Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tiering Assignments

The following information is adapted from Chapter 5 of "Fair Isn't Always Equal" by Rick Wormeli

As we know our classrooms today are filled with diverse learners. In one classroom teachers have a variety of ability levels, learning modality preferences, multiple intelligences, and lifestyles. When we are tiering assignments and assessments we adapt them to the different needs in our classroom- most often ability levels. This is something that should be done very dramatically at the start of a unit but should slowly fade out so you are no longer tiering as everyone is achieving on grade level. Of course we can't always stop tiering, but it is the goal for the end of a unit.

There are so many fun ways to tier assignments/assessments and the following are some of my favorites!

Bingo or Tic-Tac-Toe Boards

Create a blank Bingo or Tic-Tac-Toe board and fill it with various assignment options. For full credit students must complete 3 (or 5) assignments in a row! I used this for spelling when I interned in 6th grade creating a Bingo board full of various ways to practice spelling according to the main learning modalities as well as research based strategies. Students had to complete 5 practice activities by Friday and have a parent/guardian initial the boxes.

I found another spin off of this idea while subbing in a 3rd grade classroom in Portage, Michigan. The teacher had a giant Tic-Tac-Toe outline on one of her boards and worksheets were taped on to the board. When students finished early they could choose a worksheet to work on and there was a prize for finishing 3 in a row!

Learning Menus
Learning Menus are very similar to Bingo/Tic-Tac-Toe boards and simply list a variety of assignments for students to choose from to meet the requirements of their teacher. I first heard about this strategy when I was in high school and was a tutor in Julie VanDyken's classroom in Jenison. She frequently used learning menus. Each assignment was worth a certain amount of points and each student had an individual point goal they had to reach by a specific due date. There was a variety of assignments to reach children with various multiple intelligences. It was a great system of tiering instruction!

Learning Contracts
Often times students are pulled off to the side in class and/or quietly given a different assignment than their peers. A learning contract is a great way to show students what is expected of them during this time. Learning contracts list the student's responsibilities, the teacher's expectations, the consequences for not living up to those expectations, rewards for working hard, as well as checkpoints/due dates.

Students create a cube from poster board. They then write one prompt on each side of the die: describe it, compare it, associate it, analyze it, apply it, argue for it or against it. A topic is given and questions are asked based on what they roll.

Popsicle Sticks
Pam Ide at Winchell Elementary in Kalamazoo writes general comprehension questions on colored Popsicle sticks. She will often assign students to choose a certain colored stick and write a response to the question on the stick. The sticks are color coded for various ability levels so a student who struggles may pick a purple stick while another student in need of an extra challenge may choose a green stick.

There are so many other great ideas for Tiering Assignments in this book as well! What ideas have worked for you?

1 comment:

Mrs. Brown said...

I am very interested in tiering and can definitely see the benefits, but I don't see how to start. Looking at that example actually scares me. There's so much to that. My partner teacher uses contracts, but I can't see how to implement them into my subject areas (math, science & geography). I know I need to start slowly, but what I really want is a tutorial, a how-to-begin. I think this is the next step in my evolution as an educator but I need guidance.