One Teacher’s Focus on Reading in a Grade 9 Mathematics Classroom: A case study
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This thesis reports on a qualitative study that documented one teacher’s research-based practice of teaching students to read in a Grade 9 ESL Academic mathematics course. Specifically, this thesis focuses on the description of the range of strategies and reading-based activities that the teacher used; the experiences and influences that led him to include reading strategies in his regular instructional practice; and, the challenges that he faced when integrating these strategies routinely as part of his daily mathematics program. The complexity of simultaneously teaching mathematics and reading strategies in the context of a Grade 9 ESL Academic course is also discussed. The study was conducted early in the second semester of the 2007-2008 school year. A variety of data collection methods were used: interview, classroom observation, and document collection. The findings of the study provide concrete examples of designing lessons that embed the use of reading strategies (e.g., vocabulary development, reading supplementary text, and reflection) to teach or inform mathematics concepts. The large number of ESL students in the observed class underscored the importance of incorporating reading strategies into the mathematics program in order to facilitate ESL students’ language learning processes. The teacher under study focused on using additional literature as an aid to develop students’ deeper understanding of mathematics concepts and introduced reading strategies as a means to improve students’ reading comprehension of supplementary text; however, he did not apply these strategies to lessons directed at the comprehension of specific mathematics text. The conclusions suggest that mathematics teachers require substantive classroom-based evidence and support from Ministry of Education personnel, subject specialists, school administrators, and peers in order to be convinced of the value of reading in mathematics class and to embark on their own program for implementing reading strategies and reading-based activities into regular mathematics learning activities.