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Bridging the Divide With Visual Cues

Diane Painter retired from Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools in 2005 as a special education teacher/ technology resource specialist. Now a full-time educator at Shenandoah University, she heads a masters program in special education and trains people to be special education teachers. Each semester, she shares the following story to her pre-service teachers…

One year I had a group of grade five students in a special education remediation class for mathematics. Because of visual perceptual problems, these students had a great deal of difficulty lining up columns in long division and this would cause them to subtract from wrong numbers. When I taught them how to solve long division problems using the TouchMath system of tally marks and dots, it eliminated the problem they had lining up straight columns of numbers. As a result, students said they loved this new “trick” since they were now solving their math problems correctly. Then one day the students’ general education teacher called me down to her classroom to tell me that now her entire class was tally marking and dotting their math papers! She was so confused but amazed to see correct answers! It turned out that my students had taught their general education classmates the TouchMath system at lunch in the cafeteria –– turning napkins into impromptu worksheets!

Having been a proponent of TouchMath for three decades, Diane holds a TouchMath training session for her Special Education Methods class each spring.

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