SOS: Connect The Dots

Welcome to  Spotlight on Strategies Challenge!  Our S.O.S series provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating DE media into your curriculum.

Connect The Dots

PDF Version


It’s easy to get caught up in the race to ensure that the curriculum is “covered” by the end of the year. This does not guarantee that the material is learned, however. In order for new information to make its way into long-term memory, students must be able to answer 2 important questions: “Does this make sense?” and “Does this have meaning?” According to Sousa and Tomlinson, “of the two criteria, meaning has the greater impact on the probability that information will be stored.” (Differentiation and the Brain, pg. 50) Using this strategy, students will develop a concept map that “connects the dots” between what they are learning and how it  is relevant to their life.


  • Explain to students that they will be learning about Sources of Renewable Energy.
  • Ask students to take out a piece of paper. Have them draw a dot in the center of their paper and write “Renewable Energy” above the dot.
  • Have students add a dot somewhere on the top of the page and write their name.
  • Explain to students that as they watch the video, they must “connect the dots” between what they are learning and how it is relevant to their lives. They may create 4 or 5 dots leading from the topic in the center to their name. Each dot should have information so you can easily see the connections. The information can be written or drawn with images
  • Play the video segment Sources of Renewable Energy. You may want to stop several times to give them an opportunity to think about what they just saw/heard and create their dots.
  • Ask students to share their connections with a partner
  • Facilitate a whole group discussion about the video. Ask students to share their personal connection to sources of renewable energy. Ask them why renewable energy is important to their lives.


  • Select a topic that matches your curriculum.
  • Find a video segment on Discovery Education (5 minutes or less is recommended) that explains your topic or concept.
  • Have students take out a piece of paper and draw a dot in the middle. Write the name of the topic above the dot.
  • Ask students to add a dot at the top of the page with their name next to it.
  • While students watch the video, they must create a series of dots to connect what they are learning to why it has meaning to them.
  • Have students share their “connect the dots” page with a peer.
  • Have a whole group discussion and ask students to share their personal connections with the topic.

You can take the challenge by:

  • Implementing this strategy and letting us know how it went by posting a comment below.
  • Using this strategies in your grade level planning discussions and/or professional development and reporting your events. (Remember we consider an event anytime 3 or more educators gather together… doesn’t have to be in a computer lab… could be sitting around the lunch table)
  • Photocopying the flier and distributing it in your colleague’s boxes and/or posting it to your own BulleDEN board.

To see other strategies in this series click here.  For a link to all the PDFs in this series click here.


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  1. Neva Moga said:

    I can hardly wait to try this one out at my next session! I think this will be a fabulous way to help students personalize the content and make those important connections.

  2. lindsey cozat said:

    I am going to use this in PD today Ginny when I show a video clip on why collaboration in the classroom is important. Thanks Gin!!!

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  5. Susan Bowdoin said:

    I’m looking forward to using this strategy this week, Ginny! I’m working with 2nd grade gifted kids who are studying Ancient Egypt. One of the goals is for them to make connections between our modern society and the Ancient Egyptians. This strategy seems a perfect match!

  6. Jamee Childs said:

    I can’t wait to share this with my teachers! I can see this strategy being used at the beginning of any unit of instruction in almost any content area at any level. This helps make the learning relevant. Thanks for the great resource!

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