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.