My Life Untranslated

The Secret Adventures of an ESL Teacher in NYC

Archive for the tag “math”

Really, Every Day Math?!

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Dear creators of Every Day Math,

You have clearly never taught ELLs, because you give the most useless suggestions EVER. How about not creating a curriculum that assumes all child the world over learn the same math the world over at the same time?

Love,
A Teacher of actual ELLs

Teaching Math but Assessing English

We use Everyday Math to teach in my school and rarely do you find a teacher who has something positive to say about it. I went to some PDs last year about ELLs and math, and even there a lot of school math coaches in attendance were sharing other texts – one published in NY – that had real ESL components.

There are many problems with EDM, but a major flaw is how much it teaches that has nothing to do with grade level standards. It assumes certain topics were taught to students in previous grade levels and won’t reteach them, or teaches things kids don’t “need” for 2 more grades. (Yes, “need” seems defined by the standardized math tests). So we are told to scrap certain lessons and supplement with yet another math text, Coach.

A new element this year is we are no longer using the assessments provided by EDM. Instead, the math coaches have created mini and cumulative assessments. My gripe? It does not actually allow me to properly assess my newcomers’ math skills because of the english in it. At least the EDM tests used the same language or format of workbook pages. You’d think if we were going to create our own tests in-house, there’d be accomodations made. Nope. I mean, are we assessing their math skills or their ability to decipher the English in math, because those are different skills!

Supposedly kids are doing really well on them. Not mine! And it kills me because math is not my strong point, and I try to teach beyond what the text gives us, and I teach the language, and I just wish I had a better idea how much they are grasping! I’d like to know what more I could do to teach the testing language or if they truly aren’t learning. (Some kids do get 70s, 80s, and even 90s, but far too many get 40s or below.)

To top it off, so many of my kids did not attend a school in the US before this year (and at least 2 didn’t go to school much at all last year), so there are no doubt plenty of skills they don’t know –or they learned to do things differently and aren’t sure how to apply what they know.

Supremely frustrating. From now on I’m going to create separate tests for the newcomers that uses less language and we’ll see how that goes.

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