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Differentiating for a Growth Mindset


My name is Dawn Shum. This past school year, I taught 9th through 11th grades at York Early College Academy. This was my first year in this 6-12 school, a high achieving and nurturing environment. For the kids with Individual Education Programs (IEP), I conduct their annual IEP meetings early in the school year to set up attainable goals, such as attending tutoring for integrated algebra. In this school, students finish their high school classes and state exams in their junior year, then take college classes during their senior year. This past school year, there was one group of juniors who were still taking geometry and meteorology class while their cohorts moved on to trigonometry and chemistry as electives. The whole class, a few of them with Individual Education Programs (IEPs), was behind their cohort peers. Though this group of students seemingly lacked motivation, most of them came to school daily having no major behavioral issues. 
If students have passed any math standardized exams with an 80% and above, they don't have to take remedial math class in college. One student earned an 88% and another one got an 80% during their retakes. Despite these successes, these students seemed directionless and lusterless in both math and science classes. They were still very uninspired; they weren’t completing homework, their classwork was done at a minimal level with no notes, and they were submitting assignments late. 

Initial Inquiry Question

Given this experience and data, my initial inquiry question was: How do I motivate this group of students in a competitive environment to be college ready and sustain their ownership of learning?