Katie Schneider
English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Listening
  • NE ELA
  • Persuasion
  • Persuasive
  • Rhetoric
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    Media Formats:
    Audio, Text/HTML, Video

    Education Standards

    Listening, Persuasion, and Rhetoric with TED Talks

    Listening, Persuasion, and Rhetoric with TED Talks


    This English Language Arts lesson plan for 11th graders focuses on listening skills, persuasion, and rhetoric connected to TED talk videos. It addresses the following NE state standards: NE.LA 12.4.1.A; NE.LA 12.4.2.B; NE.LA 12.3.3.C; NE.LA 12.2.1.B

    The lesson will take about 40-50 minutes.

    Listening, Argument, and Rhetoric with TED Talks

    Listening, Argument, & Rhetoric with TED Talks

    Step 1: Select one of the five Ted Talks below, or explore a few more from the following list: (the red text is hyperlinked!)

    1. Cameron Russell: Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model Amelia Browne, a student in San Francisco, writes about why it inspired her: “Her story allowed me to further my understanding of the privilege and opportunity I’ve been given by today’s society. I was able to better comprehend how I use those qualities to create change for the generations to come so that there is not inherent privilege, and instead compassion and acceptance.”

    2. Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership San Francisco student Isabella Scal believes in the message Drew Dudley is trying to spread, and says: “Small acts of kindness can change someone’s life, and each person in their own way positively affects the people around them. This talk has made me appreciate my peers and elders so much more because I know that they help(ed) to shape me into the person I was, I am, and I will be. I was so inspired by his talk that I told my friends and family how much I value their presence in my life, and I will continue to cherish their love and support unconditionally.”

    3. Angela Lee Duckworth: Grit: the power of passion and perseverance Several students recommend this talk. Koshi Joshi from Georgia says that this talk had a powerful impact on her, by teaching that “learning comes with effort and hard work, and that working hard is the key to success.” Meanwhile, Juwon Pade from Connecticut agrees with ”the idea that hard work and determination make a huge impact.”

    4. Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen Julian Treasure’s talk is another top pick by students. High schooler Karol Dobrowolski from Poland says that she took Julian’s advice — and it helped her prepare to give her TED-Ed Club talk.

    5. Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids This talk is a favorite for teachers and students alike, as Adora Svitak reminds us why it’s so important to listen to youth voices.

    Step 2: Watch, listen, enjoy (and take notes if you need to)!


    Step 3: Complete the chart below (ANSWER IN COMPLETE SENTENCES):

    What is the title of the TED Talk?


    Who is the speaker?


    What is the "thesis" (main idea) of the TED talk? (One-two sentences)


    What persuasive writing techniques can you see in the speaker's message? (using hooks, repetition, empathy, comparisons, evidence, etc). 


    Did you find this speaker to be effective? Why/why not? What makes the speaker good or bad?


    What is the most important thing that you heard in this TED talk? Why was it important? How does this TED talk apply to your life?