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Mathematical Thinking and Communication

Access for English Learners

By Mark Driscoll, Johannah Nikula, Jill Neumayer DePiper

Starting from the perspective that English learners are capable of mathematical thinking. Mathematical Thinking and Communication outlines four principles for designing instruction: challenging tasks, multimodal representations, development of mathematical communication, and repeated structured practice.

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Language is deeply involved in learning mathematics as students both communicate and think about mathematical ideas. Because of this, teachers of English learners have particular challenges to overcome. Mathematical Thinking and Communication addresses perhaps the most significant challenge: providing access to mathematics for these students.

For all students—and English learners in particular—access means finding effective, authentic ways to make language clear and thinking visible so they can reason more, speak more, and write more in mathematics. Based on extensive research and collaboration with teachers, coaches, and schools, Mark Driscoll, Johannah Nikula, and Jill Neumayer DePiper outline four principles for designing instruction that creates this kind of access: challenging tasks, multimodal representations, development of mathematical communication, and repeated structured practice.

Starting from the perspective that English learners are capable of mathematical thinking (even as they are learning to express their ideas verbally), the authors highlight techniques for using gestures, drawings, models, manipulatives, and technology as tools for reasoning and communication. By embedding these visual representations into instruction—and encouraging their regular use—teachers support engagement in problem solving, facilitate mathematical dialogue, and notice evidence of students’ thinking that propels them to create more engaging and equitable instruction.

Enhanced by an extensive online collection of companion professional development resources, this book highlights classroom-ready strategies and routines for fostering mathematics success in all students and helping them recognize their potential.

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