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What's Your Ted Talk?
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Monday, June 24, 2013, 10:44 PM

This discussion forum will require perusing Ted Talks. (Be careful, I could lose myself on this site!)


You will choose one particular Ted talk to discuss/ reflect upon, reflect upon your own experience teaching, and finally briefly summarize what your Ted talk would be if given the opportunity.

We all have experiences worth sharing. We all have valuable knowledge to give to others. Let's share these experiences to gain knowledge and inspire.

These two questions are about you and may help to guide in answering the final question about your Ted talk.

1. Reflect and share one significant learning experience from your first year teaching. What do you wish someone would have told you for which you wish you were more prepared?

2. At this point in your teaching career, about what do you feel the most confident, proud, and passionate? (It can be the same thing or 3 different things)


3. If you haven't already, go to Choose one speaker of interest in the subject of education. Why did you choose this talk? Why did you like/ dislike about the talk and what "stuck" with you?


4. If you were to give a motivational speech on TED Talks about a certain aspect of teaching, what would your talk be? Please give a brief summary of your talk.


As David D. Thonrburg, Ph.D. states in "Campfires in Cyberspace: Primordial Metaphors for Learning in the 21st Century,"

Through storytelling, the widom of elders was passed to the next generation. Good stories have always embodied a blend of the cognitive and affective domains-in fact, in story there is no separation of the two.



Picture of Lori Amsellem
Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Lori Amsellem - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 8:28 AM

Hi Stacy,

During my first teaching experience, I wish someone would have told me that I should have had more backup lesson plans to use when the ones I planned failed. I had not anticipated as many lessons not working out.


I am confident in my ability to make students feel good about themselves. I am proud of my accomplishments. I am passionate about making sure that students respect each other in and out of the classroom.


You were right about how easily you can lose yourself in this site and be gone for hours! I was inspired and charmed by Thomas Suarez: A 12-year-old app developer. (Link to Ted Video) I chose this talk because I was curious about Thomas and what he was able to do at 12 years old and I love apps. I liked what Thomas had to say especially about him starting an “App Club” at his school for other students with the same interest. School clubs are so very important in creating community, getting students involved and developing relationships. I also liked that he wanted to give back to the school district when his apps sold. There really was not anything that I disliked about his talk. What stuck with me was the excitement and passion that I could see and feel coming from Thomas about what he had done, what he is doing now and what he plans to do in the future. What I witnessed with Thomas is something all teachers wish they could see with all students.


My motivational speech would be about ways to have fun in the classroom while learning. Everyone likes to have fun. Why not make the classroom a fun place to learn. I teach like I eat – a lot of little meals throughout the day and since the attention span of students today is incredibly short; it is important to keep them engaged. Set up short goals that the students can accomplish and then take a break. Play a game. Make it relate to the material they just worked on. Reinforce what they learned. Here is a link to some good tried and true low tech games. (Link) Set up some high tech games on the computer to use with the class. There are some good Web 2.0 games out there.(Link to Examples) Find them and make sure to try them out yourself first. Strive to alternate between the low and the high tech games.The ultimate goal is to engage students and motivate them to learn. In this conversation between a mom and her daughter, the mom asks the daughter, “What did you learn in school today?” and the daughter replies, “Not enough, I have to go back tomorrow!” Do things to make them want to come back the next day and stay!


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Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 10:09 AM

Good morning Lori,

When I read your answer to what you wished someone had told you your first year of teaching, I was nodding intensely. I think all teachers can definitely relate to the experience of having high hopes for a lesson and it bombing. I remember taking it personally and sometimes crying that first year becuase I had put in so much time and effort in the planning, or it may have been a lesson I was really into. Luckily, I had some great colleagues that first year who were really helpful in pointing out that even experienced teachers have lessons that flop. I also learned pretty quickly that if I were to take everything persoanlly, I would probably have a nervous breakdown. Teachers develop a thick skin from experience through the years don't they?

The second question is a chance for you to "toot your own horn." Abraham Lincoln said, "If we emphasized our accomplishments as much as we did our failures, we'd all be much happier. We don't do this enough for ourselves. I sometimes tell my students, "You have no idea how much it means to a teacher when you say a simple thank you, or give a compliment." I feel sometimes we do need to reflect on our accomplishments. Lori, I can tell by your posts, you have every right to toot your horn. Way to go!

