Monday, February 01, 2016

Tools for the SOS (part 1 of 2)

This article originally appeared in the Discovery Education blog "Kathy Schrock's Katch of the Month" in February 2016 and is re-posted here with permission.

The Spotlight on Strategies Series (SOS) on the Discovery Education site includes a wealth of pedagogical and practical strategies for the use of the digital resources from Discovery Education in the classroom. Each weekly strategy is different– some are for introducing a topic, others target collaboration, and still others provide a path to an assessment project or product. All of the strategies include a downloadable PDF version of the ideas as well as a vignette, which may include a slide show or additional information by the author of the SOS. Readers are encouraged to share the ways they utilize the strategy or how to differentiate the strategy by grade level or individual students.
If you are a subscriber to Discovery Education, you can now find the SOS strategies organized by sub-skill on your own page, as illustrated below. This is a great way to browse for the perfect SOS!
Some of the SOS strategies included the use of technology for completion of the classroom strategy, and others do not. Since I am interested in the student use of technology for both focusing learning (activators) and moving knowledge into long-term memory (summarizers), I decided to suggest some online tools and iPad apps that can easily support some of the Discovery education strategies.


  1. Students are each given a blank sheet of paper.
  2. As they view a Discovery Education Streaming video, the teacher pauses the video every sixty seconds.
  3. Students are given a minute to answer a question, make a statement, or ask a new question dealing with the content they are viewing. They do this by pretending to be texting a friend and use their paper to draw “texting” boxes or whatever method they want to complete the  ongoing “conversation”.
Tech tool enhancement
Using the Web site, students would have a “conversation” with a friend while asking and answering a question during the pauses. The resulting screenshots could be shared with the teacher to showcase understanding of the topic.

  1. Students will be creating a concrete or shape poem with information they learn from a video segment from Discovery Education Streaming.
  2. Students are asked to recall as much information as they can about the video segment’s content.
  3. After viewing the video, students draw the outline of one image that represents the main concept of the video segment.
  4. They then  fill in the outline of each shape with graphical or text versions of facts they learned from  the video.
  5. After finishing their work, have students share their images in small groups.
Tech tool enhancement
Have students use an online drawing program or a tablet app to create their drawing. One nice drawing  app for the tablets is Drawing Pad (iOS) (Android). It has realistic-looking tools, is cross-platform, and students can save their work to an album and go back and edit it later. The final version can be save to the camera roll, emailed, or posted on Twitter and Facebook.
For the Chromebooks and laptops, there are online drawing tools, too. Two popular ones are Sketchpad and SumoPaint.

  1. Students are shown a Discovery Education Streaming video segment (less than 5 minutes) that is relevant to the current unit of study.
  2. Assign students to groups.
  3. Students take notes on the content, with the video pausing about every 60 seconds.
  4. Students can watch the video more than once if they need to gather more information.
  5. After students have watched the video, have them work in their groups, comparing notes on the highlights of the video.
  6. Have students create movements to match the content. (You may or may not need music.) Students can narrate their movement as they are moving through it and should record it.
Tech tool enhancement
Have students take notes in a group-assigned Padlet and, when the video is over, get together in a location to discuss their thoughts. Have students use a movie-making program on their tablet or computer to tape each of the movements separately. If possible, project the screen of the device collecting the video so students can work together to arrange the clips. Have one student create opening title slides in PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides and turn them into JPEGS and import into the movie-editing program. Put narration in after the fact as well as any sounds or audio, and finalize the video.
On the iPad, iMovie Trailers, part of the iMovie suite of tools (or iMovie on the Mac computer) works great for this project since the templates are engaging, and students can take video and stills from within the app or easily import them from the camera roll or the computer. Loopster is an online video editor that is also available for iOS and Android devices, and would work well for a BYOT or Chromebook classroom. For free, students can create a 10 minute video.
Here is a sample “acting-out” video that has the students acting out vocabulary words in clever ways!
Have you tried any of the SOS strategies in your classroom? Have you added some technology enhancements to them?