Math Strategies

Math

Here you will find some math strategies to help with ESOL students.

Be careful when looking at each strategy as they could vary on grade level. All can be adapted to fit any grade level.



The ESOL Performance Standard that is covered in these strategies is:

ELD.K12.ELL.MA.1-English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Mathematics.



  1. Manipulative Strategies: Using Objects to Connect Concepts (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Shapes into Fourths and Halves
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Use manipulatives to represent real objects.
      • Manipulate objects to demonstrate concepts.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.G.1.3-Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, fourths, and quarters, and use the phrases half of, fourth of, and quarter of. Describe the whole as two of, or four of the shares. Understand for these examples that decomposing into more equal shares creates smaller shares.
    • For this strategy, students will be given paper circles and paper rectangles. On each of the circles and rectangles, there will be dotted lines where the students will cut the circles and rectangles into equal parts. Each shape will have a different amount of pieces to represent halves, fourths, and quarters. Students will then be asked to label each part as a fraction and put them back together as a whole. Students should interact and discuss with other students what they are realizing about their shapes.
    • The teacher should model first what students are to do and provide guided practice before just letting students get to work. Once students have finished the teacher should bring the class back together to discuss what they just did. (Call on students to see if they want to explain what they learned.)
    • This strategy allows students to have a visual that they can touch and manipulate of what halves, fourths, and quarters of a shape look like. Visuals are especially helpful to ELLs. The visual allows the idea to become more concrete and it allows the student to explore the idea.
    • Virtual Manipulativesfractions
  2. Sorting Activities: Organizing Information into Categories (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Sorting numbers based on comparisons.
    • TESOL Standard for PreK-3 Students:
      • Sort pictures into categories.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.NBT.2.3-Compare two two-digit numbers based on meanings of the tens and ones digits, recording the results of comparisons with the symbols >, =, and <.
    • For this strategy, students will be working in pairs. Each pair of students will be given cards which will contain two two-digit numbers on them with an empty space in the middle. (Example: 23 ___ 11) Students will then have to place these numbers into a greater than (>), equal to (=), or less than (<), category based on which will complete the statement. (The example card would go into the greater than (>) category as 23 is greater than 11.) An answer key can be given to the students once they have checked with the teacher.
    • The teacher should go through a couple cards with the class so they understand what is expected of them and then should walk around the class to monitor the students. Students should be encouraged to ask for help.
    • This strategy allows for the students to see how numbers compare to one another and allows for a different form of instruction. The number sort becomes more like a game than actual work so the students will be more interested. By allowing students to work in pairs, you allow them to work off of each other and talk things too which allows for more learning.Comparisons
  3. Checking for Understanding: Using Questioning Strategies to Differentiate Instruction (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Sticky Note Responses
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Use listening skills to help them understand the question.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.OA.4.7-Understand the meaning of the equal sign, and determine if equations involving addition and subtraction are true or false. For example, which of the following equations are true and which are false? 6 = 6, 7 = 8 – 1, 5 + 2 = 2 + 5, 4 + 1 = 5 + 2.
    • This strategy focuses on the students understanding. After a lesson has been taught on determining if the equations are true or false, students will be given a sticky note. The teacher will then give the students an equation to answer like, true or false: 4+5=10-2. The students will then be asked to write their name and either true or false at the top of their sticky note. The teacher will then ask the students to write: Yes-I am sure I got it right, I think I got it right, or I do not know. The teacher will then ask the students to raise their hands if they got it correct as he or she collects the sticky notes.
    • The teacher should make sure that each and every student is participating and feels comfortable answering. The teacher should also remind students to look only at their own sticky note.
    • It is important as a teacher to know if your students are understanding what is being taught, especially in math. Using an everyone responds strategy, every student is encouraged to participate and the teacher is able to gather the information he or she needs. By using sticky notes, the student’s response remains private as some might be embarrassed to answer or say they do not understand aloud. The sticky notes also allow the teacher to see where the majority of their class lies before moving onto something else.
    • Games to help students improve their understanding:
  4.  Realia Strategies: Connecting Language Acquisition to the Real World (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Real World Examples
    • TESOL Standard for PreK-3 Students:
      • Associate written symbols and realia.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.MD.2.a-Identify and combine values of money in cents up to one dollar working with a single unit of currency.
