Sunday, May 04, 2008

YouTube as Writing Prompt

Many students with learning challenges struggle with writing and dread the Monday morning weekend journal entry assignment. They may have a difficult time describing their weekend or prefer an alternative activity.

Looking for a creative alternative? How about offering the opportunity to write a response to a YouTube video? Use YouTube as a writing prompt - or ask them to share a favorite online video and explain why it's a favorite. So many possibilities!

Here are a few videos to get you started:


Elephant Self-Portrait

One of my personal favorites - "Charlie Bit Me"

Do you have a recommendation?


Unknown said...


Just caught this via twitter. What grade levels do you use this with? I am in the midst of working with a group of teachers in creating a new writing class--one that uses all genres in all subject areas--and this is a natural fit for the topics they will cover. We are looking at 6th-8th grade.

Karen Janowski said...

I think this can be used with all age levels depending upon how it is framed. Ask leading questions related to the videos themselves.
My experience is that kids with learning struggles hate to write or at least avoid it as much as possible. This gives them the opportunity to write about a preferred subject, if they choose a videom which at least gets them writing. And that's the best way to begin to improve your writing skills - just write!

Scott McLeod said...

Okay, I'm not going to leave a substantive comment, but I AM going to say that I loved 'Charlie bit me!' Awesome!

Tim said...

I really like this idea. Putting it in the idea bank for next year!

Anonymous said...

Great idea and I think Charlie Bit Me is great. I'd be very interested to hear how it goes and what kind of writing students do in response. It's been around already but I like this video too:

Anonymous said...

I like the concept of using video in the classroom, but I do wonder about the appropriateness of YouTube in the classroom. Now, listen, I am not one of those who agrees in the blockades of filters coming from the Superintendent's Office.
But I do not always like the links that YouTube puts into its content, leading kids to questionable videos because, in the end, YouTube is not designed for schools, right?
I wonder if you could do the same kind of writing activities using TeacherTube or some alternative site?
But, as I said, I love your idea here and I think young writers would certainly be engaged in writing to a video prompt.
Take care

irasocol said...

I've never used YouTube at first, though we have dug into it to get a sense of the past, old advertisements for example, etc. But I'll pass along one of my favorite internet prompts - Google Earth or Google Maps, close in on any city - preferably an unfamiliar one, let the writing begin with one character walking from here to there. What will he/she see? Do? Then they can search for street details, from bus schedules to what's on sale at the market, to what's the menu of the restaurant. I've seen it become quite the amazing experience.

- Ira Socol

Barry Bachenheimer said...


Great idea. I'm in the midst of a semi-battle right now about whether YouTube should be blocked in our districyt. (Currently it is not)

This is good fuel for positive uses.

However, I agree with Kevin's comments about the video links that YouTube pops up. I wish we could have the system wide option to get rid of that!


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Samuel Sennott said...

Karen, I can't wait to send you our extensive writing setups using video as a motivator. We have been designing a whole curriculum for our writing camp surrounding this concept! So funny how we are often on the same wavelength!

Here is one of the proof of concept lessons I designed: ttp://

Anonymous said...

I think this would be a great idea, especially for those students who struggle with things to write about. Sometimes seeing things sparks kids imaginations to respond to the videos differently than what we might imagine. I think extreme precaution would need to be used if going down the YouTube avenue because there are a lot of things on YouTube that you do not want students to be seeing. Also, YouTube is blocked in many school districts because of some of the content that it displays. I think if you were to pick out certain videos for students to make comments on that would be away that you know they were being safe on the Internet. Overall, I am interested in seeing how this would work in a classroom. ueybdmoy

Anonymous said...


What a great idea! I love using journals with my students. I think one of the most challenging aspects of journals is finding topics for those students who need prompts to write in their journals. I like the idea of incorporating technology with journal writing. It would be really interesting to read students reactions and to know what videos they find amusing. Maybe those videos could be used for future journal topics. Now that the seed has planted to use You-tube for a journal topic, I think it would be interesting to have students watch an online video for writing topic in a writer's workshop.

Anonymous said...


We now have nearly five weeks of working this concept as the forefront of our camp and it is holding up very well.

I look forward to reporting hard data on the concept to you over the next few years.

Check out our wikispace of "approved" videos: