Instructional Case Report

Rationale and Overview

The problem stems from an academic intervention I've been working with a student named Josh for the past few months. I am responsible for providing his academic instruction in the four core content areas of English Language Arts, Mathematics, World History, and Earth Science. He has been out of school for behavioral reasons, and has been in jail recently for theft. Part of his terms of probation is to return to school and get his diploma, or GED. The school has asked me to provide academic tutoring services in order to prepare him for re-entry into the school system.

In the process of providing the academic services for Josh, I have had very promising results in the areas of English Language Arts, World History, and Earth Science. In the area of Mathematics Josh has been extremely resistant to all types of traditional instructional approaches. The purpose of this instructional case report is to document a non-traditional instructional approach to providing Josh with Mathematics instruction. Using a web-based approach combined with some traditional methods, the aim of this report is to establish documentation regarding the success or failure of the instruction.

Josh is one of the most resistant, uncooperative, and hard-headed students I've ever come across with regard to mathematics instruction. With this report I hope to offer teachers of emotionally disturbed students some documentation regarding web-based mathematics instruction. Josh has great interest in technological devices such as cell phones, video games, ipods, computers, etc. I predict there will be many difficulties getting Josh to work mathematically and problem solve, but with the web-based approach I feel my chances are better.

Learning Context

The setting for the instruction will take place in the public library in order to provide internet access. The hours of instruction will take place between 3:30 and 5:30 pm. The instruction should last for no longer than 1 to 3 days of no more than an hour per day.

Appropriateness of Pedagogical Tools

After extensive observation of Josh's learning styles, and numerous interviews with his father, and administrator, it is clear Josh needs some kind of alternative type of instructional approach in the area of Mathematics. Given his affinity for his cell phone and various other electronic devices, it is my conclusion that he will be more responsive towards a web-based approach to Mathematics instruction. The activities planned for Josh will include a webquest as the foundation for the content he is to learn. Contained within the webquest there will be a code-breaking situation he will be called on to resolve. It is a highly mathematical activity with problem solving at its core.

Lesson Plan

The lesson will consist primarily of the webquest and the activities contained in it. The webquest address is

The Learner

In this instructional case report the learner is one individual we will call Josh. He is a seventeen-year-old, white, male. His socioeconomic level would be classified as poor. His academic skills are strong in reading, but he is way below grade level in mathematics. He is a special needs type learner due to his bipolar disorder. He has an irrational dislike for mathematics, but he is an avid reader.

Educational Outcomes and Performance Objectives

ICM Media:ICM_Decoding_Exercise.pdf

During this lesson Josh will be engaged in problem solving exercises involving deciphering simple transposition ciphers. He will be using mathematical knowledge of numbers, operations, and geometry to complete the deciphering activities.

Design Ideas

The learning processes involved in this report will include problem solving, critical thinking, and mathematical reasoning. Due to the multicultural aspect of the webquest, the learner will also be engaged in the study of culture.

The media involved in this lesson includes, as well as the webquest.

The assessment involved includes a rubric, as well as observations conducted by the instructor.


    Day One
    On the first day of the intervention, I met Josh at the public library as planned, at 
    3:30 pm.  He was noticeably agitated at being in a public place, and was quite
    uncomfortable.  I got him to a computer with relative ease, and we sat down in front of
    it.  I explained the webquest to him and gave him some information as to the purpose of it.
    He was not too enthusiastic about it to start with.  He kept saying things like, "This is 
    gay," and "This is stupid."  I gave him the web address and he opened the webquest.  After
    reading the first couple of pages he said, "This is so gay.  I can't believe I'm doing 
    this."  Needless to say, he was not thrilled about the webquest.  However, he was at least
    reading it.  Unfortunately, about ten minutes into the webquest, a group of three young
    men came and sat at a table near Josh and I.  After a few minutes Josh got up and said to
    the boys, "My name is &$%^$ you deushbags."  At that point I shut the computer down and
    led Josh out of the facility.  Day one had not gone according to plan.
    Day Two
    Day two we met at the public library again as planned at 3:30 pm.  We sat down at a 
    computer and tried to get in to the webquest, but the computer wouldn't let us in for some
    reason.  After several attempts, Josh was becoming extremely agitated, and he pressured me
    into letting him check his messages and emails.  I conceded due to the technical problems
    we were having.  I resolved to check the website of the webquest as soon as I got home.  
    Josh spent about a half hour checking his things, and then we concluded the session.  Day
    two also did not go as planned.
    Day Three
    Day three we again met at the public library as planned at 3:30 pm.  This time we got into
    the webquest with no trouble.  At the beginning of the session, Josh was quite distracted
    due to the presence of his friend being in the library at that time.  For about 15 to 20
    minutes, Josh was not able to focus.  Thankfully his friend left soon, and he put his 
    attention to me and the webquest.  He read the first few pages quickly, and then he started
    the decoding activities.  He was extremely reluctant to work on it, but I was able to push
    him to try.  By some miracle he managed to get through most of the activities.  He was 
    making negative comments the whole time, but he did do most of it.  I facilitated where I 
    had to, and let him do most of the work.  He worked pretty hard at it, and I was pleased
    with his effort.  At the conclusion of the activities he exclaimed, "That was the craziest
    thing I ever did."  I didn't know what to make of that.  I gave him a pat on the back, and
    concluded the lesson.


All in all, I was very pleased with the outcome of the lesson. I had not been able to get that much mathematical type thinking out of Josh for the first three months I had been working with him. I don't think he was overjoyed about the webquest, but he did get through most of it. That says a lot when it comes to Josh. He has never done anything he didn't want to do as long as I have been working with him, so it worked. I would definitely use webquest activities with him in the future.