[Numeracy 71] Math as a foreign language

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Susan Jones SUJones at parkland.edu
Tue Jan 26 10:58:57 EST 2010

I, too, consider math a language. When I observe classes where the
students are left in the fog, it's almost alwasy with a teacher using
"fluent math" and not being aware that it's not connecting. I
thoroughly enjoyed sitting in on a class last year where the teacher
consistently either used terms students understood already, or pointed
out or explained what he was referring when he used a term.

Susan Jones
Academic Development Specialist
Center for Academic Success
Parkland College
Champaign, IL 61821
sujones at parkland.edu

>>> Claire Ludovico and/or TJ DeLuca <tjdclaire at cox.net> 1/25/2010

11:31 PM >>>
I'm Claire Ludovico, here in Phoenix, Arizona. I have been teaching
ABE/GED for 16 years and was a Physical/Earth science teacher for seven

years before that. I was part of the state's original TIAN training.

If the state doesn't defund adult education (a distinct possibility if

the governor gets her way), I hope to go on teaching adults for a few
more years. Most of my students (better than 90%) start with poor math

I teach parts, also. I cannot seem to separate fractions, decimals,
percents because each has its place...often in the same problem. A few

things I add for fractions are that the word numerator sounds like a
number...and is one, the line is the division symbol...and that is
probably the way they will see division denoted in the future, and the

word denominator has the Latin word nomin (nomen) in it, which means
"name". And that is how the denominator must be treated when adding or

subtracting fractions...as its name. I'm big on math as a foreign
language, so I also always point out that percent means per
hundred...and how that concept easily "translates" the percent both to

the fraction and to the decimal.
I don't like to be negative, but I am not a fan of tic-tac-toe math.
The first students I ever showed it to never came back to class. There

is a finger trick for 6x6, 6x7...includes the sevens, eights, nines,
tens (starting with times 6 always)...the worst part of the times
for most students. (I tell them they had better not be using it for
their tens though!) They do have to know their 2's, 3's, and 4's times

2, 3, 4 but that is not usually a problem.
If anyone would like a description of how this works (not why...I
haven't quite explained that to myself yet...but one of these days I
will), I will be glad to share.
I have students who want to ridicule other students who use their
fingers to do math...but I say if it works, don't worry about it.

Michael Gyori wrote:

> Hello Charlie and everyone,


> When I teach "parts" (vs. whole numbers), I introduce a range of

> values less than one but greater than zero. I introduce parts in the

> three ways they can be denoted in basic math: fractions, with the

> denominator being the total number of parts, and the numerator, the

> number of parts out of the total number in question. Dividing the

> numerator by the denominator will yield a decimal. Percentages

> represent a value of a particular number of parts over 100 (thus, a

> fraction). Dividing the numerator by the denominator (100 in this

> case) will yield a decimal.


> Perhaps such a holistic approach will assist in rendering partial

> values more comprehensible. As you haven't mentioned struggles with

> decimals, you might make decimals your starting point in teaching the

> other two expressions.


> Michael



> Michael A. Gyori


> Maui International Language School


> www.mauilanguage.com <http://www.mauilanguage.com/>






> *From:* Charlie <charlie at durangoaec.org>

> *To:* The Math and Numeracy Discussion List <numeracy at nifl.gov>

> *Sent:* Mon, January 25, 2010 9:24:19 AM

> *Su

bject:* [Numeracy 54] Introduction, fractions and percents


> Hello


> My name is Charlie Love. I have been teaching a wide range of levels

> of math for several years in various tutoring settings, improvising

> most of the lessons and using hands-on manipulatives as often as I

> can. Recently, I began teaching an ABE Math class. Engaging and

> supporting a group of students is quite a different challenge from

> working one-on-one. The concepts that I have had the most difficulty

> teaching are fractions and percents. I have had trouble conveying


> meaning and the mechanics of fractions and percents. I am looking


> new ideas to try the next time I teach these concepts in class.



> *Charlie Love*

> GED/ESOL Instructor

> Durango Adult Education Center

> 701 Camino del Rio, Room 301

> Durango, CO 81301

> phone: 970-385-4354 970-385-4354 ext. 110

> fax: 970-385-7968

> charlie at durangoaec.org <mailto:charlie at durangoaec.org>



> On Jan 22, 2010, at 12:36 PM, Shannon Klasell wrote:


>> Hello All,

>> My name is Shannon Klasell, and I am one of two Adult Program

>> Coordinators at Mason County Literacy. We’re a community-based


>> literacy organization located in Western Washington State . We

>> use trained community volunteers guided and supported by paid staff

>> to provide most of the instruction we provide. We offer Basic

>> Skills, GED Prep, Financial Literacy, basic computer skills, and


>> to our adult student community. Our services reach across two

>> counties; each with its own distinct demographic and issues. I am

>> also the lead GED instructor at a class held at our main site. Over

>> the last couple of years I have found myself struggling with the

>> issue of teaching math effectively. Almost every student we serve

>> “hates math” or is “freaked out by math” or “can’t do

math”. Many of

>> our volunteers also carry the same negative attitudes regarding math

>> and numeracy.

>> I hope to listen and learn from this list. I am a bit isolated –

>> located in a small town in a primarily rural county and the only

>> Basic Skills Instructor and Coordinator for the entire organization.

>> Currently I am trying to “change how we think about math and math

>> instruction” around here. I have been fortunate to have some


>> professional development experiences through the Washington State

>> Board for Community and Technical Colleges (a major funding source

>> for us). I have been working with the EMPower series of math books

>> by Key Curriculum. I am finding that mentoring and guiding people


>> improving numeracy and math skills in EMPower’s inquiry-based


>> is difficult to sustain in an environment where students tend to


>> and go, attendance can be spotty, almost everybody wants a GED

>> tomorrow, DSHS puts pressure on students to complete their studies


>> what _they_ think is a timely fashion and get a job, and many

>> volunteers come from the days of drill and kill.

>> The topics I will be most interested in are those that will help me

>> be more effective in helping both students and volunteers not only

>> meet their specific educational goals, but become confident problem

>> solvers and doers of math.


>> Shannon Klasell

>> Adult Program Coordinator

>> Mason County Literacy

>> 360-204-4680 360-204-4680


>> ----------------------------------------------------

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