“Have you seen this Ted Talk?”

That is an invitation just as likely to be rejected as it is to be accepted. These days, we have thousands of Ted Talks (over 93,000 according to an estimate from one Quora contributor), not to mention the millions of similar videos populating the internet on YouTube, Vimeo, and other social media sites. It can be overwhelming to find the time to preview them all and find those that are the most meaningful to our context. If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves watching yet another cat video. That’s a serious hole to fall into!

But when the invitation comes from a trusted friend in your community, the likelihood of actually watching the talk and finding value in it increases. Enter the TED talk below. It came highly recommended from a member of the Curriculum Trak community, and we found it to be filled with too many applications not to share. The title alone would capture the typical educator’s attention, but in his talk, Josh Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns shares his own journey as a lifelong learner. To be clear, Green is not discussing curriculum mapping specifically. But, he is clearly discussing the value of a map to our learning journey. We wanted to highlight some of the connections and leave you to make others of your own.

First, one of the main points of his talk is to focus on the value of the ever-increasing video resources available on the internet. He even shares some of those resources, some of which he creates, that might help spark engagement and relevance for our students. One of the goals of curriculum mapping is to have a relevant framework (a map) to which resources like these can be attached and used as possible. The best instructional designers (teachers) are always looking for better ways to engage the heads and hearts of their students. In his talk, Green expands on the possibilities for such videos. 

Green goes beyond noting that the internet is rapidly filling with wonderful resources. He highlights the value of being connected to a true learning community and how, increasingly, there are learning communities surrounding these internet-based resources. Comments, discussion boards, and other avenues not only allow students to connect with the latest and greatest ideas of authors and experts in a variety of fields, but they also allow for real engagement and collaboration among other interested parties including those authors and experts. Green says he hangs out in the comments of his own YouTube videos to interact with his audience. What an opportunity! Obviously, there are safeguards we need to put in place around such engagement in a school setting, but the benefits to be gained through the connections with thought-leaders in our world today are also worth exploring. At the very least, we need to maximize the value of a learning community by engaging in, promoting, and encouraging life-long learning. Curriculum mapping can help support that in instructional teams. 

Green begins and ends his talk with a cartography analogy. The applications to instructional planning (and curriculum mapping) are quite profound throughout his talk. For us, it underscores the value of curriculum mapping as a practice. The quote below seems to capture it best: 

“The great thing about imagining learning as cartography instead of imagining it as arbitrary hurdles that you have to jump over is that you see a bit of coastline and that makes you want to see more.”

– John Green


Enjoy the talk! 


Editor’s Note: If you have similar resources you believe the Curriculum Trak network would find helpful, consider sharing those on the Curriculum Trak Facebook and Twitter pages.