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.