Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

19.5: Support, structure and scaffolding

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    math iconEducators should provide structure and support for students by intentionally teaching how to participate in these types of math conversations. Students benefit from learning how to question, reason, make connections, solve problems, and communicate solutions effectively (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2009).

    Providing a variety of scaffolds that foster students’ participation supports students both in organizing their thinking and making sense of the mathematics. Examples include:

    • Sentence frames, which provide tools to support mathematical conversations.
    • Teacher modeling and think-alouds.
    • Word walls and posters displaying commonly used terms, operations, and math processes.
    • Graphic organizers, which provide visual representations of mathematical information.
    • Artifacts and Manipulatives upon which to build shared meaning and support sensemaking.
    • Structured peer interactions, to communicate ideas and clarify understanding (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short, 2009; Zwiers et. al., 2017).

    Academic language is critical to student outcomes in both mathematics and English language arts.


    • Adoniou, M., & Qing, Y. (2014). Language, Mathematics and English language learners. Australian Mathematics Teacher, 70(3), pp. 3-13.
    • Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). 2010. Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Council of Chief State School Officers. (2012).
    • Framework for English Language Proficiency Development Standards corresponding to the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. Washington, DC: CCSSO.
    • Echevarria, J., Vogt, M. E., & Short, D. (2009). The SIOP Model for Teaching Mathematics to English Learners. Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
    • Ernst-Slavit, G., & Slavit, D. (2015). Mathematically Speaking. Language Magazine.
    • Hill, J., & Miller, K. (2013). Classroom Instruction That Works with English Language Learners, 2nd Edition. Denver, Colorado: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
    • Pierce, M. E., & Fontaine, M. (2009). Designing Vocabulary Instruction in Mathematics. The Reading Teacher, 63(3), pp. 239-243.
    • Roberts, N. S., & Truxaw, M. P. (2013). For ELLs: Vocabulary beyond the definitions. Mathematics Teacher, 107(1), pp. 28-34.
    • Slavit, D., & Ernst-Slavit, G. (2007). Teaching Mathematics and English to English Language Learners Simultaneously. Middle School Journal, 39(2), pp. 4-11.
      Background and Philosophy
    • Wagganer, E. L. (2015). Creating Math Talk Communities. Teaching Children Mathematics, 22(4), pp. 248-254.
    • Walqui, A. (2009). Improving Student Achievement in Mathematics by Addressing the Needs of English Language Learners. NCSM: Leadership in Mathematics Education, No. 6.
    • Zwiers, J., Dieckmann, J., Rutherford-Quach, S., Daro, V., Skarin, R., Weiss, S., & Malamut, J. (2017). Principles for the Design of Mathematics Curricula: Promoting Language and Content Development.

    19.5: Support, structure and scaffolding is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

    • Was this article helpful?