    • This strategy involves connecting math to real like examples. One of the easiest things to do for students when working with money is to create a shop in your class where the students get to spend “money.” Teachers can also bring in real coins to show the students and to count with them. Students can also be encouraged to bring in coins and then the teacher can perform activities with them. Anything to get the students to connect what they are learning to the outside world.
    • The teacher can also encourage the students to go shopping with their parents to see how things add up to come to a total.
    • ELLs benefit from this strategy by being able to relate what they are learning to the real world. They are able to have hands-on experience with it as well.
    • Shopping Activitymath shop
  5. Preview/Review: Building Vocabulary and Concepts to Support Understanding (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Vocabulary Bank
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Respond appropriately to gestures.
      • Rehearse appropriate language related to the formality of the setting.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.G.1.3-Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, fourths, and quarters, and use the phrases half of, fourth of, and quarter of. Describe the whole as two of, or four of the shares. Understand for these examples that decomposing into more equal shares creates smaller shares.
    • In math it is very important that students are able to understand the language being used. Math language is not familiar to many students, especially ELLs. Teachers should preview the new vocabulary with the students before the lesson starts and also review the words when the lesson is complete. Having a vocabulary bank where the teacher posts the new words gives the students more exposure to the words.
    • ELLs benefit from this strategy as they are being exposed to the language before the lesson begins so they can become more familiar with them. They are also given work with these words after to strengthen their understanding. The vocabulary bank also helps because it gives the student something to look back on.
    • http://powerupwhatworks.org/strategy-guide/math-languagemath
  6.  Advance Organizers: Getting the Mind in Gear for Instruction (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Advance Organizers
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Draw pictures representing their past experiences related to the topic being discussed.
      • Ask questions to make connections between their past experiences and the topic being discussed.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.MD.3.4-Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories; ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another.
    • An advance organizer is a tool used to introduce the lesson topic and illustrate the relationship between what the students are about to learn and the information they have already learned. By using an advance organizer to link the new information to old information, the new information can be remembered more easily. There are three basic purposes of advance organizers. First, they direct students’ attention to what is important in the upcoming lesson. Second, they highlight relationships among ideas that will be presented. Third, they remind students of relevant information that they already have.
    • Advance Organizer Video
  7. Combining and Scheduling Strategies: Supporting Learning through Differentiation (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Differentiation
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Use different strategies to enhance their understanding.
      • Practice learned strategies to allow for depth in knowledge.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.OA.4.7-Understand the meaning of the equal sign, and determine if equations involving addition and subtraction are true or false. For example, which of the following equations are true and which are false? 6 = 6, 7 = 8 – 1, 5 + 2 = 2 + 5, 4 + 1 = 5 + 2.
    • http://www.everythingesl.net/inservices/differentiating_instructi_lang_94938.php
  8. Math Journals: Write It Out
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Combining Math and Writing
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Use appropriate math vocabulary in their writing.
      • Express their ideas and thoughts about math.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.NBT.1.1-Count to 120, starting at any number less than 120. In this range, read and write numerals and represent a number of objects with a written numeral.
    • Math journals are a way for students to write about what they are doing in math. It is helpful for students to write out what they are thinking so they can reflect on it later on. Math journals can also be used for students to ask questions for the teacher and to show interest in something. The point of the math journal is to get students writing about math and to allow them to become more engaged in math.
    • All About Math Journalsmath journal
  9. Examples and Non-Examples: What is Right and What is Wrong?
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Examples vs Non-Examples
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Identify what an example is versus a non-example.
      • Express their ideas in examples and non-examples.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.G.1.1-Distinguish between defining attributes (e.g., triangles are closed and three-sided) versus non-defining attributes (e.g., color, orientation, overall size); build and draw shapes to possess defining attributes.
  10. Read-Aloud Plus: Using Strategies to Support Comprehension (Taken from 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners by A.L Herrel and M. Jordan)
    • Grade: 1st grade
      • Connecting Math and Reading
    • TESOL Standards for PreK-3 Students:
      • Use realia to support story understanding.
      • Discuss stories and relate them to personal experiences.
    • Common Core Standard:
      • MAFS.1.MD.1.1-Order three objects by length; compare the lengths of two objects indirectly by using a third object.
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