Mathematical Support for English Learners

Challenge

Students who are emergent multilingual—also called English learners (ELs) in U.S. schools—can thrive in mathematics class. Yet recent National Assessment of Educational Progress data suggest that too few of these students are reaching their full potential in mathematics. What is the key to these students’ success? Teachers must have effective resources, support, and strategies to tailor instruction to fit emergent multilingual students’ strengths and needs.

Across the United States, EDC’s professional development programs and resources help teachers enhance instruction for students who are emergent multilingual. Working in partnership with educators and school leaders, we design, implement, and study evidence-based programs and resources that give teachers the skills and tools they need to ensure that emergent multilingual students excel.

Key Activities

EDC’s work to facilitate mathematics success for emergent multilingual students includes the following activities:

  • Published Mathematical Thinking and Communication: Access for English Learners for teachers of emergent multilingual students and teacher educators
  • Produced numerous videos, including one that was spotlighted in the 2021 National Science Foundation STEM For All Video Showcase
  • Designed fraction division lessons with built-in supports for emergent multilingual students and are studying the impacts (The project is Analyzing Diagrams: Supports for English Learners.)
  • Developed Visual Access to Mathematics (VAM), a successful teacher professional development course for mathematics teachers of emergent multilingual students
  • Offered online workshops to mathematics teachers of emergent multilingual students during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Published the Fostering Geometric Thinking Toolkit and conducted a study of Fostering Geometric Thinking professional learning for teachers of emergent multilingual students
  • Led Mathematical Record Keeping Supports Cognition and Communication, a study of how record-keeping strategies help students tackle challenging geometry problems
  • Provided professional development and coaching to teams of teachers in New York City focused on supporting emergent multilingual students’ mathematics learning

Impact

  • Findings from this work have been published in numerous journals, including ZDM: Mathematics Education, Educational Leadership, and Mathematics in the Middle School; shared in blog posts; and spotlighted in numerous videos, including one that was spotlighted in the 2021 National Science Foundation STEM For All Video Showcase.
  • Over 500 middle grades mathematics teachers, mathematics coaches, and EL specialists across the United States have participated in our mathematics professional development.
  • A nationwide study demonstrated that EDC’s Fostering Geometric Thinking Toolkit professional development positively impacted 150 teachers’ knowledge and instruction.
  • A study involving over 100 teachers demonstrated positive impacts of our Visual Access to Mathematics professional development on participating mathematics teachers.
  • A study involving 23 grade 6 classrooms demonstrated positive impacts of our Analyzing Diagrams: Supports for English Learners fraction division lessons on participating students’ problem-solving.

Learn More

Mathematical Thinking: Support for English Language Learners
:
PROJECT DIRECTOR
FOLLOW
Twitter
EDC Staff
Johannah Nikula
DURATION
2008–Present
FUNDED BY
National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, New York City Department of Education
PARTNERS

Horizon Research, Inc.; University of North Carolina-Charlotte