Supporting ELLs in Math


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PD to Math Dept. Danbury HS 1/5/13

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Supporting ELLs in Math

  1. 1. Supporting EnglishLanguage Learners inthe Math Classroom Carla Huck, SIOP Coach January 15, 2013
  2. 2. Content Objectives:• Participants will be able to identify factors that impact ELL performance in math.• Participants will be able to connect ESL practices with effective math instruction for all students.Language Objectives:• Participants will describe and share successful strategies to engage learners in math content.• Participants will write one new idea from the workshop that they will implement in their own classrooms.
  3. 3. ELL Learner Characteristics • Print your LAS Links Report from Powerschool • What do these numbers tell us? • Refer to LAS Links Proficiency Level Descriptors for Grades 9-12 Listen Speak Read Write Oral Comp Overall Lvl Lvl Lvl Lvl Lvl Lvl LvlSTUDENT 1 4 1 2 3 1 2
  4. 4. Factors Affecting ELLs Success in MathLimited Prior Knowledge and/or Background KnowledgeDepending on the country of origin, students may have had limited prior schooling and/or may not have made adequate progress in school.The end result = some ELLs may lack basic computation skills, and the ability to grasp the new concepts taught in first year of high school algebra or geometry.
  5. 5. Factors Affecting ELLs Success in MathCultural Context• Use of the comma and decimal point varies from culture to culture in expressing currency values. (South America, Europe, Asia.)• Most countries use the metric system in weights and measures. (China, India, Europe)• Temperature is recorded in Celsius degrees• The symbol and process for division is different (Portugal)• Rote memorization and self-study, not cooperative learning and problem-solving, characterize math learning in many countries
  6. 6. Factors Affecting ELLs Success in MathLinguistic BarriersVocabulary: Mathematics has its own language that includes distinct terminology, syntax, and symbols. It uses some words (for example “root,” or “set”) differently than they are used in standard, conversational English.Sentence Structure: Word problems can be difficult because they require students to use language to understand relationships between mathematical operators and numbers. An operation involving subtraction might use “minus” or “less than”; one involving division may use the terms “divided by”, “into”, or “over.”
  7. 7. To Understand Math, StudentsMUST:• Learn many content-specific vocabulary words (quotient, equivalent, divisor).• Know the meaning of many complex phrases ( least common multiple, greatest common factor). Many complex phrases are not found in bilingual dictionaries.• Understand that many common English words have unique meanings in mathematics (bring down, tree, face, plane, cone, net, positive, negative).• Understand that prepositions (by, with, to, into, from) are used in a variety of ways in word problems to signal operations.• Know the meaning of prefixes and suffixes (hept-, tri-, bi-, poly-, -gon, - lateral).• Understand unique mathematical sentence constructions ( If x = 5, then …).• Decode statements and questions that are written in passive voice ( twenty is divided by five).• Know that mathematical operations are associated with many different words.
  8. 8. Factors Affecting ELLs Success in MathWe tend to think of mathematics as a subject that does not require a strong command of language. In reality, however, mathematical reasoning and problem solving are closely linked to language and rely upon a firm understanding of basic math vocabulary (Dale & Cuevas, 1992; Jarret, 1999).
  9. 9. Classroom Management Strategies• Create predictable classroom routines (starting class, collecting homework, working in groups) so that ELL students will know what to expect. By knowing the predictable routines, ELL students will not have to exert energy understanding classroom behavior. Instead, they can focus their energy on learning the content.• Use consistent formats for assignments, worksheets, and tests.• Seat ELL students purposefully (near the teacher or next to a buddy).• Foster an appreciation of and respect for cultural diversity among the students in the class. Give ELL students opportunities to share stories about their country and culture and teach words from their native language.• Write legibly and in print. Some ELL students may not be familiar with cursive and/or the Roman alphabet.
  10. 10. Classroom Management Strategies• Give directions step-by-step (orally and in writing) before assigning students to do independent, pair, or group work. Ask a student to repeat the directions aloud for the rest of the class to assess whether all the students understand the assignment.• Give ELL students more time to process questions and formulate an answer. They have to think about the question in their native language and then work to find the English words to produce an answer in English.• To reduce the pressure on ELL students, let them discuss a question in pairs for a minute before calling on a student to give an answer. This strategy gives everyone in the class more time to think about the question and form an answer.• Allow ELL students to talk to a peer in their native language when necessary to clarify understanding.
  11. 11. Example:Directions,Step-by-step
  12. 12. Teach Academic Vocabulary• Review content and select key terms that are critical to understanding the lesson’s most important concepts.• Introduce and define terms clearly and explicitly - orally and in writing.• Demonstrate how terms are used in a math context. Use pictures and gestures.• Explain use of synonyms, prefixes and/or cognates.• Encourage students to self-select vocabulary words and maintain personal dictionaries/charts.• Display math word wall in the same place in your room, and revisit frequently during instruction.
