Thursday, May 5, 2022

How To Support Ell Students In Math

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Communicate With The Esl Teacher

How to Teach Math to ESL Learners

Mary Yurkosky, a former ESL teacher in Massachusetts, credits much of her students success to the strong relationship she had with the regular classroom teachers. The classroom teachers were always talking to me about what they were doing in their classes, she says. They made it so easy for me to support them: If a teacher was going to be doing a unit on plants, I could make sure we used some of that same vocabulary in the ESL class.

Ideally, this could be systematized, where;ESL teachers could regularly get copies of lesson plans or collaborate with regular classroom teachers to build solid back-and-forth support, but it doesnt have to be that much work, Yurkosky insists. Just talk to each other. Talk about whats going on in your classrooms, invite each other to special presentations, share what your students are learning, and the words;will naturally find their;way into the ESL class.

Strategies To Engage Students In Esl Math Lessons

English language students must not only learn English at school, but they must also master other subjects at the same time. ESL math lessons can be adapted to meet the needs of ESL students and help them not only learn math but pick up some new English language vocabulary at the same time.


Let students touch objects related to their ESL math lessons whenever possible. Blocks, beans, counters and anything else students can hold in their hands can be powerful tools to help them master math concepts. Repeat numbers in English as the students count out the appropriate number of counters for an addition or subtraction problem.For example, use beans to show that Anna has six cookies and Mark has nine in an addition story problem.

One idea, suggested by the Center for Applied Linguistics, is âhen working on estimation of lengths,. . .students can use both standard and metric measuring tools to find things that measure approximately one centimeter, one decimeter, one meter, one inch, one foot, or one yard. They can then use these items to estimate the length of other objects in the classroom, check their estimates with the actual tools, and use calculators to find the percentage of error in their estimations.â

Vocabulary Wall

Talk Aloud

Modify Word Problems

Make it Real

Connect with Other Subjects


Speak Slowlyand Increase Your Wait Time

Easier said than done. Still, many of the teachers I spoke to said this simple change is vital. You can record yourself speaking in class to measure your cadence, and adjust.

Adding in an extra three to five seconds after we pose a question offers all students time to think, explains Gonzalez. However, for English learners, it also gives time to translate, process their thinking, translate back into English, and develop the courage to answer. If we call on students too quickly, many of our students will stop thinking about the answersor trying to answer at all.

That means undoing some of our own habits, according to Larry Ferlazzo, a high school ESL teacher in Sacramento, California. Researchers have found that typically most teachers give one to two seconds between asking a question and expecting a student response, he says. The same researchers have shown that if you wait three to five seconds, the quality of responses is astronomically greater.

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Positioning Ell Students As Mathematically Competent

;;;;;;;;;;;;Positioning is one of the ways that teachers can make sure that students understand themselves to be both bringers and developers of knowledge in mathematical communities. Studies have found that while European- and Asian-background students often get positioned as mathematically competent, ELL students of other backgrounds often get cast in marginal roles within the classroom. In my first year of teaching in a general classroom, I had a student, Ashley, who was in the process of developing her English proficiency. While her classmates got called on to problem solve, I called on Ashley to support her English learning by having her practice reading aloud or answer definitional questions. Although my pattern of calling on Ashley was an attempt to be kind, this meant I gave her no positive messages about her ability to be part of our mathematical conversations. I know now that she could have been a part of these conversations if she had been given opportunities to express herself with gestures, drawings, or by telling a classmate to translate Ashleys thoughts. On top of this, my other students bore witness to how I positioned Ashley and probably mirrored me in casting her in a marginal participant role.;

Math Language Objective Suggestion #: Start With The Content Objective

Six Strategies to Help ELLs Succeed in Math

This makes everything easier for me. My lesson plans are based on the math standards we use in my state.

I almost always base my math language objective on the math content standard we are working on.

For example, if Im writing lesson plans to target CCSS 8.F.A.1, which is an 8th grade standard on identifying functions, then my language objective is going to relate to identifying functions as well.

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Strategies To Help English Learners Succeed In The Classroom

Geri McClymont is passionate about education. She holds an MEd and has taught English language learners for over ten years.

Be intentional about using effective strategies in class to help your English language learners succeed

Pixabay l modified

According to the National Education Association, English language learners represent the fastest growing student population group in the U.S. It is estimated that by 2025, 25% of our public school students will be ELLs.

With the increasing number of English learners entering our classrooms comes a pressing need for teachers to use strategies to support them academically.

