Monday, April 8, 2013

Universal Design for Learning

As I look at my class and the uniqueness of the students I see how and why Universal Design for Learning is and can make a huge difference in the learning of my students.  There was a process I had to go through to see and understand what difference it makes in the learning of students,  including myself.

The first question I had to ask myself was "What is UDL?"  I found one site called CAST that explains with great illustration (my way of learning) and a great video.  From this site I came up with the answer to my first question.  Universal Design for Learning is a set of three principles that gives every student (no matter what level or age) an equal opportunity to learn in the same classroom.  From a teacher perspective, in college we were always taught it is important to be flexible, this still holds true for our own classrooms and should be looked in our lessons and curriculum as we pass students on a get new classes each year.  UDL At A Glance really helped me to better understand UDL.  Please take time to follow the link and watch or listen which ever you prefer.

Next I had to ask myself "Why?"  The CAST site again had a wonderful illustration like those found below.  They state that the way we learn is as unique as our fingerprints or DNA.  Something to think about.

May people may think of special education students when they think of changing our classrooms for a students.  The more I have learned about Universal Design for Learning the more I realize that we are all "Special" students and learn best in different ways.  One educator I have talk to who has a special education students has says many times in discussions if you look hard we are all on a spectrum!  The more I read the more it makes sense.  

We as teacher must teach for ALL of our students to the best of our abilities!  In our classrooms we should have 3 basic kinds of flexibility for our students to ensure their success.  One being multiple format and media to present the information.  This could come in many forms such as illustration, audio, video, pictures, diagrams, descriptions, books, texts, ect.  The second would be multiple strategies to engage and motivate students.  This could be individual, group work, computer sites, ipad apps, books, videos, art, music anything that interest the students.  The third is multiple ways for students to demonstrate the learning.  Students may write a report, illustrate a book, illustrate a design , use a program to show learning on the computer, use drama,  the list can go on and on.  You have to be creative  and willing to explore.

Now that I know about Universal Design for Learning I wanted take a lesson which I have taught in my classroom of kindergarteners before.  What Hatches?  I used the CAST Lesson Builder to help guide me in creating a flexible UDL friendly lesson.  I hope this lesson will help me reach more learners more effectively in my own classroom.

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