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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

TAKING THE "FEAR" OUT OF MIXTURE PROBLEMS IN ALGEBRA FOR ELLS AND OTHERS

Algebra is a course that many ELLs, as well as English only students, struggle with in both middle school and high school.  The language of algebra word problems is new, the concepts are unknown, the execution of the steps to solve the problems lead to confusion, etc. 

For ELLs to fully grasp the material and feel confident in applying newly acquired knowledge beyond the classroom,  they need the materials to be accessible in both language and content.  To accomplish this, teachers need to establish solid connections to student lives.  This is done by finding "props" that are common to students outside the classroom (see video).  With this information, teachers must build bridges or connections for students.  Teachers move from the known to the new.  Once the foundation is laid out for students, teachers need only tie the new concepts to that foundation.  Students will find it easier to relate to the lesson with such connections firmly established.

ALGEBRA MIXTURE WORD PROBLEMS DEMYSTIFIED  National Board Certified teacher Marlo Warburton does an incredible job in demystifying algebra mixture word problems.  Through her use of realia (cups of liquids), visuals (seesaw), laughter, and highly interactive activities, she involves every student in the lesson.  She convinces each one that there is no mystery to solving those dreaded word problems:)  In interviews with students after the class, they all felt that she was an awesome teacher who really loved her subject area and they felt confident in their new abilities to solve mixture problems with ease.

If only such a teacher had been around when I was suffering through mixture problems. 

Denise

ELL TEACHER PROS



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