Here are 15 ways help your English learners at all grade levels be successful in school. These approaches can be used in classes composed of only ELLs and in mainstream classes composed of ELLs and non-ELLs.

Why Teach Math In Your Esl Classes

The idea of teaching both ESL and math at the same time might seem daunting, but it doesnt have to be. In fact, many experts agree that teaching another subject is a great way to enhance ESL teaching.

Content and Language Integrated Learning, also known as CLIL, is a major feature of European instruction and is at the heart of teaching math in your ESL classes. CLIL programs are designed to integrate both language and content learning such;that;both the content and the language are acquired simultaneously by the student.

Experts;and CLIL supporters;say that teaching another subject;in;English, like math or history, rather than teaching straight English, is a great way to improve proficiency in English.

The literature surrounding CLIL;details the ways in which;language is used in CLIL contexts;to learn as well as to communicate, something that it is very important to be mindful of as an ESL math teacher.

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Ell Math Activities To Support English Learners

The number of non-native English-speaking students in U.S. schools is growing. The percentage of these students, often referred to as English learners , English language learners or English speakers of other language students , was higher in fall 2016 than fall 2000. In fact, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment of ELLs in schools rose from 8.1 percent, or 3.8 million students, to 9.6 percent, or 4.9 million students, in that 16-year period between 2000 and 2016.

As the ELL student population rises, so does the risk of a widening achievement gap between these students and their English-speaking peers. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found that in 2017, the average mathematics score for 4th grade ELL students was 26 points lower than the average score of their English-speaking peers. That same year, the gap was even worse for 8th grade ELL students, whose average mathematics score was 40 points lower than the average score of their English-speaking peers.

Watch this webinar from the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education to learn specific strategies for teaching math to English learners. The webinar presenter, Dean Ballard, Director of Mathematics for CORE, also walks through several ELL math activities you can incorporate into your ELL math lesson plans today.

Public Record Of Work:

Teaching Math to English Language Learners

The public record of work, which is written on chart paper or on the board, gives all students additional processing time to understand what strategy is being discussed. If a student loses focus for a few moments, a public record helps them get back into the conversation more easily. For ELL students, it means that not everything is being discussed verbally so for ELL students whose reading comprehension is currently better than their oral comprehension of language, they have more access to the mathematics being discussed. Further, all students benefit from having models of what clear explanations of mathematical ideas look like.

There is some evidence that studying worked examples supports students in learning mathematical ideas so the public record can help students draw further connections when they attempt other related mathematical problems. The public record of work is also helpful for students to reference as mathematical concepts begin to build on one another. It allows students to reference repeatedly, which creates more opportunities to internalize foundational concepts.

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Provide A Framework For Understanding

Many graphic organizers can serve as advance organizers to build background knowledge or provide a review of a key concept from a lesson. Creating this type of framework during a lesson can also be useful for helping students to develop connections and understandings in their heads.

  • Timeline: A timeline helps students to sequence events and see visually how events are related over time.
  • Venn Diagram: Two things or concepts are compared. Information about each one is written in the designated circle. Any similarities are written in the area of the two circles that overlaps.
  • Attribute Chart: This type of chart helps students to make comparisons across multiple examples. The students should be actively involved in creating the chart, using resources or prior experience to fill the needed information.

Take Time To Make Sure The Students Know About The Language Objective

Since youre learning how to help ELL students in math class, Ill let you know its pretty widely accepted that you should share your lesson goals with them.

This means that you should explicitly tell them what the math language objective is for the lesson every day.

You should make the meaning and intent of the language objective clear to them.

Explain it.

Point out places in your lesson where they are actively working with that objective.

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Sample Assessments For An Insect Unit:

Original Unit Test

1. Describe the life cycle of the following:


2. How do you know an animal is an insect?3. What foods do insects eat?4. Why are insects important?

Unit Test Modified for ELLs: A partially completed graphic organizer

Insect Name

Alternate Assessments for a Unit Portfolio

  • Keep an observation log of the life cycle of real monarch butterflies in the classroom. Given a diagram of the life cycle of another insect, create one drawing to show the four stages of the butterflys life cycle.
  • Create a drawing or clay model of two adult insects including three body parts, legs, wings, eyes, and antenna. Verbally tell how the insects are the same or different.
  • Work with a strong English speaker in a cooperative learning jigsaw reading to learn and share interesting facts about insects and why they are important. Complete a self-assessment on; learning, participation, and contribution to the group.

