I bet you're saying, well that's obvious -- students are more motivated when using technology! That's our assumption too, especially if the technology is in the form of an accessible iPad app that has built-in supports to assist students when they are unsure how to solve the math word problem. The University of Arizona AnimalWatch Vi Suite (www.awvis.org) team is currently conducting a national intervention study to examine the math word problem solving skills of students doing math at the 5th to 9th grade level. After completing a training unit to learn about the app and the accompanying book of graphics for print readers, or braille and tactile graphics for braille readers, students complete 8 sessions where they learn about endangered species while solving math word problems. Every other session is with the app and the alternating session is in the student's primary literacy medium.
We currently have more than 50 students in more than 20 states in the study. Recruitment is just ending so we'll finish enrolling the last of our students in January. We anticipate having all students complete their units by May 1. So far 24 students have completed at least one unit using the app, and we're already hearing positives. Helping students build their "VI toolbox" is a great side benefit. Theresa George, teacher of the visually impaired, Marshall County School District, Kentucky shared, "[The student] struggles completing math problems with pencil/paper. I saw how fast she was able to complete the math problems on the scratch pad. I had not thought to use a scratch pad on the iPad until working with the AnimalWatch Vi Suite app. Just another AT tool to add to the VI toolbox of VI accommodations." Another of our teachers, Rita Albright, teacher of students with visual impairments, including blindness for Boulder Valley School District, RE-2J in Boulder, Colorado reported, "My student looks forward to the times she can work on the units. This opportunity has really jump-started her use of the QWERTY keyboard with the iPad...[participating in the study provides] the opportunity to reinforce the need to read/listen to the entire problem before beginning. This student on problem 2 of White Shark B had the correct answer as an improper fraction from her first attempt but each time she input the answer received the "uh-oh" message because she put the answer as an improper fraction. Great reinforcement of reading for information!!!"
You can learn more about the AnimalWatch Vi Suite project on our web site at www.awvis.org where you can watch two short videos demonstrating the product. Dr. Rosenblum, Project Director, will be doing sessions at CSUN, CTEBVI, the AFB Leadership Conference and the Principal of the Schools for the Blind Math/Science Institute. If you are planning to attend one of these conferences, put her session on your schedule.