You are a good teacher. You work tirelessly to inspire creativity and motivation in your students. The list of bookmarked TED-videos in your computer is longer than the Great Wall of China. But you won’t have the time to design lesson plans with worksheets and handouts around these videos.

If it is so, this post will come in handy. Here is a worksheet with a set of activities for taking any TED talk (or any similar video) and using it in class with the least amount of preparation time on your part.


A TED talk’s title is usually snappy and sums up the idea of the talk.

Write the title of the talk on the board (e.g. the recent talk I showed to my class – What Makes a Good Life. Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness by Robert Waldinger)

What Makes a Good Life

Option A:

Ask students to come up with ideas relevant to the topic.  Split students into teams/pair them up and ask to come up with as many ideas as possible within (set the time limit). When the time is up, get them to discuss the ideas they have and how they relate to the topic.


Option B:

Or ask students to think of 9 (or 12) words/phrases that are relevant to the topic and that may be used by the speaker in the talk.

e.g. How to Sound Smart in your TEDxTalk


Option C:

Get students to think about the topic and write down what they know about the topic in the first column (WHAT I KNOW) and then write what they’d like to know about the topic in the second column (WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW) – get them to write down questions they have about the topic.



For Option A: get students to circle the ideas that are mentioned and add up new ideas.

For Option B: get students to circle the words that are used. Add up any other words that are relevant to the talk.

For Option C: get students to take notes on what they hear in the third column (answers to their questions).

Nearly every talk has some statistics to support the message. The easiest way to focus your learners on listening is to give numbers used in the talk and ask them to jot down what they refer to. 6


– Discuss the main ideas. Get students to look at the words circled/figures and think what they can recall. Discuss specific things they learnt from the talk.

– Pair up students and ask them to think of a question they’d like to ask the speaker. Then students rotate their sheets with questions and answer the questions until they get their question back.

– Get students to write a 2-dollar summary of the talk. Each word is worth 10 cents.

* * *

If you’re looking for some other resources for TED talks, check out

The Best Teacher Resources For “TED Talks” (& Similar Presentations) from Larry Ferlazzo

TED talks for autonomous listening: ten activities from Olya Sergeeva

Image credit: Scott Beale, Flickr.com, Creative Commons


9 thoughts on “TED TALKS: “ONE SIZE FITS ALL”

  1. I really love this idea! Such a useful resourceand so flexible you could get away with not even watching the video yourself , not that I would encourage that 😉 another idea for while/post I sometimes use is to get students to represent the talk in an infographic/conference posterfor which they’ll have to note take effectively.


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  3. So simple, nice! I think your ideas would work really well in a flipped classroom: the students could do some of the work (watching the videos and filling in some of the cells or searching for those numbers at home) and then do a follow-up activity, sharing or reporting their answers for example, back in the classroom.
    (Of course there is always the problem that some students probably won’t have watched the video….)


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