de Araujo, Zandra Ursula
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In this study I examined 3 secondary mathematics teachers’ selections and enactments of mathematical tasks for their English language learner (ELL) students. More specifically, I attended to the cognitive demand of the tasks as they moved through the three successive phases of the Mathematical Tasks Framework (Stein & Smith, 1998). I examined the tasks the teachers selected, the modifications the teachers made to the tasks to accommodate their ELL students, and the aspects of the classrooms that contributed to the maintenance or decline of cognitive demand during implementation. The participants were secondary mathematics teachers who taught a ninth grade, mathematics class comprised entirely of ELLs. I employed a qualitative, multiple case study design. The primary data sources included a survey, interviews, observations, and classroom artifacts. I administered a survey to each teacher prior to conducting interviews or observations and observed each teacher’s classroom daily for two weeks. I conducted daily interviews with each of the teachers prior to each observation and conducted two extended interviews after the two weeks of observation. The classroom artifacts included the tasks presented to the students. I analyzed the data using the constant comparison method decoupled from grounded theory. This involved many rounds of inductive coding where I identified themes and collapsed them into broader categories. The teachers routinely selected highly repetitive, low cognitive demand tasks focused on increasing procedural fluency. These tasks were selected in part because of the teachers’ perceptions of students, lack of resources and training, and focus on standardized testing. The teachers often modified tasks during set up to lessen the number of words and lower the mathematical rigor as they attempted to accommodate their ELL students. During implementation, student-centered communication tended to maintain the cognitive demand of tasks. Understanding the ways in which teachers select, modify, and enact curriculum materials to accommodate their ELL students is an important step in understanding effective teaching strategies for ELLs. The findings of this study suggest that teachers require additional training and resources to select and modify curriculum materials for ELL students that are both mathematically rigorous and promote communication.