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Differentiated versus Tiered Instruction
Old 07-05-2007, 03:18 PM
 
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Can someone clarify the difference between the two?


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The difference
Old 07-05-2007, 04:03 PM
 
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Hi First2no!

I hope that I am able to answer your question.


Differentiation is the process of creating multiple ways for students to learn and show progress in their learning. It builds off of the premise that no two students are the same and therefore reaching them and supporting their learning will also need to look different at times. Differentiating instruction occurs when teachers create multiple ways of supporting learning so that students of differing abilties, experiences, interests etc can all reach their potential.

Tiered Instruction is one of the many ways to differentiate instruction. Kind of like how 3rd grade is one of the many grades in elementary school.

Tiered instruction is when an educator teaches one concept while considering the ways to meet the different learning needs in a group. Teachers can tier a specific lesson, in class assignment, project and so on. Tiers can be selected to consider student readiness levels, interests, learning profiles (such as multiple intelligences) etc.

Because of this, tiered instruction does not just benefit exceptional students (high or low), rather it can serve all students. For instance, many times I will tier a lesson based on learning profiles or interests. One group could do a series of math problems related to sports while another group did math problems relating to money/shopping at the mall etc.

There are tons of other ways to differentiate including cubing, learning contracts, anchor activities, compacting the curriculum, adjusting questions, varied texts, and so on.

Well, I hope I have helped. I love differentiation and all of the strategies. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them and I'm sure so would all of the other posters on the board!
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Thank you, Jdonick
Old 07-06-2007, 04:20 AM
 
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Your's was the most comprhensive and easily understood explanation I have come across yet. Now, I finally understand the difference. Thank you. By the way, what do you teach?

I will research the other types of differentiation you mentioned:
cubing, learning contracts, anchor activities, compacting the curriculum, adjusting questions, varied texts

I appreciated your "real world" example of how you tiered the math assignment to the student's varied interests. Can you give offer any other real world applications of how you implemented some of the other strategies you mentioned? Do you work with gifted?

I will get right on board with checking them out on line, and let you know if I have any questions. You sound very knowledgable. I checked out your other post about Geocoaching. I have no idea what this is, but I am intrigued by what you and other posters have written. I'll get back to you on that too.

Thanks again,
f2n
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Preassessing
Old 07-06-2007, 04:44 AM
 
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Are preassessments always necessary before utilizing any differentiation strategy? Do you preassess before each new segment of learning?
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Answers to your questions
Old 07-06-2007, 07:46 AM
 
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Hi First2no!

I am glad that my explanation was helpful and easy to understand. I read over your questions and hope that I have answered these for you also! I'm not sure what grade level you teach (1st? I'm guessing), so I will try to keep them general.

Assessments:
Pre-assessments are a very important part of differentiation... most of the time. The reason that I say most is because I can think of a few instances where you wouldn't need to formally pre-assess. For instance, in terms of interests, once you know your students, you generally know their likes/dislikes/passions and could differentiate for interests without giving them a formal survey. However, with this said, I usually did give my students a few surveys that would give me more insight into the kids at the beginning of the school year - not only for their interests, but also for their learning profiles.

You used the phrase "new segment of learning" - I want to make sure that I understand your definition of the phrase... Would I pre-assess for the new unit of study, yes - that would give me a baseline to work with. For instance, if you are required to use a "canned" spelling program where the kids all use the same spelling lists, I would pre-assess the students and any that passed the list on Monday would not need to take the test on Friday. They would get an alternative list of 10 new words to work on. One way to differentiate this would be to allow the student to work with you to brainstorm words that they know verbally, but not in written form. Also, you may find that their parents have some words that they would like their child to know how to spell. If you have the same 2-3 students who always pass during the pre-assessment, you could offer their parents the choice to make a list that they would want their students to work on during the year. You could then break those words down into workable groups (one week with the suffix "tion," next week "ly" and so on).

