Redefining Approaches for Engaging English Learners With Mathematical Ideas
The study of secondary mathematics often begins by giving students the vocabulary first, along with definitions, before students have been able to explore the ideas. Preteaching definitions can actually hinder understanding rather than promoting exploration of important mathematical ideas, particularly for students bureaucratically designated as English Learners.
This brief produced by the National Research & Development Center to Improve Education for Secondary English Learners considers how definitions are currently introduced and used in mathematics education at the secondary level.
The brief addresses the following questions with the aim of helping educators ensure that English Learners can participate fully in mathematical learning:
- What challenges do teachers need to consider for using good mathematical definitions with English Learners?
- How do curriculum materials currently approach the definition of key terms?
- How can learning opportunities focus on ideas that enable English Learners to explore and generate their own definitions?
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