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Instruction: Language, Discourse, & Standards

Math, Standards, & Language

**Council of Chief State School Officers. (2012). Key practices and disciplinary core ideas (“domains”) of the mathematics CCSS. [Table]. In Framework for English Language Proficiency Development Standards corresponding to the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (p. 21–25). Available at

This table outlines the eight mathematical “practices” (activities in which students engage to develop content knowledge) identified in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The table breaks down each practice by the analytical tasks involved in the practice, and the language functions students must receive and produce to demonstrate their understanding of the practice. While the standards themselves outline what students should know and be able to do, this table adds value by further outlining the language demands students will need to draw on across all content areas when demonstrating what they know and can do. For example, Mathematical Practice 8 stipulates that students will “look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.” To demonstrate the mastery of this practice, students will need to explain patterns they see orally, in writing, or in other ways and evaluate those patterns, as well as understand others’ explanations and evaluations. The briefing binder includes the practices for math; visit the link above for the full document containing tables for English language arts and science.

Moschkovich, J. (n.d.). Mathematics, the Common Core, and language: Recommendations for mathematics instruction for ELs aligned with the Common Core. Available at _bound%20with%20appendix.pdf

This paper discusses the challenges of teaching math to English learners (ELs). Focusing on four areas of emphasis from the CCSS mathematics guidelines, the author recommends five specific strategies to support teaching mathematical concepts and assessing the mathematical reasoning ability of ELs. These include focusing on students’ knowledge of concepts rather than specific mathematical vocabulary, using multiple modes of communication including visual representations, and embracing the use of informal language. The paper closes with an anecdote that illustrates a teacher using these strategies to help a student display mathematical knowledge in a real-life classroom setting.


**Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2014). Speaking volumes. Educational Leadership, 72(3), pp. 18-23. Available for purchase at 

The authors provide strategies for promoting productive discussion in the classroom. Research shows that students benefit from talking in classroom discussions and in small groups. The speaking opportunities promote thinking and enable teachers to evaluate student learning, and oral communication skills help facilitate development in literacy. The article’s suggestions for teachers to improve student discourse include joining in on small-group discussions, choosing meaningful activities, and providing language support tools such as vocabulary charts.

**Soto, I. (2012a). History and context of shadowing. In ELL shadowing as a catalyst for change (pp. 11-14). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. This book is available for purchase at  

**Soto, I. (2012b). A day in the life of Josue, an ELL. In ELL shadowing as a catalyst for change (pp. 15-20). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. This book is available for purchase at  

These chapters from a book about EL shadowing discuss the history and practice of shadowing EL students as a method for identifying and addressing system-wide instructional issues. The author describes how shadowing emerged as a practice in Los Angeles Unified School District in 2003. The practice involves shadowing a specific, individual student for 2-3 hours to examine their lived experiences in classrooms and their use of academic listening and speaking. The author describes the importance of professional development before the shadowing takes place so that educators know exactly what types of language use to pay attention to. The professional development also ensures they are using their scoring tools consistently and have a strong foundation for debriefing the shadowing experience once it has concluded. A case study of a student named Josue helps to illustrate how each of these steps plays out in practice. The author describes how grounding the issues of ELs in the experience of real students is one of the best ways to create a sense of urgency for transforming school systems. 

Offices of Elementary and Secondary Education. (n.d.). Academic discourse tool for mathematics. Garden Grove, CA: Garden Grove Unified School District. 

Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD) uses this tool to assess the quality of student discourse in its mathematics classrooms. This tool is also inspired by the work of Ivannia Soto, and GGUSD leaders have used it while shadowing EL students. During the meeting, Superintendent Gabriela Mafi will present more information on how district educators use this tool, the successes they have experienced, and the challenges that remain. Available at

**This document is considered a priority pre-reading.