Differentiated math instruction in a mixed ability fifth-grade classroom
Screnar, Rachel Katherine
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My classroom has children of varied background knowledge, learning differences, and readiness to learn. During math I often find myself teaching to the middle, neglecting to meet the diverse needs of all of my students. This project focused on the effects of differentiated instruction on students' understanding of fifth-grade math concepts. The effects of differentiated instruction on the level of understanding, and both student and teacher attitudes and motivation were also considered. This project investigated the effects of differentiated instruction strategies as compared to traditional classroom instruction. Students' understanding of fifth-grade math concepts were assessed by comparing two differentiated instruction units to the traditional taught unit using pre and postunit assessment data, concept maps, exit cards, and interview data. Student motivation and engagement were assessed through student questionnaires, observations, and interviews. Effects on my own teaching, attitude, and motivation were determined through the use of journaling, self-evaluation, and peer observations. The results indicated an increase in student understanding, motivation, and engagement. Results also suggest that students developed a deeper level of understanding of fifth-grade math concepts as reflected in their ability to develop higher-order answers according to Bloom's Taxonomy. Increased student motivation and engagement positively affected my teaching, attitude, and motivation toward math instruction.