TedTalks: senior students’ presentations

I devised the following activity in 2014 with my senior class and since it proved a huge success among the students, I proposed it to my two senior classes who accepted it willingly so that we carried it out from February to March. Once a week three students have presented to the rest of the class a TED Talk of their choiceThis activity was meant to make them improve their competence of public speaking and their oral skills for the final exam.  By Monday 5.p.m. they were required to post the link of the chosen TedTalk video in a Google shared documentso that everybody could watch it and come to class ready to ask a question.

ASSIGNMENT: During your presentation – max. 10 minutes:

    1. Introduce and summarize the main ideas of Talk (you can use a Power Point uploaded onto Google Drive or Google slides or Prezi or Emaze)
    2. Show an excerpt (max 2 minutes)
    3. Express your personal point of view on the topic (critical sense and thinking).
  • The teacher & schoolmates will ask you questions – 5 minutes after your 10 m’ speech.

Here are the links to the TedTalks websites. If you’ve got an iPad, there’s also the App TedTalk with subtitles.http://www.ted.com/playlists/129/ted_under_20;   http://www.ted.com https://youtu.be/uAKXTZEFpgE   https://youtu.be/idjJMqKGEDI


NOW, WRITE YOUR NAME & TITLE OF TEDTALK, paste the link of the video and of your presentation in the Padlet of your class I’ve just created. This way they’re all shareable & visible as a sort of class Portfolio for the exam. 

I must tell you that I’ve enjoyed your presentations very much and I’m very proud of you all, as I’m completely aware of the tremendous improvement you’ve made in these four years (one in the case of 5BSca) together. Even the shiest ones among you, have surprised me and the whole class, while you were talking with self-confidence and enthusiasm about something that sparked your curiosity and was, therefore, meaningful and relevant to you since not chosen by the teacher 🙂  Some topics were totally new to me and I’ve discovered new lands and learnt new things, which is what I love the most about my job. So, thank you and … keep it up 🙂


S.T.Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Today we’re going to read the first part of a  beautiful long poem, a ballad by the romantic poet S.T.Coleridge who, as you already know, was Wordsworth’s best friend.

STEP 1: Introduction the author and his work. You’ve already watched the video presentation as home assignment.

STEP 2: We’ll watch a video of the ballad. You’ll find a translation of the first part of the Ballad by S.T.Coleridge. Look at the illustrations by GUSTAVE DORE’. (Trad. It. di Franco Buffoni). Music by King Crimson, ‘Sailor’s Tale’.

Here’s the complete Ballad in Englishcon traduzione in Italiano a fronte).

At home to revise it or if you’ve missed class, you can listen again to the poem while reading the text in Italian.


The second video is a version read by the famous actor Orson Wells. Part 1

If you want you can have a look at this video of the ballad with the soundtrack by Iron Maiden. 

When you’ve studied the text, try to TAKE the QUIZ.

In editions where it is included, the LATIN EPIGRAPH serves as a semi-thesis for the poem. It is a Latin quote from Burnet’s “Archaeologiae Philosophicae (1692), which Coleridge translates as follows:  “I readily believe that there are more invisible than visible Natures in the universe. But who will explain for us the family of all these beings, and the ranks and relations and distinguishing features and functions of each? What do they do? What places do they inhabit? The human mind has always sought the knowledge of these things, but never attained it. Meanwhile I do not deny that it is helpful sometimes to contemplate in the mind, as on a tablet, the image of a greater and better world, lest the intellect, habituated to the petty things of daily life, narrow itself and sink wholly into trivial thoughts. But at the same time we must be watchful for the truth and keep a sense of proportion, so that we may distinguish the certain from the uncertain, day from night.”

As regards the ALBATROSS:

  1. There’s a reference to the Albatross also in the Pink Floyd ‘Echoes:

“Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air

And deep beneath the rolling waves, in labyrinths of coral caves,

The echo of a distant tide comes willowing across the sand,

And everything is green and submarine.”

2. In Mary Shelley’s “Frankestein” the doctor promises his sister he shan’t kill any albatross.

“[…] I cannot describe to you my sensations on the near prospect of my undertaking. It is impossible to communicate to you a conception of the trembling sensation, half pleasurable and half fearful, with which I am preparing to depart. I am going to unexplored regions, to “the lend of mist and snow;” but I shall kill no albatross, therefore do not be alarmed for my safety. […]” .

