SOS Story: Laura Dawes

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 to share SOS Story, an SOS series that spotlights teachers showing how they put the SOS to work in their classrooms.


Teacher:  Laura Dawes

Twitter Handle: @dawes_laura

SOS Strategy: Half the Story

District: Mobile County Public Schools

Role: Media Specialist/Technology Support Teacher


Laura’s Story

I’m the Media Specialist in a K-5 school in rural south Alabama. I have 30 minute lessons with my Kindergarten – 3rd grade students, in between open circulation times. Because 30 minutes goes by very quickly, I need to be able to engage my students quickly with the story, poem, or text that I am using for the lesson. I used SOS Half the Story (CDN Version) to introduce my students to the song “Five Little Pumpkins” before using it as the text for a close reading exercise.

SOS Half the Story

SOS Half the Story (CDN Version) promotes the use of images as the springboard for discussion, and it helps students realize that we need to see the whole picture in order to form an opinion. It can also be used with a part of an image to encourage students to use thinking skills to process what they see and make connections, providing a quick and easy way to build a foundation for further learning.

Strategy Adaptations

Using images as a springboard for discussion helps me make the most of my limited time. I adapted this strategy by finding a pumpkin image in Discovery Education and then cropping it in Microsoft Photo Gallery so that only the top part of the photo could be seen (you could also use an online photo editor such as PicMonkey.)  Then, I imported the cropped photo into my SMART Notebook tool so that I could use the blind feature to show only parts of the photo. If you don’t have interactive white board software, you could do something similar by taking the image into a presentation tool such as PowerPoint or Google Slides and layering rectangles over the sections of the image that you don’t want students to be able to see.

Mrs. Dawes students share ideas.I did not want my students to immediately arrive at “pumpkin” when they looked at the image. Instead, I wanted them to cite evidence that supported what they thought it was. Students looked at the revealed part, were given think time, and then took turns sharing what they thought they saw.  I asked them to cite evidence from the photo to explain why.

Next, I revealed more of the photo, gave students some think time, and asked if any of them thought differently now that they could see more of the photo. My students gave me a range of answers to describe what they thought they saw. Their answers ranged from planets to tables! I then revealed the photo in its entirety and again asked them to tell me what they saw and to back it up with evidence. Using an image in this way, before close reading the text, helped me engage my Kindergarten and 1st grade students and get excited about pumpkins before we did our close reading of the song.

Additional Ideas

This is one of my favorite SOS strategies to use with younger students because they are not hindered by their letter or phonics knowledge or by their reading levels. Additionally, I find it is easily adaptable to both fiction or nonfiction texts because of the range of images available within Discovery Education. It can be used in many different ways and for many different subject areas. Teachers can find images that can be used to introduce a math skill, social studies or science topic, or even holidays. Be creative with how you crop and edit the image, or even use multiple views of the same subject to add versatility to the strategy!

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