Tables – which are basically grids – are incorporated into the kindergarten curriculum. Students are often introduced to tables with a very simple 3x3 grid with one item in one square. Often the squares are labeled by numbers (rows) and letters (columns); students learn to identify the square with the item by the row number and column letter.
Grid: A grid is a rectangular array of squares or rectangles of equal size.
- A more advanced definition of a grid is a network of horizontal and perpendicular lines that provide coordinates for locating points on an image.
- Table: A table is the representation of data or information in rows and columns
- Chart: A chart is the graphical representation of data in symbols like bars, lines and slices.
21st century classrooms are using digital materials, including digital grids and tables. Students who are visually impaired should also be introduced to accessible digital grids and tables.
Note: As always, best practice indicates that students should first be introduced to a tactile version before transitioning to a digital version of the table activity!
(insert tactile table here)
Skills Taught in Digital Table Activities
Note: Basic iPad/VoiceOver skills are the only pre-requisite skills. The other skills may be previously introduced or may be introduced and practiced through digital table activities.
- Basic iPad/VoiceOver Skills
- Drag gesture
- Drag and Split tap gestures
- Drag in a straight line
- Spatial Relationships
- Mental Mapping
- Memory Skills
- Rows and Columns
When observing young students who are being introduced to digital grids and tables, students demonstrate several common issues.
Touching screen with the index fingers on both hands (multiple fingers)
- Two hands are used when exploring tactile grids; however, the iPad will only recognize one finger exploration
Swiping through the screen instead of dragging
- Dragging builds spatial relationships and mental mapping; when students swipe through the screen, they hear the items (or blank squares) but do not know where those squares are in space or in relationship to the row or column
- Unable to drag in a straight line
- Systematically dragging through the grid
- Remembering row number and column letter
Math Melodies App
Math Melodies is a FREE fully accessible iOS app with a variety of math concept games as well as math facts games. Several of the math concept games incorporate grids, including the Counting, Sequence game and the Add or Delete games.
To introduce digital tables, we will specifically look at the Math Melodies game, Table of Additions. To find this game, open Math Melodies > Exercises > Positions in Table > Level 1
- Level 1 is a table with 3 rows and 3 columns.
- Level 2 is a table with 4 rows and 4 columns (2 animals)
Note: Remember to initially introduce a tactile version of the table first teaching how to systematically scan across the rows, drag down to the next row and scan that row, etc. Introduce rows and the row numbers and then columns and column letters. Explore the tactile grid and find the horse. Drag up to find the column letter. Drag back to the horse. Drag left to find the row number. Ask the student to repeat the column letter and row number out loud in order to remember it. Discus straight lines as needed. After the student understands the activity, introduce the digital Positions in Table game.
Dragging in a Straight Line
For many young students, dragging in a straight line on the iPad is challenging. Add Wikki Stix– cut to the size of the table - to outline the outer edge of the digital table. Students can use this outline to keep within the table and as a straight-line guide. Wikki Stix can also be added to outline the edge of the screen, which will help guide the student to find the two buttons in the bottom right corner.
Note: Students can also be introduced to dragging the screen with the index finger while using the thumb as a guide by running the thumb along the outer edge of the iPad. This takes a little more coordination and can be challenging for students with tiny hands.
In the video below, Jessica demonstrates her set up for Positions in Table and how the game works with VoiceOver.
Jessica introduced her second-grade student, Logan, to the tactile version of the game and before using the digital version. She said that 3 minutes (or less) was spent with the tactile version. Logan is familiar with basic VoiceOver gestures. He typically uses the swipe right/left gesture to navigate and is now being introduced to the drag gesture. Initially, dragging in a straight line was challenging for him; however, he quickly learned to use the Wikki Stix as a guide.
In the next video, Logan is introduced to the Positions in a Table game.
Logan demonstrated great problem-solving skills during his second try and look at how quickly he developed that mental map – he immediately searched for the horse in the bottom right corner of the table!
Expanded Core: Coding and O&M
Many coding concept activities incorporate grids and/or tables. Recently there have been numerous discussions about coding concepts and how to make these coding concept activities fully accessible for students with visual impairments. Through these motivating coding activities, students with visual impairments are learning critical math and O&M skills.
- Coding Concepts (book series)
- Coding Concepts (Robot series)
- Digital Transitions #2: Math Grids
- Math Melodies post
- Teaching Positions in a Table (Numbers app)