SOS: The Envelope Please

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

The Envelope Please 
PDF Version
Video Vignette
*For a link to all the PDFs in this series click here.

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Groups of students are presented with envelopes with a list of three to five statements written on the outside.  They are guided to have a group discussion about the information on the outside of the envelope with the goal of predicting the overarching topic or theme.  When the teacher announces, “The envelope, please” the students open the envelope to discover the accuracy their prediction.


The act of making a prediction is rooted in comprehension.  In order to make good strong predictions, students must have a solid understanding of the content being studied, recall information, know how to use clues to make inferences, and make connections between different sources of information.  “The Envelope Please” strategy allows students to use prior knowledge to make predictions and then utilizes discussion and reflection to solidify their understanding.


  • Find a video that provides background information about a new topic of study.
  • Prepare envelopes:
    • on the outside, write three to five detail statements or clues about that topic
    • on the inside, place instructions for how students can access the video (a QR code, URL, or instructions for where to find the video)
    • seal the envelope
  • Place students in groups of 3.  Give each group an envelope.
  • Ask students to discuss the statements on the outside of the envelope and try to predict the topic
  • After discussions,  announce, “The envelope, please?”  This is the cue that students may open their envelope to discover where they are to go to confirm their predictions.
  • Optional:  Ask students to reflect on the accuracy of the predictions they made.

Potential Application

  • Summarize learning.
  • Introduction to new unit of study.
  • Formative assessment.

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