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What It Is and How To Do It! Created by Ryan Parkman for DI2, Fall 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "What It Is and How To Do It! Created by Ryan Parkman for DI2, Fall 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 What It Is and How To Do It! Created by Ryan Parkman for DI2, Fall 2009

2 Definitions Not too bad: Some experts define Tiering as adjusting assignments and assessments by students’ readiness levels, interests, and learner profiles. (The latter two, interests and learner profiles, suggest lateral changes not vertical as implied by the use of the word tier.) Much better: Carol Ann Tomlinson describes Tiering as the “ratcheting” up or down in challenge level of a task. (Wormeli, 56)

3 What can you Tier? Can you tier content? Can you tier product? Can you tier process?

4 Can you Tier content? Differentiating content based on a student’s readiness is a more delicate matter. Content is what students should know, understand, and be able to do. Once these are clear the teacher can then help their students access content by using textbooks written at different reading levels, using supplemental materials such as audio books or videos, etc…

5 Can you Tier products? Differentiating products by readiness must still show that the student has come to know, understand, and do the non-negotiables of the unit.

6 Can you Tier process? Tiering assignments based on a student’s readiness is a powerful vehicle for differentiating process. (Tomlinson, How to Differentiate Instruction, 80) By keeping the focus of the activity on essential understanding and skills but at different levels of complexity, the teacher maximizes the likelihood that each student comes away with pivotal skills and understandings while being appropriately challenged. (Tomlinson, The Differentiated Classroom, 83)

7 Habits of Mind – Thinking Flexibly Tiering assignments is not an easy form of differentiating for the teacher, it requires them to try different approaches, consider alternate perspectives, and sometimes requires them to step away from a challenge and return with a new mindset. Thinking Flexibly is essential for enabling an individual to recognize the wholeness and distinctness of other people’s ways of experiencing and making meaning. (Costa and Kallick) This is done in response to figuring out how to ensure that a student learns the essential understandings of the content based on their readiness level.

8 Enduring Understanding Successful differentiation requires educators to face the challenge of change: learning to differentiate instruction is an ongoing process of self-awareness and self-assessment.

9 Essential Element of Tiering Quality Pre-Assessment is the key to determining a student’s readiness. It is difficult to maximize the capacity of our learners if we are unaware of learning gaps of some or are impervious to the fact that some learners have already mastered the content. The key is to make the work a little too difficult for the learner at their current readiness level but to provide the support they need to succeed at the new level. (Tomlinson and Strickland, 6)

10 Role of Formative Assessment Ongoing formative assessments help indicate gaps that some students may have or indicate areas of mastery by others in terms of what they should know, understand, and be able to do. (Stone, Formative, 4) An easy way to assess student understanding is by the use of Exit Cards. The teacher can separate the cards into instructional groups based on the responses provided by the students and use these to tier activities in upcoming classes. (Stone, Formative, 5)

11 Tiering and Questioning Three kinds of questions can be used to tier activities in the classroom: Factual: A factual question has only one correct answer. Interpretation: An interpretive question has more than one correct answer because a difference of opinion about meaning is possible. Evaluation: An evaluative question asks you to think about your own values or experiences. (Moeller, 30) You could ask more factual questions of your struggling learners while asking more interpretive and evaluative questions of your on grade level and advanced students. Don’t get stuck giving the same type of question all of the time, always remember to appropriately challenge.

12 Making a Tiered Assignment Decide on the key learning goal, derived from the KUD. Decide on the scope of the assignment (one day, one week, etc…). Assess your students readiness level. Create an assignment that will challenge and engage high performing students. Making sure that the assignment is rooted in the key learning goal. Create another assignment that focuses on the same key learning goal, but decrease the challenge level. Be sure that this option is engaging and respectful. (Stone, Readiness, 2)

13 Sample Tiered Reading Assignment Using Bloom’s Taxonomy Advanced Learners: Do you like this story? Why? (Evaluation/Rating) What would be another title for the story? (Synthesis/Combining) Mid-level Learners: How would you change the ending? (Analysis/Examining) Which character is most like you? (Application/Transfer) Struggling Learners: Why did the problem happen? (Comprehension/Understanding) Who was the story about? (Knowledge/Recall) (Stone, Readiness, 2)

14 Tiering at CHS Tara Whitney, a teacher at Colchester High School, has the following definition for Tiering: A lesson in which the teacher or the student selects an appropriate challenge level based on the student's readiness. Readiness levels are typically determined though formative assessments, some of which include homework checks, entrance or exit cards, or quizzes. All activities focus around the unit's essential questions, at different levels complexity. All activities should challenge students to use critical thinking and problem solving skills, but should do so in ways that appropriately challenge students at various ability levels.

15 Tara’s Tiered Activity A recent Statistics quiz served as formative assessment for this activity, based on their results, students were able to pinpoint which topics (box plots, histograms, or circle graphs) they needed more work with before the upcoming test. If they were unable to appropriately select an area for themselves, I referenced the quiz to help them decide. At the high school level, I think it is very important for students to learn how to evaluate their own progress, so in addition to formative assessments giving me information about students, I also try to teach students how to learn from them as well. Once students chose which station to start at (box plots, histograms, circle graphs, or scatter plots--not on the quiz, but a topic covered since), there were three different levels students could choose from: easy, medium, or hard. Again, if students had a challenging time deciding which level was best for them, I guided their choice based on their quiz. For students who were successful on the quiz, I first guided them to one of the hard problems in an area they may have struggled with a little. After making sure they had mastered the topics that will be on the test, these students were able to go to an "extensions" station. This was a fourth level of tiering for students who were ready to explore statistics beyond where we are as a class.

16 Closing Thoughts The benefit of tiering activities is that it allows all students to be challenged where they are developmentally, thus maximizing their potential for learning. It is most important to hit the right readiness level at the start and be prepared to adjust as formative assessment indicates the need to either ratchet up or down.

17 References Wormeli, Rick. Fair Isn’t Always Equal. Portland, ME: Stenhouse, Tomlinson, Carol Ann and Strickland, Cindy. Differentiation in Practice. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, Tomlinson, Carol Ann. The Differentiated Classroom. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Tomlinson, Carol Ann. How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms (2 nd Edition). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Moeller, Victor J. and Marc V. High School English Teacher’s Guide to Active Learning. Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education, Costa, Arthur L. and Kallick, Bena. “What are Habits of Mind.” Habits of Mind. 26 Feb Web. 5 Oct Stone, Joyce. “Readiness is the combinations of ability and effort.” Class materials for Differentiated Instruction – Level 2, St. Michael’s College, Aug Stone, Joyce. “Formative Assessment PowerPoint.” Class materials for Differentiated Instruction – Level 2, St. Michael’s College, Aug


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