ERIC Number: ED393646
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996
Teaching Mathematics for Understanding to Bilingual Students.
Secada, Walter G.; De La Cruz, Yolanda
When children's own strategies for solving mathematical problems are not connected to the way mathematics is taught in school, students fail to make sense of mathematics instruction and begin to "fail." This chapter adopts the position that student understanding of worthwhile mathematical content is the essential goal of mathematics education, and that everything else--curriculum, instruction, and assessment--is a means to that end. For culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms, this position means that student bilingualism and the use of children's home and cultural backgrounds in mathematics are important considerations for teachers as they attempt to promote student understanding. An example of teaching for understanding in the bilingual or multicultural primary classroom is provided through an extensive vignette--a composite drawn from many observations, particularly in classrooms with students of Mexican origin. The example demonstrates how a teacher promotes understanding through classroom discussion in which children explain their reasoning to each other. Four principles guide such practices: constant assessment of what students understand; choice of mathematical content that is interesting, open-ended, and accessible to children of varying abilities; building on students' prior knowledge and home experiences; and developing mathematical language in context. Since teacher awareness of the extent of student understanding is critical, modified strategies are suggested for the teacher who is not fluent in students' dominant language. Contains 56 references. (SV)
Descriptors: Bilingual Education, Bilingual Students, Classroom Environment, Constructivism (Learning), Cooperative Learning, Discussion (Teaching Technique), Elementary Education, Elementary School Mathematics, Limited English Speaking, Mathematics Instruction, Mexican American Education, Parent Teacher Cooperation, Peer Teaching, Protocol Analysis, Teaching Methods, Word Problems (Mathematics)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL.; National Center for Research in Mathematical Sciences Education, Madison, WI.; Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.; National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Chapter 17 in: Children of La Frontera: Binational Efforts To Serve Mexican Migrant and Immigrant Students; see RC 020 526.