TED Talks For Teenagers



As both a teacher and parent of teenagers, I have been watching a shift in learning happen right before my eyes.  Twenty years ago, my students were still using books as their main source of learning.  My technology was limited to supplementing lectures and book work with DVD’s and the occasional trip to the computer lab.  My campus looks quite different today.  Every student is issued a laptop.  Most kids have a smart phone.  And students are consuming most of their content from videos instead of books.  So, it only makes sense to be incorporating TED Talks for teenagers into my curriculum as a way to deliver information to them in a way that they have grown accustomed to.

In case you didn’t’ know, TED Talks have been around for a while. TED is short for technology, entertainment, and design and the first talk was given back in 1984. It included cutting-edge demos of both the compact disk and the eBook.

The popularity of TED Talks grew as new technology was developed for sharing videos of its presentations.  In 2006, the first 6 TED Talks were posted online.  And in just 3 months they were viewed over one million times.  By 2009 TED Talks had over 100 million views.  With the access to watching videos on phones and tablets TED Talks have become incredibly popular today.

Since the start of the COVID-19 I have increased my use of video in my classes.  And TED Talks have become an amazing way to teach ideas and spark learning within my students.

Why Showing TED Talks for Teenagers Just Makes Sense

Teenagers are spending an increasing amount of time watching videos.  In 2019 the Washington Post reported that the amount of screen time spent by kids watching online videos had more than doubled over a 4-year span.  While the amount of total screen time hasn’t changed much (teens have been averaging over 7 hours of daily screen time for a number of years), what they are watching has.  In 2015 watching online videos ranked 5th in terms of preferred media activity.  Today, online videos is king of the mountain.

So, if kids are comfortable watching online videos, it only makes sense to use them a mode of education.  GIF’s, YouTube clips, and TED Talks are all part of a typical online lecture in one of my distance learning classes.

TED Talks For Students

Distance learning has made me rethink how I teach my students and opened my eyes to new possibilities.  As a physical education teacher, I’ve needed to redesign all of my lesson plans for the past year.  Traditionally, my units would consist of live demonstrations followed by hands on learning. But with the need to teach through a webcam, I’ve had to get creative.  I’ve replaced many of my team sport units with health and exercise physiology.  And using online videos in my teaching has become a great way to help my students understand the material.

I’ve found several TED Talks that highlight the topics we are covering in class.  From “Why Dieting Usually Doesn’t Work” by neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt to “Sleep Is Your Superpower” by sleep scientist Matt Walker, TED Talks have helped my students learn about the topics we are discussing in a format they are most comfortable learning through.  If you are looking for TED Talks to bring into your classroom, here is a list of 35 “must watch” TED Talks for students.

TED Talks Worksheets For The Classroom

I’ve began creating interactive worksheets to go with the TED Talks I show in class.  They are a great way to help keep my students focused on the key ideas of the TED Talk while still allowing them to enjoy what they are watching.


Grab A FREE sample of one my TED Talk worksheets. They come in both printable PDF and Digital Google Slides versions.

TED Talks can be used in class or as a homework assignment.  And I have gotten a lot of good feedback from both teachers and students.  We are well past the days where students would be told to write down 20 facts they learned from the video.  My worksheets include a “before the talk” question, multiple questions to guide learning during the video, and a reflective question to help students reflect on how what they just learned can impact their lives.

If you would like to sample one of my TED Talk worksheets, you can grab a copy here.

Essential Fatty Acids



In the late 1920’s, a husband-and-wife research team stumbled upon the discovery of essential fatty acids.  Prior to this time, it was believed that fats were only needed as a source of energy and could be substituted freely with carbohydrates. However, George and Mildred Burr discovered that when certain types of fats were left out of a diet, a deficiency occurred that lead to the death of the laboratory mice they were studying.  The Burr’s discovered the first of many of these special types of fats and coined the phrase, “essential fatty acids.”

Today we classify fatty acids based on their structure as omega-3, omega-6, or omega-9 fatty acids.  And while only certain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential (meaning they are unable to be synthesized in the body), all three types are beneficial for good health.

