When I completed the revision of my lesson during week two I built in a lot of choice and flexibility. My main focus at that time was to identify which students had or had not mastered the content. At the time I noted that students would have several options of how to re-learn the information they had not yet mastered. For this revision I have more specifically delineated examples of activities the students can choose from. Some examples of the additions to my lessons are the use of a video lesson tool called Zaption. This website allows you to create video lessons with material found on the web. You can embed questions, drawings, and text in their free version. Students can then watch the “tour” and experience the learning at their own pace. Another option would be for student to design (either digitally or on paper) their own flashcards to help them study. Check out my lesson here to see more examples of how I used UDL to make the material more accessible for ALL students. A final addition made to the lesson will ask the students to reflect on their learning process. They will make note of which activities they used in the lesson. They will rate the effectiveness of each tool and comment on why they gave the activity that rating. According to the guidelines put forth by CAST, “The goal of education in the 21st century is not simply the mastery of content knowledge or use of new technologies. It is the mastery of the learning process,” (Rose, D.H. & Gravel, J. pg. 5. 2011). By having students complete this last reflective step they will be on their way to understanding how the learning process works best for them!
As a Special Education teacher I am already aware of the many specific and varied learning needs of the students in my classroom. I have students in high school who are decoding at the 3rd grade level. I have students who can decode at grade level, but for whom comprehension is an issue. I have a student who is not able to express his ideas in writing at even the first grade level, but often has insights into grade level material that he is able to express orally. These many different needs have required me to incorporate a variety of learning tools and methods into my classroom for years. The difference and “Ah Ha” moment of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is coming to understand that the tools I make available to one student can just as easily be used by EVERY student in my room. The example often given when explaining UDL is the sidewalk cut outs designed for people with wheelchairs. The use of those cut outs is not limited to only those in wheelchairs. They are useful to people pushing strollers, rollerbladers, the elderly and many more. Anyone can use them and it does not take away from the experience of anyone using that sidewalk. That same principle can be applied to my classroom. If I let the student with writing issues use a Speech to Text tool, then there is no reason not to let ANY student use it if they so choose. And choice is the real key here. Students may choose to use a tool one day, and not another. They may feel like drawing with paper and pencil for one activity and the next time they may choose a web tool like Animoto. Having the choice and learning to understand what works best for them and when, is really the bigger goal.
CAST. (2010). UDL at a Glance. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/bDvKnY0g6e4.
Rose, D.H. & Gravel, J. (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines (V.2.0). Wakefield, MA: CAST.org.
Turner, B. (2008). Almost Midterms [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/60588258@N00/2289427576/
Wikipedia. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d9/Truncated_domes.jpg