SOS Story: East Elementary SOS Challenge

The Spotlight On Strategies series (CDN subscribers) is one of Discovery Education’s most popular resources. First introduced 2012, these strategies help teachers use media in effective and engaging ways in their classrooms.

The best part about the SOS is that they are flexible and can be used across grade levels and content areas. We are excited to share SOS Story: a new SOS series that spotlights teachers showing how they put SOS to work in their classrooms.

The Team

District: South Madison Community Schools in Pendleton, Indiana

Jill Amrine, 1st grade teacher

Twitter: @MrsAmrine

Silence is Golden (CDN Subscribers)

Marcia Farr, 3rd grade teacher

Can You Guess My 2-1-4 (CDN Subscribers)


Carissa Buck, 2nd grade teacher

Twitter: @_MrsBuck_

Connect the Dots (CDN Subscribers)

Melissa Merz, 1st grade teacher

Twitter: @MelissaMMerz

Close Encounters (CDN Subscribers)

The Challenge

This week’s SOS story comes via Jessica ZepikDEN Ambassador Lead for South Madison Community Schools, in Pendleton, IN. Jessica shared that South Madison Community Schools’ Director of Instruction and Staff Development challenged teachers across the district to see which school could have the most participation in this spring’s Discovery Education SOS 6-week Challenge.

East Elementary won the challenge, and they are excited to receive the district reward of funding to go toward developing a Makerspace in their elementary library. In this SOS Story series, four East Elementary teachers share how they used SOS strategies and won this exciting challenge.

Jill Amrine’s Story

Jill discovered SOS strategies as a participant in South Madison Community School’s Spring DEN Ambassador cohort. She decided to use an SOS favorite, Silence is Golden (CDN Subscribers), to introduce her first grade students to insects.

She had them first watch a video segment without sound. Next, they had partner discussion about what they’d seen, using their prior knowledge about insects to predict what the content of the video was about. The students were captivated by the imagery and loved having the chance to talk with one another as they made their predictions.

Jill shared that her students had meaningful discussions with each other during and after the video.  It was fun to listen to their discussions, especially during the silent part of the video, and she found that they had quite a bit more prior knowledge than she realized!

Carissa Buck’s Story

Carissa used Connect the Dots (CDN Subscribers) with her second grade students this spring and found that it fostered more than just content learning.

After they watched a Discovery Education video segment, she tasked her students with jotting down details they learned as they watched the video segment. Then, they used Connect the Dots to show how those supporting details connected to the main idea.

She had students work with partners to do this work, which helped them to also develop and practice communication and collaboration skills, in addition to becoming more adept at identifying main idea and supporting details.

Melissa Merz’ Story

While preparing for a unit on proper nouns, Melissa realized that she needed a strategy that would get her first graders thinking more deeply about the video she wanted them to watch.  She chose Close Encounters (CDN Subscribers) because it requires students to reread or review media in order to learn more deeply about a topic.

Instead of just watching a selected video segment only one time, Melissa asked students to watch it once for an overview and then a second time to to really pull out the important concepts.  Then, she had students create a Venn Diagram to organize their thoughts and information.

Marcia Farr

Marcia wanted to encourage her students to draw from their background knowledge before beginning a new unit of study in order strengthen their understanding of the concepts. During the spring SOS Challenge, she discovered Can You Guess My 2-1-4, (CDN Subscribers), a strategy that encourages students to use background knowledge about a topic by connecting two facts, one clue and four pictures that are presented by the teacher.

Students were excited to put the clues together, and most were able to predict that the story they were going to read was about King Midas and the Golden Touch. This sparked lots of conversation about the different versions of the story the students had heard or read previously, while also incorporating relevant vocabulary into the discussion.

When the story was introduced the following Monday, all of the students had the background knowledge needed to comprehend the story from the very first day. Marcia reported that a result of using this SOS strategy was that it helped students, especially her struggling readers, get a “jump start” and feel more confident.


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  1. Carol said:

    I love this SOS challenge! What a fun way to get educators to dive in to the tools in a way that takes students to higher levels of Bloom’s! Thanks for sharing the authentic ways these teachers used the strategies.

  2. Jim Sanders said:

    This is a great post. So clear and easy to follow. Thanks for the tangible and attainable help. All your hard work is much appreciated.

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