Monday, December 22, 2014

English Language Learners and Math

The language demands of the 2011 Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics leave many math teachers wondering about how to best serve their English Language Learners.  The following EdSource article highlights strategies of teaching English Language Learners (ELLs) in the math classroom.  The author stresses the importance of group work and connects each mathematical concept to the real world.  Teaching English Learners the Language of Math is written by a 7th grade math teacher in Oakland and focuses on the importance of interaction in the math classroom.

Looking for a more local resource? The Office of English Language Acquisition and Academic Achievement (OELAAA) unit at DESE has begun the process of creating 10 Model Curriculum Units (MCUs) that are ELL specific.  All of the units will be under the broad theme of social justice, and will be linked in some way to an existing MCU.  Local Greater Boston districts are taking the lead on creating various math and science MCUs.  The goal is to have the units completed by the end of the 2015 summer with the pilots starting in September.

Our final resource focuses more specifically on the power of starting math class with an application problem.  The author, Liana Heitin, channels Dan Meyer when recommending that math class begin with a word problem that is rooted in an image or a video.  Making Math Word Problems More Accessible speaks to the difficultly that many ELLs have with word problems and suggests ways of addressing this challenge.

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