Icon for: William Zahner


San Diego State University

CAREER: Designing Learning Environments to Foster Productive and Powerful Dis...

NSF Awards: 1553708

2019 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12

Emergent bilingual students classified as English learners can greatly benefit from participating in robust classroom discussions in their mathematics classes. Yet, many English learners at the secondary level are placed in mathematics classes where most instruction focuses on skills development. In such classrooms, students have few opportunities to talk about mathematical ideas or concepts. This lack of opportunity to engage in conceptually-focused mathematical discussions limits ELs’ opportunities to learn both mathematics and language. We are working to reverse this trend, starting with a group of high school teachers to redesign their secondary math classrooms so ELs have opportunities to participate in robust classroom discussions. In our initial project we are focusing on the concepts related to modeling phenomena using linear and exponential functions, and we are creating new classroom materials and guidelines for teachers. Simultaneously, we are also developing and sharing the design principles for this work in order to generalize our results beyond our local context and initial focus.

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