RUNNING HEAD: Project
April 19, 2009
I am working with my Geometry class to help them better retain important foundational concepts.
I have typically used a traditional approach for instruction and for the purpose of my project I am
going to use differentiated instruction. The purpose of this study is to determine if differentiated
instruction promotes the retention of knowledge based on data from formative and summative
As I reflect on my short teaching experience I feel that I, as a teacher, should never cease to
embrace learning and growing in my profession. There are many things that occur day-to-day that
college could not possibly have prepared me for. I enjoy the routine of my profession but also the
unpredictability. I also appreciate the diversity that each student brings to the classroom. One of
my favorite aspects of teaching is getting to know my each of my students as individuals. I am
working towards respecting their individuality and meeting their needs as individual students. In
order to do that to the best of my ability I do not believe that I can rely on one, or even two,
teaching styles. Rather, I need to differentiate my instruction as much as possible to reach as many
learning styles as possible. This relates to my area of focus because it is a new way of instruction
for me. I have been a traditional teacher for the first couple years and just flying by the seat of my
pants. As I reflect on my experience I realize that I am not meeting the needs of all of my students
and I am not using assessment to guide my instruction and I struggle with students regurgitating
rather than retaining the knowledge.
The purpose of this unit is to remediate topics that students have not completely mastered using
multiple instructional strategies.
The following is a list of objectives and the means in which they will be obtained throughout the
Student centered – The students will be working together in groups to become experts on a specific
topic and then teach their peers.
Using information – Students will be using multiple forms of information to prepare a lesson that
they can teach to their peers.
Facilitator – As students are working to create their lesson I will be available to guide them
through the process and will serve a as a resource for their understanding and learning. However, I
will stand back to allow them to be the teachers.
Flexible grouping configuration based on individual student needs – Students will be grouped
based on their need for remediation.
Multiple instructional and learning modalities to include all students – Students will be provided
with several different resources for each topic for their learning and understanding as well as with
peers with whom they can collaborate.
Higher-order thinking skills – Students will be learning information in a way that they can then
explain it to their peers. They won’t be just doing, they will understand in a way that they can then
Collaboration – Students will be working together in a group to create a lesson and teach it to their
Multiple sources of information, including technology – Each group will have a list of resources to
master the topic, do research and prepare a lesson.
Technology fully integrated into the classroom – Multiple forms of technology will be provided to
each group as well as a requirement for use in their presentation.
Teachers addressing the learning styles of all learners – Upon implementing the unit, a learning
inventory will be given to determine the different learning styles and needs of my students.
Learning how to learn – As students are given a differentiated task, collaborate to prepare a lesson,
teach their peers it is my hope that they will learn how they learn.
Using a variety of types of information to complete authentic projects – Students will be provided
with a list of different types of resources to gather information as well as to use as a means of
presenting and teaching the information.
Students acting as a professional in the discipline – As the students become experts in their topic
they will then become the professionals and teach the class.
The entire remediation unit will take 5 days. Students will have two days to prepare their
information, lesson, and materials to teach the class. They will have another day to work on the
collaborative project, a day of presentations and then assessment on the last day.
I will use differentiated instruction to remediate specific content topics. I just recently gave my
students a common unit based assessment. All students that take Geometry are required to take
this assessment at the end of the marking period. It is a cumulative assessment that covers the
basic concepts learned so far. This was my first means of data and I noticed that several of my
students still had not mastered properties of polygons, lines (including parallel, perpendicular,
transversals, and linear pair), complementary and supplementary, word problems (interpreting and
writing), or polygons and lines in the real world. Due to my students’ poor performance on
foundational knowledge and skills, my project is to use differentiated instruction for remediation.
I am going to split my students into groups based on their need for remediation; for example, all of
the students that could use more time on properties of polygons will be in a group. I will group
them into five groups of five. In each group there will be one person that has mastered the topic to
be the group leader. Each group will be assigned one topic: properties of polygons, lines
(including parallel, perpendicular, transversals, and linear pair), complementary and
supplementary, word problems (interpreting and writing), or polygons and lines in the real world.
