CommonLit CommonLit 360 Culminating Tasks: Summative Assessments That Create Alignment and Foster Engagement

How to increase curricular cohesion and spark student interest with CommonLit 360 

Teachers spend weeks, sometimes months, preparing students for end-of-unit exams and summative assessments. There are reviews, study guides, and last-minute cramming for multiple choice exams that often don’t engage students.

With CommonLit 360, the full-year standards-based curriculum from CommonLit that received an all-green rating on EdReports for grades 6-8, these assessment issues are resolved with the engaging and standards-aligned Culminating Tasks that are built into each and every unit. 

Increase school wide alignment and instructional capacity with Culminating Tasks 

Culminating Tasks, high-interest common summative assessments found in every CommonLit 360 unit, increase cohesion across schools while raising the bar for instruction. Alignment among teachers is ensured with easy access to the same high-quality literacy lessons and rubrics from the CommonLit 360 curriculum and by providing teachers with research-based summative assessments that require students to show a depth of knowledge and not just rote memorization.

Partners who purchase School Essentials PRO Plus have access to a variety of supportive and integral tools for teachers. These instructional tools include timely and relevant professional development sessions that help increase alignment across classes with Culminating Tasks, on-demand training modules to aid in daily instructional planning and Annotated Exemplary Culminating Tasks that break down and spotlight expectations of successful student work. These supports help ensure that all staff, regardless of experience level, can provide exceptional instruction for students

Example of an Annotated Exemplary Culminating Task from Community and Belonging (7th Grade Unit 1)

Each CommonLit 360 unit features easy-to-implement and effective  reading and writing lessons that are built around an engaging Essential Question. These lessons work to integrate reading and writing skills and are designed to build upon one another, fostering connections for students throughout the units. This intentional breaking down of skills and scaffolding of materials helps students achieve successful end-of-unit outcomes by featuring a definite and visible link between the learning throughout the unit and the Culminating Task. 

For example, in The Science of Branding: Why We Buy (9th grade Unit 4), students are tasked with writing an essay that explains how a company of the student’s choosing influences consumers. Throughout the unit, tangible writing support is offered as students integrate reading and writing tasks. Students learn to effectively paraphrase, analyze images, and access helpful exemplars as they work towards creating their own Culminating Task. Students also read engaging texts about high-profile companies like Apple, Nike and Red Bull, all brands students will be familiar with. 

Samples of student work from the Culminating Task in The Science of Branding: Why We Buy (9th Grade Unit 4)

Send student engagement soaring with relevant and relatable topics 

Getting students interested and engaged with their learning is vital and not always easy, but the high-interest  topics and Culminating Tasks in the CommonLit 360 units are a definite help.  With engaging topics like whether middle schoolers need recess or whether students’ rights to free speech on social media are protected, each CommonLit 360 unit gets (and holds) students’ attention. These topics and others like them are relevant to students and their experiences and are designed to occur in key points of the year for optimal impact. 

With each Culminating Task assignment, students know from the onset what the summative assessment will entail, so there are no surprises or disconnects. They’re hooked from day one as they engage with high-interest standards-based reading and writing lessons that are founded in best practices and feature authentic and varied end products in the Culminating Tasks. 

Unlike common multiple choice exams, Culminating Tasks offer a balance of summative assessments with some units featuring traditional essays while others have students crafting presentations, creating infographics, writing emails, and developing podcasts. This variety offers students a number of ways to be successful in showing their learning, and the Culminating Tasks are associated with all the learning from the unit. 

Each grade level features a variety of Culminating Tasks.

For example, in Social Media: Risks and Rewards (7th grade Unit 4), students are tasked with creating a cohesive presentation to enlighten their peers about the positive and negative effects of social media. With 93% of teens reporting using some kind of social  media, this is definitely a high-interest topic and one students will be engrossed in. After reading texts on topics such as the science connected to social media usage, effects of social media, and individual accounts about the power of social media, students use this research to create their own presentation. Writing lessons include how to choose the best evidence, how to successfully communicate a message, and how to draft effective captions.

Save teachers valuable planning time with carefully crafted Culminating Tasks

Writing an effective and thorough summative assessment takes time; something that’s in short supply for most teachers. With the Culminating Tasks found in each CommonLit 360 unit, that writing and creating is done for teachers by the literacy experts at CommonLit. Each reading and writing lesson from the unit is crafted to contribute to the Culminating Task in some way, so the end product is always in mind for both teacher and student. This backward design is a benefit for everyone. 

In addition to a well-planned and thoughtful Culminating Task in every unit, there are comprehensive day-to-day lesson plans with pacing guidance and facilitation tips. Each unit features editable slide decks, downloadable graphic organizers, vocabulary lessons and quizzes, and so much more. CommonLit 360 provides teachers with everything they need for effective instruction that gets results.  

Partner with CommonLit for maximum results

Summative assessments don’t have to be frustrating for students and time-consuming to create for teachers. Increased alignment across the school and increased engagement among students is possible with Culminating Tasks and CommonLit 360.  

Want to find out more about a partnership with CommonLit to fully leverage Culminating Tasks and the CommonLit 360 curriculum?