**THE CHALLENGE**

Adolescent learners vary widely in their physical, emotional, and cognitive development. For many teachers, the most challenging aspect of teaching middle school students is the constant problem solving energy required to meet their diverse needs. When diversity is at its peak, we are sometimes left feeling that short of super-human feats on the part of heroic teachers, it’s not possible to meet the varied needs of the children before us.

When varied learner readiness is the aspect of diversity confronting us, it can be a challenge to ensure academic growth for all. If students appear bored or overwhelmed, a common response is to track them into ability-based classes. Whether we isolate high achieving students into accelerated courses, learning disabled students into special education classes, students who have fallen behind into remedial classes, or English language learners into a stream of their own, we frequently do so at a cost to both the students themselves and to the mainstream population from which they’ve been separated. If we embrace full inclusion without applying effective differentiation strategies, we fail as well. Diverse classrooms where every learner makes significant progress are possible in part through tiered instruction and assessment.

For the most part, this blog details the journey of the middle school math department at Jakarta International School from 2006-2011, the years needed to institutionalize a tiered approach. The purpose here is to share the rationale, describe the process, provide examples, and a share some results.

**RATIONALE**

Consider this… You’re teaching a very heterogeneous class of learners. Planning with the end in mind, you design a course assessment encompassing all course learning goals. Meeting the standard indicates preparedness for future academic success. At the end of the course, all students perform well on the assessment. It’s time to reflect.

There’s reason to celebrate. All students have met the grade level proficiency standard. This is no small feat. Students are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to work successfully in subsequent grade levels.

We might feel less enthusiastic while reflecting on our students’ growth. Depending on their initial readiness for success, different students have had different growth opportunities. Students at the beginning end of the readiness continuum have learned the most. Students in close proximity to the learning target have grown less. Some highly advanced students have experienced no growth at all. We feel pride that struggling students have made significant gains and disappointed that advanced learners have stagnated.

This scenario illustrates the most basic premise for a tiered approach. When we establish a single common learning destination for students in mixed-ability classrooms, one outcome seems inevitable – all students will not have equal growth possibilities.

Our guiding vision for student learning includes academic and personal development for all students.

Middle school math teachers around the world face the challenge of teaching students with varied readiness levels for success. The graph below shows a typically diverse breakdown of algebra readiness test results for JIS 7th graders at the beginning of a school year. The diversity reflected in the graph is pretty universal to heterogeneous, middle school math classrooms.

Some students are advanced, already capable of succeeding in a typical algebra class, while other students are far from ready, which isn’t too alarming since it is the *beginning* of 7th grade.

Lev Vygotsky’s “Zone of Proximal Development” and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “Flow” offer guidance. The research from both of these psychologists, not to mention our common sense, suggests we should offer learning challenges suited to each child’s readiness level in order to create the optimal conditions for learning. Realizing that our students’ readiness levels differ so much, we offer varied challenges so every student can learn in a state of relaxed alertness.

I like the graph below, which Csikszentmihalyi uses in part to make the point that we can create the conditions for “Flow” by either increasing our skill level with a given activity or by boosting the challenges we face. Tiered instruction and assessment enhances a teacher’s ability to do both on behalf of students.

Bill and Ochan Powell’s framework for effective teaching supports the use of tiered instruction to work within a child’s ZPD and a challenge-by-choice approach to increasingly shift ownership for learning to students.

**OVERVIEW
**

That we should differentiate for varied readiness levels is not so controversial. The challenge lies in how to do so.

In a tiered class, students engage essential course content at varying levels of depth and breadth.

Students choose the challenge on homework assignments and assessments that will help them maximize their learning.

Three different levels of challenge are offered. We designate each by a color.

**DURING CLASS**

There are some steps we consistently follow when planning tiered lessons.

A lesson will have 1 or more learning goals. For example, the goal of a geometry lesson might be to have students apply equation solving skills while learning about triangle properties.

Following whole-group instruction, students are asked to select the challenge level that will help them maximize their learning. For example…

This learning cycle repeats itself as the unit proceeds. Click for more samples of…

***Tiered Problems for a Variety of Middle School Math Topics***

Tiered lessons share some general characteristics.

After developing tiered assessments and assignments, we started thinking more and more about how to manage our tiered classrooms. Essentially, any strategy that develops cooperative learning skills and/or promotes self-reliance is worthwhile. Similarly, planning lessons with big ideas in mind promotes a sense of cohesiveness between all challenge levels.

At the end of a unit, students select the assessment challenge level that will enable them to best demonstrate the extent of their learning. The following graph shows the breakdown of color choices for all middle school students at JIS on all summative assessments during the 2006-10 school years.

Following a unit’s assessment(s), students reflect on their learning experience during the unit.

Reflections generally reveal students feeling appropriately challenged. In the majority of cases, students felt that they had selected a level of challenge that was an appropriate learning target towards the goal of maximizing their learning. Sometimes students believed they could have made a better decision. In few cases did they perceive that all targets were outside their zones of proximal development (situations where students who selected green felt the assessment was too difficult or students selected black and felt the assessment was too simple).

**RESULTS**

The psychological benefits of feeling appropriately challenged seemed to translate into improved learning outcomes. Compared to the difficulty level of assessments in previous years (prior to offering choices), green level assessments are the most similar. With the introduction of the blue and black level challenges, it’s clear that students are now tackling greater challenges, on average, than in the past. The graph below shows that grades held steady at the same time, suggesting an overall increase in student achievement.

Before introducing tiered assessments, students at the beginning end of the readiness spectrum tended to bring average test scores down. After, students at the beginning end of the readiness spectrum (those who selected green level assessments) performed at an accuracy level comparable to students taking blue and black level assessments. The performance of students working at a “green level of readiness” seemed to improve following the implementation of a tiered approach.

During the 2009-10 school year, JIS began giving students the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) assessment. Students were tested at the beginning and end of the school year. Results indicate the tiered approach is having its intended effect: students across the readiness spectrum are meeting or exceeding expected growth rates.

Each student has a RIT, a number that represents their current skill level in mathematics. Over the course of the year, students are expected to grow by different amounts depending on their starting points. The horizontal axis represents student subgroups across the readiness continuum. The Blue bars represent JIS 7th graders’ mean growth. The Red bar represents the mean target growth set by NWEA, the organization that administers the MAP, based on historical growth rates.

We believe these consistently strong results from year to year (with 2 out of 3 teachers being different) speak to the power and importance of systematically implementing a tiered approach. An articulated tiered curriculum (the learning goals we have for students across the readiness continuum in addition to the materials that support the attainment of these goals) is a critical component of effective differentiation. Each teacher has been able to focus their energy on helping students be successful towards reaching tiered learning goals, rather than focused on developing a tiered curriculum, which while intellectually stimulating and fun, is also quite challenging.

The JIS 7th grade results are particularly dramatic examples of the power of Challenge by Choice. 7th grade math classes tend to have an enormous range of readiness levels because the breadth of topics covered is so wide and these topics extend learning from previous years.

Differentiation in 7th grade also exemplifies the importance of supporting advanced learners through a balanced offering of acceleration and enrichment. Rather than moving on to a relatively narrow set of 8th grade algebra learning goals via a traditional tracking system, advanced kids get the chance to grapple with rich problem solving challenges for a variety of important math topics like probability and statistics; ratio, proportion and percentages; and measurement. When topics lend themselves to acceleration, like equation solving, advanced kids are accelerated through above grade level learning goals like solving systems of equations as an example.

Remember the algebra readiness test results from the beginning of the year. A similar test at the end of 7th grade yields dramatically improved results.

Another positive development has been the decreasing need for a remedial 8th grade math course. For years, the math department felt that a remedial course was needed to serve the needs of our most vulnerable students. Teachers never felt very satisfied with the effectiveness of the course, but we didn’t know what to do. Having previously tracked students, it didn’t feel possible to have all students successfully complete the same 8th grade math course. Over time, it’s been wonderful to see our 8th grade math teachers feeling more comfortable with differentiation and our students feeling more confident in their skills. Both developments have led to the elimination of our remedial 8th grade math course, and a single math course has now been offered at each grade level (with no remedial 8th grade option) since 2009.

Besides academic development, adolescents also need and want opportunities to struggle, opportunities to make decisions, and teachers who guide them with a broad view of their development.

Achievement test scores and enrollment figures are easy to report as measures of success, but they only tell (a relatively insignificant) part of the story. Tiering’s impact on class culture and other aspects of our vision for student learning has been even more significant. Listen to some teacher, student, and parent reflections on the **“Perspectives”** page to develop a sense for how people feel.

Beyond achievement gains and encouraging stakeholder sentiments, research on effective teaching and learning consistently supports a tiered approach. The following are some recommendations for supporting learners of different readiness levels. Tiering makes it possible to support all students in the way that’s consistent with how they learn best.

An added benefit of the tiered approach is that heterogeneous student groupings can be preserved. The advantages of effective differentiation vs. ability based tracking are numerous. Here are some benefits brainstormed by the JIS Math department.

The challenge of meeting diverse needs is universal. A wonderful aspect of the work at JIS is that it’s been done by an extremely diverse math faculty.

It would be irresponsible not to mention certain “dangers” or downsides that accompany this work. The upfront workload is significant. I’ve developed tiered learning materials on my own, and I’ve also done it alongside colleagues. Both approaches can work but it goes without saying that the more you divide the work between team members, the easier, more effective, and FUN the work will be.

Another caution relates to the green challenge level. In our experience, it’s critical that green level expectations be rigorous and respectful. Using a tiered approach can have an incredibly positive impact on the sense of community in a classroom. On the flip side, class culture can deteriorate quickly if students perceive that green problems are for the “dumbies” or beneath the mainstream expectation (for more on this point, see “Finding Tiered Problems.”)

I hope this brief introduction leaves you feeling more interested to think about using a tiered approach with your students.

Ginny(23:21:36) :Following whole-group instruction, students are empowered to select the level of challenge that will help them maximize their learning. For example, after a lesson on triangle properties, students might be presented with problem solving tasks similar to the following.

Hello Dave, from North Carolina. One aspect of tiered instruction we seventh grade teachers struggle with is not the assessment but the differentiated ‘instruction’ itself. Could you share how you structure your class period (how much time do you have?) to teach the three color groups and the differences in how you deal with kids who need some more concrete work vs the abstract-ers. I would imagine: general lesson followed by working with the green, blue, blacks?

David Suarez(08:28:35) :Thanks for the question, Ginny. Know that we similarly struggle on the question of how to differentiate the instruction itself. Our philosophy is built on the premise that we should start with the end in mind, identify tiered learning goals that allow all of our students to experience growth given that they arrive to us at very different starting points, and then work from there to facilitate the growth. We’ve spent much of the last two years focused on creating tiered learning goals. We’re excited that the obvious (or at least what seems obvious to us at the moment) next step is to really think about how to make this differentiated learning happen in the classroom. Right now, there are 10 middle school math teachers at Jakarta International School who are working to address this challenge. I assure you that all of our approaches are unique, so whatever I write is just one of many approaches.

We teach 90 minute blocks that meet every other day. Having taught math with daily 50 minute periods, my personal preference is to have less frequent, larger blocks of time to work with. It’s easier to structure blocks so that I can address the three different tiers in one way or another during a single session.

What you imagine is definitely a popular approach. So, after the whole group part of the triangle lesson, for example, that might last 20-30 minutes, I’d let students know what the three practice assignments are. What happens from there is really dependent on the particular topic and difficulty of the assignments offered. I want students working at tables so that there is at least one other student who is working on the same color level they’re working on. Whether or not the whole table is working on the same color or not depends on my mood and the dynamics/culture of a given class. The one constant is that seating must be flexible. I like to have a seating chart that groups students heterogeneously to begin class. What happens when students begin independent work varies from class to class.

Essentially, I want everyone problem solving, asking questions, and finding help when difficulties arise. When students get stuck, they tend to first seek help from those closest to them. If that fails, students might seek out a classmate at another table grouping. If that option isn’t available or doesn’t work for some reason, students call on me. When I’m helping students, I’ll frequently try to make it known to the rest of the class what I’m helping out with so that students who are interested can join the conversation. This plays out for the remainder of the period. Ideally, all students would get their questions answered. Inevitably, students take work home and end up with more questions. So, what I left out is that before the main lesson topic of a day, I’ll typically take requests from students for problems they need help with. I try to always assignment homework problems that have answers available so that students are able to immediately self-assess their understanding. Occasionally, I need to spend a few minutes giving answers to problems which didn’t have solutions offered. Either way, students end up making their misunderstandings known, and I’ll leave these requests on the board until I’ve been able to address them. In this process, I try to gauge the severity of the misunderstanding. Given the request, what are the chances that the student’s misunderstanding is of a severe nature? How many other students had issues with the same problem? Would the whole class, or a large group, benefit from a discussion of the problem? As a teacher, this gets pretty exciting because it involves a lot of problem solving on the fly. I must be flexible about how to proceed depending on what I find out from students as they make their difficulties known. As long as no individual student has an overwhelming lack of understanding (which would likely require more intensive one-on-one support outside of class), most students are able to function while waiting for support on the problems they requested help with. Most often, I’m able to get to student requests on the day requests are made. Infrequently, though it does happen, some requests will not be addressed until the next class. Requests that can afford to wait are usually of the higher difficulty variety. Because of the foundational nature of green level challenges, it’s usually far more disadvantageous to allow a student who struggled with a green level problem to linger without the quickest intervention possible.

Another favorite approach of mine is to already have prepared key problems at the different levels of difficulty for the “guided instruction” phase of the lesson. These green, blue, and black level problems are posted, and students are told how to proceed. Frequently, I’ll ask students to start with green and move up in difficulty. Occasionally, it’ll be appropriate to let students go directly to their color level of preference without regard to the others. I’ll monitor progress as students work together. When I feel like the green problem(s) has gotten as much productive attention as it’s likely to get, I’ll discuss the problem with students (sometimes not worrying if students aren’t listening who feel confident with the challenge offered). At some point, I’ll post individual practice problems. Students realize that they should work out problems during the guided instruction up to and including the difficulty level they plan to shoot for. In this way, students might proceed to green level individual practice after they’ve achieved success with the guided green level problems. While this is happening, other students might still be engaged with the guided instruction phase, working with peers and/or waiting for the problem to get discussed. Deciding when to post the individual practice assignment takes some creative thinking. Depending on a variety of factors, sometimes I’ll post the individual practice assignment quickly. Other times, I’ll withhold it if I want students to stick with the guided practice assignment for longer than they might if the individual practice was already offered.

I’ve gone on for a while… hopefully this spurs some thoughts about how to possibly approach the challenges you face. If it raises more questions, keep shooting.

Candace Dominguez(20:50:41) :I have really enjoyed reading this blog and learning about tiered instruction. This is the first time I am learning about this type of instruction. I know this approach would be valuable in my classroom of students with mixed abilities and language proficiency levels. I plan on teaching my first tiered lesson and would love your feedback. It is a geometry lesson for 6th grade students.

