Closing Learning Gaps with Differentiated Math Lessons

Ng, Tiffany
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In a multiethnic mathematics classroom, there are many different students with unique learning backgrounds and academic needs. Often in a public school, it is difficult to address individual needs with personalized attention and instruction in a classroom setting. At San Francisco International High School, a public school that serves immigrant students, teachers are often faced with the challenge of assessing all their students’ learning levels, teaching required content, and motivating each student. This daunting and seemingly impossible task might be possible with the aid of technology. This action research project studied the effects of using an online learning platform to differentiate mathematics instruction. Lessons were intended to strengthen mathematics skills of those with learning gaps and further the knowledge of those who needed to be challenged with new content. With different levels of lessons, students focused only on lessons that they needed and were able to test out of lessons in which they were already competent. The action research method was used to make observations and necessary modifications to improve the subsequent week’s lessons. Quantitative data from the teacher observation tools and module quizzes and qualitative data from the teacher journal and student reflections were collected to assess the effectiveness of these lesson based on the areas of learning mathematics, engagement, and confidence level. The research results found that differentiated learning had positive results for students’ mathematics learning, engagement, and confidence level. For future lessons, differentiation can be enhanced through incorporation of other structures and teaching strategies.
differentiation, mathematics, learning gaps
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