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Powerful Task Design

Powerful Task Design
Rigorous and Engaging Tasks to Level Up Instruction

March 2018 | 216 pages | Corwin

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 you delve into the tool’s design components.
  • Use technology to complete interactive tasks, and understand first-hand how technology is a critical design component in student task design that brings about more profound and relevant learning.
  • Identify opportunities for creating powerful tasks in the areas of engagement, academic strategies, questions, and cognition.
  • Supplement your task design arsenal with tools like the Diagnostic Instrument to Analyze Learning (DIAL).

This must-have resource brings together the research and strategies educators need to design engaging, powerful learning tasks. Student performance has a direct correlation to the power of the learning task - this book will help you positively impact both. 

About the Authors
Introduction: The Power of the Task
1. The Work of School
A Task Is a Task  
Task Predicts Performance  
The Design Components of a Task  
Technology in a Working Model, or When Terri Met Sally (Ahem, John)  
The Powerful Task Rubric for Designing Student Work  
2. Analyzing Learning With the Powerful Task Rubric
One Content, Five Tasks  
Where Was the Power?  
3. The Power of Engagement
The Qualities of Engagement  
Interaction as Engagement  
A Task Is Powered Up  
4. The Power of Academic Strategies
It Starts on the Playground  
Strategies of Personal Response  
Identifying Similarities and Differences  
Summarizing and Note-Making  
Note-Taking Becomes Note-Making  
Reflection in Note-Making  
Nonlinguistic Representations  
Generating and Testing Hypotheses  
Reflection and Closure  
5. The Power of the Question
Where Does a Question Come From?  
Where Do Teacher Questions Come From?  
How to Open a Question  
Technology and Questions  
6. Engaged in What? The Power of Cognition
Cognitive Demand  
Learning Through Accepting Meaning  
Thinking and Making Meaning  
Making Meaning on Top of Meaning  
Sliding Across the Cognitive Continua: A Hierarchy, Not a Sequence  
Math Cognition and the Task Rubric  
Encoding and Memory  
7. Power Up: Using the Diagnostic Instrument to Analyze Learning
The Diagnostic Instrument to Analyze Learning  
Premises and Research Behind the DIAL  
Using the DIAL  
Three DIAL Implementations  
Tips for the Tool  
8. Putting It All Together
Final Thoughts

“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 Coach
Bettendorf 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 Teacher
Casa 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 Officer
Owensboro Public Schools, Owensboro, KY

“With this collaboration, John's expertise with designing engaging and rigorous student tasks is combined with Terri's vast knowledge of effective technology use in the classroom.  Both John and Terri 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 Learning
Elizaethtown 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 the stretch and growth toward a higher ceiling.”

Kellianne Wilson, Secondary Instructional Supervisor
Meade County Schools, KY
Key features


    • The Powerful Task Rubric, a practical guide for lesson planning to ensure rigorous cognitive engagement
    • Annotated examples of  teacher lesson plans and student work, showing how to intentionally design for more cognitive engagement
    • Strategies in each chapter, showing teachers how to "level up" the rigor in classroom tasks
    • Readers will complete tasks at each level of the Rubric as well, to experience the difference between each level

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ISBN: 9781506399140
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