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Cognitively Accessible Math for Adult Learners


About this Project

I want to create materials and community applying Universal Design for Learning principles, and design cognitively accessible mathematics for adult learners for whom learning math may have been unpleasant, terrifying and/or perceived as impossible.

Updates are at the end :) BUT https://www.resourceroom.net/20OER/ is where I’m putting rough rough (ROUGH!) drafts.

There would be a “textbook” with interactive (digital and concrete) experiences to build conceptual understanding of basic number principles and their applications to “math problems” and daily life.

Many widely used adult basic education math resources are accelerated repetition of procedural instruction. When that proves ineffective for many students, they are often deemed "not able."

In my work at The New Community School, a middle/secondary college-preparatory school for students with specific language learning disorders, I saw that carefully constructed materials with multisensory (visual, auditory and kinesthetic) reinforcement and practice could enable students to learn math well and deeply. Advances in technology make it possible to scale and share these ideas.

I think the OER community can create and disseminate interactive, multisensory OER to open doors of opportunity, whether for evolving “career certificates” or already established adult education credentials. Whether it's lessons using manipulatives (especially in rural areas or correctional institutions where internet access is limited) or interactive OER at sites such as geogebra.org , there is so much potential for reaching the adult basic education community.

Yes, this has to be more than a “textbook.” I’ll need a team :) I’d like to start with my college’s “Transition” textbook (I’ve adaped and shared the first chapter as OER at oercommons.org) and revise it to have more interactive activities and more structure and review. However! If someone or some people were to take on leading roles, I’d be more than happy to swich and adapt a different scope and sequence, such as something with a life skills or specific career focus.

This course would serve to build conceptual knowledge so that learners could then consider college and even university options for continuing education. There are so many people whose learning potential has not been met!

I’d like to create a small module with UDL elements … and then keep building. Sometimes the “universal” design will mean having several options for representation rather than one presentation trying to provide everything.

UPDATE (1/4/2018): That module will be about the times tables. It will be sequenced for understanding (0,1,10,2,5, 4, 9, 3, 6, 7 8 if I remember correctly) — I’ve gotten 0, 1 and 10 done in ‘down time’ and hope to have that part sharable next week).

My objective is to open doors to knowledge and career and life options for people by helping them understand how numberse and mathematics works.

The resources below will tell you more:

First is an infographic with a quick overview of the project.

Next is my CV; next is an example of an interactive digital activity.

This is followed by guidelines for Universal Design for Learning that I will use;

Finally there are sections from an OER chapter I may use as a guide. That is based on a course we offer here at Parkland; another option would be to have a similar scope and sequence to the one at modumath.org.

Update: 7/19/2019 The Illustrative gig is up and it was awesome, though without the possibilities for the “other lessons” or the interactive multisensory lessons so: back to the times tables and more; next up is "doubling and halving” (just finished divisibility). Then it will be the fives… and then I will swing back and build in dividing by 10 for 10 percent.

I am hearing online about an “open source homework system” project. It’ll prob’ly go to something far more advanced than this …

UPDATE (1/4/2019): That module will be about the times tables. It will be sequenced for understanding (0,1,10,2,5, 4, 9, 3, 6, 7 8 if I remember correctly) — I’ve gotten 0, 1 and 10 done in ‘down time’ and hope to have that part sharable next week).

Update — 4/15/2019: (and editing that last ‘update’ because it was this year, not last!)

I’m up to the two’s on the times tables module, with other number sense activities interspersed in earlier lessons. But! But! I have been hired by Illustrative Mathematics to write support materials for their upcoming High School curriculum. For right now, it’s limited to modifications and enhancements that can happen within the standard classroom curriculum. That curriculum is already more cognitively accessible than most because of the principle that students should engage in and develop mathematical understanding *before* learning to manipulate symbols to get an answer. I’m not going to “talk out of school” but … yes, it does :) :) :) :) There will also be an OER version available for free.

I’m hoping that working in more truly multisensory activities will be possible, with visuals and manipulatives, including other lessons for students who need further conceptual preparation (if you don’t have enough background meaning, then the "meaning building” exercises can still be an exercise in frustration).

I also still want to strive for creating online experiences that would provide the “personalized learning” and practice, but more visually and conceptually than current products (and OER — not just free, open).

Update 11/4/2019
Illustrative Mathematics gig is up… my *very rough* (not ready to share, unless somebody wants to take it and do some of the 5 R’s on it ;)) ‘prototype’ lives at http://www.resourceroom.net/20OER/

Update: 11/19/2019 So! I have a page on my website for learning the times tables in conceptual sequence and a basic quiz for each.

I’ve been learning javaScript, CSS and HTML … the potential is amazing. On social media there are persistent complaints that “they don’t know their times tables, what can we do?” — and there are … gazillions of sites that have practice, except they are aimed at practicing … if you have already learned them. There are a *few* that have some visual/conceptual practice… usually in Flash. We don’t need no stinkin’ Flash :-) https://www.resourceroom.net/20OER/ I’ve gotten some awesome help at the freecodecamp.org forum (when I can get there)… and have found repl.it for trying things out… Parkland College gives me access to the Linked In Learning (formerly lynda.com) … so I hope to have something worht sharing by the year’s end…

[end update]




Susan Jones

Project Manager

Michael Cenkner


Andrew Knauft


Katherine Ann Wahl


David Radcliffe


Zoe Wake Hyde