Skills Development

As educators, we often identify key skills that our students need to learn, but it can be challenging to find activities that specifically address these skills. This part of the Design Lab is devoted to our evolving "Learning Genome" of essential skills, critical for college and career preparation. At this time, we have identified 45 skills. Accompanying each skill description is a growing catalog of associated activities.

As you explore, you will see that each skill is associated with specific learning strategies. The Search Filters will allow you to search for skills associated with individual Common Core Standards, specific content areas, etc.


Learning to synthesize is the work of digesting a text, figuring out what we really think about its meaning, and exploring the author's intent. Synthesis is a complex process, that is aided by all of the other strategies. As a result, it is typically the last strategy introduced to students These activities have been collected to provide some helpful guidance.

Common Core Standards

Content Areas

Learning Strands

Showing 10 of 26 results:

Analyzing Poetry

When we analyze poetry, we closely examine the different parts of the poem, and then use this close examination to interpret the meaning(s) of the poem.  As with all good writing, the form of a poem complements and contributes to its meaning, so poetry analysis includes examination of formal elements such as structure,...

Analyzing Theme

As students become more advanced readers they are expected to analyze the ideas that texts bring up. Students need to be able to recognize the big, recurring concepts that appear in text, and to interpret what individual texts have to say about these ideas. By learning to recognize and analyze the theme(s) of texts,...

Cause and Effect

Students need to appreciate the relationship of cause and effect in order to really understand and remember complex phenomena: novels, persuasive arguments, historical events, and series of related occurrences in nature, for example. Without understanding cause and effect, students are apt to learn and recall such...

Clarifying Confusion

Skilled learners are adept at identifying when they are confused, and using a variety of strategies to clarify their confusion. Less-skilled learners, however, often will not even notice that they are confused, and if they do notice, they often lack a repertoire of effective strategies to repair the breakdown in...

Considering Big Ideas

Successful students are able to understand, process, and remember a wide variety of information. Much of the information is factual details, but these details always fit into a larger context of big ideas. Students often need guidance in identifying, understanding, and connecting these big ideas, and by providing such...