2017 Program

Promising Math 2017 was the first in a biennial conference bringing together stakeholders from across the country to share knowledge about the understanding, teaching, and learning of mathematics for children between birth and eight years.

Over 80 professionals from across the country gathered at Erikson Institute. We welcomed experts in intervention and teaching, scholars in early mathematics, policymakers and government representatives, experts in dual language learning, adult educators and scholars in teacher preparation, cognitive developmental scientists, teachers of young children, and of course, parents.

Promising Math 2017

Goals and Vision
2017 Focus
2017 Major Questions
2017 Speakers
2017 Program & Materials


Plenary Speakers

Sylvia Celedón-Pattichis

sylvia_celedon-pattichisInterim Senior Associate Dean for Collaborative Research and Community Engagement
Professor of Bilingual/Mathematics Education
University of New Mexico

Plenary Topic: Opportunities to Learn High Quality Mathematics in Bilingual Kindergarten and First Grade Classrooms (Plenary 1)

Silvia Celedón-Pattichis studies linguistic and cultural influences on the teaching and learning of mathematics, especially with emergent bilinguals. She was Co-PI of the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as (CEMELA), an NSF-funded collaboration among four universities. CEMELA worked to develop theory and practice around turning language and cultural diversity into educational assets for the mathematics education of all students. Her most recent work is a co-edited book in press by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) titled Access and Equity: Promoting High Quality Mathematics in Grades PreK-2 and another book in the same series for Grades 3-5. She is a co-editor of Beyond Good Teaching: Advancing Mathematics Education for ELLs, also published by NCTM in 2012. She also co-authored a recent article in Cultural Studies of Science Education entitled “An interdisciplinary collaboration between computer engineering and mathematics / bilingual education to develop a curriculum for underrepresented middle school students.” Dr. Celedón-Pattichis is also the co-editor of Mathematics Education at Highly Effective Schools that Serve the Poor: Strategies for Change, published by Lawrence Erlbaum in 2006.

Barbara Sarnecka

Barbara SarneckaAssociate Professor of Cognitive Sciences
University of California at Irvine

Plenary Topic: The Real Preschoolers of Orange County: Early Number Knowledge Among Dual-Language Learners from Low-SES Households (Plenary 2)

Barbara Sarnecka studies cognitive development, especially the question of how children learn about counting and numbers during the preschool years. She also works on social cognitive development, the development of judgment and decision-making, the development of self-efficacy and autonomy, and adult moral psychology. Barbara is currently working on a book about scientific writing, using insights from cognitive science and linguistics to help scientists write better. She is the author of “How numbers are like the earth (and unlike faces, loitering or knitting)” in Core Knowledge and Conceptual Change (2016) and also of an upcoming chapter in Language and Culture in Mathematical Cognition: “Early Number Knowledge In Dual-Language Learners From Low-SES Households.”

Rodrigo Gutiérrez

Rodrigo Gutiérrez Univ of ArizonaCo-Director of the Center for Recruitment and Retention of Mathematics Teachers (CRR)
University of Arizona

Galina (Halla) Jmourko

Prince George County Public Schools in Maryland

Plenary Topic: Integrating Language and Mathematics: Principles and Tools for Elementary Teachers and Students (Plenary 3)

Rodrigo Gutiérrez’s professional interests include teacher development, mathematics education, and teaching for social justice, with a particular emphasis on Latinx and emergent bilinguals. He has broad experience designing and implementing professional development to assist teachers in making their instruction more appropriate for new immigrants. After teaching middle and high school mathematics, Rodrigo directed an educational non-profit running afterschool and summer programs for underserved youth of color. Having previously been a fellow with the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos/as (CEMELA), Rodrigo recently returned to the University of Arizona to serve as Co-Director of the Center for Recruitment and Retention of Mathematics Teachers.

Halla Jmourko is an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) instructional coach in Prince George’s County Public Schools, MD. Halla’s primary professional engagements are focused on advocacy for children coming from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. What began as a personal experience as a parent of a dual language learner became a professional investigation about the role of language in mathematics learning and a commitment to supporting English learners (ELs) in mathematics. She designs professional development opportunities, creates language-based instructional tools, and implements a variety of coaching structures to support mainstream and ESOL teachers of English learners across content areas, but particularly in mathematics. Over the years, Halla has been working with Center for Mathematics Education, University of Maryland to support university-district outreach efforts and is currently co-teaching a course on middle school mathematics instruction for ELs.