Resource Guide for Working with ESL Students

Build In More Group Work

Six Strategies to Close Math Gaps for ELLS

Kids arent just empty glasses that we pour stuff into and then at the end of the day they dump it back onto a test, says Kim, an ESL teacher who was the subject of my very first podcast interview. If you really want the kids to learn, theyve got to be engaged. That means less teacher-led, whole-class instruction, and more small groups, where students can practice language with their peers in a more personal, lower-risk setting. And if ELL students attend your class;with a resource teacher, make use of that person: In most cases the resource teacher doesnt have to work exclusively with the ESL students; they can work with smaller groups that happen to contain these students, helping to improve the teacher-student ratio and give kids more time to practice.

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How To Select A Buddy:

  • When possible, choose a student who speaks the same first language as your new ELL.
  • Select a student with a higher English proficiency level than your new ELL.
  • Patience and kindness are important attributes to look for in a buddy.

Seat your newer ELL beside his buddy in your classroom so that the students can work together during class projects and assignments.

This support will give your newer student a sense of reassurance and belonging in your classroom. He will also gradually feel more confident as his new friend assists him in learning English.

Routine and structure in the classroom help ELLs feel at ease, as they provide them with a predictable and consistent environment.

Which Countries Do Students With Interrupted Formal Education Come From

SIFEs may come from countries where poverty, disaster, and civil unrest affect the development of literacy and opportunities for education. They may also come from countries where persecution or strict rules about gender, social class, or ethnicity prevented them from attending school. According to UNICEF and UNESCO, as of 2006, 93 million children of primary school age were not attending school . This number has decreased from 115 million children in 2002, but the unfortunate reality is that many children around the world still aren’t receiving an education. Gender inequities are also more prevalent than we might suspect: girls in one third of the world’s nations still don’t have equal access to education , which is particularly concerning in nations where girls can only attend classes taught by women.

SIFEs may also have been born or raised in a developed nation but in impoverished circumstances that affect their family’s stability. For example, many migrant workers in the U.S. move frequently based on agricultural seasons, and as a result their children move from one to school to another, making it nearly impossible for children to stay caught up with their peers.

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Examples Of How To Use Fewer Words

Too Many WordsFewer Words

“What do you think is a good way to get your readers’ attention when you begin your story so that they want to keep reading your story?”

“What is a good way to get your readers’ attention when you begin your story?”

“There are three different kinds of sentences we’re going to talk about today. We have statements, we have questions, and we have exclamations.”

“Today we’ll look at three kinds of sentences: statements, questions, and exclamations.”

Mathematical Language Routine : Compare And Connect

(ELL) Using Targeted Interventions When Teaching Mathematics


To foster students meta-awareness as they identify, compare, and contrast different mathematical approaches and representations. This routine leverages the powerful mix of disciplinary representations available in mathematics as a resource for language development. In this routine, students make sense of mathematical strategies other than their own by relating and connecting other approaches to their own. Students should be prompted to reflect on, and linguistically respond to, these comparisons . Be sure to demonstrate asking questions that students can ask each other, rather than asking questions to test understanding. Use think alouds to demonstrate the trial and error, or fits and starts of sense-making . This routine supports metacognition and metalinguistic awareness, and also supports constructive conversations.

How it Happens

Students Prepare Displays of their Work: Students are given a problem that can be approached and solved using multiple strategies, or a situation that can be modeled using multiple representations. Students are assigned the job of preparing a visual display of how they made sense of the problem and why their solution makes sense. Variation is encouraged and supported among the representations that different students use to show what makes sense.

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Provide Opportunities For Interaction

Children cannot learn to speak English without opportunities to practice speaking English. Providing students with opportunities to interact with other students will naturally enhance English language development while also providing the scaffolding needed to help ELLs achieve in the content areas. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use adequate wait time to help an ELL formulate a response in a large group context.
  • Use a think, pair, share strategy where students first think about a question for themselves, then talk about the question with a partner, and finally share their thoughts with the larger group.
  • Try conversational role plays in pairs or small groups. Topics could include using polite language , interviewing someone, how to use I-messages, resolving conflict, and others.
  • Provide time for buddy reading of texts that are a little beyond the ELLs independent comprehension level.
  • Use learning centers for literacy, math, science, or social studies investigations.
  • Use cooperative learning projects. Have teams work together to create an artistic display of their names, create an assembly-line style craft project where each team member contributes to the final product, have groups work together to complete a puzzle or word search, or do a jigsaw reading activity where each member reads a different text and reports back important information to the group.

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