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.

10 comments:

  1. What a challenge! I've never even thought about what that would be like, but then, most my teaching is verbal (it's the word nerd in me) supplemented by the occasional visual or manipulative. I suppose manipulatives would work with visually impaired learners.

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  2. Now I'm curious too. Book in Braille that lays out the illustrations?

    betty

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    1. It must. It was interesting to hear how the Braille version of the book differed from the printed version, but that was for history. I don't know how it worked for math.

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  3. Oh teh maths! If you don't use it, over the years you lose it!

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  4. For someone visually impaired, you definitely have to be descriptive. Whatever you did to get the "Oh!" from her must have been the right thing.

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  5. I had never thought of that before, and now I can't stop thinking about it. I suppose if the student can read it with his/her fingers, it's like me being able to read it with my eyes, but the steps, like you said, would be difficult.

    Nice job, however you did it.

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    1. Have no idea how I did it. It is interesting how things are translated into the Braille copies of the books. When we were trying to figure out if we were on the same page (in the history class), the student ended up reading out the picture captions which were inserted awkwardly into the text.

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  6. Gosh it would be hard. In the primary school we use so many visual aids in Maths to help them. You certainly have a variety of challenges thrown at you from day to day Liz.

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    1. They do have math manipulatives. I suppose those would work for getting the feeling of it.

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  7. Wow this is a challenge! It just shows how much one relies on certain sense for certain things. Oh and about 40 min away there is a city(Brampton) where these 2 teenage girls were slapping a female cop! It was really out of hand-this happened at their school. These girls are going to appear in court but the altercation started inside their school. Ughh

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