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:

One Comment One Question

  • Reflection
  • Synthesis
In this activity, adapted from Gallagher’s Deeper Reading (2004), students will write a comment or question based on the reading. The purpose of the activity is for students to review content by participating...

One-Sentence Summaries

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis
In this activity, inspired by Burke’s The English Teacher’s Companion (1998), students will summarize main ideas and vital details in one sentence. There are five different types of one-sentence summaries:...

Open Mind

In this activity students will infer the thoughts or feelings of a character in a text. Students will represent those thoughts or feelings with symbols, words, or drawings. This activity should be followed up...

Order of Importance

In this activity students will rank information from a text by order of importance. This activity helps students to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. Sorting relevant and irrelevant...

Outline Preview

  • Investigation
Through this activity, students preview the content of a text by examining an outline, and making prediction about the content that will fill out the outline. They are then better prepared to understand and...

Paragraph Frames

  • Investigation
Paragraph Frames provide a scaffold for students as they attempt to organize their ideas coherently within the structure of a well-crafted paragraph. Teachers create “frames” of incomplete sentences that...

Paragraph Shrinking

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis
Paragraph Shrinking promotes reading comprehension in a collaborative, small-group setting. Students take turns reading text, pausing, and summarizing the main points of each paragraph, and provide each other...

Perspective Setting Drawings

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis
Through this activity, students visualize and then draw a primary place of the story, from the point of view of at least 2 characters. This activity helps students to imagine the setting more fully and more...

Photo Drop

  • Building Background
  • Launching Into New Content
This activity, adapted from Facing History and Ourselves ( www.facinghistory.org ) helps students consider what they already know about a topic or a text through visual media. Students examine relevant...

Pivotal Point Scaffolding

  • Investigation
  • Synthesis
This activity helps students to comprehend text in the context of sustained silent reading. For most of the time the students are asked to immerse themselves in independent reading, and the teacher supports...


  • Investigation
This activity guides students in setting writing goals, and determining strategies to reach them. It encourages metacognition and self-directed learning. Students learn to use the mnemonic “PLANS” (Harris...

Poems Put to Use

  • Launching Into New Content
This is an activity, adapted from Poetry Out Loud ( www.poetryoutloud.org ), that helps students to imagine how memorizing lines of poetry can be useful in their lives. Through this process, students gain an...