Lesson Objective: Students will find the area of irregular polygons by decomposing them into other shapes.

Language Objectives: Students will use their notes and visual models in the classroom to explain orally or in writing how to find the area and perimeter of irregular polygons.

GUIDED PRACTICE ACTIVITIES

GREEN-Students will be given a set of irregular polygons that are labeled on each side with whole numbers. Students will decompose each shape in order to determine the area and perimeter.

I chose this activity for the green level because every student should be able to decompose shapes in order to determine the area and perimeter to fulfill 6th grade standard requirements.

BLUE: Students will be given a set of irregular polygons that have some sides without labels. Students will determine the missing measurements and then decompose the shapes in order to find the area and perimeter of each shape.

I chose this activity for the blue level because the students are required to extend their thinking by completing an additional step by determining what the missing sides are. Then the students will decompose the irregular polygons in order to find the area and perimeter.

BLACK: Students will be given a real-world math problem in which students will be required to draw irregular polygons based on this information provided in the problem. Then the students will decompose their polygons in order to determine the area and perimeter.

I chose this as activity for the black level because the students are required to draw their own polygons based on information provided in the word problem. This activity is also intended for students with higher language proficiency levels because they have to draw an irregular shape based on the information read.

dsuarezteacher(22:55:33) :Hi Candace, Thanks for sharing your ideas. My immediate thoughts… I would have a different lesson goal pertaining to solving real-world math problems and then tier that in a way which will allow all of your diverse students to grow in their contextualized problem solving skills. With your current lesson design, it seems only students who work at the black level will have this growth opportunity, and this feels problematic. Your jump from green to blue makes a lot of sense. I could imagine black level tasks incorporating shapes with shaded/unshaded parts, or more complex shapes than what’s being incorporated at the green/blue levels. Trapezoids and circles come to mind. Also, sometimes I’ll incorporate additional math concepts into blue/black level tasks (that may or may not have been previously learned). For example, a task might require an understanding of the pythagorean theorem, or the circumference of a circle, in order to find a missing side length.

Kevin(04:00:33) :David,

I have one other teacher with me in this operation. We have been doing only different levels of homework, but the same tests and quizzes. After doing this for a couple of months, we are going to start giving leveled tests.

With the homework, the most interesting result was that some of the kids were getting help from their parents to do the blue or black levels. That is cool. There were a lot who were happy doing the green level – which is fine as that’s grade level work.

Tomorrow, I am giving the first test where they can choose their level. I gave them a glance at the different tests today so they could have as idea of what they need to study. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

I must say that the kids seem to really like the fact that they can choose their level of challenge – they feel a little in control of their learning.

Cheers,

-Kevin

David Suarez(04:14:55) :Kevin, what you’re seeing is consistent with what we’ve experienced. I like seeing kids getting extra help on the blue and black level problems. It’s nice that all students have the opportunity to experience the challenge on homework problems that results in them seeking extra help instead of just the earliest readiness students who frequently see themselves as the only ones who ever need extra help on homework when one assignment is offered to all.

Rochelle V. Gray(08:41:17) :Does the program have a Language Arts or Social Studies pieve.

David Suarez(09:13:01) :Hi Rochelle,

I’ve worked with CbC in science and math classes, but the strategy is a general one applicable in any subject area. I just don’t have any specific guidance to offer for language arts and social studies. Sorry!

pitriawati(00:41:18) :Hi,

I am interesting on writing about tiered task for my thesis proposal. i found it difficult to find some literature discussing this particular topic. i wonder if anybody can suggest me any website, books, and journal discussing about this topic. I live in Indonesia by the way, and in my country it is difficult to find some books or journals written in english.

Thank you in advance for your help

Pitriawati

David Suarez(07:33:05) :Hi Pitriawati,

As a starting point, Rick Wormeli discusses tiering in “Fair Isn’t Always Equal,” and it’s also mentioned in Tomlinson and McTighe’s “Integrating Differentiated Instruction and UBD.”

I’d love to hear back from you as you discover additional resources and complete your thesis.

David

Dan(06:39:32) :Hello David

I have watched your videos on differentiated instruction within the maths classroom with much interest. It seems you have developed an excellent way of differentiating effectively at this level. I was wondering if you yourself teach in this manner with high school students in Grades 9 and 10, or if your colleagues do, in preparation for AP/IB Diploma mathematics.

Many Thanks

Dan

David Suarez(11:33:27) :Hi Dan,

I’m thrilled to know you’re interested. My classroom experience is limited to middle school. I’ve recently been in touch with an advanced algebra teacher who has begun tiering with two challenge levels in his classroom. Thus far, he’s seen results similar to what I experienced early on in middle school classes. He’s happy. I’m confident CbC with Tiered Instruction and Assessment can be effectively applied in grade 9 and 10 classes. If I’m lucky, I’ll have the chance to work with some grade 9/10 teachers interested in tiering. Anyway, if you have any inclination whatsoever, you should give it a shot. The approach works really well. Your students will appreciate it. Please keep in touch.

David

heather(11:05:09) :Please clarify some concerns of mine.

When I read about tiering, many sites tier by starting at the standard, then below grade, and above grade. ‘…based on your choices above, determine how many tiers you will need and develop the lesson. When tiering according to readiness, you may have three tiers: below grade level, at grade level, and above grade level…’ So if a student is placed in a below grade group, how can you give them a passing grade? I’m confused.

Another example recently presented to me was in drama. The assignment was to present a scene. The tiering had speech as the standard and below standard was miming. If the standard must include speech, then anyone who does not speak must fail? Why would you include miming as an option if it does not allow the student to meet standard? I pointed this out, but was told that it allowed the student to participate at their current level of readiness and therefore it was tiering and valid. What am I missing?

Another point that troubles me is when teachers give the students’ choice in the 50%, 60% and so on ranges. Shouldn’t we rather give them the standard as the goal and scaffold to get them there? Doesn’t this model reinforce that the student isn’t capable? How does that help them see themselves as a successful learner?

Another scenario that confuses me is this- A math teacher gives out practice sheets with varying levels of support (tips and some key answers already in). If a student completes the sheet with a high degree of accuracy, but it was more heavily supported, could they feasibly get a higher grade than a student who takes the sheet with less support and who is less successful?

I understand that grading “assessment as learning” and “assessment for learning” is frowned upon, but realistically we required marks to justify the reporting grade and cannot base it on one or two end unit grades. So, how do I come to terms with this dilemma?

I can “wrap my head” around the lesson presented on the website above that starts with the standard and “goes up” in level of difficulty. The blue and black levels would translate to 80 and 90s, correct? But I see other lessons that people tell me are tiered and I just don’t see how they can be what was intended, how they can translate into a grade or how they can truly motivate a student.

Please help!

David Suarez(14:47:46) :1. when curriculum is modified below grade level expectations, such modification needs to be noted on a report card, or a passing grade should not be granted.

2. i agree that miming isn’t an appropriate tier if the learning goal involves speaking.

3. yes, we should scaffold to help kids reach rigorous learning goals.

4. on the math example, one would need to closely look at what students successfully completed to evaluate their learning.

5. about grading with few assessments… very, very good question. to benefit students, only the most recent evidence of learning should be included in a grade that’s intended to reflect mastery – add that piece of complexity to your puzzle. i feel comfortable with grades being based on very few quality assessments.

6. i’m really not clear on your reference to point values (60s, 70s, 80s, 90s). i wonder if you’re asking about what grades are possible at the different levels of complexity. in our school, kids can earn A grades on any level of complexity. we report both the level of complexity attempted and the achievement towards that level.

Summary – tiering curriculum can be done well and it can be done poorly. it’s an intellectually challenging exercise to effectively plan tiered lessons that maximize student learning.

hope some of this is helpful. sorry for the slow reply… good luck!

Shashi Krishna(11:49:35) :Hey David,

I teach IB Computer Science and have, from this year, started implementing the tiered approach for students to solve Java programs in so that they choose the kind of challenge they want to work with. Now, I am not sure how familiar you are with the IB program but the kids are graded from a score of 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest). My understanding is that in tiered assessments the basic curriculum content would be a 5, perhaps, and any advanced and higher order thinking strategies that kids apply will get them a 7? So that is to say – kids who choose level 1 task consistently will probably keep getting solid 5s or the occasional 5/6 but not higher. Those who challenge themselves and solve more complex problems will get 6 and advanced programmers get 6/7 or 7. Is this the right way to approach this?

Thanks.

Shashi

David Suarez(16:40:17) :Hi Shashi,

I’m thrilled to hear you’re applying this approach in your computer science classes. It seems like an entirely appropriate fit. I haven’t used the IB grading scales before, but I’m familiar and attempted last year to incorporate some its spirit into a rubric used for evaluating students in math (as we moved away from points and percents). Here’s what our department came up with after a few iterations over the course of a year.

A

– All learning goals are met within the topic of study

– Accurate and attentive to detail at all times

– Sophisticated understanding shown through application, analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation

– Consistently presents work in a clear, logical and organized way

A top score was earned by students satisfying all of these requirements. Whether students completed a Standard, Advanced, or Highly Advanced assessment, they were expected to satisfy these criteria to earn a top score (A). This forced us to include opportunities for students to demonstrate higher order thinking skills on all levels of challenge. Standard level assessments had less opportunities as a percentage of the entire assessment than Advanced and Highly advanced tasks, but some were included, and students who earned A’s on standard assessments really were working to a very high standard. Students earning A’s on Advanced or Highly Advanced tasks were working to an insanely high standard. When another school I worked with offered lower possible grades for standard level work, some of the power of the tiered approach was lost as students and parents saw the work as being of a substandard (not standard) rigor level. The school raised the level of rigor on their standard assessments, adjusted their grading approach so all students could earn top marks, and the results were positive.

In the case of my school, students working at any level of challenge were able to earn an A (or whatever), and this grade was accompanied by a challenge level descriptor. In this way, a Highly Advanced A was a higher achievement than a Standard A, but any student could earn an A. This approach was used in middle school, though, and I understand the implications for high school may be different (especially if GPA’s are calculated). The different IB math tracks come to mind, though, as I think about how the middle school approach I’m describing is possibly still justified. I believe all students who take IB Studies, IB Standard, or IB Higher math courses can earn 7’s in their respective courses. I’d like to think the tiered approach is analogous to offering all three tracks in a single classroom. What I don’t know about the IB grading scales is how 5’s are perceived. If 5’s are a significant achievement, then it may not matter. If 5’s are perceived the way C’s are perceived in a traditional system, I believe it will.

Hope this is somehow helpful. I’d love to hear how you end up going forward and how things turn out!

David

David Suarez(16:57:46) :I just thought of one more thing, Shashi. Offering a top score of 5 for your basic level of challenge seems consistent with the Layered Approach advocated by Kathie Nunley. Maybe checking out her site will help you:

http://www.help4teachers.com/

Elena Sentevska(05:12:03) :David,

I am an educator from Belgrade. We are currently getting ready to organize a CEESA learning institute in Belgrade, with a relatively small group of learning support specialists and counselors from the region. My presentation is on alternative math strategies. Can I use your differentiation model when I talk about differentiation in math? Also, last year Bill and Ochan Powell showed a video of your class, but I cannot locate the link (if you don’t mind sharing that as well)?

Greetings from Belgrade,

Elena

David Suarez(11:02:28) :Hi Elena,

Wonderful to hear you’re talking math differentiation in Belgrade! I would love for you to share this strategy with your colleagues. Bill and Ochan Powell use parts of the clips contained on the Classroom Video’s link (located at the side of this page); you should be able to find what you’re looking for there. My guess is that the clip you viewed came from one of the first videos. Do you see it? Good luck!

David

AppliedMan(13:35:16) :What a bunch of bullshit.

IB students are such good students that they probably don’t even need the help of ANY teacher, they are self – motivated students already because of the high influenced backgrounds of their parents.

Tiering | Discoveries in Instruction(17:50:30) :[…] https://challengebychoice.wordpress.com/tiered-instruction-and-assessment/ […]

Rob Miller(05:59:02) :Hi, I teach at a high school and we have two levels of classes. Academic and Honors. I’m thinking of trying this method for the academic classes because the ability ranges are so extreme. My question is about actual grades. If a student chooses the green quiz while another chooses the hard quiz and they both get a B on their respective quizzes, how do I adjust the grade for their report card? How can colleges tell the difference when deciding acceptance? The students may end up with the same GPA but clearly one student has higher ability. Thanks.

Rob

Rob Miller(06:07:13) :Hi again, please disregard my last post. I just found your other thread on grading practices. Thank you.

Jim(10:29:21) :Hi David,

I love watching your videos and reviewing your materials. One idea I was planning for tiered teaching that I have found successful in the past as a math teacher is to set up tiers of problems and challenges when grouping my students that is based on their level of proficiency, build social and community presence and identity, and allow them the opportunity to choose where they may begin the process. For example, I am working with my sixth grade class on fractions and we are in the process of determining how the part compares to a whole in given situations. After I present whole class the purpose of the lessons and activities I then begin the journey of breaking students into flexible groups. For my ELL students I do provide instructions and work materials in Spanish and I try to group them with their bilingual buddies so they can socially collaborate with their peers as needed.

For this lesson, and I align it to my CCSS, I have three stations. The first are primarily visuals of part to whole concepts whereby students can match parts. For example, for my “green” tier, I might provide three pieces of a pizza in visual format and they can match it up to create a whole and see how ⅓ can add to make a whole. As stated in this post, it allows me to work with students who may not have a mastery of the language and are building basic foundations and building blocks in seeing how fractions and parts fit together. For my “gold” tier, I may provide actual number representations of fractions and begin to have them assimilate different parts and pieces – I can also use Cuissenaires cubes as manipulatives and that helps a great deal, as far as language barriers or students who struggle with written language. For my “black” tier of students, I might consider providing word problems (in both languages) so students can team together and collaborate on real-world scenarios and construct based on applying the number to the problems. Obviously, students can move from one level to the other and I try to keep it self-guided with monitoring sheets so students can assess themselves AS learners throughout the process.

I think the reflection sheets for after are the most valuable to me as I try to build on my lessons and understanding where students are throughout the process. I also try to remove the issues of boredom and overtasking in the “flow” described in the slide above because I think this is important to student motivations. Hope this idea follows along with your teachings and can help others along the way…:).

dsuarezteacher(22:47:08) :Sounds awesome and amazing, Jim. What you’ve shared reminds me a bit of what I’ve read about “layered curriculum” in that your top level involves applications that you probably want all of the kids working towards. To me, that’s a bit different from the tiered approach I use since most of what we include in the black level represents work that’s far beyond what’s appropriate for many students in the grade level. In my opinion, you’ve thought hard about how to differentiate the process, but also the content in terms of the complexity kids are working with, probably within the realm of what you hope kids achieve with a “rigorous” grade level standard in mind. If your gold level actually represents tasks that are beyond a reasonably “rigorous” grade level standard, then I’d say what you’re doing is very much in line with how I’ve approached the tiered approach described in this site. Anyway, thanks a lot for sharing your good work!

