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Ideas on Universal Design for Learning | Ecology of EducationEcology of Education

Ideas on Universal Design for Learning

In this Kappa Delta Pi Record article, Susan Trostle Brand (University of Rhode Island/Kingston), Antoinette Favazza (University of Rhode Island), and Elizabeth Dalton (TechACCESS) present ways that teachers can use Universal Design for Learning to make lessons accessible to students with a wide spectrum of learning styles and abilities:

Multiple means of representation – Giving students options for perception, language and symbols, and comprehension:

-   Perception – Presenting information, concepts, and assessments in a variety of formats, including PowerPoints, interactive whiteboards, dry erase boards, storyboards, flip charts, graphic organizers, video clips, and using physical props.

-   Language and symbols – Using body language, facial expressions, and gestures and linking illustrations to words, making text-to-chart connections, and providing graphics and animation.

-   Comprehension – Activating students’ prior knowledge through brainstorming, reflecting on feedback, K-W-L charts, and scaffolding as students complete a study guide.

Multiple means for engagement – A constructivist approach can support active engagement through:

-   Recruiting student interest – Making the curriculum relevant by integrating children’s life experiences and prior knowledge.

-   Sustaining effort and persistence – Communicating specific goals, standards, and short-term objectives, varying the level of challenge and support, fostering collaboration and communication among peers, and encouraging effort, practice, and mastery.

-   Self-regulation – Students set personal goals and become more and more self-motivated, scaffolded by prompts, rubrics, checklists, and notes.

Multiple means for action and expression – Varying physical action, expressive skills and fluency, and executive functions:

-   Physical actions – Providing varied expectations for physical response, timing, and materials – for example, having students use their bodies, voices, hands, and feet to explore materials, allowing the use of a computer rather than a pencil for a test, and using manipulatives or a calculator with a math test

-   Expressive skills and fluency – Giving various choices for expression, varying tools for composition and problem-solving, and offering different levels of practice and support.

-   Executive functions – Students get support for goal-setting, planning, and developing strategies for learning – for example, checklists, outlines, note-taking guides, software tools, colored tabs, and color-coded pages for notes and text.

Multiple means of assessing understanding – This includes methods, formats, scope/range level, product and outcome, and feedback:

-   Methods – Allowing students to choose whether to be tested with multiple-choice questions, an oral question-and-answer session, or an essay, also having extended time.

-   Formats – Using computers, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and other voiced options for students who need auditory scaffolding, and using photographs, picture symbols, and sign language translation for other students.

-   Scope/range level – Having fewer questions, projects, or in-class work as options, also additional tiers for students to go beyond basic questions.

-   Product and outcome – Some students might create a play, others construct a model, others write an essay or article, others hold a debate, others create a videotape to show mastery of the same standards.

-   Feedback – Teachers might provide immediate feedback on a test, ask a series of increasingly challenging questions, have students self-evaluate by using journals or oral reflection, or solicit peer feedback.

“Universal Design for Learning: A Blueprint for Success for All Learners” by Susan Trostle Brand, Antoinette Favazza, and Elizabeth Dalton in Kappa Delta Pi Record, July-September 2012 (Vol. 48, #3, p. 134-139), http://bit.ly/OeUOSF

This Marshall Memo summary of an original article was first published in Marshall Memo 447 by Kim Marshall

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Author:Kim Marshall

Kim Marshall began his career in 1969 teaching sixth graders in a Boston middle school. In 1987, he finally got his wish and was made a principal. As leader of the Mather Elementary School for the next 15 years, Kim and his colleagues brought about significant improvements in student achievement, teacher effectiveness, and the quality of the curriculum. Kim now works for New Leaders for New Schools (www.nlns.org), a non-profit that recruits, trains, and supports urban principals. Kim coaches new principals in New York City, with a special focus on improving teacher supervision and evaluation and the effective implementation of interim assessments. He also gives workshops and courses to aspiring and practicing school leaders in a number of venues.
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