3. During the nineteenth century, in the maritime folklore sailors believed that their old mates who died at sea were reborn as albatrosses.

4. Finally to the Maori, the albatross was a spiritual symbol of peace, beauty and power. Its feathers and bones get a break and people who wear pendants made of feathers or bones were the same qualities as albatross’ ones. Garlands of feathers sometimes adorned the prow of waka taua (war canoes).

5. In Hawaiian mythology the albatross appears in stories as intercessors come from the heaven.

Here’s what I found about the albatross in music. You may know some of the groups 🙂 (source WIKIPEDIA

La band Indie-Rock Guided by Voices cita un albatros nella canzone “Peep Hole”, inclusa nell’album Bee Thousand del 1994. Il testo è il seguente:« give me the cost of the albatross and wear it ’round your neck for size don’t let it get you down » « dimmi quanto costa l’albatros e indossalo avvolgendotelo al collo per provarne la misura non lasciarti abbattere »  (Bee Thousand, “Peep Hole”)

La band post-Punk Public Image Ltd ha inciso una canzone chiamata “Albatross” nell’album “Metal Box”. Il testo include i seguenti versi:

(EN)« getting rid of the albatross sowing the seeds of discontent riding along on the crest of a wave » « liberarsi dell’albatros piantare i semi del malcontento cavalcando la cresta dell’onda » (Public Image Ltd, “Albatross”)

La canzone “Echoes”, della band psychedelic rock/progressive rock Pink Floyd, contenuta nell’album Meddle del 1971, riprende il tema del sublime e dell’incomprensibilità della natura, espresso anche nella ballata di Coleridge. Viene messa in evidenza la solitudine dell’uomo di fronte alle grandiose bellezze della natura, e la sua incapacità di trovare in essa un qualsivoglia scopo. Il testo inizia così:

« Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air/And deep beneath the rolling waves, in labyrinths of coral caves,/The echo of a distant tide comes willowing across the sand,/And everything is green and submarine. »

« Sopra la mia testa l’albatros è sospeso immobile in aria/e in profondità sotto il rollìo delle onde, nel labirinto di grotte coralline/giunge l’eco di una lontana marea, sfilacciandosi tra la sabbia,/ e tutto è verde e sottomarino. »(Pink Floyd, “Echoes”)

(Il musicista sperimentale Momus (Nick Currie), inglese di origini scozzesi, allude a questa metafora nella sua canzone del 1988 “The Charm of Innocence.” Il ritornello è:

« :I was born with the charm of innocence/On my back like a cross/Thorns upon my forehead/Round my neck I wore it/Sometimes a rabbit’s claw/Sometimes an albatross »

Anche  Rickie Lee Jones si riferisce a questa metafora nella sua canzone ‘The Albatross’

“There, there is my ship/Finally come in/I see the mast rolling on the steps/Over the garden wall/I hear the sailor’s call/I see the albatross/And I never want to lose their inspiration”

Anche il gruppo rock punk Bad Religion si riferisce all’albatross nella sua canzone “It’s a Long Way to the Promised Land.” Il testo starts out: “It’s a long way/To the promised land/So you better well know your way/There’s a ship on the ocean/And an albatross who is trying to lead you astray”

Anche Brave Saint Saturn ha una canzone dal titolo “Albatross” in cui si paragona l’albatross con la croce cristiana.”Around my neck there is an albatross./Some people think it looks, looks like a cross,/But it’s not, it’s – well it’s an albatross./There to remind me of who I’ll never be, never be, never be.”

Nella canzone Rebels of the Sacred Heart del gruppo “punk” irlandese/californiano Flogging Molly il cantante Dave King canta:”the albatross hanging round your neck, is the cross you bear for he sins he bleeds”…paragonando l’albatross alla croce Cattolica, essendo la canzone riferita alla vita di un giovanotto ribelle di scuola Cattolica irlandese

La band hardcore/progressive Converge ha scritto una canzone dal titolo “Albatross,” che usa la metafora per descrivere il dispiacere e il senso di colpa provato dopo la morte di cinque amici. Il termine albatross era usato anche nel poema “Snake” di D. H. Lawrence. (fonte Wikipedia)

  •  Has this post helped you study and appreciate Coleridge’s ballad?
  • Do you know any other references to the Albatross in music or literature?