The 20 most-watched TED Talks to date

TED Blog

TED is dedicated to ideas worth spreading. And that leaves many wondering exactly which ideas have been spread the most widely in the six years that TEDTalks videos have been available online. Here, a list of the 20 most-watched talks on all the platforms we track:, YouTube, iTunes, embed and download, Hulu and more, as of November 2012.

From education to brain function to inspiring messages to techno-possibilities, this list represents quite a breadth of topics.

  1. Sir Ken Robinsonsays schools kill creativity (2006): 14,850,200 views
  2. Jill Bolte Taylor‘s stroke of insight (2008): 11,225,783
  3. Pranav Mistry on the thrilling potential of SixthSense (2009): 9,897,347
  4. David Gallo‘s underwater astonishments (2007): 8,204,051
  5. Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense (2009): 7,747,690
  6. Tony Robbins asks Why we do what we do (2006): 7,564,235
  7. Simon Sinek on how great leaders inspire action (2010): 7,539,516
  8. Brene Brown talks about the power of vulnerability (2010): 5,861,510
  9. Steve Jobs on how to…

View original post 123 more words


Girls in girls’ schools: themes in current education research

Tonight I attended an awesome talk about girls’ education hosted by the Alliance of Girls’ Schools. Girls’ education and female leadership really excites me. Kate Broadley had compiled lots of research about girls in education and a few ideas really struck a chord with me:

– The research shows that girls in single-sex education perform higher academically than any other cohort (boys in single-sex education, girls in co-ed, boys in co-ed).

– The idea that a ‘female brain’ and ‘male brain’ is a myth! Current neuroscience research shows that there are few differences between female and male brains. Same with the idea of ‘left’ and ‘right’ sides of brains. Therefore we need to be aware of our own bias when interacting with students and our expectations of them. I need to do more reading on this!

– Girls are not engaging in STEM (science/technology/engineering/mathematics) and why is this? It is a bit of a vicious circle – girls in primary and early secondary school aren’t ‘turning on’ and engaging in STEM areas, then are not following through with senior school/graduate study, they are not represented in jobs and senior management positions, therefore girls do not have role-models in the STEM areas.

– The research also shows that after university, women are disproportionally under-represented in boards, as CEOs etc. Why is this? We discussed so many possible factors – gender bias from both men and women, the impact of childbirth and time away from the workforce, different attributes fostered in men and women (ambition and risk-taking generally associated to be ‘masculine’ attributes).

– As a generalisation, women want to make a positive difference in the world and men want a career then to make a positive difference as a sideline.

– Parents have the biggest influence on their children of the opposite sex. So dads have the biggest impact on their daughters, and mothers have the biggest impact for the sons. So our dads are so important in encouraging their daughters to become strong, resilient women.

– We discussed the idea of ‘risk-taking’. Girls feel more comfortable to take risks (putting up their hands in class as an example) when with girls only. Interestingly, before applying for a job, women will generally want to make sure they meet 80% of the job criteria, whereas men will be happy with meeting 40% of the job criteria before they give it a crack. So how can we encourage our girls to become risk-takers (in a positive sense)? In our school, we have Learner Profile Attributes (LPAs) in our middle school, and one of them is ‘Risk-Taker’. I think we, as teachers, need to use this language all the time in our interactions with our students. For example, I say to my students, ‘Be a risk-taker girls! Answer this question! It doesn’t matter if you’re wrong, just give it a go!’ But what other things could we do?

I’m waiting on the PowerPoint slides which contains all the references – so will post as soon as I can!

Effective Questioning

I’ve been thinking a lot about class discussions and effective questioning techniques this week. One of my goals this year is to incorporate higher-level questions which will encourage richer discussions and deeper levels of thinking. Generally in class, I pose questions to establish students’ prior knowledge before we start a topic, to revise what we did last topic, or to check for understanding. But what kind of questions can I ask that will lead to better discussions? And am I asking my questions in the right way? As I discovered whilst reading “What are the tactics of effective questioning?” (Wragg, R. & Brown, G., 2001), there are many elements to consider in order to ask effective questions.  

This reading highlights the key tactics involved when asking questions:

  1. Structuring;
  2. Pitching and putting clearly;
  3. Directing and distributing;
  4. Pausing and pacing;
  5. Prompting and probing;
  6. Listening to replies and responding;
  7. Sequencing.

 I’m particularly interested in Directing and distributing, and sequencing questions.

Directing and distributing

It is tempting to always allow the keenest and most able students to answer, they always have their hands up and keep the discussion moving along. But how do I encourage the shy, less-able or disengaged students to contribute to a class discussion?  I sometimes ask them directly, or pick on a random student to answer, but I don’t want them to feel mortified having to answer in front of the whole class.  Occasionally when I ask a question, I get students to discuss their answers in pairs, then in their table groups, then finally we expand the discussion to the whole class. This allows those students a chance to express their thoughts in a less-threatening environment. Wragg and Brown (2001) raise the question of “whether teachers should only call on pupils whose hands are up.” But in their research, most teachers seem to be opposed to this tactic.

Sequencing questions

There are different types of sequencing questions. Extending and lifting, the circular path, from narrow to broad, broad to narrow, the random walk. I’m particularly interested in the idea of extending and lifting. Extending involves asking a series of questions at the same level before lifting the level of questions to the next higher level. I could use Bloom’s Taxonomy here – start with knowledge or recall questions then move to comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. After a quick Internet search, I found a document with different types of questions for each level.

My goal this week? Incorporate at least one higher-level question in my English class. Allow the students to discuss with a pair, then table groups, then class discussion.


Read more: Wragg, R. & Brown, G. (2001). What are the tactics of effective questioning? In Questioning in the secondary school (pp. 27-39).  New York: Routeldge Falmer Press. 

My first blog

I am a second year French and English teacher. I love teaching! I have wanted to be a teacher since I was at school and am very passionate about education. My personal and professional mentor inspired me to start my own blog, after she felt re-invigorated through her own blogging process. As the madness of my first year of teaching has passed, I now have a bit of time to reflect on my own practice. I intend to re-read research articles gathered from my Teaching Diploma with fresh eyes and a bit of experience behind me, and without the time pressure of writing assignments! I loved my time during my Teaching Diploma and learnt a lot, but now feel that I can revisit some of the theories and ideas and put my own spin on them. I think that it is only through experience and continual professional development and self-evaluation that you can truly become, as Hattie describes, an ‘expert’ teacher! So here goes…