Algebra Teachers Differentiate
For the past two weeks, algebra teachers have been teaching their students the concepts of greatest common factor (GCF), difference between two perfect squares, and factoring trinomials using the grouping method. Recognizing that these topics tend to be difficult for students to master, they tailored the design of their unit to accommodate for these multiple levels of understanding. They accomplished this by using the computer program Castle Learning.
Most days of this seven day unit, students went down to the library and worked on several Castle Learning Problems. This worked well for students because they were given instant feedback and explanations for any incorrect answers by Castle Learning. Teachers examined the data from Castle Learning after every lesson. A sample of a data analysis is shown below. A check means that the student was correct on his or her first attempt, a check with an X means that the student was correct on his or her second attempt, and an X means that the student was incorrect for two attempts. Based on those results, some students were pulled into a small group for a reteach lesson. Student learning was increased as a result of teachers ensuring that what a student learns, how he/she learns it, and how the student demonstrates what he/she has learned matched that student’s readiness level (Tomlinson). If a student was not ready to move on to the next lesson, immediate intervention took place until he or she was ready, and then he or she was able to continue with the rest of the class.