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What Skills?

After teachers design a teaching task, the next step is to define the discrete skills students will need to successfully complete the task. The resulting skills list will drive the instructional decisions and learning experiences for students later in the module.

Each skills list includes three elements:

  1. Skill names that identify the reading and writing skills students must acquire to succeed on the teaching task
  2. Skill definitions that start with the phrase “Ability to…” and clarify the lasting competency students will need
  3. Skill clusters that group sets of skills into sequencing that will work well for the teaching and learning process.

Teachers decide which skill names, definitions, and clusters will make sense for their teaching tasks.

To help get teachers started, LDC provides example skills list teachers can add to, delete from, or modify to meet the specific needs of their students. On the right-hand side of this page, you can find these "prototype" LDC skills lists for each writing type. These sample skills lists contain names and definitions of some skills commonly addressed in LDC modules.

Teachers are free to use prototype skills lists, borrow lists from other teachers’ modules, or create their own. Whichever method is used, the skills list must be carefully matched to the reading, writing, thinking, and content understanding that are demanded by the teaching task itself.

Go to the next step for preparing a Module in Section 3: What Instruction?.


Is the "prototype skills list" the skills list that I should use for my module?

The intention of the "prototype skills list" and module templates that feature that skills list is to provide a generic list of some commonly taught literacy skills for teachers to use as a starting point for creating their own skills list for their own particular students for their own module. Skills from the prototype skills list are not intended to always be used "as is" unless the teacher explicitly concludes they meet the needs of her LDC teaching task and student skill needs.

Click here to see some exemplary LDC modules. You will see the wide variety of skills lists that various teachers have thoughtfully constructed for their own students and for their own modules. You can also find these exemplary modules in LDC CoreTools.

What methods should I use to generate my own skills list and precise definitions for the skills that I am targeting in my module?

Generating a skills list requires unpacking both the teaching task and the CCRS the module is built upon. Teachers do this in a variety of ways—usually collaboration is a huge asset at this stage of design. Many teachers start with (formative and summative) data about their students, identifying the literacy skills their students struggle with or need to master to be ready to progress to the next grade and eventually to college and career.

Skills lists should be built not only with the "What Task?" section (your teaching task, standards, content, texts, etc.) of the module in mind, but also with specific students in mind. Teachers build skills lists by unpacking the teaching task but also by unpacking the College and Career Readiness Standards to determine which skills need to be taught in a particular module for students to complete that teaching task with evidence of competency.

Teachers also generate skills lists by working with colleagues on planning and design, looking at current student work, reviewing seminal works by reading and instructional experts, and from experience. Having a coach during this process is invaluable, especially for the first module one designs. 

How does LDC help me leverage “looking at student work” protocols and teacher inquiry team best practices for identifying and addressing students’ needs in terms of literacy skills?

The LDC Framework ensures that teachers identify their students’ needs in terms of CCRS literacy skills and then helps teachers address those needs. The structure of LDC work—planning and designing instruction, followed by implementation of that plan, followed by the collection and scoring of student work—ensures that teachers have a lot of evidence on which to base their inquiry practices.

Having the instructional plan, formative and summative student work, and rubrics with which to score the work all in hand empowers teachers to have collegial inquiry conversations before, during, and after module implementation based on concrete evidence of student progress. In addition, because LDC modules are designed with multiple mini-tasks, teachers have many opportunities to assess and reteach skills as needed by individual or multiple students—true formative assessment during instruction. 

What are other ways I can learn about what makes a good skills list?

LDC’s jurying rubric has criteria for what makes an exemplary skills list. Click here to access the LDC Jurying Rubric