Responding to the rapid increase of emergent bilinguals (EBs) and their need to learn quality mathematics, this project implements modeling through co-developing and co-teaching with math teachers. This study investigates how mathematics teachers change their positioning and practices for EBs through a teacher-researcher collaboration of effective mathematical modeling instructions.
The project idea originated from the misconception that it is inappropriate to provide challenging mathematics tasks such as word problems to EBs due to their lack of English proficiency. If EBs receive only easy tasks, such as simple computation worksheets, EBs are denied opportunities to engage in high-level cognitive demand tasks like problem-solving or reasoning tasks that cultivate a more profound understanding in mathematics. More importantly, providing rigorous learning opportunities to all students, including EBs, is crucial for equity in education. Although teaching EBs is becoming an unavoidable challenge for mathematics teachers as the EB population grows in the U.S., almost half of surveyed teachers believe helping EBs adapt to the school culture is not their responsibility; in fact, approximately 20% of the teachers refuse to modify their instruction for EBs. While the student population in the U.S. is becoming culturally and linguistically diverse, many teachers feel unprepared to teach EBs effectively, and as mentioned above, the research found teachers tend to position EBs as low performers in mathematics. Based on the belief that teacher perspectives are related to teaching practices, this study will examine how teachers position EBs and what quality of instruction they provide by implementing modeling tasks and situated PD.
This NSF funded project is starting this fall 2020, so we do not have any data or findings. But our pilot data indicates the promising project design to improve the learning of EBs.