The latest in our series of card decks helps teachers build rich tasks into their curriculum design. They can be used with Remixing the Key Competencies: A curriculum design deck.
Rich tasks provide opportunities for students to show what they already know and can do—i.e. to show the capabilities they have developed by weaving curriculum content and aspects of the key competencies together. At the same time, rich tasks stretch and extend students .
The cards in this deck enable teachers to:
1. work with tasks they think are already rich
2. enrich promising tasks
3. design tasks from scratch.
Rich tasks have a mix of the following characteristics
- The purpose is clear: each task is designed to provide opportunities to experience and explore something that stretches students’ current capabilities. The teacher knows what they hope to achieve, and why this purpose matters for their students.
- The task is do-able: tasks do not need to be elaborate to be rich. If the purpose is clear and students understand what they are expected to do and why the learning matters, the actual “what” of the tasks might appear deceptively simple.
- Differentiation is built in: all students can engage with rich tasks at a level appropriate to their current learning needs. The phrase “low floor / high ceiling” is sometimes used to describe this feature. Non-linear, open-ended possibilities can help achieve this.
- Cognitive and emotional richness: rich tasks are highly engaging. Students find them fulfi lling. There might be an element of surprise, or something designed to create dissonance for students. They have something to wrestle with and resolve.
- They foster agency: rich tasks make space for student input and choices. They feel safe to take risks, to make mistakes, and try again.
- Students’ thinking is made visible: rich tasks often get students talking and interacting with a wider range of others. Shared talk makes thinking visible to the teacher, and to the students themselves. In this way, rich tasks support formative assessment and the development of metacognitive awareness and assessment capabilities.
This work builds on MOE-funded curriculum development work that led to the idea of curriculum weaving: https://www.nzcer.org.nz/research/publications/weaving-coherent-curriculum-how-idea-capabilities-can-help
Rich tasks also play an important role in developing a local curriculum: http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Reviewing-your-curriculum/Leading-Local-Curriculum-Guide-series