Math in Origami

by Robert Duncan, Terry Mulhollan, Baburam Kharel


Modification 1, Modification 2, Modification 3

Modification 1

Visual Impairment

The extent to which these modifications would need to be used depends on the student because ³blind² can mean many different things.  This website said that the level of visual disability depends not just on the actual physical impairment but also on when they became visually impaired and how the impairment occurred.  So these modifications could be used in varying degrees depending on the extent of the visual disability.


General Courtesy

  • Speak to the class upon entering and leaving the room or site.

  • Call the student with a vision impairment by name if you want his/her attention.

  • Seat the student away from glaring lights (e.g. by the window) and preferably infront of the class.

  • Use descriptive words such as straight, forward, left, etc. in relation to the student's body orientation. Be specific in directions and avoid the use of vague terms with unusable information, such as "over there", "here", "this", etc.

  • Describe, in detail, pertinent visual occurrences of the learning activities.

  • Describe and tactually familiarize the student to the classroom, laboratory, equipment, supplies, materials, field sites, etc.

  • Give verbal notice of room changes, special meetings, or assignments.

  • Offer to read written information for a person with a visual impairment, when appropriate.

  • Order the appropriate text books for the students in their preferred medium.

  • Identify yourself by name, don't assume that the student who is visually impaired will recognize you by your voice even though you have met before.

  • If you are asked to guide a student with a visual impairment, identify yourself, offer your services and, if accepted, offer your arm to the student's hand. Tell them if they have to step up or step down, let them know if the door is to their left or right, and warn them of possible hazards.

  • Orally, let the student know if you need to move or leave or need to end a conversation.

  • If a student with a visual impairment is in class, routinely check the instructional environment to be sure it is adequate and ready for use.

  • When communicating with a student who has a vision impairment, always identify yourself and others who are present.

  • Do not pet or touch a guide dog. Guide dogs are working animals. It can be hazardous for the visually impaired person if the dog is distracted.

  • Also use an auditory or tactile signal where a visual signal is normally used.

  • It is not necessary to speak loudly to people with visual impairments.

  • Always notify changes of class schedule in advance.


General Strategies

The degree of impairment and the student's background and training (like the degree of proficiency in Braille) will affect the usefulness of the various strategies and suggestions. The student with a vision impairment will most likely need assistance in all aspects of science programs. The various strategies given below will work for most vision impaired students--some may not. Accessible description will be necessary for pictures, graphics, displays, or field sites, etc.; the student's identification queries; and differentiation of items where touch will not discriminate; and in orientation and mobility aspects in unfamiliar situations.

  • Bring to the student's attention science role models with disabilities with a similar disability to that of the student. Point out that this individual achieved by a combination of effort and by asking for help when needed.

  • A wide selection of magnifying devices are available that can be used by visually impaired students to assist in reading or working with objects that need to be observed.

  • A screen reader, low vision projection screen, or an item like outSPOKEN or a similar system can be used to read a computer screens.

  • A screen magnifier may be used to enlarge print on a computer screen.

  • General Information Access for Persons with Vision Loss

1.     Visual material needs to be accompanied by a verbal description. If you are demonstrating how to use a piece of equipment, be sure to describe the equipment and what you are doing to operate it. Read overheads aloud and describe the content of slides (see note below about large print). In a conference presentation setting, you will probably want to provide all descriptions yourself. If you are showing a videotape, describe the action. If you distribute videotapes as handouts, any action or an explanatory text that is crucial to understanding the text of the presentation should be narrated.

2.    If there are multiple speakers (such as a panel), have each speaker introduce himself or herself to the audience so that the speakers' voices are keyed for the audience as to their identity.

3.    Be certain that your presentation can be clearly heard by everyone in the room and repeat all questions from the audience, prior to answering.

4.    Handouts should be available in large print, audiotape, computer disk, and/or Braille formats. If this is not possible prior to your presentation, note the various individuals' preferred formats and then make your materials available to them within a short time after your presentation.

5.    Large Print * - People who have some functional vision may be able to see print if it is large enough. Prepare print information on white paper with sharp, black ink. Standard print is generally 10-12 point type. Large print is 16-18 point and up, generally an enlargement setting of 160-175% on a copy machine. In the case of documents that already exist in print form, use a copy machine to enlarge each page onto 11 x 17 paper. Try darker settings on the copy machine to increase contrast without producing streaks. Many computer programs offer a variety of font types and sizes.
(On most newer versions of browsers, you can select Text Zoom from View Menu of the browser for larger view).