Mike(19:46:03) :Excellent resources!

Deni Drinkwater(08:37:30) :First, I am new to this blog, there is a wealth of info in here so thanks for that. As an art teacher I feel differentiation often looks very different than it might in a math or ELA classroom. I am not sure if what I am doing really fits the Tiering system and would appreciate any feedback you all might have to offer and suggestions for improvement. I would like to share an activity with you and see what you think.

Food Art Grade 6

THE LESSON OBJECTIVE: The students will learn about Pop Art and the artist Wayne Thiebaud. The students will create an art piece using food imagery influenced by the work of Wayne Thiebaud.

THE ELL LANGUAGE OBJECTIVES: The students will develop their English language skills, through discussing the work of Thiebaud and writing a statement bout their own work.

ACTIVITIES

ALL LEVELS: The students will watch and discuss teacher PowerPoint on Pop Art and the art of Wayne Thiebaud. The class will discuss food in art, looking at paintings of food in various time periods. The students will be asked to name their favorite food.

I have listed activities by the three levels of Challenge By Choice

GREEN LEVEL: The students will choose to paint or sculpt their favorite food. They will use Acrylic paints or colored Sculpy to create their work.

BLUE LEVEL: The students will choose to paint or sculpt their favorite food, They will use Acrylic paints or colored Sculpy to create their work.. They may also choose to create an image of the food on the computer using the Acorn graphics program.

BLACK LEVEL: The students will choose to paint or sculpt their favorite food, showing an understanding of value/shading in the painting and detail/proportion in the sculpture They will use Acrylic paints or colored Sculpy to create their work. They may also choose to create an advertisement for the food on the computer using the graphics program., designed to make the viewer want to eat the food.

I chose the activities at the Green Level because the students at this level are able to create the artwork successfully and they will be able to show their understanding of Pop Art and the food art of Wayne Thiebaud. Having two activities to choose from gives the students either the chance to work with something new or to work with something familiar and develop their skills.

I chose to have the students at the different levels have access to create the same art pieces but with higher expectations at the different levels. So, the students at the Blue Level also can choose to use the computer program.

The Black Level students have the ability to choose any of the art pieces, but are expected to create work at a more advanced level using shading in the paintings, detail in the sculptures and creating an ad not just an image.

This gets tricky and it is where knowing your students comes into play. Art is different from language arts or math, I may have a student who may be WIDA Level 1 and speak little English but may be experienced or talented in art and create work at a Black Level of proficiency. A WIDA Level 3 student may have enough understanding and fluency in English to understand the content but may never have worked with the art materials before. I think that giving the students choices and knowing what their experience and skill levels are the guiding forces in differentiating and tiering instruction in an art class.

dsuarezteacher(00:24:46) :Hi Deni –

I’m not sure why you’ve used the language “students may” under the blue/black level expectations. Perhaps you’re indicating that working towards the blue or black expectations isn’t required.

Regarding your last comment, I believe the same thing can be true for math. Plenty of kids who struggle with language might be highly capable mathematical thinkers who may choose to pursue black level work.

Mike(09:35:42) :Hey David,

I am a math teacher, teaching 9th grade Algebra 1 to a group of students who are made up of mostly ELL students. I am new to tiering assignments, so I was hoping to see if you would be able to let me know if I am off to a good start with tiering my assignments.

LESSON OBJECTIVE: “Students will be able to add unlike fractions by using the area model.”

LANUAGE OBJECTIVE: “Students will be able to draw an area model to explain how to add fractions.”

In my class, we are introducing the addition of fractions with different denominators. I would like all of my students to be able to do these, but I have created tiered problems to help all of my students access these problems. Here is an example of the problems and how they are tiered:

WIDA Tier 1 (Green): 1/2 + 2/5 (add)

[I thought that this would be a good problem type for the WIDA Level 1 because the students do not need to be able to read proficiently to get the problem done correctly. Also, I put in the word “add” to show that the “+” symbol means “add.”]

WIDA Tier 3: John has 1/2 of a tray of brownies. Janet has 2/5 of a tray of brownies. Find the sum of the brownies that they have.

[I thought that this would be a good WIDA Level 3 problem, as it involves simple language and academic language. The sentences are simple, and there is no room for debate as to what the question is asking.]

WIDA Tier 5: John has one half of a tray of brownies. Janet has two fifths of a tray of brownies. John says that together their brownies is more than one tray, while Janet says that together their amount is less than one tray. Who is correct and why?

[I thought that this would be a good WIDA Level 5 problem because it doesn’t explicitly tell the students to add, as they need to identify the operation on their own. Also, this problem has the students not only add, but to make a decision as well, deciding who is correct based off of their computations. Notice that there are no numbers given, so they need to translate the words into numbers.]

I would appreciate any feedback or advice on this. Thank you very much!

Mike

dsuarezteacher(22:25:05) :Hi Mike,

It seems like you’re sensitive to your student’s language development needs. You’ve taken the time to identify a language objective and have considered how each task is progressively more complex from a language standpoint. Having a good sense of where your students are and how they’ll access a lesson’s concepts is an essential step when planning tiered lessons.

Given the objectives you’ve mentioned, I find myself wondering how the tasks you’ve described fit into your larger lesson plan. I could see students successfully engaging with any of the tasks you’ve described while failing to show that they’ve mastered the lesson objectives. If I were to tier a lesson with the objectives you’ve identified, I’d start by asking myself what I want all kids to be able to do relative to those objectives. I’d call that green level. I’d then think about extensions for kids who’d benefit from additional challenge. Then, I’d think about the instruction that might lead to success at the green level and beyond. I could see the tasks you’ve designed being part of the lesson plan you’ve designed to support student success at the green level. However, if some students only complete the first tier, it seems like they’ll be missing out on the chance to develop their language skills. This is different from the way I normally approach a tiered lesson. If I wanted all of my students to be able to complete the tier 5 task, I’d simply call the problems Green level 1a, b, and c and figure out how to support their growth to the highest level. So, as I’m writing, it’s striking me that your approach reminds me what I’ve read about “layered curriculum.” My understanding is that the teacher encourages all students to perform at the highest level, but provides different layers of complexity. An “A” grade requires success at the highest layer. Here’s a link: http://www.help4teachers.com/. This is different from the approach I’ve described on this site in that I’d say my “green” level might involve layers as Nunley describes, but then in addition, I plan a blue and black level that goes beyond what I hope all kids are able to do.

What do you think, Mike? Do you agree that your approach more closely matches the spirit of layered curriculum, or am I missing something?

David

Elaine(07:53:12) :As I read your post, I was thinking about applying this to teaching science and social studies to my first grade ELL students. Any comments or suggestions are welcome, and thank you for providing such an informative and helpful blog.

First Grade Social Studies Lesson

–Lesson Objective: Students will interpret maps and other graphic representations of familiar places.

–ELL Language Objective: Students will work together and discuss using appropriate map vocabulary. Students will ask and answer questions in order to interpret, construct, and analyze maps.

Guided Practice:

–Green: Students will interpret a map of the classroom in order to find clues that will lead to a “treasure.”

–Blue: Students will construct a map of a familiar place (classroom or other area of the school).

–Black: Students will analyze and compare two maps, one of a familiar place and one of an unfamiliar place.

Explanation of Guided Practice:

The green group of students are currently working at grade level and with supports could appropriately use a map and its legend to find a hidden treasure within the classroom. For this group, the treasure serves as an extra motivator to master the skill.

The blue group can extend what they learned about maps in order to create one themselves. This provides an additional challenge because it requires students to apply what they’ve learned about reading a map to creating a map for a familiar space.

The black group’s activity further extends beyond the two previous groups because it requires them to analyze two different maps (one of those being an unfamiliar place which requires additional abstract thinking) and then compare and contrast the two. The skill of comparing and contrasting two maps is a second grade Social Studies standard in the state of Illinois.

Nicole(16:12:39) :This is an excellent blog with wonderful information for differentiation in the classroom. I teach younger students (third grade) and would like some feedback on an activity that I would like to try with my government unit. I often find that this unit is difficult for students to understand, especially students that are ELL, so a tiered/differentiated approach might be the best approach to help my students. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Three Branches of National Government (Third Grade)

Lesson Objective: Students will identify the jobs, locations, and people associate with each branch of the National Government.

ELL Language Objective: Students will develop their English language skills, through discussion of the three branches of the National Government (roles, responsibilities, and locations in Washington, D.C.).

Activities: All students will view a video about the three branches of National Government. The video details the “head” of each branch, the roles and responsibilities of each branch of government, and the locations/headquarters of each branch in Washington, D.C. Students will also use pages in the social studies book and additional visual resources/flow charts illustrating the above mentioned features.

Activities Listed by Challenge by Choice/Tiered:

Green: Students will be provided a chart listing each branch of government. The chart will resemble a tree with three branches. Students will be provided words and corresponding pictures pertaining to each branch of National Government (example: President with a picture of the current president. White House with a picture of the White House. Supreme Court Justices with a group picture of the justices, etc.). Students will cut and paste the correct words and pictures into the correct category.

I chose this activity for Green due to some of the language limitations of ELL or special education learners in my classroom. The pre-made chart and the use of visuals can help both populations with various skill levels. The standards and content remain the same but the level of scaffolding is more supportive.

Blue: Students will be given construction paper of various colors. Students must create a tree to illustrate the three branches of the National Government. Students will be provided with a word bank of terms that pertain to the three branches discussed in the whole class instruction. Students must creatively apply the terms to the tree with brief descriptors for each term.

I chose this activity for Blue because it allows for less scaffolding and more independence. Students will still have the word bank to support them, but the activity relies more on the student to provide an explanation for each portion of the content area.

Black: Students will be given a poster board/large paper. Students must create a visual representation of the three branches of the National Government. Students must use the text, other supplemental materials provided, and his or her own research to explain in detail each branch. As an extension, students can also include information to explain how each of these branches acts to “check and balance” one another.

I chose this activity for Black because it relies on the student to be most independent. Given the initial lesson, the student is left alone to rely on his or her own abilities to synthesize the information and take it a step further. Students at various levels can attempt this level due to the openness of the activity. The extension can be made mandatory or optional given the students decision in terms of challenge.

Working with English Language Learners can be a challenge when it comes to this set up. Are these activities too challenging? I think that many students at various WIDA levels can achieve at the varied challenge levels. I suppose I could also have the option of students working with peers on this sort of project depending on the comfort level and need of each student. I think regardless, all of the above speak to differentiation and the importance of it in our increasingly diverse classrooms.

Bridget(18:52:11) :While reading this post, I was thinking about how I could apply this method during math in my kindergarten classroom.

Kindergarten Cloud (Cotton Ball) Math

Lesson Objective: Students will be able to fluently add up to 10.

ELL Language Objective: Students will be able to verbalize, represent, and record the total number of clouds.

Guided Practice:

Green: I will show a few examples of addition story problems about clouds. I will read story problems and model how to use clouds (cotton balls) to solve the problem. I will then read a few story problems to the group as the students use the cotton calls to illustrate the story. The goal for the students is to add the two numbers together. Their recording sheet would have ____+______= ____ already copied so they can record the appropriate numbers. The students will also have access to a number like to assist them in number writing. The students will be working with numbers 1-5.

Blue: I will read a few story problems to the students. The students will use the cotton balls to illustrate our story problems. The students will be practicing adding numbers 1-10. I will show the students how to write the number sentence and model a few examples. Then, the students will be able to write the number sentence that matches the story problem on their recording sheet.

Black: The students will read their own story problems about clouds. Unimportant information will be included in the story problem for the students to determine what information in needed to accurately solve the problem. The students will use cotton balls to illustrate their story problems. The students will be working on adding numbers 1-10. After using cotton balls to solve the problem, the students will record the number sentence independently. This group could also use the cotton balls to find different ways to make the same number. For example, how many different ways can you make 6?

Explanation of Guided Practice:

The students in the green group are working below grade level and need extra support with the addition process. The teacher is there to help guide them through each step of the process. The students will have access to the number line to help them write the numbers.

The students in the blue group are working at grade level. With a few examples they will be able to independently complete the task. The students will be able to record the number sentence for their clouds.

The students in the black group are working above grade level. They are able to decode the necessary information within the story problem and solve it. They can accurately record the number sentence that matches their story problem. Additionally, they will be able to use the cotton balls to find different ways of make the same number.

Charlotte P(19:45:40) :Hello,

Similar to many of the recent previous replies, I am new to this concept and am thinking about how I can apply it to ELLs. I currently teach 11th grade history—a class called Contemporary American Issues—and have a handful of students who are at varying levels in their English language development. I’d also like to post my preliminary ideas and see what comments people have.

Content Objective: Identify pros and cons of isolationism leading up to WWII

Language Objective: Describe the main ideas from a text

Students would read excerpts from two speeches: one as testimony in favor of the US staying out of the WWII and another in favor of intervention. In terms of language production and demonstrating understanding of the material, here are some activities I would provide for the varying challenge levels:

GREEN (WIDA level 1): Students read a version of the text in their native language. Reasons for and against isolationism would be given in a single list (if possible and accessible for students, this list would be in simplified English). Students would have to sort them into a “pro” list and “con” list based on the readings. Then, they should briefly summarize the “pro” and “con” perspective by drawing a picture or fill in the blanks of a sentence using words from a word bank. I think this would be appropriate as students have limited knowledge of English at this point. Providing the speeches in their native language differentiates the content for them. When they come to the language objective, they are allowed to produce an understanding of the text in a more basic way.

BLUE (WIDA level 3): Students read a modified English version of the text with the most important details highlighted and more difficult words translated or defined. They should then identify which of those key details are “pro” and which are “con.” They should summarize the “pro” and “con” perspective in 1-2 sentences each. Sentence starters could be provided if necessary. At this point, students should have some knowledge of the language and should be able to grapple with more manageable portions of the text. The whole speech will be provided, but if they only focus on the key details that are highlighted, they will still be able to walk away with critical understandings. In producing the language, there are still supports in the form of sentence starters.

BLACK (WIDA level 5): Students read the original version of the text, though some of the highest vocabulary may still be defined. They should select their own evidence to show the “pros” and the “cons” of isolationism. They should summarize the “pro” and “con” side in 1-2 sentences each, but must also use higher level vocabulary words from a word bank in their response. At this point, students should be nearing proficiency. Therefore, it is essential that they grapple with the English version of the text as much as possible. In producing the language, students will be challenged to continue to expand and utilize a more varied vocabulary through the word bank.

Jason Beer(18:42:49) :I have enjoyed reading this blog, as well as all the thoughtful and professional responses and comments. I thought the information was very well organized and easy to follow with great examples. I currently teach high school diverse learners, with some of these students being ELL. Using the information provided from the site, below is a sample tiered lesson I have constructed. Everyone’s feedback would be much appreciated!

Lesson Objective: Students will be able to identify the similarities and differences of World War I & World War II.

Language Objective: Students will be able to explain the similarities and differences of World War I & World War II through written description or shared discussion.

