In the 21st century, one of the many pillars of a gold standard learning experience is the idea of authenticity; providing students with an authentic learning experience as well as an authentic audience. Fostering these experiences afford our students with a real-world application to the content they are learning in class.
“A great example is with our 8th grade English class,” shared Mr. Doug Hinko, Director of Innovation and Curricular Integration. “Students spent four-weeks producing a TED-style talk as a culminating activity for their argument writing unit. They watched TED Talks to identify effective writing styles, delivery methods, and best practices before choosing a topic, conducting extensive research and eventually producing a TED-style talk of their own.” Students were given a choice to either give their talk live to an audience, present in class or record in front of a camera.
It’s not uncommon to see departments collaborate with other members of the community to create valuable learning experiences for students. The Ted-style talk program was taught in collaboration between Mr. Hinko and 8th Grade English Teachers Ms. Renee Krauss and Ms. Katherine Cantwell, allowing them to blend English studies with innovative technology use and content creation. “I was so impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication with which the students tackled this project,” shared Ms. Krauss. “They were ‘all in’ from the beginning and delivered results that showed an incredible amount of research and polish. We were all so proud of them!”
The teachers all noted that it was refreshing to hear the students’ messages and to witness them cheering each other on and giving votes of encouragement before and after their talks. According to Mr. Hinko, “this project truly exemplified who we are as a school community at Sinai on many levels. When we look at our school’s core values, this project epitomized each and every one of them. It was impressive to witness students apply their writing skills, presentation skills, and advanced vocabulary to compose and deliver compelling arguments centered around a global issue for which they are passionate about. This experience truly showcased not only our students' academic excellence but more importantly their dedication and care for important global issues.”
“Each TED talk was personal and showcased the students’ passion for their topics,” added Ms. Cantwell. “I was blown away by the complex and complicated topics the students’ took on and was even more impressed by the nuanced way they shared their thoughts.”
Each year in 7th grade English, students participate in a persuasive writing unit and that curriculum was used as the basis of the TED-style talks. “In the 21st century it is crucial that we teach our students how to be composers and publishers of all different types of work,” shared Mr. Hinko. “Although the idea of composing a thoughtful and well-organized essay or research paper is an important skill, it is equally as crucial that we teach our students how to be composers of modern day media such as TED Talks, and other multimedia projects we do throughout the school. Students’ use of advanced vocabulary, sentence structure and other mechanics in their finished pieces were a true testament to our solid English curriculum.”