The group that is given the topic of polygons and lines in the real world is comprised of students
that all did very well on the common unit based assessment. This group is intended for the
purpose of being challenged. Each group has the task of teaching their topic to the class. They
must include a PowerPoint presentation, something to hand out to the class, and a quick reference
of information to post on the class website, interactive flashcards, and a real world connection. I
will give each group a list of key concepts that they have to include in their presentation as well as
a list of references that included the textbook, websites, interactive online tutorials, and blogs.
They will have two class periods to create their presentation and then the following day will
During the presentations, the students that are watching and listening must develop two questions
that are to become a pool of questions for the quiz at the end of the unit. These questions could be
of any type: multiple choice, open-ended, matching, definitions, etc. The day after the
presentations, I will give the class the quiz based on the questions that they develop. I will
continue to monitor their progress over the next week as these topics continue to come up
throughout the course. It is my hope that there will be an increase in knowledge and understanding
which will therefore promote class participation and motivation. I will also incorporate more
cumulative questions on homework as another means of maintaining the knowledge and collecting
data. To conclude my project, I will give a quiz several days later that I will develop over the same
topics that were presented as will as questions that require synthesis of the topics. The results of
this quiz will be compared to the first quiz as comparative data to measure the success of using
differentiated instruction to remediate weak topics.
Inquiry – Students are given the assignment of teaching their topic to the class. As a way of
helping them learn the content, they are given several resources to draw information from. The
fact that they have to be experts in their topic and they are given the specific knowledge that they
need to be able to understand in a way that they can explain leads them in inquiry about the topic.
Projects - Students will be working in their readiness groups (which were created for their
remediation presentations) to find geometric terms in the real world. Groups will be given the list
of vocabulary terms that are necessary for mastery of their specific group topics. They may not
just draw the actual term; they must find/draw the figure as part of something in the real-world.
They will be encouraged to find/draw things that are unique, creative, and artistic. Students have
the option of walking around the school and taking pictures, looking for images online, cutting
pictures out of magazines, or drawing the images. Each image must be accompanied in the final
product with the term and a formal definition in relation to the image.
Technology – Technology is required as a means of research and productivity. Students will be
given several online resources and well a computer software program to learn the information as
well as create a presentation.
Dynamic, Flexible Grouping – For the purpose of this unit, students are grouped by readiness. All
the students that did not demonstrate mastery in a certain content area will be grouped together,
about 4-5 students. Each group will also have one student that did demonstrate mastery to act as
the group leader and promote collaborative learning.
Authentic Teaching and Learning Experiences – Students are given several resources to learn and
research form. These resources include applications of the content to make the information
authentic. As a component of their presentation they must include where their information can be
used of found in the real world. Also, their collaborative project requires them to find Geometry in
the real world and gather it in an album. As students are becoming experts, they are gaining an
authentic understanding because they must learn the information in such a way that they can
understand and articulate.
Students will be provided with many resources to remediate, gather information, and create a
presentation. These resources include, but are not limited to: the course textbook, the internet,
interactive tutorial websites, the class wiki, Geometer’s Sketchpad software and discovery
activities, podcasts, blogs, contacting professionals, presentation materials, an online program to
create virtual flashcards and any other Web 2.0 resources they may come across. Students will be
provided with a list of these resources and their expectations for using these resources at the
beginning of the unit. I currently have a classroom set of laptops for students to collaborate and
prepare their presentation. While giving their presentations, students will be able to use the
It is my hope that by implementing differentiated instruction, students will be able to retain and
understand essential Geometry concepts. Upon implementing my differentiated instruction unit, I
will discuss with my students the difficulties they were experiencing and where they feel they are
struggling. To get a better understanding I will give them an inventory of cumulative topics to
determine their deficiencies. I will use this to guide my instruction. I will monitor as students are
working and use error analysis to determine problem areas. I will use surveys and inventories to
better understand my students’ learning styles to differentiate instruction. I will use these methods
of collecting qualitative data because I needed to be able to determine where students were
struggling so that I could target those areas with differentiated instruction. By giving students a
pre-assessment/inventory of topics, I am able to get an idea of the specific topics for differentiated
Upon implementing my differentiated instruction unit, I will pre-assess my students. This is a
formative assessment to guide my instruction and will also be used as comparative data. In prior
years of teaching Geometry, students have difficulty retaining knowledge on key foundational
concepts. I chose to change my traditional instructional strategies to differentiated instruction.
