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.

Common Core Standards

Content Areas

Learning Strands

Showing 8 of 38 results:

Setting Analysis

In most narratives, the setting is more than just an arbitrary backdrop. Instead, the setting functions almost as a character in the story.  The setting interacts with characters and events, shaping opinions, roles, and motivations, and creating mood.  Setting critically informs the meaning of a narrative, and students...


Themes are the big ideas that underlie the specifics of a work, subject, time period, event, or other subject of study; they are the unifying concepts upon which details of form and narrative are overlaid. When students identify and analyze theme, they are able to consider how a narrative or a topic connects to...

Using Five Senses

Skilled readers often become effortlessly immersed in a text, and they experience a story almost as if the events were really happening to them. However, less-skilled readers generally struggle to experience such immersion, and even the best readers may struggle to maintain basic attention when a text is particularly...

Word Study

Skilled readers know a lot about the words they read. They fluently process the words’ meanings, form, and syntactic properties, and they apply this knowledge to interpret words in real time as they read texts.  Struggling readers are often hampered by their limited or rigid knowledge of words, which can prevent them...