Powerful Task Design: Rigorous and Engaging Tasks to Level Up Instruction
Publication Year: 2018
How can educators use technology to increase students’ engagement in activities essential to rigorous learning? What are the most effective tools for analyzing, designing, and refining those tasks of learning? And finally, how can we increase the cognitive rigor and thoughtful integration of technology into learning tasks, in order to better prepare students for college and beyond? In Powerful Task Design, these questions and more will be answered, as you get to know the Powerful Task Rubric for Designing Student Work. Applicable for educators across all disciplines and grade levels, you’ll use the tool to analyze, design, and refine cognitively engaging tasks of learning. This guide will help you • Explore and use the Powerful Task Rubric piece-by-piece in an easily digestible format to help ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Introduction: The Power of the Task
- Chapter 1: The Work of School
- Chapter 2: Analyzing Learning With the Powerful Task Rubric
- Chapter 3: The Power of Engagement
- Chapter 4: The Power of Academic Strategies
- Chapter 5: The Power of the Question
- Chapter 6: Engaged in What? The Power of Cognition
- Chapter 7: Power Up: Using the Diagnostic Instrument to Analyze Learning
- Chapter 8: Putting It All Together
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Antonetti, John V., author. | Stice, Terri, author.
Title: Powerful task design : rigorous and engaging tasks to level-up
instruction / John Antonetti, Terri Stice.
Description: First edition. | Thousand Oaks, California : Corwin, a Sage Company,  | Includes bibliographical references and index.
Identifiers: LCCN 2017049403 | ISBN 9781506399140 (pbk. : acid-free paper)
Subjects: LCSH: Instructional systems—Design. | Educational technology.
Classification: LCC LB1028.38 .A47 2018 | DDC 371.3—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017049403
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
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Praise for Powerful Task Design[Page i]
Antonetti and Stice turn the bubble-sheet culture on its head— offering readers a path for implementing rigorous and engaging tasks that promote meaning-making and sustained learning. Through Powerful Task Design, they provide a way of thinking about our main goal in the classroom—creating rigorous and engaging tasks that power up learning. I love this book! The cognitive demand, thinking strategies, and engaging qualities of this book WILL change the way I interact with my own learners . . . and my two small children.—John Almarode, Author
Visible Learning for Science, Grades K–12 and From Snorkelers to Scuba DiversWaynesboro, VA
An easy-to-follow tool for educators wishing to reflect on the rigor of their classroom tasks with excellent tips to take learning to the next level!—Clint Heitz, Instructional CoachBettendorf Community School District, Bettendorf, IA
It is painfully obvious that something needs to be done to do more than simply engage students; we need to cognitively engage them and this book gives you the tools with which to do just that. Everything is here for you to make those changes.—Melody (Dani) Aldrich, High School English TeacherCasa Grande Union High School, Casa Grande, AZ
Finally! A resource that focuses first on the TASK (what it is we are asking of our students) and then the RESOURCES (what technology is at our disposal to accomplish the task?). For decades now, the process has been backwards and the focus has become bells-and-whistle technology that is mistaken for authentic engagement. This book will give tangible tools for the teacher toolbox while keeping the eye on the rigor prize for students.—Matthew Constant, Chief Academic OfficerOwensboro Public Schools, Owensboro, KY
With this collaboration, Antonetti’s expertise with designing engaging and rigorous student tasks is combined with Stice’s vast knowledge of effective technology use in the classroom. Both Antonetti and Stice have worked with our district’s teachers and administrators and have helped bring about increased teacher effectiveness. This book is the perfect next step resource for our district’s continuous-improvement journey as well as for any educator ready to effectively take their student-task-design practices to the next level and meaningfully engage today’s ‘techie” student.—Kelli Bush, Assistant Superintendent for Student LearningElizabethtown Independent Schools, Elizabethtown, KY
As educators, we are on a continuous journey to stretch and grow to our fullest potential and we all have a “ceiling” of effectiveness. The interactive approach of Powerful Task Design will serve as a valuable tool for educators as they stretch and grow toward a higher ceiling.—Kellianne Wilson, Secondary Instructional SupervisorMeade County Schools, KY
Are you grappling with how to create an instructional task that both challenges and engages? Do you continue to struggle with issues related to effective integration of technology into lesson designs? Are you seeking to understand how rigor and engagement can move beyond overused and empty clichés? Explore these and other essential questions in this highly practical, well-researched book that offers practitioner-friendly tools brought to life by a treasure-trove of examples across the content areas of K–12 classrooms. Inviting reflection and personal response at strategic points, the authors skillfully integrate video and other technology with written text to create a book that exhibits the design principles they propose. Powerful Task Design is a must-read for individual educators and a practical guide for PLCs.—Jackie A. Walsh, Author and ConsultantMontgomery, AL
Powerful Task Design will help you rethink how to get the full value from the technology tools you have available in your classroom. I found Antonetti and Stice’s work to be both practical and transformative. Teachers will come back to this book time and time again as we are challenged to find ways to push thinking, rigor, and engagement to a higher level for our students.—Amy Berry, National Board Certified Teacher, Coordinator for Student ServicesMeade County Schools, KY
Antonetti and Stice push educators to create well-designed tasks that fully engage students and create powerful results. We want the students to learn first and then utilize technology tools to make learning more meaningful. Combining Antonetti’s brilliant work with his engagement cube and Stice’s technology genius is just “mind-blowing.”—Allen Martin, Instructional Technology Resource TeacherBowling Green Independent Schools, KY[Page ii]
Antonetti and Stice once again provide outstanding leadership, research, and guidance through an ever-expanding and vital conversation on learning design. This book further shifts the conversation from technology to learning, from simply rehashing techno-centric approaches, to ready-to-implement rich learning experiences for students further empowered through digital tools and resources.
