12 years and 8 months of education is about all the senior students can endure in classrooms, and no amount of scolding, guilting, or grading is going to get them to do serious work. Despite this malaise, I have been forcing them to create 3 minute presentations based on the TEDTalk formula. The topic? “What I have Learned in 13 years”. The final plan is for the students to turn this talk into a presentation to the students in Grade 7 & 8 the first week of June.
With one exception, the first round was pretty successful. I had the students focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects as a practice set, and I gave them 20 minutes to pull something together to share. Ultimately, I received a number of good entries: The use of zero, the angle for skiing, the energy needed for phase changes (solid, liquid, gas).
Each student’s practice TEDTalk was appropriate…except for Colin’s. He had titled his presentation as “Beware Simple Math” with the formula 1+1 =3 on the first slide. His explanation? He was illustrating the importance of birth control. In a few slides, Colin had carefully constructed an argument delicately balancing the nuances of human reproduction. He had a colorful conclusion on the final slide:
Y’all can’t afford no baby
The world will be a better place without teen parents
The last period on a warm Friday afternoon is not the time to be insulted when a room full of 12th graders enjoy how a fellow classmate subverts an assignment. He had complied with my request and created the presentation, but he had certainly corrupted the intent.
Needless to say, this particular talk will NOT be shared with the 7th & 8th graders.