Ways to Differentiate:
Last post I listed a few of the ways to differentiate instruction. Some of those are easy to implement and teachers could do run with it tomorrow if they wanted and others take more time. I have picked a two below that I think you could happily implement with little effort, organization, and time. Differentiation can be overwhelming, so I always suggest that teachers start small and simple!

Anchor activities - anchor activities should be options for students who finish their work early or are waiting for another reason like they need help but you are working with another group. Students should be independent when working on these, and they should be ongoing and could last over several days. Many times teachers only offer "read a book." Although this is a great option, it shouldn't be the only one, since it is typically the same few students who regularly finish early.

Here are some ideas: anchor activities for writing could be writing in a journal where the teacher responds back. The student would practice using a formal letter format and the teacher would write back in a letter also, but maybe with a different salutation. Or the student could work on creative writing and then when the student is finished submits the journal for the teacher to read and respond to. Another anchor activity could be a puzzle that is always out on a table. If your students were studying about the ocean, then this puzzle should be a picture of some of the animals that students would see if they snorkled. This could also be trivia questions about a topic that you know the students are interested in. Right now a great one for upper elementary/middle level would be Harry Potter trivia! Logic puzzles are another great one for students.

Cubing - There are tons of variations to this. The simplist is to use a die and then have questions for each number. If a student rolls a 2, they are asked to make a list of colors. If a student rolls a 3, they are asked to provide examples of one color in the wild, if a student rolls a 4 they have to compare/contrast yellow-green crayon to a yellow-orange crayon or compare the fish A to fish B.

You can cube based on multiple intelligences: Students roll a cube twice and work on the two assignments that they rolled. Here is a sample cube for dinosaurs: http://www.narragansett.k12.ri.us/Ne...w/cubedino.pdf
http://www.kaganonline.com/Catalog/index.html

Many teachers also cube based on readiness levels. For example, group A might have a cube that challenges them with 6 questions at the knowledge/comprehension level (list the characters in the book or describe what the characters looked like), group B has a cube that has 6 questions at the comprehension/application level (summarize the relationship between character A and B - do they get along or what would the story be like if you changed or got rid of a character?), group C has application/analysis level questions (brainstorm what another chapter in the book could include or select another chapter to rewrite - what how could it have been explained differently in the book) and so on.

If you are looking for pre-made cubes, Kagan has great resources. Here is their website. Once there select "products," then "browse catalog," then click on "learning cubes and chips." http://www.kaganonline.com


Geocaching:
This outdoor sport uses emerging technology, the Global Positioning System (24 satellites). I like using it with students because of the fact that there is so much that students love: experiential learning, problem-based learning, inquiry, and hands-on/active learning for your bodily-kinesthetic kids (they just run from place to place!) Also, I have found that the kids who frequently are asked to stop that or don't jump, don't touch etc are the most successful with this type of activity since they aren't afraid to go on the "hunt."

Me:
You asked what I teach, this coming year I will be serving as an instructional coach for teachers in a K-8 building. I am hoping for a true partnership learning experience where I get to learn as much from the teachers as they learn from me! In my teaching, I have had classes of just gifted students, just special ed students, and classes that were a mixture of all kinds of students with special ed, gifted, ell where everyone was included. (I have taught in several different districts and several different states each with their own policies and organizational structures for classrooms).

Wow, I have just scrolled up and saw how long this was... I wanted to answer all of your questions, and not overwhelm you. I hope I haven't too much. I just love sharing ideas with teachers and talking about differentiation!



Last edited by jdonick; 07-06-2007 at 08:00 AM.. Reason: fixed an error
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Thanks again!
Old 07-06-2007, 05:46 PM
 
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You school is very fortunate to have you. Your notes were not overwhelming at all. They were succinct, informative, and understandable. They have given me greater perspective on this interesting topic. Thanks for teaching me how to be a better teacher.
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learning
Old 07-06-2007, 06:50 PM
 
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Thank you, too. I am a veteran teacher, but this was a very helpful article. One I'll read and reread again.
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Wow!
Old 07-06-2007, 07:57 PM
 
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Hi again...