Deficiency of Essential Fatty Acids

While rare it is possible to develop a essential fatty acid deficiency.  This may be caused by either an unbalanced diet or poor absorption of essential fatty acids by the body.  However, a more common concern in the health and nutrition community is that most people eating a western diet are not getting the optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3  fatty acids.  While both are essential, they support different physiological reactions in the body.  Scientists believe that a century ago the typical diet had a omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4:1. Today that ratio have ballooned to 16:1.  As a result of being unbalanced, it is believed that excessive inflammation can occur in the body leading to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even certain types of cancer.


These 7 foods are rich in essential fatty acids.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a polyunsaturated fat that your body is unable to make.  As a result, it considered “essential” since you must get it from your diet.  While there are 11 different omega-3 fatty acids, the 3 most common are EPA, DHA, and ALA.  EPA, or eicosatetraenoic acid, plays an import role in reducing inflammation in the body.  DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, contributes to the development and function of the brain.  ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, contributes to a healthy cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems.

In addition to helping construct cell membranes, several studies have found numerous benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.  A 2010 study linked the role of omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation.  And the Journal of Nutrition published that adults with hypertension who consumed fish oil supplements rich in DHA and EPA saw a reduction in their blood pressure.  Omega-3 fatty acids may also help lower instances of depression, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological issues.  It is believed this is connected to the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to work as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include various types of fish, seeds, and nuts.  For example, a serving of salmon contains 4g of DHA and EPA.  A serving of chia seeds contains almost 5g of ALA. Because many people struggle to get enough omega-3 fatty acids through their diet, the use of omega-3 supplements are frequently used.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 fatty acids are also essential in that they must be consumed through food.  The most common omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, is frequently converted to arachidonic acid in the body.  It can be used as both an energy source and serves as an inflammatory agent in the body.  While there are several negative effects of chronic inflammation, the body needs to create an inflammatory environment to help the immune system fight off pathogens.

While nuts and seeds contain omega-6 fatty acids, most consumed source is through the consumption of soybean and corn oil.  Corn oil is frequently used in the cooking of foods.  Soybean oil is found in most processed and packaged foods as a stabilizing agent to prolong their shelf life.  The increase in the consumption of processed foods through a western diet is believed to unbalance the ratio of omega fatty acids while resulting in the proliferation of several inflammatory-induced chronic diseases.

Omega-9 Fatty Acids

Omega-9 fatty acids are considered to be monounsaturated because they only contain a single double bond in their structure.  Even though these fatty acids can be synthesized by the body, they are frequently consumed through diet from oils, nuts, and seeds.  Olive oil is high in omega-9 fatty acids and has been touted for its health benefits in increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering inflammation.  A 2015 article in the journal Diabetes, found that omega-9 fatty acids can lower the likelihood of insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

Teaching Students about Essential Fatty Acids

In my classes I like to bring up several benefits of while consuming a balanced ratio of essential fatty acids is beneficial to good health. One of the easiest ways is with my reading article summarizing them combined with the review questions I’ve attached to the assignment.  This can be used as a make up assignment, enrichment article, extra credit, or as a warm up that will lead into lecture and discussion.




Benefits Of Yoga For Kids



While you are probably aware of the numerous benefits of yoga for kids, chances are you aren’t sure where to begin.  The thought of incorporating yoga into your classroom can be intimidating.  But don’t worry.  Through this article I will simplify the process of introducing yoga in your classroom.

Before we begin, I need to address a major concern of teaching yoga in schools.

Despite the many benefits of yoga, it can also be met with some degree of skepticism.  Critics of yoga often view it as a connection to Hinduism as a form of religious prayer.  People often link yoga with Sanskcrit names for the yoga poses.  They also imagine yoga as a lot of ritualistic chanting. The yoga I teach my kids couldn’t be further from this.  And to distance the practice of yoga from any religious aspects, I highlight both the physical and mental benefits of yoga for my kids.

Yoga For Students

Yoga can be an awesome total body workout that can be done with with little to no equipment.  A yoga workout will improve both strength and mobility while improving aerobic fitness as students move through the various poses.  It can be done almost anywhere allowing teachers to use it both inside of their classroom as well as outdoor facilities at their school.  Yoga can even be used through distance learning with the help of visual cues and streaming videos.


