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Designing Mathematical Interactions for English Learners*

As a new year begins, it is worth revisiting how quality interactions are critical to supporting English Learners as they develop deep disciplinary understanding and engage in disciplinary practices. Expanding upon ideas from Aída's article last fall (Meaningful Classroom Talk), Haiwen Chu and Leslie Hamburger have contributed an article focused on English Learners to the 2019 Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School "Making Math Social" focus issue. Designing Mathematical Interactions for English Learners* offers practical designs for engaging invitations for English Learners to interact with their peers.

The article unpacks three key ideas about designing interactive activities for English Learners:

  • How the flow of information in a task can enhance opportunities to participate in quality interactions,

  • How structure–or the steps–of a task facilitates deep exploration of ideas and practices,

  • How the underlying mathematical goal is related to how students will interact.

We hope that this resource is helpful to your practice and encourage you to contact the authors directly ( & if you have any questions or require further assistance in deepening your school or district's expertise in working with English Learners in mathematics.

* Article available to members of NCTM who subscribe to Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School.

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