Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Algebra in Braille
Visually impaired classes. 6th period. It was the study hall period of the day where three students had a chance to start and/or finish their homework.
And it was the fourth student's algebra class.
She had a review assignment.
It was pretty straightforward. After doing the first five questions, she wanted to make sure she was doing it correctly. As I don't read Braille, she read off the answers she got and I checked them against the teacher's textbook. Things were going great.
Then, she called me over for help with 3y - 8 = 5y + 2y. We got it simplified to 3y - 8 = 7y, but she didn't know what to do next. And I was kind of stuck for a way to help her.
See, normally at this point I'd pull out some scratch paper or commandeer the board and write the whole thing out. Then we'd work it out together. But I couldn't show her this as she couldn't see what I would have been doing.
I tried saying out loud what I normally would write, because I don't just give answers. I want the student to understand, so I try to lead them to the answer by asking the right questions.
Eventually I got the "OH!" of recognition, and after that she was fine. But now I know I rely too heavily on showing how it's done.
Which leads to the question: how does one teach algebra to the visually impaired? I know it's done. I'll have to ask her teacher the next time I see her.