Increasing math instruction for ELLs could boost literacy skills
Not surprisingly, instructional support for English language learners (ELLs) often focuses on literacy skills, but as a result, students might be falling behind in math, according to eSchool News.
In fact, by the time ELL students reach middle school, they might be two years behind in math, the article says, adding that a stronger emphasis on the math-related language students need for word problems, for example, can support their reading and writing skills across the curriculum. “It also helps that numbers are numbers, and working with them is natural to speakers of any language,” the author writes.
While providing individualized math support for every ELL student might not possible, the author notes that even most low-income families have smartphones, which could be used to access math lessons for additional at-home practice. A school in San Diego, for example, gives incoming 6th graders and their parents access to a math app, which allows them to preview and practice concepts before they are taught in class.
As cell phone use becomes the norm among younger and younger students, surveys are showing that students use them for learning as well as for posting on social media and staying in touch with family members. Some schools have lifted bans on in-school use of cell phones and are taking advantage of their potential as learning tools in the classroom. Studies on the learning benefits of cell phones, however, have focused more on how students are using them in class and not as much as how families are using them to support learning at home.
Common Sense Education provides ratings of learning apps to help educators sort through the confusing landscape of products and discern which programs might be better suited for at-home use and aligned with standards and curriculum goals. It’s important for administrators, however, to be mindful of the limitations some families might be facing even if their children have smartphones. Lower-income families might not be able to afford unlimited data plans and still might lack reliable WiFi access at home. A study released last year by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center showed that in many low-income families, family members are sharing the same phones or have had their internet service cut off because they can’t pay the charges. The survey also showed that families headed by Hispanic immigrants were less connected than other low- and moderate-income families.
- eSchool News How to make math a key part of your ELL curriculum
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