I just read both of your replies. Thank you for your kind words! They made me smile. I am glad that I could be of help.
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Learning Contracts
Old 07-07-2007, 10:39 AM
 
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Can you share your knowledge and practical application on using learning contracts with gifted students?

Sorry to bug so much, but the more I read...the more I realize I don't understand.
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Negotiated Curriculum and Learning Contracts
Old 07-15-2007, 09:42 PM
 
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Hi again!

I finally have some time to write you back, first2no. Sorry for the delay... I've been on vacation!

Background Information on Negotiated Curriculum and Learning Contracts:
Negotiated curriculum is a pretty broad topic and there are a lot of different ways to go about incorporating it into your classroom. One way is through learning contracts.

Although learning contracts can be offered in numerous forms, one of the most common is with the use of a tic-tac-toe board where students select a pattern on which to work across, down or diagonal. Tic-tac-toe boards, even in their simplist form, include differentiation in several ways: student choice, different processes, various multiple intelligences are usually incorporated, and they also focus on content or process, which are explained a bit more below.

Teachers typically utilize learning contracts as a form of assessment, where students create three products to display/indicate their learning - ie: write an essay comparing two greek gods, construct a model that explains a myth, perform a song/skit about mythology. It can also be a way to offer indivdualized learning options where students select options to further explore in various formats where the focus is content - ie: explore greek myths through a webquest, study roman mythology in the library, read The Lightening Thief and while reading, generate a list of mythological topics explaining how this book relates to class.

Students/Teachers
Typically, students are interested in this format due to the fact that they are familiar with tic-tac-toe as a game. Many students also enjoy this due to the fact that there is choice involved and the assignment is broken down into three manageable parts. Gifted students enjoy this format, especially if there is a "free choice" square that is negotiated further between teacher and student. (I explain this further below).

Teachers appreciate this format due to the fact that it is not completely "open" - ie students cannot just do whatever they want, they must select from a predetermined menu of choices. Teachers also like this format because they can manipulate the board so that all students have three varied assignments to work on.

Practical Application: more specfics on how I accomplish this (focusing on a learning contract in the form of a Tic-Tac-Toe board differentiating products).

When I go about designing a learning contract that will take the form of a tic-tac-toe board, I first look at the learning goals. I select either one broad goal to be incorporated into all nine options on the board (we'll call this A) or I look for three smaller goals, which can each have three assignment options (we'll call this B). If I use format B, the students are given the directions that they must choose one assignment in each column thereby meeting each of the goals(they cannot choose all three assignments in one column or they will miss the two other goals). If I choose format A, students can work in any tic-tac-toe pattern.

Once I have a clear sense of the goal of the larger assessment (learning contract), I generate the nine possible products that students will create. For example, students will have the options to create a poem (+find three already written), a song, a skit, a picture book, a webbe, an essay, a timeline, a PowerPoint, a video using MovieMaker and so on. Once I have my topics, I determine which learning styles and intelligences each topic supports. If there seems to be imbalance, I go back to the drawing board.

As soon as I have nine great ideas, then I put each on an index card. I move the index cards around until I have a three by three square where I would be happy with students working on any pattern. It takes some time to make sure that I like each student's potential choices. If I am working with an inclusionary group of students of varying levels, I sometimes suggest or request that students work on a particular pattern that will suit their readiness levels and will provide a balance between comfort and challenge.

Next, I begin writing the score explanation of how each choice will be graded. This breakdown of scoring makes like much easier for the teacher, student, and parents! Once the scoring is done, I publish the tic-tac-toe board, put the scoring for all nine on the back of the paper and write a letter to parents. On the back of the letter is a contract that students and parents sign with the understanding that once a pattern is selected, students may not switch topics part way through.

Once their choices are approved, the student keeps a copy of the contract showing their selections and signatures, directions for each choice and scoring guide at home and I keep a copy at school.

"Choice" Square:
Sometimes I create a square that is "student choice" which students can select as part of their pattern. Those students then have to further negotiate with me how they will be my goal for their learning while getting to create a product that they are excited about.

