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MATHEMATICS AS A SECOND LANGUAGE: SUPPORTING ELL STUDENTS IN A MATHEMATICS CLASSROOM By: Natalie Jenkins, Kelly Malinowski, Kacy Swinson, & Kam Millikan I-CLICKER QUESTION! In your opinion, what is the best approach when teaching English Language Learners? A. Incorporating them into a traditional classroom B. Having an ELL specialist available in a traditional classroom C. Separating ELL students into their own classroom for specialized attention D. Separating ELL students initially and gradually incorporated into the traditional classroom WHAT IS THE TOPIC AND WHY IS IT “HOT”? Our topic is supporting ELL students in a Mathematics classroom According to the U.S. Department of Education, between 1979 and 2004, ELL students in grades K-12 increased from 1.3 million to 9.9 million (Winsor, 2008, 372). “In 2026, it is estimated, one in four students will not speak English as their primary language” (Hoffert, 2009, 132). No Child Left Behind WHAT ARE THE RELEVANT ISSUES? Teachers aren’t being trained to teach in an ELL classroom Stressing the importance of communication in Math WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY? 1st Article: “Bridging the Language Barrier in Mathematics” by Matthew S. Winsor Key Ideas: MSL (Mathematics as a Second Language) Curriculum based off of comparison Similarities: They write to communicate what they are learning (journals, wordsquares) They learn in groups (peer reflections of journals) The learning is set in context (projects) Results? “What was your answer” changed to “How did you get that? I did mine differently” Student-oriented Projects—unsure WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY? “Differentiating Instruction In Mathematics for the English Language Learner” by Deandrea Murrey Comprehensible Input (Rate, Repetition, Representations, Students share) Contextual Instructions (Building to a definition) Low-anxiety learning environment (Group work, establishing norms) Meaningful engagement in learning activity (Making conjectures and presenting findings) WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY? Mathematics: The Universal Language? By Sharon B. Hoffert Math is universal, but communicating about it is not. Recommendations for ELL classrooms: Assess Previous Knowledge Highlight Words Use Precise Language Have Students Communicate Math Daily Use Graphic Organizers Use Cooperative Learning Groups Use Technology to Motivate and Promote equity Engage Students during Practice and Reinforcement Provide Daily Review Use Language as Bridge for Better Math Understanding WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY? “ELLs and Group Work: It Can Be Done Well” by William C. Zahner Four Primary Concerns: Selecting Appropriate Tasks Assinging Students to Groups How many people, what level of students (high/middle/low acheiving/) ELL breakdown? Setting Up Group Norms Focusing on important concepts, open-ended and collaborative, multiple points of entry, avoid unnecessary langauge All students listening and participating, valuing others contributions, teacher values students’ native languages Assessing Students’ Understanding Takes place on both an individual and group level so that students stay motivated in each setting Presentations encouraged, teacher asks comprehension questions to specific group members I-CLICKER QUESTION! Which one of the following is an example of contextualizing instructions? A. Presenting a problem that has real-life meaning B. Providing and repeating definitions for new vocabulary C. Introducing a problem and having students work towards the concept themselves D. Showing a concept through a visual tool before defining it WHAT IS THE BEST PRACTICE RELATED TO THIS TOPIC? Group work and Inquiry based curriculum Making sure groups have a variety of different levels of language ability, and student composition is varied frequently. Making sure students are participating and actively engaged in the discussion Use of Multiple Representations Since ELL students have trouble understanding academic math language, but still need to be exposed to it, use many representations of a concept along with an explanation so the words and concepts can be understood and connected. WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR FUTURE TEACHING? As a teacher, it is very likely that we will have ELL students in our classroom. Training or preparation for teaching ELL students is minimal. We must be prepared to teach ALL kinds of students, not just the “average” learner. ELL students have many challenges they face within the schools and we as teachers must help make learning as easy as possible by being knowledgeable about how to best teach them. I-CLICKER QUESTION! While teaching a combined ELL and traditional classroom you assign your students to work in groups on today’s new concept. While the students are working in groups you notice that one of the ELL students is not participating and several questions behind the rest of the group. How do you approach the situation? A: Give the student individualized attention to catch the student up with the rest of the group B: Encourage the rest of the group members to make sure the ELL student is understanding and caught up C: Move the student to another group that more resembles that ELL student’s pace D: Bring the class together as a whole to focus on reviewing the class work from the beginning BIBLIOGRAPHY Hoffert, S. B. (2009). Mathematics: the Universal Language?. Mathematics Teacher, 103(2), 130-139. Murrey, D. L. (2008). Differentiating Instruction in Mathematics for the English Language Learner. Mathematics Teaching In The Middle School, 14(3), 146-153. Winsor, M. S. (2007). Bridging the Language Barrier in Mathematics. Mathematics Teacher, 101(5), 372-378 Zahner, W.C. (2012). ELLs and Group Work: It Can Be Done Well. Mathematics Teaching In The Middle School, 18(3), 156-162.