Learning Activities

This section of the Design Lab houses more than 200 activities strategically selected to support young people in learning key skills. Most of the activities can be used in classrooms across multiple content areas (including math!). The Learning Strategy Buttons and Search Filters will provide you with many different ways to explore the collection, allowing you to quickly identify activities for specific instructional plans.

Inferring

Inferring is the work of "reading between the lines" of a text, looking for symbolism, theme, and author's point of view and intention. While this is a sophisticated reading strategy, many young people instinctively apply it to their personal lives as they navigate their families, friendships, and teachers. These activities will allow you to introduce inferring to students within an academic context.

Lesson Plan Stages

Common Core Instructional Shifts

Content Areas

Learning Strands

Skills

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  • Reflection
  • Synthesis
In this activity students will write a poem that synthesizes information that they have read. Each stanza of the poem represents a different view of a character or an event. The purpose of this activity is to...

Attribute Sorts

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis
This activity helps students to organize and remember important and distinguishing information about key people, places, or other ideas from their reading. Students sort a set of prepared attributes under the...

Audience Analysis

  • Investigation
In order to communicate effectively, writers and speakers need to understand their audience’s interests, assumptions, and background knowledge. Skilled communicators must be able both to identify their...

Author Interview

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis
Author Interview is an activity used to deepen readers’ understanding of character, plot, the author’s message, or theme. By questioning the author’s choices in narrative development, students consider the...

Beyond-the-Lines Questions

  • Building Background
In this activity, adapted from Harvey & Goudvis’s Strategies that Work (2007), students will create and use beyond-the-line questions that provoke deeper thinking and prompt lively student discussions...

Cartoon Analysis

  • Investigation
This activity helps students to develop a deeper understanding of a controversial topic, and to gain skill in literary and artistic analysis. It is useful in an ELA classroom, since it develops analysis skills...

Cause-and-Effect Train

  • Building Background
  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis
For this activity, students create a visual representation of the cause-and-effect relationships among events. This activity is useful any time you want your students to understand the complex...

Character Quotations

  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content
The character quotations activity helps prepare students to read a novel or historical text by building prior knowledge of key figures in the text. Students examine quotations from the key characters, and...

Closed and Open Word Sorts

  • Building Background
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis
Word Sort is a simple small group activity. Students list key words from a reading or a unit of study, or alternatively, the teacher may provide a list of terms prior to the sort. Students identify the meaning...

Coding Persuasive Writing

  • Launching Into New Content
This activity teaches students about the genre and structure of persuasive writing. Students examine exemplars of persuasive texts and use a code to identify key elements of the text. This activity helps...

Connection Sentence Stems

  • Building Background
  • Investigation
This activity teaches students how to make specific connections to a text by identifying personal experiences, other texts, and worldly ideas that are related to what they are reading. Students are given...

Cornell Notes

  • Investigation
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis
Cornell Notes is a flexible note-taking system that helps students to create organized and useful class notes, and to review and learn from these notes later. It is simple to learn and widely adaptable to...

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