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Improving Education for Individuals with Visual Impairments.
 

Math Manipulatives

 
Slide-A-Round Math Manipulatives, LLC
 
          Mr. Jim Franklin, an elementary special education teacher at Elm Street Elementary School in Rome Georgia, has designed and created math manipulatives to help students face the challenges of ever-increasing rigor with national math standards (CCGPS).
          At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, the students in Mr. Franklin's 3rd grade inclusion math class were struggling with math standards involving the concept of rounding numbers. When he began to search for new strategies/ interventions that had been successfully implemented by other teachers involving the concept of rounding numbers, he was somewhat surprised with the lack of available options. He saw only dry erase markers and boards, blocks, paper and pencil, and number lines up to 100; however, the numbers his students were using were greater than 100. 
          At this point in the creative process, incorporating movable, interchangeable slides, he created a number line system that helps students visually round whole numbers up to 10,000,000. Student responses and achievement were both encouraging and immediate. His students benefited not only from the visual aspect of the manipulatives but also the tactile component of a hands-on manipulative. As fellow teachers witnessed the increase in student confidence and achievement, they began to request help with other math concepts with which the students often struggle. These requests have lead to the development of manipulatives that address adding and subtracting weight, elapsed time, money, decimals, and equivalent fractions.
          The original Slide-A-Round math manipulatives were made by hand from plastic yard sign material and were pretty cost prohibitive due to the amount of time needed to make each one. Realizing that he could not manage to fulfill the requests for the manipulatives and still continue teaching his students well, Mr. Franklin located a manufacturer in the United States to construct a uniform mold and get started with the manufacturing process. Despite the fact that mass production has only been in effect since April 2012, Slide-A-Round manipulatives are spreading throughout the United States.  He has been impressed to see so many teachers and administrators who are willing to look beyond the “only way” to teach a concept to provide students with multiple opportunities for skill mastery. Individual teachers and school systems have purchased the manipulatives for all students, not only students identified as needing extra assistance mastering the standards.  They are also being utilized in middle school math intervention groups as well as high school resource classes when students work on life skills such as counting money and calculating change.
          Mr. Franklin has also added both a low vision (24-inch) and Braille (32-inch) version of his products based on the academic needs of students. His low vision and Braille manipulatives have been successfully evaluated by the Math Research Department at American Printing House for the Blind which placed their product recommendation on their “Fred's Head” blog in November. When you visit his website www.slidearoundmath.com, you will be able to view images of all of his current manipulatives as well as follow his blog which details updated information about meetings, conferences, and new product releases. You can also find free worksheet downloads for each manipulative to see firsthand the types of standardized test questions students may be expected to solve. Several teachers have commented that the worksheets are great for pretests and post-tests.
 
 

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