SECRET DOORS

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Children’s Author Mac Barnett          Photo CC By: Jeffrey Beall

After reading Olivia Cucinotta’s TED Blog “How Teachers Can Best Use TED Talks in Class” and viewing my share of TED Talk videos, I am convinced that TED Talks and TED Ed Lessons are something that I will use quite frequently as a teacher in my future classroom. Cucinotta stated that “school is all about ideas, and TED can help teachers bring ideas into conversation and debate”.  How wonderful is it to have a resource that can introduce our students to new ideas and concepts that they are unfamiliar with and provide them with perspectives different than how they currently view certain issues and topics?  Since I plan to teach in the elementary grades, I probably won’t be showing any of the longer talks that focus on complex worldwide debates, but will most definitely utilize the shorts talks located on TED Ed that do a fantastic job of explaining more simple and concrete ideas.  When used effectively, TED Talks can be wonderful teaching tools that open the minds of our young students and facilitate a much higher level of thinking , leading to creativity, innovation, and productive future citizens of this growing digital world we live in.

Before deciding on one to share, I viewed several different TED Talks.  The talk I have chosen to include in this post is actually one that I had seen in one of my other classes.  It is titled “Why a good book is a secret door” by award winning author, Mac Barnett.

In this presentation, Mac Barnett talks about several different things, but one that stood out to me the most was the stories of his days as a summer camp counselor.  It was during this time that Barnett first discovered his love for storytelling, when he found out that telling make-believe stories to young children was both entertaining and rewarding, and that he was quite good at it too.

Barnett also showcases his first work of children’s literature, titled “Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem” in the last portion of the talk.  In this story, Billy Twitters is a boy who gets a blue whale as a pet (which sounds great, but is actually a punishment) and it ends up ruining his life.  In the inside of the book cover, there is an advertisement stating that anyone who wants can write in and request a blue whale be sent to them.  Instead of receiving a real blue whale in the mail, they get a letter telling them that their whale has been held up, but they are given a name and a phone number they can call to leave voice messages for their whale.  (I highly recommend watching until the end of the TED Talk and listening to the messages left by Niko.  They will definitely make you smile.)

The purpose of all of this is not just to trick easily-believing kids into thinking that they are the owners of a real blue whale, but rather to instill a sense of wonder in these children and anyone else who reads these books.  It is this wonder, or “willing suspension of disbelief” that takes us through these secret doors and lead us to a whole new world.  A world of imagination and creativity; one that encourages make-believe and turns it into something full of purpose.

It is my goal as a future teacher to expose myself to as much of this wonder and realm of childhood creativity and imagination as possible.  Then, I want to bring these “secret doors” into my classroom and give my students the keys and tools necessary to open them themselves.  In addition, I would like to explore ways this can be accomplished using all of the modern-day digital technological tools around me.  I firmly believe that instilling a sense of wonder and imagination in our students, while working to achieve digital literacy is perfectly possible, and I’d like to ask each and every one of you to take on this challenge with me.

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8 thoughts on “SECRET DOORS

  1. Ashlyn,
    Your Ted talk topic and the direction your blog took reminds me of mind. I also touched on the fact that as adults we need to open ourselves up to learn from the openness of creativity, thoughts, and ideas of children. As adults we think of things rationally, which sometimes puts us in a box of though. Like children, we should sometimes set aside “rational” thought to challenge what already stands. Many times “thinking outside the box” or more like a child is what leads to great discoveries, ideas, and creations.
    Hillary

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    1. There is definitely quite a bit that we could learn from our future students and other young people around us! We just have to remember to listen and give them the chance to teach us. Our world would look a lot different (and probably better) if we all thought “outside the box” and looked at things through the eyes of children.

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  2. I am so excited to TED talks in my future classroom! I think that these are such wonderful resources that can give outsider opinions to students. Just as we read in this weeks article. Sometimes when you do more research that shows different viewpoints of a subject, more students will relate to that subject. I think ideas such as the blue whale are important, for such reasons that creativity and imagination are important. It is not always facts that teach children, but sometimes that wonderment of what a subject can be.

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    1. Exactly! There are so many cool resources and tools we can share with our students if we know where to look! I have watched a few TED Talks through other classes, but I have truly enjoyed exploring them more extensively through this course so far. I hope we continue to do so!! Thanks for the comment!

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  3. What a great idea! So much creativity can be brought into the classroom with things like this. In my class, we did flat Stanely and had pen pals from all over the country. It was an amazing way to use our imagination and take Flat Stanely all over the world.

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    1. We also did Flat Stanley when I was in 3rd grade! I absolutely LOVED it! Getting to send something that you made to one person and watching it travel all around the world was one of the most memorable experiences. I hope to do this activity with my own future students. Thanks for the comment, Kelly!

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  4. Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem is such an awesome book! I remember having Dr. Ellington read it to us in our Children’s lit class last year. The plot is super funny for kids yet has a lesson behind it which is perfect when incorporating into a lesson. I also find it so neat that you can have a blue whale sent to you. Being a kid and having that opportunity to having something in the mail with your name on it is one of the greatest things! (Until you think you’re still little, but now it’s just bills with your name on it.) I definitely see this as a Ted Talk being used in my classroom, although I say that for all of them I watch, I think I might have to do weekly Ted Talk units that incorporate a lesson with them!
    Take care!
    Bailey

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    1. I also enjoyed getting mail much more when I was little than I do now:). I absolutely love the approach that Mac Barnett takes with his books and in life. Children have such creative and imaginative minds and we as teachers get to encourage them to grow! TED Talks are such a great classroom resource; I see myself using them quite a bit too. Thanks for reading, Bailey!!

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