K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Daniel Lunk
Date created
August 2010
Flash Video
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In the classroom

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In this video, three teachers from Raleigh’s Baileywick Road Elementary School discuss how creating tiered assignments has benefited their students. Includes classroom footage.

This video is one in a four-part series about tiering. The other videos include:

For more on tiering, see the article “Tiering to Avoid Tears.”


Melodie Hunsberger (00:14)
I think all students benefit from tiered assignments and differentiated instruction. Because they’re all winners because you’re taking them from their level, and they are making growth. No matter how much growth, or where they started, they are moving forward.
Anne Hawkins (00:26)
Everybody’s engaged. They’re all working. You don’t have people sitting around, playing with the things in their desk, or trying to get the attention of their little friend, or wandering to the pencil sharpener, or wanting to need a drink of water, or altogether, classic, "I can’t handle this, so I’ve got to figure out a way to get out of it" behaviors. They become very engaged very quickly, and then they become engaged together as a community, so they look for like groups of people in the classroom, and then they work well together with those people, to bounce ideas off of each other.
Mary-Elizabeth Robinson (01:05)
One of the main places that tiered assignments have helped us this year is in our language arts block. We have found that the work they work on independently, we’ve been able to tier that, where everyone is engaged, everyone’s working, but they’re working at the level that’s appropriate for them. Some are reading novels, some are reading very short books that may be on a second grade level, others are using our reading basal texts to be able to pull information. And we’ve found that that’s been very effective to meet their needs; everyone’s still working on cause and effect or inferencing skills or comprehending poetry. But they’re doing it at the level that’s best for them.
Anne Hawkins (01:44)
Well, we just received some of our test scores, and they are preliminary, but overall we’ve had the majority of the children on the grade level exhibit growth, which was very exciting for us. We’re wanting to see those pluses in all the columns — instead of a minus — so the majority of the children have shown growth, and are doing very well with what they have learned this school year. The children in this fourth grade are data savvy. They understand how to interpret data, how to read data, how that is an indicator of their success, and/or failure. They understand what these numbers mean, especially when they are able to manipulate the numbers themselves for each individual person. They keep this chart and graph for the nine weeks inside of their binder, and each time they complete an assessment, they fill it in, and they are very, very clever on being able to say, "Oh my gosh, this was very easy for me," or "I think I probably need to review mixed numbers and fractions, because that’s what I missed the most." So it get’s very concrete for them, rather than, “I just can’t do math.”
Melodie Hunsberger (02:57)
We’ve had children come to us and tell us, "Thank you so much for giving me this text that I can read." And we didn’t realize how important that was to the children to give them work on their level. We knew it ourselves, but for the children or the child to come up to you and say, "Thank you so much, I was having such a hard time reading this text, and now I’m able to read this with success." And that to me was — a brilliant idea that the child actually understood and, thank you, to come to a teacher and thank you.
Anne Hawkins (03:32)
And I’ve had children with the tier — it doesn’t always have to be the top tier, but even the bottom tier — who say, "I’m really interested in this particular subject, could you help me find more information, or can I do something else about this particular subject, because that’s something I’m really interested in. So to me, that is, when you are teaching people to love learning, rather than just learning, that is a huge, huge, compliment to me.
Melodie Hunsberger (04:02)
You know, we’re so tied up into the children passing the end-of-grade test, now we’re focusing on more: How much growth did the child make? And that to me, says a lot, because we want every child to move forward, from their level, miracles can only happen so much as far as passing the end-of-grade test. But knowing that a child has made growth throughout the year, and the child feels successful because of that growth, and internalizes that growth, just means everything to me.