Teacher Presentation

  • By verbally spelling out a new or technical word, you will be helping the student with a vision impairment, as well as for other students.

  • Use an overhead projector to show step-by-step instructions. Mask all the instructions except the one(s) that you want to present.

  • All colored objects used for identification related to a lesson, experiment, or other directions should be labeled with a Braille label maker or otherwise tacitly coded for most students with vision impairments.

  • Describe, in detail, visual occurrences, visual media, and directions including all pertinent aspects that involve sight.

  • Use a sighted narrator or descriptive video (preferably the latter) to describe aspects of videos or laser disks.

  • Describe, in detail, all pertinent visual occurrences or chalkboard writing.

  • Where needed, have lesson or direction materials Brailled, use an enlarged activity script, or recorded ahead of time, for class handouts.

  • Whenever possible, use actual objects for three dimensional representations.

  • Modify instructions for auditory/tactile presentation.

  • Use an overhead projector, chalkboard, graphs, or slides as you would normally, but provide more detailed oral descriptions, possibly supplemented with thermoforms where appropriate.

  • Allow student to use a tape recorder for recording classroom presentations or the text.

  • Make all handouts and assignments available in an appropriate form: e.g., regular print, large print, Braille, or on a cassette, depending on the students optimal mode of communication.

  • Use a monocular or a private eye (electronic miniature television) or similar devices for long range observations of chalk board or demonstration table presentations.


1) Describe and tactually/spatially familiarize the student with the lab and all equipment to be used.

2) Consider alternate activities/exercises that can be utilized with less difficulty for the student, but has the same or similar learning objectives.

3) Use an enlarged activity script, directions, or readings for a low vision student (or taped script for a student who is blind) for use with tactile 3D models.

4) Make all handouts and assignments available in the appropriate form for the student: e.g., regular print, large print, Braille, or tape depending on the students optimal mode of communication.

5) Assistance may be needed for converting certain laboratory materials from a visual to a tactile format.

6) Have the student with a vision impairment do a trial run on the equipment before the activity.

7) Allow more time for the laboratory activities.

8) Always try to keep materials, supplies, and equipment in the same places.

9) Use a microprojector or similar device to help the visually impaired student to examine images from a microscope.

10) Place the student and/or tape recorder an appropriate distance from the activity to permit hearing and/or the recording of results or observations.

11) Use an overhead projector or opaque projector to show step-by-step instructions. Mask all the instructions except the one(s) that you want followed for students with vision impairments.

12) Use Descriptive Video for videos or laser disks. If Descriptive Video is not available, use a sighted narrator to describe movies, videos, laser disks, or slides.

13) Provide means for the acquisition and/or recording of data in an appropriate mode for the student.

14) Use tag shapes for showing relationships (such as distance comparisons) buttons, or other markers on a "layout" board.

15) A Braille label maker will be useful for identifying materials and containers in the laboratory for the vision impaired student with a vision impairment who reads Braille.

16) Make equipment available that the student with a vision impairment can access in interpreting and understanding the results of laboratory exercises (e.g. audible readout voltmeters, calculators, talking thermometers, magnifiers, etc.

17) Use a hot plate for heating instead of Bunsen burner.

18) Label material, supplies, and equipment with regular print, large print, and/or Braille, as appropriate for the vision impaired student.

19) Pair the student with a vision impairment with a sighted student. Then have the non-impaired student describe the activities and outcomes as they are observed.

20) A low vision projection screen can be use to magnify images up to 720X.

21) Use a portable communication board to provides auditory scanning of laboratory materials such as: pictographic symbols, letters, and/or words.

22) When using a computer, the student with a visual disability can use a voice input device or a remote voice system to verbally enter commands.

23) Prior to the enrollment of a student with a visual impairment in class, obtain laboratory equipment that have available ability to produce adaptive outputs such as: a large screen, print materials, or various audio output devices.

24) Various Braille devices can be used to assists vision impaired students when reading.

25) For "reading" the outputs of balances and other instruments, one can use a Braille N' Speak device (Blazie Engineering)

26) Have a lab assistant help you if necessary to make sure that students with visual impairments are being assisted.

Group Interaction and Discussion

  • Describe and tactually/spatially familiarize the student to the classroom.

  • Place the student and/or recorder an appropriate distance from the activity to permit recording of material.

