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Undercover Agent


A word problem or visual is revealed, one small piece at a time, as students synthesize the uncovered clues to determine the big idea or related concept.


  • Word problem or visual with animated boxes covering it
  • Undercover Agent template (English/Spanish)
  • Sticky notes (if not projecting template)


  1. Choose how the word problem or visual will be projected (provided template, document camera, etc.).
  2. Cover up the selected word problem or visual with multiple boxes (electronically animated shapes or physically with sticky notes).
  3. Remove one cover box at a time.
  4. As each cover box is removed, students share what they see, synthesize ideas, and give a thumbs-up signal when they can make an inference about the big idea or related concept.
  5. Continue removing one cover box at a time.
  6. Students synthesize the uncovered clues and give a thumbs-up signal when they can identify the big idea or related concept.
  7. Observe students’ thinking and clarify/verify as appropriate.

Classroom Management

  • Rehearse the strategy with a common visual (e.g., a fast-food logo) before using it with academic content.
  • Encourage students to create their own Undercover Agent activity with sticky notes and play the game with a partner.
  • Remind students there will be no harm or humiliation for incorrect answers because correcting mistakes is a sign of intelligence!


  • Promote access by pairing with a supportive peer, allowing students to preview associated visuals with a supportive peer/adult, and/or providing a word/idea bank to help with clues.

Think It Up!

  • Have students think more deeply about the concept by responding to a Think It Up prompt as an exit ticket or journal entry:
    • Justify which clue solved the mystery for you and how it helped you the most.
    • Explain how you made connections with the clues that were revealed.
  • Encourage students to use lead4ward’s Thinking Stems (English/Spanish) to frame their responses, if needed.