The first two times I facilitated the TTalk project, I was teaching a course called Individuals and Societies for the Middle Years Program (MYP) of the International Baccalaureate (IB) while covering provincial Geography curriculum expectations and beyond. This time, I felt liberated because I was iterating the project for Literacy, so I could widen the scope and position it within a unit about something bigger than a subject. I decided to rename the project TTalks for Impact. The TTalk part came from Genius-Hour/20% Time inspiration with a TED-like talk product and a lot of landmarks on the journey. The Impact part was how I framed the entire unit that included an expository essay and a lot of other great work. This makes it a bit less open than some Genius Hour experiences, but I wanted the common thread to be impact.
The process went from activating and creating schema to discovering interests and a search for deeper meaning, with some even finding passion for their topic. I went into more detail on my previous post, but the TTalks for Impact in the unit that I renaming Making an Impact began with a very general introduction to different issues in the world ad inquiry question that said: How can we make a more positive impact on the world? Provocations ranged from photographs to videos, song lyrics to famous quotes. By the time the students had explored a bevy of issues, they were tasked to declare the topic of their choice in words and pictures through a shared graffiti board.
Pitch Day was adrenalin-filled and so much fun. You can read more about it here. By the end of the day, students were tasked with viewing their pitch video recordings and conferencing with me about their topic choice and next steps in developing their pitch into a 4-6 minute TED-like talk.
Students were allotted 20% of my teaching time for 5 weeks from the launch to the second blog post. It was timed to coincide with March Break (Spring Break). After that, presentations began on the Tuesday we returned, and students presented on the day that they selected from the teacher-provided options with no more than 3 presenters on a given day. Using the BOB approach for the presentation aspect allows each person to have time to shine, share their learning and teach the rest of us. It also gives students time to get ready to present on their own timeline, doing additional research as work at home. I have many reflections and next steps for the rubric and how to better support all of my learners through this. Overall, everyone got something from this, and many got a lot more, as you can clearly see from their reflections. One of my favourite part about embedding this in a Literacy unit was reflected in the spectrum of topics that my students pursued (also noted in the Pitch blog post):
Racism and Discrimination
Human Impact on the Environment
The Negative Impact of Technology
Both the explicit and implicit teaching in this unit reflected why this project is a conduit for 21st century and learning skills including:
Blogging was a way to track the process and results of their learning and made the audience the entire class. The students set up blogs to begin blogging about their picthes, researching their Talks for Impact with the criteria of at least 3 posts, the final one being a reflection on the overall experience and after viewing the video of their TTalk presentations. They also had to comment on at least 5 posts of their classmates’, so it was great to see the students providing feedback to each other, asking questions and critique posts in a positive way. Here are some excerpts from a few final posts:
This was definitely one of the highlights to my grade 8 year and I now know and understand that using my voice can make a big difference and I encourage whoever is reading this that you can do the same. Share and speak out about a topic that you are passionate about today because if we all work together we can impact our society in the most positive ways. Nilofer
Every single one of my classmates that presented taught me something new. It was very inspirational to watch my classmates so passionate about their topics. It really showed how much they cared and how much work they put into everything they did. This taught me that if I want something to happen, something to change I need to say something and speak my mind because if I don't anything about it nothing will ever change... I got to learn more about myself and my peers around me in the process of it all and to the first and last day we all presented. I can't believe it has been a month and a half. Valeria
Through this project, I really learned a lot of things, for example, why planing time is important, and why grammar is so important. After I presented my T-talk, our teacher sends the video she filmed for my t-talk, be honest, I don't really want to see my t-talk or hear my voice again. however, for my own good, I have to look back and improved through this precious experience. I should practice my English, speaking eye contact. In the video, I made a lot of mistakes just because of my speaking. The way to improve my speaking is net time, I should practice more before I present my t-talk. Bell
I believe the TTalk for impact project was not about the end goal or the final destination but about the journey and the path to the end result. I am glad I had the opportunity to select a global issue that I was genuinely passionate about as it enhanced the entire experience. This journey was about discovering something I am passionate about and learning how I can make an impact on the world. Throughout the researching and pitch stages, I began to truly enjoy discovering different solutions and reading about innovations that are helping change the world. It was fascinating to learn about all these people making a difference in the world, and it inspired me to attempt to make a change as well. This task didn't feel like homework. I looked forward to researching and learning more about my issue every day and this is the factor that made this project so enjoyable. Hirad
The opportunity to express myself and my passions through the medium of my choice has been an extremely beneficial experience and I thank my teacher for giving me this chance. Nathan
I really enjoyed this unit and especially our TTalk because it really made me even more passionate about my topic and so many other's topics. During this time I also stated that I have dealt with anxiety and not many people knew that about me, but now I feel so much more comfortable and like myself. Diba
I’m looking forward to sharing some of this at Connect2019 in Niagara Falls a few weeks. I am also excited to champion 5 of my students who will be presenting on the TTalks for Impact at next month’s YES (Youth EdTech Summit) for YRDSB.
Here is a gallery of photographs from their TTalks for Impact: