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Introduction Differentiation in the classroom can be used to involve all types of students. Including kids with learning disabilities, children of a minority, and even children that are not up to the same level as their peers. Each child has his/her unique learning style, by using this teachers can differentiate the lesson to benefit all students. After graduation I wish to teach Middle School math and science, and after learning about differentiation and learning styles, I became more interested in the different way people can learn. During my observations at the Reds UYA I noticed that some students were more passionate about certain subjects than other. The subjects that they didn’t like were because they were “too hard”, or that they didn’t think that the teacher taught very well. At first I believed that math was all about the one right answer and how could a teacher possibly differentiate their classroom without getting away from the state standards. My research shows that differentiation can be done in the classroom especially a math classroom and state standards can still be met. Methods Beyond One Right Answer – Students are more likely to succeed if they are given meaningful tasks, are engaged, if they see themselves competent in math, and if they enjoy math. One way that this can be done is by creating Open Questions. An open question is a “single question that is broad enough to meet the needs of a wide range of students while still engaging each one in meaningful mathematics.” (Beyond One Right Answer) For example, name two numbers that are easy to multiply, and why? This type of question open to any student who knows what the word multiply means. By asking this type of question you allow the students to answer the question in a way that is suitable for their level. Another example is instead of asking for two numbers that add up to 37 you can ask for two numbers that add up close to 40. There are four strategies for creating open questions: Strategy 1: Start with the answer, the teacher could say, “I subtracted two numbers. The difference is 14. What numbers might I have subtracted?” Strategy 2: Ask for similarities and differences. Ask how things are alike and different. This can be a valuable assessment for learning information for the teacher. Strategy 3: Allow choice in the data provided. Give the students choice in a set of numbers to work with. Ask them to make a sentence using specific mathematics vocabulary. This can be a quick way to assess the students’ understanding of the vocabulary. Possible learning styles for students in Math: Quantitative students are usually good with language skills and concepts. They like to take apart problems and solve them individually. They usually have problems with broad concepts, principles, estimation, fraction concepts, and the use of flexible approaches. Students that are Qualitative focus on visual-spatial, and inductive aspects of mathematics and intuitive approaches. Qualitative students have difficulty with sequence and detail. Written work is often sloppy and geometry is usually easier for them to learn than other concepts. The article then goes on giving examples of things that teachers can do in their classroom to incorporate both styles of learning. Research Question How can differentiation be used in a math classroom to involve all students, including those with disabilities or different learning styles? Observations My observations were done at the Reds Urban Youth Academy. I am an academic coach to 4-6 student athletes. At the Reds UYA the student athletes have instructional clinics with professional baseball players and many volunteers from around the Cincinnati area. After their baseball sessions the student athletes meet with their academic coaches, also called their check in buddies. As a check in buddy it is our goal to develop a relationship where the students can open up if needed on a personal level or just be there for tutoring. One of our main ideas for the classroom is that what the students say matters, and we try to encourage them to write in their “playbooks.” At the end of the year we will make a classroom playbook that will have their published writings from earlier in the year. This is to encourage the students to write so that they can be published authors. Each week we discuss goals for the students and try to get to know them so that we can discuss things with them that matter. We try to create short-term goals and long-term goals for them. Then we create steps that the students can take during the week to help them accomplish their goals. These goals vary from kid to kid, some kids come with goals to pass their end of the year assessments and some come with goals to get straight A’s. Others come with more sport oriented goals such as have less strikes this season than last, score a touchdown, or make the basketball team. Some kids are passionate about their school work and are reading and writing on their grade level while others come to us and have a lot of trouble writing and reading. The kids that are having trouble writing usually shy away from doing the playbook writings and usually cause more trouble in the clubhouse. As teachers differentiation in the classroom is crucial to make sure that all of your students are achieving at their own ability. Students come to class at different levels of understanding, as a teacher it is your responsibility to engage as many students as possible and try to create a desire for learning in your classroom. Whether it is a math classroom, reading classroom, or social studies, there is a way to develop curriculum to invite all in the classroom to actively participate. “ If a child can’t learn the way he is taught, we must teach him the way he CAN learn ” Professional Implications As future professionals we can learn ways to take this style of teaching with differentiation and learning styles into our classrooms and attempt to engage all of our students. As teachers we are there to instil a passion for learning and to provide the best learning environment for our students.

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