Center for Educational Transformation

Using Mathematically-Focused Text Messages to Improve Connections Between Linguistically-Diverse Parents and Their Child's Classroom Learning

Molly Appelgate

Mollie Appelgate

Christa Jackson

Christa Jackson




ABSTRACT: Iowa is diversifying--culturally and linguistically. In schools this presents a challenge for teachers, the vast majority of whom are mono-linguistic English speakers. Teachers want to work closely with parents and view them as partners in a child's learning, but this becomes more difficult when teachers do not speak the same language as parents and teachers may have multiple home languages represented in their classrooms.

In literacy, parents have long been viewed as important partners, particularly in growing children's reading skills. However, this same emphasis on the value of a parent's role has not been true for mathematics. Parents are not encouraged to "talk mathematics" with their child in the same way they are encouraged to read every day with their child.

This study aims to address both of these issues by improving the connection between parents and teachers through the use of mathematically-focused text messages based on classroom learning and parents' funds of knowledge. The study will use texting via cell phones to communicate with kindergarten parents about their child's mathematical work in class, as well as how to build upon mathematical talk at home.

Using a sequential transformative approach, this study will use mixed methods to answer the following questions:

  1. How do we create relevant and useful mathematically-focused text messages that build on parents' funds of knowledge and create stronger connections to school?
  2. How does mathematically-focused texting improve connections between teachers and parents?
  3. How can texts to parents be used to build on students' mathematical thinking?