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).
Structured 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