Making Math Meaningful


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  • This is a solid approach. I teach pre-algebra and oftentimes, my students stumble at the point where they need to solve word problems. Thank you for this brief, but concise, summary!
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Making Math Meaningful

  1. 1. MAKING MATH TIME MEANINGFUL Making Math Instruction an Integral Part of Language Learning
  2. 2. MATH ACADEMIC VOCABULARYResearch says:  It is difficult to master content-specific vocabulary while trying to teach the connected concept  Academic language is much more difficult than conversational language used by many English language learners  ELLs not only have to learn content-specific vocabulary, but function words (analyzing, explaining, predicting)
  3. 3. MATH ACADEMIC VOCABULARYLinguistic Implication:  CEL p. 52  ―The vocabulary of everyday speech tends to be informal and domestic, limited and inexplicit, as speakers cope with difficulties of memory, attention, and perception.  Academic vocabulary is difficult to acquire especially when the learner is still using conversational language as a means of communication  Math language using on the limited or inexplicit language may not be able to fully explain the ELL’s complete thinking
  4. 4. MATH ACADEMIC VOCABULARYInstructional Strategies  Pre-teach content-specific and function terms prior to the lesson  Note multiple-meaning words that may cause problems  Create different ways to ―keep‖ vocabulary  Math Word Wall/Mathematician Wall  Vocabulary/Picture Personal Dictionary  Graphic Organizers  Dual Language Vocabulary Chart (use of both languages)  Total Physical Response (TPR) lesson
  5. 5. MATH ACADEMIC VOCABULARY ―THINK LIKE A MATHEMATICIAN‖ Instructional Strategy You Can UseA math wall is a simple way to ―store‖ importantvocabulary, math strategies, and math related content. Examples Math Wall This math wallincorporates pictureswhich helps withconcrete learning
  6. 6. MATH ACADEMIC VOCABULARY ―THINK LIKE A MATHEMATICIAN‖ Instructional Strategy You Can Use Take Away Activity:  Pick 3 vocabulary words or strategies appropriate to your grade level.  On your card:  Write the word, think of a visual or picture to represent the word, and a sentence or simple description.  Possibly include a TPR gesture that relates. Share
  7. 7. WRITTEN MATH PROBLEMSResearch says:  The difficulty with word problems is that the problems require many layers: reading comprehension of the problem, making sense of the problem, identifying a question that needs to be answered, and planning to solve.  Important part of math learning because written problems promote:  Explicit vocabulary instruction  Experience in problem solving  Practice extracting information  Repeated reading, listening, speaking, and writing practice.
  8. 8. WRITTEN MATH PROBLEMSLinguistic Implication CEL, p. 181  ―Written language displays several unique features, such as punctuation, capitalization, spatial organization…and other graphic effects.‖  Written math problems are not just difficult because of the math academic vocabulary, or the reading involved, but also because of written language features:  Features: Punctuation, capitalization  Graphic effects (font, spacing, etc.)  ―Written language tends to be more formal than spoken language.‖
  9. 9. WRITTEN MATH PROBLEMSInstructional Strategies:  Teacher Think-Alouds  Modeling the logical process  Pull out key vocabulary, scaffold before  Student Think-Alouds  Making a strategy anchor chart based on student- created strategies, providing picture clue  Discussion Stems Posted  Written problems that are high interest, appeal to the learner  Using reading comprehension strategies to decode the problems
  10. 10. WRITTEN MATH PROBLEMS Instructional Strategy You Can Use Examples  Sample Math Journals from ELs Task  Turn and talk with a neighbor about how you would scaffold this problem for a language learner in your classroom...There are 5 giraffes at the zoo. There are 4cheetahs at the zoo. How many spotted zooanimals are there all together?
