For English language learners, diagrams can be a powerful tool to develop and communicate mathematical understanding. Imagine being a 6th grade student who is still learning English, sitting in a mathematics classroom and trying to navigate the lesson. You might wonder: What is the teacher saying I should do? Did my classmates solve it the way I did? Will the other students laugh at me when I try to explain how I solved the problem?
Now imagine being a teacher in that same classroom. You might be asking yourself: What can I say so that all my students will understand what to work on? How do I know that all my students understand how to solve this problem? How can I help students share their mathematical thinking in productive ways?
Nikula, J., DePiper, J. N., & Driscoll, M. (2019). Making mathematical thinking visible. Educational Leadership, 77(4), 77-81.