SOS Top Ten for Scaffolding Student Research

Welcome to our special SOS Top Ten series. In this edition, we highlight some of the most popular ways to use Spotlight on Strategies (CDN Version) to scaffold student research.

These strategies focus on helping students locate, curate, and make sense of information.

Spotlight On Strategies is a collection of instructional strategies designed to help students make sense of what they see, hear, and read in digital media. Teachers who implement SOS instructional ideas often report their students:

  • are more focused on learning goals,
  • tend to understand material better, and
  • are more engaged in learning.

Many SOS teach or reinforce research skills. The ten SOS listed below are some of the best.

We hope you’ll try one or more of these strategies and share your experience with us, either in the comments below or in the DEN Online Community!


Pause and Play  (CDN Version) teaches students how to use media as a learning tool rather than treating it merely as entertainment. The structure of Pause and Play requires the teacher to preselect several stopping points during the video. When one of these is reached, students are guided to jot notes, answer questions, or have partner discussions about what they’ve just watched.


Jigsaw (CDN Version) involves students in interdependent research. Once divided into small groups, students take time to learn specific chunks of information. After time, the small groups split up and students reorganize forming new groups with representatives from each. Students then teach each other what they’ve learned.


Think Aloud (CDN Versionis a great way for teachers to model the thinking associated with the complex tasks involved in the research process. The strategy builds metacognitive awareness about the mental moves content experts make as they read, write, solve problems and think critically.


Inquiry Chart (I-Chart) (CDN Versionprovides students with a graphic organizer that guides them in using multiple sources to research a topic. The chart helps students think critically about the results of their research, and supports students in their efforts to synthesize multiple sources of information into a cohesive and meaningful product. Teachers have found that I-Charts are suitable for whole-class, small-group, or individual inquiry, making them a versatile tool in a variety of subject areas and grade levels.


Quick Conference (CDN Versionallows students to give and receive feedback to strengthen their writing and research skills. Quick Conference could be used between teacher and student, or it could be adapted as a peer review process for students to learn how to give and receive feedback from one another.


Sticky Back (CDN Versionencourages students to tune in to the finer details of a topic through a gamified process of recording and sharing key ideas and information. They record these on the back side (sticky side) of post it notes to prevent others from seeing their ideas and then see who ended up with the most unique ideas being shared.


DEN member Audra Barton uses SOS Placemat to help students learn about the Revolutionary War.

Placemat (CDN Versionsparks active engagement in using media to research a topic. Students use their own space on the placemat to record information and ideas and then use a collaborative space in the middle to synthesize these into one group summary statement.


Think Puzzle Explore (TPE) (CDN Versionactivates students’ curiosity and engagement by encouraging them to engage in the inquiry process. By following this strategy, students are taken along a learning path driven by their own interest.


6 Word Story (CDN Versionencourages students to summarize what they’ve seen, read, or heard in just six words. Focus on selective word choice to convey a big idea requires careful thought, command of vocabulary, and is a good demonstration of what they’ve understood from the material.


Tug Of War (CDN Versiondevelops students’ abilities in the arts of deliberation and debate. Students are placed in two research groups to learn about one of two opposing sides to an issue and then argue their perspective using reasoning and evidence.


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  1. type my essay said:

    Thank for such interesting and detailed post! It is just what I needs now because I am type my essay about best strategies of children learning

  2. Harman Gomez said:

    With the technology improving day by day, It is such a pleasure to see all these children getting benefit out of this sort of things. These initiatives would really help them develop and move towards a better future.

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