SOS: Summer Twist on the On This Day SOS

School’s out for summer and your Discovery Education Community members are putting a twist on our SOS series.  Each week we will post how educators have taken their favorite strategies and made them their own.


On This Day

Original PDF and Vignette

Twist provided by Sonja Fehlmann from the Magnolia School District in California.  You can learn more about Sonja by following her on Twitter at @sfehlmann13.


On This Day is a quick, powerful strategy that exposes students to a variety of historical events. It takes only a few minutes and is a great way to start the day or as a filler at other transition times. We have put a spin on this strategy by partnering up our classes and having students present to each other what they have learned “On This Day”.

When students first enter the class, a designated student (whatever student number matches the calendar date) selects one of the seven content areas found in the “On This Day” link in Discovery Education (Science, Health/Guidance, Social Studies, Mathematics, Language Arts, Biography, Arts & Humanities). This student is known as the lead researcher; if that particular student is absent or the class does not have that number there is always a student ready and eager to fill in. The lead researcher posts his or her selection in a Google doc that is shared with the partner class so that the two classes do not select the same content area.  The lead researcher shares his or her selection with the class and clicks on the correct link in Discovery Education. Students use the following prompts to guide their investigation:

  • Describe this event in 2-3 sentences in your own words.
  • What do you already know about this event?
  • Why is this event important?
  • How does this event make you feel? Why?
  • Write 1 question you have that can be researched further.

All students write in their “On This Day” Journal so they can always go back and refer to events, answer self-posed questions, or for other purposes that come up. If there is time, the student of the day can select a related link provided under the content to explore.

After the recess bell rings, the day’s lead researcher goes into the partner class and shares what they have learned. Questions are asked and extension resources are shared if time allows. This allows the students to become familiar and comfortable with speaking in front of a group of people. The lead researcher also types his/her findings into the same shared Google doc so students can refer back. This creates a class journal and allows students and teachers to review all they have learned.

Throughout the day (when time permits) or at home students may go back to the topic and watch the additional resources, research their self-selected question pertaining to the morning’s topic, or research their partner class’s topic further. Students love this and often conduct further research at home and share with the class at a future time.


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