Tiering authentic text to meet the needs of all learners

As was discussed in my last post, “Tiering tasks for authentic text to meet the needs of all learners,” one way of differentiating tasks to meet the needs of all learners when interpreting authentic text, is to tier the task.  Another approach would be to tier the text.

Here are some simple steps to tiering authentic text:

  1. Look for multiple pieces of text at varying levels of difficulty or complexity on the same topic.

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Here are three examples on the topic of Bullying in French.  Determine which text will be for the lowest, mid, and highest tiers.

tiertext1   tiertext2

tiertext3

 

2. Decide whether you will tier the tasks as demonstrated in the previous blog post or design a generic task that will work for all three tiers like the one below:

tiertext4

 

Example scenario for tiering authentic text:

Students have a graphic organizer and one of three infographics of varying challenge levels on the topic of the physical activity level of children in Canada during a unit on healthy lifestyles in an intermediate level French class.  Students are assigned an infographic based on their readiness level or may select an infographic.  Students record information gleaned from the text on their graphic organizers.

 

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activity2       activity139dc71af4d0ed6e5022147ae98d76313

Afterward, students are placed in mixed readiness groups of 3 or 4.  In their small groups, students conduct an interpersonal conversation with their peers about what they learned from the text using their graphic organizers.  Ideas acquired from group members are added to individual students’ notes on the graphic organizers.

The teacher may provide helpful phrases and/or sentence stems in the target language to students as a resource for their conversations.

  • According to the infographic…
  • It is interesting that…
  • I am surprised that…
  • Typically…
  • Generally…
  • In my opinion,…
  • Both
  • On the contrary
  • On the one hand/on the other hand

As a follow-up, student create a presentational writing product comparing their family’s level of physical activity with information from the infographics.  The students are given a blank Venn diagram graphic organizer to plan their writing.

If you’d like to explore more examples of tiered text, visit: https://www.grahnforlang.com/tiering-tasks-and-text.html

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For more detailed information about tiering, download the Tiering Guide below:

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Tiering tasks for authentic text to meet the needs of all learners

Aligned with the ACTFL Core Practices for World Language Learning, language educators are encouraged to “guide learners through interpreting authentic resources.” Authentic resources are created by and for the target language users, either for information or entertainment.

We have heard the phrase “Adapt the task, not the text.”  The idea behind that quote is that once we alter an authentic resource in any way, it is no longer authentic.  So, teachers are challenged to offer language learners opportunities to interpret authentic resources at the correct challenge level.  One way to accomplish that goal is through tiering.

First, think about the wide diversity of language learners in your classroom.  In any one classroom, there are students who are at varying levels of

  •  language proficiency
  • motivation and engagement
  • and comfort with the target language classroom.

They are struggling learners, reluctant learners, disengaged learners, engaged learners, enthusiastic learners, and advanced learners and their needs are diverse and varied.  Often, we assign tasks to our learners that are too difficult for some and far less challenging for others.  This can cause frustration on the part of students and impact their level of commitment and engagement in tasks.

Next, we need to anchor ourselves in the ACTFL-NCSSFL Can-Do Statements and the ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Language Learners.  These descriptors give guidance on what teachers can expect their students to be able to do with text based on their proficiency level.

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Due to this wide diversity, teachers respond to their students’ needs on a continuum.  From low challenge and high support to high challenge and low support as illustrated by the graphic below.

 

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What are supports?

Providing support to students in the form of  models, examples, sentence frames, and task-specific target language expressions which are subsequently removed as students become more confident and independent with their learning.”

One way to meet the needs of the variety of language learners in the classroom, is through tiering.  Tiering creates opportunities for students to practice language skills toward a proficiency goal at varying levels of challenge and support based on teacher or student-identified readiness.

Some examples of supports include:

  • Multiple choice questions
  • Fewer gaps in cloze activity
  • Word banks
  • Sentence starters
  • Sample responses
  • Graphic organizers
  • Question prompts

How do I create tiered tasks?

Step 1: Select the authentic text for your students to interpret.

Step 2: Create an “on level” task.

Step 3: Create a more scaffolded task for struggling learners.

Step 4: Create a more open-ended task for advanced learners.

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How do I decide which tier each student should be given?

  • determine the students’ readiness level based on formative data (exit tickets, classwork, performances, etc.)
  • allow students to choose their level of challenge

For more detailed information about tiering, download the Tiering Guide below:

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Example of tiered tasks for authentic text:  

In an intermediate level Spanish class, students have been focused on the question, “What is family?”  The teacher selects a video called “¿Qué es una familia?” which is produced by the Subsecretaría de Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia – Jefatura de Gabinete de Ministros – Gobierno de La Provincia de Santiago del Estero, Argentina.

The teacher creates tiered tasks for the video.  She creates

  • an “on level” worksheet that provides a word bank at the bottom,
  • a version for struggling learners that provides a word bank for each question,
  • and a more open-ended version for advanced learners and heritage speakers that provides no word banks.

