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Tiered Lessons – Process. Project Aspire Broadcast 7 Sara Delano Moore, Ph.D. What are tiered lessons?. Tiered lessons are a way of creating systematic variations on a single lesson plan that are responsive to student learning needs and practical for the teacher to manage.

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Tiered Lessons – Process

Project Aspire

Broadcast 7

Sara Delano Moore, Ph.D.


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What are tiered lessons?

  • Tiered lessons are a way of creating systematic variations on a single lesson plan that are responsive to student learning needs and practical for the teacher to manage.

  • There are several ways in which lessons can be tiered.


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How can lessons be tiered?

  • Dimension of Learning

    • Content

      • What students are learning

    • Process

      • How students are learning

    • Product

      • How students show mastery


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How can lessons be tiered?

  • Characteristics of the Learner

    • Readiness

      • How skilled is the student in this area?

    • Interest

      • What topics are engaging to the student?

    • Learning Style

      • How does the student learn best?



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Tiering Process by Learning Style

  • Providing students with options about how they learn new information in your classroom

  • Remember that Interest and Learning Style overlap at times


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Thinking About Learning Styles

  • Select a model that you’re comfortable with and stick to it

  • The key is that you provide variety in a systematic way

  • Models to Consider

    • Visual/Auditory/Kinesthetic

    • Multiple Intelligences

    • Concrete/Abstract – Random/Sequential

    • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator


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Examples of Varied Instructional Strategies

  • Working Independently or in Groups

  • Reading silently or out loud

  • Doing the lab first or reading the text first

  • Working with concrete manipulatives or visual images or equations

  • Taking readings “by hand” or taking readings with technology (e.g., CBLs)


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Classroom Structure

  • The teacher chooses the path through the options available.

  • For example, we do the lab first in this lesson and the reading first in the next lesson. The alternation pattern continues.

  • We do this lesson solo and the next lesson in small groups. Again, the alternation pattern continues.


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Classroom Structure

  • Another possibility is to do a single, whole-class experience to introduce a concept and then give students a menu of choices for how they develop understanding.

  • Menu can be 2 items and the students pick one.

  • Menu can be items in three categories and students choose one from each category.

  • Menu can be items worth various points and students must earn a certain number of points.

  • Menu items can be done in class or outside of class or a mix of both.


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Classroom Structure

  • A third possibility is to dedicate various areas of the room to various learning stations and have the students work through these options with teacher guidance but little, if any, whole class instruction.

  • You can assign some stations and allow students to choose others.

  • It is important to spend a day orienting the students to the stations in your room.

  • This is not the approach to use first!


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Creating Menu Options or Learning Stations

  • The choices you create are based on the learning styles model you work with in your classroom.

  • Work with one lesson at a time. Identify which learning styles are well-represented in your lesson and start looking for other learning experiences about the same concept which work within different learning styles.


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For example…

  • You’ve got a great lab on inclined planes – very good for kinesthetic learners

  • Can you find a web page with an electronic simulation/demonstration and develop an assignment based on exploration of that page for your visual learners?

  • Can you find a good reading assignment about inclined planes and their uses in the real world, again for visual learners?

  • Is there a strong video/DVD about inclined planes where auditory learners can listen and learn?


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For example…

  • You have a good lab on cooling liquids which uses CBLs to collect data and creates the graphs as you go – terrific for visual learners.

  • Can you create a similar lab guide where students collect the data manually for kinesthetic learners?


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For example…

  • You have a good reading selection on the structure of the skeleton and muscle systems – good for your visual learners.

  • Can you identify a lab where students work with skeletons, chicken legs/thighs, and other materials to explore the same concepts for kinesthetic learners?

  • Can you record an audiotape or find a video of big ideas for students to listen to for auditory support?


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For example…

  • Your textbook has a good section on FOIL as a procedure for multiplying binomials – good for visual learners.

  • Can you develop an activity with algebra tiles where kinesthetic students model the process?

  • Can you make the textbook work or the lab a partner assignment where one student has to tell the other the steps to follow and then they swap roles? (for auditory learners)


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Assignment for Next Time

  • Select one lesson you’ll be teaching shortly after the holiday.

  • Identify the learning style framework you’re comfortable with and which style(s) your lesson is most attractive to.

  • Develop one or two alternative activities which are responsive to other styles.

  • Implement your alternate activities in one of the classroom structures suggested in this broadcast.

  • Report on your work using the online form on the Aspire web page.


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