Book Builder

This post completes my week-long feature of Universal Design for Learning, a project with the mission to maximize learning for all students.  To read the earlier posts, you can click on these:  Universal Design for Learning, Variability Matters, Planning for All Learners, and Learning Wheel.

Sample page from The Tortoise and The Hare created on Book Builder

Another tool that is provided by CAST, the organization that created Universal Design for Learning, is Book Builder.  According to the site, “This wonderful and free online tool allows you to create your own interactive “books” to help young readers learn reading strategies to build comprehension. Enter your own text, images, and hints.”  To use Book Builder, you will need to create a free account.  Once you do this, you can create a book that has accompanying audio, “mentors” who can be clicked on for extra help or suggestions, and areas for students to respond.

CAST is working on a more robust version of this with its UDL Studio.  With this tool, students can highlight text that proves an answer, and then compare it to the teacher’s highlights.  The students can choose whatever modality they want to use for responding to questions built in to the book.  There are many other features that make this a very strong tool in the hands of the right teachers.  UDL Studio is still in Beta, from what I understand, but you can test it out for yourself.

I have started a Pinterest Board of UDL Links, and one of UDL Videos.

Finally, I would like to leave you with one more video.  It is an excerpt from Glee, in which a deaf choir performs “Imagine”, and the other students join in.  It is a very powerful reminder of how amazing all of our students can be when given the opportunity.

(For my entire  week-long series on UDL, check out the following links:  Universal Design for LearningVariability MattersPlanning for All LearnersLearning Wheel, and Book Builder.  You can also click on the Universal Design for Learning category in my right margin or take a look at my Pinterest Boards for UDL for even more resources.)

Planning for All Learners

image credit: Boston Arts Academy at Tufts University Video

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.

To get a true understanding of the power of using the strengths of students to engage them in their learning, check out this cool video of students from the Boston Arts Academy learning some scientific concepts at Tufts University.

(For my entire  week-long series on UDL, check out the following links:  Universal Design for LearningVariability MattersPlanning for All LearnersLearning Wheel, and Book Builder.  You can also click on the Universal Design for Learning category in my right margin or take a look at my Pinterest Boards for UDL for even more resources.)

Variability Matters

image credit: from Variability Matters

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.

(For my entire  week-long series on UDL, check out the following links:  Universal Design for LearningVariability MattersPlanning for All LearnersLearning Wheel, and Book Builder.  You can also click on the Universal Design for Learning category in my right margin or take a look at my Pinterest Boards for UDL for even more resources.)

Universal Design for Learning

image credit: www.udlcenter.org

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.

Today, I would like to direct you to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning.  One of their featured videos is UDL at a Glance, which you can view here, or in the embedded link below:

(For my entire  week-long series on UDL, check out the following links:  Universal Design for Learning, Variability Matters, Planning for All Learners, Learning Wheel, and Book Builder.  You can also click on the Universal Design for Learning category in my right margin or take a look at my Pinterest Boards for UDL for even more resources.)

Hiatus

Engage Their Minds will be on a hiatus from 7/9/12 to 7/15/12.  New posts will begin again on 7/16/12.

Dear Photograph

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.

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