Monday, January 30, 2012

Adapted Paper for Math

Difficulty aligning numbers when completing math assignments is one of the most common handwriting related problems I see when working in the schools. Today I'd like to share some adaptations that I've used successfully with students.

I found a great website that allows you to make your own graph paper for free! It definitely takes some playing around with the dimensions to get the squares the size you want, but it is worth it in the end. I've created small, medium, and large graph paper.

The small is about the same as standard graph paper you can buy at the store. I don't use the small one very often, because it is too small for most students. I use the medium size the most, although the large is good for younger students.

The dimensions I used for each:
Small Graph Paper:                Medium Graph Paper:                 Large Graph Paper:
minimum border: 0.50"           minimum border: 0.50"                minimum border: 0.50"
grid line weight: 0.50 points   grid line weight: 0.50 points         grid line weight: 0.50 points
spacing: 4 lines per inch        spacing: 3 lines per inch              spacing: 2 lines per inch

Here's the medium graph paper in action:
I also used the inverted graph paper option to create this paper:

This paper can be helpful for young students who are just beginning to complete written math assignments.

The dimensions for this paper:
minimum border: 0.5"
grid line weight: 15.00 points
grid spacing: 1 line per inch
color: blue (and then I printed on a black ink printer to get the gray color seen above)

Another option is to use RediSpace Transitional Notebook Paper by Mead. This paper was created by an occupational therapist and helps with spacing between words. It can also be used for math.
Here's a picture of the cover of the notebook, which provides an example of how to use the paper for math.

And here's a picture of the paper being used for math.

I like using the Redispace paper because it looks similar to standard notebook paper, which is often important to students, because they don't want to look different from their peers.

Last, but not least, here's an old standby. Turn standard notebook paper sideways and use the columns to align the numbers. The only downside to this technique is that it does not provide a baseline, which some students need. I often see teachers encouraging their entire class to use their paper in this way to complete math assignments. By having the entire class do math assignments in this way, it does not single out the students who need special paper to keep the numbers lined up.

What strategies do you use to help students line up numbers when completing math assignments?

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