Teaching yoga to elementary students doesn’t have to be difficult. In as little as 6 minutes, you can gain the benefits of yoga in your classroom

Yoga is a great way to teach kids body awareness by strengthening the neuromuscular, or mind-body, connection.  Yoga also can be linked to various district and state standards.  For instance, the California physical education standards focus on students being able to demonstrate proficient movement patterns.  This can be difficult considering students from kindergarten through high school are in a near constant state of growth and development.  As students are getting taller their body is always having to relearn how to coordinate safe and efficient movement.  Through yoga the can teach kids various dynamic movements and incorporate it into the active recovery process.

Finally, yoga can help students learn to calm their bodies.  Studies have linked stress with the onset of depression in adolescents as well as adults.  By connecting breathing to the movements of yoga, students can trigger the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.  This will act as hormonal reset to help counteract stress as a healthy coping mechanisms.

Yoga For Elementary Students

When working with younger kids, I like begin by connecting yoga to basic movement patterns.  Chances are they have already done similar activities with other teachers which will bring a feeling of familiarity.  I might not even call it yoga.  Instead we will blend it into our daily movement activities.


With simple instructions, students can learn to move through various yoga poses.


From there we teach students about movement literacy through our yoga basics.  It’s a great way to get them moving during the school day.  And it can be expanded into a physical education lesson or used a short “brain break” during class.

Yoga For High School Students

Yoga is a fantastic way for high school students to build a sense of movement literacy.  It’s also an individual activity where students get to take ownership of learning.  I am constantly reminding my kids that yoga is a process.  Each day we strive to get a little better than the day before. Before each lesson begins I get to remind them, “yoga is something you practice.  It’s not something you perfect.”  This way they know it’s about the journey and getting the most out of each class for themselves.  Yoga can be very appealing to students because it not a competition.  We do not keep score in yoga and classify winners and losers.

Most kids enter into my class having some knowledge of basic movements such as a plank or a lunge.  Through yoga we can build up on their fitness level and allow them to gain mastery over the movements.  These “yoga flows” can become an effective stand alone workout or part of a physical education unit.

Yoga Basics For Beginners

Regardless of how old your students are, there is going to be a range of ability levels for your students.  In building my lessons for teaching yoga, I focus the activity around four foundational poses that we can build from: standing poses, twisting poses, plank poses, and balance poses.

For instance, a starting activity for students may be working on transitioning from a standing position to a high plank by walking their hands out through an inchworm movement.  While this may seem overly simple, it can be very changing for students who have limited hamstring flexibility and core strength.  As they are working on perfecting these movements and poses I can help guide them as to what they should be feeling through their muscles and joints.


The inchworm is a great starting movement for beginners to help them learn movement literacy and body awareness.

Beginning A Simple Yoga Routine

Simply having a copy of printable yoga movement cards is all some need to get started introducing yoga into their classroom.  However, other teachers may want a more structured yoga curriculum to guide you.  When I first got started I found several free resources online.  However, most were not designed to be taught as part of a unit.  They were Youtube videos that were more fitting for someone already comfortable with yoga.  And I needed more direct instruction for my students.

Thankfully I found a few yoga programs I could stream for my students that really taught the process and gave modifications.  Much like how I structure other activities, they allowed everyone to find success.  If you would like more information on these programs, I’d love to guide you in their direction.

Until next time,


Winter Vacation Ideas

Winter Vacation Ideas


Shorter days and dropping temperatures are signaling that winter vacation isn’t too far away.  But do you have any idea as to how you are going to spend it this year?  More often than not, I get so focused on work that I fail to stop and devote some time to what I’d like to do during our winter vacation.

Over time we have discovered several memorable winter vacation ideas.  If you are trying to make plans, here are some fun winter vacation ideas worth considering.

So What Makes The Best Winter Vacation Ideas?

In my opinion, the best winter vacation ideas are the ones that I keep thinking about years later.  For instance, about five years ago we drove up to a nearby mountain town and rented a cabin for a few days between Christmas and New Years.  As luck would have it, the town had just received snow the day before our arrival turning the whole area into a winter wonderland.  We also brought my step dad with us on this particular trip.  Even though he passed away a year later, I’ll always hold on to the memories of him having snow ball fights with the kids outside of the cabin.