Note:
A word of caution. This type of project can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time! I love learning contracts, but would suggest starting out small and building a few of these types of learning experiences into your classroom over time. It is really easy to jump in without considering parent reaction, student perception, time constraints etc. One or two of these during the school year is plenty.

Gifted:
I know that when I wrote this, I did not specifically target gifted students in my explanation. I have used this with all types of students english language learners, special education, extremely intrinsically motivated students, truly gifted students, and so on. I think this system of negotiating curriculum is great for all learners. It is differentiated in so many ways that there is something for everyone! Really, gifted students deserve the benefit of having a few options to work that really push them, the freedom to direct their learning further based on their interests, and the opportunity to work in an area that is not their strength so that they are learning something new...

Yet again, I feel like I wrote a boring essay... I hope it makes sense. If you have questions, let me know!



Last edited by jdonick; 07-15-2007 at 09:46 PM.. Reason: grammatical error
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Thank you for DI help
Old 07-16-2007, 10:45 AM
 
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JDONICK,
Thank you for the DI help. DI has always intrugued me and I have gone to several workshops on it. I always return home with the promise that I am going to implement it and find it so overwhelming that I don't embrace it as much as I should. This summer's workshop took the approach of integrating the Understanding by Design approach and the DI. Still overwhelming, but seems to make sense. Our District has a very "loose" curriculum and the state has definite expectations for each grade level. It has basically been up to the individual teacher to make up for the difference.
The Understanding by Design (UbD) seems to be the missing piece.
I need to start off small and ease into it.
Right now, I have having a difficult time focussing on the small.
I have to admit discovering this site has distracted me greatly. I have gleaned so many great ideas. But I haven't found much on DI or UbD. Do many teachers use it? How does it work out?
Thank you first2no for asking the question.
Thanks again jdonick.
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DI and UbD
Old 09-09-2007, 10:07 AM
 
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It has been a really long time since I have been back to proteacher. A very busy time, as I expect it has been for you all also!


Combow, you wrote: "But I haven't found much on DI or UbD. Do many teachers use it? How does it work out?"

Do many teachers use [DI]? To me, it seems that there are many different ways to answer that question ... so I will stick with teachers who have been in the classroom for at least a few years.

Do many veteran teachers differentiate instruction? I would have to say yes, however, many teachers only differentiate in one or two formats. For instance, one teacher may alter a quiz for special education students and they may also incorporate multiple intelligences into their instruction. But, they do not consider offering multiple intelligences as a form of assessment to indicate mastery of the material.

Why doesn't their instruction involving DI expand to best serve all students? Well, possibly due to the time that many educators believe it will take, comfort level (ex: if the teacher's strongest intelligences are verbal and bodily kinesthetic, the idea of allowing the students to perform a song etc might not even be considered because it isn't something that they would have prefered to do when they were in school. Generally, teachers teach the way that they would want to be taught!), lack of information about best practices etc.

Do many teachers use [UbD]? I think that there are many teachers who use pieces of UbD, but haven't necessarily read much by Wiggins or McTighe. It is just part of their teaching practice... their best practices.

I see UbD as a philosophy used by teachers who are interested in moving beyond just general recall towards true student understanding. Teaching for understanding invites DI because teachers who believe in this philosophy certainly want to address the needs of all learners.

DI and UbD as a Team: In short, UbD and DI fit together in the realms of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. UbD is the philosophy, that if entertained by teachers, will continuously suggest that teachers reach out to students in numerous ways by differentiating their instruction.

Well, I think that it's it for now... hope your school years are off to a great start!


PS - Glad to know that you are enjoying proteacher. It is a wonderful resource!
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Old 10-19-2010, 09:09 AM
 
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would you mind giving a clear example of tiered instruction ( in English language teaching)?
What doesthe word tiered mean ?
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Old 01-07-2011, 02:40 PM
 
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Can you give me a bit more information so that I can give you an example that would relate more to your situation? Are you teaching ESL? What grade level?
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