Category Archives: Science

Tech Integration Post # 4 of 10: Teaching with TED

TED is a small non-profit devoted to ‘Ideas Worth Spreading.’  It began in 1984 as a conference, bringing together leaders in the fields of Technology, Entertainment, and Design.  The TED website makes a selection of the best talks and performances available to view and download for free.  All of the talks feature closed captions in English, and many feature subtitles in various languages. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.  If you subscribe to a news reader such as Google Reader you can also subscribe to new talks here.

I’ve used TED in the classroom to inspire my learners, to bring attention to important world events, to listen to debates and form opinions, to create and stimulate inquiry, to activate prior knowledge, to offer career and life-skills knowledge, and as a writing prompt.

The following TED talk is a debate and asks the question, “Does the world need nuclear energy?” It compares the future of burning fossil fuels energy against the possibility of increasing nuclear power production.  Obviously, the vocabulary used in these talks are not necessarily intermediate grade friendly but I feel it serves as a great introduction to a debate writing unit for grade 6, or an introduction to non-renewable resources in covered in B.C. science 6.


It’s simple to use TED as an engaging way to meet many learning outcomes in British Columbia and beyond.  Here are a few examples which link specific TED talks directly to B.C. learning outcomes:

B.C. PLO Science grade 5: Earth and Space Science: Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources

  • analyze how BC’s living and non-living resources are used
  • identify methods of extracting or harvesting and processing BC’s resources
  • describe potential environmental impacts of using BC’s living and non-living resources

B.C. PLO English Language Arts grade 6:

  • Oral Language: A1 use speaking and listening to interact with others
  • Reading and viewing: B9 read and view to improve and extend thinking
  • Writing and representing: C2 write a variety of effective informational writing for a range of purposes and audiences that communicates ideas to inform or persuade

Why use TED?

  1. It’s real
  2. It’s relevant
  3. It’s current
  4. It connects classroom’s with people making positive change in the world.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tech Integration Post # 3 of 10: Using VoiceThread To Enhance Oral Language While Meeting Science Learning Outcomes

VoiceThread is a web2.0 tool that allows users to create and upload video, text, images, and audio (known as content) to a secure server from where anyone with access can interact with the content.  Think of it as an audio blog.

Grade 6 Science learning outcome: Earth and Space science – explain obstacles unique to exploration of a specific extreme environment.

Instructions On How To Create An Account:

How to create a VoiceThread:

How to create multiple identities:

In the PLO example at the top of the post, your students will find examples of extreme environments using images, video, or text.  They will use the audio feature to comment on the content by explaining why the chosen environment is extreme. Students will discuss why the environment is extreme, and what makes it difficult to life there.  Each student uploads a different example of an extreme environment and comments on their own thread as well as other class member’s threads.  This is great way to practice and assess oral language as well as introduce and practice science specific vocabulary.

Suggested Achievement Indicators (audio comments/responses) for this PLO are:

  • Identify the salient characteristics of an extreme environment (e.g., space, polar ice, oceans, volcanoes, and the atmosphere — a place that humans do not naturally inhabit but choose to explore)
  • Give several examples of resources and knowledge that can be obtained from distant explorations
  • Give several examples of how technology can be used by humans to travel to and explore an unknown environment