Activity: Parsing the Work

With a solid sense of the project’s scope and an understanding of your strengths, your attention can now turn to designing the specifics of the project. The strength of the mentoring relationship makes possible a shared approach to this important milestone. Together, you can ask clarifying questions or think more deeply about how to break down specific tasks. A common approach is to create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). This allows you to identify all the tasks related to a project and parse them into manageable components.


A WBS gives the team a chance to see the entire scope of their project, and allows the opportunity to backward plan which is a best practice for instructional design. It also allows the team to identify potential dependencies (on each other, on other people) and time constraints (especially relevant for projects in higher education that are tied to the academic calendar).


40 minutes to 1 hour


Sticky notes, potentially in multiple colors, pens/pencils, large table or wall surface


Mentor & Mentee


  1. Together, write down all the tasks you will need to do to complete your project. Use one task per sticky note.
  2. Organize the sticky notes on your large table or wall surface into a rough timeline.
  3. For complex projects, use one color sticky note to indicate types of work.  For example, project team work, individual tasks, and work completed by stakeholders outside the project team could be three different colors. 
  4. Translate this work breakdown into something that can be shared with everyone.


Teams have the option to translate their tasks/activities into something electronic. Here are some resources:


Download the instructions for this activity.

noun_tree diagram_2334369

Download a Gantt chart template for Google Sheets from .

Download a Gantt chart template for Microsoft Excel from