Christian Long

The Big Picture


  • Who: 80+ 10th grade English students (both Survey and Honors students).
  • Collective Scope: The students will analyze ALL 600+ of the currently published TED Talks (+ a few strategic TEDx Talks I will select).
  • Individual Scope:  Each student will be assigned 8+ Talks to analyze individually.  These will be assigned on a first-come/first-serve basis based on their research on the TED site.
  • Submissions: They will have to submit one blog entry (aka their summary) each week.  Students will have ‘contributor’ status here on this blog, therefore allowing them to upload/edit any submissions (but the final ‘publication’ will be my responsibility).  Specific writing/grading guidelines will be given to them at the launch of the project.  Additionally, each student will give a TEDxProject Talk (see below) and also publicly ‘defend’ specific talks in front of their classmates.
  • Duration:  The overall project will be highlighted during a 7-week period during our 4th quarter.  This will be introduced in late March, but the majority of the work will essentially take place in April & May.

Analytical Work:

  • Written Work: Students will offer a written summary of all 8+ videos they are assigned.  Each summary will be uploaded weekly as an individual blog entry following these simple rules (to guarantee a ‘Gentleman’s C’, so to speak):  1) write respectfully and thoughtfully, 2) write a minimum of 15 sentences, and c) attempt to be “remarkable” — to borrow from TED speaker Seth Godin’s talk — so that visitors will want to “remark” about your post and also consider the video itself.  Beyond that, write in a way that is meaningful and compelling. Period.  Students’ submissions will be individually evaluated based on a) the overall thesis/ideas/creativity/style and b) their writing technique and ‘final’ submission quality.
  • Public Speaking/Presentation: Students will will defend — in front of the class — 2 TED Talks they highly recommend at some point in the 4th quarter; a presentation calendar will be created and made public.  Optional:  I am also contemplating having them live-present one TED Talk that is not  — in their estimation — something they enjoyed or agreed with at first pass (since TED Talks are by their very nature provocative/controversial/risky).

Culminating Project:

  • Give a Talk: Each student will give their own TEDxProject Talk (in Ignite or Pecha Kucha style — 20 slides of 15 to 20 seconds each).  These will done on video, uploaded to YouTube, and then embedded here on the site to be seen by others.  Students will prepare with a ‘global’ audience in mind from day one.
  • Theme: They will use “What Matters (to You)?” as their ‘essential question’ to explore for their own TEDxProject Talk.  Essentially, they will select a topic based on something that truly “matters” to them and craft a 20-slide presentation to go with it.
  • Judges: I am contemplating convening a panel of ‘judges’ (as I did with the “Alice Project“) to give the kids feedback virtually (although not in real-time).

Extra Credit:

  • Choice: Pick any videos you want to do, even if multiple students have done so already.
  • Grade: 3 for a ‘B’ (Survey) or 5 for a ‘B’ (Honors); 6 for an ‘A’ (Survey) or 8 for an ‘A’ (Honors).
  • Guidelines: Follow all writing guidelines as stated above (and in class).

Opportunities to Collaborate:

  • Engage my students directly:  Simply leave comments.  The more the merrier.  They’re moderated but usually published within 24 hrs.
  • Join our CoverItLive chat sessions:  Several times in April & May, we will hold CoverItLive sessions in the evenings (CST or -6GMT) to discuss various TED Talks.  If you’d like to be involved, contact me or just keep an eye out for my Twitter updates (@christianlong) or here on the TEDxProject blog.
  • Become a judge:  While no formal plans have been made at this point, if anyone would like to be on a jury to evaluate the students writing and Talks, please contact me.  If we get a critical mass of interested people, I’ll convene a jury and offer instructions at that point.
  • Present/Submit TEDxProject Talks (MS/HS students only):  If teachers would like to have their own students present/upload a TEDxProject Talk w/ the “What Matters (to You)?” theme, please contact me.  Instead of creating a formal process, I’d rather discuss various options with each teacher/class to fit their abilities/restrictions/interest.
  1. Count me in to help provide some feedback to the students. This is a superb, global idea I’d love to see colleagues elsewhere take up.

    • Ewan: It’d be our pleasure to have you join the conversation (student blog-post by blog-post or on a larger level)…and to invite your network in Europe and beyond to join. Let me know, as well, if you’d be game for a Skype video chat with my kids sometime in the next few weeks to talk about it live. Love to make the introduction!

      Oh, and check out our TEDxProject Facebook page, too…where you can get regular updates (of blog posts, etc) right into your FB feed:!/pages/TEDxProject/107395649300039 Feel free to “fan” it!

  2. Great project. I am, with your permission, going to adapt it to suit the needs of my Grade 11 Computer Studies classes.

    Peter McAsh
    St. Marys, Ontario, Canada

    • Peter: Thank you so very much for touching base here (and via Twitter, too) this week. So pleased the project as a concept can play a small role in a larger project you’re developing with your students. Please keep us informed.

      And if you’d ever like to do a Skype video chat with our schools/kids, let me know! Could be a great moment to share as the kids collectively become ‘expert’ on various TED Talks.

      Oh, and check out our TEDxProject Facebook page, too…where you can get regular updates (of blog posts, etc) right into your FB feed:!/pages/TEDxProject/107395649300039 Feel free to “fan” it!

  3. I run the TEDx initiative at TED. What an fantastic project. Any chance you would be interested in doing the TEDx Project Talks as an official TEDx event? It would make a great TEDx case study to post to our website.