Tier 1: Using a venn diagram, classify the similarities and differences between World War I & World War II

I chose to use a venn diagram for Tier 1 as most students in my class would be able to easily follow the structure and layout. Graphic organizers are proven to be successful interventions and would expect most of my students to be able to construct one.

Tier 3: Read a text on the causes of each war and then describe the differences or similarities between these causes while citing specific evidence from the text.

I chose a textual reading for this tier while also requiring the citing of textual evidence. Most of my students would be able to complete this, but certainly not all as students are faced with the additional challenge of connecting textual evidence back to the main point.

Tier 5: After reading text on each war, choose one war that you believe was the most beneficial for Americans. Construct a detailed outline citing specific textual evidence and be prepared to debate the issue with a partner.

For Tier 5, I chose to pose a specific question that would challenge the students to think more critically. I thought that not only answering this question, but being prepared with an outline and able to discuss with specific evidence would challenge the organizational and critical thinking skills of my students.

Samantha N (11/27/15 3:46)(13:46:55) :Great article. I really learned a lot about tiered instruction that I did not previously know. As I read about tiered instruction, I was thinking about my class, and wondered how can I make it fit my 9th grade algebra class. I currently teach an algebra class in a special education setting, with students who are also english language learners. I have attempted to create a lesson using tiered instruction, and would be open to any feedback you can provide.

LESSON OBJECTIVE

Students will write linear equations in slope-intercept form.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE

Students will describe how they created their linear equation in slope-intercept form.

GUIDED PRACTICE WITH EXPLANATION

Green:

Students will be given a set of two coordinate pairs. They will have to use the slope formula to find the slope. After they will use the slope and a coordinate pair to find the y-intercept. Once they find the slope and the y-intercept, they can use the information found to create an equation in slope-intercept form. They will finally graph the formula they created.

Blue:

Students will be given a set of word problems. For each word problem, they will have to determine the y-intercept and the slope using the formulas given during instruction. They will use the information they found to create an equation in slope-intercept form. Finally, students will graph their equation.

Black:

Marble activity: Students will be given a beaker of water, and marbles of the same size and shape. Students will drop marbles into the water one-by-one and record the water increase. The students will use their findings to to create an equation in slope-intercept form that represents the increase in water. Students will then use their equation to figure out the height of the water if 100 marbles were added to the water. Last, students will graph their equation.

Students will do a learning walk to demonstrate their learning. The sentence starters below will be given to students to help with their explanation of the process.

Wida Level 1: Slope is ______

y-intercept is____

equation is ______

Wida Level 3: I found the slope by ______

I know the y-intercept is _____ because______

Wida Level 3: As I add a marble to the water, the height increases by ____. This is known as the ______. The y-intercept is ____. I know this because _______. My graph explains _____

Elizabeth Mc.(21:09:54) :Thank you for writing and maintaining such an informative and helpful blog. I know it can be a lot of work to keep up with and we appreciate your feedback. The method of Tiered teaching is very interesting and I am wondering how it might work with Early Childhood students. I teach a diverse classroom of 34 ELL 3, 4 and 5 year olds (in two sessions). I planned a Social Studies lesson using the Tiered approach and I would be very grateful if you (or any other reader) would look it over and let me know if I am on the right track. Thank You!!

Lesson Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics of living things.

Language Objective: Students will be able to describe the process of the seasons changing using a model of a tree.

Guided Practice:

Green – Students will be able to use the felt model of a tree and the supplemental materials (leaves of different colors for Fall, flower buds for Spring, snowflakes for Winter and green leaves for Summer) to show how the tree looks in each season. Students will state the names of the seasons in English or Spanish.

For the green level, I would provide the student with the “season” orally and they would use the materials to model it on the felt tree. I want all students to show mastery at this level.

Blue – Students will be able to use the felt model of the tree (with leaves, flower buds and snowflakes) to sequence, using content vocabulary, how the seasons change.

For the blue level, students should be able to create a sequence of the seasons when given a starting point – winter – and use the materials and the vocabulary they have learned (the names of the seasons in English and Spanish, deciduous tree, conifer tree, snow, leaves, trunk, roots, etc.…) to describe it.

Black – Students will be given a paper with four boxes and they will create a tree for each season. They should be able to dictate the name of the season for each box and use content vocabulary to describe their pictures.

For the black level, students should be able to construct their own models based off of their background knowledge and the group discussion.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read over my plans. Feel free to let me know your thoughts.

Elizabeth Mc.(21:12:42) :Thank you for writing and maintaining such an informative and helpful blog. I know it can be a lot of work to keep up with and we appreciate your feedback. The method of Tiered teaching is very interesting and I am wondering how it might work with Early Childhood students. I teach a diverse classroom of 34 ELL 3, 4 and 5 year olds (in two sessions). I planned a Social Studies lesson using the Tiered approach and I would be very grateful if you (or any other reader) would look it over and let me know if I am on the right track. Thank You!!

Lesson Objective: Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics of living things.

Language Objective: Students will be able to describe the process of the seasons changing using a model of a tree.

Guided Practice:

Green – Students will be able to use the felt model of a tree and the supplemental materials (leaves of different colors for Fall, flower buds for Spring, snowflakes for Winter and green leaves for Summer) to show how the tree looks in each season. Students will state the names of the seasons in English or Spanish.

For the green level, I would provide the student with the “season” orally and they would use the materials to model it on the felt tree. I want all students to show mastery at this level.

Blue – Students will be able to use the felt model of the tree (with leaves, flower buds and snowflakes) to sequence, using content vocabulary, how the seasons change.

For the blue level, students should be able to create a sequence of the seasons when given a starting point – winter – and use the materials and the vocabulary they have learned (the names of the seasons in English and Spanish, deciduous tree, conifer tree, snow, leaves, trunk, roots, etc.…) to describe it.

Black – Students will be given a paper with four boxes and they will create a tree for each season. They should be able to dictate the name of the season for each box and use content vocabulary to describe their pictures.

For the black level, students should be able to construct their own models based off of their background knowledge and the group discussion.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read over my plans. Feel free to let me know your thoughts.

Amelia(13:45:25) :Thank you for providing us with such valuable information on Tiered Learning. It is something I would like to implement in my math and science class. I teach 5th grade math. The unit that we are studying is on Multiplying multi-digit numbers. After reading your explanation I tried to implement tiered/differentiated approach for my next lesson. After teaching the kids multiplying through using the area model, regrouping, and partial products the students will be challenged by choice with the following options.

Lesson Objective: Students can estimate and multiply multi digit whole numbers.

Language Objective: Students will be able to draw an area model to understand place value and multiplying.

Green (1) Students will receive the following problem ( Mrs. Allen wants to lay down rolls of sod in her garden before she plants flowers. She measured her garden and it is 24 by 102 feet. How many feet of sod will she need?) Students should create a four square, rewrite the problem, draw a picture, write an equation and solve the problem using the area model. I chose this activity because students in WIDA level 1 find visuals very useful in learning.

Blue (3)- Students will be given a word problem (Mrs. Allen wants to lay down rolls of sod in her garden before she plants flowers. She measured her garden and it is 24 by 102 feet. How many feet of sod will she need?) Students should solve the problem using the area model and another way that was taught. I chose this activity for students at WIDA level 3 because it still contains the visual aspect but also challenges them to solve the problem one of the other 3 ways that were taught.

Black (5) Students should create a word problem for other students to solve. Students should keep in mind the 4-square method we learned and make sure their word problem contains the criteria needed to solve it. Students in

WIDA level 5 no longer need language supports but should still be monitored. These students should continually be challenged to master the language and also the work.

Amelia(13:50:08) :Thank you for providing us with such valuable information on Tiered Learning. It is something I would like to implement in my math and science class. I teach 5th grade math. The unit that we are studying is on Multiplying multi-digit numbers. After reading your explanation I tried to implement tiered/differentiated approach for my next lesson. After teaching the kids multiplying through using the area model, regrouping, and partial products the students will be challenged by choice with the following options.

Lesson Objective: Students can estimate and multiply multi digit whole numbers.

Language Objective: Students will be able to draw an area model to understand place value and multiplying.

Green (1) Students will receive the following problem ( Mrs. Allen wants to lay down rolls of sod in her garden before she plants flowers. She measured her garden and it is 24 by 102 feet. How many feet of sod will she need?) Students should create a four square, rewrite the problem, draw a picture, write an equation Includes an estimate and solve the problem using the area model. I chose this activity because students in WIDA level 1 find visuals very useful in learning.

Blue (3)- Students will be given a word problem (Mrs. Allen wants to lay down rolls of sod in her garden before she plants flowers. She measured her garden and it is 24 by 102 feet. How many feet of sod will she need?) Students should solve the problem using the area model and another way that was taught. I chose this activity for students at WIDA level 3 because it still contains the visual aspect but also challenges them to solve the problem one of the other 3 ways that were taught.

Black (5) Students should create a word problem for other students to solve. Students should keep in mind the 4-square method we learned and make sure their word problem contains the criteria needed to solve it. Students in WIDA level 5 no longer need language supports but should still be monitored. These students should continually be challenged to master the language and also the work.

Jessica Maldonado(15:06:46) :Hi David,

Thank you for taking the time to post this pertinent information. In my Reading class, use Bloom’s Taxonomy to differentiate for my students. Below, I have provided a sample of how I would integrate Challenge by Choice into what I currently do.

Lesson objective: Students will read a current events news article about the ISIS attacks on Paris and then determine the central idea of the text.

Language objective: Students will be able to articulate what the central idea of the news article is and how they know.

Guided practice activities

Green: After reading, the students will complete a 5W (who, what, when, where, why) graphic organizer and then orally summarize the article.

Blue: After reading, students will write an objective summary and draw a political cartoon as a visual representation.

Black: Students will read another article on the same subject and compare and contrast the information gathered from each. Students will then write an investigative journalism story on the topic.

Explanation: I chose the Green activities because they are less daunting activities that still demonstrate the students’ understanding of the central idea of the text and incorporate lower levels of cognition according to Bloom’s Taxonomy (Knowledge and Comprehension). I chose the Blue activities because they are more complex and involve higher levels of cognition according to Bloom’s Taxonomy (Comprehension and Application). I chose the Black activities because they are very advanced and complex and they involve even higher levels of cognition according to Bloom’s Taxonomy (Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation).

Breanna B(19:06:50) :Hello David – Thank you so much for the thorough post about Challenge by Choice and Tiered Instruction. This is my first exposure to these terms and I think you did a great job explaining the rationale behind these as well as examples of this in practice. Reading this post made me think more about how I can challenge students at different levels. I teach a wide variety of students within the general education population, including students who are at the “honors” level and those who need more support. I like how you describe how Challenge by Choice is more responsive than a “track” because it acknowledges that students may be at different levels at different topics within a given class.

I am particularly excited to challenge my English Language Learners by choice to help them build their confidence and choose their own challenges to support their learning. Here is my first attempt at thinking through what this would look like.

LESSON OBJECTIVE:

Students will explain how they know that a changing magnetic field induces a current in a nearby circuit.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE:

Students will be able to explain out loud to a peer one piece of evidence that supports Faraday’s Law (that a changing magnetic field induces current).

ALL STUDENTS will view a demonstration of a changing magnetic field causing a lightbulb to light up without the use of a battery. All students will also complete experiments using the Phet simulation on Faraday’s Law (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/faradays-law) and will be provided with a sheet that helps them organize their independent, dependent, and control variables for the experiments. They will do this experiment in heterogeneous groups (both ability-wise and language-wise) in order to encourage collaboration and language development. After this, the product I expect would be differentiated based on language skills.

GREEN (WIDA Level 1)

Students will create a drawing (or series of drawings) showing that moving the magnet near the loops of wire in the simulation causes the bulb to light up. They will be provided with a word bank to label their drawing: lightbulb, current, loops, bar magnet, moving. Their drawing will be sufficient evidence to show their understanding that changing a magnetic field creates a current, but will also be accessible given their limited language skills. In addition, the word bank will help them learn the words associated with the simulation and with Faraday’s Law. For help with the language objective, students will be given the following sentence and will need to fill in the blanks: This picture shows that moving the ____________ causes ___________.

BLUE (WIDA Level 3)

Since they have had access to the material with a visual already, students at this level will fill out the following sentence using this sentence starter: I know that a changing magnetic field creates a current because….

This would be appropriate for this language level because according to the WIDA Can-Do descriptors, students at Level 3 can “describe processes and procedures” and “retell events,” so they would be able to articulate what happened in the simulation lab.

BLACK (WIDA Level 5)

Since students at this level can, according to the WIDA Can-Do descriptors, “Explain phenomena, give examples, and justify responses,” I would have students respond to the following question after the lab activity without giving them a sentence starter: How do you know that changing a magnetic field produces a current?

Ben(13:10:34) :David, thank you for the research and work you have done in this article. As a 7th & 8th grade Social Studies teacher, I am always trying to be reflective of my practice and figure out ways to differentiate my instruction. My class is guided by content and sometimes I struggle to differentiate one idea for three or four different levels of learning within a classroom. This is a concept I have been pushed to try in my class and am eager to continue to develop the concept of tiered instruction within my classroom.

Lesson Objective: Students will analyze the impact of the Treaty of Versailles

Language Objective: Students will write a short argumentative essay, using textual evidence to support their view on the impact of the Treaty of Versailles

Guided Practice Activities:

Green: Students at this level will be given a heavily scaffolded worksheet to help them write the essay. The worksheet will break up the essay into the different sections needed and will have students fill in the blanks into response stems and that will be what they turn into write their essays. Students will also have the option to verbally express their argument

Blue: Students at this level will also have a worksheet to help them write their paper. Their will be different response stems that they can use and fill out to complete their paper. These students will need to then use this to write a modified version of the essay.

Black: Students at this level will be given a list of response stems to write their essay and will need to complete the essay in the same manner as the non ELL students in the classroom.

I chose these activities for each level because knowing my students that are at each of these levels, I kept their skill level in mind. The students I have are capable of doing the activities that were chosen for each level given the modifications provided.

Sonia Suqi(10:47:26) :As I read your post, I was thinking about how this applied to working with ELLs and I’d like to say that I now have another way to differentiate instruction to my students while we are all on the same lesson just tiered. I think its great!

Marisol Rivas(13:09:36) :This article gave valuable information on Challenge by Choice. As I read it, I thought about a content area that I still pretty much do whole group, which is Social Emotional Learning. I thought I would try Challenge by Choice with 1st graders, to explore groupings and differentiation in this content to move away from everyone doing the same activity. What do you think about this?

Content Objective-Students will identify the feeling happy

Language Objective-Students will describe the feeling happy

Whole Group-We will discuss the feeling happy and how our faces show happiness. We will look at pictures of people showing happy faces.

Green/Level 1-Students will draw a happy face on a face outline to show “HAPPY”.

Blue/Level 3-Students will complete a graphic organizer on text to self-connection. After discussing TWIGGLE (main character in the SEL curriculum) and the picture of his birthday where he was feeling happy, students will write about an experience when they were happy.