Presentation PDF Handouts

Concurrent Session 1 | Friday 10:15AM

Panel: Digital Learning

This panel brings together researchers who are investigating the effectiveness of digital activities to support DLLs in building mathematical understanding and math-related language. Panelists representing three groups of researchers will briefly describe their own work with digital tools in mathematics education for DLLs, and then participate in a facilitated discussion. How tools are used in classroom settings, what advantages such tools might have for parents, and how they are particularly suited to helping dual language learners (and at what ages) are the kinds of questions that will be addressed.
Facilitator: Tamara Kaldor is the Associate Director for the Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center at Erikson Institute. She has over fifteen years of experience teaching and consulting with parents, educators, and leading international organizations on assistive technology, integrating technology into the classroom, STEM, early coding and computational thinking, play and technology, and navigating the digital world responsibly.
Kathy Perkins, University of Colorado – Boulder
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Ashley Lewis Presser, Education Development Center
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Matthew Foster, University of South Florida
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Supporting the Development of Early Mathematical knowledge Among Dual Language Learners with Varying English-Proficiency from Preschool through Kindergarten

Lydia DeFlorio, University of Nevada, Reno
Prentice Starkey, WestEd
Alice Klein, WestEd

We will report findings from two early math intervention studies as they relate to the growth of early math knowledge among three groups of children: monolingual language learners (MLL) and dual language learners (DLL) who are English proficient by the end of pre-k, and DLLs who are not English proficient by the end of pre-k. In both studies, early math intervention was highly effective with DLL children, likely due to three factors that will be discussed:

  1. the use of evidenced-based math curricula,
  2. extensive teacher professional development, and
  3. the provision of activities and materials to parents for the purpose of supporting math at home.

Examples of curricula and home activities will be presented and discussed, as will broader strategies for reducing the language-related achievement gap in early childhood classrooms.

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Developing a Statewide System of Access and Equity in Early Mathematics: A Look at the Data and Work in Washington State

Rachel Eifler, Northeast Washington Educational Service District 101
Over the last six years, Washington educators have been gathering data related to early mathematics and have created resources and systems of delivery to support districts, schools, teachers, and parents. This presentation will introduce participants to the whole child observation-based assessments that are currently being implemented in preschool and kindergarten across the state of Washington and how the data has informed the practice of state leaders and policymakers in supporting young ELLs in mathematics. Participants will be introduced to the data, the work that has resulted, and some of the quantitative and qualitative data that measures impact across the state. Some resources and materials will be presented and reviewed.

Presentation PDF Handouts

Working with Parents and Teachers to Think Mathematically in their Dominant Language: The Role of Language and Culture in Helping Adults Shift their Understanding of Foundational Mathematics

Rebeca Itzkowich, Erikson Institute
Diana Miranda, Chicago Public Schools
Juana Resendiz, Chicago Public Schools

In this presentation we will hear from two teachers who have piloted programs for Spanish-speaking immigrant parents in their second and third grade classrooms. The purpose of these programs has been to help parents understand the mathematics they are teaching so that they can best support their own children at home. We will also explore what happens when teachers and teacher assistants, who are themselves on the continuum of Spanish/English bilingualism, get professional development opportunities to think about mathematics and teaching in their stronger language. Participants will learn strategies to empower parents and teachers to value and activate opportunities for math interactions in children’s home languages.

Handout 1: Student Survey Handout 2: Parent Survey

Concurrent Session 2 | Friday 11:15AM

Panel: Policy Perspectives

There are many practical and political issues that arise when organizations like states and cities take on the task of educating dual language learners. Questions about language of instruction, assessment tools, curricula, and teacher preparation all come into play. While these issues are often discussed in terms of literacy, they are less frequently addressed as they impact math learning. Further, when there is a “content” focus to the discussion, it is often specific to the needs and issues of older students. Our panelists will provide perspective on these issues as they relate early mathematics in particular.
Facilitator: Cristina Pacione-Zayas oversees policy and leadership initiatives at Erikson Institute. As Policy Director, she is charged with developing Erikson’s policy agenda that will influence the development of key early childhood policies leading to positive outcomes for children, families, and communities.
Rachel Eifler, Northeast Washington Educational Service District 101
Diego Ferney Giraldo, Chicago Public Schools
Lisa Hood, Illinois State University

