During a presentation/discussion with Mike Muir at an Eduspire Summer Institute, we discussed Engaging Tasks. With each slide of the presentation we reviewed scenarios for activities that introduced a task for students. My initial reaction was, “This seems so obvious! I can’t believe teachers aren’t already doing this.”
Then we looked back at the Webquest framework! We had webquest creation as a whole school district activity for teachers back in 2003. So, what happened? If this idea was a good one that makes school better for students, why aren’t we all doing it? I agreed with Mike, that our webquest implementation became an internet scavenger hunt for students. The scenario/task might have been good, but then we simply asked students to answer questions about a topic. An online search to complete a worksheet.
So, where do we go from here? Why can’t we take every “unit” we have and create an engaging task that students have to research, think about, discuss and defend. Mike’s suggestions for good tasks:
- Relate to curriculum
- Have compelling scenario, role and task (3 components)
- Story form without teacher talk or procedural steps
- Focus on higher order thinking (apply, analyze, evaluate, create)
- Authentic and believable
- Interesting or significant
Visit the What Makes for a Great Engaging Task page to really dig deep on this idea. With regard to higher order thinking, consider the idea of flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy and letting students create something first. Then the task becomes a rubric of sorts to lead them through building foundational knowledge on their own with guided instruction. Their initial creation improves with time, effort and feedback.