Thomas Suarez is a better speaker than some of the adults that I have heard give motivational speeches, and his speech was only 4 minutes. What an inspiration to teachers, students, and all to what we can do if we only have the drive. I loved how Suarez ended with stating his goals, one being to find other ways for students to share knoweledge with others. I couldn't agree more with what you said about seeing that passion in every student. Sometimes there is so much going on with a student outside of school, you really need to break through layers of issues to get them interested.

I was wondering if you were inspired to teach the way do because of a past experience with a teacher who did the same kind of teaching, or was it knowledge gained through trial and error? What motivated you to do the things you do in your classroom?

Any analogy to food has my undivided attention. I appreciate that.

I would like a ticket to see your Ted talk. It sounds like your class is a great place to be. Learning should be fun! When do they start to think it's nerdy to say that? My kids come home from school and are so excited to tell me what they've learned. Your links that you have provided will be bookmarked in my Diigo. Thank you for your post, a great way to start my day.


Stacy Drinkwine Hauser


Picture of Lori Amsellem
NNTO: Stacy -- Happy Belated Birthday!! I just read the other posts where you mentioned it. Hope it continued to be a good one!! Thank you for making my day with your kind words!
by Lori Amsellem - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 1:07 PM



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NNTO: Thank you too!
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 5:25 PM


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Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Daniel Kovach - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 10:13 AM

Alright Drinkwine, you and your fascinating, albeit Rube Goldbergian post, you drew me in with the mention of “Ted Talk,” well played, well played indeed.  I recently watched a Ted Talk on texting.  John McWhorter: Txtng is killing language. JK!!!  It really helped me to overcome my ugly bias against texting and what I perceived it was doing to expedite the destruction of our language and written word.

1. What was the profound lesson when I first started teaching? I guess, to trust your instincts, seize upon teachable moments, and focus more on the things that capture the students’ attention and imagination than being a slave to the lesson plan.  Be alert to how the material and its presentation impacts listeners, cast a spark and nurture the fire that grows… Don’t be afraid.

2. At this point in your teaching career, about what do you feel the most confident, proud, and passionate?  I guess that my idealistic youthfulness has not given way to a more resolute pragmatism about teaching and learning.  I still have much more time as a student than a teacher, but teaching energizes me at a time when colleagues are quitting and many have lost sight of what made them want to teach.  Unlike most of my contemporaries, I started teaching more than 20 years after leaving high school. 

3.  The McWhorter talk I posted above was something I checked out before, as one of my most intriguing topics is how technology is impacting education and culture.  McWhorter, a linguist, and a very bright one at that, did a fantastic job of adding perspective to the discussion of what is texting and what role it plays in how we communicate.  I won’t try to summarize this short clip, but I encourage you to watch it, especially if, like me, you do/did harbor a certain resentment for texting (in general).  As for me, my resentment was based in ignorance and I feel the perspective I gained through this video has enlightened me toward having a more clinical and mature understanding of texting … or should I say “txting.”

4. Me on Ted Talk, maybe not, but if I did, I would like to talk about mentoring students.  As teachers, we’re all counselors (it’s in the fine print), and I truly believe we have to nurture relationships (mentor students) to motivate them and motivations is what I contend is the single greatest determining factor of student achievement and success.  Mentoring comes with not just the “Ata boys” and feeding the egos of star pupils, but often the most valuable connections that demonstrate our commitment to our students comes from those “pick me up” talks and non-academic counseling of the wide ranging problems kids stumble over as they try to find adulthood.

One of my well-worn speeches I give is the “Scale of life” speech, I use to help students put challenges and problems into a context of significance within the spectrum of their life.  (Holding your arms out at your sides with your palms facing each other), it begins something like, “You do realize that however troubling this (break-up, bad test score, firing, etc…) may seem, on the scale of life it is so insignificant that it hardly warrants this sort of reaction.  In fact, with some time and perspective you’ll feel a little embarrassed when you look back on it.  Save this level of emotional response for graduations, awards, marriage, having children, and other truly important milestones in life, (still holding your arms out) fill this gap with those good things that make life worth living and don’t dwell too hard on your short comings, they’re only important because they’re part of learning.”

Great questions Stacy, I like the things it made me reflect on.

Dan in Washburn

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Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:06 PM


LOL! (McWhorter's bit about LOL was literally laugh-out-loud-funny) I appreciate your response introduction and was very much looking forward to seeing which Ted talk you would choose. I actually watched the talk first, then read the rest of your response, so I'll start with responding to your #3.