  11. 11. MATH BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGEResearch says:  Identify the unique experiences that the learner brings…  Learn as much about their prior math knowledge as possible  Promote first language use as a way to build background  Using native language will build more connections and create ―empowerment‖ and success in the learner
  12. 12. MATH BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGELinguistic Implications:  CEL, p. 344-345  ―The lack of a common language can severely impede progress and can halt it altogether.‖  ―There are several ways of getting around the foreign language barrier, but none is simple, nor has any as yet been successful.‖  It is difficult for teachers and students that don’t have a common language, but one has to use resources available (translators, common words, or an existing language) that will increase motivation to learn language
  13. 13. MATH BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGEInstructional Strategies:  L1 partner talks  Identifying parts that would be confusing, building the background instead of trying to activate prior knowledge that may not be there yet  Link concepts explicitly (from previous learning)  Build in routines that promote continuous exposure to content  Using high interest topics, identify important vocabulary  Teaching the use of manipulatives  Using real world situations that you can support with visuals, gestures, or experiences
  14. 14. MATH BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE Instructional Strategy You Can Use Task  Quiet Write:  Think of at least 10 high interest topics that you could use during math instruction to link to your ELs background knowledge  Share with your table
  15. 15. PRODUCING MATH ACADEMIC LANGUAGEResearch says:  It is difficult to produce/speak math academic language because:  Conversational language is much easier to master than academic language (language in the content areas)  They are doing two jobs at once—learning a language and new math concepts
  16. 16. PRODUCING MATH ACADEMIC LANGUAGEInstructional Strategies:  Use small group pairings  Promotes positive support system, positive learning environment  Scaffold  Use sentence frames/stems for discussions  ―Slow down, teacher!‖ – take a moment to reflect on your own teaching language  Allow students to share their own math thinking  usually use a more kid-friendly language  Pair with the ELL teacher to plan important language…they can support this learning
  17. 17. REFERENCES Bibliography English Language Learners in Math. (2012). Retrieved from Teaching Today Glencoe: Helping English Language Learners Master Math Terms. (2012). Retrieved from CAPELL: Math Strategies for English Language Learners. (2012). Retrieved from Fair Lawn School District: Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center. (2009). Effective Practices for Teaching English Language Learners. Charleston: Edvantia. Blachowicz, C. L., Fisher, P. J., & Watts-Taffe, S. (2005). Integrated Vocabulary Instruction: Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners in Grades K-5. Naperville: Learning Point Associates. Bresser, R. (2008). Teaching Math to English Language Learners. In R. Bresser, Supporting English Language Learners in Math Class, Grades K-2 (pp. 2-8). Sausilito: Math Solutions. Carrier, K. A. (2005). Key Issues for Teaching English Language Learners in Academic Classrooms. Middle School Journal, 4-9. Crawford, J. (2004). Basic Research on Language Acquisition. In J. Crawford, Educating English Learners: Language Diversity in the Classroom (pp. 182-212). Los Angeles: Bilingual Educational Services, Inc. Crystal, D. (2003). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (2nd ed.). New York City: Cambridge University press. Echevarria, J., Vogt, M., & Short, D. (2009). The Academic Language of Mathematics. In J. Echevarria, M. Vogt, & D. Short, The SIOP Model for Teaching Mathematics to English Learners (pp. 1-14). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Garrison, L., & Kerper Mora, J. (2008). Adapting Mathematics Instruction for English-Language Learners: The Language-Concept Connection. In J. K. Leslie Garrison, Changing the Faces of Mathematics: Perspectives on Latinos (pp. 35-48). National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. Goldenberg, C. (2008, Summer). Teaching English Language Learners: What the Research Does-and Does Not-Say. American Educator, pp. 8-44. Jasper, D. B. (2005, November). Teachers Guide to Teaching Mathematics to English Language Learners. Retrieved from Mathematics for English Language Learners: Mooneyhan, L. (2012). Supporting English Language Learners in Mainstreama nd Content Area Classrooms. Retrieved from Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative: Robertson, K. (2009). Math Instruction for English Language Learners. Retrieved from Colorin Colorado: