# Research: Differentiating Algebra Instruction in High School

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Research: Differentiating Algebra Instruction in High School
Response to Intervention: Tiered Interventions and Evidence-Based Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes in High School Summit
Concepcion Molina, EdD [email protected] February 25, 2010
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Differentiating Algebra Instruction in High School
Objectives 1. Investigate current research on differentiating Algebra
instruction in high school. 2. Examine differentiated instruction in the larger context of
improving mathematics education and student achievement.
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Focus on Differentiation
Step One
You will be shown an object. In pairs or groups of 3, your task is to list all that you can about attributes of this object based on what you can determine using all 5 of your senses (sight, touch, etc.).

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Focus on Differentiation
Step Two
You will be shown a second object. Your task is to line out or eliminate from your list any attributes that no longer hold true or cannot be determined.

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Focus on Differentiation
Step Three
You will be shown a third object. Your task is to line out or eliminate on the original list any attributes that no longer hold true or cannot be determined.

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Focus on Differentiation
Step Four You will be shown a fourth object. Your task is to line out or eliminate on the original list any attributes that no longer hold true or cannot be determined.
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Focus on Differentiation
Step Five
The pattern continues with the facilitator providing one more context for the original object. Your task is to line out or eliminate on the original list any attributes that no longer hold true or cannot be determined.

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Focus on Differentiation
•  Based on this activity, what are the implications for mathematics instruction, in particular with respect to differentiation?
•  Discuss with a partner and be prepared to share with the group.
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High School Algebra: Differentiated Instruction Research
•  Specific scientifically-based research on differentiated Algebra instruction at the secondary level is presently non-existent.
•  Algebra-specific scientifically-based research within topics such as RtI (Response to Intervention) is extremely limited.
Lack of Differentiated Instruction Research
Example The problem is that there are no agreed upon general outcome measures for high school math, and most progress monitoring measures for math are based on basic computation, which technically should be mastered by the 7th or 8th grade (page 5).
(Southeast Comprehensive Center, 2009)
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Lack of Differentiated Instruction Research
Example There is a need to develop predictive theory for what combinations of assistance yield the most effective and efficient learning. Exploring the combined affect of worked examples and tutors– and how the two types of assistance differ from and/or complement one another–is still an open scientific question.
(McLaren, Lim, & Koedinger, 2008)
Lack of Differentiated Instruction Research
Example The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel reviewed more than 16,000 research publications and policy reports, in addition to written commentary from 160 organizations and individuals. Very few met their standards for SBR (scientifically-based research).
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Differentiated Instruction Available Research
•  The lack of specific SBR on differentiated algebra instruction necessitates that we rely on what research is available and on professional wisdom.
•  Much of what is available is not algebra or mathematics specific.
Historically schools in the United States have been run on a factory model where all students learn the same way and should achieve the same goals.
(Baglieri & Knopf, 2004)
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In most of today’s classrooms there is a wide range of student abilities, which makes it necessary for teachers to reevaluate their primary role in the classroom as being the distributor of information.
(Scholz, 2004)
Differentiation is designing lesson plans, projects, assessments, and learning environments to accommodate the individual readiness, interests and learning profile of each student.
(George, 2005; Powell & Napoliello, 2005; Tomlinson, 1999; Tomlinson 2000; Tomlinson 2005)
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The pedagogical theory that guides differentiation is constructivism: the belief that learning happens when the learner makes meaning out of information.
(Benjamin, 2002, p. 1)
•  It stands to reason that effective differentiated instruction is partially grounded on research that has yielded “best practices” in current instruction.
•  The key difference is the focus and realization that each student is unique and thus requires special attention and adaptation of learning experiences to fit those unique needs, interests, attitudes, and abilities. (George, 2005)
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Differentiated Instruction
•  Differentiated instruction includes strategies to adjust the content that is taught, the processes used to teach that content, and the student products used to determine their level of understanding. (Northey, 2005)
Available Algebra Research: Key Findings
There is the need for differentiated Algebra I instruction for gifted learners. Teachers should ensure that gifted learners receive appropriately advanced or differentiated instruction so that these students’ abilities are reflected in their academic achievement.
(Matthews & Farmer, 2008)
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