Monday, November 28, 2011

Social Thinking and Current Events on YouTube

Kids with communication and Social Thinking difficulties appreciate discussing how public figures commit social foibles.  I recently explored these ideas with a few middle school groups in conjunction with some YouTube clips.

Both of these mini-lessons arose naturally out of the groups' discussion and interest, which is one reason why YouTube is such a great tool- I was able to pull up a video at a couple of taps (on my iPad) to deepen the context and guide some discussion and thinking that I probably wouldn't have been able to elicit without the video.

The first story we touched on was the recent controversy about the Red Sox pitchers who were exposed for drinking beer, eating fried chicken, and playing video games in the clubhouse during games.

After watching this brief video, the kids had more of an idea of the story, and we were able to do a quick story map using Story Grammar Marker icons.  In our discussion we linked this to social thinking concepts such as expected and unexpected behaviors, "Team" vs. "Just Me" thinking, and keeping one's body with the group.

Recently we had election day and we got to talking about the presidential campaign.  Like many, I had gotten a huge kick out of the extremely inadvisable Herman Cain national campaign ad in which his campaign manager was shown smoking a cigarette. I showed this to the group without giving them a cue as to what the "wrap-up" of the ad would be. Their response was hysterical.  First of all, it was clear they were being good "social detectives" and "thinking with their eyes" about what they had seen.  They described it as "RANDOM!"  We had been working with the graphic novel "Social Fortune and Social Fate" and this linked well with one of the strategy codes suggested in the text- TAC: Think About Choices.  This "code," like that in a video game, unlocks the skill of thinking about what the consequences of one's social actions will be, which it was clear that the Cain camp had not done even a little bit in the matter of this ad (let's not get into other choices Cain allegedly made, all politics aside).  

Interestingly, a few of the kids reported that the "punchline" of this ad was not really the candidate's fault.  This exposed some faulty social thinking and an opportunity for a teachable moment about schema.  How does an ad end up on the air?  It goes through many steps including previewing and approval by many, many people, including the candidate.  It seems like someone should have caught this and made a better "choice," right?


  1. Love this idea. We are beginning to use Social Thinking in our schools and this really is a great way to integrate the concepts!! Thanks for sharing!!

    Delyn Duggins, School Social Worker

  2. Nice article, i agree with you. thanks Sean