to Layered Curriculum®
Kathie F. Nunley
of the advantages to this type of classroom is that it is individualized.
Even the assessment can be differentiated. I may have different
expectations for different students even though they have both
chosen the same assignment. Although each student is expected
to meet the objectives, the modality of expression or depth
of understanding may vary. Individualized education should no
longer be delegated to only those students in special education.
All of our students deserve an individualized program. Since
all students begin their learning experience at various levels,
the emphasis should be on personal growth from the individuals
defense of assignments becomes an important opportunity for
me to evaluate, clarify, and offer additional instruction. These
one-on-one conversations allow me the freedom to modify or individualize
the students evaluation. It takes only a minute or two
with each student to assess learning.
tradeoff for many students is that this presents a much less
stressful assessment than a formal test. Once Ive discussed
the assignments with them personally, I often feel no need to
go back later and give them a paper and pencil test. Most students
prefer these oral assessments. After we have discussed an assignment,
I initial the assignment on their unit sheet and put the points
they received next to it. It is the students responsibility
to keep up with their assignment sheets.
behavior problems are reduced in this type of classroom because
students feel in control and you are addressing many different
learning modalities. A large variety of assignments assures
that everyone will find something he or she enjoys and can master.
The most difficult problem comes early in the year when students,
unaccustomed to a student-centered classroom, may misuse the
freedom. I handle these problems early on with a personal conversation.
Then if need be, I have the student work on the assignment sheet
in another teachers classroom for one unit. At the end
of that time, we discuss a plan for the student moving back
into our classroom.(also see starting
are a few extra benefits Ive found to running my classroom
using Layered Curriculum. Students rarely complain to
me anymore about doing a particular assignment. Since all assignments
are of their choosing, if it turns out to be boring or unenjoyable
they have no one to blame but themselves. One idea I've used
is to make a list of students who need assignments graded as
they enter the room. They simply call out their name as they
enter and I write it down. When the tardy bell rings I draw
a line at the bottom of the list. I guarantee to get around
to those names on my list, but if you come tardy there are no
guarantees. I may or may not get to them that day. This has
greatly cut down on tardy students.
bottom line - you CAN reach all the varieties of students that
sit in your classroom. You can accommodate the lowest ability
level while providing a stretch for your highest ability level
students. In many traditional teaching methods, the material
is easy for some, difficult for others, and impossible for a
few. This differentiated instruction allows the lesson to be
structured in such a way that everybody learns something. It
doesnt marginalize students entering with less preparation
or ability. Everyone makes progress. Because everyone wins,
the students feel they are benefiting from the lesson.. The
teacher wins by having involved students that actually learn.
And all of it happens under the control of each student. Your
role as teacher is as a facilitator and a coach to help each
student reach their individual potential.
F. Nunley is an educational psychologist, author, researcher
and speaker living in southern New Hampshire. Developer of the
Layered Curriculum® method of instruction, Dr. Nunley has
authored several books and articles on teaching in mixed-ability
classrooms and other problems facing today's teachers. Full
references and additional teaching and parental tips are available
at: http://Help4Teachers.com Email her:
Kathie (at) brains.org