Note: This post is an assignment for a School Library Media/Materials course.


Jansen, F. (2015, March). How to land on a comet [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/fred_jansen_how_to_land_on_a_comet

Qualitative Analysis (Text Complexity measure analyzed using SCASS/Achieve the Core):

This Ted Talk can is moderately complex.

Text Structure: The connections between some ideas or events are implicit or subtle but the organization is evident and generally sequential or chronological. Text features directly enhance the understanding of content. Graphics, tables, charts, and pictures support or are integral to understanding the text.

Language Features: The language is explicit and easy to understand with some occasions for more complex meaning. The language is contemporary, familiar, and conversational and rarely overly academic despite the content. There are many complex sentences with several subordinate phrases or clauses and transition words.

Purpose: The purpose of the talk is unambiguously stated, clear, concrete, and fairly narrowly focused.

Knowledge Demands: The talk relies on common practical knowledge and some discipline-specific content knowledge. The content includes a mix of simple and more complicated, abstract ideas. There are few references or allusions to other texts.

In the case of Ted Talks, the media’s grammar (construction) is more subtle than in films or other video. There is no editing in these videos to convey a specific story. With Ted Talks, the grammar is conveyed through lighting, camera angles (including shots of the audience’s reactions) and any visual media the speaker provides. In the case of speaker provided media, it is presented on a large screen behind the speaker. The size and position of the screen tells of the content’s importance.


Curricular Content Standards:

AASL 21st Century Standards:

1.1.1 Follow an inquiry-based process in seeking knowledge in curricular subjects, and make the real-world connection for using this process in own life.

1.1.8 Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry.

2.1.1 Continue an inquiry-based research process by applying critical-thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge.

3.1.1 Conclude an inquiry-based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the learning.

4.1.1 Read, view, and listen for pleasure and personal growth.

Common Core Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.5 Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.6 Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, defining the question the author seeks to address.

What I enjoy about Ted Talks is that they tend to make the inaccessible accessible. For example, the idea of landing on a comet is not simple and yet Fred Jansen manages to make the idea fairly easy to understand for the majority of viewers. Bringing a video like this into the classroom can help students understand what all the information they learn can build up to in the future. Sometimes science and math information seems to be taught in a vacuum. Talks like this can fill that space and provide practical implications for knowledge.