Week 3 Discussion 1 Introduction to UDL
This discussion is an opportunity for you to apply the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the design of instruction and assessment. In essence, UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for all learners. To prepare for this discussion, in addition to reviewing the Required Resources for Week Three, view the CAST (2010) video UDL at a Glance (Links to an external site.)and the Week Three Instructor Guidance where additional assistance for excelling in this discussion and intellectual elaboration about UDL is provided.
Initial Post: Create an initial response that addresses the following areas.
Week Three Instructor Guidance
Welcome to Week Three of EDU620: Meeting Individual Student Needs with Technology. Please be sure to review the Week Three homepage and review the specific learning outcomes for the week, the schedule overview, the required and recommended resources for the week, the introduction to the week, and a listing of the assessments for the week. Next, be sure to read this entire Instructor Guidance page.
Knowledge gained in Weeks One and Two prompted you to consider how technology integration promotes and sustains student motivation. This week, you will learn about the practice and principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as it relates to technology integration into the classroom. Keep reading for intellectual elaboration about UDL and for additional assistance with excelling in the Week Three assessments.
Universal Design for Learning
UDL characterizes efforts to create universal access to education for all students, including those with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be defined as
“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” (CAST, 2014).
Thus, UDL is an approach to designing instruction that benefits all students of all learning styles, preferences, and abilities. UDL is not about adapting lessons for a few students; rather, it is about removing barriers and allowing all students to control the methods of accessing information.
There are three essential principles to UDL: Representation, Engagement and Expression. Let’s consider all three in greater depth and explore examples of how to remove barriers without adapting or retrofitting lessons.
Representation – Universally designed course content provides alternative representations of essential concepts. For example, during the instructional component of a math lesson on fractions, the teacher might represent the information in multiple ways—through a linguistic overview of the related mathematical vocabulary; a hands-on opportunity constructing and deconstructing whole-to-part and part-to-whole using manipulatives; and visually, by modeling fractions on an overhead projector or Promethean board (Smartboard).
Engagement – Universally designed course content addresses varied skill levels, preferences, and interests. By having flexible teaching strategies and course content, students are able to choose methods that support their interest and skill levels. For example, when teaching a reading lesson, students could choose from a variety of options that would allow them to practice reading fluency and comprehension at a reading level that is appropriate for them, such as a web-based game, an interactive storybook, or other digital options.
Expression – Universally designed course content allows for alternative methods of expression, which means the student has opportunity for multiple means of demonstrating mastery of the material. For example, in lieu of a traditional writing assignment, students could be allowed to demonstrate knowledge on a subject by doing an oral presentation or creating an artistic representation that could include a performance-based activity, such as a role play scenario. Students with speech impairments may be unable to present the information orally while students with a visual disability may have difficulty taking a written exam. Expression in UDL means each student has the ability to express their learning in a method that is most aligned to their strengths and preferences.
Therefore, UDL is not about creating different lessons for each learning style; it is about creating opportunities for multiple methods of learning. For a look at UDL being implemented in the classroom, select a video from the following collection of videos (Links to an external site.)(examples of classrooms using UDL from Grade 1 to Grade 6) provided by the National Center on Universal Design for Learning website. From these videos you will notice how UDL is incorporated into daily lessons that do not create barriers for learning.
The three essential principles of UDL, representation, engagement, and expression, are based on scientific understanding of how the human brain works best when learning new knowledge and skills.
UDL and Brain Research
UDL is based on three brain networks: affective, recognition and strategic. The affective networks address our emotional connection and ultimate ownership of learning. The recognition networks address our ability to take in information and ultimately become resourceful learners. And the strategic networks address our ability to demonstrate our knowledge and ultimately become both strategic and goal-directed learners. To learn more about these three networks, review this module (Links to an external site.)provided by the CAST website, which provides a more in depth look at the three brain networks in relationship to UDL. The module provides information in video, text and audio format, which is a variable demonstration of content adhering to the principle of representation in UDL.
UDL and Differentiate Instruction
As you have learned through your readings in Week Three, the concept of barrier-free design can be applied to the instructional methods and materials that are used to teach students. Recall, UDL characterizes efforts to create universal access to education for all students, including those with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities. Therefore, UDL focuses on the entire educational process, including how information is taught, which materials are used, how students engage in the learning activities, and how progress is assessed. UDL is flexible and is based on the premise that there is no “one size fits all” approach to student learning; teachers must create and provide experiences for instruction in multiple ways to allow students multiple ways of expressing mastery of their learning (Thoma, Bartholomew & Scott, 2009).
