Math Differentiation in Science

Students in science classes often have differing math abilities and its difficult to cover math without boring some kids and losing other kids. One way to approach  is to allow student to have choices on how to approach the math problems. This is a form of differentiation and allows kids to take ownership of their own learning. To do this method, you will need videos of your math lessons. This is not a onerous task. I usually record a worksheet in just 15 minutes on the Explain Everything app. I upload to Youtube, or Google Drive and share the links on Google Classroom.

Since videos are recorded, students can go at their own pace and direct their learning.

Introducing Differentiation to Students

Kids do well when they understand “why”. I go over the Immediate Goal with them:

  • To practice how to do various energy word problems in order to get a good grade on Exams, the Final Exam and the AP Exam.

And the Ultimate Goal:

  • Life is made of word problems. You can use these skills as you analyze household bills, your car’s fuel efficiency, purchasing decisions, etc.  Some of you will also need these skills in your career.

Directions for Students

  • Skim your paper/s
  • Make a choice on how to proceed 


A. Work through problems on own–persevering through difficult ones until your brain clicks and you have an “Aha” moment.  Check answers with key when finished. Sample Answer Key:

Review papers with keys.

B. Work through problems on own, when stuck for longer than 1-2 minutes on a problem, check solution and answer on key.  Then, go onto the next problem without the key.

C. Work through the easier problems on own, skip the harder ones. Then, watch the video to check answers on the easier ones and to learn how to solve the harder ones. Fast forward the video to the problems you need help with. Example Video Below:

D. Watch the videos in their entirely to learn how to solve the problems.

NOT an Acceptable Choice: Copy the solutions and answers from the key or from a friend. You will earn a bad grade on your next exam, the final exam and the AP Exam.

  • Tell your elbow part which one you are going to choose and why
  • Can you switch later?  Absolutely
  • Can you start one way and then change?  Absolutely


Grade your students not only on completion, but also for following one of the choices. Rotate around the room to make sure they are on task. Accountability comes when students take an exam and know or don’t know how to do the problems.




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