Excellence in Education: Tiering, Continual Assessment and Adaptation, The Equalizer
I spent some time over break pouring through some of my old lesson plans. Each year, I chose one or two areas to focus on my own instructional improvement, so lessons from year-to-year often looked quite different as I was constantly tweaking and trying to improve student learning. One year, my focus was on differentiation, specifically tiering instruction. The school system had eliminated the “lower levels,” so student abilities and readiness levels differed substantially.
In tiering my lessons, I found the below Equalizer from Carol Tomlinson’s The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Students to be extremely helpful and referenced it as I created lesson. Like a stereo equalizer, to increase the degree of difficulty of a task, you simply move one or more of the Equalizer buttons to the right.
After identifying the essential understandings or skills and establishing learning targets, tiering allows all students to experience growth and success at appropriate levels of difficulty.
What did I learn that year?
- I needed to make greater use of pre-assessment strategies to accurately tier student work. Assuming all students were at the same starting spot was faulty.
- It was important to recognize the differences in students. Some students were great at the concrete aspects of history but struggled with themes and concepts and others were the exact opposite. As a teacher, I needed to build on these strengths and differences through differentiation.
- Developing various versions of products/assignments was time-consuming but worthwhile as students experienced increased success.
For a more complete explanation of The Equalizer, click here
Need to Knows:
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Calendar and Memo Items
A-B-A-B-A Week: Friday = Club Day
December 9: B-Day
December 6: Orchestra Concert, 7pm
December 7: Curriculum Expo, 6pm
December 8: Band Concert, 7pm
December 13: Chorus Concert, 7pm
December 1: Lauren Price
December 3: Roxanne Muniz
December 4: Matt Pearman and Gayle Millner (cafeteria)
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7 Ways to Calm a Young Brain in Trauma (Embracing)
I Have Cancer, Telling My Students (disclosure, I know the author of this blog post and he’s a co-host of #vachat)