SOS Story: Melissa Murray

Melissa Murray

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:  Melissa Murray

SOS Strategies: Sticky Back (CDN Version)

District: Marysville Joint Unified School District

Role: 2nd Grade Teacher

Twitter Handle: @lifeofmrsm


Melissa’s Story

I first discovered SOS Sticky Back (CDN Version) by browsing through the Discovery Education Professional Learning Center Strategies and Resources, which is home to the entire Spotlight on Strategies series. I chose this one specifically because it worked well with the learning goal I had for my students, which was finding key details in a text. My second graders are familiar with taking notes on Post-its, so SOS Sticky Back seemed to be a great tool to try out. I also felt that it would be a fun way for my students to process the information they were learning because it has a competitive spin to it. 

Using the Strategy

Student writing on sticky noteFirst, I had my students read a short article from their language arts books about opossums. They read the article as a whole group, pausing every so often to check for understanding. As they read, I asked students to think of one unique fact that they found interesting and encouraged them to select one that they didn’t think a friend would also choose. I mentioned that facts that were related to the topic (opossums) would receive one point, but if their fact was original (meaning that no one else mentioned it) they would receive a whopping five points. This is where their competitiveness kicked in: the challenge was on!

After reading the article, students wrote their names and facts on the back (sticky side) of their Post-its. Then, they turned them in by sticking them to the easel in our classroom. I read each Post-it aloud and organized them into two categories: original facts and duplicate facts. After all the stickies were sorted I tallied up the points. If you play several rounds of Sticky Back you can tally up the points and the students with the most points win! Because this was the first time my class used this strategy, we only did one round and didn’t designate a winner. Even so, all of my students were excited about collecting the points and want to play Sticky Back again.

SOS Sticky Back helped engage my students in the learning activities. They successfully cited evidence in the text, and because we reviewed each Post-it they retained and could retell the key details from the text as we continued investigating more about opossums throughout the week.

Strategy Adaptations

I allowed some of my students to draw pictures or diagrams to explain their facts, rather than requiring written text responses only. When it was time to read their Post-it aloud, these students were able to vocalize to the class what fact they chose from the article.

I also modified the point system to reflect how I manage my classroom.  The original SOS states that the winner is the student who has the most points. However, in my classroom, I ask students to participate in a lot of partner and group work, so I felt that tallying up the points by table groups was a more appropriate way to measure participation in the strategy.

Ideas For Sharing

Last school year I challenged myself to use a variety of SOS each month, so this school year I thought it would be neat to bring that same challenge to my colleagues. Each month I challenge my colleagues to utilize one or two different SOS with their students, and so far it has been going very well. I select an SOS and print the PDF for each teacher. I distribute the strategies and talk about how to use them at staff meetings. At the end of each month I love hearing all the ways that these strategies have helped their teaching and their students learning. It has brought me such joy being able to guide and support my colleagues with Discovery Education and the Spotlight on Strategies!

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