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. The SOS Story series elevates and celebrates teachers showing how they put the SOS to work in their classrooms. Do you have an SOS Story? Complete this form and you may be featured here.
Teacher: Jeannine Shields
District: City School District of New Rochelle
Role: Instructional Technology Facilitator
Twitter Handle: @neene
Since the beginning of my teaching career, I have been hooked on Discovery Education. Watching the development and improvements to the vast media collection and the connection to the DEN Community has inspired my teaching.
I’ve especially enjoyed exploring ways to use the Spotlight on Strategies (CDN Version) collection in my classroom and school. The SOS support me in creating engaging and meaningful lessons for my students. This opens the doors for collaboration with classroom teachers to develop lessons for #OurSTEAMCafe.
Using the Strategies
Driven by curriculum goals, a group of primary grade teachers and I began to brainstorm “why” and “how” the STEAM lab would be a good fit for a lesson. Their students had been exploring the ladybug life cycle, so we decided that a STEAM lab lesson would be an opportunity to reinforce and extend student understanding.
The lesson plan included several student goals, including:
- Analyzing photographs of ladybugs in their various life stages
- Using key vocabulary to name and describe stages of the ladybug life cycle
- Using Ozobot robots to retell the life cycle
In addition to decorating my STEAM café with red and black tablecloths (both for aesthetic appeal and table protection from markers), I used multiple SOS strategies to activate student interest and engagement.
Strategies and Adaptations
SOS Vocabulary Stepping Stone (CDN Version) inspired my first move, which was to build background with key vocabulary. I selected a video clip to use, collected the words used in the segment, printed and cut them apart, and then scattered and taped them to each tablecloth for a workgroup.
I also wanted to engage student curiosity and attention, so I selected SOS Now Screening (CDN Version). As written, the strategy suggests giving students constant exposure to visual content by using images related to a unit of study as a computer screensaver. I modified the strategy by selecting Discovery Education ladybug life cycle images and creating a scrolling slideshow on my interactive whiteboard.
As students entered the room, they were immediately drawn to the scrolling images, the color-coordinated tables, and the vocabulary words. They immediately started making connections. I prompted students to hunt for words they knew and asked them to talk in table groups about the ones they didn’t.
Next, as students watched the video segment, I noticed that many of them, with no prompting, began to touch the words as they heard them, which is similar to SOS Vocabulary Scavenger Hunt (CDN Version).
After watching the video segment and interacting with the vocabulary words, I asked the students to revisit the sequence of the ladybug life cycle. Inspired by SOS The Envelope Please (CDN Version), I displayed the names of each stage on the board and placed envelopes in the middle of each table. Inside each envelope were pictures of the four lifecycle stages. Table groups opened the envelopes, shared the pictures with one another, discussed, and categorized them to each lifecycle word as on the board. Students noticed a chart I’d posted in the room that included the life cycle stages with “first”, “then”, “next”, and “last” written in the boxes. I was pleased that it was the students who suggested attaching the pictures to the chart to represent each stage with both words and pictures.
The final step in this exploration included an opportunity for students to program Ozobot robots to move through the lifecycle. I prompted students to ask questions and problem-solve the best way to accomplish this task. Students suggested starting with a chart that had simple black lines connecting each stage of the cycle. They worked together to help their Ozobot successfully navigate, and then they went back to add color codes to program the robot to perform a different trick at each stage.
Sharing the Strategies
While teaching, I was modeling the SOS for a colleague, which is a great way to share. She remarked that the vocabulary-building strategies I used were great. She envisioned their application with math terms.
I’m looking forward to seeing how she approaches these vocabulary development ideas in her classroom this year. Having the flexibility to adapt and adjust these already fabulous SOS teaching ideas is very powerful for any classroom.