This week, I focused my studies on Universal Design for Learning or UDL. In schools, “individual variability is the norm” (CAST p. 4) and teaching to the “average” does not meet this variability. This “one size fits all” fails to “provide all individuals with fair and equal opportunities to learn by excluding learners with different abilities, backgrounds, and motivations” (CAST p. 4). UDL takes this “one-size fits all” curriculum and addresses it by “suggesting flexible goals, methods, materials, and assessments” (CAST p. 4) and “encourages creating flexible designs from the start that have customizable options, which allow all learners to progress from where they are and not from where we imagined them to be” (CAST 2011).
A few weeks ago, I created a lesson plan that used a Raspberry Pi and Minecraft Software. I decided to apply my new knowledge of UDL and recreate my lesson plan to access more students and not just the “average.”
My first change was how my lesson was delivered. UDL suggests that the same information should be provided through different modalities (CAST p. 14). UDL also states that learners benefit from “different forms of representation” (CAST p. 16). To accommodate for this, I created a website with the instructions for the activity. Students can visit this website or view the activity in paper form. By viewing the activity on the website using Google Chrome, students have the ability to change the font size (by zooming), and listen to the activity by using Announcify (a great tool that will read website out loud to readers. It also blurs parts that are not being read for less distractions (Announcify.com 2013)). For students who have trouble reading, there is a video on the website on how to start up the Raspberry Pi. Also, the steps are written in short, crisp sentences, and are outlined in different parts as well as steps. Finally, the website has links to definitions of words that students may struggle with understanding.
“Information is more accessible and likely to be assimilated by learners when it is presented in a way that primes, activates, or provides any pre-requisite knowledge” (CAST p. 19). My second change was to the engagement of my lesson. To activate prior knowledge, the teacher will open bubbl.us (a brainstorming and mind mapping tool) with “scale drawings” as the main idea. Students will think of words or ideas that they associate with scale drawings and add them to the list. After about 10 minutes, students will participate in an interactive activity as a class on scale drawing from the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. After completing this activity as a class, the teacher will reopen the original brainstorming webpage and students will add information they may have thought of during the interactive activity. At the end of the lesson, the class will revisit this again and add any new information that they learned.
Students have many ways to articulate what they know including talking, writing, singing, making a video, etc. UDL suggests using many of these methods in one lesson to allow students to “successfully take part in their learning” (CAST p. 23). The next change to my original lesson was to allow students to create a video as well as write in their blog to show their new knowledge and talk about their frustrations and successes. This alternative “reduce media-specific barriers to expression among learners with a variety of special needs, but also increases the opportunities for all learners to develop a wider range of expression in a media-rich world” (CAST p. 23)
My final change to the lesson was to meet with students daily to discuss their current successes, frustrations, and to scale back the assignment or add more challenges depending on how the group is doing. This differentiation, goal-setting, and feedback allows learning to occur (CAST p. 26). In addition, “once a goal is set, effective learners and problem-solvers plan a strategy, including the tools they will use, for reaching that goal” (CAST p. 26).
Click here to see my new Raspberry Pi Lesson Plan – UDL.
As I tweaked my lesson plan, I realized that I had already included many aspects of UDL. For one, I was already including the objective in the lesson and had students review this to ensure they knew the reason for the activity. In addition, students were using KidBlog to reflect on their projects and to help one another collaboratively by offering advice. Third, students had a checklist that they could refer to for goals, for planning needs, and to ensure they are completing the assignment correctly. Finally, students had the choice of building they could use to create a scale model and work in a safe environment without threats or distractions.
Announcify.com. (2013). Announcify [Web Page]. Retrieved on August 10, 2013 from https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/announcify/mmiolkcfamcbpoandjpnefiegkcpeoan.
Bubbl.us. (2013). Bubbl.us. [Web Page]. Retrieved on August 10, 2013 from https://bubbl.us
CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.
Utah State University. (2010). National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. [Web Page]. Retrieved on August 10, 2013 from http://nlvm.usu.edu