Tiered activities provide classroom options for all students to work on the same unit or in the same content area yet still be challenged individually. Tiered assignments incorporate appropriately challenging tasks that vary in the content level of information, the thinking processes required, and the complexity of products students must create. These diverse assignments provide for varying learner differences by modifying learning conditions, providing leveled activities, motivating students, and promoting success. They allow students to focus on the essential skills at different levels of complexity and abstraction. Such activities engage students beyond what they find easy or comfortable, providing genuine challenges that help them progress.
Procedures for Developing a Tiered Activity
- Select the concept, skill, or generalization to be addressed.
- Determine the students' readiness and/or interests.
- Create an activity that challenges most students, is interesting, and promotes understanding of key concepts.
- Vary the activity appropriately for students with fewer skills.
- Create additional activities that require high levels of thinking, are interesting, and use advanced resources and technology. Determine the complexity of each activity to document those that will challenge above-grade-level students and gifted learners.
- Ensure that each student is assigned a variation of the activity that corresponds to that student's readiness level.
The complexity of tiered activities is determined by the specific needs of the learners in a class. The levels of the activities begin at the readiness levels of the students and continue to stretch the students slightly beyond their comfort zones to promote continual development. In classes in which all students are at or above grade-level, the lowest tier would respond to grade-level or even above-grade-level readiness. All tiers require teacher modeling and support.
Adapted from Kingore, B. (ed.). (n.d.). Reading strategies for advanced primary readers. Austin, TX: Texas Reading Initiative Task Force for the Education of Primary Gifted Children.
Resource for additional information: Tomlinson, C. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.