First of all, John McWhorter's intellect, presence, and wit commands attention immediately. There are a few Ted talks out there that though very interesting, can be rather dry because of the speaker. McWhorter speaks of something I am passionate about, the power of words, written and spoken. What an interesting way of explaining texting as "fingered speech." I liked that when showing the excerpt from Gibbon's The Decline of the Roman Empire he simply stated, "Nobody talks that way." I especially liked that he added, "They shouldn't if they're interested in reproducing." LOL!

The idea that we are simply finding a new way to communicate, creating a different language in texting makes me think of when some say to me, "How could you teach high school students? Do you know how to speak teenager?" I'm a bit rusty myself in texting, but consider myself "hip to their jive."

McWhorter's bringing up quotations from back to 63AD about how it was believed we were losing the English language will definitely give me some ammunition with which to talk with my mother. She firmly believes that we are "dumbing down" education and losing the language. Quite a discussion topic there, but I'd like to get to your other answers first.

Your response to #1 should be written on a poster and posted in every teacher's room. I have to be honest with you when I tell you I was fearless when I first started teaching. I think I was fearless up until three years ago; I started getting fearful. I started questioning if teaching was the right path for me. What would I do if I didn't teach? This past school year I kind of snapped out of it, realized that I love what I do, and am just starting to get the "Bring it on!" attitude back. We shouldn't be afraid as educators if we are in it for the right reasons. Which leads me to your #2 response.

As I stated before, this year was a turning point. I was getting sucked in by colleagues that were "Debbie-Downers." The "Debbie's" are also 5 years or less away from retirement and seem to be counting down the days. They have, as you said, lost sight of what made them want to teach. Good for you for not losing sight yourself and wanting to continue learning. Good for all of us wanting to be better!

Finally, your response to the TED talk- Kids are constantly watching; they are watching behaviors and reactions, questioning what is cool, funny, acceptable, and unacceptable. With mentoring comes connections, and with connections we find motivations. Excellent TED talk.

I have yet to find out what one must do to get on TED, but I feel your "Scale of Life" speech would definitely get a lot of hits.

I enjoyed reading your response. Today happens to be my birthday and being able to watch Ted talks and discuss them with the Blue Group is a great way to spend part of my day.



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Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Kristen Pham - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 12:10 PM

1. During my first year teaching, I tried to be really strict, especially with my upperclassmen, and I wouldn't change due dates or be flexible because I thought that would cause them to take advantage of me.  However, I wish I would have known that being flexible would actually help me form stronger relationships with my students.

2. At this point in my career, I feel a lot more flexible and I think I do have stronger relationships with my students than I did my first year.  I also am much more willing to experiment with new technologies.

3. "Charles Leadbeater: Education innovation in the slums" (

Leadbeater was looking for revolutionary ideas in education and found them in the impoverished areas of Rio and Kibera.  He gives this thought-provoking statement: "The question you ask frames the response your going to get."  (This question really made me think of my own teaching practices -- if I don't ask the right questions -- or if I ask questions that lead to the answer I'm looking for rather than allowing students to go in a different direction -- I might be limited my students' learning.)  So rather than going to Finland, like so many other people looking for the newest educational trends, Leadbeater instead looked at areas in the world most in need of educational reform.  

One man was able to get donated computers into a developing country to make learning fun and to pull kids out of the drug trade and back into education to save the kids' lives.  In Africa, children are just trying to stay alive and learn a living, so the mobile phone is the most important piece of technology for those students (not memorizing historical facts or math problems).  Education has to be relevant to the specific population of students.  In the Indian slums, children of parents who never opened a textbook are pursuing further education unexpectedly because of technology introduced into their impoverished village, proving that  "children in the right conditions can learn on their own with the help of computers" (Leadbeater, 2010).  I love this idea and this makes me really excited about virtual classrooms because children from all around the world can learn together -- children who may not have had a chance to learn otherwise.  Virtual classrooms could be the way to equalize education because even if your village doesn't have high quality schools, if you have a laptop and internet connection, you can receive the same education as someone in a wealthy city.

4. If I were to give a TED talk, it would be on the importance of giving specific, descriptive feedback to students on their work, especially their writing, and then allowing students to make revisions or redo assignments to actually put that feedback into practice and master the learning targets.  If students are not mastering a learning target, what sense is there in telling them they failed, but then not giving them the opportunity to improve?  Also, simply writing a number or letter grade on a paper does not tell them what they did well and should continue to do and where they need to improve, thus rendering the grade fairly useless.  I could definitely talk for 20 minutes about this topic and show plenty of examples!

