cheesemonkey wonders

cheesemonkey wonders

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Algebra 1 Systems of Inequalities - Dan Wekselgreene's Ohio Jones & the Templo de los Dulces treasure map

Some of Dan Wekselgreene's early puzzles, lessons, and projects are truly love poems for Algebra 1 students. And I have loved his Ohio Jones and the Templo de los Dulces systems of inequalities puzzle since the first time I read about it, did it, and used it.

So there was never any question that I would use it with my Algebra 1 students this year. The only question was, how would I make it accessible to my blind student?

Susan Osterhaus of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has been generous beyond words with her ideas for teaching math to blind students. Her web site is filled with ideas, best practices, and links to resources for making mathematics accessible to blind students. I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

Here is how I adapted this activity:

I typed out each of the three clues as a quote by a statue — i.e., Statue 1 says...

Then I plugged each quote into an online Braille Translator (I like and downloaded the Braille text file as an image. I copied and pasted each image file onto an Omni Graffle document (though you could also use Word or Pages) next to the regular text quote. That way the student and the paraprofessional aide could easily collaborate and share information.

This took three pages, but it worked.

I traced the basic map at the bottom of the page but without all the grid lines. This became the "map" for this part of the puzzle. 

Then I copied these pages onto capsule paper and ran them through the PIAF (Pictures In A Flash) machine to create a tactile worksheet with Braille and a raised map. The PIAF machine (affectionately known around the math office as "the toaster") takes the capsule paper with all its delicious black carbon-heavy areas and raises them to create a tactile graphic that can be read by a Braille-literate blind person.

After solving the system and figuring out the target region, my student used Wikki Stix on the map to make a graph.


I traced the "big picture" outline of the map to remove as much visual noise and clutter as possible from the main image.  I added Braille labels to indicate the start and the hint at the end of the map:

I scanned this file, printed it on capsule paper, and ran it through the PIAF machine. Again, the student worked on Braille graph paper, then transferred her results to her tactile treasure map using Wikki Stix.

For each "sector" of the map, my student used Braille graph paper and Wikki Stix while her classmates used pencil and the grid on the worksheet.

It was such a joy to see her as just another team member at her table, doing mathematics and solving a puzzle. It was even more exciting to see how her table mates appreciated her mathematical skills.

All in all, a successful experience in creating an inclusive classroom!

My reduced version of the Teacher Packet (including the worksheet and instructions) plus the Braille-ready package are all on the Math Teacher's Wiki.

Wikki Stix are available in a big box on Amazon or any kids' art supply store.

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