Black/Level 5-Students will write a story about another character in the curriculum (Daphne Duck) to tell about a time the character was happy.

Explanation:

Level 1- At this level students are able to connect print to visuals. They can communicate through drawings.

Level 3- At this level, students can make text to self-connections with prompting. They can also engage in prewriting strategies when using a graphic organizer. On one side they will draw/write about the text (text evidence). On the other side they will draw/write about their connection.

Level 5- At this level students are able to produce content-related sentences. They can compose stories.

I’m hoping that I am in the right direction and will continue differentiating with Challenge by Choice!

Marisol Rivas(13:13:09) :This article gave valuable information on Challenge by Choice. As I read it, I thought about a content area that I still pretty much do whole group, which is Social Emotional Learning. I thought I would try Challenge by Choice with 1st graders, to explore groupings and differentiation in this content to move away from everyone doing the same activity. What do you think?

Content Objective-Students will identify the feeling happy

Language Objective-Students will describe the feeling happy

Whole Group-We will discuss the feeling happy and how our faces show happiness. We will look at pictures of people showing happy faces.

Green/Level 1-Students will draw a happy face on a face outline to show “HAPPY”.

Blue/Level 3-Students will complete a graphic organizer on text to self-connection. After discussing TWIGGLE (main character in the SEL curriculum) and the picture of his birthday where he was feeling happy, students will write about an experience when they were happy.

Black/Level 5-Students will write a story about another character in the curriculum (Daphne Duck) to tell about a time the character was happy.

Explanation:

Level 1- At this level students are able to connect print to visuals. They can communicate through drawings.

Level 3- At this level, students can make text to self-connections with prompting. They can also engage in prewriting strategies when using a graphic organizer. On one side they will draw/write about the text (text evidence). On the other side they will draw/write about their connection.

Level 5- At this level students are able to produce content-related sentences. They can compose stories.

I hope I am in the right direction and will continue to differentiate with Challenge by Choice!

Marisol(13:36:47) :This article gave valuable information on Challenge by Choice. As I read it, I thought about a content area that I still pretty much do whole group, which is Social Emotional Learning. I thought I would try Challenge by Choice with 1st graders, to explore groupings and differentiation in this content to move away from everyone doing the same activity.

Content Objective-Students will identify the feeling happy

Language Objective-Students will describe the feeling happy

Whole Group-We will discuss the feeling happy and how our faces show happiness. We will look at pictures of people showing happy faces.

Green/Level 1-Students will draw a happy face on a face outline to show “HAPPY”.

Blue/Level 3-Students will complete a graphic organizer on text to self-connection. After discussing TWIGGLE (main character in the SEL curriculum) and the picture of his birthday where he was feeling happy, students will write about an experience when they were happy.

Black/Level 5-Students will write a story about another character in the curriculum (Daphne Duck) to tell about a time the character was happy.

Explanation:

Level 1- At this level students are able to connect print to visuals. They can communicate through drawings.

Level 3- At this level, students can make text to self-connections with prompting. They can also engage in prewriting strategies when using a graphic organizer. On one side they will draw/write about the text (text evidence). On the other side they will draw/write about their connection.

Level 5- At this level students are able to produce content-related sentences. They can compose stories.

Thank you so much for this information. I hope I am in the right direction with Challenge by Choice!

Ashley N.(20:44:24) :Thank you for this informative post about Challenge by Choice and Tiered Instruction! As I read this post, I began to think about how the concept would look in an ESL classroom with English Language Learners. I came up with the following idea for argumentative writing. Comments and feedback are welcome!

Lesson Objective: Connect essential questions and enduring understandings across texts.

Language Objective: Write an argument to support the enduring understanding: Similarities and differences should be shared to create an equitable future for all.

ALL LEVELS (Whole Group): Students will read a short story, an informational text, a poem, and a graphic novel that highlight local, national, and global similarities and differences in terms of culture and fairness.

Green (Level 1): Choose two texts we have read so far this unit to answer this factual question: Does the main idea of the selections say that people are the same or different? Sentence Starters/Frames for Students: Claim: These selections say that people are…, Evidence: According to _____________, “__________________” ( )., In the text ______________, “_______________________” ( )., Warrant: This demonstrates…

Blue (Level 3) Use two short texts and the graphic novel to answer this conceptual question: We read about many different problems in the world. Explain what people can do to solve at least two of these problems.

Sentence Starters/Frames for Students: Claim: People can solve the problems of __________ and __________ by…, Evidence: According to _____________, “__________________” ( ). In the text______________, “_______________________” ( )., Warrant: This illustrates…

Black (Level 5) Use one short text, the graphic novel, and your own selected text to answer the debatable question: Is it possible to be part of more than one culture? Sentence Starters/Frames for Students: Claim: These texts prove that it is possible/impossible to be part of more than one culture., Evidence: According to _____________, “__________________” ( )., In the text______________, “_______________________” ( ).,

Warrant: This shows…

Explanation: All students are required to complete a synthesis of multiple texts in the form of an argument. All students must use evidence to support a claim. The Green group is answering a factual question and referencing two short texts that we have already seen in class. The Blue group is answering a conceptual question and referencing two short texts and a graphic novel that we have already seen in class. The Black group is challenged to answer a debatable question using three texts we have seen in class in addition to a new text that they have not read before.

Gabriela T(20:18:45) :Challenge by Choice is such an empowering way of learning for both students and teacher. There are so many ways to differentiate and I am so glad I came across this strategy. In reading this study, I immediately thought of my own 4th grade students. As a co-teacher, I am in a classroom with ELL students, general education students, and diverse learners. The range academic readiness in the classroom is often overwhelming, but I believe I may have come up with an idea for a tiered activity in my math classroom. Feedback is encouraged and welcomed!

LESSON OBJECTIVE:Students will be able to identify the value of a digit in a number.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to explain to a peer buddy their reasoning behind the identified value of a digit in a number using a place value chart.

GUIDED PRACTICE WITH EXPLANATION:

GREEN LEVEL: Students will be given a set of numbers. Within each number, there will be one digit bolded and underlined. Students will have to write the appropriate value of the bolded, underlined digit. Ex: 1, 578 __500__

I chose this activity as the green level activity because every student that completes the green level activity will have met the lesson objective which is a goal I have as a teacher. Using a place value chart to complete, I am confident that all of my students would be able to complete and explain their answer.

BLUE LEVEL: Students will be given a word problem with two set of numbers to compare such as 1, 867 and 14, 928. Each group of numbers will contain at least one digit that is the same but that does not have same value. For example, the number set shown above both have the digit 8, but they are not in the same place value. I will ask students to compare the value of the digit within both numbers. A sentence stem as such would be provided for students: The number _____ in _______ does not have the same value as the ______ in ______ because.. ( students may continue explaining their answer in writing or by drawing a place value chart to compare the two numbers)

I chose this activity for the blue level because it requires the student to compare two sets of numbers ( which requires them to do more than just meet the objective). Also in thinking about my students in level 1 and 3, I am confident that by utilizing a place value chart and the sentence stem students will be able to complete the task.

BLACK LEVEL: Students will be given a set of numbers. Within each number, there will be one digit bolded and underlined. Students will be asked to show which operation ( multiplication or division) and the correct number sentence to show what occurs when a digit within a number is moved to a different place value. For example, complete the number sentence to show the correct operation that occurred when the 8 in 1, 859 moved was moved to the ones place. Students will be provided with the following number/sentence stem: When the digit ____ was moved from the ____ place to the _____ place, the following mathematical operation occurred : 10 —- ____ = ____.

I chose this activity for the black level but it requires the learners to go far beyond the indicated learning objective. This requires students to think critically about what they know about place value and the operations of multiplication and division. With the implementation of a sentence/ number sentence, I am confidents that all students who choose to challenge their learning in this way will also be able to explain the process in English with the language supports provided.

Gabriela T(20:21:30) :Challenge by Choice is such an empowering way of learning for both students and teacher. There are so many ways to differentiate and I am so glad I came across this strategy. In reading this study, I immediately thought of my own 4th grade students. As a co-teacher, I am in a classroom with ELL students, general education students, and diverse learners. The range academic readiness in the classroom is often overwhelming, but I believe I may have come up with an idea for a tiered activity in my math classroom. Feedback is encouraged and welcomed!

LESSON OBJECTIVE:Students will be able to identify the value of a digit in a number.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to explain to a peer buddy their reasoning behind the identified value of a digit in a number using a place value chart.

GUIDED PRACTICE WITH EXPLANATION:

GREEN LEVEL: Students will be given a set of numbers. Within each number, there will be one digit bolded and underlined. Students will have to write the appropriate value of the bolded, underlined digit. Ex: 1, 578 __500__

I chose this activity as the green level activity because every student that completes the green level activity will have met the lesson objective which is a goal I have as a teacher. Using a place value chart to complete, I am confident that all of my students would be able to complete and explain their answer.

BLUE LEVEL: Students will be given a word problem with two set of numbers to compare such as 1, 867 and 14, 928. Each group of numbers will contain at least one digit that is the same but that does not have same value. For example, the number set shown above both have the digit 8, but they are not in the same place value. I will ask students to compare the value of the digit within both numbers. A sentence stem as such would be provided for students: The number _____ in _______ does not have the same value as the ______ in ______ because.. ( students may continue explaining their answer in writing or by drawing a place value chart to compare the two numbers)

I chose this activity for the blue level because it requires the student to compare two sets of numbers ( which requires them to do more than just meet the objective). Also in thinking about my students in level 1 and 3, I am confident that by utilizing a place value chart and the sentence stem students will be able to complete the task.

BLACK LEVEL: Students will be given a set of numbers. Within each number, there will be one digit bolded and underlined. Students will be asked to show which operation ( multiplication or division) and the correct number sentence to show what occurs when a digit within a number is moved to a different place value. For example, complete the number sentence to show the correct operation that occured when the 8 in 1, 859 moved was moved to the ones place. Students will be provided with the following number/sentence stem: When the digit ____ was moved from the ____ place to the _____ place, the following mathematical operation occurred : 10 —- ____ = ____.

I chose this activity for the black level but it requires the learners to go far beyond the indicated learning objective. This requires students to think critically about what they know about place value and the operations of multiplication and division. With the implementation of a sentence/ number sentence, I am confidents that all students who choose to challenge their learning in this way will also be able to explain the process in English with the language supports provided.

Sabrina Smoot(17:32:57) :As I read your post, I was thinking about how Tiered Instruction and Assessment applied to working with my 9th grade Social Science class of students with special needs who are also mostly English language learners (ELLs). As I was reading through the process, I kept thinking about how to apply it to my class and I would like to share an idea I have in order to hopefully receive some feedback. We are working on classifying the different types of government. The students will be given a tree map with the title, “Types of Government” in the middle, and stemming out will be the different types. The students will need to identify the characteristics of the types of government in order to correctly classify them.

LESSON OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to determine the type of government.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE: Classify the type of government according to their characteristics.

GUIDED PRACTICE ACTIVITIES:

WIDA Level 1 (Green): Students will correctly label images/symbols of the different types of government we have been learning about to the correct type of government. A word bank will be provided of the different types of government, but the students must know the characteristics of the government types in order to correctly match the images/symbols. I chose this activity because the task is foundational and appropriate for the level at which my students work best. The students still need to be able to understand and apply required knowledge in order to complete this successfully.

WIDA Level 3 (Blue): Students will describe the organizing principles of classifying the different types of government. In other words, they will have to write to explain why one symbol or image is different from another and what they represent. I chose this activity because the task is extending thinking skills to extend their knowledge and be able to explain.

WIDA Level 5 (Black): Students will create their own type of government by incorporating at least one characteristics from two different types of government each. The students will apply the information they already know to create new ideas. I chose this activity because the students will need to creatively apply what they know.

Any comments are welcome.

Catherine(15:53:40) :The Challenge by Choice made me think immediately of the class in which I have seven ELs. In that same class, I have students who are above grade level in reading and grammar, students who are on level, and students who are below level. This creates a challenge in keeping everyone engaged and challenged in each lesson. Allowing students to choose a more challenging practice problem seems like the answer to everything I’ve been wondering so far in my practice when it comes to getting every student the rigorous work she needs.

LESSON OBJECTIVE:Students will be able to use participial phrases while avoiding fragments or fused sentences

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to explain to an elbow partner why using a participial phrase was a grammatically correct option for correcting a fragment or fused sentence

GUIDED PRACTICE WITH EXPLANATION:

GREEN LEVEL: Students will be given a labeled list of participial phrases, and will first label the participles. I will provide sentence frames that include independent clauses. The student will choose a participial phrase that can be logically paired with the independent clause and fill in the frames by copying the correct participial phrase and punctuation. They will then explain to an elbow partner (using conversation stems: i.e. I paired the participial phrase_________ with the independent clause __________ because__________. I know I joined them correctly because I used__________ ). Partners will circle the participial phrase, label verb and subject, put a box around the independent clause, and circle the commas used to set off the participial phrase.

I chose this activity as the green level activity because every student that completes the green level activity will have met the lesson objective. For my students in level 1 and 3, it allows them to focus on filling in words and phrases that match the content in the sentences. The frames will allow them to focus their explanation on the learning objective through the language objective. To support level 1 students, I, my coteacher, or a student partner could read the stems aloud and level 1 students could point to the correct participial phrase before adding it.

BLUE LEVEL: Students will be given two lists: one of participial phrases and one of independent clauses. Students will determine the content of each list and label it (participial phrases or independent clauses). Using the rule for participial phrases that they have copied in their notebooks (definition, punctuation, and examples), they will use labelled sentence frames (given in directions) to join one participial phrase with each independent clause. They will explain to an elbow partner how they know they did it correctly by explaining content and punctuation of the sentence. Partners will circle the participial phrase, label verb and subject, put a box around the independent clause, and circle the commas used to set off the participial phrase.

I chose this activity for the blue level because it requires the student to compare the two lists of sentence parts. They need to use the rule they learned in order to determine the content of each list. Then, they need to determine the best sentence frame to use for each of the given phrases and clauses. Finally, they must be metacognitive in explaining why they answered the way they did. They must also do a self-check of the correctness of the sentence by labelling all parts. Students who are at level 1 and 3 will be able to succeed in this level because they can identify and fill in these sentence parts based on prior knowledge built in the previous lesson. Furthermore, students at level 5 will be able to explain the process they took.

BLACK LEVEL: Students will be given a list of independent clauses and sentence frames. They must write 5 sentences that have an independent clause and a participial. They must turn half of the independent clauses into participial phrases in order to join them to the remaining independent clauses. They will use the models they have in their notes to create these participial phrases. They will then use the sentence frames they deem most appropriate for each sentence.

I chose this activity for the black level because it requires more challenging work from the students in regards to turning independent clauses into participial phrases. It also requires students to think critically about how both sentence parts relate to one another and the process by which one might become the other.

