Learning to Speak Math
T.H.E. Journal Volume 36, Number 8, ISSN 0192-592X
The presence of a bilingual educator is proving pivotal to the success of technology initiatives aimed at developing Spanish-speaking students' grasp of both the concepts and the language of mathematics. This article features Ginny Badger, a teaching assistant at Glenwood Springs High School in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, who sacrificed her planning period to supervise and support five Spanish-speaking students as they tackled a web-based tutoring program called Help Math designed to help them decipher algebra. Badger set each student up to use Help Math, which is distributed by Digital Directions International and is designed specifically to bring the math skills of English Language Learners (ELLs), particularly Spanish speakers, up to algebra level. The software launches with an assessment that brings out the critical deficiencies in the students' math education. Badger found that the use of the software quickly sparked the students' enthusiasm for learning math. This article also describes how a resource teacher at the Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach, California, discovered BrainX, web-based tutoring software whose library of digital content includes lessons and coursework created specifically for teaching math to ELLs. As they do with Math Help, students take an initial assessment that measures their math knowledge, and then the program creates a personalized series of lessons targeting the identified problem areas.
Demski, J. (2009). Learning to Speak Math. T.H.E. Journal, 36(8), 18-22.