply quiz themselves through the TED-ED web-site and are given direct feedback. If they answered incorrectly they can try again or use the Video Hint. Then, they can click the ‘Think’ text underneath the ‘Quick Quiz’ in which they are asked to type out longer answers to questions. Additionally, the ‘Dig Deeper’ text underneath the ‘Think’ text, provides online resources for further exploration on the topic at hand. What’s really neat about this feature, you know, aside from being ingenious, is that the video simply moves to the right of the screen and the questions populate on the left allowing your students to continue watching the video while they test in case there was something they missed or misunderstood. How great is that?!
- TED-ED FLIP! This is an incredibly inventive feature in which each and every teacher can customize the video lesson to the needs of your own classroom. You can change the title, add specific instructions, keep or delete any of the Quick Quiz questions, keep or change the Think questions and keep or input new resources in the Dig Deeper section. Once you’ve Flipped your desired TED-ED talk to fit your classroom it is published to a unique URL that is only assigned to your video. By doing this, you can invite your students to your specific lesson to do as homework or in a computer lab class. They simply sign in and their progress is tracked, saved and reported on this unique URL! WAIT! There’s more. You can flip ANY video from You-tube, Ted.com, or You-Tube for Schools. You simply log-in to your TED-ED account (free by the way), go to ed.ted.com and click the You-Tube link at the top of the page. This allows you to search You-Tube within TED-ED so that you can then FLIP any video you find. Then, you invite your students just like you did with the TED-ED talk or your own FLIP of a TED-ED talk, they log in, do the assignment and voila! TED-ED has become your new best teaching tool. You can also view and use the previously flipped lessons. Oh, and one last little detail… you can create and upload your own video lessons. (View the quick [4 minute] tour on TED-ED by clicking here).
Since we’re dealing with race in YA literature, I thought I would broach the inevitable, and perfectly legitimate, question: “If there is no biological difference between people of color and white people, why do some people have dark skin and others have light skin?” I think any child would be well within their inquisitive mind to ask this question. In her video titled, “Breaking the Illusion of Skin Color” Nina Jablonski gives you the tools to answer this question. The video is a little long for young kids, though 10-12 graders would be fine viewing it. Nina gives a wonderful explanation of why there is such difference in skin pigmentation. You probably already know the basic answer, but I found her talk insightful, informative and grounded in history and biological science. No longer will your kids equate the social construct of ‘race’ with skin color, they will be vastly better informed.
Let’s continue this discussion with a video about how fiction, stories, books people!, shape perception and reality. How Fiction Can Change Reality by Jessica Wise is a great little video on how scientists are finding quantifiable evidence of what readers, writers, teachers, parents and librarians have known for years: books matter, and fiction may matter even more than non-fiction. Watch her great animated video to find out why and how, then FLIP this lesson to apply it to your classroom discussion on race. If fiction matters so much in molding, shaping and solidifying ‘facts’ in our point of view, minds and culture, then shouldn’t we be extremely careful about the portrayal of people in the fiction we read? I’ll give you a hint: YES!
Explore, learn, create, share and fall into blissful technology love with TED-ED. Send me a link to all your Flips!
–“What is truer than truth? The story.” –Jewish Proverb from Isabelle Allende’s TED talk
P.S. Visit the TED-ED Blog here!