Tables – which are basically grids – are incorporated into the kindergarten curriculum. Students are often introduced to tables with a very simple 3×3 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.
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)
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.
When observing young students who are being introduced to digital grids and tables, students demonstrate several common issues.
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
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.
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!
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.
By Diane Brauner