Differentiated Instruction in the New York State Geometry Curriculum
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AuthorNewman, Vicki S.
KeywordTeaching Secondary Mathematics
Mixed Ability Grouping In Secondary Education
Understanding By Design
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AbstractIn today’s heterogeneous classrooms, studies show success on a social level but on an academic level, the needs of individual learners are not necessarily being met. Typical teaching models in mathematics, lecture and student practice, teach to “the middle,” to a given class average learner, without necessarily giving attention to the struggling special needs student or to the oft times bored, gifted student. Understanding by Design is a curriculum model that focuses on teaching for understanding. It incorporates performance standards as well as essential questions and understandings. It requires the instructor to determine goals, plan lessons, and choose textbook sections that support the instructional plan instead of teaching “cover to cover.” In consideration of the rigorous and demanding New York State Mathematics curriculum, this thesis project examines a differentiated approach to mathematic geometry curriculum. In order to differentiate instruction in a concept based course, lessons are centered on the same concept but the instructor uses student interests, readiness or learning style, to create a variety of learning activities and lessons for the student learners. This research study implemented a differentiated course curriculum for geometry with twelve students who were not successful in Algebra, based most conclusively on their lack of participation and motivation. Selection of a specific unit, Parallel and Perpendicular Lines, was utilized as the case study lesson. Units that preceded the Parallel and Perpendicular Lines lessons were taught in the traditional model. Conclusions for the study are based on student surveys, activity and test results, and instructor observation. The student participants’ attitudes and comfort level during the research time period must be considered since there was a decided negative reaction to classroom changes and inventive lesson planning. Based on analysis of the data, this research project did not find a substantial difference in student success based on a differentiated approach to this instructional unit. Additionally, it was noted that further, more comprehensive study of this instructional model is necessary to determine its efficacy.
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