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Layered Curriculum®

By Dr. Kathie F. Nunley

The simplest way to differentiate instruction and teach in mixed-ability classrooms is with a simple method called Layered Curriculum. Developed by Kathie Nunley, a former high school teacher in Salt Lake City, the method allows students to learn at their own pace, mostly in their preferred learning modality and still demands the highest accountability standards.

This method divides an instructional unit into 3 layers, called C, B and A. The C layer consists of a wide variety of assignment choices with teach basic facts, skills, vocabulary and technique. The B layer offers an assortment of projects and labs and other problem solving activities which allow students to demonstrate an application of the knowledge and skills gained in the C layer. The A layer requires students to critically analyze a current issue in the real world which relates to the unit of study. Students work their way through the various layers which then determine their earned mark of a C, B or A grade.

Assignment choices include lecture, problem solving, textbook reading, computer work, videos, worksheets, artwork, models, demonstrations and research.

Accountability is paramount to Layered Curriculum, as students are awarded points only for learning rather than simply "doing" assignments. This is accomplished through individual oral defense, or small group discussion of all assignments.


About the Author:
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 television.
Email her: Kathie (at) brains.org


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