Thesis Title

How to Awaken an Appreciation for the Value of Practicing Learning Skills in an Enviornment of Poverty, Theft, Destruction and Violent Behavior

Graduation Date

Summer 2011

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Madeliene Peters, EdD


A first-year teacher thrust mid-term into a mixed-grade geometry class in a tough high school struggles to sort out what works and does not work to engage the students in meaningful •earning. The students are largely from low-income urban families and demonstrate a broad range of abilities and motivation.

The purpose of this study is to describe the effectiveness of various teaching strategies and techniques in building learning skills within the context of a mixed-grade geometry class. The literature reveals that there is a broad range of differentiated instructional techniques to choose from, but the best-laid plans tend to fall by the wayside in the face of the struggle between teaching and maintaining classroom control.

The results of this study have indicated that there are profound cultural issues that need to be addressed, which fly in the face of conventional wisdom and account for poor student performance and for teacher burn-out. In the fray, differentiated instruction fell by the wayside and the teacher resorted to repeated presentations, work sheets, testing, test correction with note taking, and repeat testing, with mixed success. These techniques revealed that performance was a function of motivation, self-definition, and willingness to participate, rather than the subject matter per se. Teacher engagement and perseverance helped keep the dialogue with each student active and kept the process dynamic and nurturing. Long-term growth can only be inferred.

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