With the emphasis on the practice of differentiation in all classrooms, teachers need to think about adjusting assignments for learners so that standards are achieved. A powerful strategy to use is the design of tiered assignments – tasks that are adjusted in increasing challenge level. Listed here are some aspects of tasks to consider when designing adjusted, or tiered assignments.
For students who need more support, include:
- less difficult independent reading
- materials based on the average reading level of the participants
- sparse text, graphic aids
- low level of abstraction, as concrete as possible
- fewer steps to complete the assignment
- convergence on right answers to solve problems
- knowledge and comprehension levels of thinking for independent work
- supportive strategies (graphic organizers or teacher prompting) to help students infer and draw conclusions
For average students, include:
- independent reading materials from the textbook or other on-grade level sources
- concrete concepts to help students transition to more abstract concepts
- questions or problems that are a mix of open-minded and “right answers”
- more steps
- opportunities to infer and draw conclusions with less teacher support; teacher should count on being on hand if necessary to prompt students in this area.
- assurance that students can be successful with knowledge, comprehension and application on their own, and that with help, they can address some of the high levels of thinking
For advanced learners, include:
- reading materials from more complex and lengthy sources
- abstract concepts as much as possible and use of open-ended questions exclusively
- opportunities for students to infer and evaluate
- the assumption that students have knowledge, comprehension and application abilities, and that they will be challenged only if you ask them to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate.
While these tasks take some time to develop, the results allow learners to be challenged at their own readiness levels which increase motivation and engagement in the classroom.
Literacy Education and Resource Network (LEARN)