Google, Friend of the SLP, Part 8 – YouTube!
Did you know YouTube is actually an extension of Google? Meaning that you already have an account on YouTube if you have a Gmail account? How convenient!
Now before I go further and you shut me off (haha!) I know there are a few issues with using YouTube in school settings, namely that:
- Many school districts block YouTube, and
- Clinicians are understandably wary to let students wander onto YouTube where they will most likely become ensnared in the Forest of Inappropriateness.
In the course of this post I will suggest strategies to address both of those issues, because I believe that YouTube, when used judiciously, can be a very helpful and powerful clinical tool. Let's first of all state the obvious: Kids Love YouTube, and so appreciate the opportunity to "watch TV" as part of their therapy. They appreciate this so much that they often don't realize that we are "tricking" them into learning while watching, and that indeed that what we allowed them to watch was very short (as YouTube videos almost always are).
The learning context comes from the selection of videos that are visual, language-rich, and humorous and/or musical, thus engaging kids in using both sides of their brain, a sound application of brain-based learning principles. A good YouTube video, for me, serves the same function as a good storybook in therapy: a context for you to utilize language-enhancing pre- and post-activities.
Where can you find videos that are therapy-appropriate? I'd start with a few "channels" (a YouTube channel is a page that gives you access only to videos by a specific creator or collector), for example:
Simple Kids Crafts— visual how-tos of simple craft projects, often portrayed wordlessly and providing a nice opportunity to elicit procedural language.
They Might Be Giants Friday Night Podcasts— great quirky and visual music videos about letters, numbers and categories.
Schoolhouse Rock Kids— EVERY Schoolhouse Rock video ever, organized into subchannels of grammar, history, etc. Veer away from the grammar channel and synch with the science curriculum to teach kids about the 9 planets (well, 8) with "Interplanet Janet." Categories and Sequences Galore!
Houston Zoo — Like a trip to the zoo! Watch animal videos and have children describe their appearance, habitats and behaviors!
For a whole lot more great channels for kids, check out Social Times' nice post on the topic.
Using channels is one way to control what kids see on YouTube — you might even want to make your own channel (won't your kids think you are totally cool?). Another simple trick is to use a website like SafeShare or ViewPure — both of these tools allow you to enter in the web address of a particular YouTube video you would like to show to kids, and receive a page with ONLY that video on it, and nothing to distract them or lead them astray.
Finally, well, what to do if your district has made the (I think, dunderheaded) decision to block this wonderful resource instead of investing the time in teaching kids how to use it responsibly? Try KeepVid, which lets you actually DOWNLOAD a YouTube video at home, so you can play it at school without going to the YouTube site. If you don't have a laptop you bring back and forth to school, a USB drive with a few GB of memory (cheap!) should solve this problem for you, and you haven't broken any rules at all.
Happy Watching! Please let us know in the comments if you have discovered any other good YouTube channels or have a video you love to use with students.