Reflection: Complex Tasks Plaid Pete's Life Is On The Rocks - Section 5: Instruction

 

Setting the Stage for Students to Engage in Complex Tasks

In order for students to engage in rigorous, complex tasks, they need to have some sense of individual autonomy - or at least be able to function in pairs or small groups.  I know that I must teach my students the necessary skills to navigate complex text, because even the high motivation of building an ecosystem will only get them so far.  If they can't access the information they need to accomplish the many steps of this very rigorous project, then at the very least I will have two dozen students following me around the classroom at every turn, or at the worst - lots of misbehavior because they are frustrated.

Students need multiple opportunities to grapple and persevere with difficult text.  However, I also know that if I begin with text that is far too difficult for many of my students, some students will quit before they start.  That is why I begin with a 1 page sheet of content area text that presents some academic language challenges, and opportunities to do "thinking work", but isn't overwhelming.

Previewing the text and making decisions based on student need is a critical piece to teaching students the kinds of close reading strategies they will need for rigorous content area learning.  The National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing at UCLA has produced a document that is very useful in helping to make these kinds of text choices.  Click Here for Supporting Students in Close Reading

  Close Reading of Informational Text - Ticket to Complex Tasks
  Complex Tasks: Close Reading of Informational Text - Ticket to Complex Tasks
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Plaid Pete's Life Is On The Rocks

Unit 2: Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems
Lesson 4 of 20

Objective: SWBAT identify the biotic and abiotic components of a given ecosystem.

Big Idea: What is an ecosystem? What are the important components that make up an ecosystem? Plaid Pete has a big project coming up, and students will research and plan right alongside him - to construct a model ecosystem.

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