This week in CEP811, we were introduced to Universal Design for Learning. UDL is both a framework and guidelines that teachers can follow to make sure that all learners can be successful – working to overcome the “one-size-fits-all” curriculum that we are sometimes faced with (Cast, 2011, p. 4). We were tasked with taking a look at our maker activity from week 2 and imposing the UDL framework (see the guidelines with my notes here) on our activity. My lesson was a game that helps my third graders practice their rounding skills to the nearest ten and hundred. It was created with a Squishy Circuits maker kit involving play dough, a battery pack with wires, and fun LED lights. Small groups of students make their way around a game board and practice their rounding skills as they go. You can access my revised lesson plan by clicking here – the red font shows changes from week 3, and the blue font shows revisions with UDL.
I was glad to see that I was already doing a couple of things to support UDL. One of the main things was that I reviewed the rounding process whole-group before allowing students to play the game. This aligned with UDL guideline 2.1 – clarify vocabulary and symbols. By reviewing with the class, I was making sure that all students understood the skill they were going to be working on when they played the game, and took the time to make sure all vocabulary and symbols associated with rounding were clarified.
Another thing I was doing with my lesson that aligned with UDL guidelines was the use of open number lines. I decided to include these back in my week 3 revision to the lesson. The open number lines actually provide opportunities for students to use multiple tools for construction and composition (guideline 5.2). I am so glad I thought of this – it really does ensure that all students have available resources in order to be successful with my game. It also helps my students to stay organized, which aligns with guideline 6.3 on facilitating managing information and resources. Since all they need to do is write in the missing numbers on the number line, I don’t have to worry about number lines being drawn wrong. It is one less step students need to take in order to play the game, and I can help them to do this.
There are a few major revisions I would like to make to my lesson to be sure it is more closely aligned with UDL guidelines. To promote an understanding of rounding across all languages (UDL guideline 2.4), I would need to work with the ESL teachers in my building. I have two students who also speak Arabic, and by working with the ESL team I can ensure that these students understand how to round and play the game.
I noticed that I needed to provide more methods for comprehension for students when they play the game. To align with guideline 3.4 on maximizing transfer, I decided that if I was to create some type of handout to go with the game that reminded students how to round, they could use it with their open number lines to help them round.
I did not have any type of objective posted for students, and I feel that I should. This aligns with UDL guideline 6.1 on helping students with appropriate goal setting. Did my students really understand why I was having them play the game, and what they were supposed to take away from it? By posting the objective where they would be playing the game, students would be reminded of why they were playing and realize that it is more than just a game – it is a tool to help them learn and practice their skills.
The last major revision I would make to my lesson is to differentiate for different groups of students. Guideline 7.1 emphasizes the importance of individual choice for students, and guideline 8.2 discusses varying the demands and resources in the lesson in order to optimize challenge. If I was to create a few sets of cards that students could lay on top of the game board, different groups could practice with different numbers to provide more personalized instruction and engagement. I would be very specific with my groupings and the cards that are available to each group. This would make sure that my lower students use easier cards and my more advanced students can still practice rounding with more difficult numbers.
All of my UDL revisions would require some extra planning and creating on my part, but is definitely worth it if it means that my students are being challenged – in a positive, rewarding way!
To help ALL students succeed, we must always be asking the question – are we “open” to revising what already works, in order to make it more readily available to our students?
[photo credit: Markito. (8 November 2013). Open welcome note entry sign [photo]. Retrieved from http://pixabay.com/en/open-welcome-note-entry-sign-208368/.]
CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.
Markito. (8 November 2013). Open welcome note entry sign [photo]. Retrieved from http://pixabay.com/en/open-welcome-note-entry-sign-208368/.