We began our project by exploring the nature of a great story and, therefore, of a great speech à la TED.
The teachers at Thorney Close Primary School were also introduced to a wide number of the TED talks and encouraged to discover, view and discuss a even more amongst themselves and with their students. Carefully selected examples were then used with the classes and unpicked to reveal the elements of their success – as session starters and finishers, these talks provided a superb, uplifting means of involving everyone in the class.
We would start by watching videos without any audio, then have one of the students (or a small group) provide a live commentary, that is, the speech they think they would give to go with the images – Nathan was first up, but it’s still amazing to see how far he came in this project, from the shy, quiet chap here to the forthright young man we heard two months later at TEDxKidsSland. Finally, we’d let the students listen to the ‘real’ talk, audio and visuals, before discussing what they liked most (two stars) and what they thought could be made better (a wish).
Through team teaching, example lessons, activity and project ideas we began to explore with the children what they would like to talk about. The Year 3 and 4 children were set the challenge of speaking passionately about a topic that is meaningful to them. At this point, our work concentrated on teachers’ questioning skills: if you ask your average eight-year-old what’s meaningful to him or her, the answer will invariably be “football”, “my hamster” or “mum”. Great questioning from the teachers swiftly, and sometimes painfully (!), moved almost all the students beyond these lower order solutions to “Have you ever wondered…?” questions that had most adults in the room pondering the students’ prospective answers with genuine interest.
Our project culminated with the Year 3 and 4 children organising and running the TEDxKids@Sunderland. They were involved in every step of the process from applying for the license, setting up Twitter accounts to phoning around to book the venue.
So on May 27th in a lecture hall in Sunderland sixty 7, 8 and 9 year olds explored topics such as the secret language of animals, why slugs have slime and what family means – and made history in the process by participating in the first ever TEDx event for under 10′s.