Resources for Teaching the CCSS in Mathematics to ELLs

As I continue to learn so much from Mathematics for ELLs expert Dr. Anita Bright while we collaborate on scaffolding New York State’s P-12 CCSS in Mathematics curriculum for ELLs, I have a heightened awareness of the challenges ELLs may face while working on complex mathematics in a language they are still learning.

It seems I’m not the only one who’s thinking more about issues of the confluence of mathematics, academic language, and the Common Core for ELLs. Suddenly I’m hearing about many new resources focused on teaching CCSS-based mathematics to ELLs, as well as updates from the field – such as the recent announcement of PARCC's approval to translate math assessments – and I’ll share them with you in this post. (Thanks to Diane Garafolo from the Northern NY Regional ESL Collective for her steady supply of resources!) The first three resources are specifically CCSS-related, and the additional resources at the end of the post are focused more generally on teaching mathematics to ELLs and teaching math with the Common Core.

CCSS in Mathematics for ELLs: Online Resources

  • Stanford University’s Understanding Language Initiative: The Stanford-based group released a valuable set of mathematics materials in early October 2013 that are designed for teachers of ELLs. These materials illustrate how the CCSS in Mathematics can be used for ELL instruction. The materials include annotated math tasks for students in grade 4, 8, and high school. The resources also include Principles for Mathematics Instruction and Guidelines for Design of Mathematics Instruction and Materials as well as templates for teachers to design their own tasks to support mathematics learning and language development for ELLs.
  • The New York City Office of English Language Learners: In collaboration with math expert Dr. Ann Shannon and Dr. Phil Daro, co-author of the Common Core Learning Standards for mathematics, the NYC OELL created a series of videos focused on math and ELLs. In these videos, Dr. Daro shares a writer’s perspective on the CCSS with a community of NYC math educators of ELLs. These videos are intended to provide viewers with a better understanding of the implications of the Common Core Standards of Mathematics and their impact on ELLs.
  • NYC OELL & Math Solutions: The NYC OELL, in collaboration with Math Solutions and a selected group of educators, has developed three mathematics units of study that are designed to provide support for ELLs and their teachers. These three units address instruction in grades 3, 5, and 6 model strategies and scaffolds for ELLs. The topics covered include fractions, rations, and proportions.

Additional Resources on Teaching Mathematics to ELLs

  • Colorín Colorado: Take a look at this content-area instruction resource section for tips on math and content-area instruction, as well as these expert video interviews about the CCSS math standards and ELLs.
  • Previous blog posts: The Common Core Math for ELLs blog post contains information on shifts in the CCSS for mathematics and implications for ELLs as well as additional resources. The Academic Language of Mathematics blog post contains Dr. Debbie Zacarian’s view of academic language, an example of a grade two CCSS-based mathematics lesson for ELLs and additional resources.
  • The High School Newcomer ELL Video Set by Inside Mathematics is a video series produced by Inside Mathematics. In it, Carlos Cabana leads a lesson on reasoning and multiple representations around parabolas for his high school math class. The students are high school Newcomer ELL students, and the class is taught in English and Spanish. The 90-minute class is divided into 13 clips with teacher commentary and video transcript.
  • Mathematic for English Language Learners: The MELL project developed practical tools that improve the effectiveness of math instruction for ELLs. There are sample classroom lessons, instructional guides, research briefs, and practical videos on classroom strategies on the MELL website.

Other CCSS in Mathematics Resources

In addition, you may find these other Common Core math resources useful, even though they don't address ELL needs specifically:

Have you seen any other materials on Common Core math and ELLs that have been helpful?  What are some of the opportunities or challenges that you expect to see for your students in this area?

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I've taught Sp. Ed Math, Gen Ed Math, and this is my first year doing ELL Math.. Thank you for these resources and I actually had no idea the state was building the resources you are working on. Regarding the PARCC developments - They're starting to make sense by making tests accessible - but until then, my colleagues and I are frustrated and feel our students are at a major disadvantage given the lack of supports they're given for the NYS CC 3-8 tests. We're being told not to teach using many of the supports because they will not be available on the test. We're getting conflicting information from one office in the city and another. You seem to be quite knowledgeable and if you could in any way find out if NYS will take the measures PARCC has done so that our students have a fair shot. If you read this and think you can help please let me know and I'll give you specific concerns from teachers in a school full of ELLs, f-ells and long term ells who speak so many languages I can't even name them all. Thank you!

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