Wordle from Howard-Winn Tech Blog
With the Common Core, which is stated to "provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them," what a perfect time to revisit the UDL Principles!
Common Core provides us the opportunity to allow our students to use the tools that are written into their IEP as accessibility and accommodations. Those tools that we use every are expected to be included not only in the day to day Common Core instruction but into the testing environment.
Our curriculum resources are based on the use of Universal Design for Learning. As special educators, we need to be sure we are educated in these practices so that we can share these strategies with our general education staff. One way to break it down in a simple manner: Here are the goals for our lesson. We want the students to learn_____. How will we teach this to our students with 1. Mild Disabilities, 2. Moderate Disabilities, and 3. Severe Disabilities? What will the outcome look like? With UDL, we provide multiple means of engagement (various ways of acquiring information and knowledge), presentation (options for expressive skills and fluency) and expression (alternative means of demonstrating knowledge.)
What is Universal Design for Learning?
UDL is a set of principles that provides all students equal opportunity to learn. It is the what, how and why of instruction.
CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) is the site dedicated to UDL and the study behind it. A nonprofit leader in education, CAST works to improve opportunities and outcomes for all individuals through Universal Design for Learning. CAST states:
"Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs."
Who is CAST?
"CAST is an educational research and development organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals through Universal Design for Learning."
The Common Core and UDL work together!
In teaching the Common Core Standards, educators should provide multiple ways to access resources and content so learners are given the opportunity to take charge of their own learning.
Curricula (goals, methods, materials, and assessments) designed using UDL put an emphasis on creating effective, flexible goals. The Common Core Standards provide an important framework for thinking about what goals should be taught.
UDL and AT work together. AT is an application of a range of tools, electronic and other, to provide access to otherwise inaccessible learning tasks or environments. With UDL we create products and/or environments that are designed, from the outset, to accommodate individuals with a range of abilities and disabilities.
What is the difference between UDL and AT?
As CAST explains:
AT: Tools employed to assist individuals to overcome existing barriers in the learning environment.
UDL: Design learning environments that from the beginning do not contain barriers.
Both AT and UDL are essential. Relying on AT alone is limiting. UDL increases usability for everyone.
What does UDL look like?
As stated on the Region 4 Educational Solutions UDL site:
- WHO -- ALL students including Special Ed, 504, ELL, disadvantaged, gifted/talented, struggling learners, educators -- to name a few categories
- WHAT -- UDL is the process of designing and delivering curricula, materials, and environments in a manner that makes them accessible and usable to all students.
- WHERE -- Learning happens in a variety of environments, not just in the classroom. e.g. on the bus, at home, lunchroom, place of worship, gym, dinnertime...
- WHEN -- Learning can happen now, later, beforehand, afterward, synchronously, asynchronously, in real-time, online time... etc.
- WHY -- Education is changing; Working environments are changing; society is changing -- our students have changed and are digital natives.
- HOW -- Hopefully this post will give you some exploring ways to utilize Universal Design for Learning.
Principle I. Provide Multiple Means of Representation
- Provide options for perception
- Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols
- Provide options for comprehension
- Provide options for physical action
- Provide options for expression and communication
- Provide options for executive functions
- Provide options for recruiting interest
- Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence
- Provide options for self-regulation
If all schools used an UDL approach, AT would be needed much less and students achievement would be so much greater. For those requiring the use of AT, in order to have an equal access to the curriculum, would they not only blend in with all their peers in an UDL rich classroom? Imagine a classroom where students could all have access to the tools and the instruction in the way that they learn best. Why not? With the Common Core, what a great time it is for us to integrate the UDL Principles. (Reminder: Even in classrooms that are well equipped with UDL materials and methods, their assistive technology neither precludes nor replaces the need for UDL overall.)
What are some UDL tools?
Please take some time to go to the WiKI, UDLTechToolKit and explore some FREE technologies available for use in your classroom today, broken down by category. Also, please continue to explore this blog, as this has been my goal since I began this blog: to provide you with resources and information to make your teaching easier and your students' lives richer.
Common Core allows us as special educators the opportunity to help general educators with the knowledge and tools to help all students. It's an excuse to get in there and help them to see how it can be done. We hone our skills and share what we know. If nothing else, this can make Common Core worthwhile!
- UDL Guidelines
- Setting the Stage for UDL
- UDL Lesson Plan
- UDL Tool Finder by HIAT
- UDL Wheel
- UDL Live Binder of Resources
- Planning for All Learners (PAL) Examples
- Video Examples of UDL Practices in the Middle School Classroom
- My favorite: a 16 minute video of UDL in Action with AT integrated throughout, demonstrating full inclusion the way it is really meant to be.
- 10 Sites for Differentiated Instruction - Differentiation, the ability for teachers to meet the needs of a variety of learners, is a key component for successful teaching. While there are lots of ways this can be done and lots of tools that educators can use to accomplish this, there are many sites that can help facilitate the process.
- The Sound of Equality Accessible is a great little 5 minute music video about the importance of accessible materials for students with disabilities. The "accessible" version has audio description and ASL sign language interpretation.
- Why Your Special Ed Teachers Are Specially Equipped to Become Powerful Leaders in Common Core Implementation.