Math is one of my weakest subjects (only after having a terrible teacher in grade 9 who made me resent it). From speaking with colleagues who speak math, I've come to understand that making word problems and abstract concepts accessible to ELLs is often challenging. Using manipulatives and demonstrations is a way to make concepts less about the language and more about the concepts themselves.
I used arithmetic in a card game with my Grade 7 History/Geography class. I used the game 'War' to structure a simulation of the French and English invasion of Canadian Aboriginal lands in the 1600s. I have attached the lesson plan and guided handout. The goal was to use arithmetic to calculate how many resources were won during each "war" between the two groups of people as French/English moved along the St. Lawrence river and into Southern Ontario.
FurTradeWarGame copy.docx (663.899 KB)
Assessment is when teachers gather data about students’ progress toward meeting course curriculum expectations, use it to inform teaching instruction and strategies with the intent of improving student learning, and evaluate evidence of student achievement based on those expectations (Growing Success). Assessments are formative (Growing Success uses the terms assessment for learning and assessment as learning to further distinguish types of formative tools) and summative (assessment of learning).
Assessments are embedded within classroom instruction so that learning tasks directly relate to observable data that teachers can use to evaluate students’ progress at any given time in the course. A variety of the types of assessments should be used, giving students multiple ways to provide evidence for their learning. This is especially important for ELLs, who may be negatively assessed based on inauthentic reading or writing evaluations. The learning goals and success criteria for all assessments (both formative and summative) should also be co-created, or at least shared and explained, with students prior to beginning the learning tasks and instruction. Students are then aware of the important aspects of the tasks, can direct their attention for meaningful engagement, and can ask questions in the context of assessment, all of which will help address misconceptions or misunderstandings before their learning is evaluated.
Frequent and authentic formative tasks are essential for supporting ELLs because these help teachers gather reliable and extensive data about student learning and which can be used to move these students along the language continuum and push their ZPD. Lesson planning with assessment in mind ensures that ELLs are explicitly taught the tools they need to succeed in evaluations. Heavily weighted or complex summative assessments can cause stress, anxiety and disengagement if ELLs do not feel they have the proper knowledge and skills required for a high mark. Teachers have the power to use formative and summative assessments to empower all students, especially ELLs.
I am an enthusiastic and conscientious educator. I use my blog to connect my personal experiences and adventures to my pedagogy.