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

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Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 9:58 PM

Hi Kristen,

Your response to questions #1 and 2 made me think of my first cooperating teacher in my student teaching experience who was old school; her style was strict and unforgiving with the belief that students would "walk all over you" if you "gave in." I like to think that I was some influence to her loosening up when she saw me play a game for review in spelling instead of her routine of having the students write each word 5 times before the quiz. Flexibility allows your students to see your compassion and willingness to help them to be successful. 

Your Ted talk pick-Let's see- education innovation, making a difference, moving stories, beautiful pictures, wit, wrapped up with an English accent-SOLD! Many aspects of Leadbeater's talk struck me including what you mentioned in your response about the power of virtual classrooms. We are making such advances technologically and his statement of "We need really radical thinking in education" due to the literal old school system that is "laying waste" to imagination and appetite. Wow! Excellent TED pick.

Kristen you hit on something that I am so passionate about in your answer to #4 that after I read your last sentence, I said out loud, "I want you to go on for 20 minutes!" I also firmly believe in detailed feedback, conferencing, and drafting in student writing. Do you peer edit? If so how do you go about peer editing? I have a system where students are also graded on their  peer editing skills. It has proven to be successful so far.

 If students are not mastering a learning target, what sense  is there in telling them they failed, but then not giving them  the opportunity to improve?  Also, simply writing a number  or letter grade on a paper does not tell them what they did well  and should continue to do and where they need to improve, thus  rendering the grade fairly useless.

Girl, I couldn't have said it better myself. I have colleagues in my department that do not allow for corrections, yet stay up late giving detailed corrections. Huh? It seems pointless to do that when students don't have the opportunity to improve! When they are given the opportunity for success, the majority will take it!

I would love to hear more about what you want to share on this topic.

Thank you for your response. Today is my birthday and discussing with the Blue Group has proven to be a great way to spend part of my day!

Stacy Drinkwine Hauser

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Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Kristen Pham - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 1:53 PM

Hi, Stacy,

Firstly, happy birthday!  Secondly, yes, I've had lots of success with peer editing.  I included a sample peer edit sheet I used last semester.  Some teachers see the value in revisions, but don't want to grade something a second time; others are adamently opposed.  Few teachers in English or social studies actually allow rewrites.

Kristen Pham (Crystal Lake, IL)

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Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 5:45 PM


Thank you for the birthday wishes. I have the similar problem at my school with teachers feeling it is too much trouble to grade again, or just refusing to accept revisions. No matter how many times I tell them that grading is faster the second time, it seems to be too much of a burden. I have a feeling, however, that with the core curriciulum and changes in standardized testing, the teachers will see the need for these revisions. Our school piloted the SMARTER Balanced test this year with our juniors and it was a bear! Lots of writing and providing support for answers. It's not just multiple choice anymore.

I very much appreciate the peer edit sheet. Thank you kindly!


Stacy Drinkwine Hauser

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Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Jennifer Morris - Thursday, June 27, 2013, 10:19 PM

Hi Stacy!

My experience with Ted Talks is limited thus far so I’m excited to dive into the website because of your discussion post.

1) One significant experience from my first year of teaching was learning that I, like all other teachers, will make mistakes.  I taught honors and regular level physics my first year and was so worried about doing or saying something incorrect, especially in the honors class.  I would make myself “sick” if a student called me out for teaching something incorrectly, and I really went through a phase where I lost confidence in my teaching abilities that year. 

My mentor, an experienced Earth Science teacher, really helped me get over and through this fear.  He worked with me on things to say when I messed up, and he always reminded me to never stop laughing at myself.  For any first year teachers experiencing a similar situation, like my mentor told me, I would suggest turning the question back to the student if you don’t know the answer (“Hey Jonny, that’s a great question and I don’t know the answer, but why don’t we both do some research tonight and discuss an answer tomorrow) and never be afraid to admit to your students that everyone makes mistakes!

2) I’m the most confident and proud of my relationships with students.  Although I’ve always thought that a good teacher-student relationship is an important thing in any classroom, I feel that I’ve grown in my ability to relate to my students over the past five years. 

I’m most passionate about teaching students to be lifelong learners.  Although the physics equations and concepts that I teach them are important, overall, I would like to instill in them a love and passion for learning.  Included in this are skills/characteristics such as teamwork, critical thinking, optimism, productivity, and compassion for others.

