Rethinking learning with UDL

This is week 6 of 8 blogs posts for my CEP 811, Adapting Innovative Technologies for the classroom. This week’s goal is to look over my lesson plan from week 3 to see if I have implemented elements of UDL. UDL stands for Universal Design for Learning. I have had a little training in UDL, but this was the first time I really dove into the aspects of using UDL to design a lesson plan. One might be asking, what is UDL?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that addresses the primary barrier to fostering expert learners within instructional environments: inflexible, “one-size-fits-all” curricula. It is inflexible curricula that raise unintentional barriers to learning. Learners who are “in the margins”, such as learners who are gifted and talented or have disabilities, are particularly vulnerable. However, even learners who are identified, as “average” may not have their learning needs met due to poor curricular design (Cast, 2011). For the visual learner:

UDL helps address learner variability by suggesting flexible goals, methods, materials, and assessments that empower educators to meet these varied needs (Cast, 2011). UDL goes beyond the physical classroom and looks at all aspects of learning.  Not all students learn the same way, what UDL provides is the opportunity for all students to learn in a flexible learning environment. Since this is a class revolving around technology in the classroom, UDL provides the opportunity for technology to be integrated. Some students in a classroom may need assistive technology, such as glasses, pencil grips, the opportunity to record lectures, etc. Assistive technology, according to the National Center on accessible Information Technology in education at the University of Washington can be defined, technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Assistive technology can include mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, as well as hardware, software, and peripherals that assist people with disabilities in accessing computers or other information technologies (“What is assistive,” January, 2013)

There are three guiding principles for UDL design (Cast, 2011):

Provide Multiple Means of Representation-the “what” of learning

Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression-the “how “of learning

Provide Multiple Means of Engagement-the “why” of learning

As I looked over my lesson plan from week 3, using the UDL guidelines Educator worksheet  created by CAST, I realized there were aspects of UDL that had been incorporated into my lesson, but there were important aspects that were left out.

I observed in the lesson, I don’t go over the objectives or goals of the lesson and activity. I don’t start my lesson off with letting students know the goal and objectives and I don’t review them at the end of the lesson. This is important, as students need to be aware of what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Starting from the beginning, I need to add in a section that has students going over the vocabulary that will be used in the lesson. Vocabulary such as conductive and insulting., these will have been defined previously but will need to be reviewed to ensure students understand the difference between the conductive and insulting as well as how it works into the experiment.  I would add the vocabulary activity in with the building background knowledge section. I think this is good section as it is working on making sure students have the prior knowledge before the experiment is started.

Assessment of the activity need to be revised as I noticed I need to provide the opportunity for students to reflect on the activity as well as the opportunity to do a self assessment. It also incorporates the second and third principles of the UDL guidelines as student reflection can have students thinking of how they learned. As students begin to realize how they learn it helps them get to the why of learning.

One of the strengths of the lesson is the use of YouTube videos addressing the first guideline of UDL design. It provides students the opportunity to get information in from a source other then the teacher. It also provides visualization and the opportunity to replay a section if something is not understood.  Students are also provided the opportunity to move about the classroom in the form of stations. As far as expression, students are provided the opportunity to create whatever dough animal they want to. Collaboration opportunities are available in the form of small groups.

UDL helps all students learn regardless of ability. Using the UDL worksheet can be helpful when rewrite or creating new lesson plans. It is a great guiding tool to make sure all types of learning styles are incorporated and strengths of each student can be addressed.

Resources on UDL:

http://www.cast.org/

http://udltechtoolkit.wikispaces.com/

Cast created Educator UDL Worksheet:

http://tinyurl.com/mma2gbl

References:

CAST (2010, January 06). UDL at a Glance [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/bDvKnY0g6e4

CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.

What is assistive technology?. (January, 2013 24). Retrieved from http://www.washington.edu/accessit/articles?109

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