- "Argumentation" tasks may engage students more quickly than the "informational and explanatory versions." The early implementers started with the informational version, but found that on a second round, students found the idea of taking on issue debate appealing. One wise administrator did point out, though, that students must get the information right on the way to making their arguments.
- To create strong science tasks, teachers need strong science texts that work for students with varying levels of reading proficiency--and those can be hard to find. That said, we heard about impressive tasks requiring students to martial arguments around health risks from cell phones, climate change, and use of chemical fertilizers.
- Pulling evidence and quotations from the assigned reading texts is a challenge for participating students. To me, it sounds like a good challenge –something students should be asked to do often on their way to becoming skilled before they finish high school.
- Struggling students are succeeding with these challenging tasks. The LDC strategy calls for teachers to make intentional choices in the reading selections for students, including being willing to start with varied assignments for students with varied needs as a way to build toward success for all with demanding texts at or above the grade-levels specified by the Common Core State Standards. (My very favorite parts of the day had teachers telling about students rising to levels of rigor they thought were out of reach.)
I continue to be very excited by this work, organized by the Prichard Committee under a grant from the Gates Foundation, and by the planning underway for statewide implementation under a Gates grant to the Kentucky Department of Education.