Students hear a story about a child named Erika baking bread with her dad as an introduction to measuring mass in grams. They learn about metric units of mass and how to use a digital scale. Then they practice estimating and finding the mass of classroom objects to develop a class list of referents.
The Math Learning Center (MLC) and EL experts at the English Learners Success Forum (ELSF) collaborated on the development and refinement of this grade 3 mathematics lesson with the explicit purpose of learning together about language development through the process of creating and refining core content materials that that build on English learner students’ background knowledge and existing linguistic resources in the learning of mathematics. The process worked as follows:
1. MLC generated sample lessons for review.
2. ELSF’s EL expert team utilized the ELSF mathematics instructional materials Guidelines to provide written and oral feedback about how the sample lessons could more effectively support ELs.
3. Using ELSF’s EL expert feedback, MLC refined the lessons, collaborating with the ELSF team when needed to support understanding of how best to embed EL curricular supports.
4. ELSF then generated an impact statement that indicated which feedback was taken up in a robust way, and ways that the materials could be further refined for greater effectiveness in supporting ELs.
There are a number of strengths, in regards to supporting ELs, found in the revised lessons. The new examples show strategies for helping students routinely explain and justify their thinking, learning goals that explicitly incorporate oral language, and scaffolds that help students make use of context. The following example lesson calls out aspects that were refined, with rationale and reference to the accompanying Guidelines which provide information on why the refinement is more effective for ELs.