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Spotlight on Strategies:Connect the dots

Students start by marking a dot in the middle of their paper with the title of the topic and another dot at the top of the page with their name next to it. Play the video pausing every minute. At each pause, students should add a dot between the topic and their name making a connection by adding information from the video segment that connects to the topic but also has meaning for them personally. Repeat throughout the video segment. Students then share the dot diagram with a partner.

Big idea

It's easy to get caught up in the race to ensure curriculum is 'covered' by the end of the year. However, this does not guarantee that the appropriate learning takes place. In order for new information to make its way into long-term memory, students must be able to answer two important questions: "Does this make sense?" and "Does this have meaning?". According to Sousa and Tomlinson; "...of the two criteria, meaning has the greater impact on the probability that information will be stored." (Differentiation and the Brain). This strategy allows students to develop a concept map which connects the dots between what they are learning and how it's relevant to their lives.

Overview of strategy



video segment (three-five minutes), blank paper, pen or pencil

  1. Introduce this strategy to your students by asking them to make a dot in the middle of their paper and write the topic just above the dot. For this example, we will use 'Renewable Energy'.
  2. Next, ask students to put a dot at the top of the page and write their name next to it. Explain to students that today they will be making connections from their topic to their lives.
  3. Play the video segment and pause every minute. Each time you pause, students should add a dot between the topic and their name. Next to the dot, they should add information and concepts from the segment that connect to the topic, but also have meaning for them personally.
  4. Repeat this process throughout the video segment. When they finish, students should have a series of supporting details connecting the topic dot-to-dot with their name.
  5. Have students share their dot diagram with a partner.
  6. Complete this activity with a whole group discussion, asking students to share their personal connections with the class.
Sum it up

Making personal connections is a great way for students to remember key topics and concepts.

More ideas
  • Have students take a digital photo of their diagram and reflect on what they learned in a blog.
  • Use dot diagrams as an outline to begin a writing assignment or presentation.

Try another? Check out or view all.

See these in action: catch up on a recent 'Spotlight on Strategies' webinar .

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