ELL EdTech Toolkit for Mathematics

When considering the supports of any student, we need to consider if any modifications need to be made to curriculum expectations (standards) or accommodations need to be made to students' environment. English Language Learners (ELLs) are part of a diverse group of students in our schools. Throughout my years of studying educational technology, I have discovered some tools that would support inclusive practices for ELLs. 

The following is a blurb taken from the Ontario Ministry of Education (2009) Capacity Building Series on ELL Voices in the Classroom. 

One tool that I have discovered is called FluentU. FluentU brings language learning to life through real-world videos.

As a general inclusive practice, students can work on their English or other languages through FluentU. I can see this program being used as a bridging tool to reduce the gap between ELL students and English speaking students. It is not the most immersive strategy, but it is at least connected to real-world content and a much more authentic way to learn a language. Click on the FluentU image below to check it out!

It is suggested that when teaching students in other subject areas (i.e., mathematics), there should still be a strong connection to literacy learning and technology (Leading Math Success, 2005). When considering mathematics, the following paragraph describes the issues with ELL students the way they are perceived in the classroom.

"Engage all students in mathematical activities that develop mathematical thinking. Some teachers tend to excuse English language learners from certain aspects of the academic work in order to not damage their self-esteem. Berzins and Lopez (2001) describe this as the pobrecito (poor little one) syndrome. However, carefully combining elements of language learning with mathematics learning is at the heart of effective language learning, and is related to what Slavin and Calderon (2001) call “component stacking (p. 3)” 

Kidspriation Maps
Inspiration Maps
Two programs that have been licensed by the Ontario Ministry of Education are Kidspiration Maps and Inspiration Maps. When thinking about differentiating instruction and providing opportunities to support students' communication, digital mind-mapping programs like these may support ELL students. Kidspiration and Inspiration Maps have a wide range of mind-mapping graphic organizers. There are also digital images embedded in them to support students' communication of ideas. You can think of these pictures as a "word bank," but instead of words, there are pictures. The best part about these programs are the audio recording features. Inside bubbles, students can choose to either type their thought or audio record their thoughts. Students who are ELL may find this audio recording feature useful when trying to communicate mathematical thinking. Click on the app icons to read more about Kidspiration and Inspiration maps. 

Another article called Strategies for English Language Learners by the Ontario Ministry of Education (2006) suggests that using a variety of instructional strategies is important. One way that I try to differentiate instruction in mathematics is through digital math manipulatives. I have talked about this resource on my blog, but I really do believe that they offer a unique learning experience for students. The main reason for this is that digital manipulatives provide a different tactile experience and have many built-in scaffolding features. One of my favourite companies that make digital math manipulatives is Brainingcamp. Brainingcamp offers many different kinds of math manipulatives and also have built-in instructional activities that students can complete. 

The Math Learning Centre also offers a wide variety of digital math manipulatives that are free to download. Math manipulatives scattered across the table can be fun and hands-on for some students. However, they can also be very distracting and overwhelming. I find that the digital tool keeps learning more narrow and focused on the task behind the screen. This can potentially support students who are trying to juggle academic content knowledge and English language learning. Click on the icon below to learn more about digital math manipulatives!

Overall, it is important to think about the content, process, and product of students' work when trying to differentiate. Hopefully through these different digital resources, you will feel better equipped to support ELL learners in Mathematics. 

Rochelle :)

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