The Literacy Design Collaborative has created a back-to-school lesson collection for teachers in a variety of disciplines and grade levels to use in their classroom. We are excited to have Dr. Suzanne Simons from LDC here to tell us more.
Kelly: Tell the Ohio STEM Learning Network a little bit about yourself and why you’re a part of this work.
Suzanne: As the Chief of Instruction & Design at Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) I’m responsible for developing professional development resources, online content, and professional development standards—with a special focus on ensuring LDC standards and supports are closely attuned to the realities of the classroom.
Kelly: Who is this back-to-school collection designed for?
Suzanne: The LDC Mini-Task Collection is designed for use by teachers in grades 2 through 12. First, let me explain what I mean by a “mini-task.” An LDC mini-task is a short assignment during which you explicitly teach students an enduring literacy skill and then assess students to see if they learned that skill. You plan exactly what skill you’d like your students to develop, how you’ll teach your students that skill, and then how you’ll measure how well they learned it.
LDC mini-tasks are intended to support the acquisition of literacy skills that are specific to different disciplines. We all read and write differently depending on the purpose and discipline. For example, we usually read novels from beginning to end (despite occasional peeks at the last page!). But ask scientists if they read journal articles from beginning to end, and you’ll get a laugh. More often than not, scientists read the beginning and the end of a research article and then decide if it’s necessary to read the middle.
The same goes for writing. In literature classes, we often write essays in a linear fashion. However, if you ask that same scientist if scientific papers are written in a linear fashion, you’ll get that laugh again. In scientific writing, often the beginning (the abstract) is the last thing written.
You can use LDC mini-tasks to design instruction that teaches literacy skills specific to your discipline, supporting your students in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking in disciplinary ways.
Kelly: What can I expect to find in the collection?
Suzanne: There are many different collections for different teachers: elementary, social studies, science, and more. The mini-tasks in the LDC Science Collection provide teachers with useful and practical assignments such as, Developing Descriptive Language, Identification of a Text’s Main Idea, Citing Evidence, Identifying Explanatory Text Features, and Writing Observational Journals.
Kelly: How will it help kids in my classroom?
Suzanne: Every LDC mini-task includes an enduring literacy skill that will be explicitly taught, a named product (outcome), a student-facing prompt, a scoring guide or rubric, instructional strategies, and pacing information for teaching the assignment—everything a teacher needs for a quick, out-of-the-box lesson that she or he can put to use immediately in the classroom.
Developing Descriptive Language, a 40-minute lesson for students in grades 2–6, asks them to choose a bird that they want to describe, generate a list of important details about the bird, and then write a description that a classmate could use to guess which bird they’ve described. Finally, students are asked to refine their description based on peer feedback. The focus for this mini-task is on students’ ability to generate and apply descriptive language to effectively identify visual objects.
Other mini-tasks in the science collection focus on skills such as academic integrity, active reading, pre-reading and inspectional reading, task analysis, organizing ideas and information, and bridging conversation and task engagement.
Kelly: What’s coming next?
Suzanne: In September, we’ll be asking educators to share some of their favorite mini-tasks with the LDC Community of Practice. We’ll also be highlighting some of the great mini-tasks in our partner collections. Our friends at Battelle will be sharing some of the mini-tasks that they’ve developed as part of the Battelle Education LDC collection. In an upcoming blog post, they will give you a sneak peek of science focused mini-tasks created by science teachers and scientists at Battelle.
Kelly: Yes! We will focus on how these mini-tasks help science teachers meet the demands of the common core while also emphasizing the practices found in the Next Generation Science Standards.
Kelly: Anything else to add for teachers?
Suzanne: I invite you to take a look at the LDC resources below to access our free collections and learn more about mini-tasks. We hope you find them useful!
Browse any or all of the LDC Back-to-School Collections, which include multiple disciplines (English language arts, history/social studies, science/technical) for different grade levels, including assignments for elementary students.
- “Copy” what you like and use these great literacy assignments in your classroom as you start the school year.
- Learn more about mini-tasks in this free online LDC mini-course.