Posts for March 2016

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.

Open-Education Resources
Maksim Kabakou/

You may have noticed a new symbol on some of our resource pages:

Creative Commons License

This is a Creative Commons license. When you see this symbol, you’re free to use, share, and re-purpose the material in your classroom as you see fit. The symbol designates the material as an open-education resource, or OER for short. Open-education resources are part of an emerging content revolution, with the potential for immense impact in the classroom and beyond.

What exactly is OER?

The Hewlett Foundation defines OER as . . .

Teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.

With OER, you are no longer beholden to static (and sometimes stale) textbook content. Instead, you can adopt, adapt, and share resources to meet your students’ specific needs. Open content can be retained, reused, revised, remixed, and redistributed.


In this featured lesson plan, Writers Express author and former elementary teacher Ruth Nathan shares a fun way to wrap up a biographical writing unit.

Putting Biographical Knowledge to Work:
“Dates with the Greats” Interview Party

After your students write reports about important people, give them another opportunity to put their knowledge to work! Explain that your class is going to have a “Dates with the Greats” interview party. During this party, students will play the roles of the special people they have written about and will answer interview questions.

Prepare the Party

Ask students to review their biographical writing, individually or with a friend, and jot down questions visitors might ask about their characters. (These questions are simply to have on hand in case the interviewers have trouble asking questions.)

38 Ways Students Can Create Digital Content

Our students spend a lot of time using screen media but not much time creating digital content. According to Common Sense Media, teens spend only three percent of their time creating new things. With an average of 9 hours a day spent consuming media, teens could accomplish great things if they devoted a larger slice of their digital time to making stuff.

We can encourage our students to become content creators by exposing them to opportunities to write, record, film, build, design, and code using digital media.

Here are 38 ways your students can use screen media to create content. Each idea can be integrated into a classroom lesson, used as a stand-alone project, or featured during genius hour. Inspire your students to . . .