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. The SOS Story series elevates and celebrates teachers showing how they put the SOS to work in their classrooms. Do you have an SOS Story? Complete this form and you may be featured here.
Teacher: Drey Keairnes
District: Schuyler Community Schools
Role: High School English
Twitter Handle: @CoachKeairnes
After hearing about many SOS Strategies at the DEN Summer Institute this past summer, I’ve spent quite a bit of time browsing the entire Spotlight on Strategies series (CDN). I recently discovered SOS Close Encounters (CDN Version), and—because I was looking for strategies to help spice up the close reading strategies in my high school English classroom—I thought I’d give it a try.
I want my students to be able to look beyond the basic information on a page in order to truly grasp the purpose and meaning of a text. The close reading strategies I teach my students to use with print work well, so it made sense for me to try something similar with other forms of multimodal text, too.
Using the Strategies
SOS Close Encounters asks students to use a KWL graphic organizer to record what they know and what they’ve learned. It provides a scaffolded experience to help students pull important information from a piece of media.
I decided to use this strategy as an entry point for a new reading selection my students were going to dive into. I found a short, animated version of the text that provided an accurate storyline, but left out details and situations that help students connect with the story.
The video provided just enough to provide a preview of the plot, yet was vague enough to leave students slightly confused and wanting more. While they watched, I asked students to use previously taught close reading strategies to note information and reactions they had to the media.
After watching the video, I asked students use an adapted version of a KWL chart that I call 1Q3. This strategy encourages students to make connections between prior knowledge and what the text has to say.
In the first column of the chart, labeled “1”, students write down what they know after one viewing or reading of the material. In the second column, labeled “Q”, they record questions they have about it, and then after reading the story text another time, students fill in the third column, labeled “3”, with additional insights they gained from reading the text.
“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell is a short story that some students love, but others find it hard to engage with. I discovered that by revising SOS Close Encounters and incorporating digital media my students are more engaged and better able to connect with the story.
Outcomes and Recommendations
My students seemed to really like this method for previewing the story. I was apprehensive when starting this strategy because I didn’t want showing the video version of the story to take away the “shock value” that comes when students find out the truth in the text.
Fortunately, this only added to that shock value and provided some “AH-HA” moments as the video version makes it hard to grasp the concept of hunting humans. It also eliminated some of the confusion that stems from reading the text just one time.
Students performed much better on the post assessment for this story than they have in the past, which I believe is because students had to take more thorough notes and had to pay attention while reading the text. I will definitely continue to combine multiple forms of media BEFORE reading the text to boost student engagement and understanding.
As this was my first attempt at using SOS Close Encounters, I had to make a few tweaks to the lesson each time I used it throughout the day. The students loved using the strategy, and so did I. I would recommend this strategy for English content at any grade level!