to begin Layered Curriculum®:
Read this before beginning!
Dr. Kathie F. Nunley
it hasn't already occurred to you, it is more than a little risky
to design a beautiful Layered Curriculum unit this weekend full
of choice and variety and walk into your classroom Monday, hand
it to your students and say "Well here you go. You have 2 weeks
to do whatever you want. Have fun." Aarrrgghhhhh! You will
fail and so will your students.
you have a room of students fresh out of the neighborhood Montessori
school, most students have no idea how to operate in a student-centered
classroom. And most teachers don't know how to manage a student-centered
classroom. So the best advice - go slow. Start with what you do
right now and add one component. See how that goes, then add one
popular way to begin is to make your unit sheet look like a daily
e.g.: Day one: Listen to the lecture and choose one of the following
this "daily method" you will start the class period with
some whole class instruction, then offer the students a choice of
two or three assignments which follow your instruction. They must
complete one by the end of the class period. Most students can handle
that as it looks familiar. They listened to some instruction and
now they choose one of two activities to complete within the class
can design your whole first unit using this daily method. Students
only have to choose between 2 or 3 assignments on any given day
and deadlines are strict (something is due today). Homework may
or may not be added depending on your subject.
same advice holds true with assessment. Many teachers start out
thinking they have to visit with every student every day about every
assignment! That's a great goal, but give yourself time to work
up to it. Oral assessment gets more efficient with practice - yours
and the students. Start by just discussing one assignment in the
unit. Or let the students put a portfolio together and have them
select one or two to discuss with you.
grading a day behind the students - you grade today's assignments
tomorrow while they are working on the current day's work. Have
students turn in work every day, but you will visit with them tomorrow.
start with very short Layered Curriculum units. Two or three days
works well, or maybe one week. Keep in mind that your first unit
probably won't run smoothly. There will be much you want to change.
If you keep it short, you only have to weather a short storm.
who persist through three units seems to have mastered Layered Curriculum.
Don't get discouraged. Start with lots of structure, a format that
looks familiar to both you and your students and be prepared to
make some mistakes in the beginning. But your efforts are greatly
rewarded as students learn to take responsibility and control of
their own learning and you feel valued as their facilitator.
Dr Kathie Nunley is an educational psychologist, researcher and
author of several books on parenting and teaching, including A Student's
Brain (Brains.org) and the best selling, "Differentiating the High
School Classroom" (Corwin Press). She is the developer of the Layered
Curriculum® method of instruction and has worked with parents and
educators around the world to better structure schools to make brain-friendly
environments. In addition, her work has been used by the Boeing
Corporation, Family Circle Magazine, the Washington Post, and ABC
her: Kathie (at) brains.org