Throughout the unit students will be assessed on the key concepts to collect data. I will also use
summative assessment at the end of the unit followed by follow-up cumulative assessments to
determine if students actually retained the knowledge. I will to continue assessing my students
after the unit because my action research focuses on determining if students retain knowledge over
time. By using cumulative assessments I will be able to monitor their retention after we have
completed the unit.
• Podcast – This podcast gives an overview of my project and describes how students will be
engaged using authentic learning experiences that relate to student-centered, learning and
doing, using information, and/or teachers as facilitators.
• ERIC Article – This article review describes how technology is utilized and infused into
my project. It also details an experience and results of leaving the comfort of only
discipline to promote interdisciplinary work with colleagues. It also gives an online tool
that promotes collaboration in the classroom.
• Collaborative Project – This student project is a collaborative, performance-based
assessment with a corresponding rubric.
• How-to Guide –This guide can be used to help students locate, evaluate, and use
information from multiple online resources. It includes step-by-step directions that will
effectively lead students through the research process, as explain digital citizenship
• Learning Style Inventory – This math specific learning style inventory can be given to
students to determine their preferred math learning style.
• Public Service Announcement – This public service announcement highlights how parents
and students can become involved in a school initiative to promote student performance.
• Newsletter – This is a monthly newsletter that can be sent home to parents to make them
aware of the happenings in the classroom as well as provide information relevant to the
This was one of my favorite classes that I have ever taught and I am excited that it was
differentiated. The classroom environment was positive and there was a sense of respect for the
different tasks. Students were also working together to build community and develop 21st Century
skills. The curriculum was guiding this task; the students had not yet completely mastered the
foundational concepts and the lesson was designed so that the curriculum promoted understanding,
engagement, motivation, and access to powerful ideas. The goals of this activity were very clearly
defined for the students so that they were aware of the expectations and objectives. I was able to
use formative assessment to determine the student’s readiness and split them into groups. I used
another means of formative assessment after the task had been completed and then also a week
later. I also used different means of informal formative assessment to monitor their progress such
as, questioning, cumulative homework question, and warm-up problems. I was able to use all of
this data to determine how to plan my lesson and also the effectiveness of the lesson. I used
flexible instructional arrangements to allow for the maximum learning for each student. Students
were grouped by readiness but each group also included a leader to guide the group. Also,
students were provided with many resources to aide in their learning and research fro their
presentations. Technology was available for all students without limitations for their assignment.
They had to create a minimum of a PowerPoint presentation but they were also allowed to
incorporate anything else they knew how to use. Respectful tasks were assigned to each group
based on their readiness, because they were each given a remediation topic. Even though each
group had a different topic, they all had the same expectations. Each student had equal access to
technology and resources. This task required many 21st Century skills. Students had to be
creative and innovative as they developed a lesson to teach; critical thinking was involved when
they had to learn the content in a way that they could teach it; communication and collaboration
was apparent as they worked in groups; flexibility, productivity, leadership, and accountability
were all incorporated into this assignment. The use of 21st Century skills depended on the group
and what each student had to bring to the group. I believed that it also involved higher-order
thinking because the students had to make sense of the information in such a way that they could
then teach the class. This meant that they had to be able to explain the what’s, how’s and why’s of
their topic. This also encouraged depth of knowledge because they weren’t restricted to a shallow
understanding. Rather, by understanding the what’s, how’s and why’s they gain an authentic
understanding of their topic. By working in groups to create a presentation and teach the class,
within the groups, students were engaging in substantive conversation. They had to work together
to learn the content and then discuss how to teach it in a way that the class would understand. The
other advantage of them working in groups was that they had a social support. They were
collaborating together in a group effort to learn and to create a product. A personal connection
was created when they had to present their own work, but a real personal connection was evident
in the group that had to present on polygons and lines in the real world. If I had the opportunity to
do this again, I would allow the students more time so that each group could find a connection to
the real world to include as part of their presentation.
