English Learners Need a Better Access Point to Math

If you haven’t had a chance to join one of the webinars from our English Learners series, or if you’d like to view them again, the on-demand recordings are now available!

MIND partnered with edWeb, a professional online community for educators, to develop this webinar series to encourage math achievement for English learners in the classroom.

English learners (ELs) make up one out of every 10 students and are the fastest-growing group in public school classrooms. In total, ELs in U.S. public schools speak over 400 different languages. When math is presented only as words and numbers on a page, ELs can miss out on crucial opportunities to understand the meaning behind the math.

This two-part series takes a look at a new approach for ELs to problem solve without distractions, and how educators can support ELs in their math achievement by making math more accessible and providing a better path towards equity.


In the first webinar of this series, Nigel Nisbet is joined by Rocío Trejo to explore ways of promoting math success for English learners.

 As Vice President of Content Creation at MIND, Nigel is passionate about the power of all students to learn mathematics conceptually. Rocío Trejo serves the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) district as the Bilingual Curriculum Specialist. She previously started her career as a high school mathematics teacher and has worked closely with English learners and bilingual students.

Nigel takes us through the neuroscience research around how a visual approach can offer students, regardless of the language they speak, a more accessible approach to problem solving. Additionally, he will demonstrate how leveraging the brain’s innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability can help English learners build deep conceptual understanding and elevate their self-beliefs when learning math.

Rocío builds on Nigel’s neuroscience approach by sharing practices that have seen proven results in content and language learning for students in the MPS bilingual program. She shares the valuable impact with classroom data and how MPS continues to support academic success for English learners.

View the full webinar here to learn more about the neuroscience research and explore ways to apply these practices in the classroom.

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In the second webinar of the English Learners series, Twana Young is joined by Diana Ceja and Karon Akins to discuss how providing equal access to math success for ELs also involves how their learning needs are met outside of the classroom.

As Vice President of Curriculum and Instruction at MIND, Twana leads the overall vision, strategy, and execution for curriculum materials, resources, and professional learning across MIND’s suite of products. Diana is an administrator with the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE), specializing in TK-12 curriculum, instruction, and formative assessment with an emphasis on mathematics, equity, and social and racial justice. Karon is also an administrator for RCOE and specializes in TK-12 curriculum, instruction, and formative assessment with an emphasis on mathematics, equity, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

The three of them take a deep dive into a more student-centered approach and what it looks like to support English learners throughout the entire student ecosystem, not just in the classroom. Because math proficiency is one of the top predictors of student success, their discussion revolves around questions like “How can English learners have the same access the to the universal language of math?” and “What does it look like to support English learners throughout the entire student ecosystem?”

View the full webinar here to learn what English learners can gain when we focus on the whole student ecosystem.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Neuroscience of Math and the impact it can have on English learners, we welcome you to join this free professional learning community. There, you can better understand how the brain learns and engage in discussions with other administrators and thought leaders on how to equip all students to solve the world’s most challenging problems.

Additional Resources: 

Victor Nguyen

About the Author

Victor Nguyen is MIND’s Content and Community Specialist. Victor is a passionate storyteller with a penchant for creative writing. In his free time, you can find him engrossed in books, going on long hikes, or trying to meditate.


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