Teaching Strategies for Engaging English Learners (ELs)

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Teaching Strategies for Engaging English Learners (ELs). EDSC 440S Resource. Developed by Grace Cho, PhD. and Debra Ambrosetti, PhD., 2006. First Steps. Know your students backgrounds: Administer a Needs Analysis Identify your students math levels(pre-test) - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Teaching Strategies for Engaging English Learners (ELs)EDSC 440S ResourceDeveloped by Grace Cho, PhD. and Debra Ambrosetti, PhD., 2006

  • First StepsKnow your students backgrounds:Administer a Needs AnalysisIdentify your students math levels(pre-test)Assess students attitudes towards mathidentify the background and prior experiences of students (e.g., cultural, linguistic abilities, educational experiences, etc.)Be aware of cultural differences and include modifications in order to develop a culturally relevant curriculum Example: In some cultures, the process of finding the answer is not as valued as the product.If the teacher asks students to show their work, students may not understand this action because the process is a mental action and not computed on paperthe work is done in their headCreate a positive learning environment in order to diminish math anxiety and maximize learning by:Allowing for controlled social interactionUtilize group work/cooperative learning effectively and correctlyIncorporating consistent and established structure into class procedures:classroom procedures/routineswhere to hand in homework, get paper, text books, etc.classroom organizationseating arrangement, free walk spaces, teacher areas

  • First Steps (continued)Motivate all students regardless of gender, race, ethnicity Be aware of the historical expectations/stereotypes of certain groupsLack of females in math related fieldsAsians excel in math.Make subject matter interesting, engage students in the processMake content relevant and meaningful

  • First Steps (continued)

    Demystify Myths about Math as a Universal ConceptUniversal: Simple concepts are universal i.e. simple concrete number algorithms (2+2=4)Not Universal: Other aspects of Math are difficult because of language differencesDifference between a and theSix times a number is 3 more than 10 times the number.Not all cultures use math, or math symbols in the same wayUse of period (.) instead of coma (,)Decimals are indicated by a period in English and a comma in many other languages. Commas as used in English, may be indicated by a period in many other languagesTwo thousand (2,000 in English): (2.000 in Spanish, German) Dates:In Spanish and some other languages the day is written first, followed by the month, then the year.January 27, 2003: Spanish: 27-01-03; English: 01-17-03; Korean: 2003. 1. 27.Time: May be written as military time: 14:00 hours as opposed to 2 pmMeasurement: Metric system (kilogram, meter, liter) vs. English system (inches, feet, pounds, cups)

  • First Steps (continued)Invite and Involve Parents Note: Dont make assumptionsparents from certain cultures may be absent from the school environment as a sign of respect for the teacher.Modify your lessons for ELs by incorporating the following teaching strategiesNote: These strategies are not to be used in isolation and they should complement the lesson

  • Modifications for ELsLessons must contain both content and language objectivesELs need many opportunities to learn all academic aspects and complexities of Math (content) while developing communicative competence in English (language skills).Students should be given ample opportunities to clarify key concepts in their first language (L1) as needed with an aide, peer, or L1 text.

  • Modifications for ELs: Promoting Lesson ComprehensionContextualize the lesson:Progress concepts from concrete to abstract by using math manipulative, games, realia, visuals.Demonstrate the process of solving mathematical problems by using pictures and modeling.Visualization-- abstract to concrete conceptualization. The ability to explain the concept in concrete termsTeachers should provide connections to key problem solving strategies that assist students during mathematical challenges.Teach students to make connections within the subject and in the real world, to reason mathematically, verify their findings, solve real world problems, communicate their thinking about mathetc.Provide many and continuous opportunities to learn complexities of math.

    For additional ideas, see Concrete-Representational-Abstract.

  • Modifications for ELs: Promoting Lesson Comprehension (continued)Employ Speech Modification Use language that is appropriate for proficiency levelUse more pause between phrases, enunciation, and simple sentence structure for beginnersClearly explain the academic tasksSpeak slowly and clearly without overdoing itProvide sufficient wait timeUse a variety of techniques/strategies to make content concepts clear use visuals, hands-on activities, demonstrations, gestures, body language and modelDevelop and emphasize technical (content) vocabularyIntroduce, write, repeat, and highlight key wordsUse vocabulary building strategies (see next slide)

  • Modifications for ELs: Promoting Lesson Comprehension (continued)Display a chart depicting commonly used abbreviations and symbolsPt. = pint, lb.=pounds, ft.=feetContinuously review previously learned key concepts throughout the yearIncremental learning, in which skills are developed slowly over time through repetition and extension, is an effective strategy for this. Review key terms whenever necessary such as mathematical terms that may be too abstract or confusingMultiplication of 2-digit numbers: review product, sum, carry, exchange and equalsIntroduce key vocabulary using visuals, realia, modeling and demonstrations.

  • Vocabulary Building Strategies

    Clarify expressions, words, and symbols that have multiple meanings.rationalize, column, table, simplify X and(.) Indicate the multiplication processTeach technical terms.percentage, square root, Word Tree given one term, the students generate 3-4 words that denote the same meaningSubtraction = take away, minus or difference

  • Vocabulary Building Strategies (continued)Recognize and generate attributes, examples and non-examples of a concept.Using a geoboard, have students identify the unique characteristics of a shape they have createdHave students provide and explain an analogy based on content/concept.Negative numbers are like the overdrawn amount in a checking account.

  • Modifications for ELs: Tap Prior Knowledge:

    Link concepts explicitly to students background experiencesPercentageRestaurant bill calculating the tipPercentage of taxes taken out of a pay checkSales discountWhile giving examples, use vocabulary relevant to the students livesLinks explicitly made between past learning and new concepts--Help students make the connection between what they know to what they need to learn for math.Multiplication is repeated addition.Use concept maps to relate prior knowledge to new concepts and termsAssess or validate prior knowledgePODProblem of the DayKWL- What I know, what I want to know, and what I learned

  • Modifications for ELs: Promote Academic Learning:

    Teach study skillsCornell notesUse of a student plannerQuestioning skillsAccommodate different learning stylesVisual (Graphs, charts, tables) auditory (discussion, lecture), kinesthetic (manipulative, games)Highlight the visual side of math since many students may not be auditory learners.Incorporate cues such as: facial expressions, body language and visual aidsUse concrete manipulatives such as base ten blocks, geoboards, algebra tiles

  • Modifications for ELs: Use Curriculum AdaptationsAdapt the text to the language level of ElsTailor the curriculum to meet ELs needAssist students in rewriting word problems in simpler termsTeach content concepts which are appropriate for age and educational background levels of your students.Use supplementary materials to make the lesson clear and interesting (e.g., graphs, models, visuals, trade books, )

  • Modifications for ELs: Consider Affective Issues:

    Demonstrate sensitivity to cultural & linguistic diversityUse alternative grouping and interactive learningHeterogeneous cooperative learning groups, think-pair-share, peer work, peer evaluations, jigsawFoster supportive learning environment (i.e. low anxiety environment)Encourage elaborated responses in Teacher student interactions Prompts:Can you tell me more?and how would you do that?Would you explain that to the class?

  • Modifications for ELs:Use variety of Assessment:

    Use authentic or real assessment interview, portfolio, quick write (In one paragraph, explain the Pythagorean theorem.), teacher observation, project, demonstrations Vary ways of showing concept attainmentModify forms of assessments to fit lessongraphic organizers, oral presentations, student generated test, concept maps, projects


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