Amid Philadelphia’s crisp autumn air, WIDA held its 2016 National Conference with the theme of Drawing on Life’s Experiences: Designing Bright Futures. From concurrent sessions and keynote speakers to networking with education devotees, helping students achieve successful results in and out of the ESL classroom and content classroom was on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Most helpful were the opportunities to listen to presentations on educative innovation for English language learners.
Innovation is key to student success but this entails cross referencing an assortment of resources to activate content specific academic language. Pamela Holman and Elizabeth Jacobsen was one pioneering duo that presented collaborative and engaging strategies in a session titled Content and Language Partnerships that Foster Student Success in Math. Their implementation of push-in techniques with coteaching methods streamlined standards, which students achieved in the work they completed.
Since math academic vocabulary can be a challenge for students, Pamela and Elizabeth capitalized on students’ needs for visual stimulation. Posting vocabulary words like quadrant with all four quadrants labeled around the x- and y-axis for the letter “t” was one of many great examples. Anchor charts and proof puzzles were used as manipulatives to engage higher level thinking about geometry. They even created language frames as exit tickets for formative assessments. Imagine the pleasant surprise incited by their mentioning our Velazquez Press word to word Spanish-English Glossary for the Mathematics Classroom as a vital tool in their content language repertoire.
ELLs have a unique impact in classrooms because they possess backgrounds as diverse as their skills and levels of proficiency. With this, consistently adjusting resources and inviting students to be active contributors to the learning environment was a key tactic Pamela and Elizabeth implemented. Upon taking note of a natural tendency to color code among a few of their students, the pair placed value on the idea and encouraged the class to follow suit. Resourceful was an understating descriptor for the work of these educators epitomizing successful approaches to help students make sense of problems and persevere in solving them in the math content classroom.