Our presenter was Susan Herrington from Baton Rouge. The focus for this session was on writing min-tasks, which are essential parts of LDC modules.
We started things off with an explanation of LDC.org and the module creator tool, which includes a tool for writing mini-tasks. The goal of the session was to ensure that the standards are being embedded into mini-tasks.
Susan emphasized that writing modules and mini-tasks entails a lot of freedom regarding choice of strategies and topics, but that with freedom comes the responsibility to make sure the mini-tasks meet and match CCSS.
She led us through a module she used with her high school biology class. It was an informative essay called “Just because we can, should we?” which dealt with the ethics of genetic modification.
One of the skills, of course, was Active Reading. She wrote a mini-task that had the close reading standard built into the task of reading an article about genetic modification of cows. Then she took that task and wrote up the instructional strategies that would get her kiddos to meet the embedded standard. She had her students read and re-read the task, highlighting germane information in two colors (one for info that supports their thesis and one for info that contradicts), discuss their notes with a small group and read another, related text for homework. The goal here is to scaffold the close-reading with strategies that ensure students’ comprehension
Notice that the highlighting strategies, looking for supporting and contradicting text, lead right into writing, which is the next task in the module.
Speaking of scaffolding, Susan led our group through the writing of a mini task. We started by looking and writing down a standard (ours was the one on summarizing). Then we had to pick the most appropriate mini-task skill that addresses the standard. My table struggled with this. Sometimes this work is appropriate for collaboration, but when everyone’s a stranger, there’s too much caution going on. I found myself writing stuff down that I didn’t really agree with just to be pleasant
Next we choose an appropriate strategy from a comprehensive menu of reading strategies. We went with something called “Text Rendering,” which is a highly scaffolded way for a small student group to come up with a summary.
This was an engaging session designed for folks who are pretty familiar with writing LDC modules and are focusing on tweaking their modules and refining the mini-tasks within. I enjoyed it, even though my table wasn’t a very functional PLC.