192. I'm sorry that I missed your presentation March 2. I coach track and field and we had our State Indoor T & F Championships that weekend at U. of A. As is turned out, much of the meet was canceled due to inclement weather.  I teach Remedial Math and English for Jr. High students. There are several Hispanic students in our school and I have three of them in one of my classes and only one of them speaks fluent English. I only teach pre algebra to them.  I am very serious about improving my teaching skills and I take it personally when I can't get through to a student.  I have several questions for you and I'm glad that I now have your websites to answer some of them. It seems that a few of my Hispanic students are more concerned with someone just giving them the answers to questions so they can submit them for credit than actually learning the content being taught.  My wife teaches at our elementary school and can speak Spanish, so she is our "school translator". Knowing only a limited amount of Spanish cripples me sometimes with these students.  What are some "Universal" techniques that I can use to help them understand the importance of knowing the material?

Now, let me make sure I understand your statements correctly. I am going to assume that ALL students in the class where you have these Hispanic students are learning pre-algebra. Thus, you are teaching to these Hispanic students the SAME material you are teaching to ALL students in the class. If this is NOT the case, please, be sure to understand that ALL students must have an equal educational opportunity and equal access to the core curriculum. Thus, these Hispanic students should be learning the same subjects or topics or key ideas as ALL students in the class.

About your attitude towards teaching: that is what GOOD teaching is all about, and it begins with our own perception of the incredible importance of what we do as teachers!!!!!   CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

Regarding my Web Sites: THAT is what WE ARE ALL here to do, to help you!!!! SO do NOT hesitate to ask, now and in the future!!!! 

Sometimes I get the feeling that ALL students only want answers, not understanding what they are doing!!! There are several ideas I could suggest:

For example: Today's students fully understand the value of rewards. You say, "Do this for credit," and they will do it, or copy it, or somehow produce it. So we need to change how students get "credit." Now I have always said that a student who can "speak" the content area does know the content area. Thus, instead of "credit" for written (copied) homework, how about "credit" for orally explaining the solution to math problems IN CLASS, to all other students? Or "credit" for answering other students' questions?

You need to change your reward system so you reward WHAT YOU WANT, that is, you want UNDERSTANDING, thus you must reward the best way to show understanding which is to verbally/orally explain how to solve a problem, or how to state a problem, or how to outline the steps in the solution of a problem.

Now, you might say, "How can I ask my limited English proficient (LEP) students to explain a problem in English? Well, they may not need to explain; they may orally respond "YES" or "NO" to your statements of how a problem is solved. Another way may be to present the complete solution to the problem on the board and then ask students to tell you if indeed your way of solving the problem is the right way to solve the problem and why.

Another idea is to ask students to perform tasks (solve problems, read stories) that are very RELEVANT to their needs. In the case of math, I have never seen students STATING, POSING problems to their classmates, instead of doing the "canned" problems in the book. A person who can formulate a problem UNDERSTANDS the subject matter. Thus, give "credit" for writing problems, unique problems the students bring to class for the entire class to solve.

A final suggestion is to change your grading system. For example, I plan next year to reverse my grading system. I will tell students what they need to DO to get an "A." (I will also accept --and approve, if appropriate-- students' statements of what THEY PROPOSE TO DO to get an "A.")  Then, I will explain that failure to DO what I require (or they propose and I approve) to get an "A," will result in ADDITIONAL work, lots of additional work to get a "B," or a "C" or "D." To get an "F" they will have to work SO HARD with ALL the additional work they will do that I hope ALL students would prefer to get an "A"!!!!!!

So, to summarize my suggestions thus far: (1) revise your reward system. What do you want students to DO to show you that they UNDERSTAND the subject matter? Then, give credit for, or reward understanding. You may need to review or revise your grading system.

Regarding your perceived "handicap" for not knowing Spanish: Not really, not knowing Spanish should not "cripple" you!!!! I do not know Chinese but I could teach math to Chinese speaking students in English. HOW?

Work together with your English-As-A-Second Language (ESL) teacher!!! It is the job of the ESL teacher to introduce the language of YOUR lesson to the LEP students BEFORE these LEP students attend your lesson. To help LEP students master the language of YOUR lesson, the ESL teacher needs to know what you are teaching in Math during YOUR lesson. What key vocabulary words are you using? What Math symbols? The ESL teacher will NOT teach Math but will teach the language of Math, probably using the same manipulatives or realia you use in your lesson, but for the purpose of learning the language the LEP students will hear in your lesson and will use in responding during your lesson.

As indicated above, (1) your lesson must have relevancy for the lives of the students, (2) the students must be motivated to understand and learn the material as a result of your reward system, your "credit" system, and/or your grading system, and (3) YOUR STUDENTS MUST BE ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS in the lesson, speaking, responding orally, conversing with you about math, formulating and stating problems instead of just "solving" irrelevant problems.



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net