Your Students, You and the Tube! Need a visual for any context? YouTube offers a “social” solution. Get Social
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Get Social  |   September 01, 2015
Your Students, You and the Tube!
Author Notes
  • Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a clinician and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Newton, Mass., and consultant to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, looks at technology “through a language lens.” sean@speechtechie.com
    Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a clinician and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Newton, Mass., and consultant to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, looks at technology “through a language lens.” sean@speechtechie.com×
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Get Social
Get Social   |   September 01, 2015
Your Students, You and the Tube!
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.GS.20092015.np
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.GS.20092015.np
In 2006, TIME Magazine celebrated the advent of social media by naming an unexpected “Person of the Year”—YOU. Thanks to early innovator YouTube, we can all produce and share video content online—either privately or publically. Although we have naturally come to see the importance of filtering that content for educational use, nine years later YouTube remains a hub of sharing videos.
Knowing where to look can bring you a world of visible language that can be used in treatment around building vocabulary, narrative language, understanding curriculum content, and social skills and cognition. In this column, we’ll explore some strategies for getting the most out of YouTube in the coming and future school years.

Knowing where to look can bring you a world of visible language that can be used in therapy around building vocabulary, narrative language, understanding of curriculum content, and social skills and cognition.

Bypass the block
Now, before I lose the small percentage of you who are thinking, “YouTube is blocked in my school, so this information is of no use to me,” there are ways to get around this issue. Blocking social sites in schools primarily ensures that students’ time online is spent productively; however, have the appropriate discussions with colleagues to ensure that using video as a teaching tool is an accepted strategy in your building.
If so, a number of tools allow you to download YouTube videos from another location so that they can be viewed in your school. KeepVid is a free web tool that allows you save videos; simply copy and paste the web address of the video and it will download to your computer. Add downloaded videos to Dropbox if you would like to access them on your iPad at school. “Caching” videos in this way has the added advantage of removing ads and distracting video suggestions, and those who can access YouTube in school can also do so using resources such as ViewPure.
Find useful content
Although students invariably think of watching a video as fun, we can “hack” that experience into an engaging language-learning opportunity with the right sources—and there are plenty of them. YouTube contains a wealth of short video clips from an unlimited range of contexts, and context can always be used as a tool to construct pre- and post-viewing activities targeting your clinical objectives. Some sources of clinically and educationally relevant content are as follows:
  • Children’s TV: From the Schoolhouse Rock series providing overviews of science, grammar and social studies content to material from PBS, much of what we viewed as children—and what this generation views now—is on YouTube to be used as educational contexts. Not sure where to start? Download the YouTube Kids app (free for iOS and Android); even with this “curated for kids” app, preview any videos before using them in treatment.

  • How-tos: Any “how-to” context can be an opportunity to develop categorization, sequencing, use of verbs and other sentence structures. Check out this post from Home Speech Home for examples and lesson plans for using the Discovery Channel’s series of how-to videos.

  • Make academic topics visual: Search curriculum topics to teach the “language underpinnings” of these contexts. The Kid Should See This is a compendium of suggested videos particularly useful for science topics.

  • Advertisements: Most ads airing on television also run on YouTube. They provide contexts for students to make personally relevant language connections as well as teaching narrative and expository text structures. Apps such as YouTube Time Machine (at http://yttm.tv and apps for iOS) provide a search function for commercials and other contexts from past years.

Another meaning of “social”: In her book, book YouCue Feelings: Using Online Videos for Social Learning, SLP Anna Vagin describes how contexts in online videos help clarify “social motion” (or how our actions indicate implied plans) as well as processing of narrative and feelings. She also offers many helpful video and activity suggestions.
As you find material to use in sessions, it’s helpful to create your own lists—not only for later use, but also to share with others. YouTube allows you to create playlists of videos around particular topics or strategies. Pinterest provides a naturally visual way to share (and search for) videos on created boards.
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September 2015
Volume 20, Issue 9