Tag Archives: CAST

iSolveIt

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Some people spent their Easter weekend camping out in parks. Some spent it cooking and baking feasts for their family. I spent it playing two new games on my iPad.

iSolveIt is brought to you by the Center for Applied Special Technology. CAST is “an educational research & development organization that works to expand learning opportunities for all individuals through Universal Design for Learning.”

I have mentioned UDL a few times in earlier posts. With iSolveIt, it appears that CAST is working on developing apps that fit into the UDL framework.

Currently, there are two app for iDevices: MathSquared and MathScaled. What I like about both of these free apps is that they allow multiple people to register on one iPad, so when they are using it they can just log in, and continue with the level they last accessed. I also like that the apps have a few levels which allows you to work at your own pace. Another advantage is that each one has a “Scratch Pad” option, allowing you to make notes to help you with your game. And, finally, I am thrilled by the reasoning skils that are required to play each of these games. These are not “drill and kill” games.

What I didn’t like was that I could not find the instructions for either app within the app itself. I ended up going to the iSolveIt website to figure out what I was supposed to be doing for both games. The website has helpful directions and videos, but it would be nice to be able to have tutorials within the app.

If you like Sudoku and Ken-Ken, then MathSquared is the game for you. If you like balancing equations in Algebra, then MathScaled will appeal to you. Or, you can neglect all of your other duties for the next few days, and try both.

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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.)