Making memories with grandpa George.

In addition to creating new memories, winter vacation is a perfect time to turn a new leaf.  While we often associate New Years Day with the creating of resolutions, investing in yourself during the winter break will help you build momentum as you look to create new habits and routines.

Here are seven ideas for how you can make the most out of your upcoming winter vacation.

Winter Vacation Ideas for Couples

Before we started having kids, Danielle and I would set aside time for getaways where we could make each other the priority.  We were both starting our teaching careers and during the semester our minds were always filled with what needed to get done for work.  Planning.  Grading.  Spending hours trying to evaluate how we could improve our lessons for the following year.  We were both taking graduate classes as well and I was coaching at this time.  Life was busy.

Physically and mentally removing ourselves from our current routine was something we looked forward to.  These didn’t have to be extravagant trips to different countries or continents (even though we have done a few of these too).  Going up the coast to a bed and breakfast and visiting a few wineries created some fantastic memories that made the winter vacation feel special.  Here are 12 vacation spots for couples to get you started on planning your adventure.

Winter Vacation Ideas for Families

As we began to have kids, our vacations began to look different.  We traded the trips to Las Vegas for Disneyland and began looking for new experiences that everyone would enjoy.  Depending on the ages of your kids, some vacation spots will be a better match than others.  Just remember that the goal is to keep it relaxing and enjoyable.  If you are looking for winter family vacation ideas, here are some great destinations to consider.

Winter Vacation Ideas On A Budget

Not enough funds to fly to Hawaii over winter vacation?  Don’t worry.  There are plenty of winter vacation ideas if you are working with a smaller budget.  While the crowds may be flocking to a tropical island getaway to find warmer weather, there are plenty of deals to be found for locations where winter isn’t considered to be “peak” season.  Here are 12 affordable winter vacation ideas that might be exactly what you are looking for.


Mild winter temperatures make Palm Springs a great December travel spot.

Did Someone say “Road Trip”

Chances are there are some hidden gems for winter vacations within a couple of hours drive from where you live.  This can cut down on travel expenses while also giving you more time to enjoy win your location if it means less time spent getting there.  As crazy as it sounds, the road trip can be half the fun.  Back in college a bunch of buddies and I would load up in a car and get out of town as often as we could.  Jokes would be told.  Bonds would be forged.  And while the destinations were great, the memories we made along the journey would more often then not be the highlight of the trip.

Cold Weather Winter Vacation ideas

If it’s going to be cold during your winter vacation, why not embrace it.  There are plenty of fantastic vacation spots where winter time is “prime” time.  Outside of skying and snowboarding, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in the mountains during the winter.  Enjoy a day of shopping in the local boutiques and restaurants.  And drinking a hot chocolate or cider next to the fire place might be exactly what your soul is longing for.  Beyond the towns connected to ski resorts, many of the National Parks can be even more majestic in the winter compared to the summer months.  Here is a list of 10 National Parks to visit during the winter.

Make It A “Staycation” 

Sometimes you just want to stay at home while on vacation.  There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a “staycation” instead of traveling.  If you live in an urban area, sometimes it can be fun being a tourist in your hometown.  We’ve stayed at a local downtown hotel for a few nights and made a trip (minus the traveling) out of it.  It’s been fun going out to dinner and then just heading back to the room to wind down.

Maybe you don’t even want to leave the house.  If that’s the case, a movie marathon is always a fun thing to do over a vacation.  Star Wars, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games series are a few that we have watched with a bowl of popcorn and a blanket on the couch. Winter vacation might be the perfect time to watch that Netflix series everyone has been talking about and has been on your list.

Winter Vacation Bucket List Ideas

Winter vacation might be the perfect time to pick up a new hobby or start a project.  Maybe you’ve wanted to play guitar, learn to crochet, or make your own sourdough bread from scratch.  With the down time of vacation, you can learn a new skill and work on improving it over a few days or a week without having to squeeze it in around work and other commitments.  If you have some big plans for the next year, there is no need to wait until January 1st to get started.  You could begin working on your New Years Resolutions and get a head start.

Regardless. of what you chose to do, here’s to wishing you a memorable winter vacation.


Talk to you soon,


P.S. Before you go, here are a few other winter blog posts you may enjoy!!!

