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Mini-Tasks

Mini-tasks are small, scorable assignments that address a particular literacy skill that a teacher has selected to target based on assessing the needs of students. Within the LDC Framework, mini-tasks are primarily used in modules to support discrete student skill development to meet the CCRS expectations of the culminating LDC teaching task—i.e., mini-tasks guide students step-by-step toward successfully meeting the grade-level expectations of the larger LDC teaching task.

Mini-tasks address skills such as understanding the task, meeting the reading challenges of the texts, and working through both the thinking challenges and writing demands of the final product. Rather than handing students an assignment and expecting them to complete it, each skill has to be explicitly taught through a mini-task.

As noted in the What Instruction? section, each mini-task includes:

  • A product that students will develop or produce like a paragraph, a completed organizer
  • A prompt that gives students clear direction on what they are to produce
  • A scoring guide that sets criteria for what kind of work indicates that students have developed the needed skill
  • The instructional strategies that the teacher will use to help students complete the mini-task
  • A pacing plan estimating how long the mini-task and instruction will take.

Here is an example of a mini-task a teacher might use to ensure students have mastered the ability to ask different types of questions while actively reading a text:

Sample LDC Mini-Task

An Emerging Practice from the Field

Mini-tasks can also be taught as "stand-alone" lessons outside of a module to help sharpen students’ literacy skills. For example, if an earlier module indicated that students did not master a key skill, an individual mini-task may be a good way to strengthen that particular capability before the next module. Alternately, teachers may use mini-tasks at regular intervals between modules to ensure students get regular support on CCRS-related work. LDC CoreTools enables users to create, edit, copy, and share individual stand-alone mini-tasks. Read more

Teachers can also access a bank of mini-tasks created by colleagues across the country. With the support of David Pearson and a team at UC Berkeley and with the help of our partners at New Visions for Public Schools, LDC has established a library of vetted literacy mini-tasks. The Mini-Task Library in LDC CoreTools, features teacher-created mini-tasks for a variety of commonly taught literacy skills. Teachers may choose from current entries and have the option to submit their own vetted, successful mini-tasks to expand the collection.

FAQ: 

How will the mini-task library add new vetted mini-tasks from teachers across the country?

The mini-task library inside of CoreTools currently features well-resourced mini-tasks for commonly taught skills that can often be used in modules regardless of content area or grade level. LDC expects teachers to regularly submit their best, vetted mini-tasks to the library to share with teachers across the country, particularly those mini-tasks that target less commonly taught skills, specific content areas, and a variety of grade levels (e.g. examining primary source documents in the eighth grade). For future information on the process for submitting mini-tasks, follow us on Twitter @LitDesignCollab or look for updates in our upcoming newsletters.

How can I use mini-tasks from the mini-task library?

In the Instructional Plan section of LDC CoreTools, teachers have the option of importing mini-tasks from the mini-task library directly into their module along with attachments (such as student worksheets, teacher handouts, and samples of student work. They can use the mini-task "as is" or they can make modifications to it (including the attachments) to make it more suitable for their particular students and module. In addition, teachers can use the mini-tasks as stand-alone tasks that support students’ literacy skill development outside the confines of a module.

Are the "prototype mini-tasks" featured in some module templates the ones that I should use for my module?

The intention of the "prototype mini-tasks" and the module templates that feature them is to provide a set of frequently used literacy mini-tasks and instructional strategies for teachers to use as a starting point for creating their own mini-tasks for their own particular students for their own module. These “prototype mini-tasks are not typically used “as is,” the teacher is expected to modify, adjust, replace, and add mini-tasks that are matched to the skills students will need to step by step master to complete the larger teaching task. LDC is designed to give teachers the flexibility to make these professional decisions.

Click here to see some sample exemplary LDC modules and to explore the wide variety of mini-tasks that various teachers have thoughtfully constructed for their own students and for their own modules. You can also log in to LDC CoreTools to access a growing library of exemplary mini-tasks to select from.

How can I learn to design effective literacy mini-tasks?

Click here to access the LDC module jurying criteria, which includes criteria for what makes an exemplary mini-task. Many districts and states have also found it highly beneficial to access external professional development from one of our expert and approved professional development partners. Information about our approved LDC partners may be found on the Partners page of this website.

How will I know if my mini-tasks "worked"?

Student work is obviously the best evidence of whether a mini-task “worked.” Accordingly, teachers are encouraged to score student work from mini-tasks using their scoring guides daily during instruction as formative assessment. Note that saving scored copies of student work from mini-tasks (and uploading them into CoreTools) enables teachers to reflect on their instruction and to make adjustments during the course of the module to address skills students have not yet mastered. Saving copies of scored student work also helps in revising the module for more effective implementation in the future by you or by other teachers in the LDC community of practice who may decide to use your shared module.