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.

Lesson Plan Stages

Common Core Instructional Shifts

Content Areas

Learning Strands


Showing 12 of 218 results:

Scrambled Events

  • Investigation
This activity helps students to understand a series of events while they read or listen to a presentation, and to remember these events in order afterwards. As students listen or read, they look for important...

Scripted Pair Conversation

  • Investigation
This activity helps students to understand and remember material presented in a lecture or text through structured work with peers. Students work together to construct and consolidate knowledge through a...

Second Chance

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis
The Second Chance activity, inspired by Burke’s The English Teacher’s Companion (1998), asks students to imagine alternate outcomes in a text. Students explore these alternate outcomes by examining cause-and-...

Semantic Mapping

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis
“Semantics” refers to the concepts or ideas conveyed by words, and semantic mapping is a process through which students visually depict the ways ideas are connected. Semantic mapping can be used for a text or...

Sensory Display

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis
Through this activity, students immerse themselves in the physical space of the characters in a text. They create a display that replicates as many of the characters’ sensory experiences as possible. This...

Sentence Combining

  • Investigation
This writing activity helps students to understand sentence structure by simplifying and combining sentences drawn from literature. Students develop an appreciation of the craft of sentence writing, as well as...

Sentence Formulas

This strategy helps students to plan and write complete and interesting sentences. By using the acronym PENS, they can recall four steps of sentence writing, which supports confidence and success. Students can...

Sentence Imitation

  • Investigation
This writing activity challenges students to study example sentences drawn from literature, and then to write their own sentences, mimicking the form of the original. Students learn to appreciate and analyze...

Setting Graphic Organizer

  • Investigation
This students help students to recognize the key features of a text’s setting, and to understand how the setting of a text contributes to its meaning. As they read, they complete a graphic organizer that...

Share Sheets

  • Launching Into New Content
This activity helps students to activate background knowledge and to share what they know and believe in a nonthreatening way. Students pass around sheets of paper and each student writes one fact, idea, or...

Showing not Telling

  • Synthesis
This activity helps to enliven students’ writing by teaching them to SHOW what is happening and how characters are feeling rather than drily reporting the facts. It helps writers and readers to experience...

Sing Me a Song

The purpose of this activity, inspired by Burke’s The English Teacher’s Companion (1998), is to provide students with a fun way to summarize and reflect on what they have read. Students will write lyrics to a...