[Numeracy 304] Re: Mathematical Disabilities

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Andrew Isom isom at centerforliteracy.org
Tue Apr 13 09:57:37 EDT 2010

OK, I'm feeling particularly verbose today, apparently

Sorry, Brooke, for the delayed response. Some of my students have documented disabilities. Every year that I've taught, this has been the case for me.

This is probably, not the kosher answer, but: I don't actually treat them that differently. First of all, I'm certain that many or most of my students have some undocumented disability/ies. And, second, I think best practice is best practice. What's best practice in teaching ABE? I'm still working on that, but a few things are certain. Teaching multi-modally. This touches on every students strength and it helps students to connect the various modes of thought and ways of engaging with the problem at hand. Secondly, it must be engaging. No matter how intensely students want to learn and achieve and succeed, you will put them to sleep if it is not engaging. One solution that I have is one of the best teaching practices that I have ever come across: Math Football. It's an amazingly but incredibly powerful technique. Draw a football field on the board and put some magnets up to represent the player/students. Give each student a personal whiteboard (which can be bought for fairly cheap at a home depot -- I can't remember what it's called, but it's a kitchen-related material that is white and dry-erasable,) marker and some old cloth for eraser. Write a question on the board. If the student answers correctly, give them a playing card. The card determines how many yards their player moves. Q,A,2= 0yds; 3-6= 5yds; 7-10= 10yds; J= 15yds; K= 20yds. I don't even have to award prizes every student competes with vigor and many have expressed how much they enjoy the game. The flexibility afforded by this provides the opportunity to pause and explain (or have another student explain) the problem. Then, when a student just learns it, you can repeat the problem with slight variation until the get a solid grasp on it; once they do, you can kick it up a small notch, thus providing them with constant success while at the same time stretching their ability.

Lastly, emotions are paramount. Work very hard on getting them to trust you and feel safe with and feel confident that you are looking out for them and will ensure their success to the best of your ability.

These practices tend to cover the accomodations that I am supposed to make for students that have documented needs.

Hope that helps~~

Andrew J. Isom
Math Specialist
Center For Literacy
North Philadelphia Community High School
isom at centerforliteracy.org
(215)744-6000 ext. 210

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Today's Topics:

1. [Numeracy 298] Mathematical Disabilities (Denney, Brooke)


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Date: Thu, 8 Apr 2010 23:11:15 -0500
From: "Denney, Brooke" <denneyb at cowley.edu>
Subject: [Numeracy 298] Mathematical Disabilities
To: <Numeracy at nifl.gov>
<247BF273F13AD743ACE4221F9EF6F916043E5D4F at exchsrv2003.tigers.cowley.edu>

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A question was posted to the list a while back that never received much discussion, the question asked if anyone had any experiences working with adults with documented or suspected disabilities and if so, how did you deal with their disability and teaching them numeracy/math skills.

There is an interesting article on that can be found on the LINCS Resource Basic Skills Mathematics & Numeracy Collection by Rochelle Kenyon, here is a direct link: http://www.nifl.gov/lincs/resourcecollections/abstracts/basicskills/RC_skills_abs21.html

But what experiences has anyone had directly working with this population that seems to be growing each year? And what "best practices" do you suggest?

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