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Thoughtful Learning

What's Inside?

  • 3 Ways to Teach Conjunctions
  • How to Teach Deeper Thinking with Visuals
  • How to Engage Your Students with Shared Inquiry

3 Ways to Teach Conjunctions

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And and or may be little, but they are fierce: They connect ideas not only in writing but also in math and logic. For instance, Boolean algebra uses and and or to determine the logical relations of compound propositions. These little words also make computers work. Because of and and or, you can send an email, share a selfie, like a meme, and access your bank account.

In fact, recent studies suggest that we should do more to directly teach these and other conjunctions. If developing writers can't use them effectively, they will struggle to formulate and express ideas. And readers need help with connectors, too.

And, or, but, nor, for, yet, and so can empower writing in many ways:

  • Connecting two or more words, phrases, or clauses
  • Combining choppy sentences to create a smoother flow
  • Elaborating simple sentences and ideas
  • Expressing relationships between concepts
  • Fixing comma splices and run-ons
  • Signaling comparisons, contrasts, causes, and effects
  • Creating cohesion
  • Creating surprise

The following minilessons help students understand and use these little but fierce words.

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How to Teach Deeper Thinking with Visuals


With so much content to teach, we often focus on getting students to remember, understand, and apply information. That's no small feat! But Bloom's Revised Taxonomy suggests that we help students go deeper—analyzing and evaluating and eventually creating. Sure . . . but how?

Why not visually? For most of us, seeing is believing. When we can visualize abstract concepts and relationships, we gain a greater grasp of them. You can use a ready-made set of graphic organizers, checklists, and other visuals to help your students analyze, evaluate, and create.


When students analyze information, they break it into its parts, examine each part closely, and study how the parts fit together. Engineers and lawyers and medical professionals analyze constantly, so helping students develop this thinking skill can improve their success well beyond your classroom.

You can use these minilessons with downloadable graphic organizers to help students analyze:

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How Can I Teach 21st Century Skills?

The Inquire series develops the deep-thinking skills coveted by colleges and businesses. These cross-curricular learning guides cover 21st century skills, traditional study skills, the inquiry process, and project-based instruction. Both student and teacher editions are offered in print and online versions for all grade levels.

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How to Engage Your Students with Shared Inquiry

Using Shared Inquiry in Language Arts

As every teacher knows, learning begins with engagement. Engaged students read thoroughly, write thoughtfully, and grapple with content. But how can we get our students to engage?

Shared inquiry helps students engage. This teaching approach requires a team effort. Instead of imparting knowledge, we work with our students to ask questions, sort through evidence, and draw conclusions. Shared inquiry requires students to communicate, collaborate, solve problems, and think critically and creatively.

Here's how you can use shared inquiry to teach writing, grammar, vocabulary, and reading.

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