Sabrina Smoot(17:22:00) :As I read your post, I was thinking about how Tiered Instruction and Assessment applied to working with my 9th grade Social Science class of students with special needs who are also mostly English language learners (ELLs). As I was reading through the process, I kept thinking about how to apply it to my class and I would like to share an idea I have in order to hopefully receive some feedback. We are working on classifying the different types of government. The students will be given a tree map with the title, “Types of Government” in the middle, and stemming out will be the different types. The students will need to identify the characteristics of the types of government in order to correctly classify them.

LESSON OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to determine the type of government.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE: Classify the type of government according to their characteristics.

GUIDED PRACTICE ACTIVITIES:

WIDA Level 1 (Green): Students will correctly label images/symbols of the different types of government we have been learning about to the correct type of government. A word bank will be provided of the different types of government, but the students must know the characteristics of the government types in order to correctly match the images/symbols. I chose this activity because the task is foundational and appropriate for the level at which my students work best. The students still need to be able to understand and apply required knowledge in order to complete this successfully.

WIDA Level 3 (Blue): Students will describe the organizing principles of classifying the different types of government. In other words, they will have to write to explain why one symbol or image is different from another and what they represent. I chose this activity because the task is extending thinking skills to extend their knowledge and be able to explain.

WIDA Level 5 (Black): Students will create their own type of government by incorporating at least one characteristics from two different types of government each. The students will apply the information they already know to create new ideas. I chose this activity because the students will need to creatively apply what they know.

Any comments are welcome.

Rachel(08:09:38) :First I want to thank you for such valuable information. I am extremely grateful for the insight that you have shared. I read this and was sure to applied this lens to my math centers in my third grade classroom.

LESSON OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to multiply 3 factors using the Associative Property and strengthen their skill in word problems.

ELL LANGUAGE OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to break down word problems and understand the three factors that are needed to find the product.

ACTIVITIES:

GREEN LEVEL: Students will take the problems assigned and solve the product. In this activity students will have the anchor chart to remind them to break apart the 3 factor problem first using parenthesis. Using the steps the students will draw a parenthesis first around two factors. They will solve those factors first. Then using the visual of an arrow bring down the remaining factor to multiply.

BLUE LEVEL: Students are given word problems that require multiplication. using the strategy of CUBS (Circle the number Underline the question Box the key word and Solve) students will determine what the word problem is asking them to solve. There will be 2 factor and 3 factor multiplication word problems. IT is up to the students to determine which is which and then solve.

BLACK LEVEL: Students will be given word problems that require multiplication and division. Division has not fully been taught yet but these students have already seen the strong relationship between multiplication and division. Using the strategy of CUBS the students will determine what the word problem is asking them to solve and then find the answer.

Claudia(20:15:52) :First of all, I want to thank you for providing a valuable article for educators. As I read the article, I started thinking about my own classroom and about how can I provide a tiered activity for my students. I came up with this activity please review and any feedback is welcomed. Thank you!

Lesson Objective: Student’s will be able to compare two three-digit numbers using .

Language Objective: Students will be able to explain why one number is bigger than the other one while also representing the bigger number with the appropriate symbol.

Guided Practice with Explanation

I will first show examples on how to compare two three-digit problems, we will do some problems together and then I will have them to the problems individually.

WIDA Level 1(Green): Student’s will be given numbers to compare and they will have to explain to their peer why they chose that symbol.

For example: 256_ (, =) _325

I chose this problem because it doesn’t have a lot of wording where it can confuse students but it has the symbols giving a hint to the students that they must chose the appropriate symbol.

WIDA Level 3 (Blue): Student’s will be given numbers to compare in word problems. Students will also explain to a peer why they chose that symbol.

For example: Joseph made a building of blocks that measures 200 centimeters and Carlos has one that measures 137 centimeters. Which building of blocks is bigger? 200 (, =) 137

I chose this problem because even though it is still the same skill students here now have to read the problem hence its providing them with language.

WIDA Level 5 (Black): Student’s will be given word problems where they will have to write an inequality for the problem.

For example: Marcus has three hundred fifty-seven marbles and his friend Liam has three hundred sixty-seven marbles. Write an inequality to represent this problem.

I chose this problem because students have to understand the problem and know how to represent the numbers written in word form. This problem provides a challenge for these students who need to know the language plus know how to provide an inequality where they are still comparing two three-digit numbers.

Claudia(20:18:15) :First of all, I want to thank you for providing a valuable article for educators. As I read the article, I started thinking about my own classroom and about how can I provide a tiered activity for my students. I came up with this activity please review and any feedback is welcomed. Thank you!

Lesson Objective: Student’s will be able to compare two three-digit numbers using .

Language Objective: Students will be able to explain why one number is bigger than the other one while also representing the bigger number with the appropriate symbol.

Guided Practice with Explanation

I will first show examples on how to compare two three-digit problems, we will do some problems together and then I will have them to the problems individually.

WIDA Level 1(Green): Student’s will be given numbers to compare and they will have to explain to their peer why they chose that symbol.

For example: 256_ (, =) _325

I chose this problem because it doesn’t have a lot of wording where it can confuse students but it has the symbols giving a hint to the students that they must chose the appropriate symbol.

WIDA Level 3 (Blue): Student’s will be given numbers to compare in word problems. Students will also explain to a peer why they chose that symbol.

For example: Joseph made a building of blocks that measures 200 centimeters and Carlos has one that measures 137 centimeters. Which building of blocks is bigger? 200 (, =) 137

I chose this problem because even though it is still the same skill students here now have to read the problem hence its providing them with language.

WIDA Level 5 (Black): Student’s will be given word problems where they will have to write an inequality for the problem.

For example: Marcus has three hundred fifty-seven marbles and his friend

Liam has three hundred sixty-seven marbles. Write an inequality to represent this problem.

I chose this problem because students have to understand the problem and know how to represent the numbers written in word form. This problem provides a challenge for these students who need to know the language plus know how to provide an inequality where they are still comparing two three-digit numbers.

Mary Kovats(09:10:18) :Thanks for the great information you have provided. Attached is a draft of a 4th grade science unit I am working on. It is in the beginning stages and I am experimenting with WIDA levels. Any or all comments would be helpful. Thanks

4th Grade Science Unit: Weather- cause and effect

INTRODUCTION:

4th grade Dual Language students will learn about different types of storms, the cause of storms and the effects of storms on humans.

OBJECTIVES

● Readers understand what the nonfiction text says explicitly

● Readers make logical inferences from text and use text to support inferences

● Readers identify main idea of text

● Readers identify details and examples in text

● Readers summarize text

● Read and understand science text

● Readers analyze how and why events and ideas develop in the text

● Readers identify and analyze text features

● Readers identify and analyze text structure: description, cause and effect, problem and solution, sequence

● Readers use cognates and context clues to determine meaning of unfamiliar words

Interpret information presented visually in charts, graphs, maps, etc. and explain how the information contributes to the understanding of the text

Standards

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.2

Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.3

Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.5

Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.7

Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.9

Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.10

By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

LANGUAGE GOALS

ELP standard 1: Social and Instructional Language- Assignments, following directions, information gathering, opinions, rules and procedures

ELP standard 2: The Language of Language Arts- biographies and autobiographies, informational text, narratives

ELP standard 3: The Language of Math – data analysis

ELP Standard 4: The Language of Science- forces of nature, nature, weather patterns

ELP standard 5: The Language of Social Studies- communities, historic events, maps and globes, needs of groups, resources and products, topography, U. S. regions

GUIDED PRACTICE:

• Identify types of weather and weather words: rain, snow, heat, cold, wind, fog

o GREEN: students read grade level texts and view photos and videos describing weather words. Students create a weather dictionary with 4 squares (define, draw, use in a sentence, antonym)

o BLUE: Students read grade level text, view photos and videos describing weather words. Students create a weather dictionary with 4 squares (define, draw, causes, effects)

o BLACK: Students read grade level text, view photos and videos describing weather words. Students create a weather dictionary with 4 squares: (Define, draw, cause and effect, where and when this weather occurs)

• create a weather journal describing our weather and how it affected your day.

o GREEN: Fill in teacher created chart daily recording information form classroom weather station, newspaper and observations

o BLUE: Fill in teacher created chart daily recording information form classroom weather station, newspaper and observations. Create graphs and charts to identify trends and changes

o BLACK: Fill in teacher created chart daily recording information form classroom weather station, newspaper and observations. Create graphs and charts to identify trends and changes. Write a prediction for next day and upcoming week’s weather based on observations.

• read to determine causes and effects of different types of weather events, specifically storms- hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms

o GREEN: read to self and partner read class materials, complete graphic organizer identifying characteristics and cause and effect. Pass an assessment identifying storms and distinct characteristics

o BLUE: read to self and partner read class materials identifying characteristics and cause and effect. Create a graphic organizer for each storm detailing characteristics and cause and effect. Compare two types of storms in terms of cause and effect.

o BLACK: read to self and partner read class materials identifying characteristics and cause and effect. Create a graphic organizer for each storm detailing characteristics and cause and effect. Compare two types of storms in terms of cause and effect. Select one type of storm and create a presentation to educate the public on what to do before and after a severe storm.

EXPLANATION

In designing the green, blue and black levels I considered the student level of language. Green students are required to learn and use the terms, identify types of storms and the cause and effect. Blue tasks were designed to allow students to expand their new knowledge by creating graphics and charts that explore cause and effect in a more complex manor. Black students did all of the above while expanding their knowledge to real world situations and prediction and prevention.

Mary Kovats(09:16:09) :Good morning and thank you for the valuable information on your site. I have a draft of a science unit I am working on using the Green, Blue and Black WIDA tiers. Any and all comments would be helpful. Thanks.

4th Grade Science Unit: Weather- cause and effect

INTRODUCTION:

4th grade Dual Language students will learn about different types of storms, the cause of storms and the effects of storms on humans.

OBJECTIVES

● Readers understand what the nonfiction text says explicitly

● Readers make logical inferences from text and use text to support inferences

● Readers identify main idea of text

● Readers identify details and examples in text

● Readers summarize text

● Read and understand science text

● Readers analyze how and why events and ideas develop in the text

● Readers identify and analyze text features

● Readers identify and analyze text structure: description, cause and effect, problem and solution, sequence

● Readers use cognates and context clues to determine meaning of unfamiliar words

Interpret information presented visually in charts, graphs, maps, etc. and explain how the information contributes to the understanding of the text

Standards

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.1

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.2

Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.3

Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.4

Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.5

Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.7

Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.9

Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.4.10

By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

LANGUAGE GOALS

ELP standard 1: Social and Instructional Language- Assignments, following directions, information gathering, opinions, rules and procedures

ELP standard 2: The Language of Language Arts- biographies and autobiographies, informational text, narratives

ELP standard 3: The Language of Math – data analysis

ELP Standard 4: The Language of Science- forces of nature, nature, weather patterns

ELP standard 5: The Language of Social Studies- communities, historic events, maps and globes, needs of groups, resources and products, topography, U. S. regions

GUIDED PRACTICE:

• Identify types of weather and weather words: rain, snow, heat, cold, wind, fog

o GREEN: students read grade level texts and view photos and videos describing weather words. Students create a weather dictionary with 4 squares (define, draw, use in a sentence, antonym)

o BLUE: Students read grade level text, view photos and videos describing weather words. Students create a weather dictionary with 4 squares (define, draw, causes, effects)

o BLACK: Students read grade level text, view photos and videos describing weather words. Students create a weather dictionary with 4 squares: (Define, draw, cause and effect, where and when this weather occurs)

• create a weather journal describing our weather and how it affected your day.

o GREEN: Fill in teacher created chart daily recording information form classroom weather station, newspaper and observations

o BLUE: Fill in teacher created chart daily recording information form classroom weather station, newspaper and observations. Create graphs and charts to identify trends and changes

o BLACK: Fill in teacher created chart daily recording information form classroom weather station, newspaper and observations. Create graphs and charts to identify trends and changes. Write a prediction for next day and upcoming week’s weather based on observations.

• read to determine causes and effects of different types of weather events, specifically storms- hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms

o GREEN: read to self and partner read class materials, complete graphic organizer identifying characteristics and cause and effect. Pass an assessment identifying storms and distinct characteristics

o BLUE: read to self and partner read class materials identifying characteristics and cause and effect. Create a graphic organizer for each storm detailing characteristics and cause and effect. Compare two types of storms in terms of cause and effect.

o BLACK: read to self and partner read class materials identifying characteristics and cause and effect. Create a graphic organizer for each storm detailing characteristics and cause and effect. Compare two types of storms in terms of cause and effect. Select one type of storm and create a presentation to educate the public on what to do before and after a severe storm.

EXPLANATION

In designing the green, blue and black levels I considered the student level of language. Green students are required to learn and use the terms, identify types of storms and the cause and effect. Blue tasks were designed to allow students to expand their new knowledge by creating graphics and charts that explore cause and effect in a more complex manor. Black students did all of the above while expanding their knowledge to real world situations and prediction and prevention.

Rocio(13:16:08) :David,

First a huge thanks for sharing your work and ideas. As I was reading your blog I was thinking of how I can implement tiered instruction in my second grade class. This concept is completely new to me therefore any feedback is appreciated.

LESSON OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to measure the length of an object using the following instruments: ruler, yardstick and measuring tape

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to explain why they used the tool that they did to measure a particular object

GUIDED PRACTICE:

Before students are sent to do their independent work I will model how to measure using the different tools. As a class we will write our explanations as to why we using a specific tool to measure an object.

WIDA LEVEL 1- GREEN: Students will have the same objects as the other students. These students will have sentence starters and a word bank with corresponding pictures in their notebook to assist the students when writing their explanation. They will need to read their explanation to their partner.

For example:

I used a ________ to measure because the object is ___________.

Word bank of tools: ruler, yardstick, measuring tape

Word bank: large, small, round

I chose this activity because students are practicing the skill of measuring but are offered a word bank to assist with their explanation when writing. This will make them more comfortable when explaining to a partner.

WIDA LEVEL 3- BLUE: Students will have the same objects as the other students to measure. Students will need to explain to a partner why they used the tool that they did.

I chose this activity because students are still practicing to measure different objects. In this case they do not need to write because students will be ready to explain to their partner without prepping their answer.

WIDA LEVEL 5-BLACK: Students will have the same objects as the other students to measure. They will need to write what TWO tools they can use to measure the object and why.

I chose this activity because it requires higher thinking in using two different tools to measure.

Kirsten(15:11:21) :What wonderful information! As I began reading your blog post, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with the challenges you mentioned teachers face with meeting the diverse needs of students. The information you have provided and your vision has really made me reflect on my own practice. I thought about how a tiered lesson would look in my 10th grade English class composed of students with special needs who are also mostly English Language Learners (ELLs). I would like to share my idea in order to hopefully receive some feedback or perhaps give any other readers some ideas. In the most recent unit shaped around suspense, mysteries, and thrillers, students learned about specific literary devices such as: symbolism, imagery, figurative language, theme, tone, and mood.

LESSON OBJECTIVE: Determine how the use of literary devices play a role in developing suspense.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE: Write observations and examples from a text and explain their effect or significance.

