Rethinking the Rich Task

In 2015-2016, I was fortunate to be involved with a TLLP team that looked into flipping the classroom: transferring the focus of our courses away from the teacher and on to the learners.

Once we had successfully flipped, we became interested in how we could deepen our students' educational experiences, specifically through rich assessments. In 2016-2017, our same team took on a second TLLP project, which is just finishing up now, that had us digging deep into Rich Tasks.

While the first project was very successful for us - everyone in the group was able to flip their courses in different ways and we were seeing success with the students - the second project was a much tougher go. 

The learning curve was steeper, and it seemed the more we learned, the harder it was to implement GOOD rich tasks. We kept coming back to: what makes a rich task RICH?

We came to an understanding that an ideal rich task should be broad, but have personal components; it should challenge the students, but also serve to connect them. We also found the "6 C's" of 21st Century skills (more recently referred to as Global Competencies) fit nicely in this model.

In the end, our team settled on a model (built upon the shoulders of giants) that we were quite comfortable implementing:
RichTaskDiagram image.png

And we presented this (along with reflection activities and opportunities for participants to collaborate and work on their own rich assessment tasks) at a sharing day with other teachers in our board:


But perhaps the biggest shift for me, was the idea that we aren't just looking for the perfect, or richest, task. Instead, we are looking for a rich SEQUENCE of tasks, or even a rich PHILOSOPHY of teaching. It's not just a one-and-done, end of the unit event. 

How can we bring our four qualities (Broad, Personal, Challenge, Connect) to everyday learning? How can we craft not just one rich activity, but a rich series of activities where perhaps the learning builds on itself? Or several tasks designed to introduce concepts that contribute organically to a big idea, rather than have students just regurgitate big ideas? Can they be designed so well that the students end up building most of the learning themselves in a way that they connect with?

This is where I am now with my learning, and thinking, and planning. How can I harness the big ideas of the curriculum, along with the big ideas of rich tasks, to engage students and give their learning some meaning?

Definitely a work in progress.


  1. This has been a learning curve for me too. After I’d done one social studies inquiry, I wanted to do more. Then I wanted to do it in other subjects, not just SS. That’s mostly been my year so far. At the same time, sometimes I just want to fall back and do some easy worksheet units. It’s a lot easier to do one-off lessons and move on. Alas, those days are far behind me. Writing long range plans that reflected this has definitely helped keep me on track! I spent time finding the connections between all the subjects and planned my sequence that way.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Indigenous Mathematicians and Scientists

The Art of Questioning on Math Assessments

When a Drawing is Not Just a Drawing