TVI Feedback Needed!
Please join the discussion! Share in the comment section below and/or contact me directly. (Diane Brauner) Will you consider sharing your knowledge, activities, and/or video clips?
Curriculum and Tools
What are your students doing in K-3rd grade math classes? What math tools are being used, such as number lines, hundreds board, ten frames, clock faces, etc. to teach foundational skills? What math activities are more challenging for your students?
What concepts are your students learning through these math tools? How do these concepts progress? Does your braille/tactile student have additional skills that need to be taught (compared to his sighted peers)?
Fun Math Activities
How do you make math fun? What kind of games and simple activities are you/your general education math teacher using to engage students? Here is an example of a fun, simple hundreds chart activity: Alligator Crunch post.
Do you have an accessible math app idea?
We have the immediate opportunity to work with university computer science students to create simple accessible web-based math apps.
Digital Math Challenges
Math is typically challenging for students who are visually impaired. As you know, math tends to be very visual, requiring strong spatial skills and mental mapping abilities. As our classrooms become paperless, math is even more challenging, especially for students in K-3rd grade. General education students with vision are playing digital math games and use online math resources; these resources also tend to be very visual and are not accessible with a screen reader. Our students with visual impairments have unique needs and learning styles which require pre-teaching and or co-teaching specific skills in order to be successful in the mainstream general education math class. Have you found an accessible online math assessment? No? App developers for textbook publishers and online assessment groups are struggling to figure out how to create fully accessible digital math activities. Teachers of the visually impaired are struggling to figure out how to adapt and incorporate standard math tools to teach foundational math skills - especially when these math tools have been converted to digital math tools. Example: How can an app developer create a fully accessible digital number line? If an accessible digital number line is available, what skills does the TVI need to pre-teach in order for her student to use this digital number line?
All students need manipulatives to reinforce and teach foundational math skills. Best practices for students with visual impairments includes introducing new concepts with manipulatives and tactile resources before transitioning to accessible digital materials.
Why Can't We Stick to Only Tactile Math Materials?
Traditionally, math in K-12 is done using braille and tactile graphics. This proven model is successful for braille students in K-12; however, what happens now - in the 21st century classroom - when their peers are learning through online assignments and digital games? What happens when online math and benchmarks are adaptable (meaning the next question given is dependent upon the student's previous answer)? What happens when the high stakes assessment is online? What happens freshman year of college when math is not available or provided in a braille/tactile format? And bottom line, what happens when the student graduates and enters a highly competitive job market that requires math-related skills and no braille/tactile resources are available? Students who thrive in the 21st century need to be fluent in math in digital formats!
Consider the possibility of having instant access to accessible digital math - with dedication and work, that possibility is in our future!
Process for Creating Quality Digital Math Tools
Step 1: Start by determining what math tools are being used in mainstream classrooms and what math concepts are being taught using those tools.
Step 2: Observe, discuss and analyze amazing TVIs as they use, modify and teach students with visual impairments. TVIs and braillist often create incredible tactile versions of the tool or assignment, and/or find available resources, such as APH products. However, simply handling that APH tactile number line to the classroom teacher will not make the student successful. The student will first need to be taught how to use a tactile number line! TVIs need to understand the subtle foundational skills that are being taught using the number line tool. (Phew - there are so many subtle concepts that number lines teach that I was not initially aware of - even after 25 years of teaching!) Next, TVIs need engaging activities to teach these foundational number line skills to students.
Step 3: As soon as we have a good grasp of the tool, concepts that the tool teaches, how educators are teaching the tool, and fun activities using the tool, then we start working with app developers to create an accessible digital version of the tool. The development process includes field testing, feedback from more TVIs and students, reworking the app, etc.
Step 4: After the accessible app has gone through a rigorous field testing, then the app can be publicly launched. The app will need to be marketed so that educators are aware of the app. TVIs will need support in order to learn how to use and apply the app; support include interactive tutorials, YouTube videos, online posts, and/or workshops/webinars/training.
Step 5: Once the majority of students are successful with the tool, then online textbook publishers and assessment groups will consider using that tool (or build a similar tool) in their online/digital resources.
Number Line Project Process
Previously, we used the Number Line tool as an example. Take a look at the Number Line series recently posted on Paths to Technology. In this series, one dynamic TVI (Jessica) shared her insight as her student was introduced to a tactile Number Line (and manipulatives) in kindergarten and first grade along with current number line concepts and activities he is doing now in second grade. This TVI talked at length with the classroom math teachers to fully understand the concepts being taught now and how these concepts build as Logan moves up through the grade levels. Jessica used APH tactile resources and created her own resources; she turned activities into fun little games to keep her student engaged. Jessica took video clips of her student throughout the process and shared her insights through posts on Paths to Technology.
These posts and discussions led to inviting computer science students at the University of North Carolina to create an accessible Number Line app. (See Cosmic Numbers post) The Cosmic Numbers app currently has four levels and the app has been pitched to another computer science class (last week) with the hopes of becoming a project for a computer science team for the spring semester. The goal is to create several more levels (including simple addition and subtraction equations, skip counting, etc.) The app will be used as a proof-of-concept app for other app developers and ideally, another group will take over the app. Note: Apps developed by university teams are not sustainable long term, as the team members graduate and no one is left to keep the app up-to-date.
Unlike general education teachers, we do not have validated math curriculums for students with visual impairments. We tend to follow the mainstream math standards and modify/adapt on the fly. As a community, we (TVIs) can pool our experiences, needs, and activities to create a list of fun activities that align with general education math standards. We can also collaborate with developers and lead the way for accessible digital math resources. How math instruction would change if we had just ten TVIs like Jessica who share their knowledge! Do you need online math resources and assessments to be accessible? Does YOUR student find math challenging? This is YOUR opportunity to make a difference! Please join the accessible math discussions!