SOS: Read My Mind

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.

The SOS series includes more than one hundred different ideas for strategies you can use to engage students in active learning with digital media.

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

Special Thanks: This strategy was suggested by Gemma Clarke of Rugby, England.

Read My Mind

PDF  and Video Versions

A robust vocabulary is key to developing an understanding of any topic. Without language, we have no way to express what we understand, what we know, or how we feel.

Many educational studies show that vocabulary development comes from reading a wide and varied range of texts, but there are instances in the classroom where we need to provide further opportunities for students to develop their language on a topic: when they are learning English as an additional language, when they find it difficult to retain information, or just because it is a completely new topic or concept.

This strategy has been adapted from the board game Tension. It is a fun way to stretch students to develop their vocabulary and, in turn, boost their comprehension and their ability to express themselves clearly and meaningfully.

Materials: Digital media (photos or a video segment), 3×5” index cards
  1. Teacher preparation: Before using this strategy with students, review the media you have selected. On an index card, write down a category that relates to the media and list ten key words or phrases that are important for students to know and remember. Do not share these with students yet. For example, if students are learning about Volcanic Eruptions, you might select a media segment that compares the Mt. Kilauea, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Etna eruptions. Your card could look something like this:
  2. Show images or the video segment to students.
  3. Next, set a timer for one minute. Tell students the category you’ve identified and ask them to try to read your mind and list the ten words you have on your list. This could be done as a whole group, with students sharing words verbally, or, with older students, you could ask them to write as many words as they can. If needed, replay the video segment or allow students another opportunity to look at the images.
  4. Finally, when time is up, have students share their words and compare against your list.
  5. If you and your students want to increase the competition, teams of students could compete to see who can correctly identify the most words listed on your card. You could also create a class scoreboard to track scores over time.

This strategy provides an opportunity for vocabulary development because it helps students focus on key words within the context of instructional media. It is fast-paced, fun, and the level of competition can be dialed up or down, as appropriate for student learning. It can provide a jumping-off point for demonstrating comprehension through written response and encourages general understanding of new topics across the curriculum.


  • Use this strategy before sharing the digital media with students to test prior knowledge or to review previously taught concepts or topics. Tell students the category, have them generate their list of words, and then have them interact with the media. Give them the chance to revisit their list to make additions or revisions before sharing out to the group.
  • Use the strategy with a general category to develop working vocabulary (e.g. things made of wood, items of clothing, books with animals). Compile the words and other answers generated into a longer list and input into an online word cloud generator.
  • Students can conduct research and create their own category cards to find out more information on a topic or consolidate something they have recently learned.

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