SOS Story: Jen Cucchiarelli

The Spotlight On Strategies series (CDN subscribers) is one of Discovery Education’s most popular resources. First introduced 2012, these strategies help teachers use media in effective and engaging ways in their classrooms.

The best part about the SOS is that they are flexible and can be used across grade levels and content areas. We are excited for our SOS Story: a new SOS series that spotlights teachers showing off how they have put the SOS to work in their classrooms.


SOS Strategy: 6 Word Story

Name: Jen Cucchiarelli

District: D.C. Everest Area School District (WI)

Role: 1st Grade Teacher

Twitter:  @JenCucch


Jen’s SOS Story:

My first graders were preparing for our fall field trip to Twin Oaks, our school forest. At Twin Oaks, we spend the day outside learning about spiders, wolves, and bats.  I needed a great way to introduce our unit on bats before our trip, so I didn’t hesitate to turn to my favorite SOS Strategy: 6 Word Story (CDN subscribers).

It took a bit of convincing.  Their eyes looked at me as if they couldn’t believe I had asked them to write just six words.  They were absolutely convinced I must have said six sentences.  But no, I told them over and over, six WORDS  – not sentences! It seemed almost too good to be true.  After all, how hard can it be to write just six words? My students waited patiently on the carpet, waiting for me to hit the play button and begin.   

photo1I chose to show a Discovery Education video Mammals One: Bats (CDN subscribers).  This was a short video clip, but full of great facts and information about bats.  I knew the video would capture their attention. With such a great video filled with information, I knew students would need to really pay attention in order to identify the most important information.  

I played the video segment once and noticed immediately some students began writing on their dry-erase boards.  I reminded them to write a six word story, exactly six words which needed to contain the most important information from the clip.  Then, I played the segment a second time.  

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Now, every single student was writing, erasing, thinking, and writing.  One by one, they realized the task before them was easier said than done.  Many students could think of a seven word story, or even a five word story, but six? That was a challenge.  Each student had to really think about the information in the video and develop their six word story.

After about five minutes, students turned and shared their stories with each other.  This allowed partners to help each other if needed.  I used this time to check in with some students who needed a bit more guidance and show the segment again on their iPads if needed.  There were some students who tried to combine words to make the six word cut-off, but the majority were able to create a six word story using the information from the video.  Students then edited their sentences shared them on a collaborative document using their iPads.  We printed the sentences and then students illustrated their pages.

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 Their 6-Word Story Bat Book is now in our classroom library for students to enjoy throughout the year!

photo-4I truly enjoy using the 6 Word SOS Strategy in my classroom because the level of engagement is high. I’ve found that students respond to having the new challenge of taking summarizing to a whole new level by using only six words.  I was able to meet the diverse learning needs of my students by playing the video in whole group as well as individually when needed.  Students were able to work with partners to give feedback and I was able to meet with students individually who needed additional assistance.  Every single student was engaged throughout this lesson and wanted to learn more about bats after the lesson ended.  Students then had a physical copy of their 6 word stories to showcase in our classroom library.  They will be able to share their summaries with their parents and our classroom visitors throughout the year.  

If you’re looking to take this SOS Strategy to a different level, I suggest mashing the 6 Word Story with SOS Silence is Golden (CDN subscribers). Play a Discovery Education video without sound and ask students to develop a 6 word story based on what they viewed.  You’ll be amazed at what students infer from just the visual clues alone.  After each student writes a six word story, expect to have to play the clip with sound.  The suspense of knowing if their six word stories were close to the right idea will have your students sitting at the edge of their chairs!Save

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