UDL: making lessons accessible to all

Today we started to research using UDL (Universal Design for Learning) as a framework to revise our lesson plans (in conjunction with TPACK).

This concept is very close to my heart. Although I only learned about UDL today, I have worked with students with learning difficulties who have been given “modified lessons” which allow them to do less, think less, and learn less than the other students in the class. As Mary noted, all this serves to do is increase the gap between those student’s skills and those of the rest of the class. Modifications set students up to fail school. I worked with a student who had been given so many “dumbed down” modified lessons that, by the end of 7th grade, he was beginning to believe that he must be intellectually retarded. I explained to him and his family the differences between a learning disability and an intellectual disability, and he proceeded to learn all the missing skills that his school had let pass him by – writing paragraphs and essays, research, understanding algebra, and other foundational skills. He had been left to fail. He completed 8th grade in an online school with stellar grades and is real-life proof that students who learn differently need accommodations, not modifications.

What UDL has taught me is how those changes in teaching that help students with learning difficulties are not special changes, but should be part of an ongoing, every day, every lesson process of lesson design that produces highly accessible lessons in every subject, in every class.

This brief post is to introduce the context for this research. We each chose a learning disability to research, then completed the CAST worksheet with notes on appropriate UDL modifications to our lesson plan, to increase access for students with our chose learning disability.

I chose Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).  You know those kids who pay attention to the teacher for a few moments then spend the rest of the lecture gazing out the window? They may not just be lazy and needing to be reminded to stay on task. Students with APD cannot properly process information they receive aurally. So they are not wasting the teacher’s time, as they are so often charged. The teacher is wasting theirs.

Here is my CAST worksheet. I will be using it tomorrow in a post about the version 3.0 review of my lesson plan.

From www.tutordoctorofwny.com
From http://www.tutordoctorofwny.com
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