September 22, 2004
I have used the Accelerated Math software (www.renlearn.com/am/default.htm) with great success. It works with ESL students as well as other struggling math learners, such as kids in special education programs. You don't need computers for every student; you do need one capable of hooking up to the card scanner for scoring, and you need a printer with lots of ink and paper. I think the total program, with software, scanner, etc, costs a couple of thousand dollars. The reasons that this works well are: 1) It breaks math learning down into a hundred or so objectives (e.g., learning the number line, basic number operations, on up to algebra and pre-calculus objectives). 2) As a student masters (80% correct on a computer-scored assessment) objectives, the student can move along in the program at his or her own pace. The teacher is freed from constant grading and scoring of work to be able to individualize and teach. If your school has budget problems (and whose does not), there are resources for grant writing to purchase the program at the Renaissance Learning Site. The other piece that one must specifically teach to ESL learners is math vocabulary. Since native English speakers who struggle with math also need this vocabulary, it makes sense to spend time on it early in a math program.