How to structure academic math conversations to support English Learners

Excerpted from “Teaching Math to English Learners” by Adrian Mendoza with Tina Beene. Published by Seidlitz Education, 2022.

Embracing academic conversations in the math classroom becomes routine when teachers intentionally prepare content-based linguistic supports to guide and scaffold language. These opportunities for language are important because verbalizing thinking helps students with sense- making, analysis, and reasoning. When students process and engage in sharing, they gain problem-solving perspectives and address misconceptions or incompleteness in their ideas more than if they worked independently (Webb et al., 2014).

Teaching Math to English Learners book coverStructured conversations in a math classroom are especially crucial when teaching English learners (ELs) or students who may feel frustrated or anxious when classmates’ responses to questions bypass the problem-solving process and skip to the solution. When the EL has a different, viable perspective, they might struggle to communicate. There is still a misconception that the first to respond is smarter than the

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Native American Heritage Month | Discovery Education Blog

I grew up in a time when the stereotyped portrayal of Indigenous people was that seen in early western movies. For example, as a child I would see a Plains tribal member being played by a non-Indigenous person speaking my own Díne language, when clearly the character was not of my tribe. And I honestly cannot think of one book that represented me when I was in school. In fact, I didn’t see a reflection of myself on television, in books, in school, or in educational materials. 

Now as an educator, I am excited to see the change in educational materials that elevate the diversity of Native peoples, and to see them become more available. I am also excited to be filling my shelves with books that represent my students—I am leading with an equitable lens so that my classroom represents my students and honors their Indigenous identity.


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