GUIDED PRACTICE:

ALL LEVELS (Whole Group): Students will finish reading and annotating “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe.

GREEN (Level 1): The students will receive a graphic organizer with each literary device listed down the left side. There will be two other columns for “Observations and Examples” and “What is the effect or significance?” I will provide students with examples for each of the literary devices (already filled in on their graphic organizer.) Students will have to use what they are given in order to complete the rest of the graphic organizer (column 3.)

I chose this activity as the green level activity because every student that completes this will have met the main lesson objective. Although they are being provided with the examples, it is still up to them to determine the significance of each of the examples.

BLUE (Level 3): Students will receive a similar graphic organizer as the green group, however, these students will have to complete the two columns on the organizer by finding their own examples of each of the literary devices and still also explaining the effect or significance of each.

I chose this activity as the blue level activity because having the students provide their own example/evidence extends their thinking and allows them to become more self-reliant.

BLACK (Level 5): Students will receive a different graphic organizer. The graphic organizer will be a 3 column organizer as well, however, students will only be providing examples of symbolism, imagery, and figurative language. Students will then have to determine HOW the example they chose reveals either the tone, theme, or mood of the story.

I chose this activity as the black level activity because students are required to think deeper by determining HOW the examples/evidence they chose reveals other aspects of literature.

Johanna(07:28:16) :Hi David,

Thank you for this excellent blog post. It’s definitely got me thinking. I do have one question that doesn’t seem to be addressed in your post. Your green level starts at grade level, which I understand that all students need to be brought to (at a minimum) grade level. However, I didn’t read in your post strategies for how to bring students who are at readiness levels far below grade level up to grade level. It seems that it’s assumed that all students can perform at a minimum at the grade level, but of course this isn’t true (at least at the start of learning). Could you please offer me some insights into how you manage to both challenge those lower readiness level students and not dumb-down the knowledge, understandings and skills you’re teaching, but at the same time give them the foundations they need in order to reach the Green level and possibly move beyond?

Also, I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me feedback on a lesson (see below) I’ve developed using your tiered “Challenge Choice” approach.

Thanks in advance!

Johanna

2nd Grade Social Studies Lesson: 3 Branches of Federal Government

Lesson Objective: Students will identify the three branches of the federal government and their essential functions.

ELL Language Objective: ELL students will develop their English language skills by participating in learning activities with native English language speakers (students and the teacher) involving the three branches of the federal government and their functions.

Guided practice activities:

Green: Students will create a chart showing the 3 branches of the federal government and their primary functions. The chart will have connecting boxes, with the overall title of “The Three Branches of the Federal Government.” Students will be given 3 photographs representing the 3 branches and 3 squares with the primary functions on them. Students will work with a native language speaker to cut and paste the photographs and primary functions onto the correct boxes in the chart.

Blue: Students will create a diagram that not only shows the primary functions of the 3 branches of government, but also their interrelationships (i.e. checks and balances). The photographs, primary functions and interrelationships will be on provided small squares to be cut and pasted into the diagram.

Black: Students will explain the primary functions of the 3 branches of government, the checks and balances between them and the rationale for why the founding fathers set up the federal government with these 3 branches and their particular relationships with each other in writing.

I chose the Green activity, because ELL students at a WIDA Level 1 have low English language proficiency levels and this activity requires much less English language knowledge, because it provides pictures and the primary functions already written. The Green activity provides an opportunity for students to show their understanding of the primary functions of the 3 branches of the federal government, which is the 2nd grade level standard.

I chose the Blue activity, because this does require more language reception abilities which students at WIDA level 3 have, but still provides support, because the written language is provided on the squares along with pictures representing the 3 branches of the federal government. Also, this activity challenges students beyond the grade level standard by having them demonstrate their understanding of the relationship between the 3 branches of the federal government.

I chose the Black activity, because students at WIDA Level 5 have almost gained complete proficiency with the English language and are ready to practice their English language production in writing. This activity challenges students to analyze, infer and demonstrate their conclusions and understandings for why our 3 branches are what they are and why they were purposefully given their interrelationships. This goes far beyond the 2nd grade level standards.

dsuarezteacher(22:24:22) :Hi Johanna,

Setting our tiers at, above, and far above grade level expectations (for rigor and challenge) has been a decision we’ve constantly wrestled with over the years. The tiers represent the destinations for our students’ learning. They’re not meant to be focused on the journey towards those destinations. Ideally, one of the tiers will fall within the ZPD of every student, and we put the brunt of our energy into the question of how to teach in a way that supports student growth and success with whichever challenges are selected. Often, even at the green level, this involves considerable effort on both teacher and student part, and the numerous strategies a teacher might use to help students learn is beyond the scope of this blog (plus, the strategies I use to teach a secondary math lesson would likely be awfully different than the strategies you’d use to teach a second grade social studies lesson), but the big idea of how to ensure that all students are appropriately challenged to engage with key concepts lies in thinking about one’s curriculum in a highly conceptual way. Concepts can be explored at extremely different levels of rigor, and so we educators somehow determine what the “grade level version of rigor” looks like in our context, and then we ratchet that level up or down depending on where students are on the readiness continuum.

In a small minority of cases, we’ve noticed that our grade level tier seems outside the ZPD of some of our extreme strugglers, and in these cases, we’ve debated whether to provide a modified tier that is less rigorous and challenging than our grade level tier. We’ve recently concluded that this is the right direction to take in cases where we’re confident that the green level destination is an unreasonable and unproductive target for a student’s learning. The decision about how to set your tiers are highly contextual and the decisions we’ve made over the years have served our population pretty well. If we had a lot more students who fell in the category I just described, it’s possible we’d choose to adopt approaching, at, and above grade level expectations for our tiers instead of what we use. I’ve also seen this approach supported in educational literature.

I hope this is helpful.

David

S C(16:46:55) :My name is S Choi and I serve as a middle school science teacher (7th and 8th grade) in a fairly diverse community in terms of ethnicities, socioeconomic circumstances, and ability levels. Our school implements a full inclusion model with the exception of a small group of students who function 3-4 years below grade level in reading and math. Personally, I love the idea of differentiation in the classroom, but especially in science, the spectrum of ability levels is overwhelming; effectively implementing tiered assignments/activities is my goal, however, there are certainly some obstacles to overcome. I’d love to receive some feedback about the following lesson that I’d like to execute in my 8th grade science class.

Lesson Objective

Identify the relationship between force, acceleration, and mass.

Language Objective

Using evidence from the data tables and student-generated graphs to explain how the above concepts are connected.

Guided Practice Activities

GREEN (WIDA Level 1)

Students will correctly graph a data table of force, mass, and acceleration; data table must show linear relationship between force and acceleration with correct labels on the x & y axis.

Explanation- According to the WIDA Emerging Level 1, students can indicating relationships by drawing and labeling content related pictures on familiar topics.” Math is considered to be more universal language, so Level 1 learners should be able to plot the graph line as well as labels of the x and y axis to see the connection between force and acceleration.

BLUE (WIDA Level 3)

Students will correctly graph a data table of force, mass, and acceleration; data table must show linear relationship between force and acceleration with correct labels on the x & y axis. In addition, students will record a paragraph describing the structure and movement of the line in the graph in relation to force and acceleration using evidence from the data table and graph as support.

Explanation- This activity builds upon Level 1, again, using numbers and a visual (plotting the graph) to help students identify the relationship between force and acceleration. Level 3 learners still need much scaffolding, so help display language acquisition, students are to describe the movement of the line and making the connection between these concepts.

BLACK (WIDA Level 5)

Students will correctly graph a data table of force, mass, and acceleration; data table must show linear relationship between force and acceleration with correct labels on the x & y axis. In addition, students will record a paragraph describing the relationship between force and acceleration. Students will record the mathematical equation showing the relationship between force and acceleration (F=ma).

Explanation- Level 5 is much more advanced in which it builds upon Level 1 and 3; students are to identify and explain the direct relationship between force, mass, and acceleration from the graph and use a mathematical equation to support their conclusions.

Bertha M Sitzes(19:09:14) :Hello David,

I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your article. I learned a lot about tiered instruction that I did not know. Reading this article made me think about the challenges students face when they are at different levels. I really enjoyed leaning about “Challenge by Choice.” I feel very excited about challenging my ELL’s by providing them with choice to help them build their vocabulary, content and confidence. I have attached my first attempt at tiering instruction through science in middle school.

LESSON OBJECTIVE:

Students will learn procedures for completing Punnett squares.

Students will use Mendel’s pea plant traits as examples for practicing Punnett squares.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE:

Students will learn to label, predict and share their findings of a Punnett square.

All students will take power-point notes on Mendel, his contributions to genetics and how to create a Punnett Square. Students will also watch a video on Punnett squares.

WIDA Tier 1 (Green):

Students will be given a created Punnett square in which they will label it with the correct alleles. They will work with a partner to identify what the alleles represent. They will answer yes/no questions on predictions.

WIDA Tier 3 (Blue):

Students will be given a created Punnett square in which they make predictions based on Mendel’s pea plant lesson. They will be provided a word bank to help fill in the alleles and use sentence stems provided to write out their predictions.

WIDA Tier 5 (Black):

Students can draw Punnett squares for generation one and generation two of Mendel’s pea plant experiment. Students should be able to determine and summarize the results Mendel experiment and determine if matches their predictions from the Punnett squares.

Luba Chernov(15:14:25) :Hello David,

Thank you for sharing this amazing teaching strategy! Tiered Teaching and Challenge by Choice are perfect opportunities for differentiation! I loved the concept of empowering children by giving them a choice to show what they learned. I’m looking forward to trying these strategies in my 2nd grade classroom.

Introduction: Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

• Introduce today’s objectives (written on the board) to the students: “Today we will identify characters in stories we read or hear. We will describe the adventures and experiences of characters in stories we read or hear. We will compare the adventures and experiences of characters by telling how they are alike. We will contrast the adventures and experiences of characters by telling how they are different.”

Common Core State Standards:

Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. (RL.2.9)

Standard

Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories. (RL.2.9)

Lesson Objectives:

I can identify characters in stories I read or hear. (RL.2.9)

I can describe the adventures and experiences of characters in stories I read or hear. (RL.2.9)

I can compare the adventures and experiences of characters by telling how they are alike. (RL.2.9)

I can contrast the adventures and experiences of characters by telling how they are different. (RL.2.9)

Language Objectives:

Students will be able to name characters in a story, answer who, what, when where, and why questions, restate and retell, parts of a story, role play and explain how stories are alike or different.

(Wida 1)Green:

Give the students opportunities to turn and talk to a partner(s) before independent practice and sharing with the group as a whole. Students will name characters in the story and make webs of character traits for each main character (Nyasha and Manyara).

(Wida 3) Blue:

Complete a Venn diagram comparing the two main characters (Nyasha and Manyara). The diagram must include at least four similarities and four differences.

(Wida 5) Black:

Compare Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters to any other “Cinderella” story we have read (Cinderella, Yeh Shen, The Rough Faced Girl). Draw a Venn diagram with at least six similarities and six differences.

Luba Chernov(17:04:18) :Hello David,

Thank you for sharing this amazing teaching strategy! Tiered Teaching and Challenge by Choice are perfect opportunities for differentiation! I loved the concept of empowering children by giving them a choice to show what they learned. I’m looking forward to trying these strategies in my 2nd grade classroom.

Introduction: Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

• Introduce today’s objectives (written on the board) to the students: “Today we will identify characters in stories we read or hear. We will describe the adventures and experiences of characters in stories we read or hear. We will compare the adventures and experiences of characters by telling how they are alike. We will contrast the adventures and experiences of characters by telling how they are different.”

Common Core State Standards:

Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. (RL.2.9)

Standard

Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories. (RL.2.9)

Lesson Objectives:

I can identify characters in stories I read or hear. (RL.2.9)

I can describe the adventures and experiences of characters in stories I read or hear. (RL.2.9)

I can compare the adventures and experiences of characters by telling how they are alike. (RL.2.9)

I can contrast the adventures and experiences of characters by telling how they are different. (RL.2.9)

Language Objectives:

Students will be able to name characters in a story, answer who, what, when where, and why questions, restate and retell, parts of a story, role play and explain how stories are alike or different.

(Wida 1)Green:

Give the students opportunities to turn and talk to a partner(s) before independent practice and sharing with the group as a whole. Students will name characters in the story and make webs of character traits for each main character (Nyasha and Manyara).

(Wida 3) Blue:

Complete a Venn diagram comparing the two main characters (Nyasha and Manyara). The diagram must include at least four similarities and four differences.

(Wida 5) Black:

Katherine Walsh 5/15/2016 4:19 pm(14:19:24) :Hi David,

I feel excited about implementing tiering and CbC in my classroom/lab after reading your article. I haven’t yet seen any examples from vocational education or what we call career technical education (CTE), in my district. My sophomore culinary arts class is 25% ELL and I think tiering will support my students’ learning as I weave the WIDA standards with CTE standards as I design the lessons.

I am wondering what feedback and advice you could provide for me based on this lesson submission.

Lesson objective: Students will identify units of volume measurement, students will determine volume equivalents of all units of volume measurement.

Language objective: Students demonstrate proficiency with volume measurement by calculating equivalents and expressing them accurately in written and/or verbal format.

Guided practice activities: Instructor guides students creating the “Big G” graphic organizer which illustrates the volume measurements: 1 gallon = 4 quarts= 8 pints= 16 cups. Each unit is broken down into its unit amount: 128 oz= 1 gallon, 32 oz. = 1 quart, 16 oz. = 1 pint, and 8 oz. = 1 cup. The Big G is literally a G drawn as big as their paper. Inside the G, a Q is drawn in the 4 corners of the G, inside each Q, 2 P’s are drawn and inside each P, 2 C’s are drawn. This visual supports the learning of Volume Equivalents because the students can count the letter associated with the unit of measurement and understand that a Q (quart) = 2 P (pints) = 4 C (cups), for example. Using the Big G for reference, students will solve puzzles giving them practice calculating volume equivalents. They will have a table, five cells across with the first row of cells at the top of each column listing: ounces, cups, pints, quarts and gallons. In the next row all of the cells will be empty except one which will have an amount in it such as 128 in the ounce column, for example. The students then fill in the empty cells with the volume equivalent to 128 ounces.

Green and Level 1: Students will test each other by designing a simple measurement puzzle. Using a sheet of paper, students will fold it with a sharp crease long-ways, (vertically, hotdog style). Next they will fold it in half (horizontally, hamburger style) and then once again fold it in half hamburger style. The students will open their paper and they will now have 8 cells. Using their knowledge of Volume Measurements and Equivalents they will fill the 4 cells on the left side of their paper with a unit of volume measurement. For example: 2 cups, 3 quarts, 1 gallon and 2 pints. Across from each amount, the students will fill in the corresponding cell with the volume equivalent, in this example: 1 pint, 96 ounces, 4 quarts, 1 quart could be used. Next the students, make sure all the cells are well creased so they can be easily torn apart, which is what the students do and mix up their eight amounts. When all the students have done this they exchange puzzles and put each other’s puzzles together in the correct equivalents.

