Monday, June 25, 2012

Math and English Language Learners

I started teaching a new course today, GED611 Teaching Mathematics to English Language Learners in the K - 8 Classroom . The topic of the course, a new requirement in the TESOL Program at St. Mike's, is the focus of my research during the past six years and is something for  which I have great enthusiasm and endless stories to tell,  as the student will tell you.

When I teach a math course I always have manipulative materials on the tables so that students have something to "doodle" with. It's not at all distracting and gives the students an opportunity to learn the characteristics of the math tools we use. Today, when I went to get my box of some 500 Unifix cubes (see picture) I found someone had put all the same colors together in rows of 15 or so. I was quite amazed by this since they are always just jumbled in the box the way they are in the picture. So, a little miffed, I gave lengths of  blues to some students, red to others and greens and so on until all 6 students had several colored rows in front of them.

After class I relayed the strange situation to a couple of my colleagues one of whom was able to shed light on the mystery. Apparently, a student in an earlier summer course needed something to do during class and so had methodically organized the Unifix cubes into colored lines. It must have taken several hours of class time to do this with so many cubes.

The class, just one graduate credit, got off to a great start and I'm very much looking forward to working with the students for the rest of the week. 

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