If you are a teacher who is interested in broadening the accessibility of your curriculum by using the concepts of Universal Design for Learning, the Learning Wheel is a great interactive that has been made available for this purpose. It shows the three principles of UDL, which are: Provide Multiple Means of Representation, Provide Multiple Means of Expression, and Provide Multiple Means of Engagement. Within each principle, there are different options, and the user can click on the arrows to turn the wheel until the appropriate option shows in a pop-up window. There, the option is explained more thoroughly, and there are links to additional examples and resources. The Learning Wheel is a great tool for teachers who are looking for different ways to incorporate UDL into their curriculum.
This week, I am focusing on Universal Design for Learning. You can learn more about it in my first two posts – here and here. Today, I would like to introduce you to one of the many Toolkits offered by CAST, the developers of UDL. The PAL Toolkit (Planning for All Learners) is a great beginning for teachers who are interested in incorporating UDL. It gives tools for setting goals, analyzing your student needs, and applying UDL to a lesson. Although individual teachers may feel the need to tweak some of these tools for their own use, there are some valuable frameworks that can give concrete examples to instructors. I particularly like the Class Profile Maker. This is a tool for clarifying the strengths, needs, and interests of each student. This would probably be a “work in progress”, as it’s difficult to immediately identify all of these areas for a class of 20-30 children. However, think about how powerful this could be if a record like this could travel with a student from year to year. Even though changes will happen, it could give new teachers a place to start.
Yesterday, I introduced you to a concept called Universal Design for Learning, which I learned about during an institute at Harvard last week. This video, Variability Matters, from Todd Rose at CAST (which developed UDL), is an excellent justification for why we should implement UDL in all of our schools – for the benefit of our students, and for the benefit of our country. By showing the connections amongst: our classrooms, shoes, and Rubik’s Cubes, Todd Rose explains why it is so important to embrace our differences in order to maximize learning for all.
Last week, I had the great privilege to attend the Universal Design for Learning Institute at Harvard. I must admit that, prior to this conference, I knew little about UDL. It is difficult to summarize UDL in one sentence, but here are some of the key points:
it’s about maximizing learning for all students
it’s a proactive, rather than reactive approach (preparing for the needs of different types of learners when designing your curriculum, rather than changing your curriculum as you go along)
it’s what good teachers do, whether they are aware of it or not, but we could all do it better
As this blog is all about engaging our learners, and that is a key component of UDL, I would like to dedicate this week’s blog posts to UDL and the resources for incorporating it into your classroom.
Dear Photograph is not an educational site. It is a collection of photographs of pictures. In each photograph, the photographer is holding up a picture from the past in front of a scene from the present. The juxtaposition is striking, and the submissions are accompanied by moving letters to the subjects of the older photos. The emotions that you find on this site are varied and deep, from nostalgia to regret. I like the idea of using this concept in the classroom because I think that it could help students to better understand their families. And if you have some really creative photo editors, they could develop their own versions for historical settings that they are currently studying or for literature. Using Dear Photograph for a project would be a neat way to encourage empathy and perspective.
For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around:
Windosill is an app for the iPad for $2.99. A free version is also available online, though you would also have to make a purchase to experience the second half. I have to admit, though, that I am glad I purchased the iPad app.
It is difficult to describe this mysterious, whimsical game, so I will quote the iTunes summary, “Explore a dream-like world of eleven beautifully-constructed environments in this iPad adaptation of the classic desktop adventure. Equal parts puzzle game, playful toy, and living picture-book, Windosill rewards playful investigation with mysterious and beautiful surprises.”
My nine year old daughter saw me trying to solve a level, and soon we were both deeply engrossed in finding the solution. We completed the game together, and then she wanted to start it over again from the beginning. Her perseverance in trying to puzzle out each level was admirable.
Vectorpark, the company responsible for this game, also has other iOS apps, which you can view here.