Thoughtful Learning Blog

Thoughtful Learning Blog

The Thoughtful Learning blog features articles about English language arts, 21st century skills, and social-emotional learning. Insights come from the teachers, writers, and developers at Thoughtful Learning, who have been creating top-notch instructional materials for more than 40 years.

Mount Rushmore
Nagel Photography/Shutterstock.com

This Presidents' Day, awaken your students' interest in the past! Help young learners delve into U.S. history by using these exciting activities in your primary classroom.

Presidential Quotes

Start out the month of February with 10 presidential quotes. Put these quotes on display in your classroom and share one a day. You'll be surprised how many have relevancy in your young learners’ lives. On Presidents' Day, have students choose their favorite quote and write what it means to them.

How to Improve Media Literacy

On an average day, American teens spend more time consuming media than attending school. That's the shocking conclusion of a 2015 survey: Teens (ages 13–18) spend an average of 9 hours a day using media while tweens (ages 8–12) spend nearly 6 hours a day. What’s more, these estimates exclude time spent using media for school or homework!

So, how can we help students consume media wisely? How can we teach them to analyze media messages, test them for reliability, and search for bias? These three activities equip students with essential media-literacy skills.

Developing a Growth Mindset

We've all heard defeatist self-talk from students:

  • "I'm terrible at math."
  • "I'll never be a good writer."
  • "I hate history."

Of course, such beliefs make learning these subjects all the more difficult.

But sometimes positive self-talk can also be problematic:

  • "I'm great at math."
  • "I'm a natural-born writer."
  • "I know everything about history."

What's wrong with such statements? Like the negative self-talk, these statements limit learning because they create a fixed mindset.

This awesome photojournalism project comes from Cindy Smith of Karcher Middle School in Burlington, Wisconsin. Students research a historic spot in their community and create a slide show or digital story that portrays the history of the spot in images and words. You can use this project in your classroom to develop students' thinking, reading, writing, speaking, and literacy skills—all while connecting kids to the community and to history.

4 Writing Strategies for Creative Thinking

When your students think creatively, they discover new, original ideas. They open their minds to possibilities rather than seeking expected answers. Creative thinking works hand in hand with critical thinking to help students deepen their learning.

The word creative comes from the Latin word crescere, meaning “to grow.” Creative thinking grows when students are interested, challenged, and motivated. You can foster creativity by encouraging your students to take risks and learn from mistakes. Also, you can use the following writing activities to help students develop four traits of creative thinking: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.

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