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What Instruction?

After identifying the skills students need to develop to complete the teaching task, teachers design the instructional section of the module, planning out how to teach each skill using an intentionally sequenced series of "mini-tasks."

Mini-tasks are small, scorable assignments that address a particular literacy skill and allow students to practice and develop proficiency with that skill. Simultaneously, the resulting student product gives teachers evidence they can use to determine what adjustments to instruction need to happen next. That is, mini-tasks are organized to be formative assessments that are fully integrated with the ongoing teaching and learning of the teaching task. Depending on the targeted skill, a mini-task can be executed in a portion of one class period or can last several days.

Together, the mini-tasks guide students step by step toward successfully completing the larger teaching task. Each skill has to be explicitly taught through a mini-task, rather than just handing students an assignment and expecting them to complete it on their own.

Each mini-task includes:

  • A product that students will develop, which might be a paragraph, a completed organizer, a set of notes from their reading, an outline for their writing, or some another deliverable chosen by the teacher
  • 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 (i.e., teachers teach the assignment, not just assign it)
  • A pacing plan that is an estimate of how long the mini-task and related instruction will take.

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

Sample LDC Mini-Task

After creating the full complement of mini-tasks that address each of the literacy skills already chosen, defined, and sequenced in What Skills?, a full "Instructional Ladder" is completed. Now the teacher is ready to implement the module, using evidence resulting from each mini-task to determine if his or her students are on track to successfully complete the module's rigorous teaching task. Teachers can add, remove, or revise the module's mini-tasks during the course of instruction to meet the needs of their students.

The LDC Framework gives teachers the flexibility to design their own mini-tasks using their own resources and their preferred instructional and formative assessment strategies. However, LDC also provides teachers with "prototype" sets of mini-tasks that they can modify and use as the basis for their instruction. Additionally, the LDC Mini-Task Library housed inside of the LDC CoreTools platform provides teachers with a growing bank of vetted teacher-created mini-tasks. These exemplary mini-tasks and the resources that come with them—including student handouts—can be used as-is or they can be modified by teachers to better suit their content and their students. Teachers are encouraged to submit their own designs to help expand the collection.

Go to the next step of the module process in Section 4: What Results?.


Does LDC dictate what instructional approaches I must use?

No! LDC engages teachers in designing an instructional plan that helps students build the skills necessary to complete a rigorous teacher-designed task. LDC provides a framework for design and offers examples of promising plans and approaches but does not dictate a specific plan. LDC has been used by schools and districts to provide direct instruction, project-based learning, Paideia Socratic Seminar, balanced literacy and many other types of instructional contexts. Teachers can use the LDC Framework and infuse their own instructional and pedagogical approach.

How does LDC help me engage in formative assessment?

Formative assessment is done on a daily basis and is designed to help teachers and students measure student ongoing progress toward a learning goal and to help teachers modify instruction daily or as needed in response to student learning. Whether teaching stand-alone LDC “mini-tasks,” LDC modules, or units or courses that are built using multiple modules and mini-tasks, the LDC Framework requires teachers to backward plan all assignments (which are narrowly targeted to address specific skills and/or standards) and set the scoring criteria for those assignments before teaching. This frequent and ongoing assessment helps teachers look at student work and formatively assess whether or not students are meeting the specified criteria for success.Teachers are then able to modify instructional decisions and plan to meet the demands of actual student learning. The LDC Framework supports this type of ongoing assessment and re-assessment by anticipating it and helping teachers build it into the design of the module.