The Spotlight on Strategies series (CDN) is one of Discovery Education’s most popular resources. First introduced 2012, this collection of strategies helps teachers use media in effective and engaging ways.
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: an SOS series that elevates and celebrates teachers showing how they put the SOS to work in their classrooms. We would love to share your SOS Story. Visit this form to find out how!
Teacher: Abigail Schiferl
District: Greenville School District
Role: Science Teacher
Twitter Handle: @Mickeyteacher
This is my second year as a science teacher, after having spent 10 years teaching math. Over the course of the past two years, I’ve noticed that my students need to bolster their content-area vocabulary. It is important that the lessons I teach incorporate vocabulary into science experiences, including into lab work and explorations.
I’m always on the lookout for engaging ways to help students build science-related vocabulary and was excited to be introduced to XO Let’s Go while attending Discovery Education Digital Leader Corps professional development with my school team. I appreciated having the chance to try the strategy out before using it in my classroom.
Using the Strategy
I chose to use XO Let’s Go because my students already know how to play tic-tac-toe, and I knew they would be intrigued and surprised that I was going to let them play a game, not realizing they were actually engaged in academic work at the same time!
XO Let’s Go is based on students taking turns sharing information about a topic they’re learning about. They earn opportunities to record an X or an O on a game board by sharing a unique fact or comment.
I adapted this strategy as a vocabulary review by asking my students to pick vocabulary words from their notes or assignments. They then quizzed one another about the meaning of those words. A right answer meant the student placed their mark on the game board, while a wrong answer meant the other person got to record their mark. Because the students wanted to win their turn, they picked words they thought would challenge their partners. At first I timed each round, but soon discovered a timer wasn’t necessary because each group paced themselves.
Strategy Outcomes and Adaptations
As students played the game, we made some adaptations to make it better fit our specific needs. One of my students decided to ask questions from her notes and if her partner got the wrong answer, she could then place her X or O on the game board. This challenged her partner to make sure the answer was correct. I also stopped using a timer after discovering that students didn’t need it to be engaged or focused. It also was evident that some students needed the flexibility of reviewing the vocabulary without the pressure of a timer.
Students also used Quizlet, which is a great online tool for studying vocabulary words. One student would read the definition from Quizlet and the other student would have to give the matching vocabulary word. I’ve successfully used Quizlet and Quizlet.live in the past, however, pairing them with XO Let’s Go really enhanced the experience. Accountability for participation increased, and I found that students were more likely to catch misunderstandings and mistakes because they were reviewing with a partner.
I noticed that my students had “ah hah” moments where they shared misconceptions and misunderstandings with one another and they were motivated to challenge and encourage one another, which is a powerful thing to experience. XO Let’s Go essentially provided every student in my class with one-on-one tutoring!
Sharing the Strategy
I think XO Let’s Go would be great strategy to share with other teachers at my school. It is a great review strategy that can be used for any subject. I’ve experienced a lot of success with it and have examples of how to use it and what the outcomes have been for my class.
One way to extend the strategy might be for students to use an Interactive Word Wall: students could take turns placing the correct vocabulary on a table top graphic organizer while their partner checks their answers. I would suggest that you follow the directions of XO Let’s Go at first, and then modify the game after students have played it once or twice. Another option could be to offer prizes for the winners, especially is the topic is a difficult one.