SOS: Sticky Back

Creative, research-based instructional strategies, presented by teachers for teachers, the Spotlight on Strategies series provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating Discovery Education digital media into your curriculum in meaningful, effective, and practical ways.

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

Spotlight on Strategies: Sticky Back

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Listening, reading, and/or watching for key ideas and details is an important 
comprehension skill for students of all ages to master. Understanding what a media selection explicitly says allows a student to make inferences and take appropriate actions. The Sticky Back strategy encourages students to listen and observe beyond the obvious, reporting key ideas and details they observed – and hope their classmates did not!

Materials: media selection, sticky notes, writing tools
  1. Have students watch a video, listen to an audio segment, or read a reading passage. Encourage them to watch or listen carefully, paying attention to facts, including those that might be overlooked by others.
  2. Give each student a sticky note.
  3. On the sticky side (the back) of the sticky note, ask students to write their name and one fact that they learned from the media.
  4. Make sure students know that points will be awarded for their facts:
    • Facts that relate to the topic earn 1 point.
    • Original facts (meaning no other student mentioned that fact) earn 5 points.
  5. As students finish writing the facts, have them deliver sticky notes to a location in the room (teacher desk, chart paper, section on white board, etc.). Because they wrote on the back of the sticky note, no one will be able to see their answer. 
  6. Next, flip each sticky note over and read them aloud. Separate them into two piles: those that are original and those that are duplicates. If you are concerned that students will not be engaged, consider having them help you decide where each of the sticky notes belongs.
  7. Follow the complete process several times, reviewing the resource each time. After several rounds, add up the points that students have earned. The winner can have Fact Master bragging rights until you play again or could earn a small reward.
The Sticky Back strategy provides a fun way to encourage students to tune in to the finer details of a topic. It is an example of gamification in the classroom. It can appeal to a variety of factors that drive students, including the need for achievement, competition, and recognition. It can also provide a fun way to address content that may not be high interest for students.
Consider keeping a running tally of points earned by students. The student with the most points at the end of a pre-determined length of time could earn a reward. This provides all students with multiple opportunities to achieve.

This strategy is courtesy of Eve Heaton, Beaufort County, South Carolina.


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  1. Hilda Gomez said:

    After visiting Discovery Education seminars while I was at CUE a couple old weeks ago, I realized I had an amazing tool at my fingertips and I was not taking advantage of it. My school district uses Discovery Ed and I am ashamed to admit it I went to DEN training however I did not use the strategies in my classroom they way I should. S.OS. Is such an easy tool to use in my classroom and it can hit so many standards!
    This Sticky Back strategy is a great way to allow my EL Learners to be more aware of details. It allows lots of movement in my class as well as communicating with their peers. Thank you for the idea and look forward to implementing it in my class when I return from Spring break.

  2. personal statement services said:

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  3. Taylor Hendershot said:

    I recently discovered this blog through one of my MAED course resources and I was amazed by the great array of offerings that this site had for teacher. This is my first year teaching, so I am trying to soak in every new strategy that I can find. I came across the “Sticky Back” strategy in Thomas McAuliff’s SOS Story and I knew that I would need to try this out in my own classroom. So that’s what I did. During our weekly deployment time in my third grade classroom we focus on students doing close readings of text structures and analyzing the authors purpose and the validity of what they are reading. I had my students read and follow along as we went through our text (it was a biography on the muralist Judy Baca) paying close attention to the details about her life and why she decided to devote her life to art and community relations. After the reading, each student was given a chance to follow the “Sticky Back” procedures and write a detail from the text or an original idea (original ideas in the case included making informed opinions on whether they think Judy Baca succeed in her social outreach or if they agree with the idea that art can build community, etc. – high level thinking). I had the students bring me the post-it notes and I read them aloud to the class. Together, we decided if the detail given was original and moved it to the correct side. (We had two sides: original thought and duplicate.) With each new post it note there were changes to both sides of the board. In the end, about 7 of my 25 students ended up on the original thought side! It was so great to hear what students were saying in the analysis of the reading. I think it helped for my students to be able to hear what others had learned and to encourage each other to use their thinking skills to really delve deep into the reading. There was total student engagement in the reading and every child was trying their best to really come up with an original thought or obscure detail because they wanted to “win.” (Even though they are all winners for learning something new!) This strategy really has been a great encourager for me and I am excited to implement it again and many more from this blog into my future teaching practices. Thank you so much for the clear procedures and fantastic strategy!
    -Taylor Hendershot

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