AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

Connecting Video to Reading and Writing

by Samuel Sennott

Connecting video to reading and writing is powerful. Last summer, I saw that power so clearly in the camp program I led. The camp was your basic extended year program revamped into a fun literacy based camp. One of the classrooms had mainly children with autism spectrum disorders. When we completed the pre-assessments, the students nearly threw the books back into our faces. There was at least a few tears during the developmental spelling test administered. Based on this initial assessment, I knew it was key to focus on the appreciation/enjoyment of literacy, so I turned to the self selected reading block. I brought in Apple laptops to each student and fired up the now classic Otis Goes to the Beach story. We showed it as a whole group to kick off the lesson. As you read, Otis comes to life with real videos of him getting ready for his walk, crying because he is so excited, swimming, and chewing. The children were transfixed. Every day, one particular student asked me why Otis is crying. Then he would say, “because he’s happy?” Within a few weeks, the students were reading PowerPoint based books on a daily basis and greatly enjoying it. One student who did not want to have anything to do with writing, started using PowerPoint to author because we could import pictures relevant to him. The rationale behind transitional texts is to draw the reader to attend to the text. I believe that connecting video can do this as well.

Yet, videos are not just for getting attention. They can be powerful for building background knowledge in both the reading and writing process. See a previous post that was regarding a guided reading lesson for Leo the Late Bloomer. Using YouTube can bring concepts to life. What a great way to do the activation of knowledge section of your guided reading lesson. Also the extensive Discovery Education/United Streaming site is rich with content.

Videos can motivate writing. The students in the AAC writers camp I am leading this summer are going wild for journaling about the videos they connect to. I believe that for my students, this is a perfect lead in to the SRSD strategy POW and TREE. Writing a persuasive essay about the video including a topic sentence, reasons, and an ending is potentially a way to tip the motivational scale during this process.

Check out the set of videos we are using this summer to motivate and fuel our journaling process:


In summary, video can be powerful to draw attention, build background knowledge, and build motivation in reading and writing. There is so much more to be studied, researched, implemented, and written about regarding this topic. I look forward to engaging in the process.


June 22, 2008 - Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , ,


  1. I’ve got one trivial video example on Tar Heel Reader. I think it would be very interesting to extend the wizard to allow searching YouTube in addition to Flickr. Especially if we could figure out how to use snips from videos, I think it could be really compelling to kids.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

    Comment by Gary | June 23, 2008 | Reply

  2. Nice. My students sure respond positively to working with videos. So many people from across different age spans are working with video. When done right, it can be a powerful medium for communication as well.

    Comment by alltogether | June 23, 2008 | Reply

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