SOS: Essentially Speaking

FEATURED SOSOur S.O.S series provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating DE media into your curriculum.

Leave a comment and let us know how you’ll use this strategy in your class.

Have an idea for a strategy?  Share it with us by completing this form and we’ll feature you!

Essentially Speaking

PDF and Vignette Version


SOS Big IdeaStudents need to develop higher-level thinking skills and appropriate ways to debate their answers. This strategy provides a structure that helps students frame their experience with a piece of media, think about the implications, take a position, and then debate a point-of-view with students in opposition.



SOS StepsMaterials: media selection, relevant essential question, paper, writing utensils

  1. Pose the essential question to the class. Keep in mind that an essential question is one that probably has more than one answer and requires students to dig deep for meaningful answers. Keep the question displayed throughout the lesson, so students can refer back to it.
  2. Have students watch or read the media, pausing when necessary so that students can jot down notes and decide how they think the question could be answered.
  3. After students have watched or read the media, give them a few minutes to review their notes and think about their point-of-view as it relates to the content.
  4. Present students with appropriate ways to debate. Consider modeling debating skills and strategies or creating a list of debating norms. Be sure to discuss the lifelong skill of how to disagree respectfully.
  5. Have students participate in a classroom debate, justifying their opinion on the essential question with evidence from the media. 


SOS Sum It Up
This strategy is effective because is requires students to stay engaged in the media with a very speci?c focus. Answering essential questions requires students to think deeply about a speci?c topic and use evidence to justify their opinions.  

SOS More Ideas

  • If your students have a hard time justifying their opinions with speci?c evidence from the media, prompt them with questions such as “Why do you think that?”
  • Use sentence starters to help students learn to use evidence to justify their opinions. Some examples could include…
  • “According the the text…” “According to the video…” “The author stated…”
  • Have students write their answers in a journal before they debate, so they can refer back to their notes.
  • Have students write down their answers to the question, then have them debate the opposite point of view. This helps them to understand the counter-point position of a debate or opinion paper.

Related posts