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Test Prep - TDA Writing and YouTube


It is that time of year where classroom teachers are in full test prep mode. We are about six weeks out here in South Carolina and a big concern in a lot of our schools is the TDA part of the test (Text Dependent Analysis).

The TDA part of the test requires students to analyze a piece of text and respond to a prompt that where they have to pull evidence from the text to support their writing. Great idea, and certainly brings in those higher order thinking skills, but it is also a lot for students to process particularly if this is the first time taking the test or they are struggling readers and writers. I definitely feel their pain but sadly that doesn't make the test go away. This leaves me trying to think of ways to get these struggling students writing and reading as often as possible.

Luckily the test uses shorter reading passages so I try to pull high interest articles off the internet, ReadWorks, Newela, Writable, Teachers Pay Teachers, etc - pretty much any place I can find that is "free'ish....I am counting "free trials" as "free'ish. It really helps if I can make a connection to the article, or connect the article to the class in some way, because WANTING to read it is pretty much half the battle. If I can hook them in then they are intrigued enough to find out what the short article or story is about.

This leaves me sometimes struggling to find "hookable" text for kids. This got me thinking to what students REALLY want to do...which led me to YouTube (a lot of our students just want to watch videos and be entertained). This led me to thinking how I could get transcripts of videos off of YouTube to use as "hookable" text....which led me to discover YouTube has transcripts! To be clear not all videos have transcripts but it was good enough for me. Now I have a lot more "text" to draw from and I can "hook" them with the video part of it.

I made a flyer (see picture above) that shows you how to get transcripts off YouTube. You do have to do some editing. I basically copy and paste the text into a Word or any Word-like processor (Google Docs) and then clean it up. I also watch the video on one side of the screen to make sure the transcription is correct. Sometimes people in the video don't speak clearly enough and whatever program makes the transcripts has to guess at their words. I recently found the program guessed a curse word while a woman was speaking and I'm glad I proofed and rewatched the video so I caught it!

Below are the steps I take when using transcripts. To be CLEAR this may not be something you want to use every day because there is some front end work on the teacher's part. You may just want to give it a try once a week (Fun Writing Friday) until you start building up a library of YouTube transcripts to draw from.

1. First, I find the video. I love the Great Big Story channel on YouTube. They produce short high interest pieces that often feature children. There is an internal search area within their channel and if I type in "kids" I can usually draw from that (they also have a Kids playlist on their website channel that has closed captioning but all the videos can be found on YouTube where you can print out the transcripts). I try to find stories that focus on minority children if possible and then rotate looking between male and female lead characters. I also like Disney's Citizen Kid series. I use their "Mo - Bow Tie Designer" video a lot with students.



2. Then I open the video transcripts and turn off the timestamp feature.


3. Next I copy and paste the text into a editable document.


4. I edit the text to use the complete field on the screen. I tried to find a way to automate this step but was unable to find anything that worked for me so I go line by line and bring up the text. I look for videos no longer than 3 minutes in length to use since this is a tedious process. 



5. Then I re-watch the video with the screen split so I can follow the video on one side and pause and correct the text as needed on the other.



6. I edit in paragraph breaks as it makes sense to me. I do this so students can tell me which paragraph they found their evidence. 



7. Finally, I save and print (although saving it first would help in the event your computer accidentally closes on you!). 

Sometimes I add the TDA question to the page but other times I just to like to make up one on the fly. With the Double Dutch video example I might ask: "Write an essay explaining why you think Khnaue thought of her team like a home? Use examples from the text to support your answer." or I could have asked "Write an essay that describes Khnaue's character in relation to the story. Use examples from the text to support your answer." 

I usually let students watch the first time for fun, the second time to catch things they might have missed on the first viewing, and then I turn off my screen projector and have them listen (instead of watch) the video and use a pencil to track the words on the paper. I tell them if they find any mistakes to let me know...so it gives them a "task" while reading along with the video. 

For the most part, students seem to like this activity and it provides a nice change from looking at just text all the time. 

Here are links to my transcripts for:




If you give it a try, let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @atechcoachlife.

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