Between Language, Culture, and Math: Responding to Diverse Learners

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Between Language, Culture, and Math: Responding to Diverse Learners . Bernd R. Ferner Portland State University German American School of Portland FernerB@pdx.edu. Outline. Personal Background Opening Activity Cultural and Linguistic Challenges Action Research Recommendations

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### Between Language, Culture, and Math: Responding to Diverse Learners

Bernd R. Ferner

Portland State University

German American School of Portland

FernerB@pdx.edu

Outline
• Personal Background
• Opening Activity
• Cultural and Linguistic Challenges
• Action Research
• Recommendations
• Classroom Activities
• Q & A
Opening Routine
• Theme Song
• Time to get ready (Teacher & Students)
• Traffic Lights
• Checking in
• Housekeeping
• Game
• Energizer
• Motivation
• Getting focused

### Traffic Light

How are you

doing?

Green = well

Orange = O.K.

Red = not well

Language learners in mathematics classrooms underperform because of language and culture related learning disadvantages.
A Deck of Cards – A Math Problem?

What is the probability

of drawing an ace of hearts

from a regular deck of cards?

Brainstorming

Please discuss with the person next to you:

• language challenges that a student might face in solving this math problem.
• culture-related challenges for students
A Deck of Cards – A Language Problem!
• Mathematical Language
• probability
• General Language
• drawing
• Cultural Language
• deck of cards
• ace of hearts

### A Deck of Cards – A Cultural Problem!

United States: 1/52

Germany: 1/32

Switzerland: 1/36

Mexico: 1/40

Mathematical Challenges
• Concept understanding / Basic Skills
• Digits, Computing, Units
• Experience of the students
• Are the students familiar with the context?
• Spending money to buy clothes?
• Language challenges
• Vocabulary is irrelevant for the students
• What is a cow pen?
Action Research

The influence of cultural learning activities and second language instruction on 4th and 5th graders’ learning progress in mathematics in a two-way-immersion program.

Hypothesis

The needs of students from a multicultural background in a mainstream classroom can only be addressed by implementing

language immersion strategies in all subjects areas.

Research Questions
• What are the effects of additional cultural and language learning activities on math learning?
• What are the effects of embedded cultural and language learning activities on math learning ?
Setting
• Private school in a suburban location (Pacific Northwest)
• Student-teacher- ratio 12:1
• Two-way-immersion school (80:20)
• Strong cultural / linguistic family background
• 5th grade: embedded language instruction
Assessments
• Parent and student questionnaires
• Teacher-prepared tests on cultural, linguistic and mathematical knowledge and skills
• Report cards and progress reports
• “Take your stand” activity / Traffic lights cards
• Student self-evaluation
• Exit slips
Teaching Strategies
• Cultural awareness and cultural learning in all areas
• Language learning in all subjects
• Vocabulary, grammar, reading and comprehension
• Cross-curricular learning
• Cooperative learning methods
• Teacher cooperation / feedback
• Making content matter to the students
• Safe learning environment
• HAVE FUN!
Know Your Students and Their Backgrounds

Build Relationships!

Research
• Cross-cultural and interdisciplinary learning supports language development (Genesee, 2008)
• Language learning embedded in subject curricula supports language development (Lyster, 2007)
• Cooperative learning supports ELL students (Coggins, 2007)
• The effective reader has clear understanding of mathematical concepts (Barton and Heidema, 2000)
Findings
• Language learning embedded in subject curricula supports
• content learning
• concept understanding
• students’ confidence
• An isolated language approach does not affect concept understanding or content learning
• Cooperative learning strategies and a cross-curricular approach enhances learning.
Conclusion
• Language instruction in subject areas supports literacy and language development of all students.
• Cultural and language instruction support learning in all subject areas, e.g. math.
• A culturally inclusive school environment supports learning.
Recommendation
• Address students’ experience and cultural background
• Create learning experiences that engage students
• Teach language in every subject area
Word Problems

Color Coding

This math sentence represents the total number of cow legs in the cow pen. If you know that □represents the number of cows and there are 12 cows in the pen, what does the ▲represent?

□ x▲= 48

A. The amount of grain the cows eat.

B. How much milk each cow gives.

C. The number of legs on each cow.

D. The total number of legs in the pen.

Oregon Department of Education

Mark the Stepping Stones

This math sentence represents the total number of cow legs in the cow pen. If you know that □represents the number of cows and there are 12 cows in the pen, what does the ▲represent?

□ x▲= 48

A. The amount of grain the cows eat.

B. How much milk each cow gives.

C. The number of legs on each cow.

D. The total number of legs in the pen.

Oregon Department of Education

Identify the Context

This math sentence represents the total number of cow legs in the cow pen. If you know that □represents the number of cows and there are 12 cows in the pen, what does the ▲represent?

□ x▲= 48

A. The amount of grain the cows eat.

B. How much milk each cow gives.

C. The number of legs on each cow.

D. The total number of legs in the pen.

Oregon Department of Education

Identify the Math Problem

This math sentence represents the total number of cow legs in the cow pen. If you know that □represents the number of cows and there are 12 cows in the pen, what does the ▲represent?

□ x▲= 48

A. The amount of grain the cows eat.

B. How much milk each cow gives.

C. The number of legs on each cow.

D. The total number of legs in the pen.

Oregon Department of Education

• Reference
• Learning tool
• Use the word
• Definition and Illustration
How to use the Dictionary

Example: acute triangle

• Guess a definition
• Discuss your definition with a partner
• Verify your definition if necessary (internet, dictionary)
• Make an illustration
Reward System

Students get rewards for

• Providing help
• Looking up words
• Adding a word to their dictionary
Ideas to Engage Students
• Create a money and bank system in the classroom
• Students can earn and spend money
• Writing workshops to create story problems
• Create context in the classroom
• Walk race
• School survey
References
• Barton, M. L. & Heidema, C. (2000). Teaching reading in mathematics [microform] : A supplement to "Teaching Reading in the Content Areas Teacher's Manual (2nd Ed.). [S.l.] : Distributed by ERIC Clearinghouse.
• Coggins, D, Kravin D., Coates, G. & Carroll, M. (2007). English language learners in the

mathematics classroom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

• Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power, and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire.

Buffalo, NY: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

• Genesee, F. (2008) Learning to read in a second language: Immersion Education: Pathways to

Bilingualism & Beyond. Plenary Speaker CALRA Immersion Conference Nov.08. St Paul, MN

• Gravelle, M (2005) Bilingual Learners: Bilingualism, Learning and Inclusion Retrieved 3rd

March 2006 from http://www.multiverse.ac.uk/attachments/044c80df-5005-44ac-a4b2-cec23fc51668.pdf

• Lyster, R. (2007). Learning and teaching languages through content: A counterbalanced