3) I chose the Ted Talk “Bring on the Revolution” by Ken Robinson (  Just this past week I heard a different Ted Talk from Ken in another class in my Master’s cohort.  In addition to being very knowledge about passionate about education, he also has a very witty (and British!) sense of humor. 

In this talk, Ken discusses the downfalls of standardized education.  He argues for a more personalized schooling plan, one in which students can use their natural talents to pave their path to success.  I particularly like his analogies.  He first discusses wristwatches and says that most people over the age of 25 wear wristwatches because it’s something they’ve always been used to doing in order to know what time it is.  People under the age of 25, however, realize that there are devices other than wristwatches all around today that can tell you the time.  His purpose in this wristwatch analogy was to point out that in education many of our ideas are formed to meet the circumstances of previous centuries.  In order to combat this he calls for a revolution.

The second comparison he makes with education is one to a fast food restaurant.  Describing current educational system based on the fast food model, he complains how everything is standardized and not customized.  Most schools in the United States are still working off the factory model, forcing an eight hour and twelve year school schedule to work best for all students.  In my Master’s class we’re talking about the fact that schools need to begin changing the structure of schools to fit our 21st century so I liked this Ted Talk because it went along well with this idea.

4) If I had to give a Ted Talk I believe I would base it on the ideas of Rick Wormeli.  Wormeli is an advocate for standards-based learning, and our district has been moving towards a lot of his ideas.  One of which that I’m becoming increasingly passionate about is the idea of not giving “unrecoverable” zeros.  Since it would take awhile to summarize his thoughts on this topic, I have attached an article written by Wormeli that includes excerpts from his book Fair Isn’t Always Equal

Jenny in Chicago

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Re: What's Your Ted Talk?
by Stacy Drinkwine Hauser - Friday, June 28, 2013, 12:20 PM

Hi Jenny,

I too remember that anxious feeling when a student asked me a question to which I didn't know the answer; I remember kind of looking into the future of what would happen next, knowing he would say something to acknowledge who obviously had the upperhand in the classroom, "You don't know? Isn't that your job?" obviously trying to test the new teacher. That thick skin hadn't developed quite yet in that first year. I can relate to feeling of insecurity as I'm sure many of us can. It's great you had that support system to help you with the tricks of turning the question back to the student. I've used this trick as well, which has led to some cool teachable moments and helped to strengthen connections with students; this leads me to your answer to #2.

I bet your students appreciate your effort in making connections with them. I feel these connections are so important and with some students, lead to them wanting to work harder so as not to disappoint you. If they know you honestly care, which it sounds like you do, they will feel that, and maybe push themselves a little harder. I often express to my students how excited I am when I think of a lesson I get to teach the kids that day; they pick up on that energy, just like they pick up on your passion for learning. It sounds like you are doing a great job instilling that love and passion. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in your class.

TED talk pick-The MacDaddy of TED talks-Ken Robinson-I am such a fan! He is one of the most popular speakers on education and no wonder! He's funny, brilliant, entertaining, moving,and inspirational. I'm a sucker for a Brittish accent and a great analogy! I love the way he speaks about people who endure what they do vs. people who enjoy what they do. I feel teaching is who I am and I am doing what I love. I encourage you to check out Charles Leadbeater who was the TED talk chosen by Kristen; he too believes we must think more radically about reforming education. Finally, Robinson ties it all up with a beautiful poem making it all come together with how children are "spreading their dreams beneath our feet-we need to tread softly"-how absolutely beautiful. Great TED pick!

#4 Your Ted talk- I haven't heard of Rick Wormlei, but I am SOLD! Thank you so much for including the article. I love it when teachers who write books like they would talk, and not so over-the-top-pretentious-pedagogical jargon that just sounds pretentious! Kristen and I were just talking about giving students the opportunity to revise and those teachers who don't are really doing their students a diservice. I agree we must teach them to be accountable since the goal is to learn the material. Thankfully, at my school, we have begun invitational summer school to practice this accountablility. This summer school invitation is for students who have "failed" the class but are given alternative projects/options to pass the class since retaking the class the next year has proven to be more of a detriment than anything. The summer school course load is determined individually; so, let's say the student really needs to improve research paper writing and grammar-this is his/her course. This is the first year we've done it, so I'm anxious to see the results. I was excited to read what Wormlei was saying because it sounds like our school is headed in the right direction as far as what he says about accountability. I'm looking forward to reading more of his work.

Your Ted talk would be an excellent one to see and sparks so many thoughtful conversations. Great choice!


Stacy Drinkwine Hauser

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