During the presentations, the students that were watching and listening had to develop two
questions that were to become a pool of questions for a quiz the next day. These questions could
be of any kind: multiple choice, open-ended, matching, definitions, etc. The day after the
presentation, I gave the class a quiz based on the questions that they developed. I was encouraged
to see that the majority of them preformed very well! I continued to monitor their progress over
the next week as these topics continue to randomly come up throughout their course. I observed
that there was a general increase in the knowledge and as a result, in achievement on other
developing topics. I noticed that there were a couple students that participated more during class.
I also incorporated more cumulative questions on homework as another means of collecting data.
All of the informal data that I collected indicated that students had retained the knowledge. To
conclude my action research, about a week later I gave my students another quiz that I developed
over the same topics that they presented as well as questions that required the topics. The results
of this quiz indicated that authentic instruction had in fact promoted retention of knowledge. The
scores of this second quiz were just as good as the scores of the quiz that I gave the day after the
presentations. I was also pleased to find that they even did well on the cumulative questions.
I was excited to share with my colleagues because retention is a common issue. I was able to sit
down with some teachers that are not in this class and they don’t teach Geometry. I shared with
them the exact process that I went through and my findings. They were impressed at how engaged
my students were and the results of my data collection. During this time, we had very meaningful
discussion that sparked some ideas for my colleagues. Since retention is an issue for them, I know
that at least one of my colleagues is going to try a very similar activity in her own classroom. I am
encouraged by another member of this class to collaborate throughout the entire action research
process. I don’t think it has to be a formal meeting every time, but I do think it should be more
collaborative than independent.
From this action research cycle, I learned how valuable it is for teachers to engage in action
research. Retention is an issue, among many, that I have been battling since the beginning of the
year. So often it is a complaint rather that a question. By using the action research approach, as a
teacher, I can be striving towards solutions and answers that benefit my students. I also learned
how successful differentiation can be. This was the first time that I felt I had thoroughly and
successfully planned a differentiated lesson that my students were engaged in and learned from.
As a result of my findings, I do believe that differentiated instruction promotes retention of
knowledge. I also learned that students are engaged and motivated by differentiated instruction. It
was so neat to look around my classroom as they were working on their presentations and see how
authentically engaged they were. They were so collaboratively focused and working towards
understanding and presenting. It was even better so watch the presentations and see what they had
learned. I enjoyed watching them be the teachers and share their knowledge with the class. I
believe that this kind of engagement does promote achievement because of the performance that I
have seen in my class since these presentations.
Sometimes, as the teacher, it is so easy to get focused on just plowing through the curriculum and
not really taking the time to actually make sure that students have mastered the content. It ends up
being a downward cycle for the students if I continue this way. Instead, I should value the data
that I collect as more than a grade and use it to guide my instruction. I wish that I would have
done this a long time ago because I can see the benefits for my students. I was also reminded of
the value in collaborating with my peers. As a result of our meeting, at least one of them is going
to engage in their own research. It was actually one my peers that gave me the idea to expand the
presentations by including a connectedness to the world element. Because my action research was
so successful, I would like to continue in my Geometry classes as well as my Algebra classes. In
my Geometry class, my next topic for research is using differentiated instruction to teach special
right triangles. I have taught it before where the students just have to memorize the rules, and
inevitably they get them confused and ultimately forget them. Now that I know that differentiated
instruction does promote retention, I would like to use action research to determine a way for
students my students to discover and learn the properties. Ultimately, it is my goal to continue in
action research in such a way that I always have questions that I am trying to answer. So many
times I talk issues to death rather than taking action. Action research keeps me active in my
understanding of my students, how they learn, and how to make my classroom of the highest