Place value is a very challenging math skill to learn in 1st grade. Math academic language tends to be an added challenge for many of my young learners, specially our second language learners (ELL, ESOL, SLL). These are some of the strategies that I have used to support my language learner students, and as it turns out ALL my students benefit from these strategies.
Counting and Place Value
Place value can be a challenge if students can’t count on from a given ten number. Rote counting helps with numeracy skills, but circling and counting helps students with counting on from any number.
Watch this video to see how I circle and count in Spanish with my student.
Using home language when counting
When language becomes the barrier, using home language as a bridge is the best tool. Since our number system is base 10, then knowing how to count by tens is a prerequisite for place value. I use these number posters to help my students learn the numbers in both languages. We sing the numbers in Spanish & English to the tune of “ten little fingers”.
Making it a routine
By the time we start module 2 in math, my students are familiar with the process of making a ten and the place value chart.
We also practice counting dimes and nickels and connecting the same principle of value. My kids get very motivated to learn about value of coins. Once we start talking about money, it’s like something clicks and this skill starts to make sense.
You can read more about my math calendar routine here.
The math curriculum that we use at my school, is a great curriculum. Unfortunately, their practice worksheets are not very friendly to language learners.
I had to find creative ways to maintain the rigor of the independent practice portion of the lesson.
I use these supplemental math worksheets to provide practice for the skills students are learning in class. The simplified language (and student-friendly lay out) gets to the core of the skills and eliminate unneeded language clutter.
I have these in Spanish as well, so I can provide more home-language resources to my students.
I also assign digital task cards for place value practice to my students. These are fantastic for homework, independent work, and even asynchronous learning.
Since the Boom Learning platform is set up with a self-checking feature, my students receive immediate feedback on their work.
You can try these task cards for FREE here.
I hope you are able to try some of these strategies and you find them useful. Whether you choose to adapt instructional materials, incorporate more home-language or use math calendar routines, your language learners will thank you for it!