TedEd Series, “The Writer’s Workshop”

So I was having fun down at TedEd and discovered that they have a series, “The Writer’s Workshop”

ted ed the writers workshop

There are all kinds of lessons here that may work for your classroom.

AND you can create a lesson of your own too ūüôā


TED Ed – Lessons Created & Curated

What I’m about to tell you about is a work of genius and a gold mine.¬† It can prepare kids to read, watch, and answer questions online (PARCC), it will engage them in higher-level thinking, it allows them choice in what they discover, and it invites them into¬†a discussion with other students beyond their classroom.¬† It is incredible.¬† I’m excited.¬† You are warned.¬† ūüôā

So. . . I may be late to the TED-Ed game.¬† I’ve been familiar with TED Talks for a few years now, but this new(ish) TED-Ed resource will blow your mind.

What is TedEd?

from the website: TED-Ed is a free educational website for teachers and learners. We are a global and interdisciplinary initiative with a commitment to creating lessons worth sharing. Our approach to education is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas.

Within the growing TED-Ed video library, you will find carefully curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform. This platform also allows users to take any useful educational video, not just TED’s, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student.

Check out the “About” tab to know more about how lessons are created and how teachers can customize lessons.


Under the lessons tab, you can filter by category (check out that list – there’s even “Literature and Language”!), content, student (you can choose high school so things are the level you want), or duration.¬† It’s quite user friendly.

So browsing lessons is¬†the first great thing about TEDEd (some designed around TED talks we know and love).¬† They’re done in such a way that you could take students to a computer lab with headphones (they can bring them . . . they all have them) to watch, answer questions, and explore the resources in the “Dig Deeper” tab OR they could be done in home.¬† Students could choose which they want to learn more about (something like this might work great if you want to work on inquiry-based learning or #geniushour. . . more about that soon).

So a lesson would look something like this:

TED Ed screenshot 2

As you move through the tabs on the right, something new appears on the left.

The “Think” tab includes multiple choice and open-ended questions that usually check that students watched the video but also extend their thinking:

TED Ed screenshot 3

Each lesson was created by someone else, so the nature and number¬†of the questions will vary.¬† Notice on the right-hand side that you can also choose to “customize” this lesson.¬† That’s pretty rad.

Can you tell I’m excited yet? It’s not even over.¬† Check out the “Dig Deeper” and “Discuss” tabs:

TED Ed screenshot 4

The “Dig Deeper” tab provides additional resources with links.¬† This would be great if the TED talk inspires a student to learn more or start an inquiry-based project.¬† In fact, couldn’t the product of their inquiry-based project BE a TED-Ed lesson? (featuring them in the video?! or simply created/curated by them . . . at least in this format, if not published on TEDEd . . . not sure how that works yet)

The “Discuss” tab allows students to respond to a prompt that other students already have, so they’re writing for and responding to a global community (hello CCSS technology standards!)

TED Ed screenshot 5

You can change or modify lessons or create your own based on a TED Talk!¬† Students could complete something you designed or go and explore something another educator/animator did.¬†¬†This engages students in TED Talks in a way that simply watching it couldn’t.¬† And the options for TEDEd-inspired¬†performance assessments and projects after a student-directed research assignment are exciting!

This is only the tip of the TEDEd iceberg.¬† Check out the site, including the “Series” and “Community” tabs. You can also subscribe to the TEDEd Newsletter here.¬† (I recommend you use your personal email address, as the confirmation email may never come through our Groupwise.)

I actually thinking using these as part of a student-directed research project might be just the solution for PARCC testing disturbances.  It would mean smartphone use and maybe some after school and at home work for internet access though.  But of course, you can use them anytime!

As always, if you want to brainstorm other ways to bring this to your classroom and./or want to flesh out an idea presented here, don’t hesitate to let me know.¬† I would love to collaborate with TedEd!

High-Interest Informational Text

The New York Times’ Common-Core-friendly blog, The Learning Network,¬†collects articles about teens from the last four weeks on¬†the first Friday of each month.

Here’s Teenagers in the Times – May 2014

If you’re looking for high-interest nonfiction, especially as the year closes out, this might be the place to look!¬†¬† Note that they do this the first Friday of every month, so keep checking back!

Slacker Poster, Time for Poetry Catch-Up, NPM Days 17-25

As I’m sure you’ve noticed (or not . . .visitor numbers are low :)), I neglected NPM postings during Spring Break.

First, in honor of a belated birthday, that of Billy Shakes:

Sonnet 55

Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room,
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

And now . . .¬†let’s play catch-up:

1. From the Poetry Foundation (and Target, apparently), a Teacher’s Poetry Guide for Black History Month.¬† It deals in three main subjects: Love and Compassion, Heritage and History, and On Being Black.¬† It includes poems and activities for students: Poetry Foundation Black History Month.

You could use this as it is or extend the subjects out to other poems and poets – other poets writing about identity, heritage, and compassion.

2. Hit some global issues with an article by the New York Times, “Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry” or this longer look at Afghan Women’s Poetry in this poetry foundation article (with poems).

3. Have students explore annotated poetry (click yellow text to see pop-up annotations) or annotate¬†poetry themselves¬†at Rap Genius’s poetry genius.

4. Check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Lesson Plans that combine music with the social, literary, and political going-ons of¬†its time.¬† Selections include¬†Langston Hughes and the Blues, Popular Music and the Civil¬†Rights Movement, Music and Protest, Vietnam War, Cold War, etc . . . ¬†(remember – music as poetry totally works!), ¬† This is one of my favorite resources.

5. A video from EduTopia about Empowering Authentic Voice through Spoken Word Poetry  that looks at one student working with YouthSpeaks and learning how to use her life as her primary text.  Great to open a discussion about poetry, why we write it and perform it and how we find ideas for our poems.  Would work as an introduction to spoken word poetry or poetry in general.

6. YouthSpeaks’s Brave New Voices (featured on HBO) includes videos (watch here) of students’ performances at the finals.¬† It is nice for students to see what other teens are writing about and how they are performing.

7. The National Writing Project’s long list of resources (many are articles, but the ideas may spark something!) for Teaching, Reading, and Writing Poetry.

Music & Literature Resource

Hey all.


Brainpickings.org, which I recommend for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is because Maria Popova describes her site as “a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness” has a great page called “literary jukebox.”¬† It’s a “side project” Popova does in which she picks a great literary quote and matches it thematically with a song (you can play the song on the site).

I love this because it’s fun (nerd alert) and because it might be an awesome mini-activity, warm-up, closure, or home work assignment when students are reading anything in class.¬† ūüôā

You could even great a bulletin board jukebox (or Ipod), where you could keep track of your book-long, marking-period-long, or year-long jukebox selections.