  13. 13. Vocabulary Strategy Modeled1. Teacher says the word. substitution2. Teachers states the word in Use substitution to solve for x and y.context from text.3. Teacher provides the dictionary 1. A person or thing acting in place ofdefinition. another 2. The replacement of a term of an equation by another that is known to have the same value in order to simplify the equation.4. Teacher explains meaning with I am going to substitute low fat milk forstudent-friendly definitions. regular milk and see if anyone notices.5. Teacher has students repeat Say substitution 3 times with meword orally 3 times.6. Teacher engages students in In sports, when would there be aactivities to develop substitution? What does a substituteword/concept knowledge. teacher do?7. Teacher highlights grammar, Substitution is a noun; to substitute is atense, cognate, spelling, verb; synonyms: replacement, switchsynonyms/antonyms, etc.
  14. 14. Build Background Knowledge• Post an outline of the lesson and clearly explain the objectives, the process, even the time to be spent on each part of your lesson.• Connect what students already know about a topic to new skills and concepts. Brainstorm with a semantic web to find out what students already know.• Begin a new unit of study by having students pose questions about a topic (KWHL)• Use real world examples. (Slope- slope of a skateboard ramp, a wheelchair ramp, a bus stop shelter, where else do we see this in our community?)• Use graphic organizers to guide students through problem solving steps.• Provide a copy of a previously solved problem to support the process/steps of solving a similar problem.
  15. 15. Support ELLs during Direct Instruction• Think aloud while talking through how to read and solve a math problem.• Model how to do specific skills or procedures.• Consider recording the steps for solving a multi-step problem so students can review.• Invite students to interact with questions and comments during the teaching part of a lesson.• Have students draw pictures or act out what is happening in a problem to help them understand what the problem is asking and what steps they might have to take to find a solution.• Keep your board organized, and number the problems you are working on.
  16. 16. Example – think, pair, share!Simplify unclear directions from the textbook:Evaluate the following expressions for the given value of the variable A+5= For A=2; A=6
  17. 17. Increase Student-Student Interaction•Use sentence stems to help ELL students during class discussions.Examples Each of these problems has ______________________________. The strategy I used to solve this problem was _________________. Another way I could solve this problem is ______________. I checked my work by _____________. I knew I was right when ________________.• Use Think-Pair-Share, Turn-and-Talk, and meaningful pair and group work with clearly assigned roles for practice of familiar and new math concepts.• Play math games (equation round robins, math baseball, bingo. . .
  18. 18. Use Technology• Calculators• Video clips and tutorials (,,• Document cameras• Interactive math games )• iPad apps( ps and **Examples from Amanda
  19. 19. Examples from faculty:Document camera
  20. 20. Teach Learning Strategies• Help students make sense out of word problems by teaching them how to mark text. Consider sharing the following tips:1. Circle important numbers.2. Underline words that indicate which arithmetic operation to use.3. Highlight words or phrases that indicate what the problem is asking.• Help students learn and study new vocabulary using flashcards, math notebooks, student-made bilingual glossaries, etc.• Teach students how to organize notebooks and binders, and use a planner to record homework.• Teach students how to “take notes”. Model the process with a document camera or projector.
  21. 21. Modify AssessmentsWhen constructing formal content assessments, keep in mind:1. Write test directions to maximize clarity.2. Use vocabulary in test items that is widely accessible to all students, and avoid words that are not directly related to the question.3. Test items should be written at a vocabulary level slightly lower than grade level, to ensure all students understand the task.4. Keep sentence structure as simple as possible. ELLs will find a series of simpler, shorter sentences more accessible than longer, more complex sentences.5. Do not use cultural references or idiomatic expressions.6. Avoid using syntax with negation or double negatives when constructing test items.--adapted from Smarter Balanced Guidelines for Accessibility for English Language Learners
  22. 22. ExampleOriginal Question:Sharice scored the following number of points in 5 dart games.88,96,112,135,144What is the median of these numbers?Modified Question:Look at the 5 numbers below.88,95,112,135,144What is the median of these numbers?
  23. 23. EXIT TICKET• Did we meet our content and language objectives?• What is one idea from today that you will try in the next month?• What would you like to learn about in more depth on another pd day?
  24. 24. Content Objectives:• Participants will be able to identify factors that impact ELL performance in math.• Participants will be able to connect ESL practices with effective math instruction for all students.Language Objectives:• Participants will describe and share successful strategies to engage learners in math content.• Participants will write one new idea from the workshop that they will implement in their own classrooms.