Using Core Mathematics Instruction to Promote the Mathematics Achievement of Kindergarten English Language Learners

Christian Doabler, University of Texas at Austin
Ben Clarke, University of Oregon
Scott Baker, Southern Methodist University
Keith Smolkowsi, Oregon Research Institute

Core math instruction in kindergarten is undoubtedly critical for preventing math difficulties among English Language Learners (ELLs). Despite its importance, there is a paucity of empirical research on core math instruction involving ELLs. This presentation will describe results from an IES-funded, randomized controlled trial that investigated the efficacy of the Early Learning in Mathematics (ELM) program on the math achievement of ELLs in kindergarten. Evidence of differential response to ELM-based initial skill status in math was not found, suggesting that ELM had an overall positive impact regardless of where ELLs started kindergarten in math. The session will engage participants by discussing:

  1. plausible reasons why ELLs struggle with math,
  2. importance of core math instruction for ELLs,
  3. the evidence-based design principles embedded within the ELM program that are designed to engage ELLs in important instructional interactions around critical math topics, and
  4. how to design effective core math instruction for ELLs.

Beginning Elementary Teachers Learning How To Enhance ELLs’ Access to Mathematics: The Case Of The Clinical Interview

Hanna Haydar, Brooklyn College – CUNY
This presentation will describe the use of a Clinical Interview method by early childhood mathematics student teachers. Drawing on both developmental psychology and mathematics education, we will report on a study of prospective teachers learning to conduct such an interview within the context of teacher education methods and research courses. Descriptions of how teachers develop and/or modify interview protocols to support their teaching of math to children whose first language is not English will be analyzed. We will emphasize findings on how this experience affects beginning teachers’ questioning and lesson planning skills, and helps them understand and develop strategies to teach ELLs mathematics.

Concurrent Session 3 | Friday 3:15PM

Panel: Language and Math Assessment

The relationship between math learning and general language skills is well-established. However, less research has focused on math-specific language skills in younger children and dual language learners; this has resulted in a gap in knowledge about what these children know and how to best assess their math skills. Today’s panelists have addressed these issues, either by developing math-specific language tools or assessing young dual language learners in both English and Spanish. They will present their findings and address topics such as the utility of studying math-related language, choosing what language to conduct a math assessment in, and the implications of their findings for language of instruction.
Facilitator: Barbara Sarnecka studies how young children acquire number concepts, and how independent experiences in childhood and adolescence contribute to development. She is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Sciences at the University of California at Irvine, and author of a soon-to-be published chapter on “Early Number Knowledge In Dual-Language Learners From Low-SES Households.”
David Purpura, Purdue University
Sarah Powell, University of Texas at Austin
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Erika Gaylor, SRI International
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Parents and Teachers Exploring Together the Mathematics Learning of Emergent Bilingual Children

Marta Civil, University of Arizona
Kathy Stoehr, Santa Clara University
Fany Salazar, University of Arizona

This presentation focuses on a model of parental engagement in mathematics designed around the development and utilization of a two-way dialogue between school and home. Drawing on constructs such as funds of knowledge and parents as intellectual resources, it reflects over two decades of development and research in mathematics education with Mexican-American families. The current project is located in two schools with different language policies, and focuses on the mathematics learning of prek-3 children, many of whom are emergent bilinguals.

Does Improved Vocabulary Enhance Hispanic English Learners Response to Mathematics Intervention?

Matthew Foster, University of South Florida
Maria Carlo, University of South Florida
Jason Anthony, University of South Florida
Jeffrey Williams, University of South Florida

Math achievement at school entry is one of the strongest predictors of later academic success; yet little is known about interventions that improve math achievement in Hispanic English Learners (ELs), the largest and fastest growing population in the US at risk for academic failure. The goal of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the Building Blocks (BB) software activities targeting numeric and quantitative understandings for Hispanic ELs and to examine the impact of vocabulary on children’s response to the intervention. Findings support use of BB software as a supplemental intervention for increasing mathematical competencies of low SES Hispanic ELs. Findings also demonstrate that the impact of vocabulary on academic outcomes is not limited to reading and should be considered when planning math instruction. The research team will engage participants in discussion of key questions of this work and possible future directions.