    Any interest in joining:


  4. Lara: Can’t begin to tell you what a lovely surprise it was to see your message to us today. Thank you for taking time to take a look at the work my students have already done. And please tell the entire TED and TEDx team how much we appreciate this opportunity to even have access to the Talks. I can’t even begin to tell you how positive the student reactions have been since they started “diving down the rabbit hole” in pursuit of various TED inspiration. One student — after seeing Jal’s “War Child” presentation has already decided to start a student organization focused on that topic. Another kid said to me yesterday, “I have to tell you that I hate this. I’m not supposed to ‘like’ school this much, especially in the spring when I’m thinking about summer coming. These TED Talks have ruined everything. I can’t stop watching them. And I really don’t have time for this right now, but I just can’t stop watching them!”

    Needless to say, both brought smiles to my face.

    Hopefully (as time permits) you’ll have a chance to join the kids in conversation via comments as they analyze 640 Talks in the next 7 weeks. Over 150 will be published early next week, with another 100+ done each week until we hit our goal of 640. And if you think any of the TED speakers themselves would enjoy connecting with the kids, please feel free to pass the links on.

    Oh, and check out our TEDxProject Facebook page, too, where you can get regular updates (of blog posts, etc) right into your FB feed:!/pages/TEDxProject/107395649300039 Feel free to “fan” it!

    As to your question/invitation, what do you have in mind specifically? Is there a specific TEDx event (or events) that you think would be a good venue for sharing this project and the students’ analysis?

    In spirit, “yes” is my answer, but please fill me in on the specifics when time allows. Look forward to learning more.

  5. I would be happy to discuss some ideas. Do you have any time this week to talk?

    • Lara: Thanks for your patience. Just this minute realized I never replied to your comment. Been head-down trying to get this first round of 160+ student entries reviewed/formatted/published.

      I’d love to talk with you (and follow-up with you on your TEDxY posting, too). What works for you in general as you look at the remainder of this week and into next? I’m generally able to get on the phone 3:30-5:00 CST, but we can find other times, too depending on your schedule.

  6. I was a big fan of your Alice Project and am moving my teaching in this direction. I have been looking for a way to use the TED talks in my class and see this as a great way to do so. I would like to use your project with my grade 10 class to end this school year. I would be looking to start this as early as next week.

    Richard Farmer

  7. What a lovely note to receive, Richard. Thanks for taking time to share that. If you do end up using our TEDxProject concept, please share it with us. And if your kids want to throw their own voices into the mix here, let them comment. In the meantime, good luck!

  8. Christian,
    You and the students might be interested in this – TEDxRedmond set for Sept 18, 2010 in Redmond, Washington.

    Unlike any previous TEDx event, this TEDx will be completely planned, organized, and run by youth. The organizers and speakers will be youth in grades 6-10 who are making a difference in their communities.

    A group of GenYES students from Western Washington area is working with Adora Svitak to plan this event. Adora is 12 years old and the youngest person to ever speak at TED. Her TED talk, What adults can learn from kids, is available online.

    While there have been other TEDx events focusing on youth, this will be the first one planned completely by youth and where ALL the speakers will be young people in grades 6-10. Planning meetings have already begun.

    Love to hear what you and your students think of this idea! Please visit the website and watch the video invitation from Adora.

    • Holy, cow, Sylvia…I completely let your kind/gracious message get lost in the rush of the project. I so recall (now) reading it when it first came in, and then here I am weeks later realizing I never hit reply as I intended.

      Shame on me.

      Most importantly, congrats on TEDxRedmond…and the 360degree focus on youth voices. Fantastic! And how wonderful that your GenYES kids are working directly with Adora. Lovely!!!

      The fact that its completely planned by kids? The best part…without exception!

      I’ll make sure I post the link to our site so others can find it, too! Thanks for sharing it.

      And again, my apologies for the late reply. The downside to a busy, busy season, sadly.

  9. Christian,

    I applaud you for this fabulous “experiment.” Brilliant. I look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor 🙂


    • Much thanks, Al. The kids have been working very hard and it was an honor — recently — for our project to be named an official TEDx license by TED.

  10. Christian,
    I got to know of your project through TED’s Facebook page and then, after browsing for a while, left a comment on one of your student’s entry (Bobby Mac Ferrin’s).
    I am a teacher in Argentina and I am currently teaching seniors in a Global Perspectives course (IGCSE Curriculum). I love TED and I would be honoured to borrow/adapt your idea to cater to my Argentinean students, if that is possible.
    And being one of TED’s translators around the world, I would be delighted to assist you in any way if you wish to carry your own TED talks a bit further and have one or two subtitled.

    • What a terrific message to received, Paula. Thank you! And its just lovely that it came via a mention on Facebook; terrific to hear that.

      Please feel free to borrow/adapt the project as you see fit. If you’d mention where you got it, that’d be great, but otherwise trust your judgment.

      We were just named an official TEDx ‘event’ by TED, so hopefully other educators will be able to borrow the spirit/protocol of the project as they need, too.

      As for the translation offer, wow! We’ll be uploading our own talks in the next few weeks…so I’m not sure what we’ll have for a little while, but I love the idea.

      Thank you.

      Contact me anytime via my email: christianlong2000 [at]


  11. […] The Big Picture: Summary: Who: 80+ 10th grade English students (both Survey and Honors students). Collective Scope: The students will analyze ALL 600+ of the currently published TED Talks (+ a few strategic TEDx Talks I will select). Individual Scope:  Each student will be assigned 8+ Talks to analyze individually. […]

  12. […] out that tech mentor that we just discussed. Tech events to check out: Digigirlz, TEDxKids @SMU, TEDxClassroom, […]

  13. Christian,

    TEDxHomer Teens Team love that you are finding ways to integrate the TED & TEDx model into your students’ learning. Check out TEDxYouth@Homer on Saturday, September 10, 2011. TEDxRedmond and TEDxSpartanburg and 18 other TEDx events will be happening 9-10-11. If you have an IPhone, you can download the TEDxHomer app-created by the teens. Happy tweeting to #TEDxHomer…

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