W3 TED talk by Temple Grandin

Before I watched this TED talk given by Temple Grandin, I looked her up on Wikipedia to get some background knowledge who of she is. In 2010, she was in Time magazines top 100 most influential people in the “Heroes’ Category, she’s a best-selling author, a consultant in the livestock industry, a professor of animal sciences, and an autistic activist. She created the “hug box,” a device used to calm people with autism, and she has an award winning biographical film. In other words, she’s successful in anything she pursues which really makes me curious about how she lives her life. It also makes it obvious that her photo realistic visual mind is positively benefitting the entire population.

This week, the main message I got from our course was that through establishing a Universal Design for Learning (UDL), we can reach every student and hopefully motivate him or her to be motivated in their learning, which will lead them to getting the best education they can get. Through differentiated instruction, which means shaping the course content so that every student is experiencing the content in his or her optimal learning way, teachers are doing their best to educate all students. This idea of differentiated instruction ties in very well with Grandin’s TED talk.

Although Grandin jumped around very quickly in her talk, I feel that she really stressed that the world needs all types of thinkers. She described 3 types of thinkers:

1) Photo realistic visual thinkers who are good for designing and problem solving

2) Pattern thinkers who are good at music and math

3) Verbal Minds who are good with words and social skills

As a teacher, I would teach my lesson trying to appeal to each of these 3 types of minds. For example, if I was teaching a simple addition math lesson to 2nd graders, I could give concrete objects to help photo realistic visual thinkers. I could give written out math problems to pattern thinkers and word problems to verbal minded-thinkers. Acknowledging and adapting lessons to each type of mind will lead to the best outcome for all my students.

I like how she described people with autism as bottom-up thinkers. When they look at the whole, they see the small parts that make it up. I liked how she wasn’t afraid of what other thought, like when she was talking about designing the cattle-holding facilities and got into the cages to look around and see what the animal saw. I also liked how she brought up how important mentors are. I think every teacher can be a mentor to all of their students by not only teaching all students to the best of their abilities, but by forming a personal connection with every student.

Finally, something that I will definitely use in my future special education classroom is the idea of finding what the students like, and using it in different ways to engage the student. In the video, Grandin uses the example of a student who likes race cars, so the teacher would have the student practice writing through writing stories about racecars, or in math class, have the student solve problems that include race cars.

I really liked this video that I watched (which you might want to show in class) after I watched the TED talk. I found many similarities between myself and the description of the visual thinker from the video. I can remember in high school, I was great at history, even though I didn’t study that much. I think it’s because when it came to learning war history about World War 2 for example, I would envision the different battles in chronological order which allowed me to remember important dates, figures, and turning points in the war. As a teacher, I’ll incorporate a lot of visuals to help those students who need images to master material.


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