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Differentiated Instruction- Tiered vs Layered

Whether you believe in DI, or not, it seems that it is here to stay for a while. I understand that DI has little  evidence to back up its claims, and that several studies have shown that "Learning Styles" may not actually exist, but I also know that those of us in the trenches don't make the policies, and this one is popular.
Now that's been posted to support a previous statement, you don't have to ask me for my evidence.

Getting back to DI by tiering. I do know how aggressive the push is, and I know how chaotic it can be, and I know how unfair it may seem to the students that are assigned the more advanced tiers, while their classmates get the "seemingly" more easy one. And if both happen to get an A in the course, some students feel punished, and colleges never know what they're getting. It's a tough battle that really doesn't need to fought.
     DI by Tiering is pretty much being spearheaded by Carol Ann Tomlinson CV, a former classroom teacher in the 60's and 70's, and now a Prof. at UVa. Much of the training though, that I am aware of, is through Sara Lampe, a State Representative from Missouri. She travels to schools to offer 2 day workshops on DI for a fee. I'm not sure what the cost is.
     Here is an example of a tiered lesson. It's the first I came across when I searched, but it is pretty standard. Though some have very complicated headings and names, it's the tiers that matter

     You'll notice right away that students are funneled into Beginning. Intermediate, and Advanced Learners. Some call their Tiers by other names like Emerging, Pioneers, etc, but they pretty much mean the same thing. This classroom has kids grouped by their ability, but they can be grouped by interest, "Learning Style" etc.
While I see the need to meet the kids on their level, I don't like the idea that they should stay on that level. I am not certain that they are being challenged, or made to struggle more to make it to the next level. If you threw in Blooms Taxonomy you will see that low level learning is the Beginner, and the Advanced Tier is the higher level. Students will be the first to notice that there is something different happening here. Johnny has an easy one, and Sally has the more challenging one. Occasionally, they ask "why?" The best way to curb that, is for the teacher to make the Tier selection appear random, so no one feels penalized. Grading is more difficult though, because if the beginner meets the requirements, does that mean she gets an "A"? According to her parents, yes it does. But it doesn't have to be. The lowest level should be the class standard, and the teacher can assign whatever grade they want to the standard. But try to tell a kid, or his parents, that the best he can do is get a C because he is an emerging learner, and see how well that goes.

     Another method of DI, and one that I have really gotten behind, is known as Layering. There is no need for complicated, confusing, torturous, grueling, pull your hair out of your head training, and the teacher isn't running around the class, conducting three separate lessons for three tiers of students. Planning time is cut by more than half, because you're not planning three lessons, you're planning one. You are simply separating the lesson according to Blooms.
    Here's how it works. You create a lesson that has several levels of content, just like you always did, but this time, you are classifying them . You place the "Basic" material that you expect all of your students to know, in the C Layer, the more advanced in the B, and A layer. 

I know that this may look ugly at first, but give it a shot
This one is being reworked, based on results from last semester
Forgive the errors

     Once a student satisfactorily completes the C layer layer, she has a C for that unit. She can then move on to the B layer, complete that task, and then to the A layer.
My observed benefits of layering:
  •  All students will be challenged
  • They know what is expected
  • They know what they have to do
  • They become accountable for their grade
  • The teacher becomes the expert in content, as the class becomes student centered
  • Peer instruction flourishes, as the more advanced students, help out their classmates because they are doing the exact same tasks
  • No one feels cheated, or self confident
Of course, you will still have tests, give notes and the like, though I can see this as a template for virtual and flipped classes. 

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