  • Use a tape recorder.

  • If the student is partially sighted, be sure he/she is seated where lighting is appropriate.

  • Use a note taker who takes notes in the appropriate mode.

Text Reading Systems

  • Paid or volunteer readers or writers can assist a student with a visual impairment with texts, materials, and library readings .

  • Offer to read, or arrange to have read, written information for a person with a visual impairment, when appropriate.

  • Various Braille devices can be used to assists vision impaired students when reading.

Field Experiences

  • Make all handouts, safety information, and assignments available in an appropriate form (e.g., regular print, large print, tactile Braille, or cassette).

  • Consider alternate activities/exercises that can be utilized with less difficulty for the student, but has the same or similar learning objectives.

  • Use a sighted guide.

  • Do detailed description and narration of objects seen in science centers, museums, and/or field activities.


  • Review and discuss with the student the steps involved in a research activity. Think about which step(s) may be difficult for the specific functional limitations of the student and jointly devise accommodations for that student.

  • Use appropriate lab and field strategies according to the nature of the research.

  • Various Braille Devices can be used to assists vision impaired students when reading.

  • Suggest that the student use a tape recorder with a sighted person on the various activities.

  • Research on Mowatt sensor


  • Make arrangements for tactile examinations, if touch is not normally permitted (say, in a museum) then contact the curator for tactile access to a museum display items or say, in a zoo for access to a plant/animal species and/or collection).

  • Place the student being tested close to the activity if tactile examination is necessary.

  • Present examinations in a form that will be unbiased to visually impaired students. Ask the student for the approach he/she finds to be most accessible.

  • One possible accessible method is to record test questions on tape and have the students record their answers on tape in an area which has minimal disturbance for other students.

  • Allow more time.

  • Make use of larger print (e.g. 14 pt; 20 pt sized or as needed).

  • Make use of visual magnification (magnifier or magnifying machine), audiocassette, Braille/Braille graphs/Braille device for written responses, large block answer sheet.

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Modification 2

Modifications for Gifted and Talented students:

One of the themes from the TEA regarding the education of GT students is emphasizing content from the four core academic areas. These core areas are language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. This includes guidelines for school wide policies, but this can be used in individual classrooms by cooperating with teachers from other subjects in designing curriculum, or simply by designing lessons that address skills and themes from disciplines other than math.

The TEA guidelines even include things as simple as creating additional learning opportunities for gifted students in regular classrooms. Things like additional reading assignments or extra projects designed to challenge the students more than they would be by the regular curriculum.

Pre-AP classes can also be used to serve gifted students, although the TEA cautions that this isn't the goal of the Pre-AP program, so there is the danger that it may cause these programs to become or seem more exclusive than they are intended to be.

Another major theme of the TEA guidelines is that teachers of gifted students should undergo professional development courses before being given the responsibility of assisting gifted students.

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Managing a student with Attention Deficient Disorder

Students with Attention Deficient Disorder (ADD) are easily distracted and generally benefit from a structured classroom where rules and expectations are clearly communicated and academic tasks are broken down into manageable units. In this set of lesson plans, a real source of academic confusion would be the origami blueprints, which are often line drawings with little or no verbal instruction.

Traditional blueprints use visual cues such as a combination of dashed lines and curved arrows to indicate a specific type of fold. I would supplement these line drawings by adding subtext to clarify what folding technique was being represented. A supplementary handout indicating “what this combination of symbols means” might be either helpful or confusing. Since ADD students benefit from a combination of verbal and visual instruction, providing the student with a completed model during the construction phase would provide the student with a concrete goal thus helping them stay focused for the duration of the construction.

It has also been noted that ADD students benefit from environments where distractions are kept to a minimum. This could be accomplished by keeping their workspace free of unnecessary objects during delivery of a lesson and by placing the student near the teacher’s desk or lecture podium to narrow the field of view, hence distraction, and facilitate maintaining eye contact between the student and the teacher.

Structuring a classroom for ADD students does not mean making the classroom a sterile, boring environment. Per a 1994 publication from the U.S. Department of Education,

recent research suggests that providing more [emphasis mine]

stimulation and variety can improve the performance and behavior

of students with ADD.

Thus adding textured or colored paper – a rich detail in origami construction – would help students maintain interest in the assignment as would incorporating a variety of origami designs throughout this four week instructional unit in geometry.


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Anchor Video

Concept Map

Project Calendar

Lesson Plans

Letter to Parents