Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Teaching the Tasks (part 7)

This Tasks Galore Publishing blog entry completes addressing the questions we ask when designing tasks:

•          Does the task address the student’s educational goals?
•          Is the task multi-modal?
•          Does the task incorporate student’s interests and strengths?
•          Is the task created using visual cues that will be meaningful to the individual student?
•          Are pieces of the task organized systematically?
•          Is the task designed so that the student can manage it independently?
•          Has the student mastered the task?

We addressed the first question in the blog entry on July 13, 2016, the second question in the blog entry on August 9, 2016, the third in the entry on September 18, 2016, the fourth in the entry on October 23, 2016 , the fifth on January 15, 2017, and the sixth on February 19, 2017. This entry will discuss the final question:

Has the Student Mastered the Task?

It is imperative to assess when our students master a task.  When they have, it is time to decide what is next for them to learn.

Once they demonstrate knowledge of a skill independently, we think about ways to generalize that skill across people or settings and teach a next step based on that skill. It is time to make new tasks.

For example, one of our students has mastered sorting different objects when these also differ by color. Next, we might provide a task, such as this one illustrated, that requires the student to sort objects that are all the same color and differ only by shape.

Another student has mastered the goal of putting away his belongings. He puts away completed tasks when at his desk and lunch materials after eating. We, next, design a task so he can generalize this skill in a new setting. A finish bin, similar to the one used at his work desk, is placed in the library. He places books left on library tables into this container. His doing this job helps the librarian who does not need to collect the books when she is ready to reshelf them.

After learning to match words to pictures and read some words, a next step is for the student to generalize these skills to reading text in a book.  To help the student accomplish this new goal while reading Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, we provide a picture dictionary as a reference to use independently.

Each time we make a task for a student, we

•          address the student’s educational goals;
•          make the task multi-modal and, hence, more engaging;
•          incorporate student’s interests and strengths;
•          use meaningful visual cues;
•          organize pieces of the task systematically; and
•          design the task so that the student can manage it independently.

We watch carefully as the students work on a task to determine when they master it. Not being satisfied with mastery, we further determine how to advance or generalize the skill. We are often amazed and thrilled with what our students can achieve when we follow these guidelines. More importantly, our students are pleased with their newly found competencies.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 2017 Task of the Month

We often address the skills our students need to learn by thinking of task designs that are quick to make. These squiggly worms were easy to make as were the written word labels that we affixed to plastic bags. If a student is not yet reading written words, we change the labels by adding the numerals and pictures as cues to accompany the words.

Using worms for counting can support themes about what we see in the spring, what birds eat, what is in the garden, etc.

We advocate using themed storybooks to teach concepts. Then we use the vocabulary from the story to address other skills. This task could be used to reinforce the vocabulary from a story, such as Wiggly the Worm by Arnie Lightning.

To learn more about literacy-based instruction, check out our set Tasks Galore Literature-Based Thematic Units. This set includes a storybook with a colorful character, Triggy, and a theme about foods and a resource book filled with hundreds of teaching activities in a variety of early learning curriculum areas, all of which are designed in a multi-modal task format.

Storybook included in Tasks Galore Literature-Based Thematic Units