5 Math Ideas Perfect For The Winter Season







Hypertrophy Training



When people talk about “gains”, they are talking about the process of hypertrophy.  Hypertrophy is the term used to describe an increase in muscle size because of training.  That being said, hypertrophy is a polarizing topic that is riddled with several myths and misconceptions.

Each muscle fiber is composed of several myofilaments, contractile units consisting of actin and myosin proteins.  And our muscles will respond and adapt to the stress they are put under through resistance training.  When a muscle is not used it will atrophy, reducing the size of the muscle fibers and the amount of proteins that it contains.  However, when a muscle is forced to work under mechanical and metabolic stress, it will adapt and grow bigger to meet the work demands.

Hypertrophy Vs Hyerplasia

Hypertrophy is not to be confused with hyperplasia, which is an increase in the number of muscle cells.  While more research is needed to understand the developing more muscle cells, it appears that hyperplasia may only contribute to less than 10% of muscle growth.  But through hypertrophy, muscle cells can increase in diameter the size by adding new actin and myosin proteins to the existing myofilaments.

Research has shown that to maximize absolute strength, exercises should consist of low repetitions at intensities above 85% of the 1-repetition max (1RM).  At the other end of the strength continuum curve, to maximize muscular endurance, exercises should consist of a high amount of reps at lower intensities (below 60% of the 1RM).  The middle of the curve and how it relates to hypertrophy is much less clear.

Hypertrophy In Muscles


Hypertrophy training can be initiated regardless of the intensity and repetition ranges being used

Traditionally, 8-12 repetitions of an exercise at intensities around 70-75% of a 1RM have been recommended for hypertrophy training.  While this may result in hypertrophy, increases in muscle size are not exclusively connected to this magical formula of weight and repetitions.  If enough total volume of work is completed, hypertrophy training can be initiated regardless of the intensity and repetition ranges being used.  The total volume of work can be calculated as the amount of weight intensity times the number of sets times the number of reps.  Your body will adapt to demands of your work completed regardless if you are doing a heavy bench press or push-ups.  Your muscles can not distinguish between the two.

Total Volume = Weight x Intensity x Sets X Reps

In 2010, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published that hypertrophy is the result of muscular tension and metabolic stress.  Muscular tension is the product concentric and eccentric contractions to recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers.  Metabolic stress involves training with moderate to high intensity and low periods of rest to induce muscular fatigue.

Hypertrophy And Genetics

While all muscle fibers can undergo hypertrophy, the amount of muscle that your body hold onto is largely due to your genetics.  Your bone structure, the number of muscle cells you are born with, and even your hormone levels are all predetermined to a certain extent.  You can maximize your genetics, but you cannot change them.

While many people fear starting a resistance training routine for fear that they might look “bulky”, adding muscle mass is a slow process with multiple variables.  Unfortunately, social media, the steroid culture surrounding bodybuilding, and even the movies have given the illusion that it is easy to bulk up quickly through working out.

What Are The Best Workouts To Promote Hypertrophy

The best workouts are always the ones that you complete.  Too often people start a workout program only to stop training shortly after.  For me this meant it had to be simple, fun, and and fit into my busy lifestyle. I workout at home or at the gym 5-6 days a week for about 40-45 minutes.  We have 3 kids and blocking off a few hours to go to the gym each day for my personal workouts is just not realistic.  Life is too busy. But I can always find a half hour during the day to fit it in my schedule.

The best workouts are the ones that get noticeable results.  I would say my genetics are “average” at best.  I don’t have a build that will ever let me put on a large amount of muscle while staying lean.  But hypertrophy training has given me the confidence to like what I see in the mirror or to have my shirt off at the beach without feeling embarrassed.

Starting A Hypertrophy Program?

The best way is to answer a few questions and I can guide you in the right direction.  When you are ready to get started I will be here to help you every step of the way.

What Do I Teach Students About Hypertrophy?

The topic of hypertrophy is a very polarizing issue when we go into the weight room in my physical education classes.  Unfortunately there are a lot of myths and misconceptions generated by “bro-science” and the bodybuilding culture when it come to hypertrophy.

Here is the assignment I use in my classes to explain the science behind hypertrophy.