5 TED Talks to Share with High Schoolers

You may have seen an inspirational TED Talk floating around social media. Whether you have caught Sir Ken Robinson’s thought-provoking talk, ”Do schools kill creativity?” or Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk, ”Your elusive creative genius”, you know the power of TED Talks in your own professional life. Did you also know that there are thousands of inspirational TED Talks you can present to your high schoolers? Share short talks as bell ringers, assign as out-of-class viewing in a flipped classroom, or use as an integral part of a lesson.

Here are 5 TED Talks to share with high schoolers. 

”Why the pencil is perfect”

This talk is about something very simple, a pencil. Pencil shop owner Caroline Weaver tells the story of a pencil. Use this under four-minute talk as a bell ringer in your ELA class or inspiration for a writing prompt about objects or inventions.

”How fake news does real harm”

“Fake news” is a real problem with adults and young people alike. Social media and instantaneous breaking news make it easy to spread false information. Journalist Stephanie Busari reminds viewers of the 2014 story of the 200 girls from Chibok, Nigeria, kidnapped by the terrorist organization Boko Haram. Because the story was called a hoax by the Nigerian government and because of the transmission of fake news during this time period, lives were endangered. This talk provides a powerful testament of what makes fake news so dangerous when real problems exist. Use this talk (right around six minutes) as a discussion of how to determine the credibility of news stories and the responsibility of those who provide the news and the audience that consumes it.

”The art of choosing”

High school students are faced with trivial as well as enormous choices. Everyday choices like what to eat for breakfast, whom to sit with at lunch, and what book to read are fairly simple and inconsequential. As they enter the brink of adulthood, they’ll face choices on whether or not to go to college, where to go to college, what major to choose, and whom to date and marry. There are hundreds of other choices, often fueled by our own cultural assumptions and bias. Sheena Iyengar talks about the choices people make and the assumptions around them in this longer TED Talk (around 20 minutes) that is a great piece to share before having conversations about graduation and college.

Why some of us don’t have one true calling

How often have our students been asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” in their young lives? This loaded question is difficult for those who have a wide array of interests and aren’t ready to make a decision on their future career at a young age. Share writer and artist Emilie Wapnick’s talk and allow it to become a conversation about your students' passions, not necessarily the things they show they are good at on assessments but the things they truly love.

What adults can learn from kids

Even though Adora Svitak is just 12 years old, this TED Talk is highly recommended for high school students who struggle to find their voice in a world where they’re on the bridge between child and adulthood. Svitak reminds students of the childhood ideals they should hold onto as adults, including creativity and hope. These 5 TED Talks to share with high schoolers can be put into a YouTube or TED Talk Playlist for whenever you need an inspirational talk or motivation for your older students. From a focus on writing and reading to finding purpose after high school, these talks are helpful and great media to use in your ELA classes.

4 Shakespeare Plays To Teach This Year

William Shakespeare died more than 400 years ago, but his plays still resonate today. Most of the themes from Shakespeare’s (at least) 37 plays can be found in modern literature today and even reflect modern concerns of today’s youth. Here are 4 Shakespeare plays to teach this year and the resources to help you share them with your secondary students.


Othello, the title character of Shakespeare’s tragedy, is a rare person of color in 17th-century literature. Bringing diversity into your classic literature curriculum is so important.

The themes of the dangers of jealousy and racial prejudice are also present in this story that could easily have been a television soap opera with secret marriages, accusations of adultery, murder, and drama. Your students will be on the edge of their seats!

Speaking of on-screen drama, Othello pairs well with the movie, O, after reading the play. Check out my handout to use with the movie O and everything you need to teach Othello from character charts, Shakespearian background, task cards, writing assignments, projects for the play, and more in this Othello bundle.

The Taming of the Shrew

Sibling rivalry, as well as issues surrounding marriage and gender equity, are at the forefront of this Shakespearian comedy. Your students will love the interplay between the seemingly sweet agreeable Bianca as opposed to her sister Katherine, the “shrew”.

Differentiate instruction for struggling readers with scene by scene summaries of the play along with movie handouts to go with the play. One of the favorite modern adaptations is 10 Things I Hate About You.

Prepare your students for culminating tests and essays with this all-inclusive bundle for The Taming of the Shrew


To be or not to be? Should you teach Hamlet this year? With these awesome Hamlet resources, the answer is definitely YES! Hamlet has themes that focus on revenge and action v. inaction.

One activity I love to use with my advanced readers during Hamlet is a mock trial when Hamlet goes on trial for the murder of Polonius. Of course, there are many movie adaptations of Hamlet that you can use after the play.I've used this play with both regular 12th graders and with AP Literature students.


Ask 10 English teachers, and more than half will probably say that Macbeth is their favorite Shakespeare play to read and teach. Despite the violence and “double, double toil and trouble”, Macbeth teaches about fate and ambition.

The characters in Macbeth are layered and complicated, which is why I’ve included characterization webs and maps in the Macbeth unit bundle. Incorporate games like Macbeth bingo, task cards and more!

These 4 Shakespeare plays to teach this year should be on your list because of the modern themes, media connections, and in-depth analysis opportunities. Stretch your students’ understandings of classic literature with my Ultimate Shakespeare Package including these four and other Shakespeare plays you can teach this year!

Here's another blog post I wrote about Shakespeare's Birthday which most people believe is April 23rd.


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