Students view the video and take notes on their worksheets.  After, students are placed in mixed-readiness groups and each group receives one of the questions from the worksheet written on a large piece of chart paper.  The group records their responses for the question on the chart paper.

When time is called, student groups rotate through the other questions, reading the responses written by previous groups and adding new ideas.

Once all groups have made the full rotation, the posters are displayed around the room.  Each student selects one question on which he/she would like to create an oral presentation which they will record next class.

Tier 1:

tier1

Tier 2:

tier2

Tier 3:

tier3

More examples of tiered tasks can be found at: https://www.grahnforlang.com/tiering-tasks-and-text.html

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How can I learn more about tiering?

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http://worldlanguagetiering.weebly.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Using authentic text in guided activities

During the “guided instruction” phase of lessons, the teacher provides support and guidance through practice with new content or structures that move students toward independence with their language learning.

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During this phase of a lesson, the students try out their new learning through tasks that are intentionally created or selected by the teacher that gradually release control to the student.

Guided activities can also serve as a context for teaching students routines or processes that will aid them in “owning” their new learning.   When interpreting authentic text, the goal of guided tasks is to increase student confidence in their ability to unlock meaning in authentic texts.

Some types of tasks a teacher may select for guided activities include:

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 10.55.32 AM Here are some examples of teachers using authentic text in guided activities:

Example 1: 

The teacher provides a copy of a poem entitled “La Vie” to students in an intermediate level French class and displays a copy on the document camera.  The teacher talks students through interpreting the text in the target language using a routine called “Text Mark Up.”  The students use colored pencils, markers or highlighters. The students mark all words in the text that they know in one color.  Then in a second color, mark all words they can guess because of their similarity to another word in the target language or as an English cognate.  Finally, students use a third color to mark words/phrases they can guess through context.

 .         la vie

The teacher uses target language examples, circumlocution, and visuals, etc. to reinforce the meaning of unknown words.

The teacher asks students to work in pairs to guess the main idea of the text based on their highlighting and other text features.  The teacher records pairs’ ideas as they are shared.

Example 2: 

For an intermediate level Spanish class, the teacher selects a song by Romeo Santos called “Héroe Favorito” which demonstrates imperfect subjunctive and conditional “si” (if) clauses in context.

The teacher gives the students a copy of the lyrics.  He leads the students through unlocking the meaning of the song by having students identify words they know, words that they can guess that are cognates, and words they can guess through context.  The teacher uses target language examples, circumlocution, and visuals, etc. to reinforce the meaning of unknown words.

The teacher then shows the music video for the song.

The teacher gives students a graphic organizer that lists all of the superheroes mentioned in the song.  The teacher models the first row with the class and writes the ideas on a copy of the organizer which is projected by the document camera.  The students then work in pairs to complete the organizer about each superhero based on the lyrics.  When time is called, each pair meets with another pair to share their ideas captured on their graphic organizers.

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On the reverse side of the first organizer is one called “Somebody Wanted But So.”  The teacher chose to use this organizer as a guided activity because this is the first time students have seen this tool.  The teacher uses questioning strategies to deepen students’ comprehension of the song lyrics by collaboratively coming up with ideas for the prompts in each row.  The teacher models the process doing a “think aloud” by projecting the graphic organizer on the document camera and recording student ideas as they are offered.

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Using the ideas gleaned on the organizer, students write a summary sentence about the song.

As a follow up activity, students create their own superhero using the prompt, “If I were a superhero, I would…” by telling what they would be called, what powers they would have, etc.

 

Basing learning centers on authentic text

Through learning centers, students have the opportunity to demonstrate independence in their language learning in all of the skills areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.   At each center, students interact with content in a variety of ways through a range of modalities.

Learning centers can also be a venue by which students interact with authentic text.  To start the process:

  1. collect authentic text (memes, quotes, infographics, comics, articles, commercials, videos, etc.) on the unit topic.
  2. decide which skill area each authentic resource logically would match (ex. a commercial for the listening station).
  3. design the task students will do at each center with the authentic text.

To vary the challenge level at each center, more than one resource or text may be available to students.  Advanced learners and heritage speakers might interact with a more challenging text and struggling learners might have a text that has more visuals or cognates.  Those choices are all based on students’ proficiency levels and their level of mastery of the content.

Here’s an example of what learning centers based on authentic text might look like:

In a novice Spanish class, the teacher has developed a set of learning centers for the students at the end of the unit around the Can-Do statement of “I can describe myself and others.”

Speaking center: Students select between two infographics about the characters in the TV show, The Big Bang Theory”, and the movie, “Monsters Inc.”  They select one character and give clues to their group members about the person.  Group members guess which character their classmate is describing.  The teacher provides a useful expressions card at the center which includes suggest sentence frames and vocabulary for students who need the support.

