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Incorporating Language Into Early Math Instruction: Using Research-Based, Developmentally Appropriate Strategies and Activities


November 1, 2014
Quality and Curriculum
Alissa Lange, Kimberly Brenneman, Jorie Quinn

This presentation from the NAEYC 2014 Annual Conference & Expo in Dallas, Texas, discusses the value of incorporating language – both teacher and student – in early mathematics learning experiences. 

This presentation, discusses the value of incorporating language – both teacher and student – in early mathematics learning experiences. It highlights the importance of starting with a research-based theoretical framework for early math development, such as learning trajectories outlined by Clements and Sarama (2009) and discusses strategies that facilitate development of math and language using hands-on activities, and provide evidence for why they are valuable. The approach used in this presentation is a part of our SciMath-DLL project, a National Science Foundation-funded study to develop professional development supports in math and science for teachers of preschoolers, especially dual language learners. Participants will engage with materials and activities in whole group and small groups that demonstrate that mathematics can be done in a way, 1) that encourages both math and language development of children, 2) in which teachers use more and more effective language themselves, and 3) that is appropriate for learners at different levels of language development, such as DLLs. For example, a teaching strategy that encourages children’s math and language development includes using appropriate terms for geometric shapes, such as rhombus, instead of diamond. Dual language learners benefit from hearing these terms in their home language as well (Tabors, 2008). All children will be better prepared for their future mathematics learning armed with accurate language and a deeper understanding of mathematics they can learn in preschool.