The Spotlight On Strategies series (CDN) is one of Discovery Education’s most popular resources. First introduced 2012, this collection of strategies helps teachers use media in effective and engaging ways.
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 elevates and celebrates teachers showing how they put the SOS to work in their classrooms. We would love to share your SOS Story. Visit this form to find out how!
Teacher: Jennifer Hall
District: Atlanta Public Schools
Role: Educational Technology Specialist
Twitter Handle: @apsitjen
My first introduction to the Spotlight On Strategies (CDN Version) was at the 2015 DENapalooza in Atlanta, and I was impressed by this collection of easy-to-use and instructionally-sound skills-based strategies. I love that they can be infused in any lesson to explore digital media, can be utilized in all content areas, and are appropriate for all grade-levels.
The best part is the adaptability of the SOS. They can be easily “hacked” to meet the needs of all learners and encourage technology integration in K-12 classrooms. I also use the SOS in professional development sessions. I find that when teachers experience the strategies they find it easier to transfer how to use them in their own classrooms.
I have the joy of serving as an Educational Technology Specialist for Atlanta Public Schools. In addition to providing direct support to multiple schools, I also conduct district-wide professional development for teachers.
My goal is to offer meaningful professional development which enhances instruction and provides strategies and resources to support all learners. One way I’ve done this is by hosting six different district-wide DEN Ambassador cohorts over the past three years. These face-to-face Ambassador sessions include multiple opportunities for teachers to explore the SOS Content Collection skills – i.e., compare and contrast, cites evidence, research, summarizing, assessment, etc.
Using the Strategy
It’s a high-tech-meets-low-tech strategy that is appropriate for all grade-levels and content. All you need is a cell phone or iPad to record the video. It helps to have a tripod, but it’s not necessary. Students can hold the camera or rest it on a stack of books to stabilize the video. The best part: no video editing is required to use this strategy effectively!
I ask my DEN Ambassador participants to create a Paper Slide video during their first session together. I’ve found this is a great way to help them become familiar with the entire Spotlight on Strategies collection.
After individually exploring five of the more popular strategies, each participant picks their favorite one to share. As a group, we discuss integration ideas and ways to adapt the strategy to meet the needs of their students.
Each person is tasked with creating a page that names and describes the strategy and how it could be used in a classroom. Markers, pens, colored pencils and white paper are the only supplies needed. When pages are complete, participants have 15-30 seconds to share what they’ve done and the paper slide video is recorded as a one-take video.
My most recent cohort of 20 educators successfully filmed a whole group Paper Slide video in one take. They loved it and were eager to use the SOS with their students.
I’m always excited to hear about how teachers are adapting and using SOS in their classrooms. One of my Ambassadors used Paper Slides in his high school Spanish classes. He had students work in pairs to create slides showing cartoon characters ordering dinner at a restaurant. The goal was for students to utilize their newly acquired Spanish vocabulary.
I worked with the students to film their one-take videos and we uploaded them to Flipgrid. Sharing their Paper Slide videos on FlipGrid extended the activity and encouraged students to view and comment on work their classmates submitted.
Ideas for Sharing
My role as a trainer and teacher support focuses on educational technology. When sharing the SOS, I make sure to highlight web-based tools or apps that can enhance them. For instance, another SOS that I share with the DEN Ambassadors is Paper Chat. I “hack” the strategy by using Today’s Meet as a digital tool to allow students to “chat silently”.
For school and district-wide PD training I use Google Classroom to share resources and deliver assignments, so I’ve created Google Doc templates for SOS such as 25 Things You Didn’t Know (CDN Version) and AEIOU (CDN Version) that teachers can modify for their classes. I also make sure to always emphasize the need for modifying and adapting each of the SOS to meet the specific learning needs of students.