Home > Our Design Lab > Skills > Making Meaning

Making Meaning


Real learning requires not just reciting information, but processing the meaning that this information contains. For example, students can repeat arithmetic facts, but we do not know that they understand them unless they can show us with manipulatives. Students can list the elements of the Bill of Rights without even knowing what is meant by a “right.” Effective learners need to be able to cognitively process ideas in order to construct meaning in their own minds.


By making meaning, students understand what they are learning at a deep conceptual level. This level of processing helps students to comprehend, retain, and recall what they learn, and to synthesize information across subjects and disciplines. Ultimately, it allows students to broaden and enrich their understanding of themselves and of the world.

Content Area Adaptations 

Making meaning is equally relevant in all content areas, since it is an essential component of deep learning.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Determining Importance
  • Inferring
  • Predicting
  • Synthesizing

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.10
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.3
  • CCRA.R.4
  • CCRA.R.5
  • CCRA.R.6
  • CCRA.R.7
  • CCRA.R.8
  • CCRA.R.9

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Listening
  • Numeracy
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Connect Two

In this activity students will make connections between concepts/terms. The purpose of this activity is to help students better understand concepts and how they relate to each other. This activity is best used as a review of key vocabulary.

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Reflection
  • Synthesis

Gallery Walk

In this activity student work is posted and the students walk around and look at their classmates’ work. The purpose of this activity can vary depending on the assignment. In its simplest form a gallery walk is an opportunity for students to see the work of other students. In an art class this could be a chance to share ideas and draw...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis


In this activity students are divided into groups. Each group has a different focus related to a common theme or topic. Students are then regrouped so that one member from each of the original groups is able to teach the other students what they learned. The purpose of this activity is for students to teach and learn from each other. This...

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Reflection
  • Synthesis