Using TED Talks in the Classroom

Technology, Entertainment, Design. With over 50,000 given at 10,000+ events since the program launched in 2009, there are many great TED talks you can weave into your #HealthEd class.

TED talks allow me to bring diverse voices into the classroom, with speakers sharing stories of experiences that I will never have. You can use these talks to give perspective, generate classroom discussion, provide extension material, and even inspire the next generation of TED talkers.

Using three of my favorite TED talks, I want to share three sets of question prompts you can use with your students after watching the presentation.

Sleep Is Your Superpower – Dr. Matthew Walker

One of the most viewed TED talks of all time, @sleepdiplomat, highlights the health benefits of sleep and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don’t, for both your brain and body.

KWL Remixed

Based on the classic K-W-L chart, I like to ask students the following questions:

What did you already know about the topic before watching the talk?

What did you learn from watching the talk?

If you could ask the presenter one question, what would it be?

That third question is powerful, in that it highlights the intellectual curiosity of your students, and often you’ll be able to answer their questions immediately or in a future lesson.

I have had previous success with collating student questions and reaching out to TED talkers to see if they would answer them.

Chris Dancy answered my students questions on collecting and interpreting health data.

Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave – Leslie Morgan Steiner

A compelling, passionate TED talk in which Steiner shares her experience living with an abusive husband. It shares how she fell into ‘Crazy Love’ and eventually escaped from it.

The TED Talk Formula

TED talks are hugely successful because they each have three powerful and scientifically proven qualities.

  • Emotion. The presenters are passionate about their subject.
  • Novelty. An element of their talk will be novel.
  • Memorable. The short, engaging talk will leave you with new knowledge.

With this method, I like to ask the following questions:

What emotions did you feel during this talk, and why?

What was novel about this talk?

What new ideas / memorable takeaways were presented in this talk?

Racism Has A Cost For Everyone – Heather McGhee

A must-see TED talk, McGhee spotlights how racism fuels bad policymaking and drains our economic potential – and offers potential solutions.

Jay Shetty’s 3S Formula

Shetty applies this formula to books, but you can also use it with TED talks. He poses these three prompts:

What story (message)was the speaker trying to convey?

What statistic (or fact) will stay with you after this talk?

What will you say when you share what you learned with your peers?

Still looking for novel ways to use TED talks? Consider these ideas.

Buy me a coffee, and you can download these three documents.

This microblog post was a featured post in #slowchathealth’s #microblogmonth event. You can search for all of the featured posts here. Please do follow each of the outstanding contributors on social media (including Andy Milne, the author of this post) and consider writing a microblog post of your own to be shared with the global audience of

Pair this blog post with the following:

Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker

Crazy Love by Leslie Morgan Steiner

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee

Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo

TED Talk Worksheet

Project Zero’s Thinking Routines Toolbox (Thank you Lieke Burghout for sharing this with me)

2 thoughts on “Using TED Talks in the Classroom

  1. Pingback: Micro Blog May 2023 – #slowchathealth

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