by Katie Bednar
¿Cómo se dice “protractor” en español?
It’s not every day that we need to know the Spanish translations for mathematical terms such as “add,” “subtract,” “obtuse,” and “acute.” They are not necessarily part of the average student’s vocabulary. However, these are words that the students that we tutor at Booker T. Washington interact with on a daily basis. In Spanish 232 we had a lesson that focused on working in the classroom and things we should know in order to work with students. There was a whole section that focused on how to use math vocabulary such as “add” and “multiply” with a Spanish-speaking student. On the first day that I had to work with Marisa* on a math assignment, I was extremely grateful for this lesson! The terminology is very basic, just something I have never needed to use.
One day at SOAR when Marisa was absent, I worked as a substitute in the 5th grade classroom. The students were learning about geometry in terms of angles and using protractors, an instrument that hasn’t been on my school supply list since middle school. To work with an English-speaking student on this type of math would probably have been a little challenging simply because I have not seen that kind of math in years. The fact that the assignments were written in Spanish added a whole different dimension to the solving of the homework problems. Times such as these have been some of my greatest learning experiences in the SOAR program. Through problem solving I have interacted with the students in a way that helps us come up with a solution together. In this type of dialogue each of us contributes to the conversation and help to solve the problem. Both of us are able to learn from each other and come up with a solution. Being able to negotiate this type of back and forward conversation (problem solving with a student to help them arrive at a correct response) will inevitably benefit me as a classroom teacher in the future. It is one of the many lessons that I will take with me from my time spent with SOAR this past semester.