The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium has produced a video tutorial describing Performance Tasks. A Performance Task “measures capabilities such as depth of understanding, research skills, and/or complex analysis with relevant evidence.”
There will be one Performance Task per content area on the 2014-2015 assessment and in ELA students will be required to integrate research and writing.
The video provides a general overview of Performance Tasks before describing an ELA and math example. Note, students are afforded time to discuss the big ideas with each other before moving to independent work—reading and writing. You can watch the twelve-minute video here and download sample Performance Tasks here.