To effectively use the UDL approach, educators need to understand the abilities of the students they teach and create an environment that allows learning opportunities for all students. Teachers therefore must use a variety of instructional approaches to effectively break down barriers to learning that are inherent in one-size-fits-all approaches (Thoma, Bartholomew & Scott, 2009).
It is common for educators to talk about modifying instruction and characterize it as differentiated instruction. Differentiating instruction is a specific form of instruction that seeks to maximize each student’s growth by recognizing that students have different ways of learning, different interests and different ways of responding to instruction (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000). Relatedly, UDL is a set of principles for curriculum development. It is important to understand that UDL and differentiated instruction are very similar; they are someone interdependent. Therefore, you can think of UDL as a category of design thinking that informs and guides differentiated instructional methods. As a visual, imagine that UDL is an umbrella and differentiated instructional methods are protected by that umbrella against the elements of instruction that could otherwise cause barriers to learning. By practicing the principles of UDL, instruction can be designed to be more effective for all learners.
This section includes additional specific assistance for excelling in the discussions and assignment for Week Three beyond what is given with the instructions for the assessments. If you have questions about what is expected on any assessment for Week Three, contact your instructor before the due date.
Discussion 1: Introduction to UDL
This discussion is an opportunity to demonstrate your mastery with the third course learning outcome: Apply the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the design of instruction and assessment.
You will have the opportunity to discuss your understanding of UDL and the impact of UDL in your current or anticipated teaching or professional role. This discussion also includes how UDL can partner with technology in the classroom to ensure every student is provided with the opportunity to learn. Be sure to take the time to view the CAST video listed in the discussion overview as it presents fundamental information that will not only inform your response to this week’s discussion and assignment, but will set the foundation for what you will continue learning and practicing in the coming weeks concerning UDL. Additionally, it is important to make a conscious connection with what you learn this week and what you will be constructing during Week Six in the Final Project: Community Event.
Remember to follow the Guided Response prompt for this and every Discussion each week.
Assignment: UDL/CAST Instructional Plan Analysis
This assignment is another opportunity to demonstrate your mastery with the third course learning outcome; apply the principles of universal design for learning (UDL) in the design of instruction and assessment. For this assignment you will select a specific model lesson from the Explore Model UDL Lesson Plans (Links to an external site.)page of the CAST.org website. Next you will use the information provided in the content instructions to analyze how the lesson you viewed represents the three principles of UDL (representation, action and expression and engagement). You will also provide a reflection on the video and how the information gleaned can be applied to your own practice and the potential impact it may have on the population you serve or plan to serve in your professional practice.
The value of this assignment is two-fold; you gain exposure to the CAST Lesson Builder website where actual lesson plans that follow the principles of UDL are shared and there is the connection with student motivation. Exploration of the lessons gives you direct insight as to how principles of UDL and technology can be effectively incorporated. You will specifically focus on these principles during your analysis by expanding your understanding of the intent and value of UDL. Take the necessary time to explore a variety of sample lessons making sure you click on the UDL Connections icon located within each lesson so as to get a breakdown of how each principle is incorporated into the lesson. It is recommended also that you give attention to the discussion points you will include in the reflection component of the assignment as each concept has a relationship to each other and to your own personal relevancy as it pertains to your current or anticipated professional role.
Center for Applied Special Technology. (2007). Principles of universal design. Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines_theorypractice
CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author. Retrieved from http://udlonline.cast.org/page/module1/l134/
CAST. (n.d.). UDL online modules: Module 1: Introduction. Retrieved from http://udlonline.cast.org/page/module1/l134/
Explore model UDL lesson plans. (2011) Retrieved from http://lessonbuilder.cast.org/explore.php
Thomas, C. A., Bartholomew, C., Scott, L. (2009). Universal design for transition: A roadmap for planning and instruction. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Tomlinson, C. A. and Allan, S. D. (2000) Reasons for optimism about differentiation: Its basis in theory and research. In Tomlinson and Allan. Leadership for differentiating schools and classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
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