Reflection: Complex Tasks The Write for Life - Section 4: Independent Practice


"Where there is no struggle, there is no progress" is a posted and an often practiced quote in my classroom and the rigor of this assignment is no exception.

In reviewing the student work, I was able to see that students could write about the characteristics of living things.  Although, most of them struggled to provide an explanation of how scientists can determine if living organisms are present in the samples of sea water collected from the Marianas Trench or describe a way to determine whether the sample exhibits the 3 characteristics they chose, I think this was a meaningful activity.

The writing prompt in afforded students an opportunity to practice using knowledge that they possessed about life to simulate real-world application, thus strengthening the relevance of learning the characteristics of life.  What their failure to tell how or describe a process conveys to me is that I need to offer students more opportunities to practice applying knowledge to new situations that require them to seek creative solutions to problems.

Even though I read a few misconceptions in the student work (volcanoes grow), overall I was pleased that students were able to take a challenging writing task that required them to process information to develop reasonable conclusions.  Some of the work even cited facts from the reading to support their claims. 

I did get a fair number of complaints that the assignment was too hard but I feel that challenging and complex tasks should always be integrated into instruction so that students will grow.    I even had a student say, “That assignment made my head hurt.”  When I hear this, I know that they are communicating that the assignment caused them to stretch their thinking.  To me, that means the assignment caused the brain to be exercised and that’s always a good thing.”  Of course, it’s important to note that the level of the rigor must not exceed the students’ stretch ability or you defeat the purpose as work beyond a student’s ability breeds only frustration.

Over time, as students are challenged with rigorous assignments, they hunger to be challenged, and more importantly, to challenge themselves.

  Complex Tasks: Rigorous Assignments
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The Write for Life

Unit 1: Unit 1- Organization and Relationships
Lesson 4 of 23

Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the characteristics of life in a writing assignment.

Big Idea: Students should be able to write about things that they understand.

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