Creating PIAF Tactile Images: Math Pattern Calendar

In a previous post, Jessica shared how to find free (Creative Commons) clip art coloring page images that can be used - without any editing - to make simple tactile images with a tactile graphics machine. (See Creating PIAF Tactile Images: Graphic Book Cover post.) What if your student needs customized tactile graphics to support general education activities? In this post, Jessica shares how she quickly creates customized tactile graphics using an iPad, Apple Pencil, GoodNotes app, PDF Expert app (or any PDF app) and PIAF machine. Note: This series uses the term "PIAF" for any tactile graphics machine (a.k.a. Swell machine, tactile image enhancer machine, heat fuser).

Logan, Jessica's braille student, has daily Number Corner math discussions. Number Corner activities, which are part of the Bridges Math Curriculum, provide daily practice as well as continual encounters with broader mathematical concepts in 15 - 20 minutes of engaging instruction. (More details about Number Corner on the MathLearningCenter website.) 

Starting in kindergarten, the general education class uses a Calendar Grid Pocket Chart. Each month a different area of math curriculum is addressed such as attributes, telling time, fractions, geometry, etc. Each day a new card is revealed; guided by the teacher, the students discuss concepts and what patterns are emerging. Using critical thinking skills, the students make predictions. These activities are designed to prepare students for future lessons that will be more in depth. It is important that this highly visual activity is accessible so the student with the visual impairment is able to participate in class discussion and build foundational concepts for curriculum that will be introduced later. 

The YouTube video below demonstrates a 3rd grade Number Corner lesson. The images in this video are blocks put together to form different polygons; some or all of the blocks have color. Each polygon has only one color. Note: This is NOT Logan's class.

Jessica states that she has 'strong feelings' about the importance of tactile graphics to help Logan build solid concepts; therefore, she continuously provides tactile graphics that mirror the visual resources that are provided in class.

Logan's current calendar has various shapes (circles, grids, columns, and hexagons); the shapes are divided into equal sections. Some of the sections are colored (purple, green, pink, blue, yellow, and orange) representing fractions. Below is a photo of the original visual Number Corner calendar.

Photo of the visual Number Corner that Logan's classroom is using; shapes reflect fractions.

The next photo is the customized PIAF version of Logan's Number Corner math calendar that Jessica created using the GoodNote app on her iPad. This version is 3 pages; Page 1 has the columns under Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (18 shapes), Page 2 has shapes under Thursday, Friday and Saturday (13 shapes), and the third page is the braille key. The shapes have raised outlines and divider lines. Colors are indicated by various designs: "x" for purple, multiple small dots for green, one large dot for pink, two slash marks for yellow (gold), greater than symbol for blue, and spiral for orange. The PIAF image has braille labels (days of the week at the top of each column, the number/day of the month beside each shape and the color names on the key.

Note: Jessica shared that the classroom teacher adds a new shape each day to the pocket chart. However, Jessica found that Logan did best when given access to the full chart.

Photo of the customized PIAF version of Logan's Number Corner math calendar.

In the video below, Jessica demonstrates using the GoodNote app to create a PIAF-ready customized math calendar for Logan. Jessica added the image (photo) to the GoodNotes app, then traced the shapes on the screen using the Apple Pencil. She hand-drew in symbols (textures) to represent the colored sections and she made a key, so that Logan can reference the colors during the class discussion. She originally added braille by drawng braille dots or by adding braille labels after running the calendar through the PIAF machine. Braille labels can also be added to the PIAF-ready print document using SimBraille on a word document or PDF.

Jessica updated her customized PIAF drawing using a new Mac that runs iOS apps. She now has GoodNotes on her Mac; GoodNotes syncs this same document on both her Mac and her iPad. Jessica stated that it is easy to add SimBraille from her Mac by typing her letters and numbers and then changing the font to SimBraille font. Jessica mentioned that it is important to double check the PIAF version to determine if the tactual symbols (representing colors) were clear and easy to distinguish tactually. Some symbols she tried initially did not work well in these small areas and she had to revise her symbols. 

These Number Corner math calendars encourage rich, critical thinking and are opportunities for social learning. With his PIAF math calendar, Logan is able to independently figure out patterns and predications enabling him to fully participate in the class discussions.

The three images below are her final PIAF-ready print math calendar created on her Mac using GoodNotes and then adding SimBraille.

Photo of final PIAF-ready print image, Page 1, creating on her Mac with SimBraille. Photo of final PIAF-ready print math calendar, Page 2, created on Mac with SimBraille Photo of final PIAF-ready print math calendar, Page 3, created on Mac with SimBraille