YouTube Tips for Teachers

TwittericonClick here to Tweet this article


youtube_logo-300x225YouTube is an incredibly useful tool – it can explain information, it can explore worlds that children have never seen, it can increase engagement (don’t get me started on schools that block YouTube).

Approach videos the same way you would any other text: with Close Reading (or Close Viewing?).

As with a book excerpt or article, provide prior knowledge, have the students watch the video multiple times – at first all the way through (with a guiding question or two; avoid “cold” exposure to material), then revisit for a specific purpose (e.g. how was the video made? Why did the cinematographer/director choose to make it that way? as well as content-specific questions).

Below are some additional tips and tricks to enhance your use of video in the classroom.

Turn On Closed Captioning

  • Why? Turning closed captioning on while a child watches video content helps children with hearing or auditory-rooted difficulties, but I also frequently recommend closed captioning for students with dyslexia and other reading-based differences. Sound counterintuitive? It has two goals: One is simply to expose children to text in multiple facets of their life since we don’t want children to encourage any thinking where reading = not fun, and videos = fun. Second, it pairs auditory content with written content, which supports reading fluency (as evidenced by several research studies, summarized succinctly here). In addition, Reading Rockets has a fantastic article about how it also supports engagement, ELL’s, and comprehension!
  • How? On the bottom right of any video, simply click the CC button (not all videos have this; you can specify for your to only select videos with closed captioning. See “Customize your Search” below for how-to). For how to turn on closed captioning for non-YouTube videos read my post about the benefits of Closed Captioning for Literacy


Turn Off Distractions

  • Why? It can be difficult for many to remain focused on the video with all of the content on the highly stimulating YouTube site. Plus, it exposes students to advertisements, which we don’t really want to expose our students to.
  • How? takes away all of the distractions on the sides of the video and does not give you Suggested Videos at the end.


Use only a portion of the video

  • Why? Our time is precious and some videos can be too long or contain irrelevant information, which can derail our students
  • How? Use to select the beginning and end of your video, if you don’t want to play the full video
  • If you want to start at a specific time, within Youtube, you can simply hit the “share” button, which will show you the link to share that video. Underneath that, you can check off the box that says, “Start at” and specify the time at which you’d like the video to begin



2-in-1: Turn Off Distractions AND potentially select just a part of the video

  • How? Use to create videos without distractions. If you click “Customize Video,” you can also choose the beginning and end time of your video


Customize your search

  • Why? sometimes you’d like a video from a particular time, length, source, etc.
  • How? On Google: Searching by length of video: although you can always choose to use only a part of the video, as you do a search (on Google, clicking on Video not through Youtube directly), you can click “Search Tools,” and this will give you options for “duration” (as well as date posted, presence/absence of closed captioning, and source)
  • How? Directly in Youtube: enter your search query. On the left below the search box, but above your results, there’s a button that says “Filter.” Here, you can select the date of posting, presence/absence of closed captioning, and the duration of your videos



Change the rate of the video

  • Why? Many students with language-based difficulties, slow processing speed, and some with hearing difficulties benefit from hearing spoken language more slowly. This may, in turn, tax their working memory, so repetition of a video (or parts of a video) continues to be valuable. Other times, you may want to speed up a video in the interest of time. You may also want to watch a sped up version once you’ve already seen the video at the regular rate (especially for science concepts or other more systems-based simulations)
  • How? Use to play your videos at 1/4 speed, 1/2 speed, 1.5 speed, or double time.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *