Getting ready to write my first di/layered curriculum unit

For any of you who have never heard about layered curriculum, it is a differentiated instructional strategy developed by Kathie Nunley. You can read an overview of the strategy here.

Basically, the idea is that you create a contract with your students about what they will learn. Basic content is located in the “C” layer, a bit more advanced in the “B” layer, and then the “A” level which would be the most challenging. You come up with a list of assignments and students choose from that list to earn a certain number of points which adds in to one grade.

I’ve always been intrigued by this idea – who doesn’t like choices? I teach young children though, and experience tells me they are not ready for two weeks or so of independent work. I also believe that children benefit from a certain amount of direct instruction. I don’t like the lack of grades, either – my units can run 3-4 weeks and I don’t think that number of grades in a quarter is very fair. So, I would find myself taking bits and pieces of the strategy, and return to it every so often for ideas.

I think I might have actually figured out a way to make this work for myself and my students.

I use the interactive notebook for the “meat” of my content. I plan on blogging more about that here as well, but that’s another post.  I see this as the “C” or lower levels of bloom’s taxonomy activities. Everyone would be responsible for these assignments, although I would allow choices in the interpretive assignments.

I’m seeing the “B” level as a technology based level. Blogging, interactive websites, study games, mini-tech projects using Inspiration, PPT, etc. Students would have a choice of these assignments. They would be responsible for earning a certain number of points from these assignments and would rotate through the laptops/other tech I have access to (we are not a 1:1 school, so choice and time are key elements in using what we have available). Click here for a great resource – Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.

The A level would feature a choice of projects at the highest level of Bloom’s, incorporating the multiple intelligences.

So, as all ideas, its a hodgepodge inspired from many sources – the reason I returned to it yet again was the lack of 1:1 tech and wanting to use it to motivate my students.

The steps as I see them:

1) Start with the standards and identify the basic level info.

2) Design a list of tasks to take students from basic to deeper understanding of the content.

3) Create a workable schedule – balance direct instruction with opportunity to pursue project choices.

4) Try and reflect, try and reflect, try and reflect 🙂

As I work with my first unit, I’ll post each step of the process.

Wish me luck.


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