For ELL level one students this is very visual and hands-on. They can follow oral instructions, step by step with modeling, they can match the equivalents as they create the puzzle and they can match the equivalents as they solve their classmate’s puzzle.

Blue and Level 3: Students will create a poster expressing an assigned volume amount using only symbols to represent the amount in each unit of measurement. They will create a key which shows the symbol for each amount. The poster will be titled, for example: 4 Pints. The key might show a blue circle for ounces, a red square for cups, a green triangle for pints, a yellow diamond for quarts and a purple rectangle for gallons. The poster would show in symbols 4 green triangles = 64 blue circles, 4 green triangles = 8 red squares, 4 green triangles = 4 green triangles, 4 green triangles = 2 yellow diamonds and 4 green triangles = ½ a purple rectangle.

For ELL level 3 students they will be able to categorize and sequence information using pictures and objects. They will be able to express their understanding of volume measurements and their equivalents using symbolic language.

Black and Level 5: Students will be given examples of actual recipes that will be made in class. They will convert recipe amounts to their volume equivalents.

For ELL level 5 students they will be able to apply the information they know about volume measurement and equivalents to a new context of converting recipe amounts.

M.D.(10:56:32) :Hi David,

Thank you for such a wonderful article and detailed examples/ ideas for implementing the tiered assessment strategy. The comments and lesson ideas have been inspirational and provided me with an array of ideas to utilize in my classroom. Thank you for sharing this information with everyone!

LESSON OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to describe family relationships in the target language (Spanish) and use all forms of the verb SER correctly in the present tense.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE: Students will be able to utilize 15 family vocabulary words and 6 forms of SER in the present tense in L1 & L2.

Whole Group Activities & Lesson- TPR story with 15 family vocabulary words and forms of ser/ memory game with vocabulary words/ verbal activity in small groups/Powerpoint presentation

(Wida 1) GREEN: Students will create a family tree diagram with 15 sentences and present verbally to small group (15 family vocab. words/ 10 uses of ser)

I chose this activity because students can showcase their understanding of the content in visual manner and blend creativity while demonstrating vocabulary and grammar lesson mastery.

(Wida 3) BLUE: Students will create a family scrapbook with 20 sentences and illustrations/decorations and present to a small group (18 family vocab. words/ 10 uses of ser)

I selected this activity because students can demonstrate their artistic talent and challenge themselves with the content by the higher number of vocab. words required along with demonstrating skills learned.

(Wida 5) BLACK: Students will create a family skit video including 4 characters and 30 sentences and one song. Students will show the video to the whole class. (20 family vocab. words/ 10 uses of ser)

I selected this activity because students love to use technology and this is a higher order activity due to the planning, preparation, and delivery of the skit. Students will also be able to be creative and include classmates or family members in their video while demonstrating lesson mastery.

Madeleine M(18:59:04) :David, thank you for sharing such terrific and useful insight, it has me reflecting on my own teaching strategies. As I begin to examine what tiered instruction would look like in my beginning band classes, I realize that I have been doing it along but I did not have a name attached to it. Working in an AUSL school has helped me organize myself for my students and it holds me accountable for the activities we will be reviewing in class. There is always an agenda on the board. The agenda includes today’s date, the objective, and the order in which the class will be conducted. Every day as the students walk into class they must pick up a Do Now (review of material we have been learning). To be honest, we spend the first week of classes working on our classroom routine in order for us to gain those minutes in the long run for more rehearsal time.

I group my students by instrument type (flutes, clarinets, Alto Saxophone, Trumpet, Percussion, etc.). The students are given daily rhythmic sight-reading drills (similar to a cold read) of 4 measures- The rhythm difficulty depends on where we are in the method book. In addition, these rhythmic sight-reading exercises provide an open outlet for collaboration and helps with reinforcing their sight-reading skills, strategies learned in the past, group collaboration to problem solve. In addition, when the objective of the lesson is based on note recognition or a new note, students are given the opportunities to practice on their own and then come together. This relieves some of the pressure for the students and they are able to build on when they come together to collaborate. This aspect of the lesson goes in accordance with Csikszentmihalyi because it creates condition for “flow” by increasing the skill level given and boosting the challenges my students face. In essence, I then become a facilitator and an aid in their learning process.

Objective: Students will hear a 4 measure recorded example which consists of half notes quarter notes, and eighth notes. Students will need to identify the incorrect rhythms on the staff paper and correct them. We will do a series of examples together in order to release the task on to the students.

Language Objectives: Describe how the rhythm on the staff paper is incorrect and correct the rhythm using music notation.

Students will listen to a 4-measure example 5 times with 30-second pauses. Some of the ways students will demonstrate their comprehension level:

GREEN (WIDA Level 1): Students would have to Identify where the rhythm needs to be corrected by circling the incorrect rhythm.

BLUE (WIDA Level 3): Students circle the incorrect rhythms and begin to decipher the notation they hear.

BLACK (WIDA Level 5): Students are given blank staff paper and they work on notating the rhythm they hear.

Nora Cole(05:11:39) :Hello David,

I really enjoyed reading your article and I am excited to apply this method of teaching and planning in my own classroom. In particular, I am inspired by the opportunities for students (with lots of planning) to extend and deepen their learning in a heterogeneous classroom as well as pace their learning at a speed that accommodates all students. I teach two 2nd grade math inclusion classrooms and I think that tiered instruction is a wonderful method to accommodate all my students. I often struggle to push my students who understand content quickly while supporting my students who need extra scaffolding. After reading your post, I was thinking about using Tiered instruction with my ELL classroom and I tried to apply it to a lesson. I’d like to share and I would appreciate any feedback.

The objective, was for students to recognize the value of coins and count up to find their total value. The language objective was for students to accurately name pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters and use sentence frames such as; “The value of two dimes and a penny is 31 cents”. Both value and cents, were key words in our language practice for that day. In my classroom I have students at WIDA levels 1, 3, and 5. Additionally, I have students who have various levels of experience with recognizing coins and using coins. With this is mind, I planned to make the whole group lesson around naming, identifying, and counting on coins with their value. Students looked at coins I displayed on an over head, then used their own set of coins, to match the amount shown then worked to count the value, say it to to their peers and write it accurately on a personal white board. After practice and several informal checks for understanding by circulating the room, I gave students tasks to practice at the green, blue, and black, each level designed with student WIDA levels in mind;

GREEN (WIDA level 1-stating facts associate with images): For this task students looked at images of mixed coins, labeled each coin and wrote a corresponding number sentence to show the total value of the coins shown. Materials provided for this task, were plastic coins and a mini poster that showed images of coins, their names, and their values.

BLUE (WIDA level 3- stating ideas about content related topics) : For this task students looked at images of coins, found their value, and then using coin manipulatives found different coin combinations to show the same value. Students then wrote visual representations of coins using P, N, D, Q to show their equivalent coin combinations. Materials provided for this task, were coins and a mini poster that showed images of coins, their names, and their values.

BLACK (WIDA level 5- Identifying relevant information from the text on the same content area topic) : For this task students read a short word problem, and solved to find the change given or the total amount paid. Students drew coins using visual representations P, N, D, Q to show their solutions using addition and subtraction to solve each problem.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post!

Sincerely,

Nora

Wanda Pagan(12:17:59) :David,

Thank you for sharing such an informative post. It was very helpful in clarifying how I can begin to differentiate in my classroom. I would like to share how I have been working on a Science lesson integrating Tiered Learning while considering the needs my ELL students. Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Lesson Objective: Students will be able to use research to describe the physical adaptations of an animal.

Language Objective: Students will be able to illustrate and label how an animal survives in its environment.

(Level 1) Green: Students will be given a photograph and name of an animal and cards showing different environments (labeled). Students must choose the card showing the correct environment of their animal by researching information about their animal. Students will illustrate and label a diagram describing the environment and how the animal eats in its environment.

Green: I chose this activity because students were able to use many visuals to show understanding. They were given picture cards showing a variety of environments. They were also asked to use illustrations and labels to show how much information they found using technology.

(Level 3) Blue: Students will be given a photograph of an animal and a card with the name of their animal’s environment. Students will research information about their animal and its environment using the cards I have given. Students will illustrate and label a diagram showing what their animal eats and how it lives in its environment. Students must explain one danger that their animal might encounter in its environment.

Blue: I chose this activity because it gave students a visual of the animal and a card showing the word of the environment, challenging them to search for a visual of the environment. Students were still given the opportunity to illustrate and label to show understanding but were challenged in that they had to research and find more information about dangers in the environment.

(Level 5) Black: Students will be given a card with the name of an animal. Students will research information about their animal and its environment. Students will illustrate and label a diagram showing what their animal eats and how it lives in its environment. Students must show a predator and explain how their animal protects themselves from that predator.

Black: I chose these activities because students would do their research with very little information front loaded to them. They were only given names and no visuals. They needed to illustrate, label and explain how their animal survives in their environment. They also have to use vocabulary learned to explain how their animal protects themselves from predators.

Christina Crawford(12:35:15) :Hi David,

Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. I have some past experience with tiering lessons. Years ago, I attended several professional development classes on differentiation. The provider had us practice creating some tiered activities. I currently have five ELL students in my class and would appreciate your feedback on a sample lesson that I worked on in this professional development and how I adapted it for my ELL students.

LESSON OBJECTIVE: Students understand challenges the Chinese faced when immigrating to America from China in the 1800s.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE: Students can write about challenges the Chinese faced when immigrating to the United States with scaffolded support.

GREEN LEVEL (WIDA Level 1) : Immigrants coming to Angel Island faced many hardships. After reading an expository nonfiction book titled, The Chinese Struggle to America: An Immigration History with a partner, students will list three hardships that the immigrants faced and match them with possible solutions to the problems, using a provided word bank.

I chose this activity, because it provides the extra support the students in WIDA Level 1 need to be successful. First, they partner read the nonfiction piece. Second, there is a word bank so they have extra support with the specific content language of the assignment.

BLUE LEVEL (WIDA Level 3): Immigrants coming to Angel Island faced many hardships. After reading an expository nonfiction book titled, The Chinese Struggle to America: An Immigration History, student will take on the role of a recent Chinese immigrant, looking for a job in the United States. What kind of job might you try to find? What particular skills do you possess? Why should someone hire you? Using a word bank, complete a job application for one of the jobs available in the mid1800s.

I chose this activity for students in WIDA Level 3, because they do not need as much support as the Level 1 students, but they still need some scaffolding. The nonfiction book has many pictures that the students can get additional information from. Also, the new vocabulary words are highlighted in the passages, providing extra visual support.

BLACK LEVEL (WIDA LEVEL 5): ): Immigrants coming to Angel Island faced many hardships. After reading three articles on the topic, student will take on the role of a recent Chinese immigrant looking for a job in the United States. What kind of job might you try to find? What particular skills do you possess? Why should someone hire you? Student will write a resume with his credentials and explain why he should be hired for the position.

I chose this activity for students in WIDA 5, because it required them to think creatively and critically. They will need to assimilate the information from three separate articles before taking on the role of the immigrant.

Again, thank you for creating this blog and for taking the time to respond.

Christina

Katie(18:00:30) :Great article. I loved you used a junior math class! I feel that I learned a lot about tiered instruction that I did not previously know. I was thinking about my junior high, 7th grade, Pre Algebra class and how I can better tier my instruction as well as my assessments to better maximize my students learning.

LESSON OBJECTIVE

Students will write linear equations in slope-intercept form when given ordered pairs.

LANGUAGE OBJECTIVE

Students will explain the process they used to created their linear equation and write in slope-intercept form.

GUIDED PRACTICE WITH EXPLANATION

Green: (WIDA Level 1 Entering)

Students will be given a set of two coordinate pairs. They will have to use the slope formula to find the slope. After they will use the slope and a coordinate pair to find the y-intercept. Once they find the slope and the y-intercept, they can use the information to create an equation in slope-intercept form. They will finally graph the formula they created.

The students will use the graph they plot to explain what the values represent. They will be given cards with the symbols and definitions of terms to refer to when explaining the computation.

Blue:(WIDA Level 3 Developing)

Students will be given a set of word problems. For each word problem, they will have to determine the values given in the word problem as ordered pairs. They will use the information to write linear equations in standard form and then simplify equations into slope intercept form. Finally, students will graph their equation, title the graph and label the axis with values assigned in the word problem.

These students are capable of illustrating relationships between two variables. They will be able to describe the relationships between the given information.

Black:(WIDA Level 5 Bridging)

The students will collect data from an experiment containing two variables that directly depend on one another. The will write an explanation of the experiment and display their data in a chart. They will use the information to write a linear equation in slope intercept form defining each value(y=mx+b). They students will graph the data and make inferences about values that are not graphed by supporting their statements with mathematical language.

These students can produce informational text by the use of graphs and charts.

I look forward to any insight you can share with me in regards to this lesson.

Thanks

Katie

Jillian Swinford(16:41:11) :David,

Thank you for sharing such an informative post about how to differentiate in the classroom. I have a much better understanding of how tiered instruction and assessments can help all students succeed at grasping the same concepts. I would like to share an example Art History lesson that utilizes the concepts presented in your post, giving special consideration to my ELL students. Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Lesson Objective: Students will be able to identify and describe a variety of the Elements of Art in a work of art.

Language Objective: Students will be able to identify and describe, in writing, the Elements of Art found in a work of art.

Green (Level 1): After students participate in whole-group instruction about the Elements of Art using visual note sheets for support, they will work in pairs to identify as many Elements of Art that they can see in a painting. Students will be provided with a reproduction of a painting and will fill in the blanks using a word bank.

I chose this activity because students at WIDA Level 1 can label pictures. This activity also provides the support that these students need to succeed. It allows them to work in pairs and use visual cues to support their learning during whole group instruction. The world bank provides an extra scaffold to support the acquisition of the new content-specific vocabulary.

Blue (Level 3): After participating in whole-group instruction using a graphic organizer to take notes, students will identify the Elements of Art they see in a provided painting. Students will need to provide evidence for their conclusions by circling and labeling areas of the painting where they see the Elements illustrated. In addition to labeling the Elements, students will also need to write a sentence to describe how the artist used each Element.

I chose this activity because students at this level can produce very basic expository texts. This activity requires more advanced language proficiency than the Green activity, but still provides some visual support and organization for the WIDA Level 3 students. The graphic organizer will help support their acquisition of the new content vocabulary and labeling the painting with the Elements allows them to use visuals to support their thinking. The added challenge comes with constructing a sentence to describe how the artist used each element.

Black (Level 5): After participating in whole-group instruction about the Elements of Art, without added supports for note-taking, students will need to write a composition to describe how and where the artist used the Elements of Art in the provided painting.

I chose this activity for the WIDA Level 5 students because they can apply learning to new contexts and compose multiple types of writing. This activity includes more challenging language requirements. This activity requires students to take notes on the instruction without supports and write an organized composition while applying the content learned during the lesson.

Thank you again for the informative blog post!

Jillian