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Laurel School

Middle School: Seventh Grade Social Studies: World War I TED Talk Assignment


Social Studies 7


World War I TED Talk Assignment



Your culminating project for our World War I unit will be to write your own TED talk based on your research of one of the following topics.


You will need to:

  1. Write a 2 - 3 page speech on your chosen topic.

  2. Give a 5-minute speech with accompanying visuals.


Step 1: View & Comment on a TED Talk

  1. Watch a TED talk on a topic that interests you.  You can easily find many TED talks here.

  2. POST the TED talk you viewed, along with a short response, to this padlet.

    1. In your response, answer the following questions:

      1. How did the speaker grab the audience's attention at the beginning of the talk?

      2. What was the THESIS STATEMENT of the talk?

      3. What EVIDENCE did the speaker provide to back up his/her thesis statement?

      4. What VISUALS did the speaker use?


Step 2: Choose a Topic

Choose a topic to research from the list below.  The fire emojis indicate the level of challenge for each topic!





  • Daily life in the trenches

  • The development and use of the tank

  • The use of aircraft

  • Communications: radio, runners, telegraph, and pigeons

  • War dogs/Military animals

  • U-boats

  • Uniforms, camouflage, & fashion

  • Tactics of trench warfare/trench construction

  • Gas warfare

  • The role of women

  • African-American soldiers

  • The Lost Battalion

  • The Sinking of the Lusitania

  • The 1918 influenza pandemic

  • Modern trench warfare & connections to WWI 

  • World War I medicine

  • The Espionage and Sedition Acts

  • Use of propaganda during World War I

  • World War I inspired art

  • Impacts of World War I

  • The end of the war & the rise of fascism

  • A topic of your choice!

  • World War I authors & post-war literature


Step 3: Research

  • You must use at least TWO SOURCES in your research.

  • Before you begin writing your talk, you must turn in:

    • A correctly formatted WORKS CITED page

    • A document with notes listed by topic.  

      • Your notes MUST be put into your own words.  Ms. Moury will be running your speech through the Google Docs plagiarism checker - it will find and highlight any words or phrases that are taken directly from a website or book.

      • The best way to avoid plagiarism is to take two sentences and combine them into one.

        • For example, take the following two sentences:

          • The involvement of women in the war effort did much to change perceptions of the role of women in British society.

          • It had been proved that women were capable of jobs beyond those in traditionally 'female' roles, such as domestic service

        • Here’s how you might combine these two sentences into one new sentence that is NOT plagiarism:

          • During the war, women changed men’s minds about their abilities by taking on jobs that were typically done by men (UK Parliament).

        • If you must use a phrase directly taken from your source, put that phrase in quotation marks.

          • During the war, women changed men’s minds about their abilities by taking on jobs that were not “traditionally female roles” (UK Parliament).

        • Don’t forget to cite your source in parenthesis after your paraphrase or direct quote!


Step 4: Writing Your Speech

  • Speech Expectations

    • Your speech should be 4 - 5 minutes in length.  In addition, you must turn in a 2 - 3 page paper copy of your speech.

    • Your speech must be MEMORIZED.  You may not read from a piece of paper or a computer.  You may have 1 notecard with key points listed (not the entire speech written out).  Points will be deducted from students who do not memorize their speeches.

    • You should also have accompanying visuals.  You MAY NOT write any words on your visuals - they should be pictures that are appropriate to the topic you’re discussing.


How to Write a Speech

  1. Review your notes & create a thesis statement.

    1. A good TED talk doesn’t just share information - it includes a specific argument about the topic.  

      1. BAD thesis statements are BROAD and VAGUE:

        1. War dogs were a big part of World War I.

        2. Women played a role in World War I.

      2. GOOD thesis statements are SPECIFIC and DETAILED:

        1. War dogs like Bruce the messenger dog were key to the allied victory in World War because they allowed troops to communicate efficiently.

        2. Women like Emmeline Pankhurst provided support to the military on the home front and proved to employers that women could work just as hard as men.

  2. Outline & Write Your Speech

    1. Begin with a HOOK.  Openings that work well for TED talks (and other speeches) include:

      1. A heartfelt story that has meaning for the person presenting it

      2. A question that engages the audience (“Have you ever felt like…?”)

      3. An invitation to imagine something (“Think about a time when…”)

      4. A surprising statistic (“Did you know that….”)

    2. Next, transition to your THESIS STATEMENT.  This is the overall point you will make in your speech.

    3. Now it’s time to write the rest of your speech!  Include facts and visuals that will engage your audience and bring your speech to life!

    4. Finally, conclude your speech.  What broader lesson can we, as people from 2021, learn from your specific topic?

  3. Create a Google Slides presentation with VISUALS ONLY to accompany your speech.


Step 5: Memorize & Practice Your Speech

  1. Write the key points from your speech down on your notecard.

  2. This guide to memorizing speeches is quite helpful.

  3. The key to a good presentation is practice - practice as much as you can!

  4. Remember that your speech must be memorized.  In addition, you need visuals to project as you give your speech.  These visuals should have NO WORDS - just pictures!


Project Rubric



9 - 10

7 - 8

6, 5, 4

3, 2, 1


Students understand and express original, creative, and well developed ideas in a logical and creative manner

Detailed ideas are shown throughout in an engaging fashion, using specific examples from research to make point(s) clear


Presentation is very well-focused, informative, and never gets off topic

Ideas use some specific examples from research to make point(s) clear; ideas may or may not be presented in an engaging manner


Presentation is focused, informative, and rarely gets off topic

Ideas need more specific examples; presentation of ideas could be more complete and cohesive • 


Presentation is focused but tends to stray from the topic

Ideas need to be made clearer (if they are stated at all) and/or are not presented in a cohesive fashion at all


Presentation’s lack of focus is distracting; student needs to stay on topic


Students present with appropriate volume levels, clarity and visuals and utilize appropriate body language and eye contact with audience

Student speaks clearly, loudly, and with energy; student does not need/rely upon notes


Student maintains excellent eye contact, uses effective body language


Engaging visuals/ multimedia are used creatively and effectively

Student speaks clearly and loudly, relying very little upon notes


Student maintains effective eye contact, uses appropriate body language 


Appropriate visuals/ multimedia are used effectively

Student speaks clearly and loudly, but needs to rely upon notes less for presentation


Student struggles to maintain eye contact, uses stiff/unanimated body language, 


Visuals/multimedia could be used more appropriately and/or effectively

Needs to speak more clearly & loudly, and/or reliance upon notes is a distracting crutch


Student makes poor eye contact, uses inappropriate body language


Visuals/multimedia need to be used much more in the presentation or are missing entirely

Grammar & Mechanics

Student writing demonstrates a sound understanding of spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

No major errors, speech has been proofread carefully.

Minimal number of errors, speech has been proofread.

Moderate number of errors, a little evidence of cursory proofreading.

Many errors, no evidence of proofreading.

Works Cited & Noodletools