Individuals who have motor or sensory challenges may have difficulty with pencil and paper activities or handling math or science manipulatives, making it difficult for them to express their knowledge. Microsoft Word has wonderful features that enable you to easily create adapted lessons, worksheets, assessments, and other learning materials for individuals to independently access and manipulate. These UDL features provide alternate means to represent information and alternate means for individuals to express their knowledge. In today’s blog, we’re going to tell you how to create item banks virtual manipulatives and customized graph paper.
There are lots of virtual manipulatives available online that enable individuals to manipulate the items using a mouse, keyboard, or mouse alternative. With item banks, you can create a visual bank of objects to drag and drop in a Word document, or move in the document by using the arrow keys on the keyboard. Item banks allow individuals to display their knowledge by moving graphics around in a document or on an interactive whiteboard instead of drawing, writing, cutting and gluing, or handling physical manipulatives. Item banks created in Word enable individuals to manipulate the items within the document and save their work, providing electronic evidence of their work for assessment or a digital portfolio.
Create a bank of items from a single item by duplicating and stacking them. In Figure 1, a graphic of a dime is copied and pasted to create five dimes, and then formatted to align to create a bank of dimes. You only see the top dime! When the top dime is moved, four dimes remain in the stack. One by one, the items can be moved in the document.
Note: To view our blog graphics in a larger size, click on the photo gallery below this entry.
The coins can be used in a counting activity, such as the piggy bank activity depicted in Figure 2.
Banks can be created of endless items to make interactive math and science activities, including shapes, attribute blocks, connecting cubes, base 10 blocks, tangrams, centimeter cubes, fraction tiles, and more. Think outside the box! Our tutorial on how to create item banks is available at http://bit.ly/itembanks
Tip: You can change the position of a graphic from your item bank once you’ve moved it into place, such as a tangram shape, by clicking on the shape and on the Drawing Tools Format tab, selecting Rotate, and choosing from the options to rotate or flip it.
Customized Graph Paper
Using Microsoft Word tables, you can easily create graph paper with your preferred cell size and color. Customizing the size and colors of the cells, columns, and rows can provide greater visual and physical accessibility for individuals who have motor or sensory challenges. Colors can be selected to provide visual support for visual perception, visual tracking, or even the individual’s color preference for visual engagement, as depicted in Figure 3.
The graph paper can be used electronically on the computer, and information can be entered into the graph paper table using the Tab or arrow keys on the keyboard or a mouse or mouse alternative to move through the table to select the cells. It can also be printed to create graph paper that users can write on. Laminating the paper or inserting it into a plastic page protector, and using a dry erase marker, allows the graph paper to be reusable, as depicted in Figure 4. Our tutorial on how to create customized graph paper is available at http://bit.ly/customizedgraph
Tip: Remember to save any item banks or customized graph paper that you have created as a template, which produces a copy of the original document each time the template is opened. This allows users to manipulate the document and save their work without being able to change your original document. To save as a template, select File > Save as > Save as type > Word Template. Word templates are identified by .dotx One of our colleagues on our assistive technology team created a Math Graph Tools worksheet that combines graph paper with item banks of points and lines that can be copied and pasted into a Word document, as depicted in Figure 5. We think it’s pretty cool and have made it available at http://bit.ly/graphtools
We hope that you will explore these tools and would love to know what you think! Do you have other ideas on how these tools can be used to provide access to math and science? Please let us know some of your favorite tools or strategies that you are using. Our next blog will explore creating electronic forms; inserting math equations and symbols; and creating graphic organizers and other visual supports in Microsoft Word.
:-) Thanks for spending time with us and stay tuned! Tara Jeffs and Cindy Feist