In this book, you’ll discover creative solutions to interesting digital instructional design challenges from real classrooms and real students. These best-practice models will help any teacher, new or experienced, formulate a blueprint for digital learning experience design— with a tremendous emphasis on learning and cognitive engagement. I especially love the connections made in Chapter 5 with technology and questions. Through this book, Antonetti and Stice demonstrate that they are two highly connected teachers who “get it.”—Marty Park, Chief Digital Officer for the Office of Education TechnologyKentucky Department of Education, Lexington, KY
Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:
- Melody (Dani) Aldrich, High School English Teacher
- Casa Grande Union High School
- Casa Grande, AZ
- Clint R. Heitz, Instructional Coach
- Bettendorf High School
- Bettendorf, IA
- Michelle Liga, Technology Integration Specialist PreK–Eighth Grade
- Kingwood Elementary
- Kingwood, WV
- Christine Ruder, Second-Grade Teacher
- Truman Elementary School
- Rolla, MO
- Brian Taylor, Director of Science and Engineering Technology K–12
- West Islip UFSD
- West Islip, NY
About the Authors
Final Thoughts[Page 195]
The journey of our work together has never been about technology first, but only about how technology might improve a well-designed lesson. Our Alaskan teacher contributor, Rylee Ownbey (who authored the literature circle lesson in Chapter 8) said it best in one of her blog posts, “I plan my lessons with standards and students’ needs first, and then ask myself: Can I make this lesson better with ed tech?” Sometimes the best use of technology might be something as subtle as the use of a backchannel tool to make the students’ thinking visible to all learners, which in return powers up the classroom discussion.
Other times, with a single click, the unfathomable happens and connects your work to other like-minded individuals around the globe. It is through powerful task design our students will thrive in a connected learning environment.
In her book Never Underestimate Your Teachers, Robyn Jackson writes, “All teaching is a combination of skill and will” (2013, p. 12). She goes on to define skill as the science of teaching, stating that “it involves a teacher’s pedagogical and content knowledge” (p. 12). Teachers must have both content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge, meaning they must know their content, and they must know the best strategies to help the students learn the content. As important as having the skill is having the will. For it is within the will that the passion for the work of teachers lies, and as a result, they will do whatever it takes to make students successful. We believe if teachers who read Powerful Task Design have the will, their skills will improve by making just one change to power up the tasks they design for the learners in their classroom.
When we put devices in the hands of our students, we must do so embracing a hands- and minds-on approach. Technology in the hands of students without a clear purpose is a distraction for all stakeholders in the school community.
[Page 196]It is imperative we approach devices in the hands of students with the mindset that when students’ hands and eyes are physically engaged, their minds will be working overtime wondering, questioning, and discovering patterns that lead to predictions and more! As powerful task designers, we can design for these moments, and when the tasks are executed, the minds-on piece will feel like a natural reaction for the learner. We have personally experienced this phenomenon while collaboratively planning tasks for use in workshops and trainings. On multiple occasions, Terri has suggested “John, let’s use the See-Think-Wonder routine at the start of the day to get our audience cognitively engaged.” We’d find a topic, begin searching, and before we knew it, 45 minutes had passed. In each case, we learned far more than we thought we wanted or needed to know. A few of the questions we asked with see-think-wonder are listed below (just in case you also want to get lost in some fast research):
- Why are axolotls the perfect pet for neuroscientists?
- What fairy tale is most frequently found in cultures and countries around the world?
- Why is the common basilisk lizard know as the Jesus Christ Lizard?
- How do the demographics in our home state compare to past, present, or future trends across the United States?
Because we enjoy getting lost in our curiosity and making meaning, these are the same kind of moments we want to create for our students, tasks that make them want to take control of their own learning, dig deeper, and let their interests power their learning.
A number of years ago, Mr. Lewis Carter, superintendent of Monroe County Schools (Kentucky), invited Terri to speak to the administrators in his school district. Near the end of the meeting, one of the elementary school principals, Mr. Tommy Gearlds, asked her one of the most profound questions she had heard in her 24 years in K–12 education. He first explained, “Terri, I have purchased interactive boards, clicker systems, document cameras, and every other tool I think might help my teachers deliver instruction in the most productive way. Now, here comes the question I need an answer to: “What is it I am supposed to see when I walk into teachers’ classrooms that would confirm the money we have spent is worth the investment?” Our pursuit to answer Mr. Gerald’s question is what brings us to our current work as described in this book. It is not the physical or social interactions with the technology that we should look for during classroom observations—these are simply classroom behaviors. Rather, we should look for (and celebrate) the cognitively engaging learning experiences of making meaning that students will be excited to tell us about as a result of #PowerfulTaskDesign.
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