 

Reading center: Students read the transcript to the commercial, “Sin gol, no hay fútbol.” They list opposites they find in the transcript.  At the end, they are to tell what they think the commercial is about using their own words.  As an extension, the students watch the video.

 

sin gol wksht

(created by Heather Sherrow (hsherrow@hcpss.org)

Listening center:  Students watch the music video “Somos Uno” and complete a tiered cloze activity (multiple versions where fewer or more words are missing) for it.  The extension activity is for students to create a new verse of the song using the song as a model.

somos uno

(created by Heather Sherrow (hsherrow@hcpss.org)

Writing center:  Students choose to interpret one of two memes called “Soy única” and “Pequeñas Cosas.”   They use the meme as a guide to create a similar one about themselves.

 

If you are interested in learning more about implementing centers into your language classroom, a great site to visit is: http://worldlanguagecenters.weebly.com/

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On that site, you will find guidance on how to create, organize, manage, and implement learning centers in your classroom.

 

 

It’s all about choices

Over the last several years, I’ve been doing a lot of work in the areas of student engagement and differentiated instruction.  Once aspect that stands out in both areas is the power of student choice.  According to Kanevsky and Keighley, in their article entitled “To Produce or Not to Produce: Understanding Boredom and the Honor of Underachievement” (2003), choice ranks among the 5 characteristics of an optimal learning environment that students seek along with the aspects of control, challenge, complexity and caring.  Choices are motivating to most people and we often make choices based on our personal preferences.

In the world of differentiation, choice also plays center stage and no other strategy illustrates this more than Choice Boards (also called Learning Menus, Think-Tac-Toes).  Choice boards offer a menu of options for students that can vary in content, process, or product.  They are most often constructed with varied learning styles and interests in mind.  Choice boards can even be tiered so that advanced learners are steered toward more challenging choices and struggling learners toward more scaffolded choices.

Here is a link to my wiki called Dare to Differentiate where you will find a plethora of examples of choice boards in various formats (one of my favorites is the dinner menu) for various subject areas and levels.  Also check out a new type of choice board I’ve recently found called the 2-5-8.  On the wikipage, I have also linked to or uploaded examples of rubrics for choice boards along with multimedia examples of ways to deepen your knowledge on the topic.

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Power in Numbers

Teachers like to be in control.  And because of that character trait, we like to talk a lot.  We have so much to share.  But, are we making sure that students are having multiple opportunities to talk about the content they are learning?  There is a quote that I’ve heard many times in the world of education, “The person doing the most talking is doing the most learning.”

So, how do we step back and allow students to take control?  One way is through flexible groupings.  Pairs, triads, random and assigned.  Based on readiness, mixed readiness, interest, or learning preference.

21st century skills highlight collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and problem solving.  What better way to practice those skills than in groups?

In the 1990’s, Spencer Kagan came up with a vast array of structures for cooperative learning in small groups.  These structures are just as powerful today as they were almost 20 years ago.

Some of my favorites are:

  • think-pair-share
  • jigsaw
  • inside-outside circles
  • placemat
  • four corners
  • talking chips

As far as grouping strategies, some of my favorites are clock buddies and grouping cards.  Here’s a set of 36 cards that have a multitude of uses:

GROUPINGS_NTO

For more resources on the topic of flexible grouping and grouping strategies, go to:

http://letsgetengaged.wikispaces.com/The+Power+of+Us

 

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Happy Grouping!

 

I’m so much more than a test score!

As Student Growth is becoming a pivotal part of teacher evaluation, teachers need to become data experts.  Baseline data, formative assessments, and artifacts and evidence will be central to measuring student learning.  Standardized and district-created tests yield data that can be sorted and separated.  Teachers collect daily data from students in the form of student work, exit tickets, and observation.  For some great ideas for formative assessment strategies, visit this link.

So, the question is… do all of those data points paint a complete picture of who your learners are?  I think not.  There is so much more to know about our students beyond just test scores.  What are some ways you can collect data about student interests and learning preferences?

I’ve assembled a variety of resources on the topic of Knowing Your Learners on my wiki called Dare to Differentiate.  There are many tools that have been created, both low and high tech to collect information about our learners in terms of their interests and learning preferences which are customized to the age/grade level of the students.  There are even multiple intelligence and learning styles surveys that can be administered to World Language students in the target language.

Two of my favorite tools were developed by a colleague.  The first, “Where Does Your Intelligence Lie?,” is an Xcel worksheet on which students indicate True or False to a series of statements.  Once you have the student data, you use the second tool, “Class Intelligence Profile,” where you input the two strongest intelligences for each student in a particular class.  The results are then created in a chart and also in the form of a pie graph.

Many teachers with whom I have worked love this tool!  They print out the pie graph for each class and keep it in their plan books.  As they plan lessons for their classes, they refer to the graph to align activities they are planning with the students’ intelligences.

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Another great resource I’ve found recently is called a “personality array.”  You compare your personality with the characters from Winnie the Pooh.

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Happy data collecting!