[nobe-l] Writing on the board

Heather Field missheather at comcast.net
Mon Jan 16 13:34:46 UTC 2017

Hello Tara,
Sorry this reply is late in coming to you since you're teaching this week.
Congratulations on following your dream to teach. I am a blind teacher and 
I've been teaching for over 30 years with preschool and elementary age 
children. So, you most certainly will be able to teach. Many blind teachers 
do, all over the world. However, it's important that you remain determined 
and develop your alternative techniques, and don't get discouraged by what 
the sighted professionals say to you.
Student teaching is especially difficult since you aren't in charge of the 
classroom. The resources aren't all brailled and the children aren't trained 
by you to interact with a blind teacher. When you have your own classroom 
everything will be organised and marked that way you like it and things will 
work just the way you want.
Nevertheless, you can make student teaching work, but make sure you point 
out this fact to your supervisor and classroom teacher..

When teaching sighted children, it is important that you teach as a blind 
person, and not try to teach the way the sighted teacher does. Typically, 
your supervisor or the classroom teacher will tell you that you need to 
write on the board and they ask if you can write. However, this is not the 
correct question. The correct question is "Can you present material in 
written form in front of the class?
Yes, the sighted teacher writes on the board. But, she only writes on the 
board so that she can show the numbers, symbols and letters which she wants 
to display in written form. But, provided blind teachers can put letters, 
numbers and symbols up that the students can read, it doesn't matter that we 
don't write them. As a blind teacher, I use magnetic letters, numbers and 
signs, which I put on the board. I don't need to write on the board since I 
have an alternative technique that works just as well. I thing that the 
wikki sticks idea is also good.

A company called Lakeshore has what they call a Classroom set of magnetic 
letters which is very useful for displaying on the board, since the letters 
come in a divided box with several of each letter. You simply use braille 
label and mark the bottom of each section and it's quick and easy to find 
each letter since the sections are alphabetically arranged. You can also buy 
sets of plastic magnetic numbers. The letters in the classroom box are only 
about an inch and a half tall. You can also get three inch high letters 
although I don't believe they're available in the classroom box, so you'd 
need to make up your own divided box.
Melissa and Doug manufacture sets of magnetic wooden letters and numbers. 
They are around $10 to $12 dollars a set. They are available on Amazon.
However, for presenting material on the board, you may wish to purchase the 
larger, plastic letters and numbers.
I believe these are available from Lakeshore.

If the board is not magnetic, it will be to your great benefit if you get a 
magnetic board into the classroom. It's likely that the school will have one 
floating round, so be sure to request it as soon as you can. Otherwise, you 
should purchase a magnetic board. You can get ones that are big enough from 
Costco or perhaps an office supplies store. A diligent search online will 
also find you a reasonably priced larger board. Many are on wheels and are 
also dry erase. Since this is all equipment which you need to pass your 
college courses, Voc. Rehab. should pay for it for you.

I'll put some info about my favourite websites  where you can buy lots of 
great adaptable and/or accessible resources and materials below this e-mail.

If you'd rather prepare your resources ahead of time, you can purchase 
adhesive numbers and letters which can be read using fingers, and you can 
get assistance with sticking the various sums onto large cardboard charts. 
This way you can present your lesson using premade materials and won't need 
to use any time finding the letters or numbers which you need. You can put 
braille under the numbers or letters on your large cardboard chart to make 
presenting the lesson easy. You just label each chart and change it as you 
move onto the next example.
The Parent Teacher Store often has these and they have a website where you 
can buy things, if you don't have a store near you. It's also likely that 
there would be plenty available on Amazon.

Furthermore, you don't have to present your lessons the way the classroom 
teacher does. For example, you could bring the students onto the carpet 
close to you in a group and you could present your lesson with them close 
up, so that they could easily see the smaller letters or numbers which you 
are putting on your magnetic board. This is such an important part of making 
your student teaching practicum successful. Find out what it is that they 
want you to teach and teach the lesson in a way that will make it possible 
for you to be at your best and successful, not trying to present lessons the 
way the sighted teachers do. Be sure to explain to your supervisor and 
classroom teacher that this part of your teacher training is about you 
finding what works for you as a blind teacher, and not about trying to prove 
that you can teach like a sighted person, which you neither want nor need to 
I hope some of this has been helpful to you, Tara.
Please don't hesitate to contact me to chat about ideas, suggestions etc. 
Tara. I would love to help.


Website information

The Lakeshore website is fairly accessible but they have an extremely 
helpful customer service department so it's often much quicker to call them 
and tell them what you're looking for and they'll help you locate it.

Oriental Trading Company is another company which offers lots of magnetic 
resources which are large enough to display on the board for a class, and 
have plenty of room on them to affix braille labels. For example, I have a 
frog life cycle set of pictures. I have brailled the info booklet so I can 
easily present the lesson.

Discount School Supply is an extremely good company with a lot of very good 
resources which are sold at an affordable price. However, the website is 
truly awful  and not accessible. They do have good customer service but, I 
have found, that it's much better to sit down with a sighted friend or 
colleague and explore what they have. I've discovered lots of neat resources 
there by just looking by category. I wouldn't have found it talking with 
customer service since I didn't know it existed.

I have several favourite websites where I buy all sorts of materials which I 
use in my classroom.
-----Original Message----- 
From: Tara Abella via NOBE-L
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2017 4:49 PM
To: National Organization of Blind Educators Mailing List
Cc: taranabella0 at gmail.com
Subject: [nobe-l] Writing on the board

Hi all,

I am student teaching in first grade and next week I will be completely 
taking over math and spelling. How does everyone handle writing on the dry 
erase board at the front of the room? I will be teaching greater than, less 
than, and equal to, so I need to be able to create problems and show 
examples for the students to see.


Tara Abella

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