The Universal Design for Learning article that I looked into was written by Rogers-Shaw, Carr-Chellman, and Choi. The article discusses how UDL works with adult learning. It also places a large emphasis on creating things more accessible and easier for all students, and not just making accomodations or adjustments to a lesson when a problem arises. This is shown through the quote “important element in applying UDL is that it begins with course design.” (Rogers-Shaw, p. 27) This design is focused mainly on helping teachers communication and engagement of students, which tend to go hand in hand. Without clear, understandable, and accessible communication, students will not be able to engage in an assignment or activity and their learning will be hindered because of that.
The article discussed a number of areas that teachers dealt with in terms of communication. This included speeches, videos, and exams among other ways that teachers communicate and interact with their students. The article also details things as seemingly insignificant as text. Text can be a hinderance to certain groups of students, if it is not large enough or presented in certain ways, some more visually challenged or impaired students. Also, including some form of text reader that students could utilize, but also even visual representations when possible to do so. These graphics captivate and engage more easily than text typically will. The main theme the article hits at is that there needs to be some variety of methods so all or almost all students can be engaged through one of these. Rogers-Shaw describes this on page 27 when Mace’s first principle of design is mentioned as “providing accessibility to individuals with varied abilities as the need for accommodating assistive devices.”
The lesson that I am using for my final project is an election that I am having students help to create and then ultimately vote in. This is something that relates to the Universal Design for Learning artcile I chose because it mentions “there is a focus on learning relevance, value, and authenticity in terms of learners’ needs and desires through the inclusion of real-life tasks and an understanding of the importance of flexibility.” (Rogers-Shaw, p. 21) The lesson that I am giving students relates to those “real-life tasks” that are mentioned. The lesson meets Oklahoma Academic Standards but also fits in at an especially relevant time as it coincides with the national midterm elections that just took place and still has voted being counted on.
One thing that I need to do with this lesson is make sure that it is accessible to every student. That is one way that the google form is helpful for doing, as opposed to just creating a typical paper ballot. The google form is helpful as students are able to change the font size by zooming in on their chromebooks to better view the ballot. I had twin sisters last year who had vision impairments,s o every assignment had to be enlarged for them and technology made this a lot simpler as they had larger chromebooks with larger default zoom settings to accomodate them. After reading this, next year I am going to add in pictures of certain ballot choices (when we vote on candy, I would have pictures of the different bars.) I did this a little last year when I showed students advertisements from both Sour Patch Kids and Reese’s in our general election of candy.
Rogers-Shaw, C., Carr-Chellman, D. d., & Choi, J. (2018). Universal Design for Learning: Guidelines for Accessible Online Instruction. Adult Learning, 29(1), 20-31.
Chapter 4 of How People Learn II is about the mental processes that help people learn. This chapter dives into both memory and how learning is aligned and orchestrated. One’s memory is key to how learning works. The reading describes ways that we associate and learn through several different ways with our memories. Those methods are through memory reconstruction, utilizing our working memory, and referencing back to our long-term memory. The chapter also describes the orchestration of learning through our executive functions and self-regulation.
This chapter is one of importance to teachers as it describes the “why” of how students learn. This is important for teachers as we want to hit on these and build upon these. We want to help students create that “construction” process that the chapter describes and by designing our lessons and curriculums in a manner that is complimentary of these ideas.
Gura, M. (2016). Make, learn, succeed: Building a culture of creativity in your school. Eugene, OR
ISTE Standards for Educators (2017).
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2018). How people learn II: Learners, contexts, and cultures. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) is something that goes beyond what we typically see in schools today. The focus, espeically in secondary schools is on a grade, a number, not the things that are actually important, like learning and its process. AIW fills in the area that requires inquiry from the students, tries to relate work better to the student and make those connections that keep them engaged in school. A big focus for AIW is on things that are going to happen or be important for students, outside of the classroom, and in the future endeavors they may face. The idea of having “learning activities that have value beyond school and connect to real-life applications.” (Newmann, p. 3, 2007)
The components of AIW are construction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry, and value beyond school. Construction of knowledge comes from the skills that you use to navigate your way through new, challenging problems and find “an adequate solution to new problems.” (Newmann, p. 3, 2007) Disciplined inquiry is the next of the components. This requires multiple components of itself, such as using your prior knowledge, searching for deeper understandings and finding methods to be able to communicate the findings. The third is value beyond school, not just outside of, but beyond, knowledge and learning that is relevant and will be relevant to students in their future careers and lives. “Almost 50% of high school dropouts leave because school is not interesting for them.” (Newmann, p. 12, 2007) When courses relate more to knowledge students feel will help them, they become more engaged and interested.
One of the ways I have used an example of Authentic Intellectual Work in my classes was for my government class last year. The class had to write a short paper on two changes that they would make to the U.S. government. This helped to keep students involved and gave them a reason to look into the government and see things that they feel could be changed. Many of them initially went into issues they may have heard their family members complain about, but some of the students through their research in this project changed their mind on a particular view. This project also helped students identify political issues that they were passionate about and could help make them more involved and active citizens after they graduate.
Technology can enable a lot of new opportunities for learning, as a history teacher, being in a 1:1 technology school is something that really opens up opportunities to me as a teacher. One thing that is very helpful in this scenario is that I can have students explore virtual tours of important historical places. With technology students are even able to take a look back at historical times as well, even taking a trip to ancient Rome in Augmented Reality. “Students use a mobile device with AR to augment their “field” experience at a local historical site.” (NETP, p. 20, 2017) These can help students to make those real world, more practical connections than just hearing lectures about, or reading about them in a book would. Adding a visual element, they can experience and explore makes the lesson much more powerful.
AIW is not something that is explicitly listed on Kolb’s Triple-E Framework, but it is something that coincides with it well. Both of these places an emphasis on learning that is focused on real-world scenarios. A type of learning that places an emphasis on preparing students for things outside of the classroom. One of the three E’s is engagement and that is something that is mentioned in the AIW framework pretty often. In its background and purpose section AIW mentions that one of the biggest problems the US Education system faces is a “lack of student engagement in their courses.” (Newmann, p. Viii, 2007) AIW framework works towards solving this engagement problem that teachers and students face.
Kolb, L. (2020). Learning first, technology second in practice. Portland, OR: ISTE.
Newmann, F. M., King, M. B., & Carmichael, D. L. (2007). Authentic instruction and assessment: Common standards for rigor and relevance in teaching academic subjects. State of Iowa Department of Education.
Office of Educational Technology. (2017). Reimagining the role of technology in education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan update. Retrieved from http://tech.ed.gov.