Teachers of the Visually Impaired are jumping for joy! Why? Math Melodies is a fully accessible math app covering a wide range of math topics ranging from simple counting concepts to long division! Compatible with a screen reader, these exercises are designed to introduce and support math skills and tech skills. There are 19 different games; typically each game have a base level and advanced level. Many games cover several grade levels with progressively more challenging content. The games can be filtered by grade level – first grade through 5th grade. Keep in mind that these activities may be appropriate for younger or older grades as well. Several of the first grade games, such as Counting, Sequences, Add or Delete, Relative Positions and Compared Counting might be appropriate for a preschooler or kindergarten student.
Math Melodies has the option of the Story which has random math problems inserted throughout the story or Exercises which enables the user to choose which type of math game and the level of that game.
Does Math Melodies sound familiar? The first version of Math Melodies was released in 2016. Last week, Math Melodies version 2.0 was publicly released. The entire app has been rebuilt from the ground up and is now available in the App Store for iOS devices and in Google Play for Android devices. There is a small change in the overall layout, as the buttons are now in a tool bar down the right side of the screen, leaving more physical space in the center of the screen for the math problem. The big changes are the boxes that have been added so that students can show their work while solving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division equations. These boxes include carrying and borrowing steps!
The timing of the new release could not be better, as educators are seeking accessible digital math games during remote instruction and hybrid instruction math classes.
The Math Melodies games are laid out in a predictable manner. The title and directions (if applicable) are located in the same place on each game. The background is uncluttered and problems are large – taking up the majority of the page. The math equation problems, such as addition problems, have only one problem on the page. The app is fully accessible with a screen reader and low vision students have the option of pressing the Read Aloud button to hear the directions again and to hear the math problem (if applicable).
Tech skills vary from game to game. Students should be encouraged to drag their finger in a straight line (even on the early level games) versus using a right or left swipe. Why? In order to complete math equations such as addition problems, students must be able to drag their finger down the ones column in a straight line. Example: The screenshot below is the addition problem 21 + 25 (in a vertical layout). The student needs to be able to first drag his finger down the ones column (1 + 5) and inserts the number 6. The student then drags his finger down the tens column, to add 2 + 2 and inserts the 4. (Note: This problem does include carrying, so the box above the tens column is left blank; VoiceOver announces this as “Empty Cell”, which alerts the student that he/she is at the top of the ones column.)
Braille students should be familiar with simple addition problems in braille; it is important that the student have the tactile version first in order to fully understand the layout and to understand how to add numbers. Students need to understand the concept of ones, tens and hundreds columns. Once the student is comfortable with adding numbers in braille, those addition skills can be transferred to completing digital math problems.
Math Melodies is the only accessible app that is designed for students with visual impairments to show their work as they work through math problems! The addition problems include editable boxes for carrying – student no longer have to carry the number only in their mind. For students who are learning to add, being able to write down the carried number and being able to access that number again builds accuracy. It also provides insight to the student’s teacher, who can review the student’s steps.
Math Melodies currently does not have an interactive tutorial on how to complete the addition problems. The videos below were created to demonstrate how students with visual impairments can complete digital math addition with VoiceOver on the iPad. The first video describes how to add a simple number without carrying.
The next video describes how to add numbers with carrying including how to add three numbers with carrying.
By Diane Brauner