Top Ten SOS in Science Classrooms

Students in a science classroom.

Top 10 SOS in Science Classrooms

Welcome to our special Top Ten series on SOS in the classroom. This month we’re highlighting some of the most popular ways to use Spotlight on Strategies in Science Classrooms.



The Spotlight on Strategies series is the perfect companion for science instruction. Budding scientists need opportunities to get hands-on through experimentation, analysis of experiment data, opportunities to research and synthesize from multiple sources, and evaluate material they’re learning. The SOS provide creative and interactive ways to do all of these things!

We asked the DEN which SOS are the best to use in science instruction.  Here’s what your DEN friends told us!


1 Dacia Jones (AKA Dr. Drizzle) suggests using The Envelope Please (CDN Version)
 as a formative assessment. She twists the strategy by giving every student (or group of students) an envelope, but some have answers in them, while others have questions in them. Students who find a question in their envelope must write answers to that question while students who find answers must write questions related to those answers.  To provide a whole class time for review of all concepts, students present their original questions or answers to the whole class who is then responsible for asking 20 Questions to hone in on the questions and answers their peers provided.
2 Dacia Jones (AKA Dr. Drizzle) uses Tweet Tweet (CDN Version) as a way for students to share the big idea of what they’ve learned, but also takes it a step further by having them of analyze trends they see in each other’s tweets, create Twitter Moments, add photos, respond, and retweet, tally number of likes, and then write a commentary on the tweets that trends.

Jennipher Eisenstein shared that she likes using Tweet Tweet (CDN Version)  as a tool for interactive formative assessment. Teachers in her school have had students write their tweet on sticky notes and then match it to one of several hashtags they found in the room.

3 Jennifer Tatum uses Poetry Slam (CDN Version)
 to help students grapple with new science vocabulary. After defining the vocabulary words, students create short poems (such as haiku) to explain them. She then rearranges the classroom to give it a coffee shop feel and hosts a vocabulary poetry slam!
4 Dacia Jones (AKA Dr. Drizzle) modifies 3 Truths and 1 Lie (CDN Version) to help students master science vocabulary. She turns it into 3 Lies and 1 Truth and helps students carefully analyze how multiple choice questions are written, which is a great skill to help them master state tests.
5 Dacia Jones (AKA Dr. Drizzle) suggests using Circle of Viewpoints (CDN Version) when teaching concepts such as genetics or evolution. She brings in special guests (in person, or virtually) who have opposing opinions and has students analyze the different viewpoints to establish debate questions.
6 Clare Devine shared that she increases the rigor of this strategy by having students write a main idea 6 Word Story and then individually create a Six Word Story (CDN Version) that is a detail related to that main idea. Next, she arranges students in groups of three and asks them to synthesize what they’ve written into one overarching statement.
7 Ana Hale shared that Act It Out (CDN Version) offers students an opportunity to use kinesthetic movement to learn and understand science content. She worked with a group of 3rd grade students who discovered the Discovery Education song Magnets are Magnificent. After finding keywords in the song students came up with dance moves to act out the meanings of those keywords which helped them to understand how magnets work.
8 Peter Panico uses Filling the Silence (CDN Version) to provide an anticipatory set for a new unit of study.
9 Peter Panico uses Four to One  (CDN Version) to challenge students to find connections to the content they are learning for each of the four images he’s chosen. He also twists this strategy by having students select 4 images and explain what they’ve learned about a topic.
10 Abigail Schiferl uses Snowball Fight (CDN Version) to help synthesize what they’ve seen and heard in short Discovery Education science video segments.  She structures the experience to ensure that students are building on the information that each student has written on the papers, with the final toss resulting in a share out of the information that students have on their snowball papers.

Try one of these strategies in your science classroom and let us know how it worked for your students in the comments below!

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